John Lenkowski, born on June 13, 1915, was a notable figure in New Jersey. Even at a young age, he attracted the attention of law enforcement, in February 1928, when he was only 12 years old. Throughout the 1930s, he gained a reputation as one of Camden’s prominent “bad boys,” as documented in newspaper reports.
In the 1930 Census, it was noted that John Lenkowski’s father had passed away. At that time, he resided with his widowed mother Vincentina, brother Joseph, sisters Sophie, Stella, and Christine at 1226 Chestnut Street, located near Haddon Avenue. This block was home to many Polish families. The challenging circumstances of the Great Depression, coupled with the absence of a father figure, led both Joseph and John Lenkowski to develop a reckless behavior and become involved in a life of crime during the early 1930s.
On May 24, 1931, Joseph Lenkowski, John’s brother, attempted to rob Tom Kenney’s Cafe on Pearl Street. During their escape, Joseph’s accomplice, Felix Zubelski, was shot and killed by the police, while Joseph himself was wounded.
By the spring of 1934, John Lenkowski had served time in prison and was on parole. He became a member of a gang led by Philadelphia gangster Philip Caplan and participated in a series of armed robberies in Camden and Gloucester City. The gang was eventually apprehended in May 1934. During this period, Lenkowski also took part in a bank robbery in Marlton, along with Mitchell Sadowski, Stanley Geda, and another individual.
In December 1939, John Lenkowski was once again involved in criminal activities. He was implicated in the fatal shooting of Andrew Scarduzio, an Eighth Ward political worker, on December 24th. The incident occurred when Andrew and his brother Nick Scarduzio attempted to enter a taproom in Bellmawr, New Jersey, long after closing time. Andrew was fatally shot during the incident. John Lenkowski, considered a suspect in the killing, became a fugitive. Then, on January 9, 1940, Westmont crime figure Joseph Colozzi was gunned down in South Philadelphia. Colozzi and Lenkowski had been seen together frequently in the ten days leading up to the shooting.
In later years, John Lenkowski resided in Browns Mills, New Jersey. He passed away in September 1983, leaving behind a complex and notorious legacy.
John Lenkowski attracted the attention of law enforcement, in February 1928, when he was only 12 years old. In the 1930s, he gained a reputation as one of Camden’s prominent “bad boys.”
A reputed employee of Fred Klosterman, Camden numbers baron, was shot and killed in Philadelphia last night in what police there believed was an inter-city fight for control of the numbers racket.