Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Kingsbury Run Murders or Cleveland Torso Murders

Not One Body, But Two

Detectives Emil Musil and Orly May were the first Cleveland policemen on the scene. They found not only one headless man, but two, both washed and drained of blood. The police report dated September 23, 1935, described what they found at the foot of East 49th St. and Praha Avenue:

"the bodies of two white men, both beheaded, lying in the weeds; both bodies were naked except that one of them had socks on. After an extensive search the heads of both men were found buried in separate places, one about 20 feet away from one of the bodies and the other head was buried about 75 feet away from the other body. Both men's penises had been severed from their bodies and were found near one of the heads. We also found an old blue coat; light cap and a blood stained union suit. Nearby was a metal bucket containing a small quantity of oil and a torch.

"It was apparent that oil, acid or some chemical was poured over one of the bodies as it was burnt to quite an extent; it was also evident that both bodies had been there several days as they had started to decompose."

Coroner Arthur J. Pearse described the one man eventually referred to Victim One, as "decapitated with one testicle missing. Skin tanned and leathery as from an acid. Dead from 7-10 days. Homicide by person or persons at present unknown. Death by decapitation, hemorrhage, and shock." He was estimated to be between 40 and 45 years old, approximately 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing 165 pounds. His hair was dark brown.

Laboratory analysis of the skin of Victim One came back with the following results: "The skin of this victim had a reddish yellow color and was tough (hard) not unlike bacon rind. The skin was carefully washed in benzol, dried, and examined under the microscope. Nothing of importance, other than the hair follicles minus the hair, was noted. It appeared as though the hair had either been shaved or burned off. The skin itself was hard and tough, and very resistant to both acids and alkalis. Warm or hot water however caused it to swell and curl although no difference in texture resulted. It was finally decided that scorching would produce such a condition. This however on dead tissue only.

"Examination of the contents of the bucket disclosed evidence of crankcase drainings (oil), partially decomposed human blood, and considerable black straight hair (probably human).

"Conclusions: Appearances, together with certain findings to indicate that this body after death was saturated with oil and fire applied. The burning however was only sufficient to scorch, hence the peculiar condition of the skin."

The man had been decapitated while alive with a sharp instrument, leaving his skin sharply cut and the muscles retracted. Advanced decomposition prevented the taking of any good fingerprints.

His companion was a man in his twenties with blue-gray eyes, brown hair and light complexion. He had been five feet 11 inches tall and approximately 150 pounds. He was nude except for his black cotton socks. He had eaten a vegetable meal shortly before he died. Unlike Victim One, he had only been dead 2-3 days.

He too had been murdered by decapitation, a very unusual way of killing someone. There were rope burns on each wrist, raising the specter of a man emasculated and decapitated while fully conscious, hands tied behind him.

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