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Richard Cain

Chicago Police Department
Cook County Sheriff's Department

Richard Cain
Died December 20, 1973 (aged 42)
Place of birth Chicago, Illinois, USA
Place of death Chicago, Illinois, USA
Service/branch United States
Years of service 1951 - 1960
1962 - 1964
Rank Sworn in as an officer - 1951
Chief Investigator - 1962

Richard Cain (October 5, 1931-December 20, 1973) was a notoriously corrupt Chicago police officer, ranking member of the Chicago Outfit and a close associate of Mafia boss Sam Giancana. He has also been accused by several conspiracy theorists of his involvement in the John F. Kennedy assassination.


Early life

Born to an Irish-American father and an Italian-American mother in Chicago, Cain was raised in Chicago and Michigan after his parents divorced. He joined the Army at the age of 17 and served in the Virgin Islands from 1947 to 1950, becoming fluent in Spanish. Before returning to Chicago in 1951, he began his career as an investigator at the William J. Burns Detective Agency in Dallas.[1]

He became involved with the Chicago Outfit by using his position as a security guard to arrange the hijacking of United Parcel Service trucks. Despite his grandfather having been a prominent sewer contractor who was killed by the mafia in Little Italy, Chicago, in 1928,[2] Cain would later become a made man and a close associate of Giancana. It has been alleged that Giancana was responsible for suggesting he take a position inside the Chicago Police Department during the mid 1950s where he served as a bagman between corrupt police officials and the Outfit. He also served as an enforcer while working in vice districts and occasionally participated in staged police raids on the Outfit's illegal casinos and sports betting parlors.

Double deal and disgrace

Taking a leave of absence from the police department in 1960, he was assigned as an investigator for assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Ogilvie in his investigation of Outfit boss Anthony Accardo. Cain was credited by Richard Ogilvie as an aggressive officer whose knowledge of Outfit operations played a part in Accardo's conviction.

Richard Cain (unconfirmed though in photo) with Operation 40 members, an anti-Communism group.

Cain alluded to having been deported from Mexico in 1961 after helping train Cuban-Americans for the Bay of Pigs invasion. After his death, "Washington sources" confirmed "off-the-record" that these claims were true.[3] He also claimed to have worked with the State Department "tracing the flow of American money into Communist hands." [4]

Cain returned to Chicago in early 1962 to support Ogilvie in his campaign to run for Sheriff of Cook County. Upon Ogilvie's taking office, Cain was appointed chief investigator in the Cook County Sheriff's Department. In 1964 he was fired from this position for lying to a grand jury regarding his involvement in the recovery of stolen drugs. He served six months for perjury in this case, concurrent with a four-year sentence earned in 1968 as an accessory to a 1963 bank robbery. Cain was paroled in 1971.

Informant and murder victim

After parole, Cain made "frequent trips" to and from Mexico as Sam Giancana's courier and financial adviser.[5] Cain became a key figure in Giancana's money skimming from casinos in Central America and Iran. During this time, conspiring to control the city's illegal gambling operations, he began working as an FBI informant for Agent William F. Roemer, allegedly muscling out his rivals by revealing their operations to federal authorities. His half brother, Michael Cain, believes that he was planning to take over The Outfit itself.

On December 20, 1973, Richard Cain was killed by masked gunmen in Rose's Sandwich Shop in Chicago. Witnesses reported that no more than 15 minutes before the attack Cain had been talking with four other men who were not present when the gunmen arrived. Two of these four men were reported to have left using a back door. At the time of the gunmen's arrival, Cain was seen talking with an unidentified woman in black. The gunmen carried a shotgun, a pistol, and a two-way radio which they used to communicate with an outside lookout. They ordered the shop's staff and patrons (including Cain) against the wall but did not speak directly to Cain. They asked several of them if they had any money and asked, "Who's got the package?" Cain was approached, pulled slightly away from the wall, and shot in the head with the shotgun. As he fell, the second gunman also shot him in the head. Cain's assailants reportedly removed an item from one of his pockets before fleeing. The unidentified woman apparently left at the same time as the gunmen.[6][7][8]

