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Retired Intelligence Detective Gary Jenkins interviews noted true crime filmmaker and author Rick Porrello. You will remember Mr. Porrello from Kill the Irishman, the story of the Cleveland Celtic Warrior, Danny Greene. Rick has a new Book titled There’s More Bodies Out There: The True Story of a Mafia Associate and a Cop Who emerge as Suspected Serial Killers. Rick was able to obtain a series of prison interviews with Richard Henkel, who started life as an armed robber, became known to the Pittsburgh Mafia as a man who could kill without remorse, and participated in a famous hostage-taking standoff in Pittsbhurg’s Western Prison. Along the way, Richard Henke befriended Gary Small when he was an Edgewood Borough police officer and brought him into his schemes.
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Rick Porrello edited bodies
Thu, Jan 05, 2023 4:07PM • 24:06
pittsburgh, youngstown, henkel, book, murder, mob, prison, cleveland, life insurance, story, kill, suspected, gary, writing, enforcers, mobsters, organized crime, hear, big, 70s
I first heard about Richard Henkel when I was writing my book super thief. And I learned that he was responsible for sending a bomb to a massage parlor to a prostitute who worked a massage parlor and sending it to her as a under the guise of a Christmas gift and blowing her up. He killed her, basically to keep her quiet over something else that had happened. And I was aghast and realize, Wow, this might be a story and a character that I want to look into.
Well, guys, I got a great show for you today. Rick Porello is going to be on here in a minute, a good friend of mine, ex cop, retired cop from back in Cleveland area, done a bunch of stuff you just heard kind of him talking to him a little bit of the low taste of what you’re gonna hear about from him. So let’s welcome Rick Porello.
And I was aghast and realize, Wow, this might be a story and a character that I want to look into.
Man, that guy was that guy was that cold Dude, why they?
He sure was I think he’s still he still is, you know, I’ve been in contact with him for over a year now about 10 months going into the completion of the book. And I first learned about Gary when I was writing my book, super thief, which goes back probably 15 years from working with Phil, Phil Christopher, the master burglar, the sub subject of my book, super thief. And he just kind of mentioned Richard Henkel in passing and, you know, said that he was involved in the murder for, for life insurance. And, you know, when you’re a writer, sometimes you hear you hear stories, or you’re a story or you hear about a certain character and sort of inserted plants a seed, you know, he kind of file that away. And that’s exactly what happened with with this character, Dick Henkel, Richard Henkel on file that away and years later, I started looking into him a little bit, I read a book actually a kind of a short story in a book called Pittsburgh characters. You know, he’s a Pittsburgh, he’s a pit he certainly is a Pittsburgh character. And it was written written by that particular short story was written by a journalist by the name of Paul Marciniak. And it basically tells the, the, you know, that the nuts and bolts of of, of Henkel story and just what a character I mean, he’s basically a mob that yeah, he’s, he’s a mob associate connected with the Pittsburgh mob, Youngstown, in a contract killer, or, you know, started off as a bank, a bank robber and well into branched in in Pittsburgh underworld, and just the whole the whole thing just really just pulled me in, you know, there’s there’s just so much going out. There’s so many different layers.
So what about about the mob connection? Did he did he have a particular mobster that he named now? You interviewed him in the penitentiary, right?
Yeah, well, I never actually met him in person, Gary, I thought about asking if he would let me come and visit him. But I thought I started writing to him. At first he said he didn’t want to talk to me. He was 83 years old at the time he had been in prison now for 40 years. He had, he had pled out to, I think for four or five. Well, he admitted he admitted to he bled out to one murder, he admitted to involvement in the four other murders. He claims, at least from an associate said that he claims he killed 28 people. I find that hard to believe. But I started writing to him at first he said he didn’t want to talk to me. I wrote back I said, well, listen, what if I write back to you, maybe six, eight months later, and I’ll tell you how the book is going and you can, you know, see how we go from there. He said, That’s fine. That’s exactly what I did. And when I when I wrote to him that second time, I included some questions in there. Well, that kind of caught his attention. He started writing to me, we started going back and forth. And it continued on and on and on. And, and, and he was very honest, I have no reason to believe that he was dishonest with me. And I became very pointed with some of my questions. Now of course, he could never step over a certain line. I mean, you know how it is dealing with these guys. Uh, you know, if you ask you’re in, I knew not to ask certain questions. I didn’t come out and ask him if he murdered a certain person. But, you know, there’s certain questions as a law enforcement officers, you could you could kind of ask, you know, kind of, kind of to kind of step up to that line. And I tried doing that a little bit and he was he was forthcoming with some things. And but but he, like I said he just never really stepped over that that line. And
what what faction of the Pittsburgh crime family was he connected to what? Well, well, it was the you know, did he do?
