The Murder of Harry

He was a mob insider, whom his former pal Louie “Lepke” Buchalter” decided knew too much to live. As a result, Harry “Big Greenie” Greenberg became the victim of the first mob hit ever in the sunny state of California.

Harry Greenberg, who also went under the names of Harry Schacter and Harry Schober, grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with Lepke and Lepke’s longtime partner Jacob “Gurrah” Shapiro, who were affectionately known as the “Gorilla Boys,” and then, as they became more prosperous — the “Gold Dust Twins.” Greenberg was tight with the two murderers, and was their partner in various garment center businesses, and swindles. Apparently a few murders were involved, and while there is no evidence that Greenberg participated in any of these these murders, he sure knew about the murders, and why they were committed. Maybe Greenberg even knew who had committed those murders. That knowledge turned out to be not such a good thing in the wicked world of Louis “Lepke” Buchalter.

Greenberg palled out with Lepke and Shapiro, and he even spent the better part of his summers with them at the Loch Sheldrake Country Club, in the Catskills in upstate New York, owned by legitimate businessman named Sam Tannenbaum. Sam Tannenbaum had a teenage son named Allie, who who worked at the hotel, either waiting tables, or setting up beach chairs by the lake. Sam had hoped that Allie would be his heir apparent at the hotel when Sam decided to retire, but Allie was destined for bigger and better things.

Or so Allie thought.

At the end of the summer in 1931, Tannenbaum was strolling down Broadway in Manhattan, when he bumped into Greenberg.

Greenberg asked Tannenbaum, “Do you want a job?”

“I could use one, if it pays,” Tannenbaum said.

Greenberg smiled. “This one is for Lepke. You know what kind of a job it will be.”

Unwittingly, Greenberg had just helped hire one of his own killers.

As time passed, Tannenbaum rose up the ladder in Lepke’s “Murder Incorporated,” which was a mob subsidiary, whose only purpose was to kill anyone that the top mob bosses in New York City, and later, mob bosses all over America, said needed to be killed.

Things started to go south for Lepke, when in 1936, Special Prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey, who had already put Lucky Luciano, Lepke’s partner in the National Crime Syndicate, in jail for a 30-year bit, set his sights directly on Lepke. Dewey went after Lepke’s garment center rackets, and Lepke’s shakedown “Bakers Union.” However, these swindles were small potatoes compared to what Dewey really had in mind for Lepke. Convicted drug dealers always did substantial time in prison, so Dewey convinced the Federal Narcotic Bureau to build a case against Lepke, in a massive drug-smuggling operation. Figuring he was facing big-time in the slammer, Lepke went on the lam. Lepke was hidden in several Brooklyn hideouts by his Murder Incorporated co-leader Albert Anastasia, while Lepke’s rackets were tended to by other Syndicate leaders.

While Lepke was in hiding, he started thinking about who knew enough about his rackets to put Lepke in jail for a very long time, if not right into the electric chair. Lepke got word to all his killers, and anyone in the know, to either “Get out of town, or die.” Lepke’s thinking was, if any of his men got arrested, they might squeal on him in order to work out a better deal for themselves. It turned out that Lepke was right to worry about this, and that’s why in the spring of 1939, Lepke sent word to “Big Greenie” Greenberg to lam it out of town.

Greenberg took Lepke’s “advice” to heart and he hightailed it up to Montreal, Canada. While in Montreal, Greenberg got to thinking, “Hey, I’m up here in nowhere Canada, and I can’t even earn a decent dime. These guys better start taking care of me good.”

As a result, “Big Greenie” Greenberg did something very stupid. He sent a letter to Mendy Weiss, who was Lepke’s second-in-command in Murder Inc., saying, “I hope you guys aren’t forgetting about me. You better not.” Then he asked Weiss for a reported $5,000 to help him fight the cold weather in Canada.

Greenberg waited for a response, or the money, or both. When he got neither, he got to thinking again. “Hey maybe, sending that letter was not such a great idea.”

By this time, Weiss, after conferring with Lepke, had already given the order to Tannenbaum to go up to Canada and erase Big Greenie from Lepke’s list of “people to worry about.” But when Tannenbaum arrived in Montreal, Big Greenie had already flown the coop, and was officially a “lamster,” not only from the law, but from the guys he thought were his best friends.

Greenberg figured he’d hightail it up to Detroit, where the “Purple Gang,” another subsidiary of the National Crime Syndicate, might be nice enough to stake him a few bucks, and maybe even give Greenberg a safe place to hide. The Purple Gang, run by Sammy Coen, whose nickname was Sammy Purple, was very nice to Greenberg; too nice Greenberg thought. While he waited for some stake money, Big Greenie started thinking again, and he came up with the notion that the Purple Gang was stalling him so that killers from New York City could travel up there to do the big job on Big Greenie.

“They must have checked the New York office,” Greenberg figured. “The New York boys must have told them, ‘Keep him in tow until we get a couple of boys up there.'”

Greenberg was right. Tannenbaum and two other gunsels were in route to Detroit at the precise time Greenberg decided to take Horace Greeley’s advice and “Go West young man.”

Greenberg went as far west as he could without swimming, and he stopped in Hollywood, California, the new hometown of Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, a top boss in Murder Incorporated, and one of the few killers who thoroughly relished doing his job.

Siegel had been sent out to California in 1937 by the National Crime Syndicate to take control of all the illegal activities in the state, which was considered virgin territory by the East Coast mob. After organizing the syndicate’s gambling interests, Siegel decided there was big money to be made by unionizing the Hollywood extras.

You could have the biggest movie stars, the best scripts, and the finest producers and directors, but without extras, most movies could never get made. So Siegel unionized the extras and collected tidy sums from each and every one of them for the privilege of appearing, if only a few seconds, in a Hollywood production. Siegel even became a movie extra himself.

However, that was chump change compared to what Siegel really had in mind.

Tall and Hollywood-handsome, Siegel inveigled himself into the upper reaches of the Hollywood elite. He dated starlets two at a time, and even had a hot and heavy affair with an Italian Countess. The top actors and actresses of that time were Siegel’s best friends, but they learned fast being pals with a man known as Bugsy (no one ever called him “Bugsy” to his face) was an easy way to put a huge dent in your bank account.

Using the same technique he learned from Lepke in the labor unions, Siegel approached the biggest stars with his smooth line of patter. He would romance the female stars, then scare the hell out of them with his reputation, and a few pointed words. But with male stars, Siegel got straight to the point

With a notebook and pen in Siegel’s hands, the conversation would go something like this, “Hey look chum, I’m putting you down for $10,000 for the extras.”

“What kind of deal is this?” the actor would protest. “What have I got to do with the extras?”

Siegel would then shake his head, like a father disgusted at an ignorant child. “I don’t think you understand. Take your new picture, for instance. Every thing’s ready to go. But what happens if the extras go out on strike? That means the stagehands go out on strike too, because they’re all union. So there goes your picture.”

Without blinking an eye, every Hollywood star Siegel approached, without exception, paid up and paid up good. In 1940, when the Fed got a warrant for Siegel’s thirty-five room Holmby Hill’s mansion, they found in a safe upstairs a detailed accounting of the “loans” Siegel received for all the top Hollywood names. In one year alone, Bugsy Siegel had shaken-down actors and actresses to the fine tune of $400,000. And no one even complained to the cops. These frightened Hollywood suckers even palled out with Siegel while he was sticking his hands deep into their pockets.

So when the word came from back east that Greenberg was in Hollywood, of course Siegel was given the contract. Now, usually a man of Siegel’s stature would just give out the orders, and maybe help with the planning. But Siegel insisted, against the advice of Lepke, on getting in on the actual Greenberg murder himself.

Bugsy just loved a good killing.

“We all begged Bugsy to keep out of the shooting,” Lepke’s pal Doc Stracher said years later. “He was too big a man by this time to become personally involved. But Bugsy wouldn’t listen. He said Greenberg was a menace to all of us and if the cops grabbed him he could tell the whole story of our outfit back to the 1920s.”

