Man Found Dead: Roger Touhy

By: Cameron Foil

Roger "The Terrible" Touhy

Roger was born on September 18, 1898 in Chicago, Illinois to Irish immigrant parents. His father was a policeman while married to his wife Mary, parents of 6 sons and 2 daughters. When Roger was young he lost his mother in a house fire. Roger was the only one out of the 5 that tried to remain out of crime believe it or not. Their father was shot in 1917, John Touhy was killed 10 years later by gunmen belonging to a gang known as the Chicago Outfit, Joseph Touhy was shot dead by the same men in 1929, Tommy "the terrible" Touhy became a major organized crime figure, and Edward Touhy one of the few Touhy brothers that managed to stay out of trouble and became a bartender. However Roger tried very hard to remain on the right side. He served in the U.S. Navy during WWI, married Clara Morgan, became a cab driver then an automobile salesman, which later on made enough money to form a trucking company with his brothers Tommy and Eddie. However this is what started his path to wrong side.

Where the crime started:

In the beginning of Roger and his brothers trucking company it was going well and smooth. It late turned into a business of distributing illegal beer and liquor into the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He partnered up with Matt Kolb to widen his distribution along with profitable gambling and loan sharking operations. They created a brewery, producing a high quality beer. They sold 1,000 barrels a week at $55 a barrel (profit of 92%). By 1929, Roger expanded to illegal gambling and put in slot machines in saloons throughout Chicago. By 1926, his machine operations alone profited over $1 million a year.

His revenge:

Al Capone, the man who was responsible for the death of John and Joseph Touhy, his brothers, was one of Roger's main customers from his beer company. Capone was so interested with Roger's company that he wanted to take over. Capone sent in men to intimidate Roger, but he wouldn't have it. When Capone sent more men to Roger he realized he had no fighting chance, so he went to the law enforcement officers to ask for help. When Capone sent in his men for the third time they noticed Roger's full armed gang and stepped back to report to Capone. Capone was fed up with sending in men and them just returning back with nothing new, so he decided to test Roger's strength. There were gun battles between the two men. However once Roger gained the support of Mayor Anton Cermak, the frequent attempted hits began to happen inside the city limits as well. This was about the same time Roger got the nickname "Touhy the Terrible".


On October 1931, Capone had Matt Kolb killed, which led to an open war between the now-armed Touhy gang and the Chicago Outfit. By May 5, 1931 Roger and others had about 100 people held hostage. There were many people in the Chicago area that bribed Roger $75,000 in cash to help get rid of their unions of the Capone mob's influence. By 1933, Capone had law enforcement arrest Roger for kidnapping William A. Hamm. However proved by the FBI that Hamm was kidnapped by another gang it proved Roger innocent. However nothing but Hearsay linked Roger to the crime, meaning Roger and 3 others were indicted on kidnapping charges on August 12, 1933.

How it all ended:

During the releasing trial of Roger from the Hamm kidnaping Roger was arrested again. He was arrested on December 4, 1933, this time for the kidnapping of John "Jake the Barber" factor. Factor and Al Capone has arranged this fake kidnapping and provide real proof indicating that Roger was the cause, this in order to gain control over his organization. Factor was known as an mobster and was on the run from British authorities. Along with Capone already contrived to having Roger indicted on the Hamm kidnapping. However on June 30, 1933 Factor was taken by 4 men. Later on when on trial he informed the judge that he had been tortured during his imprisonment, and that the kidnappers took pictures of themselves which him in their clutches. Factor was freed on July 12th due to his wife bailing him out. Roger and 3 of his men were put on trial for the Factor kidnapping, on February 2nd they declared a mistrial. The second trial began however on February 13, 1934 resulting in sentencing Roger to prison for 99 years.
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The Death of Roger "The Terrible" Touhy

After Roger was sentenced to 99 years in prison he escaped in a jailbreak in October 1942. He was caught 12 weeks later after his escape and was brought back to jail. After arriving back to jail the courts deemed the kidnapping a fluke and on November 25, 1959 was released. It was only a few weeks later that he was killed outside his sister's home in Chicago, by shotgun blasts from unknown gunman in the street.
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Citation:

"Roger Touhy, Gangster." : "Jake the Barber" The Story of a Successful Conman. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.