In part one we went into the early life of mob associate Parnell “Stacks” Edwards, a blues musician who turned to crime to support himself, his eventual habit, and his passion to play music.
The Big Heist in 1978
Moving up to bigger things in the underworld would prove to be fatal for him. Stacks Edwards’ association with DeSimone would bring him into the services of James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke, a Lucchese family associate. Burke’s specialty involved heists and he earned the nickname for paying off drivers of knocked over trucks $50.
Burke had gotten word of a big payoff at JFK. A payoff so big that he needed a sizable crew of professionals to pull it off. Being of both Irish and Italian descent he knew this is where he would stop as far as progression in the family’s hierarchy and often worked with others who were also stifled by the mafia’s career ladder.
This included Irish, Jewish and Black mobsters. Thus, Tommy DeSimone and Stacks Edwards were recruited into a crew that looked too large to keep together after the robbery. Their friend Henry Hill was involved in the planning side of things but not the actual upfront robbery.
December 11, 1978, was a big event in New York City history. The Lufthansa Heist turned out to be the largest cash robbery at the time. The haul was $5 million and around $875,000 in jewelry being nabbed. In today’s currency, it was over $21 million.
Edwards’ job: getaway driver. Following that, he was to ditch the getaway van at a junkyard owned by John Gotti. Stacks’ penchant for heroin saw this duty neglected. As a result, law enforcement found the van and the noose tighten on Jimmy Burke’s ring.
The End for Stacks Edwards
Burke, known for a quick temper and paranoia began to tie up loose ends. DeSimone was ordered to kill people involved in the heist with Stacks being the first person murdered. He was shot on December 18 with his girlfriend finding his body. It is said that DeSimone called Stacks Edwards’ mother and informed her of his death saying he was sorry about what happened to Edwards. Hill
DeSimone himself would turn up missing in early January 1979. his wife reporting him on January 18. Its believed that he was killed as a result of his girlfriend stealing $250,000 or for the murders of several made members of Gotti’s family.
If this story sounds familiar to movie buffs, fans of mob films, or Samuel L. Jackson fans, it should. The heist was a major storyline of the 1990 film Goodfellas with Stacks Edwards’ fate being the inspiration for the character played by Jackson.