Thomas Pitera

Thomas "Tommy Karate" Pitera aka "The Butcher" aka "The Monster", aka "The Karate Machine", aka "The One-Man Killing Machine", aka "The Terminator", aka "The One-Man Army" aka "The Executioner" (born December 2, 1954) is an Italian-American serial killer, mass murderer, drug trafficker, martial artist, karate fighter, Karate black belt, and former Mafia hitman in the Bonanno crime family. Pitera earned a reputation as a vicious and sadistic killer who enjoyed sadistically and brutally murdering people by dismemberment, strangulation, and torture. Pitera is believed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of single-handedly committing as many as 1,200 murders. He was well known for his use of karate and other martial arts when fighting which is a skill he had learned at 8 years old. Pitera became an 8th degree blackbelt in karate, by the time he was 37 years old. It earned Pitera his nickname "Tommy Karate." Tommy Pitera trained around 5 to 10 hours a day in karate, he never missed a day of training in 30 years. Tommy Pitera quickly became one of the Bonanno crime family's most ruthless, lethal, prolific, efficient and feared hitmen. The FBI and the DEA described Thomas Pitera as a "murderous maniac.", "lethal animal", "cold-blooded, brutal and professional executioner", "bloodthirsty predator", "killing machine", and a "ferocious, animalistic, monstrous, barbaric and deranged psychopathic killer", FBI Agents and DEA Agents has stated that "Law Enforcement has never encountered the level of brutality and ruthlessness from anyone other than Thomas Pitera, the murders he committed made Law Enforcement sick. Tommy Pitera s a very terrifying and fearsome man, he would kill anybody in a heartbeat, and without hesitation, he's killed women, children, innocent people, his friends, theres nothing he wouldn't do. He scares the scary guys, he puts the fear of god in the most ruthless and fearsome men. Tommy Pitera would chop his victims up into little tiny pieces to kill them slowly, and he would often torture most of his victims to death in the most gruesome and evil ways you could possibly think of. Pitera is pure evil, he's a vicious and evil monster, if he's not the devil the i don't know who or what is."

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent, Jim Hunt has said of Tommy Pitera in mafia documentary's about Tommy Pitera "Tommy Pitera is a thousand times worse than every serial killer and criminal in history of the world. Pitera is a one-man army, and he was a one-man killing machine, he single-handedly murdered hundreds and hundreds of people for the mob. Pitera organized the murders that he committed, and he killed with efficiency, and he killed with proficiency. Pitera was an 8th degree karate black belt, he trained everyday in other martial arts for 35 years, he was a ferocious and toughs as nails street fighter, he was as tough or tougher than a gladiator, he was an expert with a swords and knives, and he was also a marksman with a handguns and machine guns, which made his proficiency and efficiency at killing people increasingly prodigious. tommy pitera was an extremely ruthless, lethal and professional executioner for the mob, and Pitera was unquestionably one of the most prolific, sophisticated, deadliest, dangerous and feared assassins in history. Pitera murdered more people than every serial killer combined in America. Pitera is unquestionably one of the greatest hitmen in history of the world. Pitera was like James Bond of hitmen. Pitera was as good or better at killing people than the Navy Seals. Pitera was an expert at being a hitman, he never made mistakes, and always killed his target successfully and efficiently. Pitera is the kind of hitman that any Government, Government agency, criminal organization, or military would pay millions of dollars to have on their side and do work for them, he is the best of the best. Pitera is more trained, lethal, professional, efficient and dangerous than CIA Operatives. Pitera makes the Mexican Drug Cartel hitmen look like boy scouts. Pitera is a force of nature, he is an absolute force to be reckoned with, Pitera is the last person in the world that you want to piss off or get on the wrong side of. Pitera is the type of hitman that can do the type of superhuman stuff that you only see in movies, one example is that he could single-handedly kill every single member of an entire criminal organization one-by-one, Pitera once killed over 20 members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in the same day, the hells angels were selling heroin on Pitera's turf and they wouldn't give Pitera a cut when he asked them too so Pitera came to see them one day at their club house and one thing led to another and they started shooting at Pitera, and Pitera killed every single one of them with just his pistol, and there were a total of 21 members that Pitera killed, he managed to gather them all up and put them in a van and chop them up and dump them in the atlantic ocean. Thats how dangerous Pitera was, theres nothing that Pitera isn't capable of doing. Pitera would kill anybody and everybody in a heartbeat, and he wouldn't hesitate to kill Cops, Judges, Prosecutors, Politicians, or a Federal Agents. Tommy Pitera is without a doubt one of the most ruthless, deadliest, dangerous and feared criminal's in history of the world. Pitera had a terrifying death stare, when he looked at you straight in the eyes it would make your heart skip a beat, he was a truly terrifying man, he had pure evil and stone-cold killer eyes that would scare you to death, and he even scared a lot of Federal Agents, and I'm not going to lie, there were times that i was intimidated of him, and a lot of Law Enforcement were very hesitant about going after him for many reasons, because of his reputation, because he would kill anybody in a heartbeat, because he had so many high-tech weapons that could literally take out an entire city. Pitera had a seemingly endless supply of bombs, plastic explosives, machine guns, and grenades. Pitera even owned dozens of M60 Machine Guns, .50 Caliber Machine Guns, AK-47's, High-Powered Sniper Rifles, RPG rocket launchers, Grenade launchers, Land Mines, High-Tech Bombs such as, C-4 Plastic Explosives, TNT Explosives, Nail Bombs, Pipe Bombs, and Anti-Tank Missiles. Pitera had access to those kinds of weapons because he had connections with the Sicilian Mafia and the Russian Mafia. Pitera bought the bombs, RPG Rocket Launchers, Land Mines, anti-tank missiles, and plastic explosives from the Russian Mafia, and he bought the machine guns, high-powered machine guns, sniper rifles, and grenades from the Sicilian Mafia. So it was pretty terrifying for us, because mobsters within the Italian-American Mafia are all cold-blooded killers, but they usually don't have that kind high-tech weapons like Tommy Pitera had, and they normally wouldn't think about killing cop, but Tommy Pitera even warned us that he would kill as many cops and federal agents that came after him and try to arrest him. So we weren't going after just some vicious criminal or some vicious mobster, we were trying to arrest and convict one of the world's most deadliest and dangerous criminal's. Luckily for us Pitera didn't have the opportunity to kill any of us like he said he would, but i know he would of tried too if he was cornered, and if we wouldn't of been as lucky as we were. Tommy Pitera is without a doubt one of the most vicious, murderous, deadliest, dangerous and feared criminals in history of the world."

