Joseph DeMarco was a Harlem gangster with known connections in the gambling world. Described in records as “5ft6, medium build, very dark complexion, wears a blue suit with a scarf pin made of a sapphire surrounded with diamonds.”
He was originally an ally of the Morello family, this was shown when they worked together to plan a murder in July 1912. DeMarco had previously killed a doctor in New York for becoming involved with his girlfriend, an Italian actress. He then worked with Nick Terranova and Fortunato Lomonte to plan the girls murder.
In 1912 the Secret Service learnt of conversations between Nick Terranova and DeMarco to kidnap Captain Flynn’s children, a plan that was aimed at securing the release of Giuseppe Morello from prison.
His relationship with the Morello gang faded after he had arranged the killing of a ‘De Martini’ on E108th Street. DeMarco attempted to kill Nick Terranova in Harlem, but his effort failed. Two separate attempts were then made on his own life: he had been walking past 112th St and 1st Av in April 1913, when he was shot in the neck from behind a fence. DeMarco almost died from his wounds but surgeons in Harlem Hospital were able to save his life. The second attempt, in July 1914, was made when he was being shaved in a barbers on E106th near 3rd Av, when two men fired at him with sawn off shotguns. More than a dozen slugs entered his body, but he later recovered.
DeMarco left Harlem and moved downtown. In November 1915, he opened a restaurant at 163 W 49th Street, and later opened several gambling rooms in Mulberry Street and one located at 54 James Street.
On June 24th, 1916 a meeting took place at Coney Island between the Sicilian Morello gang, the Neapolitan Navy Street gang and the Neapolitan Coney Island gang. The idea of the meeting was to discuss the expansion of gambling dens in lower Manhattan. Nick Terranova and Steve LaSalle explained that DeMarco would have to be killed before they could expand in the area. The Brooklyn gang also had an interest in killing DeMarco as he had recently taken over one their games on Mullberry Street.
On the morning of July 20th, 1916, the Navy St gunmen made their way to the entrance of the James St gambling house. Nick Sassi, an employee of Demarco’s but also friend of the Navy St gang, got the gunmen inside. Joe DeMarco and Charles Lombardi were inside, they were sat next to each other playing cards with several other men. DeMarco was shot dead and the gunmen escaped.
After he was killed, two women arrived at the morgue, both claiming to be his wife. Maria Ann Landri, from Mulberry Street, claimed they were maried in 1914. Whilst, Frances Sinonetti, from Harlem, claimed they married in 1907, having two children together. Sinonetti was given the claim to the body.
Salvatore DeMarco, brother to the slain Joseph DeMarco, was found dead in a clump of weeds in a lot in Washington Avenue, near William St, Astoria. His body was discovered on Friday 13th October 1916. His skull had been smashed sometime before the body was dropped, and his throat was cut once he had been dumped. He had been living above his brothers restaurant at 163 W 49th Street, however he had sold the restaurant at auction on October 11th a few days before his murder. Newspapers claimed that he was about to tell the police all he knew about his brothers killers and the latest shootings, and this was the reason for his violent death.