At Newark Airport, just before he boarded a flight to Hollywood, Tannenbaum was given a small doctor’s instrument bag by the boss of New Jersey mob himself: Abner “Longie” Zwillman. Inside this bag were several “clean” guns, which were to be used in the Greenberg Hollywood caper.

In the meantime, Siegel was assembling his “hit team,” which included Whitey Krakow, Siegel’s bother-in-law from New York City, and Frankie Carbo, a Lower East Side thug and Murder Inc. operative, who had already been arrested 17 times, and charged with five murders, but none of the charges had resulted in Carbo doing any significant time in prison. Carbo was also a bigtime fight promoter and manager, and many of his top-notch fighters were suspected of not giving their best effort when their boss and his pals had bet bigtime on the other man.

Now came the issue of obtaining a getaway car.

Sholem Bernstein, an independent operator from New York City, just happened to be vacationing in Hollywood, when he decided to visit his old pal Benny Siegel. Soon, Bernstein would be sorry he ever made that visit.

Before even the small talk began, Siegel got right to the point.

“Clip a car,” Siegel barked at Bernstein. “Leave it in the parking lot down the street.”

Bernstein, a veteran at these sort of things, looked perplexed. Usually, when he clipped a car, he hid it in a private garage where the police wouldn’t be able to see it.

“A parking lot?” Bernstein said.

“That’s right,” Siegel snapped. “Just do as I say?”

So, Bernstein clipped a car and parked it in the open parking lot, just as Siegel had requested. Almost immediately, the owner of the stolen car filed a police report. Because they were on the lookout for the stolen car, the cops spotted the car right out in the open and returned it to its rightful owner.

Despite this misfortune, Siegel told Bernstein to clip another car. Bernstein said he would, and he even told Siegel how he usually operated. “Then you get license plates off another car that you case to see the owner only uses it once in a while, like a Sunday driver,” Bernstein said. “By the time the guy find out, you got the job done, and the cops are looking for him – why are his plates on a hit car. Then you…”

Siegel cut Bernstein off in mid-sentence.

The veins bulging in his neck, Siegel said, “Who the hell are you, coming in and telling me how to do a job? Out here it goes my way. And don’t you forget it.”

Even though Bernstein was in Hollywood on vacation, the mob rules were when a mob boss tells you to do something, you do it, or you’re dead. But Bernstein figured, when he was back in New York City and asked to do a job, the mob bosses, because Bernstein was a capable freelancer, let him handle things his own way. Now, since Siegel was dictating terms, Bernstein felt he was under no obligation to continue with the job. So Bernstein jumped in his car and headed back to New York City, which displeased Siegel to no end, and caused him to find someone else to pilfer a car for the Greenberg caper. Fuming, Siegel now wanted Bernstein dead.

But more on that later.

By this time, the surveillance on Greenberg’s residence at 1804 N. Vista De Mar Drive revealed that Greenberg was little more than a recluse. He never left home, except for his nightly 15-minute drive, each way, to get a newspaper in nearby Bel Air. Greenberg told his wife that his little nightly excursion “kept him from blowing his top.”

On the night of November 22, 1939, Thanksgiving Eve, a gunmen blew Goldstein’s top for him.

Just after dark, Tannenbaum picked up the stolen car from the parking lot. Then he drove Siegel and Carbo to Siegel’s home to pick up Siegel’s Cadillac, which was to be used as a crash car in case the cops, or a nosy bystander, decided to chase them after the deed was done. The two cars, with Carbo in Siegel’s car, then drove to a spot a several houses down from Greenberg’s residence. They watched as a few hours later, Greenberg emerged from his house, looked carefully both ways (missing the two parked cars down the block), got into his car and sped away. Carbo then emerged from Siegel’s car, slithered down the block, and hid in the bushes near Greenberg’s house.

Like clockwork, just over 30 minutes later, Greenberg turned the corner of Yucca Street and headed toward 1804 N. Vista De Mar Drive. Greenberg’s car passed the two parked cars, but both Tannenbaum and Siegel had slid down in their seats so they could not be seen. A spit second later, Tannenbaum flashed his headlights, just for an instant, alerting Carbo, who was waiting in the wings ready to exit stage right into a murder scene. As Greenberg tried to exit his car, Carbo sped from the shadows and pumped five bullets into Greenberg’s head.

Then Carbo raced back to the stolen car and jumped in next to Tannenbaum. Tannenbaum sped away, with Siegel in his crash Cadillac following close behind. (The crash car was always a legitimate registered car, so the driver could claim after a crash, either with a police car, or a civic-minded civilian’s car, that he had just lost control of his car.). The two cars rushed to a preordained spot where they met with another co-conspirator waiting in a third car. The third chap turned out to be Champ Segal, a small-time criminal who was always willing to help the big boys with whatever. Segal immediately drove Tannenbaum to San Francisco, where, mission accomplished, Tannenbaum hopped on a plane back East.

Still, Siegel had a stone in his shoe and that stone was named Sholem Bernstein.

There was a system the National Crime Commission had in place for settling matters of dispute. Bernstein couldn’t be touched by Siegel unless Siegel had the permission of the boss of Bernstein’s New York City territory. The New York City bosses considered Bernstein one of their best men and refused to harm a hair on his head. But Siegel was adamant that Bernstein must die, so this compelled Siegel to fly to New York City in order to plead his case for the death penalty for Bernstein.

The National Crime Commission prided itself on its internal justice system. Every man who was targeted to death by someone, was allowed to have his case pleaded in a kangaroo court, usually by someone with pull within the organization. The man who took Bernstein’s part was none other then Abe Reles, who had not yet turned canary, and was still very much alive. As was shown when he took the stand against his old friends, Reles had a way with words, and he could be very convincing when he got the urge, which, considering his career, was quite often.

The sitdown took place in midtown hotel room, with a nine-member panel deciding on the fate of Bernstein, of which there was no appeal process possible. Siegel pleaded his case first, firmly stating that Bernstein was on a job, and not only had disobeyed direct orders, but had fled the scene before his job was completed. Siegel pointed out that the penalty for this was death. Period.

Now it was Reles’ turn.

Reles began by saying he was calling no witnesses. He also admitted that his client – Bernstein – had indeed fled California before he was able to steal the much-needed second murder car. And then Reles went on to explain why his client was completely innocent of all the charges.

Reles told the panel, “The same day Ben gave him the contract, Sholem got word from New York that his mama is going to cash in. Sholem is a good boy. His mama is dying; he figures he should go there. You all know how a mama is. It makes it easier for her to go if her boy is sitting there by the bed, saying nice things – like he loves her and she is getting better and like that.”

“So Sholem doesn’t even think of a contract. He don’t think of nothing. He lams out of L.A. and hustles home to be with his mother when she checks out. He drives day and night. All he wants is to hold her hand. He is a good boy.”

Reles’ put his chin up into the air and raised his voice an octave. “And that gentlemen,” he said, “that is why Sholem left town. Not on account of ducking the contract. But on account his mama is kicking off.”

When Reles had finished, there was not a dry eye in the room; not even Siegel’s. Bernstein was unanimously acquitted, and Ben Siegel flew back to California, only to have his own murder contract approved by the National Crime Syndicate, and summarily executed, on June 20, 1947.

All You Need to Know About the Development of the English Felony Murder Rule

The common law felony murder rule provides that if a person kills another in doing or attempting to do an act amounting to a felony, the killing is murder. It does not matter whether the death was intended or the product of a reckless disregard for the risk to human life or criminally negligent behavior. Even completely unintended or accidental death may trigger murder liability for felons. Every American law student learns this rule in their first year of law school. Prosecutors and law enforcement find the rule attractive for it provides a formal track of liability which permits a conviction regardless of the juror’s assessment of culpability.

