WAS CHARLES BECKER GUILTY IN ORDERING THEMURDER OF HERMAN ROSENTHAL?
The $64,000 question is
: Did Lieut. Charles Becker order the murder of HermanRosenthal, or was he framed? And if Becker was framed, who did the framing, and why?The answer to the first question, to me, is self-evident. Charles Becker did not order themurder of Herman Rosenthal. Yes, Becker was a lout, a ruffian, a crooked cop, and much worse,
and he certainly had the makeup to be a murderer; if that’s what Becker tho
ught was in his best
interest. But that doesn’t mean Becker ordered Rosenthal’s murder.
As for the motive, some people might say Becker had plenty of reasons to want
Rosenthal dead. I say it was in Becker’s best interest to keep Rosenthal alive.
ine the facts as we know them.It was obvious that Becker and Rosenthal were partners in an illegal gambling house, andat the time of his death, Rosenthal had already informed on Becker in the most open of forums
the New York City press. Killing Rosenthal would not have undone the damage Rosenthal hadalready wrecked on Becker and his career. Keeping Rosenthal alive was the best thing forBecker, since it would give Becker a chance to discredit the gambler and possibly clear his ownname in the process. Becker had a lot of pull in law enforcement and in Tammany Hall. It is not
inconceivable that Becker could have walked away from Rosenthal’s accusations unscathed.
And surely, Becker was not a stupid man. If Rosenthal were to be killed just hours beforehe
was to visit District Attorney Whitman’s office to make a formal affidavit against Becker,
Becker would be the first person to come under suspicion. This fact made Becker the perfectpigeon for a frame.Who else who stood to gain if Rosenthal were croaked?Bald Jack Rose certainly fits that description. With Rosenthal out of the way, Rose, andhis pals Harry Vallon, and Bridgey Webber presumed they would be standing pretty in the
Tenderloin. With the competition from Rosenthal’s gambling house out of the
way, these three
creeps probably figured they would rake in the fallen crumbs from Rosenthal’s gambling residue.
As events further unfolded, they were chased from the Tenderloin instead, by irate members of the underworld, who, by nature, despised informers.
Let’s assume for a moment that Rose arranged Rosenthal’s murder without Becker’sknowledge. It could have been the perfect crime if Rose and his pals weren’t so stupid.
Why rent a car for the murder; a car that could be traced back to Rose? Efficient killers
would have stolen a car to do the dirty deed. And surely, if Becker were arranging Rosenthal’smurder he would have been intelligent enough to make sure the killers didn’t use a rented car.
Once the owner and the driver of the murder car (William Libby and Louis Shapiro) werecaught, and they were caught quickly, the entire scheme fell apart.This is where Rose used his ingenuity, his ability to survive. As soon as Libby andShapiro were arrested, Rose knew he was in deep spit unless he came up with a plan. Rosedecided to turn chicken crap into chicken salad by first turning himself in. Soon, Webber andVallon were sitting in the same Tombs prison cell next to Rose, so they could plan and scheme to
their heart’s delight.
Behind bars was where Rose transformed himself from a dumb murderer into a smartwitness; a witness against Becker, whom was dumfounded - first when Rosenthal was killed, and
again when he was arrested for Rosenthal’s murder. Bridgey Webber, Sam Schepps, and Harry