Buffalo May 23, 1959 (UPI)—A 30-year-old Town
man was found shot to death in a west side alley early
today and police termed the case a
The body of
Richard R. Battaglia, 30. still holding a car's ignition key
in a hand, was
sprawled outside a 1953
Reynolds Alley. He had
five times, police said.
Klenk said Battaglia, neatly dressed and with
his feet still inside the door on the driver's side, may have been shot and pushed from the auto
after he reached into the glove compartment.
The victim was known to carry a weapon on
doors of the car
were open. The
apparently had been
drive to the spot, then
possibly as he tried to
Police termed the case a gangland-type
Klenk said Battaglia was traced to a West Side
Tavern, the last spot where he was seen Friday night before
the body was found.
was similar to the Falls. All
fall of Frank and
and Arthur De
Luca of Niagara
Detectives picked up a number of Battaglia's
acquaintances before dawn and questioned them
and several relatives at headquarters.
records showed that
four other men
last July in a gang
Carroll, Jr., 30.
case, Battaglia and with third
degree burglary and
were arrested in a
Oct. 19 and charged
first degree grand
cases , still were
May 23, 1959
- Five shots fired in a Buffalo West Side alley last night
added the name of Richard R. Battaglia to the roster of
apparent gangland war victims on the Niagara Frontier since
On Sept. 13,
the body of Frank
of Buffalo was found
the dashboard of
1958 Lincoln convertible
later, the mutilated
and nude body
of Freddy (The
25, was found face
down in a
field off of Two-Mi1e
Creek Rd. in
On Oct. 13,
the body of Arthur
DeLucca, 23, of
stuffed in the trunk of
light-colored 1957 Cadillac in
Chevrolet's used car lot in
victims had police records.
said to be acquaintances.
murders are unsolved.
Tonawanda Man Found Slain in
BUFFALO September 23, 1965(AP)—The trussed
and bullet-punctured body of a 36-year-old real estate
salesman, cousin of a 1959 slaying victim, was found Wednesday
night in the trunk of an automobile.
Charles S. Gerass, of Town
of Tonawanda, had been shot twice in the head and chest,
medical examiner James N. Schmidt said today.
Gerass also had been beaten.
His hands and feet were tied with a
His body was found by an uncle, Cosmo. L.
Battaglia, of Buffalo and a Town of Tonawanda
policeman, in the parking lot of the Sheridan Plaza, Town of
Battaglia, a tavern-owner, was the uncle of
Richard R. Battaglia, 29, who was shot to death near a Buffalo
alley May 23, 1959. That slaying has not been solved.
Police said Gerass probably was killed between
7 p.m. Tuesday, when he left home for an appointment and
The automobile, registered to Gerass' wife,
Joan, was spotted by a policeman in the parking lot Tuesday
The keys were in the ignition.
Police said Mrs. Gerass was notified but told
them she thought her husband probably was in the area.
Battaglia went to the lot Wednesday night
looking for the car. He approached the policeman, on duty in
the lot, and together they opened the trunk.
Corpse of Victim Put in
Police have been unable so'far to discover any
motives for the gang-land-type slaying of a Town of Tonawanda
real estate salesman and father of two children who was
described by his wife as having "many friends."
The victim was identified as Charles S. Gerass,
36, of Town
of Tonawanda, whose body was discovered in the
trunk of his wife's car last night at the Sheridan Plaza.
He apparently was murdered sometime Tuesday
In police memory, the last murder in the town
was in 1949. Officers said this was the first apparent
gangland type slaying reported in the township.
The body, bound hand and foot with a clothes
line, was found shortly before 11:20 p.m. It was stuffed into
the trunk of a blue 1964 Cadillac with the victim's face
pushed up against the riser, or wall behind the rear seat of
Police believe Mr. Gerass was slain sometime between
7 p.m. and midnight Tuesday.
The body apparently lay, concealed in the
trunk of the Cadillac all day yesterday while hundreds of
persons parked and shopped in the plaza.
"There were two bullet holes in the body.
One in the head and the other in the upper part of his
body," Det. Lt. Lawrence A. Hoffman said.