Possible murder motives

During the early 1970s, Cain became involved in a burglary ring masterminded by Outfit capo Marshall Caifano. It has been speculated that Caifano had learned of Cain's informant status and had received permission from Accardo to murder Cain. Some investigators believe that Outfit enforcer Harry Aleman was the triggerman. Caifano was reported to have been in Rose's Sandwich Shop only two hours before Cain's murder.[9] After Cain's death, the Chicago Tribune reported that Cain had once bugged Caifano's bedroom.[10]

Cain was also reported to have been "arguing violently" with Gus Alex shortly before Cain's death over Cain's plans to organize 12-day gambling cruises for Chicago high-rollers off the Florida coast.[11]

Several Chicago Tribune articles printed in the days after Cain's death reported speculation by investigators that Cain's murder was in retaliation for the murder of Sam DeStefano the previous April.[12]

Urban legends

According to a biography of Sam Giancana written by his family, Giancana told his younger brother that it was Cain and Charles Nicoletti, not Lee Harvey Oswald, who were in the Texas Book Depository on November 22, 1963.[13]

In 1996, based on information obtained from Brazilian journalist Claudia Furiati, author Eric Hamburg claimed that Cain had been involved with Dave Yarras and Lenny Patrick during the assassination.

Since his death, other researchers, including Larry Hancock and Cain's half brother Michael J. Cain,[14] have investigated his rumored ties to the JFK assassination. Neither has obtained any conclusive evidence to support his involvement in any aspect of the assassination.

In popular culture

Cain was the inspiration for the character of Al Neri (a former policeman turned Mafia henchman) in Mario Puzo's The Godfather.

See also


  1. ^ "Cain played mob game and lost big," Chicago Tribune, 21 December 1973, p. 1
  2. ^ "Cain's grandfather slain defying Mafia", Chicago Tribune, 30 December 1973, p. 5.
  3. ^ "Cain was on move with big schemes", Chicago Tribune, 28 December 1973, p. 16.
  4. ^ "Cain played mob game and lost big", Chicago Tribune, 21 December 1973, p. 8.
  5. ^ "Cain played mob game and lost big", Chicago Tribune, 21 December 1973, p. 1.
  6. ^ "Ex-Cop Cain shot to death", Chicago Tribune, 21 December 1973, p. 1
  7. ^ "Police seeking mystery woman in Cain slaying", Chicago Tribune,22 December 1973, p. 1
  8. ^ "Cain's belongings, friend being sought", Chicago Tribune, 24 December 1973, p. 3
  9. ^ "Police seeking mystery woman in Cain slaying", Chicago Tribune, 22 December 1973, p.1
  10. ^ "Cain bugged hood's home", Chicago Tribune, 22 December 1973, p. 3
  11. ^ "Probers: Cain sought to lure gamblers away",Chicago Tribune, 25 December 1973, p. 3
  12. ^ e.g. "Who Killed Richard Cain?",Chicago Tribune, 23 December 1973, section 2, p. 4
  13. ^ Giancana, Chuck and Sam Giancana, Double Cross: The Explosive, Inside Story of the Mobster Who Controlled America. New York: Warner Books, 1992. ISBN 0-446-51624-4
  14. ^ Cain, Michael J. The Tangled Web. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-1-60239-044-7

Further reading

  • Cain, Michael J. The Tangled Web. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-1-60239-044-7
  • Ashman, Charles. The CIA-Mafia Link. New York: Manor Books, 1975.
  • Giancana, Sam and Chuck. Double Cross: The Explosive, Inside Story of the Mobster Who Controlled America. New York: Warner Books, 1992. ISBN 0-446-51624-4
  • Furiati, Claudia. ZR Rifle: The Plot to Kill Kennedy and Castro. Melbourne, Australia: Ocean Press, 1994. ISBN 1-875284-84-2
  • Hinckle, Warren and Turner, William W. The Fish is Red: The Story of the Secret War Against Castro. New York: Harper & Row, 1981. ISBN 0-06-038003-9

External links



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