The Murders of the Roxbury Gang’s Own Members- RICHARD GRASSO

Richard Grasso, the driver in the Billy Bennett fiasco, had to know that his life was not worth a plug nickel. Looks can be deceiving but Grasso’s looks would not make you think he was the brightest bulb on the marquee.  The police considered him: “a two bit hood” – “a small time thief and gambler.” That necessarily leads to another question, how smart was Billy Bennett for recruiting him to murder Frank Salemme and Steve Flemmi if that was what he did?

The police had him pegged right. At age 21 in on May 5, 1955, he was charged with breaking into a Braintree dairy bar on April 22 along with three other men, one 18 years old and two 17 years old. They were also charged with attempting to break in a Braintree garage on the same day.  Two weeks later, along with two others, he was charged with breaking into an automotive store in Roxbury, stealing four dollars ($4.00), and setting fire to the place to cover up their fingerprints. They then went to a nearby donut shop and broke into that. He was held on $20,000 bail for the grand jury. It’s fair to say that as a result of these acts he ended up doing some time.

The police learned that Grasso was the driver that picked up Billy Bennett. They sent out a teletype looking for Grasso’s car. Flemmi with his connection to FBI Agent Paul Rico and Boston cops like Bill Stewart would have heard about it. If he had not already planned to murder Grasso, the news about the teletype certainly gave Flemmi no choice. The recipe for a short life is to be involved in a criminal episode with these real sadistic killers.  Salemme and Flemmi let Grasso celebrate Christmas.

The date of Grasso’s murder is unclear other than most likely after Christmas. We only know that his body was found in the trunk of his car which had been towed at 11:45 p.m. on December 29, 1967 because it was impeding snow removal activities. The car had been abandoned on the center strip between the trolley tracks on Beacon Street in Brookline. His body was discovered at the tow lot when the trunk was opened. The body had one bullet hole in the forehead and one in the back of the head. Grasso was almost fully dressed: socks, shoes, underwear and shirt but his trousers were missing.

One police officer said Billy Bennett would not get into a car with a person he did not know and trust. I assume they were able to put two and two together and figure out that Grasso was hit because he knew too much. Nothing ever came of the investigation into his death.

Researching Grasso, I came across an article that discussed another shooting that took place at the same time as the discovery of Grasso’s body. The article mentioned Walter Elliot, 30, of South Boston who suffered two bullet wounds in his stomach but lived. I write more about him later.

One Comment

  1. Thanks for a great article and I hope that there is more soon.