Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Frankford Slasher

Unsolved

Newton lists the Frankford Slasher case as unsolved in his books, although he's aware that Leonard Christopher was convicted of at least one murder.  Still, he raises issues with the conviction and points out that there was no evidence tying Christopher to any of the other killings.  (While he correctly says that the prosecutor offered no motive and no weapon, he does not include a full account of the evidence against Christopher.  Pang's statements, at any rate, are compelling.)  In Still at Large, Newton interviewed a Philadelphia investigator who said that Christopher is still a suspect in the other murders, but there are other suspects as well.  

Still at Large, by Michael Newton
Still at Large, by Michael
Newton

Antonia Mendoza does not include the Frankford Slasher in his own book about unsolved serial killings, although the victim count is certainly significant enough to do so.  He buys the outdated and admittedly erroneous FBI statistic that there are between 35-50 serial killers at loose in the U.S..  While it is true that a number of murders that appear to have a predator in common are unsolved, it's generally not a good idea to just accept that they must be the work of a serial killer.  The bungled Boston Strangler case is a good one to keep in mind.  There are good suspects for many of those eleven murders and, technically, we could still consider at least some murders in that "series" unsolved.  At any rate, the semen found on the last Boston Strangler victim, Mary Sullivan, did not match Albert DeSalvo, who was considered to be the Strangler.  In addition, his description of her murder, as well as what he said about some of the other crimes, was full of errors overlooked by investigators in their rush to close a frightening case.

Albert Desalvo in custody
Albert Desalvo in custody

In short, while at least seven (or eight) of the Frankford Slasher murders remain unsolved as of this writing, and one did take place while Christopher was in jail, we cannot discount a copycat or the possibility that not all of the killings are related.  Even in the event that they were all the work of a single killer and Christopher was not the attacker, there appears to have been no more of these particular crimes in that area since 1990.  Yet  significant questions remain regarding the quality of evidence used to convict Christopher and the fact that he did not match witness reports of a white man seen with other victims.  In many respects, it seems clear that someone got away with murder.

Today, the Frankford area is poised for renovation and rebirth as an arts community.  People want to forget its seedy past and get on with expansion and expression.    In 2000, the Inquirer claimed that statistics showed Frankford as one of the safer places in the city.  While the Frankford Slasher gave the area a sense of menace, citizens today believe that reputation is undeserved.

 

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