Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Kingsbury Run Murders or Cleveland Torso Murders

Examining Every Lead

Detective Orley May reported on a tip that was typical of the thousands of tips the police department were given: "Detective Musil and I received information from a person who does not want her identity revealed and who stated that while she was in the Workhouse, a woman by the name of Helen O'Leary who was the former wife of a man who was shot and killed several years ago and who since got married to Gas House O'Malley, a stage hand, told her that she knew a man that killed Florence Polillo. She asked him who it was and she said 'You know, his name is Jack Wilson.' We learned from our informer that Jack Wilson was a former butcher and worked for Sam who operated a grocery store and meat market on St. Clair Avenue, and that he is always known to carry a large butcher knife. Informant also stated that this Wilson is a Sodomist, and that he has committed Sodomy on a number of persons known by this informant, and it is thought that the person who has been committing these decapitated (sic) murders in Kingsbury Run may be killing them for the purpose of committing Sodomy on the victims, and would be a good suspect in the above murder."

They also tried some unorthodox methods, which must have been terribly funny to observe. Detectives dressed as hobos hid in the bushes of Kingsbury Run, looking for suspicious characters. Other detectives hung around gay bars and steam baths, trying to get leads on homosexual men with sadistic tendencies. It's hard to imagine any of the detectives posing convincingly as either a hobo or a homosexual, but they did try. At least one detective was beaten up by someone who saw through his disguise.

The head of the federal narcotic bureau in Cleveland told the detectives that it was most likely a marijuana addict committed the murders. "There's a plentiful supply of this deadly weed growing wild around the railroad tracks in Kingsbury Run. Both the desire for a thrill and a homicidal obsession are easily induced by the loco weed cigarettes."

A few days after the murder, The Cleveland News offered a $1000 reward, quite a sizable amount for those days, for information leading to the conviction of the Kingsbury Run murderer. The Cleveland City Council was also voting on a resolution to offer a similar reward.

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