The murder happened on June 9, 1930.  The killing was the eleventh in Chicago in ten days.  The revulsion and indignation spread nationwide.  An editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle warned that ‘gangland had crossed the borderline and that every man, woman and child is in peril.’  Harry Chandler, president of the American Newspaper Publishers’ Association was indignant and talked of the ‘death of a first line soldier’.  Back in Chicago, the Tribune newspaper declared a war on crime and called the murder of Alfred ‘Jake’ Lingle an act of reprisal and intimidation.   Colonel Robert R McCormick, the owner of the Tribune, offered a reward to anyone that would help the investigation into the killing   Other newspaper owners joined the campaign.  The Chicago Herald and Examiner also offered $25,000.  The Evening Post staked $5,000.  Various civic groups made their own contributions.  The rewards offered to Chicago citizens totalled $55,725.  The Chicago Police mobilised special gang-busting squads.  Deputy Police Commissioner John Stege boasted that six of the hand-picked leaders of these squads had already and personally killed 37 criminals.  700 criminals were brought in and interrogated.  

Jake Lingle was born July 26, 1891.   He was twenty-years-old when he became a copy boy at the Tribune newspaper.  Previously he had worked as a stock clerk and messenger for a surgical supply company.   When he was thirty-years-old he married his childhood sweetheart.  They had two children, a year apart.  Within weeks of joining the Tribune he became a police reporter.  Despite the job title, Lingle was a leg man rather than a reporter.  He fed stories into the newspaper office where other journalists would write the reports.   The restricted role of Lingle meant he earned $65 a week.  Lingle, though, had money.  He owned a house on the West Side of Chicago and an $18,000 summer bungalow at Long Beach, Indiana.  The couple could afford to holiday in Florida and Cuba.   Jake Lingle was a faithful husband and not a heavy drinker, nothing more than a couple of glasses of beer.  His vice or weakness was gambling.  Lingle would sometimes bet $1,000 on a horse.   Everyone knew that Lingle was affluent.  He told his colleagues that he had not only inherited $50,000 from his father but made money by investing in stocks and shares and following the advice of friend Arthur Cutten.  

Alfred ‘Jake’ Lingle had worked as a leg man for eighteen years when he was murdered on June 9, 1930.  He was different from other legmen.  They parked themselves at police headquarters and collected crime reports as the cops wandered in.  Jake Lingle wandered the streets of Chicago and picked up his stories from a large collection of friends that included the state governor and state and assistant attorney generals.  Lingle gave the Tribune plenty of scoops.  The Commissioner of Police, Bill Russell, said about Lingle, that he could not be ‘more fonder of him than I could be of my own son.’   Deputy Commissioner John Stege and his wife had accompanied Lingle and his wife on holidays in Cuba.  Lingle, Russell and Stege played golf together.   Their joint attendance at theatre and sports events brought the three wives together.   Lingle was also friendly with the bootleggers.  Several times he was a guest at the Florida home of Al Capone.  The diamond belt buckle that Lingle was wearing when he was murdered was a gift from Capone.  When Capone was in prison he was twice interviewed by Lingle.  The admission from Capone that he had lost  $10 million on horse races since he had arrived in Chicago might have been an exaggeration but it was revealed to Lingle.  The murder in 1926 of Alexander McSwiggin resulted in Capone spending a night in prison.   That evening, Jake Lingle brought Capone dinner.  

Not only was Lingle a friend of everyone, he had benefited from the actions of McSwiggin.  The Milano club in Chicago Heights attracted drinkers and gamblers and was owned by Phil Piazza.  Lingle was present the night of a raid by the police.  When the cops arrived he dashed through the back of the Milano.  Lingle and others pushed through the back door twenty gallons of alcohol, six bottles of Vermouth, two bottles of Scotch, thirteen table shades, four boxes of bath salts, one linen tablecloth, a pair of four mittens, a silk shirt and collar, and a dozen wine glasses.  Alexander McSwiggin was assigned to the case.  In court he used delaying tactics.  The case never came to trial and, thanks to McSwiggin, was forgotten.   The raid of the Milano is informative.  The priority for the criminals during a raid was to quickly close down the club and save as much of the stock as possible.    

