Bio: Philadelphia Family Boss Philip Testa

Philip Charles Testa was born to Sicilian immigrants on April 21, 1924 in Philadelphia. 

He was also known as The Chicken Man, reputedly for two reasons: his involvement in the poultry business, and his facial blemishes that were apparently caused by chicken pox when he was younger.

During his teenage years, he lived with his family in South Philadelphia, and it’s here that he met future Philadelphia crime family boss, Angelo Bruno. Later, he married Alfia Arcidiacono, and they had two children, Salvatore and Maria. Salvatore would go on to follow his father’s ‘occupation’ in organized crime.

Phil Testa worked his way up in the family, and became Angelo Bruno’s underboss in 1970. Ten years later, Angelo Bruno was killed and Testa became the new boss. He chose Nicodemo ‘Little Nicky’ Scarfo as his consigliere.

Operation Gangplank was one of the first investigations to be developed on the RICO Act by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia, Phil Testa, Frank Narducci Sr., Harold and Mario Riccobene, Pasquale Spirito, Joseph Ciancaglini, and several Philadelphia family associates were indicted in a federal racketeering case that centered on gambling and loansharking operations run by the Mob. This was just a few weeks before Testa was assassinated.

The following is an account of what happened in the early morning hours of March 15, 1981.

Neighbors, friends and family shrieked in horror when the gurney carrying a severely burned and mortally wounded Philip Testa was led from the rubble of his home to a nearby ambulance for the short trip to St Agnes Hospital on Broad Street in the heart of South Philadelphia. 

The Chicken Man was dead, literally blown to pieces by a homemade bomb made of nails as he walked through the front door of his house after a late night out on the town. It was a brutal death for a brutal man that highlighted the ruthless and grisly dark side of a life often glamorized and romanticized. 

It was roughly three in the morning when Philip Testa returned to his home located on the 2100 block of Porter Street in South Philadelphia’s posh Girard Estates neighborhood from picking up some late night collections. He double-parked his car and made his way up his porch and to his front door. 

These would be the final steps of his life. 

If the 56-year-old Testa had been paying closer attention, he would have noticed the suspicious black Volkswagen van parked across the street from his house with a young South Philadelphia pizza maker and wannabe wise guy named Rocco Marinucci behind the wheel. 

Marinucci was known on the streets as Pete Casella’s driver and protege. 

Even if Testa had realized what was going on around him, he probably couldn’t have done much. Fate was already in motion. 

From the second Testa got out of his car, he was in the crosshairs

Underneath his porch was a makeshift bomb made up of carpenter’s nails and 13 sticks of dynamite, rigged to a handheld detonator in the possession of Marinucci. 

The bomb blast at the home of Philip Testa

Most likely, he didn’t feel a thing. The explosion happened in an instant. As Testa reached for his front door knob, Marinucci pushed a button and blew the Chicken Man into oblivion

Reverberations from the blast registered for miles.

The above account is an excerpt from the book ‘Mafia Prince: Inside America’s Most Violent Crime Family and the Bloody Fall of La Cosa Nostra‘ by Philip Leonetti.

Testa’s death was allegedly ordered by his underboss, Peter Casella and capo Frank Narducci Sr., which later resulted in Narducci being shot and killed (reputedly by Phil Testa’s son, Salvie) and Casella being banished from the Mob and taking off to Florida. 

After the Testa murder, Nicky Scarfo took control of the family and appointed his nephew, Philip Leonetti as underboss

Bruce Springsteen makes a reference to the death of Philip Testa in his song Atlantic City from 1982

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