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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

SLY-FANNER MURDER CASE

SLY-FANNER MURDER CASE

The SLY-FANNER MURDER CASE occupies a significant place in the annals of Cleveland-area police work, testimony to the importance of persistence. The crime occurred 31 Dec. 1920. On that day Wilfred C. Sly and George K. Fanner, principals in the Sly-Fanner Manufacturing Co., were gunned down in cold blood during a robbery. Sly and Fanner had gone to the bank to collect the cash for that afternoon's payroll. As they were returning to their plant, their car was forced off W. 47th St. where it crosses over the railroad tracks. There the bandits gunned them down, escaping with the payroll.

The robbery/murder was the work of 5 professional thugs. One of the cars used in the crime had been tentatively identified, and by that evening 4 of the gangsters had been arrested. Without direct evidence to connect them to the crime, however, the police were forced to release them. Nonetheless, the wheels of justice had begun to turn. In March 1922 one suspect was arrested in Los Angeles. He confessed and implicated the 4 others. He was brought back to Cleveland, where another was arrested, and a third was found in Detroit. All 3 were tried and convicted. Two gang members remained free. One was traced to Mexico, where Cleveland detectives went to apprehend him. He was returned and convicted in June 1922.

The remaining suspect, Angelo Amato, was traced to Italy, but there he disappeared. In 1934 he resurfaced to attend a funeral. He was arrested, but as an Italian citizen had to stand trial in Italy; Cleveland police went there to testify. On 11 April 1935 a guilty verdict was handed down. It had taken 15 years, but the wheels of justice were finally able to rest.