Timothy D. Murphy

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Timothy D. Murphy
DiedJune 26, 1928 (1928-06-27)
OccupationTrade union leader
Criminal statusParoled after five years
Spouse(s)Margaret aka "Flo"
Criminal chargeTheft, Armed robbery
Penalty5-7 years in federal prison

Timothy D. "Big Tim" Murphy (died June 26, 1928) was a Chicago mobster and labor racketeer who controlled several major railroad, laundry and dye workers' unions during the 1910s and early 1920s.[1]

Timothy Murphy, Fred Mader, John Miller, and Cornelius Shea, during their murder trial in Chicago, Illinois, in 1922. DN-0003451, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.

Murphy rose to prominence at the beginning of the 20th century in the bookmaking racket with then-partner Mont Tennes.[2] In the 1910s, he established an Irish American gang which became one of Chicago's most powerful early organized crime organizations. Murphy's gang was one of the few respected by Al Capone and the Italian American-led Chicago Outfit.[3]

A longtime rival of Maurice "Mossy" Enright, Murphy was suspected in his February 1920 gangland slaying. Murphy was released due to lack of evidence.[4]

Murphy was involved in a wide array of crimes and arrested and/or indicted numerous times. In February 1921, Murphy was charged with involvement in organizing the theft of $400,000 from a Pullman mail train at Chicago's Union Station in August 1920. Although he was released on a $30,000 bond, Murphy was eventually convicted and sentenced by Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to seven years imprisonment.[5]

On May 6, 1922, Murphy, Cornelius Shea, and six other labor leaders were arrested and charged with the murder of a Chicago police officer. On May 24, the state asked for nolle prosequi and the court agreed to withdraw the indictments. A new indictment was returned against Murphy and the others in August, but this second indictment was withdrawn by the state as well.[6]

"Big Tim" Murphy was shot and killed as he answered the front door of his home on the night of June 26, 1928.[7] His murder was never solved, but he may have been gunned down by former associates of Enright's.[4] Others suggest he was killed by Murray "The Camel" Humphreys, a former hitman and later a lieutenant for the Chicago Outfit.[3]

Murphy's widow, Margaret (called by the nickname "Flo"), later married mobster John "Dingbat" O'Berta, a Murphy protégé.[3][8]


  1. ^ Andrew Cohen, The Racketeer's Progress: Chicago and the Struggle for the Modern American Economy, 1900-1940, Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-521-83466-X
  2. ^ Michael Woodiwiss, Organized Crime and American Power: A History, University of Toronto Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8020-8278-5
  3. ^ a b c Curt Johnson and R. Craig Sautter, The Wicked City: Chicago from Kenna to Capone, paperback ed., Da Capo Press, 1998. ISBN 0-306-80821-8
  4. ^ a b Jay Robert Nash, World Encyclopedia of Organized Crime, Da Capo Press, 1993. ISBN 0-306-80535-9
  5. ^ "Labor Chief Held In Theft," New York Times, February 8, 1921; "'Big Tim' Murphy Gets Out On Bail," New York Times, May 28, 1922; "Find 'Big Tim' Murphy Guilty In Mail Theft," New York Times, November 10, 1921.
  6. ^ "200 Labor Chiefs Arrested in Chicago After Two Policemen Are Shot Dead And Industrial Plants Are Bombed," New York Times, May 11, 1922; "Labor Chiefs Seized in Effort to End Murders by Gangsters," Chicago Daily Tribune, May 11, 1922; "Rush To Indict Chicago Laborites," New York Times, May 12, 1922; "Eight Labor Chiefs Indicted In Chicago To Block Release," New York Times, May 12, 1922; "Raid Bomb Factory in Chicago's War On Labor Terror," New York Times, May 13, 1922; "Get New Evidence On Labor Bombings," New York Times, May 15, 1922; "'Big 3' of Chicago Labor To Be Tried," New York Times, June 10, 1922; "Shea, Member of 'Big 3,' And Two Others Get Bail," Chicago Daily Tribune, June 13, 1922; "'Big 3' Denied Separate Trials On Terror Plot," Chicago Daily Tribune, June 18, 1922; Kinsley, "Trial Nears Climax," Chicago Daily Tribune, July 29, 1922.
  7. ^ "Big Tim," Time, July 9, 1928.
  8. ^ Fred D. Pasley, Al Capone: The Biography of a Self-Made Man, Garden City Publishing Co., 2004. ISBN 1-4179-0878-5

Further reading[edit]