Patrolman Thomas Keleher of Town police had
seen the car parked at the plaza location at the rear of the Loblaw store between midnight and 1
Wednesday. The car is registered to Mrs. Joan
M. Gerass, 32, the victim's wife.
Mrs. Gerass told police during a routine
license-plate car check Wednesday that she was not alarmed
because her husband had been home for dinner at 7 p.m.
Tuesday. Mr. Gerass often was away from home for long times on
real estate deals, Mrs. Gerass explained.
However, when Mr. Gerass didn't return home by
late yesterday, his wife called Mr. Gerass' uncle, Cosmo J.
Battaglia of Buffalo, to help locate her
husband, Lt. Hoffman added.
Mr. Battaglia reportedly has an interest in
the Tender Trap, a Buffalo tavern at 372 Busti Ave.
Patrolman Kenneth Smith of Town police was on
a routine cruise at the plaza last night near the grocery
store, when he was summoned by Mr. Battaglia who had located
the car and found the car keys on the front floor.
The officer and Mr. Battaglia then opened the
Officer Smith radioed police headquarters and
alerted Police Chief Robert N. Cummings and Medical Examiner
James N. Schmitt. District Attorney Michael F. Dillon joined
the investigation at 1:15 a.m. and worked with police until
shortly before 7 a.m.
Although the body had earmarks of a gangland
slaying, according to District Attorney Dillon, neither he nor
police were able to discover a motive for the man's death.
Mrs. Gerass told investigators that her husband had many
Rips in the dead man's clothing indicated the
body had been dragged before it was pushed into the car trunk.
One of the dead man's shoes was on the body and the other in
the car trunk.
"I wouldn't say he was brutally beaten,
but the condition of his clothing and body indicated a
terrific struggle before he was slain," Lt. Hoffman
After arriving at the plaza where the body was
found, Police Chief Cummings, Lt. Hoffman, Det. Robert J. Mo
Donough, Patrolmen William Ryan, Eugene Ayler, Harry Thorp and
William Walters immediately barricaded the area.
Dets. Kenneth C. Sweeney, Loris H. O'Quinn,
Joseph D. Pasieka and Richard F. Snyder joined in the
morning-long investigation. Dr. Schmitt, the medical examiner,
had the body removed to the Erie County morgue for a post
mortem examination set for 1 this afternoon. The autopsy is
expected to determine how long Mr. Gerass was dead.
Police investigations revealed that Mr. Gerass
had resided Town of Tonawanda. He had been charged twice in Kenmore
with traffic violations.
Early phases of the police inquiry failed to
develop any underworld ties with the dead man.
Father of two children, Mr.
Gerass had been employed for two months as a salesman for L.J.
Migliore Realtors, 785 Englewood Ave., Town of Tonawanda. He
had been with the former Troy-Del realty firm at Snyder and
with Albano Realty Co., 2564 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore, during an
earlier period of his sales career.
The area of the plaza parking lot where the
murder victim's car was parked will continue to be roped off
pending further investigation, Det. Lt. Hoffman said. A police
car will be there as long as the ban is in effect.
Several law enforcement agencies in the area,
including State Police and the City of Tonawanda and Kenmore
Police Departments, have offered their assistance in the
Police found business cards, personal papers,
the victim's wrist watch, a cigarette case, and a tie tack on
the body but no money.
The victim's wife told police her
husband did not carry a wallet She said he told her before he
left the house Tuesday night that he planned to get a check
Mrs. Gerass said her husband explained only
that he had "an appointment" when he left home
Det. Lt. Hoffman said police will continue to
work overtime "until a lot of points are cleared
Six gangland-type murders, not counting that
discovered last night in the Town of Tonawanda, have occurred
since 1958 in the Niagara Frontier without a single case ever
The Twin Cities served as a dumping ground or
actual site of four murders. The body of a fifth victim was
discovered in Lackawanna.
The sixth body was discovered in Buffalo.
Four of the murders occurred in 1958, one in
1959 and one in 1963.
