Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Richard Speck, Born to Raise Hell

The Manhunt

The cops fanned out and hit the streets around the area. They figured only someone who knew the area could be involved, since the nurse residence was not highly visible. Acting Lieutenant Victor Vrdolyak, Sergeant Mike Clancy from Burglary, Edward Wielosinski, John Mitchell and Edward Boyte formed another of the teams for the manhunt. Cora had given the description of the killer: six feet tall, blond hair, 160 lbs. with a southern drawl. Wielosinski spoke to an attendant at a gas station nearby, a regular hang out for the area's shady characters. He remembered hearing about a guy — from one of the managers — that left his bags at the station two days before, complaining about missing a ship and losing out on a job.

The team also checked out the Merchant Marine Union Hall on 100th Street, walking distance from the townhouse. Shoving their way through the crowd that had formed in front of the union hall, the team questioned the agent. The agent did not recall anyone with that description. Back to the gas station, they again questioned the attendant making him call Dick Polo, the manager, at home, waking him from his sleep. He told them he, indeed, held two bags for a tall blond guy with a heavy southern drawl. Yes, the guy told him he had missed his ship, so Polo sent him to a rooming house on 94th and Commercial.

Now, the cops hit the flophouses and the 24-hour taverns in the area. Wielosinski knew the South Side like the back of his hand. The shadier area was a mere mile from the death scene, easily accessible by foot. More cops joined, forming two teams that canvassed the neighborhood. Nothing turned up.

Wielosinski went back to the Union Hall, sure there was another lead. A bell struck when the agent remembered an irate seaman who lost out on a double booking — two guys sent for one job, a common practice dealing with the alcohol-addled seamen. Dumping the wastebasket, he fished out a crumpled assignment sheet. He remembered the guy had a southern accent, in fact, he could barely understand him. The assignment sheet read, Richard B. Speck.

Dallas Sheriff's 1965 mugshot of Richard Speck
Dallas Sheriff's 1965 mugshot
of Richard Speck

Wielosinski got the file of the seaman from the union hall records. Speck matched the description perfectly from the gas station manager. They also checked with the department to see if Speck had a record. Nothing showed up locally.

 

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