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The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run


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#1    JonathanVonErich

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 12:08 AM

The "Serial Killer of the Week" threads are back. I'm starting with a thread about Cleveland's Torso murderer. There have been a few threads written about this killer, but none of them shared all the details about the murders...until now.


Kingsbury Run
The gully known as Kingsbury Run looks like a scar across the face of Downtown Cleveland. 60 feet deep in places, the ancient creek bed is lined with 30 odd pairs of railroad tracks serving local factories and distant cities, bearing cargo to Pittsburgh and Chicago among others. During the great depression, Kingsbury Run was also a favorite place for hoboes and a playground for children with time to kill. In the late 30's it became the focal point of one of  America's most fascinating murder mystery, a case still unsolved today.


The Murders
On September 5, 1934, a driftwood hunter found the lower portion of a woman's torso buried in sand at Euclid Beach, 8 miles east of Downtown Cleveland. The victim's legs were severed at the knees, her skin discolored by application of a chemical preservative. The victim's height and age resembled none of Cleveland's known missing women. "The Lady of the lake" was never identified.

A year later, on September 23, 1935, boys playing in Kingsbury Run found two headless male corpses. Both had been emasculated, and their severed heads were found nearby. Authorities determined that the older victim, never identified, was killed at least 5 days before the other, and his skin bore a reddish tinge from a treatment with chemical preservative. The younger man, identified as 29 years old Edward Andrassy, was a bisexual ex-convict. Retraction of the neck muscles on both corpses indicated that the men were alive when their heads were severed.

On January 26, 1936, a butcher found two human thights, one arm, and the lower half of a woman's torso behind his shop. The upper torso, lower legs and missing arm were found 12 days later behind a vacant house. The victim was identified as Florence Polillo, a 41 years old prostitute. Her severed head was never found.

On June 5, 1936, two boys traversing Kingsbury Run found a man's head wrapped in dirty trousers, a mile from the spot where Andrassy and his companion were found in September 1935. The victim's body was found one day later, on June 6, but the victim's identity remained unknown, despite publication of his numerous tattoos and a plaster "death mask" displayed for all comers at the 1936 World's Fair in Cleveland.

On July 22, 1936, the headless body of an unknown man was found beside Big Creek, across town from Kingsbury Run. This is the only victim killed on Cleveland's West side and the only victim killed where he was found, as demonstrated by the blood soaked earth beneath him. A Hobo spotted victim number 7 in Kingsbury Run, on September 10, 1936. The dismembered remains were floating in a pond, and police divers were called to retrieve two halves of a torso, plus the lower legs and thighs. The head, arms and genitalia were never found.

On February 23, 1937, the upper half of a woman's torso was found at Euclid Beach, almost precisely where the first victim had been found in September 1934. Then on June 6, 1937, the skeleton of a black woman was found beneath a bridge near Kingsbury Run. Again the victim was decapitated. Later the victim was identified by an investigator as Rose Wallace, but other investigators have doubt about this statement because Wallace disappeared 2 months after the victim's estimated date of death. Exactly one month later, the lower torso of a man was found underneath the Third Street Bridge. By July 14, 1937, authorities had everything except the latest victim's head and name.

On April 8, 1938, a woman's lower left leg was fished out of the Cuyahoga River. Later authorities found other parts of the body but the victim's head, arms and right leg were never found. Her identity remains unknown. The last "official victims" were found on August 16, 1938, by workmen at a Lakeside dump. One victim was male, the other female. The male was nothing but a skeleton, decapitated, missing both hands and feet. The female victim was cut in 9 pieces. Both victims were killed at different times. However in 1940 three corpses were found in abandonned box cars near Pittsburgh. All had been decapitated and the heads were missing. The men had been dead from three to six months, Authorities unanimously blamed the crimes on Cleveland's killer, tracing the box cars to pinpoint the murders in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1939. However a lot of people think that this was the work of another killer, maybe a copycat. All three bodies had been scorched with fire, not a trademark of Cleveland's killer. Also one of the body had the word "Nazi" carved on the chest, again not a signature of the Mad Butcher.


