Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Kingsbury Run Murders or Cleveland Torso Murders

Three More Victims

Spot where Victim 7 found on beach
Spot where Victim 7 found on beach

Just as Eliot Ness was starting to feel that the police department and the city's major organized criminals were getting under control, the Mad Butcher's handiwork surfaced again on February 23, 1937. This time it was a virtual repeat of the Lady of the Lake murder back in 1934. The upper portion of Victim Seven was found washed up on the beach at 156th Street, almost the same place where portions of the Lady of the Lake had been found.

Like the others, she was headless. Her arms had been amputated and the torso bisected. While the torso was taken to the morgue, Detectives Merylo and Zalewski followed what looked like a trail of blood and questioned the residents in the area. As in the 1934 murder, the question remained: was she dumped in Lake Erie where she washed up on the beach or did her body float from Kingsbury Run into the Cuyahoga River and then into the lake? More than two months later, the lower portion of the woman's torso was found floating off East 30th Street, much closer to the mouth of the Cuyahoga River.

This was the first victim seen by the newly elected Coroner Samuel Gerber. In the November 1936 election, the new coroner was voted into office on Roosevelt's coattails. Uniquely qualified, Gerber had degrees in medicine and law. The Kingsbury Run murders offered him a special challenge intellectually and he devoted countless hours to reviewing the details of the case. The reward was a flattering amount of newspaper attention, which like all publicly elected officials he began to relish.

When the upper portion of the torso was found, the woman had only been dead two to four days and had been in the water not more than three. The headless woman was between 25 and 35 years old, weighed approximately 100 to 120 pounds, had a light complexion and medium brown hair. The only other things that they knew about her were that she lived in the city, given the dirt in her lungs and moderate emphysema, that she had been pregnant at least once. Despite a thorough investigation, this was all they would ever know of the woman who became known as Victim Seven.

While her legs were removed with two "clean sweeping" strokes of a heavy knife and the arms were removed with the murderer's usual skill, the bisection of the torso showed multiple hesitation marks. Unlike most of the other victims, death did not appear to be caused by decapitation. The blood clots in the heart indicated that the decapitation was post-mortem. The arms, legs, head and clothing were never found. Nor was her identity ever discovered.

Perhaps as a joke, the killer added a new touch with this victim. He had inserted a pants pocket inside the woman's rectum. The rectum had been stretched to accommodate this foreign object.

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