It could have been the heist of the century, but the ambush of a truck full of money in 1any Something went wrong in April 1924, killing two people in eastern Montreal. Emerging forensic science will enable the conviction of the mastermind of the operation, a former police officer, and several of his accomplices.
“There was more than $246,000 in Hochelaga’s bank truck. A fortune at that time,” says Simon Dube, executive assistant of the Laboratory of Judicial and Legal Sciences and a history graduate student.
This robbery was planned for a long time, and was scripted in such a way that the bandits were supposed to escape without bloodshed after they immobilized the truck under an overpass on Ontario Street, in Montreal, using a wire.
While the thieves paralyzed the driver, others collected the stolen items and fled in the car. “Unfortunately for them, things went wrong, starting with the truck stopping moving. “It didn’t work out,” Mr. Dube sums up.
In a scene worthy of a gangster movie, a shootout broke out and the truck driver, 24-year-old Henry Clyro, succumbed to the bullets. One of the robbers, Harry Stone, was also seriously injured, but died a few hours later.
Louis Morel was sentenced
The investigation, in which the director of the laboratory, Wilfred Derum, participated as a ballistics expert and forensic pathologist together with his right-hand man, Rosario Fontaine, made it possible to identify the lethal weapons.
Another element that will enter into forensic science: chemical and microscopic analysis of textile fibers that served as material for making the covers used by thieves.
A series of raids on suspects’ homes led to the arrest of seven people, including Louis Morel, a former Montreal police officer who is no less than the mastermind of the operation, and is linked to members of the Italian underworld.
The informant was released…killed
However, the evidence was not sufficient to obtain a conviction until one of the men targeted in the investigation, Ciro Neeri, came to the negotiating table.
“Thanks to his testimony we will formally charge the criminals,” says Simon Dube. By being an informant, he provides enough details to incriminate many of those responsible for the theft.
The trial, which began a few weeks later, led to death sentences for four thieves and accomplices. They would be hanged on October 24, 1924. The two other serial killers would have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.
As for Neri, he escaped with a safe behavior that allowed him to leave the country.
But he will face a sad end because he will be assassinated in Italy. “It has never been proven, but it appears that this assassination was carried out by the Italian Mafia. In this organization, informants are often forced to pay with their lives…” Mr. Dube comments.
One of the criminals, Ciro Nene, will play a key role in the trial as an informant. But the Italian mafia will find him.
© LSGML 2023
Six are accused and sentenced
Louis Morel: sentenced to death
Giuseppe Serafini: sentenced to death
Tony Frank: Sentenced to death
Frank Gambino: Sentenced to death
Mike Valentino: Life in Prison
Leo Davis: Life in Prison