Sunday, March 16, 2008

Did fire push Machine Gun Molly over the edge?....


A tragic fire in a city-owned property slated for demolition at 1662 Ste. Elisabeth killed four of Romeo Proietti's children on February 3, 1958. 
   There was no fire escape at the property at the time. 
   That might have pushed Monica Proietti to become a hellbent criminal bank robber better known as Machine Gun Molly, as it was her brothers and sisters who died in the blaze. 
   The fire started at 6 a.m. when an oil heater exploded. Dad was on the way to work at a restaurant on St. Dominique but police alerted him and he returned where he watched the blaze rip through the second and third floor units where they lived. 
Monica Proietti
   Mom and Monica, then 19, tried to rush upstairs to save little Giovanni, 6, but it was too late. Ginette, 4, Marcello, 8 and baby Michel, 8 months all died as well.
   Four kids survived, Lisette, 13, Monica, 19 (who was already married, thus known as Mrs. Smith), Mario 16, and Rita, 15 all lived.  
   Mom was in a coma for a while but recovered. 
   Meanwhile Monica became Montreal most famous female bank robber before she was shot dead fleeing a bank robbery in a carjacked Plymouth at Pie IX and Dickens (where's that?) on Sept. 19, 1967. 
   Her mother Maria was known for encouraging the kids into a world of crime and in 1952 received 12 years in prison.
   She had a couple of kids with a Scottish bandit, Mr. Smith, 17 years her senior. He was deported to Scotland in '62, after they were caught robbing the Cafe Paloma, leaving poor Monica alone to raise Ginette Smith born in 1959 and Terry Smith born in 1961. 
   She hooked up with another hood named Viateur Tessier, and they had a baby named Gilles Tessier, and the three kids all moved into a house in Repentigny. But Tessier too was was jailed, for 15 years in 1967. 
   She left the kids with her sister in Repentigny and moved in with Gerard Lelievre at 4255 Garnier
Hubby Tony Smith was
deported back to Scotland
   So the twice-abandoned Monique, then turned to crime and was shot down by cops in a high speed chase in Sept '67.  
   In recent years her son Anthony - who served 11 years in prison for armed robbery - and daughter Ginette refused offers to have a film based on her life.    
    They needed cash but refused offers nonetheless. Eventually the daughter gave in and the film got made. A little while after the movie came out, Anthony committed suicide. 
   Monica's sister Rita told reporters that cops were right to shoot Monica before she killed more people. Her daughter Ginette strongly disagreed.
   One fact that biographers have overlooked is that in February 1958 three of Monica's seven siblings died in a fire. Monica, 19 - who had been working as a prostitute since age 13 -- was already living with Smith and survived as did Lisette, (born circa 1945) Mario (c. '42) Rita (c. '43). 
   Not so lucky were Giovanni, Marcel, Michel and Ginette. Monica tried to rush in to save Giovanni, 6, but it was too late.
   The fire occurred at 1662 St. Elisabeth, which had - like the entire neighbourhood - been bought up by the city of Montreal prior to demolishing it for the ill-advised Habitations Jeanne Mance. Perhaps as owners of the property, the city might not have cared if the house was safe.

1 comment:

UrbanLegend said...

Dickens Street was renamed Villeray Street when the latter was extended east of Papineau through the City of St. Michel and eventually across Pie IX Blvd.