The slaying of Frank Aquino, 28, of Buffalo,
on Sept. 13, 1958, touched off an outbreak of gangland
slayings. His body was found crammed under the dashboard of
his mother's 1958 Lincoln convertible in a residential area of
Lackawanna. Lackawanna Police Chief Joseph Deren today said the case is still classified as "unsolved
Brother slain four days after the Aquino
murder, the nude and mutilated body of his brother, Fred
("The Fox") Aquino, 25, also of Buffalo, was
discovered in a field in the City of Tonawanda, off Two Mile Creek Road between Niagara and Fletcher
Streets. Chief Oldenburg said the case also is unsolved but it
has been established that the actual murder took place
elsewhere and the body was dumped in Tonawanda.
Almost a month went by before the third
slaying was discovered Oct. 14, 1958. The victim was Arthur
DeLuca, 23-yearold bricklayer of Niagara Falls, whose trussed,
fully-clothed body was discovered stuffed in the trunk of his
1957 white Cadillac parked on the Marion Street side of a
used-car lot. Police Chief Grimaldi said the case is unsolved.
3 Men Vanish
In that same period, three Falls men known to
have been associated with the slain men and the underworld
element in the Falls, disappeared and their whereabouts remain
unknown, Niagara Falls Chief of Detectives M. William Wilson
They are Angelo J. (Rico) Cicatello, 32,
listed as missing Nov. 28,1958; Guido D'Antuono, 29, reported
missing March 3, 1958, and Leo J. Bartolomei, 23, D'Antuono's
companion, reported missing the same day. Police information
indicates that they went by plane together to New York City.
Police said there never has been any evidence that there was a
connection between the murders and the disappearance of the
On May 23, 1959, the body of Richard R.
Battaglia, 29, was discovered dangling part way out of an
automobile parked in an alley near Niagara Street and
Pennsylvania Avenue in Buffalo.
He had been shot to death.
A four-year lull occurred before the next
violent death in the area. Louis J. Scalzo, 32, of North Tonawanda, a restaurant operator in
Buffalo and a former city sealer of weights and measures in
North Tonawanda, was gunned down April 20, 1963, about 4:30
a.m. in the drive-way of his home.
Chief Grimaldi said this case also is unsolved
"but still open."
He said it has never been established that
there was any connection between the Scalzo murder and the
November 26, 1965 A 38 caliber revolver found
in a storm sewer in Tonawanda Tuesday, which could prove to be
a possible clue in the Gerass murder case, still is undergoing
ballistics tests at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., Town
of Tonawanda police said today.
The revolver, with two shots apparently fired,
was discovered in the catch basin of the sewer in the area of
Morgan and Bouck Streets by Clarence H. Will, and Vincent Egri, Tonawanda, both city
The gun could provide a major break in the
Gerass murder case according to Town of Tonawanda Police Det.
Lt. Lawrence A. Hoffman Jr. who has conducted an intensive
The body of Charles S. Gerass, of Town of Tonawanda,. was discovered at 11:30 p.m. Sept.
22 in the trunk of his car which was parked in a Sheridan
Plaza parking lot.
Gerass, a realtor who had failed to keep an
appointment to show a Town of Tonawanda house to a prospect at
9:30 p.m. Sept. 21, was shot through the head by one
bullet which fractured his skull. Another bullet entered his
body in the right side of the chest and was recovered near the
Rope burns around the dead man's neck, a
broken nose and superficial scratches on his back and stomach,
indicated that Gerass had been dragged face down.
The condition of the body led police to
believe it was a gangland slaying.
Gerass was discovered by his uncle, Cosmo J.
Battaglia of Buffalo, who also was the uncle of Richard R.
Battaglia, 28, who was found shot to death in 1959 in Buffalo
in a gangland manner.
Town of Tonawanda Police Det. Joseph Pasieka
is in charge of the case until Monday when Det. Lt. Hoffman
returns to work.
Tonawanda Police Chief Oldenburg said he and
Lt. Hoffman met Wednesday to discuss several points of the
The two police officials also virited the
Bouck - Morgan section where the gun was found and then went
to areas where the town and city meet in an effort to form
additional opinions about the slaying.
December 6, 1965Chief James Oldenburg of
Tonawandapolice, and Det. Lt. Lawrence A. Hoffman, and Dets.
Kenneth C. Sweeney and Loris H. O'Quinn of Town police reached
this conclusion Wednesday at a conference in Tonawanda
attended by FBI representatives.
