Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Shondor Birns & Danny Green: Cleveland's Killer Celebrities

Revenge from the Grave?

Reportedly, Shondor had left $25,000 with an associate. It was to hire a hit man in case anything happened to Birns.

Shortly after Birns died, somebody fired shots at Greene and his girlfriend on the street. He missed.

Then, on the morning of May 12, an explosion awakened much of Collinwood. Kovacic heard it while he was eating breakfast and immediately headed for Greene's building.

The building was in shambles, but Greene, seemingly miraculously, had only minor injuries. When the second floor fell, he somehow was shielded from the debris by a refrigerator that lodged against a wall. A second bomb, a more powerful one, had failed to explode

Interviewed by the Press, Greene credited his escape to the intercession of St. Jude, whose medal he wore around his neck.

The Press story continued:

"This is what makes make mad,' Greene said, pointing to the shattered windows and cracked foundations of the nearby buildings.

"If they wanted to get me, why didn't they come straight at me? But endangering the lives of my friends and neighbors — whoever did this belongs in a cage."

Again, Kovacic offered police protection. Again, Greene refused.

"There's not a bomb big enough to kill Danny Greene," he said.

Kovacic had coached Greene's younger son, and he took a paternal interest in Danny Kelly, Greene's older son, who used his mother's maiden name.

While he was trying to send Greene to the electric chair, Kovacic had to admire his guts.

In a Plain Dealer story called" The Cop and the Kid," Mike Tobin described their cat-and-mouse game:

Over the years, an unusual relationship grew between the two. Since Greene trusted Kovacic, he'd share information with him. It was a different time, when a cop and a racketeer could meet at a bar and pick each other's brains.

When it became clear the mob had Greene in its sights, Kovacic tried to warn him.

"Danny, I'm telling you, they are going to kill you," Kovacic said.

Time and again, Greene dismissed Kovacic's warnings. So Kovacic — who was married and the father of three boys and three girls — made Greene a promise, one that Greene might not have taken seriously but that the cop never forgot.

"Danny, after they kill you, I'll watch your two sons like they were my own. I can't raise girls, but I'll make sure the boys don't get in trouble."

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