Abraham “Kid Twist” Reles was a New York mobster who was widely considered the most feared hit man for Murder, Inc., the enforcement contractor for the National Crime Syndicate. Take a look below for 25 more interesting and weird facts about Abe Reles.
1. Reles later turned government witness and sent several members of Murder, Inc. to the electric chair.
2. Reles’ death from falling through a window while in police custody might have been a hit placed by the American Mafia, as he was set to testify against Mangano crime family underboss and future boss Albert Anastasia.
3. Reles, the son of Austrian Jewish immigrants, was born in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York, on May 10, 1906.
4. His father worked in one of the garment trades until sometime during the Great Depression.
5. His father’s last known occupation was peddling knishes on the streets of Brownsville.
6. His full formal Hebrew name was Elkanah ben Shimon.
7. Reles attended school through the 8th grade. After leaving school, he began hanging out at pool rooms and candy stores in and around Brownsville.
8. He soon teamed up with two of his childhood friends, Martin “Buggsy” Goldstein and Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss, who eventually rose to power with him in the group conventionally known as Murder, Inc.
9. His first arrest came in 1921 for stealing $2 worth of hum from a vending machine, and he was sent to the Children’s Village at Dobbs Ferry, New York, for four months.
10. Reles’ small physical size didn’t deter him from committing ruthless acts of violence.
11. When carrying out murders, his weapon of choice was an ice pick, which he would ram through his victim’s ear right into the brain.
12. Reles became so adept at using the ice pick that many of his murder victims were thought to have died of a cerebral hemorrhage.
13. Reles became known as a particularly cold-blooded and psychopathic murderer. On one occasion, in broad daylight, he attacked a worker at a car wash for failing to clean a smudge from the fender of his car.
14. Another time, Reles killed a parking lot attendant for failing to fetch his car fast enough.
15. On another occasion, he brought a guest to his mother-in-law’s home for supper. When his mother-in-law retired after the meal, Reles and another gang member murdered the guest and then removed the body.
16. Reles reportedly got the nickname “Kid Twist” after an earlier New York City Jewish gangster, Max “Kid Twist” Zwerbach.
17. Another theory behind the moniker is that it was the name of his favorite candy.
18. During the Prohibition days of the 1920s, while still teenagers, Reles and Goldstein went to work for the Shapiro brothers, who ran the Brooklyn rackets. Soon, Reles and Goldstein were committing petty crimes for the brothers.
19. In the early morning of November 12, 1941, with police guarding the door, Reles fell to his death from a window of room 623 at the Half Moon Hotel.
20. It appeared that he may have been trying to lower himself to the fifth floor window underneath using two bed-sheets tied together and then to a four-foot length of wire that had been attached to a valve in his room. However, the wire knot to the valve became undone, and he fell to a second floor outdoor landing.
21. The following day, five police officers who had been guarding him were demoted.
22. There was widespread speculation that he had been thrown or pushed out of the window and the room had been arranged to look like he was trying to escape.
23. Reles had shown no inclination to escape from protective custody, and indeed had demonstrated a fear of even being out of earshot of the police.
24. On the day of his death, he was to have testified against Anastasia, a high-ranking member of the Cosa Nostra, and the trial was based solely on Reles’ testimony.
25. Frank Costello reportedly raised $100,000 to bribe the guards to kill Reles.