It may have taken more than a century, but Italian police have finally figured out who killed an undercover NYPD detective in Sicily.
Giuseppe “Joe” Petrosino, known as “the Detective in the Derby,” was a pioneer in taking down organized crime back in the early 1900s and was the NYPD’s secret weapon when it came to fighting Italian mobsters.
He was dispatched to Sicily in March 1909 on a special job to investigate the Sicilian Mafia’s ties to its American counterpart the Black Hand, a group of thugs that targeted Italian-American immigrants.
American media outlets caught wind of Petrosino’s mission and leaked the details, but Petrosino refused to abort the mission. He believed the Sicilian mafia would not kill a police officer as was the case back in New York.
But he was wrong. Petrosino was waiting for an alleged informant in downtown Palermo when he was ambushed by gunmen and shot four times.
Amid reports of Petrosino’s assassination, cops rounded up every Black Hand suspect they could get their hands on, according to the March 13, 1909 article published in The Evening Post, the Post’s name until 1934.