Felony murder is akin to strict liability crimes in that no mental element or mens rea must be proven. The felony murder rule operates in direct opposition to the fundamental principle of criminal law that liability ought to reflect culpability. Although some courts have suggested that the felony murder rule dispenses with the requirement of malice, the more usual explanation given by Professor Joshua Dressler and others is that the intent to commit the felony constitutes the implied malice required for common law murder. In its strictest form the rule holds felons liable for murder even if the death occurs during preparation before or flight after the felony. Felony murder is defined by statute in most states and is usually graded as first degree murder. In states with a death penalty felony murderers are eligible for the death penalty.

The law of felony murder varies from state to state but many American courts have engrafted limitations on the rule. Deterrence is often cited as one justification for the felony murder doctrine. Judges and commentators often argue that the felony murder rule encourages criminals to reduce the number of felonies they commit and to take greater care to avoid causing death while committing a felony. I find this explanation laughable!

A number of commentators criticize the felony murder rule and some believe that its use should be abolished in the United States. Despite such criticism the continued use of the felony murder rule by prosecutors persists in most American states. It persists because our legal notion of punishment requires proportionality and proportionality requires grading. For example when Bonnie and Clyde rob the local liquor store at gunpoint they should be punished for committing a felony. Ten years in jail may be adequate if no one is hurt. However, if during that liquor store robbery the store clerk reaches for a .38 caliber handgun under the counter and Bonnie fires her tommy gun at the clerk but misses and kills an innocent store patron the punishment should be enhanced exponentially for this is felony murder. Simply put we grade a robbery plus a killing higher than a mere robbery. The punishment for such crime could be up to life in prison or even death. Felony murder draws a higher punishment for a killing during the commission of an unlawful act.

How did we come to have a felony murder rule in the United States? Conventional legal wisdom presumes that the felony murder rule derives from English common law and supposedly has “deep but terribly obscure roots.” Ironically, the felony murder rule was abolished in England in 1957. This article will explore the historic origins of the felony murder doctrine in effort to determine whether the English felony murder rule is really the basis of our modern day felony murder rules used by various state courts in the U.S.

Readers may be surprised to learn that the felony murder rule did not enjoy a long common law tradition in England. Instead, the doctrine was rooted in English law, as a result of the writings of English legal commentators but not widely applied in English criminal cases. Readers might be interested to know that Spain, France, Germany, Russia and a host of other countries never developed a felony murder rule.

1. BRACTON AND EARLY THINKING ON FELONY MURDER The English sources of the felony murder rule are not a long line of judicial decisions but mainly scholarly commentaries. The felony murder rule may have grown out of the notion that unintended harms that result from the doing of an unlawful act should be punished severely. One commentator contends that the principle that an actor is responsible for the unintended harms resulting from an unlawful act is ancient, with roots in Christian ethics and common law.

The early English common law of criminal homicide began with the principle that all people who cause death, whether intentionally or accidentally were liable for murder. There was no felony murder rule during this early formation of the English common law.

The English jurist and cleric, Bracton, writing in the mid-thirteenth century applied canon law ideas to the crime of homicide. Henry of Bratton (Henricus de Brattona or Bractona) was an English judge of the court known as coram rege (King’s Bench) from 1247 – 1250 and again from 1253 – 1257. After his retirement in 1257, he continued to serve on judicial commissions. He was also a cleric, having various benefices, the last of which being the chancellorship of Exeter cathedral, where he was buried in 1268. Bracton’s chief work was his treatise De legibus et consuetuninibus Angliae (On the Laws and Customs of England). The work, now commonly known as Bracton, attempts to describe rationally the whole of English law. Bracton wrote that accidental killing was no homicide “because a crime is not committed unless the intention (motive) to injure exists” and in crimes the intention is regarded not the result.” In discussing homicide, Bracton also wrote:

by chance, as by misadventure, when one throws a stone at a bird… and another passing by is unexpectantly struck dies * * * here we must distinguish whether he has been engaged in a proper or an improper act. Improper, as where one has thrown a stone toward a place where men are accustomed to pass, or while one is chasing a horse or ox someone is trampled by the horse or ox and the like here. But if he was engaged in a lawful act * * * liability is not imputed to him.

According to Bracton the one who threw the stone and did so while engaging in an improper act would be guilty of homicide. He did not say guilty of “murder” but it would be a killing which may require penance. Perhaps, through some form of punishment or fine for such an unintended death. This church notion may well be the root of the felony murder rule: punishment for an unintended death occurring during the course of some other unlawful act.

Until the mid-eighteenth century, the problem of killing in the course of an unlawful act was always considered as a rejoinder to the defensive claim of accidental killing. In the thirteenth century when Bracton was writing this presumptive liability for murder was subject to royal pardons as a matter of course if the killing occurred accidentally (per infortunium) or under necessity of self-preservation (se defendo).

The principle recognized by the later English commentators Coke, Hale and Hawkins in the seventeenth century was that the excuse of per infortunium was not available to one whose hands were soiled by an accidental killing occurring in the course of an unlawful act. This principle was not yet a fully blown felony murder rule but we see an expansion on Bracton’s early embryonic thinking concerning homicide occurring during an improper act.

This principle of a killing with soiled hands was a theory for rejecting an excuse which eventually became a formal test of liability for felony murder. Pursuant to this early thinking it was not implausible to deny an excuse to someone who had acted wrongfully in creating the situation for which the excuse must be asserted. This came to be known as “unlawful act murder.” Perhaps, this early thinking concerning unlawful act murder supports our modern American notion for the need for the use of felony murder: proportionality of punishment. If Jean Valjean stole bread because he was poor and his family was starving our modern society might excuse him for the petty theft by placing him on probation or placing him in a diversion program. However, if Jean Valjean accidentally shot and killed the baker of the bread while fleeing with the purloined loaf our justice system would support a prosecution for a felony murder which would deny an excuse to Jean Valjean because he had acted wrongfully by creating the situation for which the excuse would be asserted. Many of our modern felony murder statutes are written just this way.


Commentators often trace the first manifestation of the felony murder rule in an English court to Lord Dacres’ case in 1535. Lord Dacres and his hunting party agreed to trespass in a park to hunt game. They agreed to kill anyone who opposed their plan. One of the Lord’s party killed a gamekeeper who confronted him in the park. Although not physically present at the site of the killing, Lord Dacres was also held responsible for the killing. He was subsequently convicted of murder and hanged with the others in the hunting party.

Another early case which has been cited for the origin of the felony murder rule was decided twenty-three years after Lord Dacres’ Case. In Mansell and Herbert’s case, Herbert and a group of followers went to Sir Richard Mansfield’s house “with force to seize goods under presence of lawful authority.” One of Herbert’s servants threw a stone at a person in the gateway which instead hit and killed an unarmed servant coming out of Mansfield’s house. The question at issue in the case was agreed by the court to be whether the accused were guilty of murder or manslaughter. Since misadventure was not considered, it was assumed that the throwing of the stone was not a careless act. That is, the servant who threw the stone intended to at least hit, if not kill, some person on Mansfield’s side. Although the court divided, the majority held that if one deliberately performed an act of violence toward third parties, and a person not intended died, it was murder regardless of any mistake or misapplication of force.

Herbert’s case is important to our modern thinking on felony murder because it involved a deliberate act of violence against a person, which resulted in an unintended person being the recipient of the violent act. Thus, the court employed a notion of transferred intent. Modern felony murder statutes are often written to address such situation. Such situation may occur when Bonnie and Clyde rob the local liquor store with drawn tommy guns. The store clerk pulls a .38 caliber revolver hidden under the counter. Bonnie reacts by firing her tommy gun at the clerk but misses and kills an innocent patron of the store. Pursuant to most felony murder statutes in U. S. jurisdictions both Bonnie and Clyde would be guilty of felony murder because Bonnie deliberately performed an act of violence during an unlawful act and a person not intended died by mistake or misapplication of force.