Tommy Pitera's former right-hand man Frank Gangi stated that "Tommy Pitera was a sadistic psychopath, he was a homicidal maniac, he was a cold-blooded killer, and he was a killing machine. For many years, Pitera told me numerous times that he murders someone every two to four days, Pitera told me around late 1991 that he murdered a little more than 1,200 people, Tommy told me that he stopped counting the people that he's killed after 1,216 and i without a doubt believe him, i know for a fact that he murdered 1,200 people, just because he was a killing machine, and ho much he enjoyed killing people, he was so vicious and so brutal, i mean all he wanted to do was kill, kill, kill, and he would kill anybody and everybody, he was the most vicious, toughest and scariest guy that I've ever met in my entire life, and he was feared by everybody. He scared the scary guys. He was like the terminator, he literally had superhuman strength I've seen him in more than 100 fights with some of the most toughest and feared men out there, and some of these men that Tommy fought was over 6 foot 5 and 6 foot 6 and weighed around 300 pounds, and every single guy that Tommy ever fought ended with Tommy knocking them out unconscious with only one punch to the face, Tommy knocked out every single man that he has ever fought with one or two punches too the face, and he was in over 300 fights as an adult. Tommy is not a very big guy, but he had hands of iron, and he had lightening bolt punches, his punches were as quick as a blink of an eye, and his body seemed like its made out of steel, he was literally solid muscle, he had no body fat at all, Tommy has even beat men to death by punching them in the face over and over again. Ive seen Tommy kill over 100 people, but I personally wouldn't be surprised if he murdered 3,000 people, he was a bloodthirsty psychopath, and he was a complete homicidal maniac. Tommy Pitera was tough as nails, he was the toughest guy I've ever met in my entire life, he was a very disciplined man, he never missed a day of training in karate for over 35 years, he trained every single day for around 5 to 9 hours in karate, he worked out for hours, he could run full speed without stopping for more than one hour. Tommy's body was literally made out of iron, he had an eight pack, he had absolutely no fat on his body, he wasn't a real big guy, but he was totally solid, he was a man made out of iron, his body showed nothing but his muscles, he was literally a warrior, Tommy Pitera was tougher than a gladiator, he was a karate machine, he was a killing machine and he was a fighting machine. Tommy was a one-man army. Literally Nobody fucked with Tommy Pitera because everybody knew his reputation for being a karate expert, and being an 8th degree blackbelt, and a cold-blooded killer that would kill anybody in a heartbeat, and a lethal, ruthless and efficient hitman thats single-handedly murdered almost one thousand people, and when he killed with efficiency, and never made mistakes and always killed his target successfully and efficiently, and always got the job done no matter what, and because they knew that he was one of the most ruthless, dangerous and feared gangsters in America, and because they knew he has killed hundreds and hundreds of people, and they also knew he had a reputation of killing people slowly, brutally and sadistically, and because everybody knew how vicious he was. Tommy Pitera was completely fearless, there was nobody and nothing that scared him, theres nothing he wouldn't do, he didn't know what fear was, he wasn't even scared of death, he always would tell me that 'if anyone is gonna kill me its gonna be the mob.' Tommy was my friend, and i do feel bad even to this day that i ratted on him, there was a time that i would of never ever even thought of becoming a rat, there was a time i would of rather shot myself in the head then to become a rat, but i had no choice, he was going to kill me,and i figured if he was going to betray me and kill me, then I'm going to betray him. Tommy was a sick, cold-hearted and evil son of a bitch, he was somebody that would of killed literally anybody no matter who they were, he killed women, children, friends, innocents. So in a way I'm glad that i ratted on him, because he was a monster, and it sickened me all the things that i saw him do. The things that i saw him do was not only sickening and barbaric, but it was pure evil and inhuman. Tommy wasn't a human being in my opinion he was an animal. Some of the brutal things that Tommy Pitera did would of sickened even the devil. There is a $100,000 contract out on me that Tommy put on me so i got to be careful, because he could still find a way to have me killed."

