North End Murders – JOSEPH LANZI

April 18, 1967   

Joseph Lanzi worked as a bartender at various joints in Boston. He was in the front passenger seat of a car on April 18, 1967. Two Medford police officers saw it run a red light. They did a U turn and went after the car. A short chase followed before the car pulled over after turning into a neighborhood.

When the police officers approached the car, the driver was standing outside the car. They asked where he was going in such a hurry. The driver said he had to get something from his house and started to walk toward a house. As the driver walked away, the police looked into the car. Suddenly the man sitting in the back seat on the passenger’s side fled. The other back seat passenger likewise tried to flee but was stopped by the police. The front passenger was Lanzi.  Lanzi did not move. He couldn’t. He had been shot three times in the chest and once in the head. Lanzi was dead.

Lanzi was a small-time numbers racket guy who ran errands for gangland figures. He had trouble with a person who the police described as an underworld figure six months or so earlier which would have been a little before the middle of November when Bratsos and DePrisco were murdered. Lanzi was stabbed at that time and spent several weeks in the hospital. Lanzi was most likely the person Bratsos and DePrisco visited in the hospital just before going to the Nite Lite the night they were murdered.

One of the passengers in the car with Lanzi’s body was Benjamin A. DeChristoforo who managed a Back Bay lounge. The other two were Carmen Gagliardi and Frank Oreto, both of the North End. The latter two pleaded guilty.  DeChristoforo would go to trial.

Gagliardi, while in prison, was charged with the stabbing death of Albert DeSalvo the self-professed “Boston Strangler.” That charge was later dismissed. Gagliardi would be found dead in his cell in January 1975. The district attorney said he had been murdered.

Frank Oreto would do his fifteen years. He set up a loan sharking operation while in prison which he would continue after he was paroled. Oreto was arrested along with his son by the FBI for loan sharking. In June of 1991 he would be sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of those charges. He did not live for twenty years. He died in March 2004.

DeChristoforo was convicted after trial on June 30, 1969. He would be granted parole in May of 1993 after serving 25 years. The article on DeChristoforo’s parole said that DeChristoforo rode in a car with Lanzi and two other men. The men got into an argument over a boxing match, so DeChristoforo’s two companions shot Lanzi four times.

Enough time had passed since his conviction that DeChristoforo could create a fictional story about the murder. The creation was hardly plausible. There was no trace of blood in the car. It was obvious he had been executed elsewhere and put into the car for a trip to a marsh where he would be dumped.

Reports afterward did indicated that Lanzi was a friend of Bratsos, DePrisco and Amico.  The visit by Bratsos and DePrisco to him at the hospital just before they were murdered put him in jeopardy.  The Mafia might conclude that Lanzi might have known who Bratsos and DePrisco were meeting. This knowledge, just like that of Chico Amico, put him at risk. It was also suggested he was the person who Amico went to meet at Enrico’s the night he was murdered.

The guys who murdered Lanzi were young Mafia soldiers and trying to better their credentials in the Mafia. None did well afterward. Lanzi was a loose end the Mafia wanted to tie up. No doubt it was a gangland hit. Preposterous to think it was a disagreement over a boxing match as the parole board was told.

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