In 1619, the commentator Michael Dalton stated the general

proposition that an accidental killing in the course of an unlawful act was felonious: He wrote:

“But if a man be doing of an unlawfull act, though without any evil intent, and he happenth by chance, to kill a man, this is felony, viz. manslaughter at least if not murder in regard the thing he was doing was unlawfull”

The use of the word “felony” in Dalton’s proposition brings us closer to, but still not yet to felony murder as we know it in most U.S. jurisdictions.

Almost one hundred years after Mansell and Herbert’s case Lord Coke may have helped originate the felony murder doctrine when he wrote in one of his works published in 1644 “that a death caused by an unlawful act is murder.” The examples from this first statement of the felony murder rule are quite humble:

If the act be unlawfull it is murder. As if A meaning to steale a Deere in the Park of B, shooteth at the Deere, and by the glance of the arrow killeth a boy, that is hidden in a bush: this is murder, for that the act was unlawfull, although A had no intent to hurt the boy, nor knew not of him. But if B the owner of the Park had shot at his own Deere, and without any ill intent had killed the boy by the glance of his arrow, this had been homicide by misadventure, and no felony.

So if one shoot at any wilde fowle upon a tree, and the arrow killeth any reasonable creature afar off, without any evil intent in him, this is per infortunium: for it was not unlawfull to shoot at the wilde fowle: but if he had shot at a Cock or Hen, or any tame fowle of another mans and the arrow by mischance had killed a man this had been murder, for the act was unlawfull.

Coke may have been confused when he made this statement making the death by an unlawful act as murder. That is not what Bracton had written back in the mid-thirteenth century. Bracton wrote that such a killing would amount to “homicide.”

Professor David Lanham reminds us that the chapter in which Coke’s statement appears was Chapter 8 of his commentary in The Second Year Book. This chapter is principally concerned with manslaughter. The doctrine of murder by unlawful act is stated just after Coke’s explanation of homicide by misadventure, which was “when a man doth an act that is not unlawful, which without any evil intent tendeth to a man’s death.”

Coke explains that homicide by misadventure is not felonious. It was in this context of the discussion that Coke states “that if the act is unlawful it is murder even if there was no intent to hurt a human. Such a statement contradicted Coke’s own treatment of the law of murder which he called the unlawful killing with malice aforethought. That is, there were two separate elements for murder – unlawfulness and malice. Professor Lanham contends that it is erroneous to say “if the act be unlawful, it is murder, in light of the need to have malice as a factor in addition to unlawfulness.”

The message that Coke may have been trying to convey was that an unintentional killing in the course of an unlawful act would be felonious. This would have been the proposition first put forth by the earlier commentator Dalton in 1619. Instead, we have been left with the harsh foundation of the modern day rule that a killing during the course of a felony is murder.

Soon after Coke’s Third Institute was published a case was decided which implicitly rejected the doctrine of felony murder in the form that Coke stated the rule. In Sir John Chichester’s Case, Sir John and his servant were playing at foils, that is dueling. The chafe, or cover, of Sir John’s scabbard fell off. Neither party noticed. Sir John thrust the then deadly weapon into his servant’s belly and the servant died. The court held that as there was no intention to do mischief it was not murder but as the act was unlawful it was manslaughter.

Sir Matthew Hale of Kent lived from 1609 to 1676. He served as Lord Chief Justice of England from 1671 to 1676. His writings included his work Historia placitorum coronae (the history of the pleas of the crown). Hale was considered the greatest legal mind of the period in England. In addition to his writings concerning unlawful act killings he wrote on insanity. He stated that only total insanity could absolve a criminal from legal responsibility, a principle still prevalent in present day criminal law. Hale also believed the moon was responsible for mental disease, and he is thought to have coined the term “lunatic.”

When Hale continued the discussion on felony murder near the end of the seventeenth century he reasoned that Coke’s example of shooting at a deer and killing a boy should be classified as manslaughter. Although this differed from Coke’s assessment of murder, it represented a shift in thinking concerning killing during an illegal act. For Hale the unlawful act itself became the ground for establishing the degree of criminal homicide.

While Hale confined the mental element of murder to an intent to harm, he also restricted the act element of murder to killing. An unlawful act involving a threat of injury, like robbery was malicious in Hale’s view. An unlawful motive for initiating violence was inconsistent with provocation which could mitigate murder to manslaughter. Thus, in Hale’s thinking if the robber kills in trying to overcome his victim or anyone resisting the robbery, he was guilty of murder. This thinking may be the root of the modern day trend of limiting felony murder to certain inherently dangerous felonies, sometimes called enumerated felonies.

In the early part of the eighteenth century the commentator Hawkins brought us closer to the modern day felony murder rule. He asserted in his writings that “a person who in the pursuance of a deliberate intention to commit a felony, chances to kill a man, as by shooting a tame fowl with intent to steal them is guilty of murder on the basis… whenever a man intending to commit one felony, happens to commit another he is as much guilty as if he had intended the felony which he actually commits.”

This passage by Hawkins implies the following arguments: (1) Killing in the course of an unlawful act is murder only if accompanied by an “ill intent,” according to Hale’s writing on the subject; (2) Hale does not limit “ill intent” to kill but knowingly imposing a risk of death or injury; (3) such a knowing imposition of risk is inherent in all crimes that would tend to provoke resistance; (4) felonies are a particularly heinous subset of such inherently dangerous crimes; (5) hence, the intent to commit a felony may be included within the “ill

intent” that qualifies killings in the course of unlawful acts as murder.

This is rather tortuous reasoning but very important in the historic formulation of the modern felony murder rule: a killing in the course of an unlawful act, where there is ill intent and where it is known that the act is reckless and may carry a risk of death or injury, then such act being a felony makes the killing done in the course of that unlawful act murder. This is almost the description of a modern version of the felony murder as set out in today’s Model Penal Code.

At least one scholar maintains that the true father of the modern felony murder rule is the commentator Foster. In 1762 he wrote his Discourse of Homicide wherein he took a new approach of the problem of the poacher who kills accidentally. The critical question for Foster was whether the poacher shooting at the deer intends to steal it. Foster concluded that if he did intend to steal it he is guilty of felony, and if he killed someone in the bush, “it will be murder by reason of the felonious intent.” For Foster, it was essential that the unlawful act was a felony, and in view of his rationale of transferred intent, it is presumably immaterial whether the felony is dangerous.


From a historical perspective the addition of Foster’s writing on felony murder has finally provided us with the full blown “classic” felony murder rule that criminal law professors teach first year law students every year: at common law any killing perpetrated during the course of any felony is murder.

As the forgoing demonstrates the rule did not appear full blown during one period. Instead, it was fashioned through the Lord Dacres’ and Herbert’s cases and through the legal commentators. Unlike many common law concepts the felony murder rule did not grow out of a line of court case decisions over several centuries. In actuality the felony murder rule was not routinely used in the courts of England.

Professor George Fletcher contends that the apology for Foster’s reconstruction of the law was that all felonies of the time were capital anyway, and there was no great evil in upgrading larceny and other felonies to murder. We often hear this today. That is, at early common law it made no difference whether the felon was convicted of the larceny or the killing incident to the felony for the felon would be hanged anyway. This is not completely true.

Fletcher maintains that it is false to say that in England during this time that it made no difference whether one was convicted of the larceny or the murder. In reality execution rates varied widely among capital felonies and such executions may not have been as widespread as sometimes thought. The laws on the books in England concerning felony murder were not widely followed by the courts through the end of the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth century.

A few years after the appearance of Foster’s commentary Blackstone published his Commentaries on the Laws of England, which became the standard reference work on the common law for American colonial lawyers. In his Commentaries Blackstone offered a version of Hawkins’ general principle that the intent to commit one felony could transfer to an unintended felonious result. This notion of transferred intent which could be used to enhance the proportion of punishment may have well been the beginning of American jurisdictions love affair with the felony murder rule, even though it was not utilized very often in England and certainly was not an “ancient rule.”