Well he wasn’t really he’s first of all, he started off as a as a bank robber. He served about four, he was actually sentenced to 20 years in prison for bank robbery. He’s pretty young when he started in his early 20s and was sentenced to 20 years got out after only four years in prison, you know, the real injustice there with what the system got out in, you know, may have already committed a murder or two at that point. So I think he had a real reputation in Pittsburgh’s underworld, Pittsburgh’s kind of a smaller, smaller, big city. So I think he came out and already had a reputation. And you know what it is, these guys meet, you know, other, other connected guys in prison, they make connections in prison. So they come out, they already have a reputation. They have their old connections, they have new connections, they come out, they want to get back in the business. He had a guy he was connected with named Joey DeMarco, who was either I’d say was at least associated with the Pittsburgh mob the John La Rocca crime family later. Now he got connected with a guy in Youngstown name Joey de rose Jr. Joey de rose, Jr. was a hitman for the Cleveland mob in particular, the karamba brothers the Corolla brothers out were enforcers for the Cleveland mafia, but they were kind of responsible for the Youngstown area, the mall, the Mahoning Valley, Youngstown Warren, which was split in territory between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. And so, Richard Henkel was a close friend of this Joe DeRosa, Jr. And they may have done some, you know, some some hits together. We that was never really proven. So he had, you know, he had the connections in Youngstown, he was connected with his Joey DeMarco in in, in Pittsburgh, George DeMarco had a had a joint called the court lounge, where I think some of these wise guys hung out out. He was the chemical was also associated with this, this drug and enforcement group that was headed by these, the these criminals. Kind of these these really loosely connected organized crime guys. Their names were a Robert codfish Bricker, and another one by the name of Charles Charles monster kellington. And these guys are really kind of a disorganized group of drug traffickers and enforcers that were not the smartest bunch when it came to the use of, of violence. And they came they came tumbling down pretty, pretty hard. But there’s all this other stuff going on. And like I said, there’s just a there’s just a lot going on in the story, the
The murder for hire, or for life insurance. How did that work? I know I was researching the story about the murder of Judge Wood. And Charles Harrelson. What his dad, he did some of that. So how did that
work for him? Well, you know, Richard Henkel. He’s really a con man, he’s a con man and a killer. And he would, you know, he said he would, he was very loyal to the people around him, as far as getting them in trouble with the law, he would never rat out one of his associates, he would kill him, he would kill one of his associates. Never rat him out, you know, he would kill him or her. Yeah. And what he was doing with some of the couple of the women, I think that he was around one in particular, it see what it convinced them and these were not the smartest women to begin with. They were they were vulnerable. And he would convince them to take out life insurance policies. And this was back during the mid later 70s, when life insurance was, was kind of at its height of popularity to come into the the personal finance picture where it became, you know, just at the height of popularity where you had to have life insurance as a part of your, your personal finance package. And so he would convince them to take out life insurance and say, Look, I’ll take a life insurance policy out you take a life insurance policy out and we’ll make our mother’s the the the beneficiaries, but he would he would, you know, trick them into leaving the beneficiary line blank or and he would would finance The goal the the policy so that he would wind up having his mother as the beneficiary. And then he would arrange for the murder, which he did and in the one case and, and he did. He did collect life insurance that way on at least one possibly two murder victims. And you know, it’s just a it’s just a crazy thing that this guy did I mean he was a he went like you said he was just a cold cold Dude, I don’t know I’ve asked, I’ve been asked, you know, I’ve been in the corresponding with him. You know, what about remorse? Is there any remorse with this guy? I don’t think there’s any remorse. The closest he has come with me is saying that. He’s not proud of what he did that that’s the closest is that proud of what he did basically, like it is what it is. He’s not proud of. He did what he did. He’s not proud of it.
Yeah, this cop that you talk about. I see the caption on the book is the true story of a mafia associate and a cop who emerges suspected serial killers. And I see his name was very small. And I just did a little checking on me. He had quite a checkered about he, he was got popped for providing guns for the Japanese accused. Like come on. I mean, where this guy comes from?
