Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Kingsbury Run Murders or Cleveland Torso Murders

A Profile Emerges

Even though Eliot Ness did not have available to him the body of knowledge that today's law enforcement agencies have about serial killers, he knew that this murderer was no ordinary one. It was time to bring together a group of experts to share information so he invited Coroner Pearse and Dr. Reuben Strauss, the pathologist who had performed many of the autopsies of the victims, County Prosecutor Cullitan, Police Chief Matowitz, Lieutenant Cowles, Inspector Joseph Sweeney, Sergeant Hogan and several outside medical consultants.

After a number of hours, the group agreed on what they knew about this killer:

One man working alone murdered all six victims. The Lady of the Lake, who was most likely an earlier victim of the same serial killer, was not included in official count because the murder happened in 1934, a full year before the death of Andrassy.

This killer, while clearly psychopathic, was probably not obviously insane. There was disagreement as to whether to killer was a male homosexual, considering the genital mutilation of the corpses. Some of the non-genital mutilation may have been done to thwart identification or make it easier to transport the body. Other mutilations seemed to have no clear purpose.

While they all agreed that the killer had some knowledge of anatomy, the medical experts felt there was no evidence to establish that the murderer was necessarily a physician. After all, a butcher or hunter would recognize anatomical landmarks almost as well as a surgeon.

The murderer was both large and strong. The experts had pretty well discounted that any female could be a suspect in this murder series. The nature of the wounds, plus the fact that at least three of the male victims were carried a considerable distance, argued for a very large man.

The murderer was very likely to be a resident of the Kingsbury Run area. With the exception of the fifth victim who was found on the West Side, all of the victims were found in Kingsbury Run or the Near East Side.

Considering how untidy it is to decapitate a living person with the jugular vein spurting blood in all directions, the experts agreed that the killer had some kind of private place where the victims were dispatched and later cleaned up. Theories ranged from a butcher shop, a doctor's office or even a home where unsuspecting victims were lured by the promise of food or shelter.

The killer selected his victims from the lowest rungs of society. Whether that selection fulfilled some need to eliminate the "undesirables" of the city or just that there were so many from that social stratum in ready supply was not determined.

Most of the experts believed that it was no accident that of the six victims, only two were identified and those were among the earlier ones, Andrassy and Polillo. To the veteran homicide officials, it indicated that the murderer was getting smarter. Heads and hands were either gone or too decomposed for identification purposes. Even when highly distinguishing marks appeared on the body, such as the "Tattooed Man," nobody came forward to claim these victims as missing persons. The evidence was building that the more recent victims were being selected for anonymity.

Police search under 65th Street bridge
Police search under 65th Street bridge

Another unique characteristic of these crimes was the choice of Kingsbury Run as the graveyard. Four out of six victims were found in that godforsaken ravine. The "Tattooed Man," was placed embarrassingly close to the Nickel Plate Railroad police office as though the killer was playing a joke on them. Then, in September of 1936, when every hobo and railroad detective was in a state of heightened alarm, the killer again selected the Run for his next victim. The killer seemed to be taking unbelievable risks to humiliate the police.

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