The Investigation
The newspapers variously dubbed the killer "The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run", "The Phantom Killer", "The Torso Slayer", "The Torso Murderer", "The HeadHunter" or simply "The Unknown". Various investigators, including Peter Merylo and Martin Zalewski, were assigned full-time to the case but trying to find evidences in these murders was almost impossible, the killer leaving no clues behind him. In January 1939, the Cleveland Press received a letter from a man claiming to be the killer. In this letter the man, calling himself "X", said he was now in California, that he was killing for medical experiments and that the victims found in Kingsbury Run had been "laboratory guinea pigs". The letter seemed to be legit but we can't be sure that this was indeed from the killer since he gave no details of any of the murders. Then on July 5, 1939, Sheriff's deputies arrested a Slavic Immigrant, 52 years old Frank Dolezal, and launched a marathon interrogation in the county jail. Dolezal eventually confessed to the murders of Andrassy and Polillo, but later recanted all confessions, charging detectives with third-degree tactics. On August 24, 1939, Dolezal "commited suicide" by hanging himself. He had four ribs broken and his body showed sign of numerous beatings. Today no one regards Dolezal as a serious suspect in the case.


Eliot Ness' Suspect

In his book "4 against the Mob" (1961) Journalist Oscar Fraley claims that Cleveland public safety director Eliot Ness, famous for his rivalry with Al Capone, identified the Torso Murderer in 1938. Ness' suspect was described as a gay premed student and member of a prominent Cleveland family. Interrogated by Ness in 1938, the suspect allegedly escaped prosecution by committing himself to a mental institution, where he supposedly died in 1940 or 1941, Before his death he allegedly tormented Ness with a series of menacing notes. The notes are real, they are viewable in Cleveland's archives, but were they really from the killer ?? Were they really written by Ness' suspect ??  If Ness was certain of the killer's identity then why did he allow suspect Frank Dolezal to be tortured (and likely murdered) by the Sheriff's deputies in 1939 !? Today a lot of people have doubts about Fraley's story, including professor James Badal, who wrote a book about it in 2001 ( In the Wake of the Butcher ). Ness was obsessed with the case and in his mind, in his mind only, the case was closed. In reality the case was not, and still is, Unsolved.


Is "He" Back ??

There's a grisly postscript to the Butcher's story. On July 22, 1950, a man's headless body, dismembered, was found in a Cleveland Lumber yard, a few miles from Kingsbury Run. The severed head turned up 4 days later and the victim was identified as 40 years old Robert Robertson. The coroner in charge of the case reported that "the work resembles exactly that of the Torso murderer".

In retrospect it seems clear that the Mad Butcher killed at least 13, perhaps 16, victims between 1934 and 1939. He may have killed Robert Robertson as well, and speculation links the same killer to a series of "Headless murders" around New Castle Pennsylvania, between 1925 and 1939. No firm connection was established in that case, and the mysterious case of The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run remains Unsolved.

Sources
The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes, by Michael Newton
TruTV: Cleveland Torso Murders
Wikipedia: Cleveland Torso Murderer
Criminal Minds: Butcher of Kingsbury Run

Finally this is the link to the Unsolved Mysteries segment about Eliot Ness and his obsession with the case:



Edited by JonathanVonErich, 27 September 2011 - 12:15 AM.


#2    susieice

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 01:15 AM

It's back, the thread is back!! Interesting case Jon.
I remember reading about this case a long time ago. I don't remember the name of the book but the author seemed to connect these killings to railroad lines, maybe because of the Pennsylvania murders being tied in. I don't recall mention of chemicals being used on the bodies. That does kind of have the earmark of a medical student. Any idea what kind of chemicals were used? Guess Ness didn't always get his man.

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#3    dekker87

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 09:38 AM

few notable things leap out at me straight away..

the killer was unconventional in that he murdered across sexes and races...IF the murders ascribed to the same killer are indeed linked that way...unusual.

also if i recall correctly isn't there possible linkage between this case and the black dahlia case? in that the man who voluntarily committed himself to hospital - Dr. Francis E. Sweeney (who actually lived til 1964) was actually pretty much allowed to come and go as he pleased during his time within the mental facility?!? Sweeney also had some pretty heavy political connections wit his cousin bein a congressman and a political opponent of elliot ness?


