This show, Witness, was a wonderful early television show that sought to highlight crimes and the personalties who committed them. The show would routinely begin with a panel of investigators, actual attorneys who were members of the New York State Bar Association, seated around a large table at the front of the room. The panel chairman would start the show by saying "This is not a trial, this is only a hearing." Then various witnesses would be brought in and questioned leading to the entrance of the main subject, in this case one Abe Reles. I barely remember the show, but as a very young child this was my introduction the fact that there were actually human beings so horrible and callous that they could murder others without remorse. In the course of the questioning the viewer learned about the existence of Murder Inc., an organization used to effectuate mob murders in a business like manner. We heard of Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter and Albert Anastasia who ran the organization. Also mentioned were such hit men as Harry 'Pittsburgh Phil' Strauss, Charlie 'the Bug' Workman, Mendy Weiss, and Louis Capone. The subject of this show, Kid Twist, was also a hit man for Murder Inc. whose real name was Abe Reles. When himself targeted for execution by those higher up in the mob who became worried about what he might say, Reles became a government witness.
Though heavily protected by police security at a hotel in the Coney Island section of the borough of Brooklyn in New York City, someone managed to get to Reles and throw him out of the window from an upper level floor before he could testify in court. He became known as the canary who could sing, but couldn't fly. The man who lead the investigation into Murder Inc. was a District Attorney by the name of Burton Turkus, who was at the time known, perhaps in jest, as the only only honest man in New York City. Despite the death of Reles, Turkus was still able to secure several convictions in the case. He later wrote a book called Murder Inc. upon which a movie was based. In the movie Reles was portrayed by Peter Falk in his first major starring role and Falk received an oscar nomination for his chilling portrayal. The part of Turkus was performed by Henry Morgan of I've Got a Secret fame. A fictionalized version of the story was also made and called the Enforcer. It starred Humphrey Bogart as a character very much like Burton Turkus.moreless