Yeah, well, he was arrested for and convicted and served time for violating Japan’s customs law and bringing bringing weapons and smuggling weapons in the Japan serve time. They suspected that it may have been for their organized crime, the Yakuza. And
so what’s the story with this very small?
Yeah, so he was he was actually a decorated Vietnam vet. And he he’s still around, did not respond to my request to what talk and understandably there might not be a whole lot of things that he could talk about. He came out of Vietnam War he had some supposedly had injuries and the agent orange syndrome was a decorated Vietnam veteran came out you know, honorable discharge went into public service became a cop for a, a Bureau of Pittsburgh called Edgewood and was serving admirably by all accounts is a a respected but rather quiet police officer, but he had a he had another life going on. And what’s this it was suspected that he was providing weapons to organized crime figures. In fact, that was Joey de rose Jr. who the enforcer for the clip blend mob in Youngstown. When he was shot at by Pittsburgh. Mob soldiers. He was Joey was caught trying to hide a gun. He had been shot when the cops got there. Joey was caught trying to hide a gun and when the when the gun was traced that came back to Gary small in in the Pittsburgh area. And the way Henkel hooked up with small is apparently when during their childhoods, Gary small had been pretty close friends with with Dick Henckels younger brother. So there was kind of a family connection. And when the cankle got out of prison when he was paroled for bank robbery, he met up with Gary small and they lived together for a short time. And then, you know, apparently became associated, and the, you know, police and investigators suspected that they were doing some work, they gather that, you know, the police actually suspected that Gary small, was involved in some murders that the cancle was involved in was never proven again and to be fair, or very small, was never even indicted for for a murder. So, you know, I gotta make gotta make that clear. But he was suspected and, you know, that was that was widely known, but just never, but never indicted. And he you know, last year lost his job as a police officer fought to get it back. The borough you know, the barrel, won the, the legal case against him. And then he went on with some odd jobs and then left to work radically with the military as a as a I believe as a as a sports sports consultant working with the military in Japan, before he got got arrested he so it’s again another just a crazy part of the part of the story with this mechanical.
It is crazy. I assume that, you know, Youngstown, I did a show on Youngstown recently and that was like wide open town and you know, the criminals and the underworld is Like rule that town and I kind of assumed that these guys probably were, you know, ran those bars and, and those operations in Youngstown, because that was, you know, that was open city for mobsters, criminals, professional criminals like this back then. Yeah,
well, I think it was pretty. I think it at a time it may have been and then it seems like Cleveland and in Pittsburgh, you know, they had their they had their crews in there. And it was pretty much run by Cleveland, in Pittsburgh, up and up until the point where, you know, after the murder of Danny green, and then, you know, Cleveland, you know, lost much of their control. And I think there were attempts by some other, some other crying families to kind of move in. Yeah.
Is there any other particular stories about Vic Henkel that guys might find interesting. Oh, there’s, there’s quite a book. So give us another? Yeah, there’s
quite a few. I mean, the guy was, you know, he did not like being held in prison that like not that any of these guys would, but he was. He was not this guy was pretty smart. And he had a lot of connections. And he was determined that he was going to, he wasn’t going to be held for trial. He was going to he was going to settle out of court, but that meant like he was going to, he was going to escape, you know. And so he had some plans to escape from the county jail. And when they, when they when they found out they moved them over into the Indiana State Prison, which was right in Pittsburgh, they had a prisoner right there. And he, probably from day one started making plans to to get out of prison there. He was able to overtime, bribe a prison employee to work without the prisoner that without the prison employee, even knowing he bribed him into smuggling in too many revolvers. And the way he did this is the the prison employee believed that he was smuggling in marijuana two bundles of marijuana in the false heels of shoes that he picked up from one a dick ankles, associates on the outside, wore the shoes in and then traded the chute switch the shoes with ankle pink so the ankle now has too many revolvers loaded, loaded with with four rounds each. And he makes he makes his move with with another young fellow prisoner, and the plans get foiled when a prison guard sees the shoes he went when Henkel is getting ready to be transferred to court along with the his his other fellow who his fellow prisoner sees the shoe as you see something strange in our starts picking around in there with a pen sees the gun. They start battling for the gun Well, Henkel and the other guy get the drop on the prison guard. And they’re in starts this five or six day siege. And, and this thing goes on in a hostage situation. And it’s a big mess at the prison. Fortunately, fortunately, it ended, nobody was hurt. But this thing is going on. There’s news from all over Pennsylvania Park death row, this is probably one of the biggest things that happen biggest crises that happen within this the the Pennsylvania state prison system, certainly in the 70s and 80s. It had to be one of the top five crisis situations that happen. And again, fortunately, nobody was nobody was hurt.
