The anomalous crime syndicate from Chicago, Illinois
"I don't believe in formal education. I never spent a day in a classroom, yet I'm one of the most successful men in this city. Boys and men who could be spending their time productively are instead forced to waste years of their lives stooped over books, trying to snatch some trace of intellect for themselves. What the schoolmasters don't tell you is that genius is something you're born with. I may not know calculus, but I run the largest business of its type in the country. I may not be able to name every tribe in Africa, but I can turn a man inside-out with a snap of my fingers. I can't give you a scientific explanation for how we perform the miracles we do, but then again, nobody else can, either. In my business, me and the Ivy League boys are equal in everything -– everything, that is, except power. That's something I have plenty of."
Richard D. Chappell, correspondence, 1925.
GoI #: 001
Name: The Chicago Spirit
Years active: 1895 - 1938Leadership:
|Richard Davis Chappell||1871 - 1953|
|Charles Ferris Derringer1||1878 - 1950|
|Hogarth Mintz Cartwright||1869 - 1929|
|Julius Ralleigh McGallan||1865 - (193X)|
Description: The Chicago Spirit, also known simply as the Spirit, was an organized crime syndicate based in Chicago, Illinois. The group operated locally during the first two decades of its existence, but later spread to other major cities in the United States due to the massive increase in business experienced during America's Prohibition era. The Spirit employed numerous individuals with anomalous capabilities, created and exploited a number of anomalous artifacts for use in his business, and was owned by one Richard D. Chappell, a Type-C Reality Bender (SCP-046-ARC).
Background: In 1873, Chappell immigrated to Chicago with his parents at the age of two. The first record of his anomalous capabilities was an incident in which a passerby witnessed Chappell — then 11 years old — anomalously exsanguinating a rival newspaper boy. The boy's body was recovered from the Chicago River the following day, but the local police did not pursue the case. Chappell would, in later years, claim that the boy's death had been an accident.
In its original incarnation, the Chicago Spirit was a legitimate business. Founded in 1893 and located on Chicago's South Side, the Spirit operated as a typical bar, providing patrons with alcoholic beverages and occasionally offering live musical entertainment. After two years of making little revenue, Chappell had the idea to start a second line of business on the Chicago Spirit's second floor: a secretive trade of "unnatural novelties". During the subsequent years, Chappell sold over 600 anomalous artifacts to buyers in Chicago and outlying areas. Many of these objects are believed to been created by Chappell himself.
This new venture quickly attracted a number of wealthy collectors and prestigious members of Chicago's elite, which in turn had the added benefit of greatly bolstering the popularity of the establishment downstairs. Still, Chappell remained largely secretive about his anomalies, adamantly refusing to acknowledge the anomalous side of his business in public and never utilizing his reality-bending capabilities in the company of others.
As the Spirit prospered and grew, Chappell expanded his practice to include criminal activities such as extortion, planned robberies, and attacks on rivaling business owners. By 1899, approximately 410 men were working under Chappell. It was around this time that locals began to refer to Chappell's organization as the Chicago Spirit, taken from the name of the bar that served as the group's headquarters.
Most of the Spirit's membership was comprised of common thugs and petty thieves, but the group's leadership mainly consisted of men who possessed abilities similar to those of Chappell himself. According to local tradition, Chappell routinely walked through the streets of Chicago, striking up conversations with people he encountered and employing those he found to have preternatural skills. Among these individuals were Charles Derringer (SCP-032-ARC), Garth "Wheels" Cartwright (SCP-039-ARC), and Julius "Sawteeth" McGallan (uncontained, presumed neutralized).
By 1900, Chappell had firmly established himself in Chicago's criminal underworld as a charismatic and ruthless leader. As the Spirit increased in size and scope, more anomalous objects were used in routine operations. Very few of these anomalies were contained during the group's active years, due to the Foundation's limited resources during this period. For the most part, the Chicago Spirit acted independently from other criminal organizations, although the groups were known to occasionally interact with varying degrees of hostility. A notable exception was the famed Chicago Outfit leader Al Capone, who strictly forbade any form of interaction with the Spirit, stating that he "wouldn't have anything to do with those [men]." This stance was presumably influenced by previous Outfit leader Johnny Torrio's disastrous attempted raid on the Chicago Spirit's original building in 1919, which Capone witnessed.
The group continued to strengthen and grow throughout the 1920s, aided by the extra revenue generated by the Spirit's expanding number of speakeasies and similar establishments made possible (and profitable) by the ban of alcoholic beverages under the Volstead Act. Records indicate that from 1921 to 1933, the Chicago Spirit was the largest anomalous crime syndicate in the western hemisphere.
Despite the Chicago Spirit's seemingly immense power and prosperity, the Foundation's O5 command approved a raid on Chappell's home, citing intelligence reports that claimed his anomalous capabilities had weakened. The raid proved successful: Chappell was captured and placed into containment, along with 155 SCP objects pulled from his personal collection. After the capture of their leader, the Spirit's members soon disbanded and were recruited by other syndicates. The few who remained faithful to the Spirit and the resources they possessed were eventually acquired by Marshall, Carter & Dark in 1938.
Addendum: A collection of private journals allegedly written by Chappell were recovered by Foundation personnel in 2008. Notably, the entries frequently mention a partner by the name of "Mr. Night", whose departure from the organization in 1933 resulted in the vulnerability that made Chappell's capture possible. Despite the constant references to this individual, no other existing records indicate that Chappell had a close business partner, nor are there any documents that support the existence of a "Mr. Night" within the group. However, the journal entries are consistent with statements made by Chappell during post-containment interviews, in which he repeatedly expressed that he did not possess any anomalous properties, and that anomalous work was carried out by a partner of his who abruptly quit the organization, changed his name, and fled the country.