Jason Lawrence Bell
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04-12-20 Family Power Shift


‘Spineless little creeps die easy! It’s coming! NOW!’  Read the crude tattoo. The tattoo was obviously the work of an amateur due to the misaligned letters and blotches of ink. But why on the face. All across the forehead and cheeks of the dead man were the harsh words. Except the word ‘NOW!’ It was discovered on the man’s tongue. The man was found in his bed at home by his wife. Investigators arrived first and were examining the body when the Medical Examiner entered. The Medical Examiner scanned the dead man’s face and observed, ‘this is nearly identical to the other homicides. The tongue tattoo is a new addition. Look at the redness around the letters. He was still much alive when these tattoos were cuts. He must have been in tremendous pain before death.’

‘This was the third tattoo homicide in two weeks,’ Detective Hoffman remarked, ‘We now have a serial killer we are tracking. Three murders, all men of Italian heritage with mob connections,’ Hoffman had been working the case since the first body was found. It was Vinny Salvino a mid-level crime boss who worked protection for the Columbo mafia. His death was still unsolved, but as more bodies accumulate, hopefully more evidence will appear. The Medical Examiner remarked, ‘this looks like another Columbo associate. But it’s definitely not a mob hit. They would put a bullet between the eyes, this tattoo business is not the work of the mob.’ Hoffman added, ‘yes, but it seems like a big statement to the mob. Three dead mob enforcers of the same family. What’s really confusing is the mob’s response. Usually, they would tell the police nothing and handle it their own way. But this is different. They are calling us for information on the cases and acting really scared. They don’t have a clue what’s happening. They know they may be next.’

The following morning Hoffman gathered with the other detectives at the precinct to review the cases and sift thru evidence. Hoffman began, ‘so far, what we know is we have three dead mafia strong arms with facial tattoos. They are all Columbo associates of Italian descent with wife’s and large families. Each have at least 4 kids. We are watching the sons to see how they react. Often the sons will try to fill the father’s role and move up the ranks of the mob. But this new generation of mob sons are ‘wimpy.’ Mob business scares them. And their fathers dying horribly pushes them further away.’

‘Then I realized that the death of enforcers leaves the mob boss very vulnerable. Are these deaths about exposing the boss? Is the changing in leadership the goal?’ Another detective continued, ‘but why the facial tattoos and painful deaths? They could get the same result with a bullet.’ Hoffman answered, ‘the mob understands bullets, but this freaks them. No open caskets and a disrespectful death. Possibly, this may be an outsider who is just as vicious and takes them at will. This killer is probably someone the mafia hurt badly and wants revenge. Victims of the mob are so numerous, that it would be impossible to sort them out. I’m not sad enforcers are dying, but we have to eventually find this mass murderer. So, we need to interview the head of the family.’

With that Stanley Columbo was summons to the precinct the next day. He arrived with five bodyguards and his daughter. Stanley and his daughter sat in the conference room as Hoffman and his assistants entered the room. Columbo immediately handed Hoffman a filer and spoke, ‘all of my associates were mailed this.’ Hoffman read the flier, ‘any person who protects Stanley Columbo, physically or financially, will be killed on sight.’ Hoffman saw the fear in Columbo eyes. Someone was trying to expose him to an easy kill. Hoffman asked, ‘so all of these deaths are about getting to you?’ ‘Not just getting to me but replacing my associates as well. A complete reorganizing of the Family,’ barked Columbo. Hoffman questioned, ‘how do you know they want to replace everyone.’ ‘I can’t say, but you need to stop this person,’ begged Columbo. Hoffman found it fascinating that the most dangerous man in the city was asking for police help.

Hoffman ended the meeting without giving Columbo any hope of police protection. The detectives went back to analyzing evidence. About hour later Hoffman got the call. There has been a mass shooting in the drive way at Columbo’s home. When Hoffman arrived, he saw the bullet riddled limousine and the dead bodies of five bodyguards. Only Columbo and his daughter survived and they were locked tight in the house. Hoffman tried to talk with them but was told by the daughter that they needed to replace protection and they would talk later.

The next week saw three more tattoo deaths of Columbo associates. One death was an enforcer but the others were not enforcers. One was the mob’s accountant and the other the mob’s lawyer. Hoffman knew the purge was continuing, but to a new level. The financial control was being demolished. But who was taking control? The detectives interviewed the families and remaining associates. But nothing new emerged. And now Columbo was avoiding a meeting.

After a few weeks of quiet with no new murders, Hoffman had to force a meeting with Columbo. His daughter was the contact who blocked access. After a few threats of a grand jury subpoena, she agreed to meet at the police station. Hoffman was waiting in the conference room as the Columbo crew arrived. First to enter were the lawyer and accountant. Then came four bodyguards and Columbo. Not the elder Columbo but the daughter. And all the others were women too.

All the women and Hoffman’s team sat around the conference table. Hoffman was in disbelief. As he scanned the room, he recognized everyone. These were the daughters of the dead men. The daughters of the enforcers were now enforcers themselves. The accountant and lawyer were also daughters from the families. The detectives were speechless. Columbo spoke, ‘it’s now the time of women. I believe allowing you to see us is enough. We have no more to say. Speak thru our attorney from now on.’ The group of women stood and left. Hoffman could see the purge had been completed. Peace***