Lingle worked late nights and started his day late.  The day of his death, June 9 1930, he left the Stevens Hotel at midday.  Apart from his two houses, Lingle was able to afford nights in downtown hotels.  He strolled towards the Tribune Tower where he talked briefly with the city editor.  Lingle then walked across Wacker Drive towards the suburban station of the Illinois Central Railroad.  Before walking into the station he made a detour to the Hotel Sherman where he ate lunch.  In the hotel lobby he met Police Sergeant Tom Alcock and said, somewhat mysteriously, ‘I am being tailed.’  Lingle left the hotel and headed for the station.  He was in the station underground tunnel when a tall young man with blonde hair put a snub nosed 38 against the back of the head of Lingle and fired.  Lingle died with a lit cigar in his mouth. a copy of the Daily Racing Forum in his hand and a fresh big hole somewhere between his ears.  The young man ran towards Michigan Avenue and disappeared.   As he ran, the blonde haired killer dropped the gun and a left-handed silk glove.  Presumably the glove had been used to clean the gun.  Fourteen witnesses made statements, and there was some inconsistency.   Five of the fourteen claimed that a shorter dark haired man had accompanied the young blonde killer.   The others said that the blonde haired killer acted alone.  Lingle had intended to catch the 1.30pm train to Washington Park and visit the  racetrack in Homewood.  Eight days before the killing, Tribune owner Colonel Robert R McCormick had tried to contact Jake Lingle.  McCormick was trying to set up a meeting between Lingle and Treasury agent Frank Wilson.  No reply ever came from Lingle.

A day after the killing of Jake Lingle a meeting was called by Colonel McCormick.   Those at the meeting agreed to establish an investigative committee under the joint command of Charles A Rathbun, a Tribune lawyer, and Patrick T Roche, chief investigator for the District Attorney.  The morning after this meeting, Frank Wilson interviewed gambling boss Frankie Pope who claimed that Jake Lingle was a ‘fixer’.   Rathbun and Roche discovered that the father of Jake had left $500 and not the $50,000 claimed by the son.  Nor had the Stock Market enabled Lingle to become wealthy.  The initial stock holdings of Jake Lingle had increased in value but had then fallen in price and left Lingle without any profit.  $63,900 had, between the end of 1928 and the spring of 1930, been deposited by Lingle in the Lake Shore Savings and Trust Bank.  Rathbun established that at least $12,800 of the $63,900 qualified as ‘loans’ from politicians, police officers and gamblers.  June 18 1930 and nine days after the killing, the editor of the Tribune was obliged to eat humble pie albeit with the same sanctimonious sauce.  The editorial admitted that ‘Alfred Lingle now takes a different character’.

Harry T Brundige, a St Louis reporter from the Star, was tasked with investigating press corruption in Chicago.  He revealed the following.  Julius Rosenheim, a tipster for the Daily News, had blackmailed bootleggers, brothel keepers and gamblers by threatening exposure in the newspapers.  James Murphy, a police reporter like Lingle, had been dismissed because he was part-owner of a speakeasy.   Ted Tod, a criminal reporter for the Herald Examiner, had been a press agent for the Bugs Moran gang.   Matt Foley, assistant circulation manager of the same newspaper, had swindled thousands, people and dollars, by promoting a lottery.  Harry Read, city editor of the Evening American, had been a guest in Capone’s home in Florida half a dozen times and also accompanied Capone on a trip to Havana.

Two theories exist as to why the crooked Lingle was killed.   Both attribute the murder to Jack Zuta.  According to the first theory, Lingle had threatened to have his contacts in the police close down the Sheridan Wave Tournament Club, a high class gambling joint on the North Side of Chicago.  Lingle had demanded 50% of the gross to stop this happening.  Jack Zuta had become rich through organising prostitution on the North Side and had serious financial interest in the Sheridan Wave Tournament Club.  Zuta and Moran also thought that their rival Capone would become the main suspect for the killing.  They hoped and might have even expected that police harassment of Capone would weaken their rival.  It did not happen.  Al Capone offered a second explanation to both the press and the police.  Capone argued that Jack Zuta had advanced $50,000 to Lingle.  In return for the money, Lingle had agreed to set up and open dog tracks.   Lingle failed to deliver and presumably forgot to return the money to Zuta.  The second theory makes more sense.  The demand by Lingle for 50% of the gross earnings of the Sheridan Wave Tournament Club is difficult to credit.  And one should always be reluctant to argue with Capone.

Howard Jackson has had thirteen books published by Red Rattle Books including novels, short stories, travel books and collections of film criticism.   His latest book BORIS JOHNSON PFEFFELS AND PIFFLES is now available here.