FBI and DEA Agents has stated that "Tommy Pitera was a sadistic, ruthless and psychopathic killer who enjoyed murdering people. Pitera killed by setting people on fire, he's killed people with knives, he's killed people with guns, he's killed people by dismemberment, he's killed people with swords, he's killed people with his bare hands, he's killed by poisoning peoples food and drinks with cyanide poisoning, he's killed people by strangulation, he's killed people with grenades, he's killed people with bombs, he's killed people with plastic explosives, he's killed people with ice picks, he's killed by snapping peoples necks, he's killed by punching people in the face to death, he's killed by drowning people, he's killed people with baseball bats, he's killed people with machetes, he's killed by slitting peoples throats, he's killed by torturing people to death, he's killed by beheading people, he's killed by cutting them in half with a chainsaw, he's killed with hydrofluoric acid by pouring it on their skin, and he's killed in many other gruesome and ruthless ways. Tommy Pitera was the most feared man in New York, during his time. Everybody feared Tommy Pitera, he would walk down the street and people quickly got the hell out of his way, people would bite their nails and get the goosebumps when they saw Tommy Pitera walking down the street. People would get scared to death just by hearing his name. The street gangs in New York City feared him, the biker gangs in New York City feared him, other mobsters feared him, his own associates feared him. Thomas Pitera was literally feared by everyone in New York City. Tommy Pitera has killed over 1,000 people for the Bonanno Crime Family. Pitera was the most violent, ruthless, murderous, dangerous and feared mobster of his time.

Former NYPD Detective Joseph Coffey stated that "I've never in all my years of being a detective have came across someone so evil, vicious and ruthless, he makes Ted Bundy and Henry Lee Lucas look like choir boys. Thomas Pitera is one of the most ruthless, fearsome and dangerous men that the NYPD have ever came across in history. I wouldn't be surprised if Pitera has single-handedly murdered 2,000 people. If Thomas Pitera isn't the devil than i don't know who or what is. Tommy Pitera is pure evil, he is a complete psychopath, he's a man without a conscience that would kill literally anybody in a heartbeat, he would kill anybody that crossed him, he killed women, children, innocent people, Tommy Pitera didn't care who he killed. Tommy Pitera is a bloodthirsty psychopathic maniac, he is a crazed animal, and he is a killing machine, thats how i would describe Tommy Pitera. Tommy Pitera wouldn't hesitate to kill Cops, Judges, Jurors, Prosecutors, or Federal Agents. Tommy Pitera is tough as nails, and completely fearless as well, he preys on the strong, he was known for killing huge men with the use of karate and other martial arts skills, just to make a point. He once beat four Hells Angel's Motorcycle Club members to death with his bear hands because they looked at him funny, and just a couple days after he did that to them, He also bombed a Hells Angels MC clubhouse, killing 5 members. In my opinion Thomas Pitera is considered by me as one of the most evil and dangerous people in history. During his 11 year period, as a made man in the Bonanno Crime Family, Tommy Pitera was also one of the most dangerous mobsters in America."

