The Al Capone Jimmy Ghost

The Al Capone Jimmy Ghost

Al Capone was a leader of a Chicago-based organized crime syndicate during America’s Prohibition era. His vast operation raked in tens of millions of dollars yearly through gambling, bootlegging, prostitution and other illegal activities and was dominant in the organized crime circles for almost a decade.

The Nickname “Scarface”

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1899 to Italian immigrant parents, it is not clear the circumstances that led him to relocate to Chicago.

It was in Chicago that he would achieve prominence as a feared gangster and get the nickname Scarface. It was a nickname that the press gave him because of scars he had on his face.

The scars were as a result of a fight at the Harvard Inn after he had insulted a female patron. The patron’s brother retaliated by slashing him and left him with three indelible marks on his face.

Capone’s Vast Syndicate

Soon after moving to Chicago, he became friends with Johnny Torrio and later became Torrio’s bodyguard. At the time, Torrio was heading a criminal syndicate that dealt in the illegal supply of alcohol during the prohibition era.

In 1925, after surviving an assassination attempt, Torrio left Chicago and chose Capone as his replacement.

Capone expanded the organization and made a name as one of the country’s leading mobsters. Some estimates show that his syndicate was pulling in up to $100 million daily.

At the prime of his power, he had almost half of Chicago’s police force and up to 1000 gunmen on his payroll.

The Beginning of The End

Capone continued to rise untouched by the law, helped by both law-enforcement and political protection. He was using his deep pockets and fearsome reputation to influence elections, and vicious violence to push his illegal alcohol business.

But the events of the morning of February 14, 1929 would change the landscape forever.

With Capone still dominating the trade in illegal liquor, another gang led by his long-time rival George “Bugs” Moran, known as the North Side Gang, was on the rise and was vying for a piece of the pie.

Capone felt threatened and decided to deal with Moran decisively.

Seven men from the rival North Side Gang were lined up against a wall and sprayed with bullets, but Moran had managed to escape.

It was an attack carried out by Capone’s men who had posed as police.

The attack that came to be known as the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre was the final straw for influential citizens and Capone’s political allies and it was decided that his lawlessness had to be curtailed.

But without any evidence linking him to the massacre, the police had to find other charges to bring him in and in May 1929, he was arrested on a gun charge and sentenced to one year at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

“Jimmy” Torments Al Capone

While in prison, Capone enjoyed special privileges due to his connections. He had an easy chair, an antique desk, a rug and a radio among other things. He was even conducting business via a prison warden.

But no one could have foreseen that Capone would degenerate into a haunted man screaming in fear every night.

Inmates reported that they heard him screaming at somebody by the name of “Jimmy” to leave him alone.

Many assumed he was pleading with the ghost of James Clark who was among the men murdered in the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. James Clark was brother in law to George “Bugs” Moran”.

The torment continued even after he left Eastern State Penitentiary. In fact he even enlisted the services of a psychic by the name Alice Britt in 1931 to try to ascertain what Jimmy’s demand was, but without success.

In 1934, he was sentenced for tax evasion and sent to Alcatraz which hugely affected his mental health. Jimmy continued to haunt him during his time there.

Was it “Jimmy” or Syphilis?

Some have given a different theory to explain his torment. Al Capone contracted syphilis at the age of 20 while working at a brothel as a bouncer.

Due to non-treatment, the disease advanced into neurosyphilis which led to dementia.

Final Years

After his release from Alcatraz, Capone went to live in his mansion in Miami Beach, and he spent the next eight years suffering from Psychosis from time to time.

On January 25, 1947, Capone died of a brain haemorrhage and bronchial pneumonia. The “ghost” most likely followed him to the grave.

Eastern State Penitentiary Ghosts

Eastern State Penitentiary Ghosts

If you follow the ghost programs on TV, you have most likely heard of the Eastern State Penitentiary Ghosts. Opened in 1829, Eastern State Penitentiary was the first proper holding facility for criminals.

It was built to serve as a guide to over 300 future prisons, and is considered a revolutionary development at that time.

Before, criminals were held in makeshift pens where there were no proper cells and mistreatment is rife.

The penitentiary took a sharp departure from corporal punishment, giving inmates instead the light from heaven, honest work, and the word of God, to guide them towards penitence, or remorse.