Chief Oldenburg today said his department is
stepping up its work in tracking down the prior use of the
weapon. But this work will be in collaboration with the FBI,
Town of Tonawanda and New York City police on a teamwork
"It has definitely been established that
this gun that the FBI laboratories tested last month was taken
from a guard during a $23,000 holdup at a pier in New York
City in August, 1963,"
Chief Oldenburg said.
The Tonawanda police chief said the police
agencies are cooperating with the idea that the same weapon
may have been used in the Gerass murder. Mr. Gerass was a real
estate salesman whose body was found on Sept. 22 in the trunk
of a parked car at the Sheridan Plaza in the Town of
The victim had been shot twice, and one of the
bullets used in the slaying was recovered in an autopsy. An
FBI laboratory test showed the slug was fired from a Colt
weapon, one which causes a bullet to twist to the left or
counterclockwise before it strikes, The weapon recovered in
Tonawanda is a Colt revolver.
"Since this gun was found in Tonawanda,
we are obligated to check out its back history," Chief
Oldenburg said. The gun apparently was found between its theft
in 1963 and its re-registration in 1965.
Details are still being checked out, Chief
Oldenburg said. "We have found it originally was
registered to a man in New York City, a guard for a protective
agency at a pier in New York's waterfront.
"In August of 1963, a gun was taken from
the guard during a $23,000 payroll robbery. A check on the
serial number of the gun in our case shows it was definitely
the gun that was taken from the guard," Chief Oldenburg
"There was a difficulty in the next phase
of our investigation, its re-registration in 1965. At this
point, I can only say that there was a procedural error on a
form used in its re-registration, one which eventually turned
out to be all right," Chief Oldenburg added.
The FBI office in New York City assigned
agents to work with New York police and police from Tonawanda
and the Town of Tonawanda in the New York City investigation.
Dets. Sweeney and O'Quinn of Tonawanda town police supplied
much of the preliminary facts for the joint investigation.
The 1963 robbery in New York City took place
in New York's Precinct 16, one that Life Magazine publicized
for police work on the waterfront. Chief Oldenburg said police
of that precinct, the FBI and his department will be working
closely with Town of Tonawanda police in tracing the gun from
New York to Tonawanda.
"I can't say too much for the work done
by Town police in this case. It has been exceptional and very
helpful, and we'll be working closer than ever so far as the
Gerass case is concerned," Chief Oldenburg said.
Buffalo, NY November 13,1973 The victim of a
stabbing death discovered yesterday afternoon in Buffalo was
the uncle of a Town of Tonawanda man found murdered
gangland-style in the town eight years ago, town police said
Cosmo J. Battaglia. 53, whose nude,
blood-spattered body was found in his home yesterday, was the
uncle of Charles S. Gerass, of Town of
Tonawanda. whose body was found in the trunk of his wife's car
at the Sheridan Plaza on Sept. 22. 1965.
The murder has never been solved.
Gerass was 36 when he was murdered.
Battaglia also was the uncle of Richard B.
Battaglia, an alleged underworld figure gunned down in an
alley on the west side of Buffalo in 1959.
The body of Cosmo Battaglia was found by his
brother. William, who had been alerted that something was
'wrong' at his brother's house by an anonymous telephone call.
Police said they found Battaglia's body lying
in a ransacked dining room of his home in Buffalo. He
had been stabbed several times, but no weapon was found,
according to police.
The two Battaglia brothers owned the Tender
Trap Tavern and were reported to be involved in an attempt to
open duty-free liquor store near the Peace Bridge, which
connects Canada and this country.
The Gerass body was found with two bullet
holes in it. It was bound hand and foot with a clothes line
and found stuffed in the trunk of his wife's 1964 Cadillac.
Town police discovered the body after the
victim's wife, Mrs. Joan M. Gerass, notified them her husband
IN THE NEWS
History of Police Woman
History of Black Police Officers
Cold Case Squad
Underwater Recovery Team
Band and Drill Team
World War II
The Blue Ribbon Gang
The Mystery Perfume Case
The Felons Fang
Contract For A Hit
An Eye For Murder
The Boarder Bandits
Detective William Burns