Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Al Capone: Chicago's Most Infamous Mob Boss

The Capones

What kind of people were these two, giving birth to one of the world's most notorious criminals? Did they pass on to him some virulent genetic strain of violence? Some subtly mutated chromosomes? Was Al Capone abused as a child? Did he spend his tender years in the company of murderers and thieves?

Definitely not. The Capones were a quiet, conventional family. Laurence Bergreen in his excellent biography Capone: The Man and the Era says "The mother...kept to herself. Her husband, Don Gabriele, made more of an impression, since he was, in the words of one family friend, 'tall and handsome -- very good-looking.' Like his wife, he was subdued, even when it came to discipline. He never hit the kids. He used to talk to them. He used to preach to them, and they listened to their father.

"...nothing about the Capone family was inherently disturbed, violent, or dishonest. The children and the parents were close; there was no apparent mental disability, no traumatic event that sent the boys hurtling into a life of crime. They did not display sociopathic or psychotic personalities; they were not crazy. Nor did they inherit a predilection for a criminal career or belong to a criminal society... They were a law-abiding, unremarkable Italian-American family with conventional patterns of behavior and frustrations; they displayed no special genius for crime, or anything else, for that matter."

In May of 1906, Gabriele became an American citizen. Within the family, his children would be always known by their Italian names, but in the outside world, the boys would be known by the American names they adopted. Vincenzo became James; Raffaele became Ralph; Salvatore became Frank; Alphonse became Al. Later children were Amadeo Ermino (later John and nicknamed Mimi), Umberto (later Albert John), Matthew Nicholas, Rose and Malfalda.

Al Capone: Mugshot of Public Enemy Number 1
Al Capone: Mugshot of Public Enemy Number 1


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