Hence, the idea behind its conception was to serve as a place where criminals can seek god for themselves and hence undergo self-reform.

Eastern State Penitentiary in the 1890's
Eastern State Penitentiary in the 1890’s

Each cell was designed to have its own exercise station and food door to cut off any source of social interaction, and prisoners are expected to wear a hood when moving around the facility.

However, the years of complete isolation, initially believed to elicit feelings of regret, instead led prisoners spiraling down towards insanity.

Soon after its closure, the penitentiary would go on to become known as one of the most haunted buildings in America.

The Punishment

The stone-walled structure’s cold, utilitarian exterior belies a darker truth. Within its chambers, many a prisoner has been subjected to tormentation harsh enough to drive any reasonable man insane.

On a famous punishment device known as “the mad chair”, prisoners who went insane (which is not uncommon) were strapped with excruciating tightness and forced to sit for days. Circulation to their limbs were severely impeded to the point of needing amputations.

In another punishment coined the “Iron Gag”, prisoners’ hands were tied behind their backs in an unnatural position, with a lead from their hands to a clamp on their tongues.

As you might have imagined, the slightest movement will cause the tongue to tear and bleed.

Iron Gag in Prison

Later, to cope with misbehaving prisoners, “The Hole” was introduced. It refers to a hole dug in the ground, where prisoners are left with little air and near zero light.

The origins of these punishments are unconfirmed, but it is often said that the staff were the inventors of the torture techniques.

Due to misbehaving inmates, they resorted to using brute force to demand compliance and enforce discipline.

This led to the ethically questionable practiced which has been described as similar to “burying the inmates alive” by Charles Dickens, when he visited the compound.

The Haunting

With punishments akin to burying the inmates alive, it is no wonder that the site soon became a place famous for its ghosts.

Many tourists and tour guides have reported sounds of weeping and whispering. More specifically, Cellblock 12 has laughter and voices Cellblock 6 has seen unidentified shadows and Cellblock 4 is said to produce ghost-like faces.

One particularly well known incident was that of Gary Johnson’s recount. As a locksmith, he would show up whenever a lock needs servicing, even without prior contact.

Once, while he was working on a lock of the extreme right cell in Cellblock 4, he was overcome strongly by an unknown force, and saw faces and shadows darting about. The cell is also the place where a guard was murdered.

Eastern State Penitentiary Painting

In another incident, a shadow figure was caught on tape during the filming of Ghost Hunters. Where it was filmed at the “catwalk area”, many have reportedly captured strong EVPs, or electronic voice phenomenon, and felt quick temperature changes.

This has now become a popular spot for ghost hunters and paranormal investigators due to the likeliness of registering EVPs at the area. Cellblock 12, a restricted area, is constantly brought up as an area where true haunting events are common.

The Inmates

Among the seventy-thousand or so who were imprisoned there, a few notable prisoners stand out. Leo Callahan was the only prisoner ever to escape its stone-walled confines, using a makeshift ladder. After vaulting over the East wall, he went missing and has not been recaptured since.

Another inmate, Joe Buzzard, made himself known as the youngest among all five brothers who have served at the prison. He was convicted for horse theft.

Alphonse Capone, a well-heeled inmate who lived in the Penitentiary for 8 months, claims that he is constantly tortured by James Clark.

Al Capone
Al Capone

Al Capone was convicted for concealing a lethal weapon, and was given a luxury cell for his social status. The cell is well furnished and decorated.

Al Capone would scream every night at James, who was killed during the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The tormentation is believed to arise from the rivalry between Capone and James’ brother-in-law.


Whether the Eastern State Penitentiary ghosts exist is ambiguous. Many visitors who have passed by its ground reported sensations of being watched and various ghostly noises.

Several staff members at the Penitentiary, which is now a museum, have also admitted to experiencing paranormal behaviour.

But at the same time, many visitors have claimed otherwise, and even the non-profit organisation backing it sees it as a haunted “attraction”.

Today, haunted house events have been held there, and several cells have been made into a museum. Ghost tours by experienced guided are available as well.

For historians and researchers, this is one of the most architecturally and historical significant locations and is well worth a look.