The other day I was talking with a friend about our investigation of Eastern State Penitentiary and they asked if I thought Al Capone’s ghost actually haunted his old cell. After I thought about it a minute I had to tell them I didn’t think so. Its funny there are rumors that his ghost haunts Eastern State and Alcatraz. My wife and I have investigated both prisons and have seen both of the cells where he was supposed to have been locked up and we never got any evidence or even the slightest impression his spirit was still there. This got me to thinking that I didn’t know that much about Capone.
Like me, most people probably don’t know how Capone ended up In Eastern State. On February 14 in 1929, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, Capone’s men carried out a hit on seven of rival gangster Bugs Moran’s men. It was dubbed the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. The plan was that Capone’s men were to lure Bugs and his lieutenants to a garage and kill them all. Bugs was running late and saw Capone’s men who were dressed as police show up, so he and another member of his gang turned around and left. After the dust settled and Capone found out that his men had not gotten Moran and fearing retaliation, he thought it would be a good time to get out of town for a while. Capone and one of his men took a road trip into Pennsylvania. The problem was they somehow got caught on a weapons charge and sentenced to eight months in Eastern State Penitentiary. While there Capone’s money and reputation got him celebrity status and insured that his time at Eastern States was anything but hard time, or so he thought.
This is Capone’s cell today.
It was during Capone’s stay that reports started to surface of him, alone in his cell terrified, weeping and begging “Jimmy” to leave him alone. It was assumed that Jimmy was the spirit of James Clark, who was killed in the massacre. Clark was also Moran’s brother in law and his second in command. It was of course never proved or documented that it was Jimmy Clark, but guards and other inmates reported seeing Clark’s ghost standing outside of Capone’s cell while he begged for mercy. Capone is said to have even called in a medium named Alice Britt in 1931 to try to find out what Clark wanted. Apparently, Britt was unsuccessful, and Jimmy continued to follow Capone through his trial for income tax evasion, through his eleven-year sentence at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, and then, in 1934, to the Rock–Alcatraz, where Capone did three turns in “the hole” for rules infractions. Paroled in 1939, Capone left Alcatraz a broken man. Back in Chicago the mob had moved on; new leaders had taken his place and even those loyal to him realized once they saw him, that Capone would never control the mob again. Capone died in his bed, of cardiac arrest following a stroke and a bout of pneumonia in 1947. The ghost of James Clark, it is said, was with him till the end. After Capone’s death, no one reported an encounter with James Clark’s spirit again. There is speculation that Capone was suffering from Syphilis and was loosing his mind. The thought was that Jimmy was a hallucination that was a result of Capone’s guilty conscience, but that doesn’t explain the reports from the guards and other inmates, plus I find it hard to believe Capone had a conscience at all.
So is Al Capone’s spirit haunting Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia PA? I would say probably no, but keep and eye out for Jimmy. Who knows?
This is a cool little video from the The Travel Channel that will give you a look into Capone’s cell and a little view of Eastern State as well.