Early years

Born in New York City, Pitera grew up in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn to parents Joseph Pitera and Catherine. His father was a wholesale candy distributor salesman. Thomas had thick, jet-black hair with piercing blue-gray eyes and high cheekbones. He allegedly had a particularly high pitched effeminate falsetto voice that was compared by biographer Philip Carlo to Michael Jackson's but having even more falsetto. Mob associate turned informant Frank Gangi thought Pitera sounded more like Mickey Mouse or Minnie Mouse. This however is contradicted by DEA Agents who hunted Pitera, and likened his voice and mannerisms to Richard Widmark's character Tommy Udo, in the 1947 film Kiss of Death. Pitera was a quiet child who was bullied in school. He attended David A. Boody Junior High School in Gravesend, Brooklyn and left little impression with his teachers.

As a child, Pitera was a huge fan of the 1966 The Green Hornet television show and actor Bruce Lee; this began his lifelong interest in martial arts. Pitera was highly skilled in martial arts, having spent 27 months training assiduously in Tokyo, Japan where he studied under the revered Hiroshi Masumi after winning an arduous kumite competition in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. He was trained to use the tonfa, nunchucks and katanas. While in Japan, he grew his hair down to his shoulders to adopt the Bruce Lee image.

After his scholarship ended, he sought work in a chopsticks factory to underwrite his stay and earn more money. This led him to acquire the nickname "Tommy Karate" by friends and mobsters. After returning from Japan, Pitera joined the Bonanno family and quickly earned a reputation for being a cold-blooded killer. Pitera was one of the most vicious and feared enforcers on the streets, amongst the likes of Anthony Mirra, Alphonse Indelicato, Frank Lino, Anthony Gaggi, Thomas Agro, Gregory Scarpa, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, Benjamin Ruggiero, Sammy Gravano, Joseph Massino, William Cutolo, Anthony Indelicato, Anthony Senter, Joseph Testa, Dominick Napolitano, Victor Amuso, and Roy DeMeo, who were extremely lethal and ruthless mobsters and veteran hitmen. Pitera married Celeste Lipari, his longtime love and wanted to adopt his step daughter Nicole who was tall and beautiful just like Celeste. Pitera and Celeste attended martial arts classes together where they worked out on a regular basis.

Pitera belonged to a family faction headed by captains Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato, Frank Lino, Dominick Trinchera and Phillip Giaccone. This group opposed the current leadership under boss Phillip Rastelli and his leading captains Joseph Massino and Dominick Napolitano. In 1981, Massino and Napolitano set up the murders of the three rival captains in a Gravenhurst, Brooklyn club owned by Salvatore Gravano and Eddie Garofalo. After their deaths, Massino made peace with the rest of the leaderless faction, including Pitera. Pitera was working for Anthony Indelicato, until Bruno became a drug addict and fled New York. During the 1980s Pitera became a made man of the Bonanno family. Pitera then worked for Anthony Spero who put him in Frank Lino's crew.

Criminal career

On August 29, 1988, Pitera ambushed Wilfred "Willie Boy" Johnson as he walked ahead to their car and shot him to death. Johnson had been a close associate of Gambino crime family boss John Gotti since the two of them had been petty burglars and thieves. Johnson had also served as a personal hitman for Gotti after Gotti became a made man and Captain with the Gambinos. In 1985, Gotti discovered that Johnson had been a government informant since 1969. Pitera murdered Johnson as a favor to Gotti. The hit had allegedly been delegated to Pitera and fellow gunman, Vincent "Kojak" Giattino, by Gambino Capo Edward Lino. Pitera was charged with the Johnson murder, and acquitted at trial.

Pitera was close to Bonanno Consigliere Anthony Spero, who headed the violent Bath Beach crew. This group was involved in extortion, loan sharking, drug dealing and murders. Pitera's crew was notorious for robbing drug dealers and then reselling their drugs. Pitera murdered three Colombian drug kingpins and then resold their 140 pounds of cocaine. Pitera killed Tala Siksik, a Middle-Eastern drug trafficker, in his Brooklyn apartment. Pitera stripped the body, then stripped himself naked and put the body in the bathtub. He then got into the bathtub with the body and sliced it into six pieces, and then buried it at a secret dumping ground. Investigators eventually found six of Pitera's victims in a mob graveyard in Staten Island near the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge. Pitera had decapitated the bodies and buried the heads separately to impede their identification using dental records.

