21-year-old carpenter, Frank La Gossie, decided to take a stroll along the shores of Euclid Beach on the morning of September 5, 1934. Watching as tides of Lake Erie gently kissed the sand and staring off into the distance where the water fades into a vast and infinite sky, the practically deserted beach seemed like the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the Cleveland streets.
Gradually directing his gaze to a peculiar object protruding from the sand, La Gossie decided to go over for a closer look. Brushing aside the sand and lake debris that floated ashore along with the object, La Gossie’s curiosity quickly turned to sheer horror upon his realization that he was staring down at the partial remains of a human body.
The remains were quickly transported to the coroner’s office and a full autopsy was performed. The remains consisted of little more than a female’s torso. The top portion had been cut with surgical precision at the waist, while the bottom portion had been cut just above the knees. Another striking detail that set this case apart from a typical homicide, was that an unknown chemical had been used to treat the body, forcing the skin to take on a reddish tone and to become tough and leathery to the touch. The medical examiner ruled that the woman had been dead for approximately six months prior to La Gossie stumbling upon her remains.
The next day another man, Joseph Hejduk, contacted Cleveland police in order to report that, what he believed to be, human remains had washed ashore near his home in North Perry, located approximately 30 miles east of Euclid Beach. The deputy who answered his call presumed the remains to belong to an animal and encouraged Hejduk to just rebury them.
Neither Hejduk, nor the officer who spoke with him on the phone that day thought much about the incident until the story of the woman’s torso found on Euclid Beach hit the local newspapers. Hejduk immediately contacted investigators and insisted on taking them to the location of the remains he found. After several hours of digging, detectives on the scene unearthed the top portion of a female torso. The head and arms had been severed off, but it was determined to be a match for the lower portion of the torso found by La Gossie days earlier. In spite of exhaustive efforts to find the remainder of the woman’s body, her head, arms, and portions of her legs were never recovered. The woman would later be known as “The Lady of the Lake”, the first of thirteen mutilated corpses that would be found scattered about the Greater-Cleveland area.
An Untouchable Comes to Cleveland
While Cleveland’s version of Jack the Ripper was just getting his start, by contrast an ambitious young lawman, who had already become an unsung legend, decided to plant his roots within the same city.
Before Eliot Ness faded into the background of Cleveland history and became reduced to just the name of a craft beer, distilled at local microbrewery, he was sent to town in order to “clean up”, so to speak. Most famous for banding his group of “Untouchables” in Chicago and taking down the mob, Ness was appointed as Cleveland’s safety director shortly thereafter. Cleveland was (and still is) one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. Not only did the city have a high rate of violent crimes, but it also had the highest rate of traffic fatalities.
Ness’ tenure as safety director was met with mixed criticism. He had managed to pass several pieces of legislation which resulted in a significant drop in fatal car accidents and injuries, however, the rest of his career wasn’t quite as successful. In addition to the public backlash Ness faced for assembling officers to beat and attack union strikers, a serial killer was on the loose and Ness was met with constant criticism for his failure to apprehend a suspect in the case.
The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run
Kingsbury Run stretches from the area of Kinsman Rd., within the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, into the Cuyahoga River, which runs into the Flats of Cleveland. It acts as a storm drainage system for overflow of the Cuyahoga River, as well neighboring suburbs. When the stock market crashed and many people found themselves penniless and without employment, the area became a popular haunt for hobos, runaways, drunkards, and junkies. Between 1935 and 1938, the area would become known less for its landscape of homeless camps and more renowned for the mutilated and dismembered corpses that began to litter the grounds all too frequently.
On September 23, 1935, two boys playing softball in the area of Jackass Hill – the portion of Kingsbury Run where East 49th Street meets Praha Avenue – made a terrible discovery. The body of a nude man, later identified Edward Andrassy, had been found. The man had been decapitated and his genitals had been removed. Several yards away another man was found in a similar state. Both men had their bodies treated with the same chemical agent as the woman’s torso found floating in Lake Erie a year prior, turning their skin the same reddish color and taking on a leathery texture. In spite of the similarities between the two bodies found near Jackass Hill and the Lady of the Lake, no connections were made between the cases until much later.
