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Celestino Medeiros; In the shadow of Sacco and Vanzetti

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Just 24 days later while out on bail Madeiros was arrested again for breaking into a shop during the night.  He was sentenced for the crime on June 14th and remanded to the New Bedford House of Correction where he remained until December 1920.  Around this time something happened which has caused historians to believe that Medeiros may have been involved in the April 15th 1920 South Braintree robbery for which Sacco and Vanzetti were convicted.

In January of 1921, Medeiros mysteriously came into possession of a large sum of cash which according to different accounts amounted to about $2,800.00. This amount has been pointed out by some historians to approximately 1/6 of the payroll money stolen in South Braintree.  According to Medeiros’ own signed confession there were six bandits in all at South Braintree.  With his new found wealth Medeiros left Providence and traveled for the next two years down to Mexico and Texas and as far as St. Paul Minnesota with an un-named “circus girl.”

A Return to New Bedford; Gun Battle
In 1923 Medeiros returned to the New Bedford area and went into business on his own as a contractor. He built several garages but soon found he wasn’t making enough money and in March 1924 he found himself a job working as a bouncer for Barney Monterios, a Cape Verde Brava, who ran a speakeasy called the Bluebird Inn located in Seekonk, Massachusetts, just four miles over the state line from Providence.  He acted as chauffeur during the day for Barney’s common law wife Mae Boice, who has been variously described as exceedingly handsome brassy blonde by various writers.


Celestino’s Mother

While off duty he spent his spare time up in his room with one of the clubs “girls” named Tessie. It is said that he would lie in bed and scare Tessie by shooting flies off the ceiling with his .38 or his .45 revolver.  It’s also said that he once used Mae’s cats for target practice an incident which sent her into a furor but was soon forgiven.  Another incident that has been recalled occurred on July of 1923, when Bibber Barone, a known associate of the Morelli Gang descended upon the Bluebird Inn with several other gangsters, and demanded to take Tessie away.

Medeiros came out onto the porch with pistols drawn and according to Mae Boice’s account, yelled that Bibber “and his gang had double-crossed him once and he could forgive them for that, but if they took the girl he would bump them all and it would be sure death.” At this threat Bibber and his fellow gangsters climbed back into their car and roared back to Providence.  By the following autumn Medeiros’ affections turned from Tessie toward Mae.  Allegedly he flashed a wad of money in front of Mae and asked her to run off with him.  When her husband Barney found out he wouldn’t stand for it and fired Medeiros and told him to get out, which resulted in a pitched gun battle in the front yard of the Bluebird Inn.  No one was injured; the only victim of the shootout being Medeiros’ taillight which was shattered by Barney’s parting shot as Madeiros fled in his automobile.

Bank Robbery, Murder and Manhunt
On the morning of November 1st, 1924 Celestino Medeiros along with three other accomplices, Jimmy Weeks, Alfred Bedard and Harry Goldenberg, walked into the First National Bank at Wrentham, Massachusetts and told the patrons and the clerks that “this is a stick up.”  Medeiros, while training his .45 revolver on the elderly cashier named Carpenter, ordered him to turn over the money.  Instead of following directions the Carpenter made a move for the alarm button at which time Medeiros shot him point blank.  Upon seeing this, the other bandits along with Medeiros ran out of the bank, sped off in their car and quickly went into hiding.  The cashier died from the gunshot wounds within a day.

A few days later after a man hunt for the three, Medeiros was picked up in Providence at Zack’s Hotel, a rundown flop house with two other Portuguese transients, Mingo and Pacheco.  Weeks and Bedard were captured a short time later, Goldenberg was never captured.  Weeks and Bedard agreed to turn states evidence against Medeiros in exchange for a life sentence and as a result Medeiros was convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to death.  An appeal was made on the basis that the judge did not instruct the jury that Medeiros was innocent until proven guilty and a new trial was ordered.  It was while awaiting the decision on his appeal in Dedham jail that Medeiros passed his now famous slip of paper to Sacco.  Medeiros did win a new trial but with the same result he was again convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

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About Joe Silvia

When Joe isn't writing, he's coaching people to punch each other in the face. He enjoys ancient cultures, dead and living languages, cooking, benching 999#s, and saving the elderly, babies and puppies from burning buildings. While he enjoys long walks on the beach, he will not be your alarm clock, because he's no ding-a-ling.

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2 comments

  1. Great story…first time I heard of it.

  2. Donald H Barnes

    Great presentation…unfortunately, the beat goes on…

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