Vincent DeLillo, “Pick Pocket”, 17 Nov 1937

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The arresting officer wrote “This man is a roller of drunks” on the file card as Vincent DeLillo was photographed in the police station and charged with picking the pockets of citizens incapacitated through liquor. That night in 1937, Vincent was almost exactly halfway through his life. Up to that point, he had been charged with possession of illegal alcohol during prohibition, rape and fornication (not guilty of the former; guilty of the latter), robbery (multiple times), auto theft and resisting arrest.

After 1937, he kept away from the police for more than a decade. He wasn’t arrested again until 1952, by which time he had become a prescription drug addict and petty thief. He and a juvenile were caught stealing a box of candy from the back of a truck, but Vincent’s sentence was suspended so that he could go to the federal hospital at Lexington, Kentucky, for the narcotics cure. The treatment was not a success. Two years later, Vincent was charged with larceny and forgery after he stole a doctor’s prescription book and forged his signature in order to buy narcotics from a pharmacist. A few years after that, Vincent was arrested in his home just ten minutes after he broke into a pharmacy on North Mill street and stole eight bottles of medicine and some hypodermic needles.

Vincent voluntarily submitted to another course of treatment at the federal hospital in Kentucky, but absconded within a month and returned to New Castle, where he was arrested a few days later in a south side drugstore.

The judge told Vincent that by absconding he had violated the terms of his suspended sentence and he would be sent to the Western penitentiary. Vincent begged to be sent back to hospital and said he would kill himself rather than go to prison. That night, Vincent broke a light bulb in his cell in the city jail and used the shards to slash the back of his neck and his wrists. A doctor was called to treat his wounds and he was taken to the penitentiary the next morning. He survived his sentence and came home to New Castle in the mid-1960s.

In August 1971, Vincent’s neighbors on Sciota street called the police to say they hadn’t seen him for some time. Vincent was found in his home, where he had died of a heart attack five days before. He was sixty-seven years old.

Sources: New Castle News (4 July 1929, “Caught With Liquor; Assessed $25 Fine”; 4 March 1930, “Returns Are Made By Grand Jury In Cases At Court”; 4 March 1931, “Port Is Indicted On Arson Charge”; 13 June 1934, “Held On Charge Of Suspicion”; 24 Sep 1934, “Automobile Theft Case Being Tried”; 7 Oct 1937, “Two Punished By Mayor”; 25 Nov 1952, “Arrested For Theft”; 5 Feb 1953, “Prisoners Sentenced”; 29 Oct 1954, “Hold DeLillo For Court On Charges”; 6 Sep 1962, “Pharmacy Hit, Man Is Charged”; 19 Oct 1962, “Man Apprehended”; 11 August 1971, “Deaths Of The Day”)


  1. Cloud D Dae says

    Been enjoying your site! Really cool, I grew up in Pgh, back in the 60`s.
    Thanks for all of the research, and interesting stories.

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