In January of 1936, another body appeared. Florence Polillo, a known barmaid who moonlighted as a prostitute, was partially stuffed into a basket and left near the Hart Manufacturing building on Central Avenue. Ten days later, the rest of her would be recovered, with the exception of her head, from an empty lot on Orange Avenue. Her cause of death was determined to be decapitation, as was the case in the two bodies found dumped near Jackass Hill. It was becoming clear to Cleveland Police that they had a serial killer on their hands.
The case of the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run was the first case to be immediately recognized as a the work of a serial killer within the United States. At the time, police were ill equipped to deal with crimes of this nature. Very little existed in terms of forensics and DNA testing. Only the victims who had their finger prints, provided they were able to recover their hands, within the Cleveland police’s records were able to be positively identified. Most of the Mad Butcher’s victims were drifters and as a result went unidentified. No one ever witnessed the murderer dumping the victims’ remains and with no suspects the body count continued to rise.
Three more decapitated bodies would be found in 1936. None of the victims would ever be identified. One man was nicknamed “The Tattooed Man”, since what remained of his body bore six distinctive tattoos. A death mask of the man would be made and shown at The Great Lakes Expo that year, but no one ever came forward to claim to the body or reported any knowledge of the man’s identity.
In 1937 the Mad Butcher would claim three more unidentified female victims. The first to be found, Jane Doe V, was discovered within the same area the Lady of the Lake had been uncovered nearly three years prior. Jane Doe VI –found dismembered in a burlap bag beneath the Lorain-Carnegie bridge– is believed to be a woman named Rose Wallace, but discrepancies between the perceived time of death and Rose Wallace’s disappearance raises questions on whether or not that is the woman’s true identity. Jane Doe VII was found decapitated and floating near the banks of the Flats, an area known today for its concert clubs and restaurants. Her head was never recovered.
By 1938, Ness, along with the Cleveland police force, was met with great criticism for their failure to produce a suspect in the case. With still no leads or a suspect in custody, the murderer racked up three more kills before disappearing as mysteriously as he came.
Desperate to follow any potential lead in the case, an immigrant bricklayer known for patroning a bar frequented by some of the victims, was arrested and charged for the murders. Frank Dolezal was a patsy in the case from the beginning. Police beat a confession out of Frank, apparent from his broken ribs. He knew no details of the murders and none of the three confessions made by Dolezal prior his death were consistent. Before he could be further interrogated about the cases he mysteriously committed suicide, though it is believed that he was murdered, either by another inmate or the police themselves.
Unknown to police investigators, Ness had one more trick up his sleeve. Ness had within his clutches a “super secret” suspect whom he believed, beyond a reasonable doubt, had been responsible the murders. The suspect was given the pseudonym “Gaylord Sundheim”, though it is believed that this name was referring to Dr. Francis E. Sweeney.
The doctor was picked up and held in what is now Cleveland’s Renaissance Hotel for over ten days for questioning. Legend has it that it Sweeney was picked up so drunk that it took several days for him to dry out enough to cooperate with Ness’ henchmen. Sweeney was given two lie detector tests and allegedly had failed both of them.
James Badal, an instructor at Cuyahoga Community College and Torso Murder researcher, believes that there is a good possibility that Sweeney was the murderer, though he was never formally convicted due to his family ties to Congressman Martin Sweeney. Badal claims that Sweeney’s link to the murder rests upon the testimony of a vagrant by the name of Emil Fronek, a potential victim that somehow escaped The Butcher. The drifter alleged that while scavenging for food a kindly doctor approached him and offered him a meal. After eating his meal, Fronek felt drowsy, as if he had been drugged. The next thing he remembers is finding himself in a boxcar. He attempted to locate the doctor, but didn’t have much luck and decided to flee to Chicago after determining that Cleveland was far too dangerous.
