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Whodunnit? A Massacre to Remember

When I was involved with all the orders of our ‘My Deadly Valentine’ game recently it occurred to me that I wasn’t really sure what the St Valentine’s Day massacre was all about. I knew it took place around the same date that our story is set, but was only vague about any other details. I had some notion that it might involve a cult and it probably took place in the USA.

As it turned out I was partly right. The brutal massacre on February 14th 1929 of seven mob members in Chicago made newspaper headlines across the world. Police tried desperately to determine who was responsible.

However, it wasn’t a cult per se, but a big mafia hit and the one that made Al Capone a celebrity. Five of the victims were members of the North Side Irish gang, rivals to Capone’s South Side Italian gang over territorial issues and long-standing grudges. The killers used Thompson sub-machine guns and the seven men were ripped apart in the volley. Two shotgun blasts afterward all but obliterated the faces of John May and James Clark, according to the coroner’s report.

During the time of the massacre Capone was in the Dade County solicitor’s office in Miami, having been called in for questioning. He covered his back so well that his alibi was watertight and the police never had enough evidence to prove he had ordered the murders. The investigation went on for some time but no one was actually tried or convicted for the massacre. However, the public knew he was responsible.

Interestingly, another reason for the notoriety of the murders was that it was one of the first major crimes that the science of ballistics was used. It was also the turned point for Capone, as the federal government realised that he was a real force to be reckoned with. The incident has fallen into legend, and a film was made in 1967 called The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, directed by Roger Corman.

The Whodunnit Dinners game ‘My Deadly Valentine’ was also set in the 1920s but in London rather than the US, and the only American character Blake Manly was no friend of Capone’s….or was he? Play the game and find out! Don’t wait for next Valentine’s Day for your own personal massacre!

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