CHICAGO (CBS) — A mob gambling operator “was taken for a ride” and lived to tell about it.
The men tasked with trying to kill him did not.
Thirty years ago this weekend, the bodies of the two mobsters who botched the grim assignment were discovered in a car trunk.
The murders remain unsolved.
CBS 2’s John “Bulldog” Drummond reports on the amazing story of Ken Eto and the demise of his assassins.
After being released on bond for the attempted murder of Eto, federal authorities knew the two suspects—cigar-chomping Jasper Campise of River Forest and Cook County Deputy Sheriff and mob associate John Gattuso—were doomed.
A bungled assassination attempt on Eto, who was known as “Tokyo Joe” in underworld circles.
“It was a surreal scene,” said former assistant U.S. attorney Jeremy Margolis. “[Eto] was a fella who miraculously survived three point-blank gunshots to his head. None of the three bullets actually penetrated his skull or went into his brain.”
Eto had been under indictment on interstate gambling charges, and mob superiors feared that Eto would spill the beans rather than go to jail.
Margolis, who finally convinced Eto to cooperate with federal authorities and identify his would-be killers, said Eto had no intention to turn on his mob buddies.
“It never would have happened,” Margolis said. “The mob was going to finish the job once they knew that he had survived.’’
He cheated death when Gattuso and Campise’s pistol malfunctioned or fired faulty ammunition.
“I just think it was a huge turning point in the outfit at that time,” mob watcher Frank Coconate said.
The would-be killers met a grim fate. Their tortured bodies were found in a car trunk near Naperville.
“You mess up, you die,” Coconate adds. “So you lost a lot of recruitment after a hit like this.”
Eto went on to testify in several key mob trials.
He lived to the ripe old age of 84, 21 years after the attempt on his life.
CBS 2 spoke with Campise’s daughter, who is still traumatized at her father’s death and the fact that the murders were never solved.