North End Murders – JOSEPH “CHICO” AMICO

December 7, 1966

Chico was 6’ 2” and weighed over two hundred pounds. He was known for wearing long dark Chesterfield coats with velvet collars over sports shirts without a jacket or tie. He had been married and divorced. He had a minor record until August 1966, when along with Joe Barboza and Nick Femia, he got into a beef with 23-year-old Arthur Pierson outside a bar in Revere.

Chico Amico

After the death of Tash and DePrisco, Amico went into hiding along with James Kearns, 27, another member of the gang. Hiding out works well if you have enough money to sustain yourself or guys you know will provide you with the essentials to live, like food and a decent accommodation. Amico and Kearns apparently lacked these.  Desperate and fearful, Amico and Kearns reached out to others for help and to make peace. Those they contacted were other hoodlums who had nothing to gain from giving them the aid they needed.

Chico presented a realistic danger. He was somewhere close by the Nite Lite when DePrisco and Tash were murdered. Tash had called him from inside Nite Lite after he arrived there. We do not know the content of the call but those inside Nite Lite may have known. Those who committed the murders did not know what Chico had seen that night. Perhaps, he saw who carried the bodies out. Maybe he saw some of them leave the Nite Lite. The murderers had no idea whether the information Amico had would put them in jeopardy. The murderers had to believe Chico tipped the cops off which enabled the police to get a search warrant of Nite Lite so quickly.

The Nite Lite murderers could not take a chance that Amico could compromise them. Amico was at the top of their hit list.  They had to find him.

On December 7, 1966, Amico and Kearns made arrangements to meet in Boston’s Combat Zone at a second-floor lounge to see what assistance they could get from the Mafia. Barboza identified the meeting spot as Enrico’s Lounge which he said was owned by Larry Baione. Knowing they were on the Mafia’s ‘hit list,’ undercover police officers were looking for and spotted Amico and Kearns on the way to the lounge. Amico and Kearns met an underworld figure there who police described as unusually nervous. He consumed eight Scotch drinks during the hour or so he spent with them.

According to witness reports in the Boston Globe, Amico desperately plead to the other man: “Please straighten it out. This is my life.  You’ve got to straighten it out.” Kearns had a different attitude. Kearns seemed wary of the other man. He was heard to say, “This better not be a set up.” As they got up to leave, Kearns, known for his short temper, punched the other man in the face as if to show him what would happen if things did not work out as planned.

Amico’s Crashed Car

From their actions and especially based on Kearns’s last comment, some arrangement had apparently been made for them to get money or other asssitance. Amico and Kearns drove to a lounge in Revere, identified by Barboza as Alphonse’s Broken-Heart Lounge. The promised money was not there. They left and drove off, a car followed them out of the parking lot.

Mafia hit man J.R. Russo was in the car that trailed them. Russo would later murder Joe Barboza. Russo followed Amico and Kearns for a short distance before he took out a .30 cal. carbine. He quickly eliminated Amico who was in the front passenger seat. His shots at Kearns slammed into the back seat. Kearns lost control of the car and hit a pole.  Kearns survived.  Amico did not.

Kearns would later be charge with accessory after the fact to the crime. Kearns along with William E. Kelly would also be charged with a February 28, 1967, crime of possessing burglar tools.  Kelly was mentioned earlier for his involvement in the murder of Von Maxcy. He has been on death row in Florida since April 2, 1984.

Kearns did not appear for his required court appearance on March 8, 1967. He would be captured on June 7, 1967, by the FBI in Los Angeles. We will hear more about Kearns later.

Three days after Amico was murdered, the Boston Police conducted a raid at Changis on Bennington Street in East Boston which the Barboza gang often used as a hangout. The police sought a stash of dynamite. They dug up the ground around the bar only to come up empty handed. The police did find three guns inside a bag on a hole above the ceiling in the men’s room, in a freezer they found shot gun shells, armor piercing bullets and revolver rounds. The second-floor apartment had been leased to Nick Femia.

Later Femia, at age 39, would be alleged to have been involved in the murder of five persons at the Blackfriar’s Club in Boston in June 1978. He was charged based on an informant report filed by FBI Agent John Connolly. Those charges were later dismissed. It was reported that Steve Flemmi told one of his girlfriends to stay away from Blackfriar’s the night of the murders and later admitted to her that Femia was involved in it. In 1980 Femia was seen outside the Lancaster Street garage. Whitey Bulger was seen throwing McDonald’s French fries at him.

In 1981 he was sentenced to two years in jail. The last heard of him was that he was killed on December 16, 1983, in the attempt to hold up the Shady Tree Body Shop in East Boston.

5 thoughts on “North End Murders – JOSEPH “CHICO” AMICO

  1. I be,ie e the. Ar in East Boston

    I believe the bar in East Boston was called Changis and it was on Bennington st. Endicott st.
    is in the North end. It was a known mob hangout.

  2. There was a bartender from Savin Hill who worked at Clarke’s in Quincy Market named Joe. He use to play cards with the victims of the Black Friars after his shift at work. The names of the five victims were not released for several days. Joe didn’t show for work for three days so all presumed he was one of the dead. To the relief of the staff at Clake’s he finally appeared.

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