And that prison was sitting inside the city limits in Pittsburgh. Yeah, yeah. Interesting. Wow.
It’s called Western Western penitentiary. Yeah.
You know, when I was in college, they talk about the penitentiary systems in Pennsylvania. They were like the first formal penitentiary system. So they’ve been doing penitentiaries for a long time is the word penitent from Quakers. Yeah, so interesting. This has been great. Rick Porrrello. My friend the book is there’s more bodies out there the true story of a mafia associate and a cop has emerged as suspected serial killers. So interesting. Now, Rick, you guys, you know Rick’s been on here before So Rick, tell us a little more. You made your bones off of Danny green. So tell remind the guys a little bit about your history there. But Danny green and the movie and the book kill the Irishman. And it was great, by the way and documentary. All that stuff was great that you really you inspired me? I’ll tell you right.
I’m glad to hear that. I think I’ve been inspired quite a few people. I from what I understand from what I’ve heard to start writing. Back in the in the 90s. About more about the regional crime families. You know, I’m used to hear a lot about New York and Chicago. I got but then you started having after the rising for the Cleveland mafia that was my first book came out in 95 You started having more books come out Kansas City, you know, Las Vegas, Philadelphia. But yeah so my second book, which I self published and decided to self published and it was kind of well the to kill the Irishman it was optioned for film before we even went on the shelf and young producer named Tommy Reed Shepherd shepherded this thing through and it became it was adapted for the movie kill the Irishman
came out people out, you know, I mean, it had
Oh, Christopher Walken walk. Yeah.
Vincent D’Onofrio Ray Steve Ray Stevenson right Stevenson’s
fail Kuma Christopher and yeah, a great ensemble cast. And it’s on Netflix it’s doing it’s doing good. Get good ratings in kill the Irishman and a super thief like I said, it’s how I how I learned about mechanical
and super thief that’s a particularly interesting story is getting the guy’s kind of a brief overview of super thief I like I like high stories myself.
Well, and you know, it’s in. It’s been in development for film. So I hope it I hope it will end up being, you know, the next great heist flick we’ll see. But it’s the story of a master burglar named Phil Christopher, in one of the biggest bank heists bank burglaries in US history, which occurred in the in 1972. In Orange County, California, Laguna Niguel, California. It’s been featured in documentaries. And it’s a it’s a great it’s a great story. Phil’s a great character and there’s other you know, mobbed up burglars involved from the Youngstown area, again from the Cleveland area. So I’ve got high hopes for for that book in, you know, just continuing on with the they say right, what you know, right. And so, continuing on with the organized crime thing.
Yeah, well, good are glad you did you give you give me a good guess interesting stories for for my guys out there. And like I said, You were you were a huge inspiration for me. When I first got started in this. I said, Hey, here’s a here’s an ex cop, or a cop. This done this documentary. And he’s written his book and and what you wrote about reminded me so much of the 70s in Kansas City, we had this similar kind of a mob war in the 70s. Again, setting I was right in the middle of that. And so you were a big inspiration. You
know, what’s what’s interesting, think back for me, Gary, is that I kind of Oh, my interest in organized crime to the fact that my grandfather, who was one of Cleveland’s first big mobsters was was murdered. You know, it’s kind of a strange thing to think about that, you know, and I was a couple of generations removed from the, from the, from all the bloodshed, you know,
so I had one of his extended relatives. Angelo Porrello. live here in Kansas City was a made guy here in Kansas City. Yeah. Angelo
and his brother Joseph was killed, I think in the 1960s.
Yeah. So interesting. All right, Rick, I really appreciate you coming on the show.
Thank you, Gary. Always good to be here. All right. Thanks
a lot, right. Bye. Well, guys, that was great, wasn’t it Rick Porello My good friend Rick Porrello been on here before and you need to go back and find one of those of you want to hear the inside story of kill the Irishman. I bet y’all know about killer Irishman. So, Ben great. Don’t forget, I ride a motorcycle. So when you’re out there, look out for motorcycles. And if you have a problem with PTSD or one of your friends does or relative or something and they’ve been in the military, go on the VA website and get that hotline and give that hotline that call. Thanks a lot guys. Guys, guys.