Reputed crime boss Phillip C. (Chicken Man) Testa died yesterday in a bomb blast on the porch of his son's home in what police said was the latest in a series of gangland-style slayings since his reputed predecessor Angelo Bruno was assassinated nearly a year ago.
Police and the FBI were investigating the explosion, which rocked the south Philadelphia neighborhood at 2:55 a.m., blowing out the front porch of the Testa home and shattering windows of nearby houses. "Did I hear it? I thought the world was coming to an end," said one neighbor.
The 56-year-old Testa was carrying more than $10,000 in cash at the time, and police said they found "a few thousand more" inside the house.
Testa, whose nickname came from the time he ran a poultry business, was considered a successor to Bruno, who reportedly headed organized crime in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey. He was among 10 former Bruno associates indicted Feb. 20, charged with conspiring to violate federal racketeering statutes.
Since Bruno's slaying, two others named as members of Bruno's syndicate, Johnny Keyes Simone and Frank Gaetano Sindone, have met violent deaths.
Investigators have theorized that there has been a struggle among the Gambino crime family in New York and the Bruno family over turf in the lucrative Atlantiuc City gambling market. Another theory centers on an internal struggle within the Bruno family in Philadelphia.
In Chicago, meanwhile, a stabbed, burned and decomposed body has been identified as that of reputed crime syndicate gambling boss and hitman William (Butch) Petrocelli.
Petrocelli, missing since Dec. 30, was found in his car, abandoned on a southwest side street.