Blackstone invoked Foster’s formulation of the felony murder rule:

In general, when an involuntary killing happens in consequence of an unlawful act, it will be either murder or manslaughter according to the nature of the act which occasioned it. If it be in prosecution of a felonious intent it will be murder; but if no more was intended than a mere trespass it will amount only to manslaughter.

Blackstone offered a rule like Hale’s emphasizing the dangerousness of the predicate crime rather than its felonious quality.


By the time of the American Revolution, the rule that an accidental death in the course of any felony was murder had become a standard theme in the scholarly writing about the common law of homicide, supported by Hawkins, Foster, and – ambivalently – by Blackstone. Yet no English court had actually applied such a rule. At the time of the Lord Dacres’ and Herbert’s cases there was a concept but no doctrine known as the felony murder rule. By the end of the eighteenth century some judges thought co-felons were automatically implicated in any murder committed in attempt of a felony, but most judges required participation in or encouragement of the act causing death. By and large, eighteenth century English practice accorded with Hale’s conception of murder as the infliction of a fatal wound with the intent to cause harm.

After the American Revolution the English courts managed to keep the rule of felony murder within tight bounds. It is reported that by the middle of the nineteenth century the common law rule of felony murder, although supported by leading treatises, remained controversial and had not been applied in a single English case. Some of the earliest reported jury instructions on the felony murder rule allude to its unpopularity, and seemed to invite the jury to ignore it. As trial judge in the 1887 case of Regina v. Serne, Fitzjames Stephen, instructed the jury that causing death in the course of a felony would be murder only if the felonious act “was known to be dangerous to life and likely to cause death.” This is certainly a “Hale”-like limitation on the felony murder rule, and a limitation found in many American jurisdictions today.

It is Professor Guyora Binder’s conclusion that the English courts first applied the modern felony murder rule to cases in the second half of the nineteenth century and they identified it as a controversial doctrine and linked it to actual participation in a violent or obviously dangerous act. Judge Stephen and others also expressed their views that the felony murder rule should be so limited in reporting to a parliamentary committee on homicide law revision in 1874. Judge Stephen commented that a rule imposing murder liability for an accidental killing in the course of a felony such as theft would be “perfectly barbarous and monstrous.” By the end of the nineteenth century, English law conditioned felony murder liability on a foreseeable dangerous act. The aforementioned case of Rex v. Serne made this requirement of foreseeable dangerousness explicit.

Some scholars postulate that in the twentieth century England seldom prosecuted felons under the felony murder doctrine. The rule was disfavored and if there was a conviction under the rule executions were rare. In 1957 England abolished the felony murder rule by statute.

As this brief history reveals the felony murder rule as a valid doctrine of English common law was utilized in few criminal trials and its use was surprisingly brief, perhaps only a century. Although Lord Dacres’ and Herbert’s cases provided the intellectual foundation by the commentators who fashioned the felony doctrine, it never became a rule in trials in England that felons were strictly liable for accidental deaths in the course of any felony. Instead, the felony had to be violent or manifestly dangerous. The much criticized and supposedly ancient rule of strict liability never really existed in English law. As a matter of fact, there was no mention of the connection between felonies and murders until Foster’s rewriting of the law in 1762. The rule was not a part of the common law at the time of the American Revolution, and therefore it could not have been inherited.

Such a felony murder rule of the kind we know today could not have become a part of the law of any state in the newly formed United States unless that jurisdiction enacted it. Our use of the felony murder rule is broader and more far reaching than it had ever been in England.

American Criminals: Murder Incorporated

After the Castellammarese War ended in 1931, with both opposing bosses, Joe “The Boss” Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano ending up quite dead due to the treachery of Lucky Luciano, amongst others, Luciano, along with Jewish mobster mastermind Meyer Lansky, formed a nine-member National Crime Commission, which cut across ethnic lines. There was no single boss of this commission, but instead the leadership was divided equally amongst Luciano, Lansky, Lansky’s sidekick Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Frank Costello, Joe Bonanno, Vincent Mangano, Joe “Adonis “Doto, Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, and his right-hand man Jacob “Gurrah” Shapiro. (Loose cannon Dutch Schultz – real name Arthur Flegenheimer – was not a member of the Commission for exactly that reason: he was a loose cannon and could not be trusted with making common sense decisions.)

Of course, all corporations need a separation of powers within that corporation, whereas certain people are given duties that do not infringe on the power and duties of other members of that organization. (Make no mistake, the National Crime Commission ran like a well-oiled machine, and indeed operated like an unregistered corporation)

This is where Murder Incorporated came into play.

It was decided that for the good of the National Crime Commission sometimes distasteful things must be done to keep the Commission nice and profitable. This included killing people who endangered the continued flow of cash into the Commission’s coffers. The Commission decided that they needed to establish a separate branch of the Commission, that was responsible for one thing and one thing only: the murder of those people the bosses said needed to be killed.

Louie Lepke was put in charge of, what the press called Murder Inc., and to assist Lepke in his duties, the Commission appointed Albert Anastasia, nicknamed “The Lord High Executioner,” to be Lepke’s right-hand-man. Lepke would never give a direct order to any of his killers to do a job. Instead, Lepke used trusted men like Mendy Weiss and Louis Capone, to issue the final order and decree to the hit men chosen.

By keeping a level, or two, of insulation between himself and the actual killers, Lepke figured nothing could ever be directly pinned on him.

And at first, Lepke was right, until he made one fatal mistake.

The first order of business for Lepke and Anastasia was to assemble a crack hit team to do the actual dirty work. Through Louis Capone, who was close to Anastasia, Lepke had been nurturing a group of homicidal maniacs, some of whom with rather kill that breathe the cool fresh air of Brooklyn. These killers were called “The Boys from Brownsville.” The Boys from Brownsville were hardly the only killers employed by Murder Inc., but they were the foundation which led to as many as 100 freelance assassins being put on a steady weekly salary (of $125 and up), to be ready to kill whenever an order was given. These men were sometimes paid extra for a job especially well-done, and they were allowed to operate in designated territories in the gambling and loansharking businesses, or in any illegal operation, like hijackings, and even kidnappings. But one thing is for sure: even if a member of Murder Inc. didn’t kill anyone for a month, or two, or three, his killing salary came in steadily every week.

Now let’s get to the cast of characters of Murder Inc.

The first and foremost turned out to be the biggest headache for Lepke: Abe “Kid Twist” Reles. By eliminating the three Shapiro brothers, Meyer, Irving, and Willie, Reles along with his childhood pal Martin “Buggsy” Goldstein, took over all the illegal rackets in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. To do so, Reles enlisted the help of Harry “Happy” Maione and Frank “Dasher ” Abbandando of the neighboring “Ocean Hill Hooligans.” Soon, such cutthroat killers like Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss, Vito Gurino, and “Blue Jaw” Magoon were taken into the fold, and the Boys from Brownsville were a formidable group of killers indeed. The key for their transition from Brownsville to the big time was Louis Capone, ostensibly a Brooklyn restaurateur, who was very close to Albert Anastasia.

When Anastasia, along with Lepke, was entrusted by the Commission to form Murder Inc., Anastasia approached Capone and said, “What about Reles and his boys from Brownsville? Are these guys capable of doing what needs to be done? No questions asked.”

Capone assured Anastasia that Reles and his boys were stone-cold killers, and efficient ones at that. The only problem Capone had was that Reles and Maione, considered to be the number one and number two leaders of the group, hated each other’s guts; and they didn’t trust each other much either.

Despite their petty differences, Reles and Maione worked like a well-oiled killing machine. Under the direction of Anastasia and Capone, the Murder Inc. killers operated in such a manner that was almost foolproof. When assignments were given out by the bosses for killings all over the country, the arrangements were made in a way that detection of the actual killers was almost impossible. The key to their method was the concepts of corroboration and separation of powers. The bosses brought in several men to do different aspects of each job, with one man knowing nothing about the other men, and their involvement. Still, each man was so intimately involved in the operation, he would be considered an accomplice, and his possible corroborating testimony was useless in a court of law, in case he ever decided to turn rat.