Badal further claims that during one of his Torso Murders lectures a man, claiming to have been a direct descendant of another doctor who was once a partner in practice with Sweeney, said that the office the doctors worked from wasn’t an office at all, but a residential home. This could possibly explain why Fronek had difficulty locating the doctor’s office later. This home was also located fairly close to the bars some of the other victims went missing from. The man also eluded to Sweeney having unbridled access to a local funeral home where he would be able to practice surgical techniques on the cadavers there. It is believed that this is where Sweeney would take the victims and hack them up before dumping them in various locations around the city, primarily within the Kingston Run area.
While Badal claims that he is not 100 percent sure of Sweeney’s guilt, he says that he is comfortable in naming Sweeney a person of interest in this case. The only problem with Fronek’s story of being drugged by a doctor is that only one of the victims were found with any drugs in their system, and if Fronek really was close to becoming a victim of the Butcher, why was he simply placed into a boxcar and not hacked to bits like the others who came before him?
Another question raised by this theory is that although the doctor’s office, the funeral home, and a local hospital were all a short car drive away from where the original bodies were found in September of 1935, how was the doctor able to lure the victims to his office in a residential area of town, either walk with the victim or carry them in his car, take them to the funeral home in order to dismember them, place their mutilated corpse back into his car, then take the bodies to an area known for homeless camps, along with other people waiting to board the nearby train, with absolutely no one witnessing anything along the way?
Badal admits that this theory cannot explain all of the murders, except for the early few. As Sweeney’s mental state began to deteriorate and his drinking problem worsened, his partners began to keep an eye on the doctor, fearing that he was going insane. This would make it extremely difficult for Sweeney to invite drunks, drifters, and others whom one would consider to be dregs of society into his office without anyone taking notice.
Sweeney voluntarily institutionalized himself after the final murder occurred. Ness considered the case closed and that Sweeney was more than likely the Butcher. However, the story doesn’t end there. After Sweeney committed himself to the institution, the killer – be it Sweeney or someone else responsible for the crime – became more brazen about the murders he had gotten away with.
On April 10, 1938, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that an unknown caller telephoned Detective Peter Meyerlo, Ness’ right-hand man on the case. It is alleged that during this phone call the caller taunted Meyerlo and offered up information on the sexual torture he subjected one of the victims to, which had not been previously mentioned within any media reports at the time. Later during the 1950s Ness began receiving strange taunting postcards, allegedly signed by Sweeney. Further evidence to some that Sweeney was behind the murders. However, if Sweeney was indeed the murderer, then it doesn’t offer a full explanation for some of the other bizarre unsolved murders that seemed to be eerily similar to those committed by the Butcher.
The Murder Swamp
Years before the decapitated bodies began popping up around Cleveland, Newcastle, PA had their own murder mystery on their hands.
In 1921, an elderly woman was found decapitated within her own home. None of the woman’s personal possessions had been disturbed and there had been no evidence of a home invasion except for the woman’s mutilated body. Her house had been located between two sets of railroad tracks, The B&O and P&LE, overlooking an area later known as “The Murder Swamp”.
In 1923 another body had been located floating down the river near the Murder Swamp. This time the victim was a young girl and like the others she had been decapitated and dismembered.
In October of 1925, while walking near an area of the Murder Swamp used as a slag dump for the nearby steel mills, a man hunting for wild ducks stumbled across what appeared to be a body hidden beneath a log. Startled by his discovery, the hunter immediately made his way back in order to alert the authorities.
Like the bodies discovered later in Cleveland, the victim had been decapitated. After a several day search was conducted within the area, a head was found buried in a hole underneath another log, as well as a hat, some rope, and burnt clothing, which presumably belonged to the victim. Local news covered the find extensively and photos of the man’s head were put on public display, but no one ever came forward to offer any clues on the identity of the deceased white male discovered in the Murder Swamps.
Around a week later, a group of boys, again out duck hunting, stumbled across human bones near the same area the unidentified man had been discovered. Everything except for the skull was found. Investigators continued to dig, hoping to locate the skull belonging to skeleton. In total, seven more fragmented human skeletons were unearthed from the grounds, all had been decapitated. None of the victims were ever identified nor was the killer.
