McLaughlin Murders – RAYMOND DISTASIO and JOHN O’NEIL

Mickey Mouse Lounge in Revere

The murders of Raymond DiStasio and John O’Neill at Mickey Mouse Lounge occurred a week earlier than the time Colonel O’’Donovan arrested Jimmy Flemmi.  Jimmy Flemmi, at that time, did not know what evidence the police had about the murder. When questioned about their murders, he blurted out out of the blue, “It was someone who doesn’t have any brains. If you do things like that, you don’t have anybody around. You don’t get everybody against you.”

An old Ukrainian saying expresses it best, “a thief feels his hair is on fire.” In other words, the thief feels it is obvious he committed the crime and everyone who sees him, knows it. Jimmy’s attempt to exonerate himself is a typical example of this.  Edgar Allen Poe captured the feeling perfectly in the Tell Tale Heart.

These men lost their lives according to John Martorano at the hands of Jimmy Flemmi and Joe “the Animal” Barboza. The police investigation into the murder showed that DiStasio was the bartender for the evening at the Mickey Mouse Lounge in Revere. He drove from his Medford home and arrived at the bar at 4:45 p.m.  The manager then left.

John O’Neil, who lived about 100 yards away, had moved back to Revere from New Hampshire six weeks earlier. He dropped in the lounge at times to grab a pack of cigarettes and have a beer. Both men were the fathers of four children.

O’Neil’s children ranged from age five down. He had consumed about half his beer when the two killers entered. DiStasio fled from the bar to an adjoining room where he was gunned down; O’Neill made a mad dash for the outside door but was felled by a shot a yard away from it. The killer then stood over him and put one in the back of O’Neil’s head. DiStasio also got one in the head. With the job done, the two murderers left. There were no witnesses.

At the time of their deaths, the Revere Police Chief said DiStasio was a friend of the McLaughlins. O’Neil was not connected with any hoodlums but was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Three days later, Ronald A. Wysocki wrote a story in the Boston Globe spreading the gangster propaganda that he claimed came from his police sources. He suggested O’Neil was given a chance to leave but refused. That story ran afoul of the evidence at the scene indicating he was fleeing for his life.

To believe Wysocki, you would have to imagine one of the murderers saying: “All right kid, get out of here we are going to murder the bartender.” The kid responded, “No, I’m going to stay.” In what world would that have happened? To believe Wysocki you have to think that one of the murderers spoke to someone else, or Wysocki, about the double murder. This usually does not happen.

Wysocki added DiStasio was hit because there was a $1,000 contract on his life. The truth is no one knew why he was hit or what happened in there other than the murderers. If what is being passed on was learned from them, which is doubtful, it obviously would be self-serving and loosely related to the truth. Most likely Wysocki was picking up speculative talk on the street and passing it on as true.

Wysocki, to his credit, was able to identify the gunmen. He said they were habitués of East Boston and Revere. He wrote “the principal gunman is known around town as “The Animal.” He said he was with one of his cronies known as “The Beasties.” That corroborates the information from Martorano if you substitute Bear for Beasties.

Later others wrote about the murders imagining what happened inside the bar. The one agreement among them is that Barboza and Jimmy Flemmi were there. One theory has it that DiStasio had borrowed $15,000 from the Boston Mafia and was not paying it back on time so Barboza was hired to do the hit. Another had it that DiStasio helped Punchy McLaughlin try to set up Buddy McLean to be hit. Another was that one night as Barboza was leaving the Mickey Mouse lounge someone fired some shots at him. Barboza believed DiStasio set him up. Stevie Flemmi in his interview when he was making a deal for himself said Barboza did the murder for some personal reason and left his brother out of it. Billy Geraway, mentioned later, said Barboza admitted to him he murdered them.

Some suggested O’Neill was not an innocent guy but supplied guns to DiStasio who bought them for the McLaughlin gang. That was just a typical gangster invention trying to justify the unwarranted murder of a young father. The best evidence showing Jimmy Flemmi’s involvement was his statement at the time he was arrested; the best evidence of Barboza’s involvement was his admissions.

The motive for the murder of DiStasio is perhaps quite simple. He was the nighttime bartender at the Mickey Mouse that Barboza frequented. At some point, he did something that upset Barboza that could have been as simple as telling him to quiet down or shutting him off after last call. As we’ve seen it does not take much to set off these murderous gangsters who go around looking for trouble. O’Neill was murdered for the simple reason you do not leave witnesses around as Martorano said after he murdered Smith, Dickson and Barrett.

The “underworld grapevine,” as usual, had little correct news but a lot of nonsense that others repeat without giving it any thought. Wysocki in one of the later paragraphs noted: “Mrs. Irene O’Neil had a party at her family’s temporary home at 516 Revere Beach Blvd. yesterday for sons Dennis’s fourth birthday and Joseph’s first birthday. Theresa, 5, and John, 3, had a good time at the party. They don’t know their father was murdered.”  I often wonder what becomes of the kids after something like this. This event left eight without a father.  

One Comment

  1. Just about any of the joints on Revere Beach had a resident wise guy or wannabe on the premises.
    If you wanted trouble you’d find it in a minute.Wysocki at that time was a reporter trying to gain some
    notoriety in the newspaper business.He later became an attorney and has passed away. I’m sure his
    sources weren’t unfamiliar with fabrication.Today all the old joints are gone and the Beach is now a hot
    condo market. Pure vanilla,and Revere has an honest man as it’s Mayor. That’s sounds fictional but it’s true.