Search for a Dead Man - Recap

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In June of 1929 a body is dumped into Lake Michigan from a Chicago wharf. Approximately 3 weeks later the body is fished out of the lake. The Bureau of Missing Persons is called in and Lt. Agatha Stewart is on the case. She meets with the coroner at the city morgue and learns that the corpse was male, approximately 50 years old, and had a heart condition.

The body of the John Doe fished out of Lake Michigan is later buried in a pauper's grave at city expense. There are no mourners present. Only Lt. Stewart and reporter Walter Rimer attend the service. But then there's a clue. A huge wreath of flowers from O'Bannion's floral shop is delivered. The delivery man doesn't know who made the purchase so Lt. Stewart goes to the flower shop.

O'Bannion's was once owned by the notorious Dion O'Bannion who was bumped off five years previously. Now the place is owned by former O'Bannion henchman Gerald Feeney who's made peace with the Torrio/Capone syndicate which rubbed out his old boss. Lt. Stewart discovers that a woman paid $175 cash for the wreath. She confiscates the money from Feeney and tries to discover from which bank a $175 withdrawal was made on July 19.

In the meanwhile, Ness and Hobson are working on trying to intercept a booze shipment from Canada. They get a tip that mobster Jake Portuguese is holding a meeting in the Pink Lion speakeasy to discuss the booze deal. A raid on the Pink Lion proves fruitless as Portuguese and the others escape through a secret passageway.

A few days later, Lt. Stewart tracks down the woman who bought the flowers for the funeral. Her name is Claire Simmons. Claire reveals nothing except the name of her former boyfriend Sonny Dale but after Lt. Stewart departs, Claire phones Rudy Portuguese, younger brother of Jake Portuguese, and tells him that the police are snooping around.

Lt. Stewart and Officer Harrison, her subordinate, track Sonny Dale to a gym where he trains. (Sonny is a boxer.) Sonny ends up assaulting Officer Harrison and gets taken to jail. In the meantime, the body of Claire Simmons is discovered. It appears as though she's been the victim of a hit-and-run accident. Lt. Stewart delivers the bad news to Sonny in his jail cell. Sonny then reveals that Claire had been involved with Jake Portuguese.

A few days later, the big booze convoy rolls into Chicago. It's delivered by Arnie Retzik from Canada. Ness, Hobson, and Lt. Stewart pay a visit to the Portuguese mansion and find it deserted. But they do find a couple of clues: nitro pills which are used for heart medication and a broken headlight on Jake's car in the garage. Lt. Stewart thinks that she finally has her John Doe.

She happens to be right. When Arnie Retzik meets with Rudy Portuguese he is informed by Rudy that big brother Jake is dead. Rudy wants half the money from the booze convoy. When Retzik balks Rudy shoots him down. Meanwhile, through dental records, Lt. Stewart finally gets the conclusive proof that the body is that of Jake Portuguese. Ness has a 24 hour tail put on Rudy. One night Hobson tails him to a warehouse where he's meeting with the buyers for the booze shipment.

Rudy picks up the million dollar payment for the booze but then the Untouchables burst in. Guns begin blazing and Rudy gets hit. The others surrender. Before he dies, Rudy tells the true story of the corpse to Ness. His brother died of a heart attack but Rudy pretended he was still alive so the booze deal could go on through and he could pocket the money. But Claire Simmons ruined it all when she sent flowers to Jake's grave in potter's field.

Thus properly identified, the body of Jake Portuguese was exhumed and given a funeral worthy of a top gangster. There was only one problem--nobody was left to mourn.