Harry “The Hook” Aleman Part 3

Lou Almeida

This is the third of a four-part series on one of the most feared enforcers in the history if the Chicago Outfit. In this episode the Gary discusses how Lou Almeida and Harry Aleman murder Billy Logan hit with Chicago Outfit – Old and Current News and Articles Facebook page administrator and Outfit expert Mike Byrne.

In 1975, a state trooper arrested Lou Almeida in Ohio en route to a murder “some guy” in Pittsburgh. I could not find any more about this guy he was supposed to kill but I bet he was set up by somebody.  State police stopped his car on suspicion and found a loaded pistol with a silencer. An Ohio court sentenced Lou Almeida to ten years in prison where he attempted suicide.  He began cooperating with the government shortly afterward, cutting a deal for early release and entry into the witness protection program.

Lou Almeida had quite a story to tell and it will end in Outfit history being made. His information will lead to the first time ever that a person was tried twice for the same crime by the same jurisdiction. The murder of Billy Logan was on Sept. 27, 1972, and number 2 on the Aleman hit list, the next one after he and probably Butch Petrocelli hit the guy called “Sambo” the guy who married the former girlfriend of Milwaukee Phil.

Billy Logan is set-up

According to Lou Almeida, Teamster’s steward Billy Logan refused to cooperate with the Outfit’s plans to steal cargo from his trucks, and Aleman was sent to kill him. Almeida said that in August of 1972, he and Aleman discussed a plan to kill Logan. He alleged Aleman gave him two license plate numbers and Logan’s home and work addresses, writing “Death to Billy” on the same piece of paper. Almeida then trailed Logan to learn his habits and schedule. As our friend Frank Calabrse Jr, said, “He layed on” (watched and followed) Billy Logan for 2 weeks.” Lou Almeida learned Billy Logan drove a taxi during the day and returned to his sister’s house for dinner and then left at 1:00 PM every evening for his teamster job as a dispatcher with Interstate trucking in Cicero.

Almeida testified that eleven days before the murder, on Sept. 16, 1972, Aleman directed Almeida and another hood to burglarize a home in suburban Oak Lawn where Aleman believed $40,000 in cash was kept in the basement. But after tying up a woman in the home and terrorizing her baby, Almeida and his buddy left with only $1,800 and some jewelry. Aleman was not happy with the take but paid Almeida his customary $500.00 fee. he gave him $500.00 for each job no matter the entire take. A few nights later, on September 27, 1972, Almeida drove Aleman to Logan’s home and the two killers sat in the dark and waited. By this time, Harry knew that Billy Logan stayed at his sister’s house and left for a second job at 11:00 Pm every evening.

Lou Almeida drives the get-away car

Billy Logan, then 37 years old, had grown up on Chicago’s Near West Side, an area known as “Little Italy.” He lived on the second floor at 5916 W. Walton St. with his sister, Betty, who was divorced. His sister, Joanna, and her children lived on the first floor. Logan, a part-time cab driver, awoke for his second job on the night shift at Interstate trucking, dressed, and stopped to say good night to his sister.  Logan’s nephew William Dietrich was on the front porch and watched his uncle walk across the street to his parked car and then heard a voice say, “Hey, Bill, come here.” Almost simultaneously, three gunshots rang out: two from a shotgun, a third from a pistol. He heard his uncle yell out “Oh, my God,” Logan’s sister Betty raced out the street where he lay dying. “He was still alive. He mumbled something. His keys fell. Betty held his head and refused to let it go crying, “I don’t want his head on the ground.” One witness described this as like a scene in the movies.

A Witness

A neighbor named Bob Lowe was walking with his dog up to the scene because he wanted to catch Billy before he left for work. He wanted to sell the dog to Logan as a watch dog. He would say that Billy was like clockwork, he left for his second job every night at this time. He was within a few feet and stared directly at the face of Harry Aleman as he shot down Logan, jumped back into the get-away car, and left. Lowe did not want to be a witness in the case. Right after he saw the shooting, he says, his father told him it was possibly a Syndicate killing and “to shut up and get inside” the house. When the police interviewed him that night, Lowe never volunteered that he saw the murderer. This will cause some problems later in trial. Bob Lowe kept worrying about what he knew and felt that he had a responsibility to speak up. He would say, “I didn’t feel it was safe for my kids on the street. Did you ever watch a horror movie? You’d be sleeping, and then parts of that movie would come back and scare you? Well, this was the same way. I’d be trying to sleep, and I would see that face. I was always looking behind me, looking for a car to pull up alongside me.”

Three months after the murder, Lowe went to the police and, after examining photos, picked out Harry Aleman, although he had no idea who Aleman was or that he was suspected in taking part in at least twenty mob murders, maybe more. But no case was brought against Aleman.  Later when the state’s attorney checked on the progress of the case, first the cops claimed that Lowe was lying and that he ever hadn’t come into headquarters and no one showed him photos. They later changed the story and said that they had lost only Lowe’s identification.

In 1977, 5 years after the Billy Logan murder, Almeida had been arrested and told about the Billy Logan hit. Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Nicholas Lavarone found Bobby Lowe and got him to cooperate on the case. But, understandably, when Lowe found out who Aleman was, he backed out. His father urged him to stay away from the case. However, his brother, who had been shot in a gas station holdup and later was helped by a witness who agreed to testify for him, told him “think for yourself, be your own man.” Lowe agreed to be a prosecution witness.

He was forced to leave his job as a gas station manager and give up his apartment. The family was put under 24-hour guard. He was given a $250.00 a month allowance by the state and the strain began to show and his marriage started to come apart and he lost weight and couldn’t sleep.

Harry Aleman found Not Guilty

The case came to trial in May 1977 before Cook County Circuit Judge Frank Wilson. Aleman’s defense attorney asked for a bench trial and there was no jury.  On the witness stand Bobby Lowe testified “Me and that man (Aleman) just stared at each other.” They were perhaps four feet apart. Lou Almeida testified that he drove Aleman to the murder scene and watched him kill Billy Logan and drove him away. Aleman presented 4 witnesses, including his wife Ruth, claiming that he was at a golf driving range at the time of the murder.

Remember, Bobby Lowe said he did not see the killer the night of the shooting and then came in later and identified Aleman from a mug book. As Judge Wilson began to read the verdict he said he had been a judge in criminal court for over 10 years and he had twice sentenced men to die in the electric chair. The judge then focused on those first statements that night and said “the policemen wrote them down and then Lowe denied on the stand that he said those things, and because of that variance in his testimony puts great doubt. The first statement is inherently more trustworthy than testimony from the stand. I find the defendant not guilty.”

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