Lombardo victim’s son surprised mobster lived so long: ‘He was a tough bastard, hanging in there forever’

Joseph “The Clown” Lombardo was convicted of the 1974 murder of Daniel Seifert, though he claimed innocence

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Reputed gangster Joseph “Joey The Clown” Lombardo.

Reputed gangster Joseph “Joey The Clown” Lombardo uses the paper to hide his face as he leaves court on March 11, 1981.

Perry C. Riddle/Chicago Sun-Times

When Joe Seifert thinks about the day his father died in 1974, his memories go into slow motion, just like in the movies.

Everything’s in black and white, he said. Until he sees the blood. Then there’s darkness — because the four-year-old had been shoved in a bathroom with his mother while masked men gunned down his dad, Daniel Seifert.

Such memories surfaced again over the weekend when news broke that notorious Outfit killer Joseph “The Clown” Lombardo — convicted for Daniel Seifert’s murder decades later — had finally died while serving a life sentence.

Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times about the mobster’s death, Joe Seifert said he’d wondered every day since the 2009 sentencing in the landmark Family Secrets trial how long Lombardo would hang on in the federal supermax prison in Colorado. Lombardo lived to be 90.

“It took long enough,” Joe Seifert said Monday. “He was a tough bastard, hanging in there forever.”


Daniel Seifert with Kathy, Joe and Nick Seifert


Federal prosecutors announced Lombardo’s death in a one-page court filing Sunday. A Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman told the Sun-Times Lombardo died at 12:30 a.m. Saturday at an “outside hospital.”

The spokesman said an official cause of death had yet to be determined. But Lombardo had complained about his many health problems in a lengthy piece of correspondence filed in federal court in July.

Lombardo also insisted he had “positive proof” of his innocence in the murder of Daniel Seifert, a 29-year-old Bensenville businessman attacked and beaten in his office who was then killed while trying to flee.

Lombardo’s name surfaced immediately in the press coverage of Seifert’s Sept. 27, 1974 murder. Articles in the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News also mentioned Joe Seifert, who was 4 years old at the time, as well as his mother, Emma.

Joe and Emma Seifert would later write a book about Daniel Seifert’s murder, “Deadly Associates,” along with Joe’s brother, Nick Seifert.

The day of the murder, Joe Seifert remembered his mother making coffee while he began to play with his toys. His father had gone outside to get a vacuum cleaner from the car. And that’s when he said a group of masked men “blew through the back door.”

One of the men shoved Emma and Joe Seifert into a bathroom telling them, “this is a robbery, we don’t want to hurt you,” according to the Daily News.

Joe Seifert said he is convinced, based on information he later received from “the top echelon of the group,” that the person who pushed them into the bathroom was Lombardo himself.

Lombardo and Daniel Seifert had been friends. Joe Seifert was named for Lombardo.

“Lombardo specifically went there to make sure that my mom and I made it through,” Joe Seifert said.

The men began to beat Daniel Seifert, and one of them fired a pistol in his face, according to the press reports. Eventually, Daniel Seifert managed to flee through an adjacent factory.

“Please call the police!” Daniel Seifert yelled as he ran from two men brandishing shotguns, according to the Daily News.

But one of the men shouted, “Don’t move or I’ll shoot your head off!”

A gunman finally fired three shotgun blasts that killed him, according to the Sun-Times.

Joe Seifert said he saw the fighting before a gunman shoved him in the bathroom. And he remembered seeing blood splatter on the walls of the office. But he said he didn’t hear the gunshots. He only saw the aftermath.

He said his father “was twisted up in the grass out front.”

When Lombardo was sentenced in 2009, Joe Seifert told him, “I would like to let you know that I do not hate you. To be honest, I don’t even know you. But I can say that I do feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for the life that you chose. I will not ever forgive you for your actions of that day, because you have made no effort towards seeking forgiveness.”

Joe Seifert said reaction in his family to Lombardo’s death has been mixed. But he saw Lombardo as “the last guy” connected to the day of his father’s murder. And Lombardo’s death gave him “a little bit of closure.”

Still, he said he expected the day to come a lot sooner, especially when he considered Lombardo was in a high-security prison, “in a concrete box in a basement locked up for 2312 hours” a day.

“I expected him not to last as long,” Joe Seifert said.

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