Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Kingsbury Run Murders or Cleveland Torso Murders

Public Outcry

Despite the growing public pressure to capture The Mad Butcher, Ness refused to personally engage himself in the case. Instead, he continued with the programs that he had initiated years before: modernizing the police and fire departments, cleaning up crime and generally making Cleveland a much safer place to live.

Just when the public uproar around the April 1938 victim had subsided, a dismembered body was accidentally found at a dump at the end of East Ninth Street. Men combing the dump for bits of scrap metal came across the body of a woman wrapped in rags, brown paper and cardboard. Uncharacteristically, the head and hands were found with the rest of the body.

As police were combing the area for more forensic evidence, a bystander found more bones nearby and called over the police. Detective Sergeant James Hogan picked up a large tin can nearby to carry the bones. As he looked down into the large can, a skull gaped back at him from inside!

Immediately the police started to search the area in the remaining daylight. The skeletal remains of a man were scattered around; some of which had been wrapped in brown paper.

Hogan view dump site for Victims 11 and 12
Hogan view dump site for Victims 11 and 12

Gerber estimated that the woman had been a Caucasian between 30 and 40 years old, about 5 feet 4 inches tall, and weighing approximately 120-125 pounds. While much of her viscera had decomposed, the skin on her back seemed well preserved. She was dismembered by large, sharp knife. Gerber guessed that she had died sometime between mid-February and mid-April, possibly before Victim Ten in early April. Gerber thought that her remains had only been at the dump for a few weeks. The cause of death was undetermined, but was considered a probable homicide.

Police were initially excited when they were able to lift a fingerprint of her left thumb, but the hope faded when they were unable to find a match in their files.

The skull and the bones found a couple of hundred feet away from the woman's remains were those of a white man between 30 and 40 years of age. He was estimated to have been between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing approximately 135 to 150 pounds. His hair was long, coarse and dark brown in color. He also was dismembered with a long, sharp knife. Again, the cause of death was undetermined, but considered a probable homicide.

Dr. Gerber (in white coat) views remains
Dr. Gerber (in white coat) views remains

If these two individuals were in fact Victims Eleven and Twelve of the Mad Butcher, then he had changed his operating style. Leaving heads and hands was uncharacteristic of the victims found since 1936. Also, the dump was a place that the serial killer had not used before. When Kingsbury Run became overrun with police and railroad detectives, The Mad Butcher used the Cuyahoga River as his next favorite cemetery. Also, these two bodies were really found by accident. The Butcher, for the most part, made sure that his victims were found either out in the open in Kingsbury Run or floating in the Cuyahoga River. Ness and Cowles had doubts about whether these two bodies were even homicides, let alone the victims of The Mad Butcher.

Mutilation of a corpse, whether as a prank or by a necrophiliac, is not a particularly unusual occurrence. It was not even considered a particularly serious crime in Ohio. These bodies presented enough deviations from the Butcher's standard operating mode to bring into question whether they were really homicides at all. On an anonymous tip, the police department investigated a man who operated an embalming college, but charges were never brought and the man quickly moved his business out of town.

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