The “Chippy” Mystery

September 1st, 2017 § 3 comments

Benjamin “Chippy” Weiner, a member of Lepke Buchalter’s Murder, Inc. kill squad, was shot to death in his Lower East Side apartment on Jan, 13, 1948. Weiner was home with his baby son, Louis. Knock on the door. Weiner, in silk pajamas, opened the door. Riddled with five bullets. As he lay on the floor, gushing blood, he said: “Take care of the baby, take care of the kid.” There are many mysterious aspects about the killing. Police said that Chippy owed loan shark Willie “Farby” Rosenberg $500 and wouldn’t pay, so Rosenberg hired mafia hitman Santo Bretagna. He killed Chippy. Both Rosenberg and Bretagne were convicted of the crime and died on the Sing Sing electric chair. HG still finds this strange nearly 70 years later. As my late, beloved father, Hershele Zvi Freeman, put it when he first heard of Chippy’s killing: “Nahrishkeit (foolishness). Killing Chippy doesn’t get the $500 back. Doesn’t put any kasha on the table. And, the cops are looking for the murderers. Lots of luck in getting away, schmucks.” Another mystery. Chippy’s wife, Sylvia, left the apartment before the murder. Said she was going for a walk and would buy cigarettes. Very cold night for a walk. She didn’t return for two hours, long after the murder. There was $765 in a mesh purse in her bedroom. Said she had no idea where the money came from. Asked about Chippy’s employment, she said he worked for a knitwear company. Not true in 1948; however, Chippy worked briefly, in 1946, as a shipping clerk for Brownie Knitting Mills, the company founded by HG’s uncle, Philip, and his wife, Marie. After they retired, the company was led by their son, Sol Freeman. HG’s father was in charge of sweater repairs, stock and shipping. Manufacturing was done in Pennsylvania. While an employee at Brownie, Chippy admired HG’s father. Hershele did not reciprocate. HG was friendly with Chippy when HG worked at Brownie during the hot summer. Hershele warned: “Chippeh (that’s how he pronounced it in his Yiddish-English accent) bist ah trumbenick (is a scoundrel). Don’t get friendly. You could be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” HG did not heed the advice. Would join Chippy for after work beers and listen with delight to Chippy’s stories about his variegated love life. Chippy and mobster Philip “Little Farvel” Kovelick were rivals for the romantic affections of a woman known as “The Red Rose of Williamsburg”. She was later indicted for the murder of Ruby ‘The Mock” Shapiro but dismissed for “lack of evidence.” The Judge described her as a “vile murderess.” Chippy married her daughter. “Little’ Farvel”, many years later, turned up dead in a steel drum in Florida. There was another Brooklyn gangster known as “Little Farvel”, Philip Cohen, a heroin smuggler. (Farvel is a Jewish egg pasta shaped like a tiny shell). HG has wondered what happened to Louis, Chippy’s baby son. There’s a photo taken a few days later showing the happy little fellow in the arms of a middle-aged woman identified as Lottie Burchess. Is she “The Red Rose? Did she adopt the kid? No answers. The mystery isn’t solved.

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§ 3 Responses to The “Chippy” Mystery"

  • Dave Henley says:

    Great story. Two questions:

    1. Is there a book about this?
    2. Reckon Rosenberg may have been kinfolk with Julius?

    Oh, 3. What happened to Sylvia, down the road??

    • Gerry says:

      There’s no book. Don’t think “Farby” was related to Julius. (Rosenberg is very common Jewish name). My research revealed nothing about life of Sylvia or “The Red Rose” after the murder of Chippy.

  • dave in milwaukee says:

    Great story, Gerald! Thanks for posting this. As a Jewish Mobster buff, I knew of Little Farvel Cohen, but never knew there was also a Little Farvel Kovelick. (P.S.–It’s very true that Rosenberg is very common Jewish name–It’s my wife’s maiden name! Not the slightest known relation to Julius, Ethel, or Farby).

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