Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Kingsbury Run Murders or Cleveland Torso Murders

Death Toll Mounts

By the November 1935 mayoral election, the city of Cleveland was tired of the growing burden of crime that had escalated out of control. Decades of political and police corruption had turned Cleveland into a haven for mobsters and bootleggers. To make this point clearly, Republican Harold Burton was swept into office on a promise to clean up the crime and rehabilitate the police force.

In December Burton started to make good on that promise by appointing Eliot Ness, a young man with a good reputation as a crime fighter, safety director to head up the city's police and fire departments. Ness lost no time launching a major attack on gambling and police corruption. At the same time he made plans to upgrade the caliber of rookie cops and establish a modern police academy.

With the dashing young Eliot Ness dominating the newspapers on a daily basis, Clevelanders had every reason to believe that crime was on the run in their city.

Eliot Ness
Eliot Ness

Sunday, January 26, was one more bitterly cold day in the run of miserable weather the city was experiencing that winter. Butcher Charles Paige, owner of the White Front Meat Market on Central Avenue, called the police to report a murder.

Lieutenant Harvey Weitzel responded to the call at 11:25 A.M. and wrote: "a colored woman name unknown ...informed Charles Paige there was a body of a murdered person laying against a building on East 21st Place. Paige stated that he investigated and found severed parts of a human body..."

Along with Sergeant Hogan, Detectives Shibley and Wachsman, Weitzel found at the northeast corner of the Hart's Manufacturing Company on East 20th Street portions of a human body. Parts of the body were in a half-bushel basket and parts were wrapped in burlap sacks, along with a suit of two piece white cotton underwear wrapped in newspapers. Shortly afterwards, Lieutenant David L. Cowles, superintendent of the ballistic bureau of the police department, was on the scene examining the basket and bags in which the dismembered body was found.

David Cowles as young man
David Cowles as young man

Joseph Sweeney, Acting Chief of Detectives, said that the body had been placed behind the Hart's plant around 2:30 A.M. James Marco, whose home adjoins the plant told police his dog was howling and barking at that time near the place where the basket and bags were found. The actual discovery came about later that morning from the insistent barking of a dog named Lady who lives close to the Hart plant.

The detectives presented the coroner with the lower half of a woman's torso, both of her thighs and her right upper extremity. Fingerprints from the right hand were given to the police department Bertillon division.

Coroner Pearse determined that the woman had been dead anywhere from 2 to 4 days. Dismemberment was done with a sharp instrument like a knife. Again, like in the deaths of Andrassy and his unknown companion, the edges of the skin were sharply and cleanly cut. Whoever did this was very expert at cutting apart flesh.

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