For instance, let’s say Joe Schmoe from Illinois was next on Murder Inc.’s hit list. Murder Inc. would hire one man to steal an automobile for the getaway. Then another man would be directed to get as many guns as were needed for the job. Then there would be a third man, who would be the ‘finger-man”: the one who would point out Joe Schmoe to the actual shooters. Then of course, they needed a getaway driver, and a driver of a “crash car”: a legitimately registered car, that would crash into a pursuing police car, or the car of a nosy citizen, after the deed was done. The reason for the legit car was that the driver of the crash car could claim it was just an accident, while the shooters escaped in the stolen car. (For obvious reasons, it was not a smart idea to crash into a police car with a stolen car.)

The beauty of this routine was that each man involved in the murder would have limited knowledge of the other men involved in the hit. The man who stole the car would not know who purchased the guns, or who did the actual shooting, etc….etc….

Of course, Lepke and Anastasia did not rely entirely on the Boys from Brownsville to do all their dirty work. Other killers were needed to do a variety of jobs in a myriad of places. One killer was enlisted from a unlikely place: the Loch Sheldrake Country Club, in the Catskills, in upstate New York.

The Loch Sheldrake Country Club was owned by Sam Tannenbaum, who had first owned a grocery store on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The Loch Sheldrake Country Club was a ritzy establishment, and it housed many rich Jewish families for their summer vacations. Of course, Lepke and his crew were well-represented at the Loch Sheldrake. Those gangsters who rubbed elbows with the legitimate Jewish businessmen included Lepke, his partner Jacob “Gurrah” Shapiro, Shimmy Salles, a bagman for Lepke’s rackets, Curly Holtz, a labor racketeer, and “Big Harry” Greenburg, who was Lepke and Shapiro’s partners in various Garment Center swindles.

Gurrah Shapiro, a thick-chested gorilla-of-a-man, was quite a character himself, and also quite capable, as was Lepke, of pulling the trigger when necessary. Whenever Shapiro was angry, and that was often, his favorite saying was “Get out of here.” Yet, with his gravelly voice, the phrase sounded like “Gurra dahere.” Hence, his pals gave Shapiro the nickname “Gurrah.”

Sam Tannenbaum had a teenaged son named Allie, who Sam eventually was grooming as his replacement when Sam decided to retire. Sam Tannenbaum employed Allie at his hotel, either waiting tables, or setting up beach chairs by the lake. Sam also did not pay Allie a dime for his work, to ensure Allie didn’t disappear to his old haunts on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, until after the summer season was over. As the owner’s son, the Jewish gangsters invited Allie Tannenbaum to all their parties, and Allie got a fresh taste of what it was like to be around people who had coins constantly jingling in their pockets. This made him a likely suspect to be drawn into their world of murder and mayhem.

One day, after the summer season of 1931 was over at Loch Sheldrake, Tannenbaum was strolling down Broadway in Manhattan, when he bumped into “Big Harry” Greenberg.

Greenberg asked Tannenbaum, “Do you want a job?”

“I could use one, if it pays,” Tannenbaum said.

Greenberg smiled. “This one is for Lepke. You know what kind of a job it will be.”

Tannenbaum shrugged, and said he would do whatever it took to earn some fancy cash, so he could spread it around like his Jewish gangster idols.

Little did Greenberg know he was hiring one of his eventual killers.

Tannenbaum started working for Lepke, initially for $35 a week. His job included general assignments like slugging, strikebreaking, and throwing stink bombs where they were needed to be thrown. Tannenbaum later graduated to more important duties, like “schlammings,” which meant he “schlammed,”or cracked the heads of union workers who were not towing Lepke’s line.

As his work production increased, so did Tannenbaum’s salary. In short order, Tannenbaum was intimately involved in six murders, and he helped dispose of the body of a seventh murder victim. As a result of “making his bones” in the murder department, Tannenbaum started raking in an impressive $125 a week; more than he made in an entire summer at his father’s resort. Because of Tannenbaum’s summer location in the Catskills, Tannenbaum’s job consisted mostly of murders and extortions in upstate New York. Tannenbaum was a valuable asset to Lepke in Sullivan County, because Tannenbaum was familiar with the back highways and numerous lakes, where bodies could be disposed of. During the winter, Tannenbaum and his family vacationed in Florida, where Tannenbaum worked as a strong-arm-man in several of Lepke’s gambling joints.

In the early 1930’s Lepke added another valuable asset to Murder Inc., when he hired Charlie “The Bug” Workman.

“The Bug” was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1908, the second of six children born to Samuel and Anna Workman. Workman quit school in the 9th grade, and began roaming the streets of the Lower East Side, looking for trouble. When he was 18, Workman was arrested for the first time, for stealing a $12 bundle of cotton thread from a truck parked on Broadway. Since it was his first offense, Workman got off with simple probation. The following year, Workman was arrested for shooting a man behind the ear over who-owed-who $20. By this time, Workman’s reputation on the streets was such, the man he shot refused to testify against him, and even said he couldn’t truthfully identify Workman as the shooter. Miffed, the cops pulled up his file and decided Workman had violated his parole on the cotton theft. As a result, Workman was sent to the New York State Reformatory. For the next few years, Workman was in and out of prison, for such parole violations as associating with “questionable characters” and “failure to get a job.”

In 1926, Workman hooked on as a freelance leg breaker, or schlammer, for Lepke’s union strike breaking activities. Workman did such a good job, in the early 1930’s, Lepke put Workman on his permanent payroll at $125 a week, as a killer for Lepke’s Murder Incorporated machine. Lepke liked Workman’s cool demeanor, and after Workman performed a few exceptional “hits” for Lepke, Lepke gave him the nickname “The Bug,” because a person had to be crazy to kill with the calm detachment Workman displayed when performing his gruesome tasks. Workman’s other nickname “Handsome Charlie,” was given to him by members of the opposite sex.

For the next few years, Workman was in and out of trouble with the law. In 1932, he was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon. In 1933, Workman was arrested again for decking an off-duty police officer after a minor traffic dust-up. All the while, his specialty was killing whomever Lepke said needed to be killed. After a hit was done, Workman enjoyed the fringe benefit of “sweeping out the pockets” of his victims. Most of the times, Workman earned himself an extra thousand dollars or so for his efforts. And one time he even found a ten-thousand-dollar bonus in the pants pocket of some poor sucker whom he had just whacked.

Lepke’s Murder Inc. didn’t limit it’s exploits to the New York City area. In fact, Murder Incorporated eventually employed anywhere from 150-200 killers around America, and it was reported these killers may have committed as many as 800-1000 murders from the late 1920’s, until Murder Incorporated’s demise in the early 1940’s.

Three Strange But True Criminal Law Stories From Abroad

GERMANY: BUSTED! It has been reported that a professional’s well-endowed lover allegedly tried to kill him with her breasts. Allegedly his jealous girlfriend tried to smother him with her size 38DD bosoms because she said she wanted to make his death “as pleasant as possible,” authorities say. She was charged with attempted murder. This was in 2012.

This little report begs many a question. Was the attempted murder done in bed? Were the parties dressed or were they naked? Had the professional been unfaithful with some other woman beside his chesty lover? What was the motive for the attempted murder? Finally, since “malice” is required for every murder or attempted murder charge what facts herein show “malice” since she allegedly said she wanted to make his death “as pleasant as possible.” Such evidence sounds only like attempted manslaughter. There isn’t enough evidence of attempted murder here – still what a way to go…

ITALY: Sensuous Sun Screening? In 2011 a woman was arrested on an Italian topless beach for rubbing on sunscreen in “an overly sensuous manner.” Said violation was reported to police by a mother who had brought her two teenage sons to the beach. The mother was shocked by the other woman’s show of public sunscreen use and filed a lewdness complaint against the woman for an act of “extreme sensuality.”