Nine years passed without incident. Though the case went cold, the murders became a facet of local lore in New Castle. Some say that it was bootleggers tied to the mob, knocking people off and leaving their bodies in the swamps. Others believed that it was the work of a mad doctor or nurse stealing people’s heads for bizarre experiments, and later some came to believe it was the work of the Mad Butcher who terrorized Cleveland’s East Side.
On October 16, 1934, Almost a month after the discovery of the Lady of the Lake on the shores of Euclid Beach, another body was discovered in the murder swamps. Two men with their dogs came across the body of a badly decomposed man. Unlike the others, however, his head was still intact. Along with the body, an empty whiskey bottle and an iron spike was found buried within the man’s makeshift grave. Like the others, the man also went unidentified.
1939, five years after the last discovery, a man was found in a pile of burnt debris. Another John Doe whom would never be identified. Skeletal remains continued to be uncovered within the area of the Murder Swamp and the nearby Beaver River until the 1970s. It is unknown exactly how many bodies were dumped in the area and whether they were all connected or unrelated cases.
The Murder Swamp murders were never officially considered to be part of the torso murders in Cleveland, though some believe that the crimes may have been part of the Mad Butcher’s early killing career. However, one key distinction between murders in Cleveland and the Murder Swamp victims was that the men found in the swamp had their genitals intact, leading to the theory that there were multiple killers decapitating people around the same time and it was mere coincidence that they all occurred in routes easily accessible by the railroad.
No mention of a possible connection between the bodies found in the Murder Swamp and the Mad Butcher were ever insinuated until 1940 when the Mckees Rocks Boxcar Murders occurred.
McKees Rocks Boxcar Murders
On May 3, 1940, a couple of P&LE workers noticed a particularly foul odor emanating from an old rundown boxcar marked for demolition. This, along with eight other train cars, had recently arrived from Youngstown, OH, located approximately 76 miles Southeast of Cleveland, and 66 miles North of McKee’s Rocks. The men notified their supervisor and together they went to investigate the strange smell, thinking that perhaps an animal had met its end within the retired train car. What they found was much worst than the men could have ever have imagined.
Within the open boxcar a body was found. The victim had been diced into seven pieces and wrapped in a burlap sack underneath an old newspaper. The victim’s head had also appeared to be missing. The men set out to search the other train cars in the area.
A female body turned up in a similar state as the first body found. The third body was completely intact with the exception of the man’s head, but unlike the others, this one bore a distinctive message. The word “NAZI”, with letters approximately five inches high, had been carved into the victim’s chest. The Z had been purposely written backwards for some inexplicable reason.
Detective Peter Meyerlo, lead investigator for the Cleveland torso murders, was quick to assume that the Boxcar Murders had to be connected to the Mad Butcher. Meyerlo’s theory was that the Butcher road the rails in order to pick up victims and to make a quick getaway. This theory would also offer an explanation on why the killer often chose areas located near the railroad tracks to use as dumping grounds for his victim’s bodies. Meyerlo went undercover as a hobo and traveled the rails hoping to catch a glimpse of the Butcher, but his efforts proved to be unfruitful. No concrete evidence was ever found to support Meyerlo’s claims that the two murders were connected.
Mad Butcher of Fayette County
Between 1962-1964, Fayette County, WV had their own Mad Butcher on their hands. Seven people, including Army Sergeant James Lee Haynes, had gone missing. Three of those people would later be found hacked to bits and scattered along the side of the highway. Like the Mad Butcher in Cleveland, no killer was ever convicted of the murders. In an uncanny turn of events, one man was implicated in the crime, but he had himself committed to a mental institution until his death.
This case is severely lacking in credible information, but it would appear that these murders are only similar to Cleveland’s Mad Butcher murders in name alone. Though some have connected the two cases, there is no evidence supporting any link between the crimes, based on what little information is available.
The Black Dahlia Connection
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 know now 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 my duty to dispose of the bodies as I do. It is God’s will not to let them suffer.
– Letter to the Cleveland Press January 1939
Perhaps the most interesting case linked to the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run is the murder of Elizabeth Short, better known as “the Black Dahlia”. In January of 1947, Short’s mutilated body had been discovered lying in an empty lot in LA. Large slits were made to the corners of the young woman’s mouth, referred to as a Glasgow smile or a Chelsea Grin, and her body had been sliced in half with surgical precision. There was also evidence that she had been sexually abused and tortured before her death.