#4    dekker87

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 09:43 AM

View Postsusieice, on 27 September 2011 - 01:15 AM, said:

It's back, the thread is back!! Interesting case Jon.
I remember reading about this case a long time ago. I don't remember the name of the book but the author seemed to connect these killings to railroad lines, maybe because of the Pennsylvania murders being tied in. I don't recall mention of chemicals being used on the bodies. That does kind of have the earmark of a medical student. Any idea what kind of chemicals were used? Guess Ness didn't always get his man.

the suspect i mention above was a doctor in the first world war.


#5    HMS Dreadnought

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 01:02 PM

Very interesting case this, not one I had heard of before, I wonder does any DNA evidence remain still?

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#6    rashore

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 03:57 PM

Wow Jon... That was gross. Fascinating, but gross.

An additional link- torso murders.
Has a handy google map of where the bodies were found, and a nice stack of photos from the case.

I always wonder in cases like this what happened to the killer. Obviously they have a taste for the nasty, did they die themselves? Give up the ghost somehow and went on to have a normal killing-free life?
If they did manage to continue on to a killing-free life, what happened? If they were that twisted in the first place, how did they manage to get their brains untwisted again? Or were they just smart enough to lay off despite their fiendish addiction?


#7    ~TheBigK~

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 05:57 PM

View Postdekker87, on 27 September 2011 - 09:38 AM, said:

the killer was unconventional in that he murdered across sexes and races...IF the murders ascribed to the same killer are indeed linked that way...unusual.

also if i recall correctly isn't there possible linkage between this case and the black dahlia case? in that the man who voluntarily committed himself to hospital - Dr. Francis E. Sweeney (who actually lived til 1964) was actually pretty much allowed to come and go as he pleased during his time within the mental facility?!? Sweeney also had some pretty heavy political connections wit his cousin bein a congressman and a political opponent of elliot ness?
The different genders/races is definitely unusual but I think that gives more credibility to the "medical experiments" theory. Someone who was carrying that type of thing out would want all sorts of people.

I also remember hearing about this being linked to the Black Dahlia case. I'm not too sure what to think about that though because of the differences in the murders. Elizabeth Short's body was drained of blood before it was placed in a very particular way at the scene, and was posed. With the butcher murders, most of the bodies weren't quite as obvious with where they were and some seemed like there was an attempt to hide them. And if they were found in more public places there were body parts missing, or the crime scene was bloody and neither of those things fit with Dahlia. I think I also recall reading once that Short had been violated as well and (to my knowledge) none of the Ohio victims were. Short also had her face slashed to give it the "smile" and in my opinion that seems like something a serial killer would do to more victim than one. He wanted her to be found that way whereas some of the other victims were decapitated and their heads never even located. It's possible that they're related and those are small differences I know, but they're still enough to make me doubt it was the same person.  

View Postrashore, on 27 September 2011 - 03:57 PM, said:

If they were that twisted in the first place, how did they manage to get their brains untwisted again? Or were they just smart enough to lay off despite their fiendish addiction?
I personally don't think they get un-twisted, at least not serial killers. The ones with gaps in-between their killings seem to just be smart enough to lay off, or something in their life gets in the way so they hold off for a better time. BTK comes to mind.

Another good thread though Jon. Cool to see these coming back.

