The Jake Lingle murder

The Jake Lingle murder
"The scene in the tunnel under Michigan Avenue leading to the Illinois Central train station at Randolph Street shortly after Alfred "Jake" Lingle, a Tribune police reporter, was shot. He died clutching a copy of the Racing Form." (Tribune archive photo and caption)

Alfred "Jake" Lingle was murdered on June 9, 1930. The murder occurred at the Randolph Street train station ( Metra Millennium station) at Randolph and Michigan.

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Entrance to the Millennium Station, known as the Randolph Street station in 1930. (Peter V. Bella)

Lingle went down the stairs and headed for the east side tracks. He was on his way to a suburban racetrack to while away the afternoon betting on the horses.

A man sidled up to Lingle and shot him.

Jake Lingle's murder caused an uproar in Chicago newspapers. Jake Lingle was no ordinary commuter. He was a Chicago Tribune reporter with extensive ties to the Chicago Police Department and the underworld.

The Tribune offered a $25,ooo reward for information about the murder. Other papers combined to offer another $30,000. Then the tale of the crusading reporter unraveled, embarrassing the Chicago Tribune and its publisher, Col. Robert McCormick.

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Stairs leading to underground Michigan Avenue.

During the early part of the 20th century the newspaper business was fiercely competitive locally and nationally. Papers reveled in exposing their competition as incompetent or embarrassing them. The culprit in the Tribune's embarrassment was a St. Louis paper whose reporter got the goods on Jake Lingle.

Jake Lingle was a legman. He would gather stories at crime scenes and from sources, calling them into the Tribune. They would be written up for him.

Lingle was a confidant of Al Capone and many of his subordinates. His best and childhood friend was William Russel, the Chief of Police at the time.

Jake Lingle made $65 a week at the Chicago Tribune. It was reported his annual income was $65,000 a year. He owned a home on the west side but spent most of his time living in a downtown hotel. He was a fashionable dresser.

It was rumored much of his income came from investing in stocks with his friend, Chief Russel. Lingle also liked to gamble. There were rumors that Lingle was facing a cash crunch due to the 1929 stock market crash and his gambling habit. Other rumors claimed Lingle made side money brokering liquor and beer deals for Capone, making sure raids did not hit protected saloons, and providing protection through his friend Russel and other police officers.

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Tunnel to the east side tracks. Somewhere along this tunnel Jake Lingle was murdered. (Peter V. Bella)

Their were several theories expounded for the reason Lingle was murdered. Lingle allegedly owed or scammed the Chicago Outfit out of a large amount of money; Lingle crossed Capone, setting off his legendary temper; Lingle was getting too big for his britches, as he was heard to brag on more than one occasion, he set the price of beer in Chicago.

Then again, like many in the orbit of Chicago organized crime, Lingle may have outlived his usefulness and was perceived as a potential threat.

Whatever the reason, Lingle's murder caused Chicago a great deal of consternation. The police rounded up the usual suspects, over 600 of them. One man fitting the description of the shooter was identified. Leo Brothers was charged, tried, and convicted of the murder. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison He was released after serving 8 years.

Brothers claimed that he was innocent of the murder. Others with knowledge of such things claimed he was not the killer. Brothers went off to prison, keeping his mouth shut. Brothers worked his way through the rackets in St. Louis. He left there to avoid a murder trial and joined the Capone Outfit in Chicago.

When he was released from prison he returned to St. Louis and the rackets. He died of heart disease in 1950, a very unnatural death for a gangster.

 

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