Eva ‘Liz’ McDonough, a footnote in Boston’s organized-crime history

It’s amazing that Eva “Liz” McDonough even made it to the age of 62, although she did, just barely.

But she only lasted 19 days past her birthday, and this morning at 11 there’s a funeral Mass for her at St. Leonard’s Church in the North End, with a gathering of her friends immediately afterwards at the St. Joseph Society hall.

Among her old pals who will not be attending are Jerry Angiulo, Whitey Bulger and Nicky Giso, all of whom sleep with the fishes, as well as Stevie “the Rifleman” Flemmi, who is locked up for life in parts unknown.

On March 20, 1984, Liz became a small footnote in Boston organized-crime history. It was midnight in a bucket of blood on Commercial Street, and she was the only woman in the place wearing a cowboy hat.

Suddenly two guys burst in. They were carrying pistols. They scanned the crowd and immediately strode towards the woman in the ten-gallon hat – Liz McDonough, then age 27. Fortunately for Liz, they shot her in the head, not one of her most vital bodily organs, as she herself once admitted.

“I just wish I was smarter,” she said in a 2009 interview. “Drugs brought me to my knees.”

And now the drugs have killed her, one way or another. At the end, she had all kinds of problems, including cirrhosis and stage 4 liver cancer.

There were always two theories about who put the hit on Liz. The first suspect was her boyfriend, Mafia soldier Nicky Giso. Nicky was born in 1921, Liz in 1957 – you do the math. One day in 1981, when the FBI was bugging Jerry Angiulo’s headquarters on Prince Street, they picked up Jerry screaming at Nicky something to the effect of, “If I had a girlfriend like that, I would throw her out the window!”

Nicky turned up on State Police surveillance photos of the old Lancaster Street garage, chewing the fat with Whitey. In one FBI report, Whitey reported that the Mafia “is supposed to be upset with Nick Giso, because of Giso’s continual use of cocaine.”

Maybe that’s what Liz saw in him.

Liz’s theory was that Stevie Flemmi was after her. You see, her first cousin was Flemmi’s girlfriend Debbie Davis, whom Stevie and Whitey strangled in South Boston shortly before Liz was shot. Liz and Debbie were this close –the same age, they used to hang out together at the Caffe Pompei on Hanover Street.

At least three of her Davis cousins came to bad ends. There was Debbie, strangled. There was Melissa, molested at age 13 by Stevie, dead of a drug overdose after being released from South Bay, where Liz spent a lot of time as well. And finally Gonzo Ronzo Davis, stabbed to death in a state prison.

“So you tell me,” her lawyer, Billy Cintolo, was saying yesterday, “did Liz ever have a chance?”

She had a son by Giso, who is now in his 30s. She was basically a burglar – posing at various times as a census taker, a pizza deliveryman and a maid. She did years and years at MCI-Framingham. She was released long enough in 2013 to show up at Whitey Bulger’s trial one day.

“Hey blue eyes!” she yelled at him. He didn’t seem to recognize her. The years had taken their toll.

A few months later, she was back in jail, after the cops arrested her burglarizing a luxury condominium downtown. Again, she was claiming to be a maid, as she stuffed jewelry and Louis Vuitton purses into shopping bags.

One time when she was out somebody approached both of us with a plan for “mob tours” for tourists on buses through the North End and Southie. Liz and I would be the guides.

There were two problems with the plan. Number one, the buses were too large to get through the narrow streets of the North End. And second, I didn’t want to be on call for tours every Saturday morning, and I realized that, given Liz’s lifestyles, she would have been calling in… sick, shall we say, more often than not.

Rest in peace, Liz.

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