It would seem that the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run and the murder of the Black Dahlia would have no connection what-so-ever, if it hadn’t been for an interesting note sent to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, claiming that the Butcher had moved to “sunny California” in order to revive his career. Some have speculated that if Sweeney was the killer, as Ness believed, then he would be able to leave the mental institution he committed himself to at any time, making it entirely possible that he fled to California for a period before returning to Ohio and settling into the Dayton VA hospital he later died at in the 1950s.
Other experts believe that both the Mad Butcher and the Black Dahlia’s killer could be linked to another man, Jack Anderson Wilson. Wilson was originally a butcher from Canton, Ohio. According to William T. Rasmussen’s Corroborating Evidence: The Black Dahlia Murder, Rasmussen claims that not only was Wilson a sexual deviant and serial killer, but he had been popping up in areas where similar murders occurred including the Cleveland torso murders, as well as a Chicago murder involving a 6-year-old who was kidnapped from her bedroom, strangled, dismembered, and discarded in a sewage drain.
According to witnesses, a woman resembling Elizabeth Short was in Chicago reporting on the murder. Some have alleged that Short was a bit of a true crime buff and that she may have went to California in order to follow Wilson, resulting her murder for “knowing too much”.
This theory seems to make a lot of vague connections between speculative evidence and dismisses the possibility that the murderer responsible for Short’s death could have heard about the torso murders – considering it was national news at the time – and decided to pull off a copy cat murder in the same vein. It also dismisses the fact that Short was so poor she resorted to prostitution in order to make ends meet, making it highly unlikely that she was using all of her available funds in order to follow a killer across the country, when she could hardly afford proper dental work for her eroding teeth prior to her murder.
Wilson was originally named by another author, John Gilmore in his book Severed. It is believed that Rasmussen began his research based on Gilmore’s book, but failed to note that Gilmore’s book is full of inconsistencies. One researcher on the Black Dahlia case called Gilmore’s book “25% mistakes and 50% fiction, full of people who do not exist and things that never happened”.
While Rasmussen offers a compelling and interesting theory, it is in this writer’s opinion that he is trying desperately to link two cases that were more than likely completely unrelated.
The Torso Murders, though never solved, eventually became just another part of Cleveland’s grisly history. Eleven years had past since the final decapitated body was discovered and investigators were no closer to identifying the killer than they were on day one. Ness moved on to Washington to work on the war effort after resigning as Safety Director, eventually returning to Cleveland in 1947 to run as mayor. He lost and decided to retire in Pennsylvania, where he would later die in 1957.
Little mention had been made of the killer outside of true crime and amateur sleuth circles until the death of a man named Robert Robinson ended in one final suspect being linked to this bizarre case. briefly mentioned in Steven Nickel’s book Torso: The Story of Eliot Ness and the Search for a Psycopathic Killer, he is known only as “The Sunbather”.
A few steel mill workers noticed that every day a heavyset man, approximately in his late 40s or early 50s, would remove his shirt and lie out on the rooftop on a nearby building in order to sunbathe. When the remains Robert Robinson’s dismembered body were disposed of outside of a nearby building the sunbather was never seen again. Nickel and other experts chalk the sunbather’s disappearance up as a strange coincidence. Furthermore, even if the Sunbather was responsible for Robinson’s death, there is no evidence to support that the Mad Butcher was actively killing after 1941, making the man a copycat at best.
It is safe to say that we will probably never know who the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run really was or what his motive for murdering people in such a grisly fashion was. Perhaps Ness was right all along and Dr. Sweeney had murdered all those people and if it wasn’t, then what would make the Butcher suddenly lose interest in killing? Questions which we will never really know the answer to. The Torso Murders, like Eliot Ness, is just another story from Cleveland’s rich and colorful history. One that will take you down a deep dark rabbit hole and make you begin to wonder if perhaps it had even happened at all.