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#8    JonathanVonErich

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 06:40 PM

Thanks for the feedbacks, folks. This killer is one of the first, maybe the first, unknown Serial killer "Superstar" in the history of the United States, that's why I have decided to start with a thread about him. :)

View Postdekker87, on 27 September 2011 - 09:38 AM, said:

also if i recall correctly isn't there possible linkage between this case and the black dahlia case? in that the man who voluntarily committed himself to hospital - Dr. Francis E. Sweeney (who actually lived til 1964) was actually pretty much allowed to come and go as he pleased during his time within the mental facility?!? Sweeney also had some pretty heavy political connections wit his cousin bein a congressman and a political opponent of elliot ness?
Yes, you are right, some people think that Elizabeth Short was killed by the same man who committed the murders in Cleveland. Unsolved Mysteries even did a segment about the link between the two cases. However I'm very skeptical about this theory. Like K said there's too many differences between the Cleveland murders and the murder of Beth, in my opinion this theory is not credible. For one Beth Short was not decapitated. In other word Beth's murder doesn't have the Cleveland killer's signature. Is it possible that the killer may have changed his signature for this murder ?? Of course, however I doubt that this was the case, there's simply no solid evidences linking both cases and there's just too many differences. "The smile" on Beth's face, done with a knife, is something the Cleveland murderer never did. Also Beth had pieces of her own skin inserted into her rectum and was forced to eat feces, things the Cleveland's murderer never did (as far as we know). I can go on and on on the differences between Beth's murder and the Cleveland murders, there's too many of them. There's also the fact that Beth's murder seems to be an isolated incident. People tried, and some of them are still trying, to link Beth's murder to other murders but in my opinion the murder of Beth Short can only be linked to another murder, the murder of Georgette Bauerdorff. Here's a link to the thread I started about the murder of Georgette: The Murder of Georgette Bauerdorf

Of course the fact that the killer, or whoever wrote the January 1939 letter, said that he was now in California is a little intriguing, but as long as we are not 100% sure that the letter was indeed written by the killer we can only speculate on the possibility that the killer might have taken "his work" to Los Angeles. In my opinion John Gilmore solved the Dahlia case in his book Severed. Gilmore's suspect, Jack Anderson Wilson (a.k.a. Arnold Smith), is by far the best suspect in the entire case. So in my opinion the Dahlia-Mad Butcher theory is not credible, but I'm still sharing the Unsolved Mysteries segment about the possible link between the two cases, since I'm a very open minded guy.  ;)    





#9    rashore

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 07:06 PM

I gotta agree with the disconnect between Ms. Short and this case. Her case always struck me as sort of a more, er, personal thing honestly. This one is more clinical IMO.

The letter is indeed intriguing, but I would have to imagine that if the letter did indeed come from the killer, he either stopped killing, got way more cautious about dumping, or simply never was in CA and that was just a taunt.


#10    JonathanVonErich

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 07:29 PM

View Postrashore, on 27 September 2011 - 07:06 PM, said:

The letter is indeed intriguing, but I would have to imagine that if the letter did indeed come from the killer, he either stopped killing, got way more cautious about dumping, or simply never was in CA and that was just a taunt.
Possible. I have the feeling that the letter was legit. It seems to me that the killer, in his own mind, thought that he was doing the right thing by killing people for medical experiments, that he really believed that he was helping the medical field by killing (and perhaps testing different products or medical procedure on) the poor victims.

Here is the letter in its entirety:

Chief of Police Matowitz -

You can rest easy now, as I have come to sunny California for the winter. I felt bad operating on those people, but science must advance. I shall astound the medical profession, a man with only a D.C.

What did their lives mean in comparison to hundreds of sick and disease-twisted bodies? Just laboratory guinea pigs found on any public street. No one missed them when I failed. My last case was successful. I now know the feeling of Pasteur, Thoreau and other pioneers.

Right now I have a volunteer who will absolutely prove my theory. They call me mad and a butcher, but the truth will out.

I have failed but once here. The body has not been found and never will be, but the head, minus the features, is buried on Century Boulevard, between Western and Crenshaw. I feel it is my duty to dispose of the bodies as I do. It is Godís will not to let them suffer.

X  


To me it seems to be a legit letter, one coming from an intelligent man on a mission, a man who thought he was doing the right thing by killing these people for the advance of science, one that was upset of being represented as a "Butcher" or "monster". I can be way off of course, after all anybody obsessed with the case could have written this letter, but I have the feeling that "X" was indeed the Mad Butcher.  

What's interesting is the mention of a "volunteer"; was he talking about another victim, this victim being alive at the time the killer wrote the letter ?? Was he talking about an accomplice, somebody who helped him in his crimes ?? That's very interesting.