This little report also requires some answers to pertinent questions from the Italian authorities about this incident: 1) why would a mother take not one, but two, teenage sons to a topless beach; 2) what distinguishes “sensuality” from “extreme sensuality;” finally, 3) when did “extreme sensuality” become a crime? Inquiring minds would like to know.

SWEDEN: We wonder what her husband had done to her? In 2012 a woman admitted stabbing her husband to death with a fillet knife she had received as a Christmas present from her employer. She contends that the stabbing was in self-defense. Swedish police said that after the attack on her husband, the victim, a 42-year-old, wrote a bizarre note to her boss stating, “Thank you for the Christmas gift… By the way it worked!”

The words in the note may have provided evidence of a conspiracy between the woman and her employer. A conspiracy is defined as an agreement, express or implied, between two or more people to commit an act that is illegal and at least one of the conspirators undertakes an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. Could this have been the case? Inquiring minds would like to know.

What Is God’s Law of Love?

The Teachings of Jesus Concerning Love in the Gospel of Matthew

Chapter One: Jesus introduces Love!

After Jesus speedily got rid of Satan in chapter four verse ten by quoting the Word of God as spoken by the prophets, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve.” Satan got the point and left Jesus. Then angels came and ministered unto Him and He began His ministry in Galilee preaching “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” Jesus came in preaching about a kingdom. He also said it was at hand, or, within your reach, here and now. That kingdom Jesus was talking about could only be received and entered into by repenting. Repenting of what? Sin? What was considered sin to Jesus? Anything that was against God’s commandment is a sin in the eyes of God. What was God’s Commandment?

Deuteronomy 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Jesus went on to hold a meeting up on a mountain with His disciples in chapters 5-7 where you can read it all instead of me quoting the whole thing here, but I will mention the key parts where Jesus is trying to drive home the message of Love. Love was His message the whole time He was here on this Earth. Loving God and your neighbor, and to show us how to do it was His mission. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jesus was preaching God’s Love and that the only way to enter into eternal life was to receive this love from God, but believing in Him and God’s love for them. That means to repent of the evil deeds people were doing which was all of the unloving things that hurt others.

In Matthew chapters 5-7 Jesus patiently and completely explains and teaches how to live the Love of God and how to live life under the Law of God’s Love. He made it a requirement that we absolutely have to believe in His love to go to Heaven. How can you enter into a kingdom of Love if you don’t believe in Love? That’s just it, you can’t! Jesus is saying it is impossible to go to Heaven, the Kingdom of Love, unless you change and become a child of God; a child of Love!
Jesus goes on to explain clearly in Matthew 5 what the nature of those who inherit the kingdom of Heaven should be.

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Jesus is saying that the people who are humble, repentant, meek, hungry for the truth, merciful, pure in heart, and peacemakers will be in pretty good shape when He is deciding who to share His kingdom with. Because if you have the nature described here you have understood what God’s Love means and are enacting it in your life through your words, intentions, actions and deeds. Not only this but He even says if you have been persecuted for righteousness sake, and have had all kinds of evil things said against you falsely for His sake, you should be real happy about that because when you finally do get to Heaven you will receive some great reward! If the suffering was for Jesus, preaching the Gospel, teaching the right way and you had to suffer for it somehow, Jesus will make up for it in Heaven! The Bible talks a lot about rewards in Heaven for those who overcome in this life. The Bible says that those rewards are so great that mankind cannot even imagine them as they are beyond your wildest dreams and thoughts!

He said in verse 16 to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

So we have a problem here sometimes. Why aren’t we able to always to that? Do you ever get angry at anyone? Do you ever get bitter and want to get back at someone? Every time you do it hurts your chances of staying close to God. Jesus even said that if you are angry with your brother you will be in danger of Hell fire! That is if you don’t ever repent and turn around and start going the other way and love that brother! It’s all in there in chapter 5! Jesus says that if you are going to give someone a gift but you are angry with someone else, you should not give that gift to the person until you have been reconciled with the one that you are angry with. That’s love! No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, but if we ask forgiveness and also forgive, it will be forgotten. We can start all over again! Why in the world would anyone want to carry around with them all those burdens of bitterness and hate? In Hebrews it says to lay aside the weights and sins that so easily beset us! We fall into these things so easily sometimes and then we just accept it as part of our nature. Well, I’ll tell you that isn’t the nature of God! That isn’t being meek, humble, pure in heart and merciful!


Matthew 5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Here is Jesus saying that Moses said one thing, but I am saying another. You had better listen to Me now and not Moses! It is not love to hit someone back who hits you, yet sad to say this is the very first reaction of people or groups or even nations today! They are still going by the old laws of “an eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth” That is not what Jesus said. He said that you don’t have to feel like you have to fight back. Two wrongs do not make a right! Yet, in today’s world if you don’t fight back and get revenge you are judged as being weak and having no backbone! You see, that goes to show you how far off the beam today’s society has gone! They would rather have war than peace!

If you walk away from a fight you will be considered a coward and a weak character! They have things all backwards! It takes someone of a strong character to walk away from a fight, or not to answer back! If you never read the Bible before or never watched a movie about Jesus then you might not know that he never fought back! When he was captured and beaten, mocked, questioned, and finally crucified He never said an offensive word to his captors and did not fight back! He said that he could have called for legions of angles to come to his aid by just the snap of His fingers, but what would that have accomplished? That would have defeated God’s whole purpose for coming down from heaven to die for our sins! He even said when He was on the cross looking down at those who had crucified Him, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!” He made excuses for them to His Father in Heaven and asked that they be forgiven for crucifying Him! What love! What forgiveness! What mercy! He not only preached the message of love, but He Himself lived it and was the sample all the way up to the end!

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

“You mean Jesus wants me to love my enemies? Those people I hate and can’t stand?” Yes He does. If the world would just believe and act upon this one Bible verse right here, all war would cease! This is the only way to bring peace! The only way!

The best way to destroy your enemies is to make them your friends!

“No! We want revenge! They deserve to be punished! They deserve to die!” Yes “die” It says in 1 John 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Any person, any Christian who is going to make the Bible his or her standard or creed of living simply cannot ignore such passages as this one! It says if you hate your brother or sister you are a murderer! That is pretty strong language! I just wrote before where Jesus said that if you hate your brother you are in danger of Hell fire! That is also pretty strong language! God’s formula for happiness peace and welfare is simple! Love brings life, and hate brings death! Even if you do not actually commit murder, how many people murder others with their tongue everyday? It says in the book of James chapter 3 verses 7&8:

James 3:7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:

8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Full of deadly poison! Hateful poison! The tongue can kill! Words can kill or bring life! Yes it is true! Words have been the deliverer of either life or death! If someone says something about someone that causes them to take their own life or somehow there is a life lost or destroyed in some way, which does happen in today’s world, that person responsible for those words that brought death is a murderer! That is what the Bible says and if you are going to argue with the Bible you are arguing with God so I wouldn’t advise it!

Just get with it and deal with that hate and bitterness because it is separating you from God and others and also yourself!

It is an easy thing to love people that love you Jesus said. Sometimes even that is too much for some people, but Jesus did say that even the sinners love their own kind. What is really the test of love is to love that Samaritan or the one you do not get along with for whatever reason. That person you have a hard time with who rubs you the wrong way and always tests your patience. Or that person or people who hurt you or damaged you in someway you think is irreparable. If you want to be repaired you can be. It all depends on you. Counseling won’t do it, revenge won’t do it either.

The thing that is going to start you on your way to repair, and healing is to forgive! That is love! That is the only way you will ever get the healing and closure you seek! Not by revenge and hate! That will lead to bitterness and murder either physically or verbally!