Known Victims (Ordered by Discovery Date)
- The Lady of the Lake – Sometimes referred to as victim 0, The Lady of the Lake was not officially tied to the case until two years after her discovery. The lower half of her torso was found on September 5, 1934, floating onto the shores of the Euclid Beach area. Her head was missing and her legs had been cut off at the knees. The top portion of her torso, minus her arms and head, were recovered nearly 30 miles away. Additionally, a chemical agent had been used on her skin, causing it to turn red and leathery.Though she is not technically considered a victim of the Mad Butcher, the similarities between her murder and the other murders are too uncanny for experts in the case to dismiss and it has been ruled that she was more than likely murdered by the same person responsible for the other murders.
- Edward Andrassy – Believed to be the second victim of the killer. The body was discovered on September 23, 1935 in the Jackass Hill area of Kingsbury Run. The body was decapitated and emasculated. It is believed that he was dead for approximately two to three days.
- John Doe I – Believed to be the first victim of the killer. The body was discovered on September 23, 1935 near the body of Edward Andrassy in the Jackass Hill area of Kingsbury Run. Like Andrassy, John Doe I was emasculated and decapitated. A chemical agent, used to treat the body, caused the skin to take on a red tone and a leathery texture. The man was dead for approximately three to four weeks before discovery.
- Florence Genevieve Polillo (Martin) – Believed to be the third victim of the killer. Parts of the dismembered body were discovered on both January 26 and February 7, 1936 between 2315 and 2325 East 20th Street in Downtown Cleveland and 1419 Orange Ave, respectively. Her head has never been found. She is believed to have been dead between two and four days before discovery.
- John Doe II (The Tattooed Man) – Believed to be the fifth victim of the killer. The body was found on June 5, 1936 in the Kingsbury Run area. The victim was decapitated. He was believed to have been dead for approximately two days before the time of discovery. The Victim had a six unique tattoos including the names “Helen and Paul” and the initials W.C.G. The underwear on the body had the initials J.D. written on the inside.
- John Doe III – Believed to be the fourth victim of the killer. The body was found on July 22, 1936 in the Big Creek area of Brooklyn, just west of Cleveland. The victim was dismembered while still alive. This is the only body to be discovered on the Cleveland’s West Side. He was believed to have been dead for approximately two months before discovery.
- John Doe IV – Believed to be the seventh victim of the killer. The body was discovered on September 10, 1936 found near the Nickle Plate railroad tracks in the Kingsbury Run area. Only half the torso was discovered, everything below the hips were missing, and his head has never been recovered. He was believed to have been dead for approximately two days before discovery.
- Jane Doe V – Believed to be the eighth victim of the killer. The body was found on February 23 1937 on the Lake Erie shore, near the Euclid Beach area. This was the same area “The Lady of the Lake” was discovered in 1934. Her head was never found. It was believed that she had been dead for approximately three to four days before discovery.
- Jane Doe VI (Possibly identified as Rose Wallace) – Believed to be the sixth victim of the killer. The body was found on June 6, 1937 in a burlap sack underneath the Lorain-Carnegie bridge. This was the only African-American victim. The body had been decapitated and was found to be missing a rib. It is believed that she had been dead for approximately a year before discovery.
- Jane Doe VII – Believed to be the ninth victim of the killer. The body was discovered on July 6, 1937 floating in the Cuyahoga River near the Cleveland Flats. The victim was decapitated and the head has never been recovered. It is believed that she was dead for approximately two or three days before discovery.
- Jane Doe VIII – Believed to be the twelfth victim of the killer. The lower leg of the victim was discovered on April 8, 1938 in the Cuyahoga River, near the Cleveland Flats. On May 2, 1938 one of the victim’s thighs was found floating in the Cuyahoga River just east of the West 3rd Street bridge. Near the bridge a burlap sack containing a headless torso cut into halves, the other thigh, and the victim’s left foot were found. The head along with the rest of the body were never recovered. This victim was the only victim found to have drugs within her system. It is believed that she was dead for approximately three to five days before initial discovery.
- Jane Doe IX – Believed to have been the eleventh victim of the killer. Her body was found in the East 9th Street Lakeshore Dump. The body had been decapitated. It is believed that she was dead approximately four to six months before discovery.
