The Mafia has a number of rituals that it observes. When a person is murdered the killer may alter the body to send a specific message. In most cases the body just disappears, so finding the body in itself has a meaning.


Targets for messages:

(1) members of the organization

(2) rival groups

(3) police

(4) public at large




some identifiable item with a dead fish

The person is at the bottom of the ocean (“sleeping with the fishes”)

dead canary in the mouth

The person was singing to the police.

money in the mouth

The person was greedy.

hands cutoff

The person shook the hands of the police.

hands preserved with gloves while rest of body treated with acid or base

To preserve the hands so that the body would be identified by fingerprints if discovered.

damage to eyes (shot in both eyes)

The person was blind or would not see.

damage to ears

The person would not listen.

damage to tongue

The person talked.

damage to the genitalia

A sign of disrespect or violated a rule about sex.

execution performed in public

The people who ordered the murder wants everyone to know “loud and clear”.

facial disfigurement

To send a message to other members of the organization.


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