Aniello Dellacroce: The Bone-Chilling Mob Killer Who Made John Gotti King Of New York

While John Gotti was the “Teflon Don,” he may not have been godfather at all if not for Aniello Dellacroce.

Aniello Dellacroce

Hal Mathewson/NY Daily News Archive via Getty ImagesAniello Dellacroce (right) leaves a hearing on Feb. 12, 1970.

Aniello Dellacroce’s Early Antics

Aniello Dellacroce was born in 1914, the son of Italian immigrants in New York who grew up in Little Italy. He took to petty crime at a young age and, like many first-generation Italian-Americans at the time, found himself drawn into the world of the Mafia

Dellacroce first studied the craft of organized crime under New York gangster, Albert Anastasia, the self-proclaimed “Executioner.” Dellacroce followed him into the Vincent Mangano crime family, which later became the infamous Gambino family.

Albert Anastasia Mugshot

Wikimedia CommonsAlbert Anastasia

During the early years of his career, Dellacroce built up a reputation as a clever and extremely brutal gangster. He used to dress as a priest to avoid attention, call himself “Father O’Neil,” and cheerfully greet policemen on their beats. He showed little fear of the law, and in fact enjoyed taunting officers. On one occasion, Dellacroce found two policemen taping him and reportedly forced the officers to eat the tape at gunpoint.

And he also used his gun to execute brutal murders that made use of his chilling gaze. “He likes to peer into a victim’s face, like some kind of dark angel, at the moment of death,” said one federal prosecutor. “His eyes had no color…as if his soul was transparent,” one reporter said. “Dellacroce was one of the scariest individuals I’ve ever met in my life,” said one mob investigator, “Dellacroce’s eyes were, like, he didn’t have any eyes. Did you ever see Children of the Damned? His eyes were so blue that they weren’t even there. It was like looking right through him.”