: Local news anchor solves murderers mysteryGord Steinke
Photograph by: Ed Kaiser, file , edmontonjournal.com
By Nick Lees
June 28, 2012 EDMONTON - The 90-year-old secret of where two infamous murderers are buried has been uncovered by Global TV producer/anchor Gord Steinke.He had to turn detective to find the graves of bootleggers Emilio Picariello and Florence (Filumena) Lassandro, found guilty in 1923 in the killing of a Crowsnest Pass police officer who had tried to thwart them.
“Hung prisoners were buried in unmarked graves because families were usually not interested in picking up the bodies of members who had disgraced them,” says the broadcaster.
Steinke wrote about Picariello and Lassandro in his book Mobsters and Rumrunners of Canada and later became obsessed with where the duo was buried.
“I wanted to put closure on a piece of Canadian folklore that keeps garnering interest,” he says. “Canadian composer John Estacio and Canadian librettist John Murrell wrote the opera Filumena based of Lassandro’s death.”
It was never confirmed who fired the fatal shot, but Picariello and Lassandro were both convicted in the murder and hanged at the Fort Saskatchewan penitentiary. “She was the last woman to be executed in Alberta,” says Steinke.
A Global security guard who knew a family member of Lassandro’s told Steinke he’d heard rumours the two were buried at Edmonton’s St. Joachim Cemetery at 10506 117th St.
Steinke went snooping around, and Gerry Connolly, of Connolly-McKinley Funeral Home, told him he couldn’t release information until his grandfather, who had buried Picariello and Lassandro, passed on.
“When his grandfather died, it was found $2,500 had been left in a will written in 1923 to pay for tombstones on their graves,” says Steinke.
The broadcaster was asked to provide birth and death dates and used the Journal’s files to determine exact dates.
“The Journal had a reporter at the executions and his stories helped write the final chapter on a piece of Canadian history few people know much about,” says the broadcaster.
“I had acquired a 1923 family map and had been within 16 graves of where the pair had been buried.”
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