The Deepest Family Secret

May 8, 2008 8:08:27 AM PDT
Is Marilyn Monroe the deepest family secret?The I-Team looked into one of Chicago's most feared mob hit men, Frank "The German" Schweihs and whether he was behind the mysterious death of the Hollywood legend in 1962.

Frank Schweihs' cancer kept him from being tried with the rest of the family secrets clan last summer. But on Thursday morning in federal court, prosecutors will proceed with their plans to try Schweihs this fall on charges of mob crimes and murder.

There won't be paparazzi nor any mention of Marilyn Monroe, even though her death and the death of a Chicago manicurist have been pinned on Schweihs.

In Chicago in 1962, the Dan Ryan Expressway opened. Mayor Richard J. Daley was in his second term. Integration started in the Chicago schools. The Cubs lost 101 games.

And Frank Schweihs was a rising star in the Outfit, living in the west suburban home of his Outfit boss. By '62, Schweihs had been arrested as often as his age - he was 32 years old - for crimes from burglary to homicide. But he seemed to carry a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Even though he was German, Schweihs hung out in Greektown and it may have been during a night out there that he met a tall, slender 18-year-old manicurist, Eugenia Pappas. They called her Becca. They began to date to the dismay of her family.

"My sister came to see me eight days before she was murdered and I said, 'Please don't be involved with anyone like that because when you die, they just step over your body,'" said sister Diane Pappas.

It was advice not taken. Becca's body was found floating in the Chicago River. She had been shot through the heart, according to police, while sitting in the passenger seat of a car. Chicago detective Richard Cain, who led that investigation, was himself secretly on the mob's payroll. Schweihs was questioned but never charged.

Diane Pappas said she doesn't know what Schweihs' motive would've been.

"I wouldn't know. She was a naive 18-year old girl and that's all I know. She was smitten with him," Diane Pappas said.

The Pappas family cringed at reporting that Outfit bosses had ordered Schweihs to silence Becca because he had told her about his role in another murder.

A 1993 book about Marilyn Monroe, written by an L.A. private eye, concludes that "Eugenia Pappas found out about Marilyn Monroe," from Schweihs, who was then ordered to kill her. Whether that is true, Monroe's death was never officially ruled a suicide due to lack of evidence. Many investigators believe Monroe was *murdered* by the Chicago Outfit because of her connections to the Kennedy family and Chicago mob boss Sam "Momo" Giancana.

A police informant reportedly stated that Giancana deployed Schweihs and Anthony "Ant" Spilotro to kill Marilyn Monroe and make it look like a drug overdose.

John Flood spent 41 years in metro-Chicago law enforcement, most with the Cook County sheriff's police. He is now retired in Las Vegas and is considered an Outfit expert. Flood says there's a possibility they were involved because of the close relationship of Giancana, the Chicago boss, and Frank Sinatra. They would meet in Reno.

Flood says Schweihs, or Schways as he knew him, was the prime suspect in dozens of gangland hits.

"A cold-blooded, tough killer who would murder anyone if ordered to," Flood said of Schweihs.

In 1989, Schweihs was convicted of shaking down porno store owners and was recorded on an FBI tape boasting that he was the boss and no one else.

When the Family Secrets indictments were handed up in 2005, Schweihs went into hiding and was finally arrested in a Kentucky apartment house at age 76, living with a girlfriend, while his long-ago girlfriend can never rest in peace.

"How is that justice? Walking around for 45 years doing horrible deeds like he's always done? That's very unfortunate," said Diane Pappas. "I hope he goes to jail for the rest of his life and suffers pain with the cancer."

And after 45 years, Diane Pappas heeded the suggestion of her late husband, a career Chicago cop, not to be too public in accusing Frank Schweihs. A crotchety, bad tempered hoodlum, Schweihs has never buckled under the weight of authority and will likely take to his grave, whatever he may know about a Hollywood death that stunned the world and a Chicago murder that has divested a family.

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