- John Doe X – Believed to have been the tenth victim of the killer. His body was discovered on August 16, 1938 in the East 9th Street Lakeshore Dump. He was discovered at the same time as Jane Doe IX. His body had been decapitated and his head recovered from a can. It is believed that he was dead for approximately seven to nine months before discovery.
These victims are only speculated to be connected to the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run.
The Murder Swamp Murders – 1921-1939
- 1921 – An elderly woman is found decapitated within her own home near the area known as “The Murder Swamp” by New Castle, PA residents. None of the women’s belongings appeared to have been tampered with or stolen.
- 1923 – The dismembered body of a young girl was found floating in the Beaver River located near the murder swamp.
- October 6, 1925 – The body of a decapitated man was discovered by a hunter walking along the trails of the Murder Swamp. His head was found two days later, buried in the ground underneath a log. Also found near the same area was a bundle of burnt clothing, a length of rope, and a hat.
- October 17, 1925 – A group of teenage boys hunting in the area of the Murder Swamp uncovered a human skeleton missing its skull. A hunt for the skull led investigators to seven more human skeletons.
- October 16, 1934 – Two men taking their dogs out on the trails near the Murder Swamp stumbled upon the body of a badly decomposed man. Unlike the others the man’s skull was still intact. Buried along with the body was an empty whiskey bottle and a iron spike.
- 1939 – The body of a man was discovered in a pile of burnt debris near the Murder Swamp.
Most of the Murder Swamp victims were never identified. Reports of bone fragments and skeletal remains being discovered in the area continued until at least the 1970s.
McKee’s Boxcar Murders – May 3, 1940
- Victim 1 – Identified as a male, sliced into seven pieces and wrapped in a burlap bag. The man was missing his head and newspapers from Youngstown were scattered around the train car his body was found in.
- Victim 2 – Identified as male, the victim was decapitated and had the word “NAZI” carved into his chest. The letterers were approximately five inches high and the Z was purposely written backwards. The I extended down from the victim’s neck.
- Victim 3 – Identified as a female. She was found in a similar state as Victim 1. Her head was missing and her body had been sliced into seven pieces. Her remains were wrapped in a burlap bag and covered under crumpled old newspapers.
The Black Dahlia – 1947
- January 15, 1947 – The body of Elizabeth Short was discovered near Leimert Park in Los Angeles, CA. Her mouth had been slit at the corners and her body had been sawed completely in half. Her murder remains one of the most popular unsolved murders within the country.
The murder of Elizabeth Short is loosely connected to the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run based on circumstantial evidence which assumed that a man named Jack Anderson Wilson was not only her killer, but a serial killer who made his way across the nation, popping up in the area of similar murders between the time of the Cleveland torso murders and Short’s murder in Los Angeles.
Mad Butcher of Fayette County – 1962-1964
- July 3, 1962 – 76-year-old Ernest Gwinn’s skull was found with a bullet hole in it.
- October 30, 1962 – 33-year-old Sammy Smith went missing and was presumed to be a victim of the Fayette County Butcher. His body was never found.
- December 19, 1962 – 19-year-old Mike Leo Rogers, a mentally disabled man, was found on top of Gauley Mountain. His body had been chopped into pieces and it appeared as if his liver had been chewed on.
- July 27, 1963 – 40-year-old Louis Bennett was killed by dynamite.
- November 22, 1963 – 33-year-old Navel officer, Gene Arthur was reported missing. His body was never recovered.
- December 7, 1963 – 40-year-old Sgt. James Lee Haynes decided to hitchhike home to see his family for a holiday get-together. He never made it to his destination and his body was never recovered.
- February 1964 – Bobby Mack Agee went missing. His body has never been recovered.
It should be noted that most experts believe that The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run was not active after the 1950s, either due to death or incarceration. Though little information is available on the Mad Butcher of Fayette County, what is available suggests that these murders were not at all related to the Cleveland torso murders occurring throughout the 1930s.
Robert Robinson – 1950
- July 22, 1950 – The decapitated body of Robert Robinson was discovered alongside a business on Davenport Avenue in Cleveland.