In chapter 6 of Matthew there are more lessons spoken by Jesus on how to enact love in daily life. He speaks of giving, but with the wrong motive. He says not to do it just to show off or because you want to let everyone know that you are giving or how much you are giving. If you are giving out of real love and compassion just because the person needs it, you don’t need to advertise it. That’s not love, that’s pride! That’s why Paul said “Though I give all my goods to feed the poor, but have not love it is nothing” If you are not doing it out of love for people, then your actions will not amount to much. If there is any other motive it will not bear the right kind of fruit. That’s not to say your gift won’t be used by God. He will still use it for what it is worth, but it won’t be worth any more than its face value here on Earth. When you give out of a loving heart, and cheerfully, you not only get the benefit of seeing your gift bless those you give to, but you also get a much greater reward for it both here and now as well as there and then, in the next life.

Jesus also gives a lesson of prayer and how it signifies our love for God and others. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Jesus gives an example of how to pray by giving us the Lord’s Prayer. This does not mean we cannot use any other words, but the reason He said to pray like this was so that we can get our priorities straight and make sure our hearts are right. Then if we follow God’s requirements for prayer we will see the answer!

“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” We first must acknowledge the Lord and praise Him. Give the Lord first place in all we do and pray. By this we are acknowledging our relationship with the Father in Jesus name. We are loving God and putting Him in first place.
10 “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Here we are asking nothing for ourselves. We are seeking first God’s kingdom and what is best for others. This is loving others. We are praying and interceding for others before we ask for ourselves. We are asking for the Lord’s will to be done, no matter what our own desires are. We are setting the stage for our petitions by asking the Lord to give us the right unselfish and loving attitude to make our petition before Him. 11 “Give us this day our daily bread.” Next we are praying for our daily needs 12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Here is the litmus test of our love.

Here is where we really get tested and tried to see if we have enough love to forgive others as we want to be forgiven. In another place it says, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass
Against us” Trespasses are sins against others. If you trespass on someone’s land you are in a place you do not belong and should not be there without their permission.

Trespassing against others is doing them wrong. Doing things to others and treating them the way you shouldn’t. When others have done you wrong or treated you badly, you should forgive them. This is a very important part of our prayers because if we cannot forgive others for their sins against us we might as well stop there. God will not answer our prayers. If we cannot forgive then we do not have the love of God. We would be in rebellion against God’s Laws of Love. There is more in detail about forgiving later on. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:” Now God will not lead us into temptation, but we can fall into temptation easily by being drawn aside of our lust and enticed. God will not temp us, so why do we pray that?

Here we can end our prayer with praise and thanks to the Lord and acknowledge Him in all of His glory. In order to do this we have to know who God is, and believe that He is all powerful and rules all. We have to not only believe in God but we also have to believe Him and what He said in His Word. This is the confession of our faith. Then you can even end it with “In Jesus name” Amen.

19.Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Another verse that goes right along with this one is: 1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Isn’t that the same thing that caused Adam and Eve to fall? It says in Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food,(lust of the flesh) and that it was pleasant to the eyes, (lust of the eyes) and a tree to be desired to make one wise, (the pride of life) she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Another verse that goes along with these is:

Colossians 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. So we can see that God is not pleased when we love the things of this earth more than Him and put them above our relationship with Him. Loving the things of the world including people, more than God is forbidden in scripture. Love is great. Real unselfish love that loves others more than yourself, but not more than God.

These verses are pretty much self explanatory and it is clear what the point is. Love is a pretty deep subject and there is much more to come.

Jesus then goes on t0 say that the light of your body is the eye. If you have true love, God’s love in your heart your vision will be clear as you will be seeing through the eyes of love. Your eyes will reflect it as they will be shining! He also says if you have evil in your heart that will be seen in your eyes also, but it will not shine as the light of love. It will radiate darkness all around you! Hate and bitterness is evil and it radiates darkness!


In Matthew chapter five Jesus gives a very powerful exhortation on judging others. “Judge not that ye be not judged”. What did Jesus mean by that? When we judge others we are not only showing our total lack of love, but we are also showing our own criminal nature and judging ourselves. Jesus goes on to say that if we judge others unjustly and unfairly we will also be judged the same way. If we judge others fairly and lovingly we will also be judged fairly and lovingly. Love is makes a whole lot of difference in the way things are judged. If the person or people judging have no love and they are only interested in the legalities and seeing the other person pay the utmost punishment for their crimes, then they will also be judged the same way someday.

If we go ahead and judge others unmercifully and self-righteously, we will also receive the same type of judgment someday.
We are looking at the faults of others but not even considering the possibility that we may have also sinned or wronged someone. Either that or we forgot about the time we did wrong to others. Remembering how many mistakes we have made helps to keep us humble and helps us not to judge and condemn others wrongly.

In His own words Jesus says: Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. 13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

The Golden Rule is one thing the whole world is familiar with, no matter what their religion or persuasion. It doesn’t matter if you are a Christian or a Buddhist or Muslim or Jew or Hindi or whatever. The Golden Rule applies to EVERYONE! The principle is the same the world over! Even Atheists have to admit that there are certain things they would that men do to them and would prefer to not have done to them. This is the rule that God Himself has put within man to keep him on the right track no matter where he stems from or his roots happen to be!

No one can deny the fact that everyone needs love and is desperately in need or affection, sympathy, understanding, kindness, and mercy. There isn’t a person on this earth who would not rather be treated kindly than harshly. There isn’t a person alive who would not want to be understood. You would have to be insane or perverted to want to be beaten and abused and treated harshly. That is considered by the world to be abnormal if you like suffering harshness or pain. No one likes it no matter who they are. They have to have some sort of love in their life. They have to have some sort of affection and closeness to someone. This cannot be denied by any sane person who has feelings and emotions.

That was right after the statement about the Golden Rule. Isn’t that true? How many people do you know that are really fully living the Golden Rule and treating people with as much love and respect and kindness as they want others to treat them? Jesus said there will be few that find it!

Jesus had so much love and compassion for the people that he did not refuse anyone that came to Him, not even once! He didn’t even charge people for His services! He was the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. Not the hireling who lays down the sheep for his own life. Jesus said that whoever saves their life will lose it, but whoever loses it for His sake will find it.

This is the compassion that led Jesus to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. Do you think He is going to ask you how many devils you cast out? How many people you healed and raised up from the dead? It doesn’t say that anywhere in the Bible. It says that he will talk to you and tell you either to enter in to the joy of the Lord, or to depart from Him I never knew you. No matter what you think you did that was righteous works, if it was not out of love and compassionbut for some other motive, it did not accomplish much for the Lord and He will not count it towards your righteousness.

No matter if you have no talents you can speak of. No matter if you have a bad memory, make mistakes, have no skills or are bad at business, or if you are good , talented, skillful, rich and famous and beautiful, it will not make any difference to Jesus. He requires the same standard for everyone no matter what your denomination or religion. “If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto Me” “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” ” By this all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” He has the same requirements and that is to love your neighbor as yourself, and to love God first of all. If we fall short of those two commandments nothing else we ever do will ever amount to much and we will not enter into His kingdom.
There is only one way to bring it back to the HOT position on your thermometer. That is to follow Jesus’ own admonition in Revelations chapter two, “I have somewhat against thee because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

If you don’t agree with love and believe that God’s love is the answer to everything it is because you don’t believe in love or God. You can, though, even if you think you cannot. You can ask God to forgive all of your sins and your past and He will toss it all away. Asking for God’s forgiveness and taking Jesus as your Savior by asking Him to come into your heart, life, mind and soul, and asking Him to forgive all of your sins as you forgive others of their sins against you, will make you a child of God. But it doesn’t stop there. If you sincerely do pray and ask God’s pardon, He will truly pardon you. Then it is your turn to turn around and ask God what you can do for Him. What would you do for Jesus? Anything He asks you to? Then you should not have any problem doing it for anyone else who needs it. Jesus said that is all of the Laws of Moses and the Prophets!
Love does not lose and cannot lose. Love wins now and forever! The whole world is looking for love. Will they find it in you?

Will you shine with His love to those who need it? Words can be confusing、but love is always clear. May you be a beacon of God’s love light and shine with the warmth and light of His love onto those who need it and want it!