#11    rashore

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 08:34 PM

Wow Jon, you are ever the source of awesome information  :nw:

Yeah the mention of a volunteer is very interesting. To me it implies a willing subject, and that the others were just "cases". I get that from the statement "My last case was successful."
And that statement in itself is pretty interesting compared to the statement of only having one failure. One failure, one success and the rest just useful data?

It really makes me wonder WTF the killer was trying to accomplish with his, er, experiments if this is so.

Also making me curious is the CA for the winter thing. That implies just taking a break where it's warm with the promise of getting back to, er, work again.


#12    ~TheBigK~

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 09:00 PM

Wow, reading that letter is really interesting. I think it's legitimate as well and the way that person talks does not seem like it would be the same person as in the Dahlia case, in my opinion. Especially because he said he felt bad and that it was for the advance of science, whoever murdered Short did not feel bad, nor did it for any medical experiments.

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#13    JonathanVonErich

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 06:35 PM

The only problem about the letter is the claims that a head was buried on Century Boulevard, between Western and Crenshaw. The investigators found nothing there, no head was buried. So was the killer playing mind games with the investigators ?? Is this proof that the letter was nothing more than a hoax ?? We don't know.


#14    rashore

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 07:08 PM

I'm sucking with my map skills today. Where is that area in Cleveland?
I'm not doubting the cops didn't find a head, I was just wondering how big of an area that was, lol.

I do have to wonder about the failure... failure of experiment, or failure in that he has one body that will not be found? Following a line of logic that he disposed of the bodies they way he did because gods will is to not let the suffer- I'm guessing that would mean that they are found and get a proper burial?- then maybe the failure is that that particular victim will sadly have to go undiscovered.

Dang Jon, this whole thing is a serious mind twister.


#15    JonathanVonErich

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 07:41 PM

View Postrashore, on 28 September 2011 - 07:08 PM, said:

I'm sucking with my map skills today. Where is that area in Cleveland?
I'm not doubting the cops didn't find a head, I was just wondering how big of an area that was, lol.
Century Boulevard is in Los Angeles, sorry I should have been more clear. In other words the killer, or whoever wrote the letter, claims he was now killing people in Los Angeles. From what I have read back in 1939 the area between Western and Crenshaw was a relatively small area, the investigators did their best but found nothing there.

Now let's say the letter was really written by the killer. I might be wrong but the fact he was leaving for California in the wintertime may be significant. This is 1939; who leaves for California during wintertime ?? People with money. This can be proof that the killer was either a real doctor or that he was indeed coming from a prominent family. I know it sounds simple but I think it's logical. Back in 1939 Cleveland was not a rich city and traveling to California costed a lot of money, so this might be proof that the guy either had a really good job or that he was coming from a prominent family.

View Postrashore, on 28 September 2011 - 07:08 PM, said:

I do have to wonder about the failure... failure of experiment, or failure in that he has one body that will not be found? Following a line of logic that he disposed of the bodies they way he did because gods will is to not let the suffer- I'm guessing that would mean that they are found and get a proper burial?- then maybe the failure is that that particular victim will sadly have to go undiscovered.
Very good question Rashore, I don't even know how to answer this. Whoever wrote the letter was obviously insane, nobody in their right mind would kill people for "the advance of science", so understanding the meaning of this letter (if indeed it was written by the killer) might be a little tricky. I guess what he meant is that he failed whatever he wanted to do to these bodies, his "experiments" were not succesful and that's why he had to kill more people, that's the only logical answer I can give you right now.

I don't know what he meant exactly by "My last case was successful. I now know the feeling of Pasteur, Thoreau and other pioneers", it seems that he had "achieved his goals", and what's interesting is that the last "official victims" were found on August 16, 1938, months before the letter was sent to the authorities. Is this proof that the killer really committed his last murders in the Cleveland area in 1938 ?? Maybe. This case is indeed a mind twister Rashore.  :yes:

Edited by JonathanVonErich, 28 September 2011 - 07:45 PM.





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