When exactly Henry started developing his idea of what was best for Chicago is hard to pin down. His memoir, A Moral Moriarty, implies the notion first popped into his head around seventeen, however, the exact plan he put into action may not have been formed then. It’s far more likely Henry’s plan evolved over the years. Still, the facts seem to remain that Henry Martin decided to clean up the city by getting dirty.
He set his plan into motion around the age of twenty. At least, that’s his first recorded arrest for dealing drugs. One might be inclined to believe Henry intended to finance his noble intentions with drug money, amassing a fortune to donate to charitable causes. Money is, after all, only as moral as what one does with it, or so Henry put in his memoir. The truth is he was doing his best to be the leading drug supplier in Chicago. His first arrest got him a six month sentence. He did the time, and by all accounts came out of prison with a veritable doctorate in crime as well as a mental rolodex full of all the names anyone would need to become a kingpin. It's even be supposed by some getting arrested may have always been a part of Henry's plan. Within seven years, having climbed a mountain of bodies and survived two gang wars, Henry Martin controlled all the drug trafficking in Chicago. If you smoked, snorted, or shot to get high your money went into Henry’s wallet.
It then begs the questions if he was so prominent in the criminal arena why didn’t the police or feds ever get him? The man on the mountain top is usually a prime target. And bribery alongside occasional blackmail will only delay things so far. Eventually, Henry should have been on the way down. The sad fact of the matter is the police liked Henry. He fed them criminals of all varieties. Now, none of Henry’s, shall we say, colleagues in crime were aware the king of the realm was an informant. Yet, even this facet of the story belies the truth.
Around 1998, at the age of 19 Henry had a meeting with then police commissioner Alexander Burns. Burns has remained tight lipped on the particulars of that meeting, specifically how a nineteen year old managed to get an appointment with such a high ranking official. The only thing Burns has ever admitted is that, “This kid came in with an idea so outlandish I didn’t believe him at first. Then he looked me in the eye and said, ‘I can do this. And it’ll make things better.’ There was just something about him, the way he carried himself and spoke -- I don’t know. I believed him.” With citywide crime rates on the rise, violent crime especially, Commissioner Burns decided to take a desperate measure. He endorsed Henry’s plan as it’d been outlined to him, and from then on out the commissioner did his best to waylay any investigation into Martin. According to court transcripts this apparently involved occasionally informing Henry of potential evidence as well as witnesses which needed to be “handled.” As such, Henry Martin received carte blanche to do as he pleased for almost eleven years.
In 2007 an epidemic seemed to have hit the streets. People kept dying from drug use. Anyone using drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or crystal meth almost immediately died. Investigations revealed that every user had been poisoned. The second phase of Henry’s plan had gone into motion. He personally saw to it that every drug shipment which passed through his hands received a massive dose of sodium cyanide. Among his legitimate businesses Henry owned a tool and die manufacturer. Cyanides are employed in a number of chemical process including the hardening of iron and steel. As such, Henry's purchasing of and access to large quantities of such a toxic substance went unnoticed.
In a matter of weeks, even hardcore drug addicts reportedly felt too anxious to risk getting intoxicated on anything stronger than liquor and marijuana. True, a certain proportion risked consuming drugs regardless of the apparent risk. However, those individuals tended to die. The drug traded dropped off, but this only resulted in gangs looking for new sources of income.
Unable to peddle dope many dealers went into extortion and armed robbery. Several decided to rob one another, typically under the misconception that each other were responsible for the drug poisoning. For months the city burned from the dramatic rise in street violence and gang war. In one month almost four hundred people died, many of them innocent bystanders who caught a bullet during shootouts between rival gangs. The only upside seemed to be that these crimes afforded the police better opportunities to arrest and convict with more efficiency and effectiveness than drug cases. There no longer needed to be lengthy investigations to compile enough evidence for a conviction. Fed up with the shocking rise in the lethality of walking their neighborhoods, witnesses tended to come forward more often. In addition, a shadowy hand seemed to protect these people who would normally find themselves targeted for being so-called snitches. That hand: Henry Martin. (This has led to further speculation as to who else may have been in on Henry's plan given it is unlikely he protected these people personally.)
In A Moral Moriarty, Henry laments the loss of life which occurred during this period, but also states: “There is no joy in birthing only pain. Joy comes afterward. After the blood and agony, the doubts this may not be worth it, only then is there new life. That’s when happiness ensues.” He goes on to say how he did his best to make things safe, though he always knew many would have to die for things to change.
At the height of public outrage, and frankly terror, Henry Martin then took the next step in his plan. Over the years he secretly recorded the bulk of his interactions with various criminals, many high ranking members of organized crime families. On December 8th, 2012 Henry Martin turned in every incriminating file and recording he possessed. Indictments soon came flying out of the district attorney’s office. It’s estimated that close to four hundred arrests followed for a variety of crimes. Everyone from the top of the criminal ladder to the very bottom soon found themselves facing prosecution.
It’s no surprise Henry Martin was murdered not long after he turned in his golden pile of evidence. Police found him flayed in his cell where he was being kept for his own protection.
The public isn't entirely sure what to make of Henry Martin. But crime is now at an all time low. As Henry said in his memoir, “I don’t expect to live much longer. You can’t do what I’ve done and not expect a hammer to come down hard. Still, I think it was worth it.”
Editor's Note: Henry Martin apparently wrote his memoir over the years leading up to the final stage of his endeavor so that the public could be made aware of his intentions. As per his will the profits from his memoir go to a variety of charities established to help the victims of his plan.