Pitera's approach to murder and body disposal was cold-hearted and clinical. He used the Staten Island graveyard because he believed that the damp soil would accelerate decomposition. Pitera studied books on dissection and carried a special tool kit for cutting up bodies. He always insisted on burying corpses deep enough so that police dogs could not locate their scents. Before burying body parts, Pitera either wrapped them in plastic or placed them in suitcases. Pitera's weakness was that he enjoyed keeping jewelry and other souvenirs of his work. This went beyond Mafia culture and was classic serial killer behavior.

On June 4, 1990, Pitera was indicted for heading a drug dealing crew and for his involvement in seven murders, including the 1988 Johnson murder. Investigators alleged that Pitera had been involved in as many as 1,000 or more murders. Pitera's crew sold about 620 pounds of cocaine per year, multiple kilos of heroin and thousands of pounds of marijuana. FBI agents discovered a total of 197 hand grenades, 120 automatic weapons, 104 hand guns, 86 shotguns, 58 uzi submachine guns, 23 light machine guns, 18 bowie knives, 16 Italian stiletto knives, 13 swords, 2 .50 caliber machine guns, and literature such as The Hitman's Handbook and Kill or Be Killed, which dealt primarily with assassination techniques as well as torturing and dismembering cadavers, in Pitera's apartment in Gravesend, Brooklyn.


One of Pitera's crew members, Frank Gangi, the nephew of Genovese crime family Captain Rosario Gangi, decided to testify against Pitera. Frank had been arrested for driving under the influence and allegedly started reliving Pitera's worst atrocities in his mind while sitting in the holding cell. Gangi confessed to all the murders he was involved in with Pitera, and provided information on other Pitera murders. Gangi described how Pitera matter-of-factly assassinated Gangi's girlfriend Phyllis Burdi while she was passed out in bed after sharing cocaine and sex with Gangi. Pitera then cut Burdi's corpse into six pieces in the bathroom. Gangi also testified that during a fight with a drug dealer named Marek Kucharsky, Pitera pulled a knife and repeatedly stabbed Kucharsky and finally cut his throat.

In Pitera's trial, the chief prosecutor, David W. Shapiro, demanded the death sentence for the "heinous, cruel and depraved" murders committed by Pitera. He called Pitera a "heartless and ruthless killer" explaining in detail how Pitera tortured one victim by slowly, deliberately shooting him seven times in various parts of the body, in one of a series of murders carried out in a deliberately barbaric manner. The prosecution also produced a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent who testified to digging up graves containing the dismembered bodies of some of Pitera's victims.

Pitera's defense lawyer, David A. Ruhnke, urged the jury to reject the death penalty on the grounds that Pitera had no prior criminal record and that other participants in the murders were allowed to plead guilty to lesser charges. Moreover, only two of the murder victims, Richard Leone and Solomon Stern, were killed on March 15, 1989, after the Federal death penalty law went into effect. The four other murders took place earlier, so those counts carried maximum sentences of life in prison. Pitera's aunt, sister-in-law and two cousins testified on Pitera's defense that he was a loving and caring family member.

Life sentence

On June 25, 1992, Pitera was convicted of murdering six people and supervising a massive drug dealing operation in Brooklyn. However, Pitera was acquitted in the 1988 Wilfred Johnson murder. During the deliberation on sentencing, the jury rejected the death penalty for Pitera. In October 1992, alluding to evidence that Pitera brutally killed his victims and dismembered their bodies, Judge Reena Raggi sentenced him to life in prison, saying, "Mr. Pitera, nobody deserves to die as these people died."

After the verdict was read, Pitera smiled and gave a thumbs up to reporters sitting in the Brooklyn courtroom; he had avoided the death penalty. However, Pitera was irritated that Gangi was petitioning Judge Raggi for a reduction of his 10 year prison sentence. As Pitera later remarked,

"Gangi said he was sorry about killing five people and that he became an informer because he wanted to start a new life. He gets 10 years, a good deal, and he goes whimpering and weeping to the judge looking for a break. If you're really sorry for killing five people, you take your punishment like a man."

Later in 1992, Judge Raggi again refused a motion to reduce Gangi's sentence. On April 3, 2012, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied Pitera's motion for DNA testing of the guns and other evidence in three of Pitera's murders. As of April 2017, Pitera is serving a life sentence at the Federal Correctional Complex, Allenwood, in Pennsylvania. Pitera's inmate number is 29465-053.