The Last Family Secret: 30 years after the Spilotro hit

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation

ByChuck Goudie and Barbara Markoff and Christine Tressel WLS logo
Friday, June 24, 2016
The Last Family Secret
On June 23 30 years ago, the mob's powerhouse brothers were discovered buried in an Indiana cornfield. The last family secret is how they got there.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- On June 23, 30 years ago, the mob's powerhouse brothers were discovered buried in an Indiana cornfield. The "last family secret" is how they got there.

The I-Team looks into Tony and Michael Spilotro's last road trip, where it began and who was behind it.

"Do you have any fears at all for your life?"

The question to Tony "Ant" Spilotro was finally answered on June 23, 1986, when he and his brother Michael were found six feet under by a Northwest Indiana corn farmer.

"This don't look like any animal skin I've ever seen," the farmer said at the time.

The Spilotro's temporary resting place is still eerily visible thirty years later. How they ended up here is not nearly as obvious.

The movie "Casino," Hollywood's version of the brother's death, shows outfit bosses beating them in the Indiana cornfield, something mob insiders say never happened.

We do know from authorities and underworld informants the Spilotros were rubbed out because Tony had angered Chicago crime bosses by an affair with the wife of Lefty Rosenthal, a Chicago native and Vegas casino exec who was an outfit operative.

And former FBI supervisor John Mallul says Spilotro was a loose cannon.

"He was essentially operating on his own. Keeping the proceeds to himself and not looking for authority to do anything," says Mallul.

"He did a lot of things he was not supposed to do that were really bad for business and for the Outfit," says John Binder, author of "The Chicago Outfit."

And we know the Spilotros had been invited to a meeting with the bosses, under the belief it was to be a mob promotion ceremony. But they had been summoned to their deaths in a suburban basement. Details came years later by mob informant Nick Calabrese.

"He dove at Michael's legs, he grabbed Michael, he held Michael and Louie Eboli cut his throat," says Joe "the Shark" Lopez, mob attorney.

Top hoodlums Louie "The Mooch" Eboli and all the bosses were there, according to authorities, along with several mystery murderers, not known to this day.

"The plan was simply to tackle them, hold them down and strangle them," Mullul says.

"The top guys made a point of being there and getting their whacks in on them before they were dead," says Binder.

And the last Family secret? The exact location of where they were jumped and beaten by that gaggle of hoodlums, narrowed down only to a subdivision in northwest suburban Bensenville,

"It was my understanding that there was a couple of members, alleged members, that lived in that subdivision," says Lopez.

One of the murderers was Nick Calabrese, an FBI informant since 2002, and numerous times he tried to lead agents to the site of the basement beat-down.

"We couldn't locate the home and Nick couldn't confirm it. That's why that still remains a mystery," says Mallul.

For the family of Tony Spilotro, a ruthless career criminal who once put a victim's head in a vice until his eyeball popped out, 30 years has softened the memories.

"Ya know, he just- he was just a man, and got caught up in some things that maybe he shouldn't have but he lived it the way he lived it," says Vincent Spilotro, his son.

Mobwatcher websites display several Bensenville homes purported to be the location of the Spilotro killings. Investigators say all were all looked at and cleared. The I-Team examined property records for those and other possible locations and spoke with current and former homeowners and found no outfit connection. So that last family secret remains intact.

I-Team Web Special: The Spilotro Saga

From February of 2011...I-Team Web Special: The Spilotro Saga