Returning to the Scene of the Crime

Vol. X No. 3 - FALL 1999

By: Kathy Gemperle

Author and former reporter Richard Lindberg was just trying to set the record straight when he agreed to speak to the Edgewater Historical Society at our meeting on May 21, 1999. His latest book Returning to the Scene of the Crime had just gone to press and we were there to get the inside story of some of the more famous crimes committed in Edgewater.

The story that captured the imagination of the audience was the story of Gus Amadeo. an escapee from Cook County Jail in 1954. He was cornered at a bar called the Circle Lounge on West Lawrence Ave. where he shot at the police and killed Officer Anerino, and of course, he ran. Anerino was partner to one of the City’s most well known detectives. Frank Pape. Once Frank Pape was on his trail, Amedeo didn’t stand a chance.

The Detectives tracked down Amadeo’s girlfriend. Dolores Delgenio. in order to use her as bait to get Amedeo. Here’s where the plot begins to sound familiar.

Delgenio is set to meet Amadeo at Berwyn and Clark wearing an orange dress. The cops had set up the area with plainclothes officers looking like customers and workmen. Some are in trucks parked on the street and some were in Swanson’s drug store at the southeast corner. But Amadeo didn’t show. He decided to go to the Calo movie theater first.

Apparently, he was spotted going into the theater so the focus of the meeting place changed. The plot still sounds familiar. Amadeo exited the theater, a thousand eyes watching him. He barely reached the center of Clark Street when he was met with a hail of bullets and died on the pavement. It wasn’t a shootout, it was the execution of a fugitive cop killer. Now here’s where Mr. Lindberg’s telling of the story gets strange. He reported that many Edgewater residents had been waiting around for this event, waiting and hoping. When they saw that Gus Amadeo was dead “thousands came out to dip their handkerchiefs in his blood left in a pool in the middle of Clark Street.” The explanation is that in bygone days many thought that a souvenir of such an event might be worth something later. It sure sounds like a story we’ve heard before. Wonder what happened to all those blood stained handkerchiefs?

Mr. Lindberg didn’t stop there. There were many more stories, from the kidnapping and later murder of Dr. Patrick Henry Cronin in 1889 at the corner of Foster and Broadway to the Susan Degnan murder in 1946.

And in the 1950s the stories of the “Babbling Burglar,” Richard Morrison, whose information lead to the Summerdale Police Scandal and the changing of the name of the 20th District police station from Summerdale to the Foster Avenue Police Station. His book is full of more stories and reports on the scenes of some of the most famous crimes in Chicago’s history. The audience was satisfied and so was Mr. Lindberg. He got to preview his book with a promise of some sales when he begins distribution. And for our part we were able to get the facts on that mysterious shooting, near the Calo Theater.