Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Kingsbury Run Murders or Cleveland Torso Murders

A Strong Suspect

Cowles also found that the Ohio Penitentiary Honor Farm shared some of the facilities with the veterans hospital. Eventually, Cowles found his way to Alex Archaki, a convicted burglar who was serving out the rest of his sentence on the prison honor farm. Archaki had developed a symbiotic relationship with Dr. Sweeney. Archaki, through his various connections, kept Dr. Sweeney supplied with liquor throughout his visits to Sandusky, while Dr. Sweeney reciprocated by writing prescriptions for barbiturates and other sought after drugs. Archaki had something even more interesting for Cowles: the former burglar was convinced that Sweeney was The Mad Butcher.

Archaki had first met Sweeney a couple of years earlier at a bar in downtown Cleveland. Archaki was alone was he was approached by Sweeney, who he described as a well-dressed, good-looking extrovert. Sweeney bought him drinks and asked a lot of personal questions. Where was Archaki from? Did he have any family in the city? Was he married? At the time, Archaki thought the questions were unusual. Later on, in retrospect, Archaki wondered if Sweeney was qualifying him as a potential victim. After all, it seemed a deliberate act on the part of The Mad Butcher to make sure that most of his later victims were unidentified, probably men and women from out of town and with no close friends or relatives in the area.

As Cowles probed, Archaki told him that he noticed that Sweeney's unexplained absences from the hospital coincided with the estimated times of death for several victims. Archaki was positive. Whenever Sweeney was missing for a day or so, a fresh body in Cleveland would turn up shortly after his return to the hospital in Sandusky.

In late March, shortly after Cowles' visit to the hospital, the police in Sandusky determined that the severed leg found by the dog was the result of legitimate surgery and not the work of The Mad Butcher. Nevertheless, Cowles was energized by the trip. For the first time, he felt he had a really strong suspect.

Congressman Martin L. Sweeney
Congressman Martin L. Sweeney

When he got back to Cleveland, he arranged for a very discreet investigation of Dr. Sweeney. While the doctor came from a very poor family, he was first cousin to Congressman Martin L. Sweeney, a very colorful and controversial political powerhouse in the local Democratic Party. Always an outspoken critic of the Mayor Burton's Republican administration, Congressman Martin L. Sweeney frequently took aim in the press at Eliot Ness, a man he characterized as being obsessed with terrorizing cops who took small bribes during Prohibition while ignoring the insane killer who walked the streets of Cleveland.

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