Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Joseph Kallinger, the Enigmatic Cobbler


Brown writes that a woman reported that a knife-wielding man and boy had entered her home and knocked her out, but had taken nothing.   They'd had a strange odor about them, she said.  Even after a murder, in less than a week they were back at their crimes.  The police were surprised at their boldness.

Composite sketch of wanted man
Composite sketch of wanted man

But the incident turned out to be a hoax, based on reports from Leonia.   This woman had used up police resources for some petty personal reason, and the investigators were back to square one.  Except for one thing.

Composite sketch of the youth
Composite sketch of the youth

The laundry mark on the shirt discarded in Leonia had been cleaned up and it now read Kalinger.   But no one named Kalinger had a police record in any of the relevant towns, including Philadelphia and New York.

Detective Roseman decided to do some gumshoe investigation.   He took the shirt with him to Philadelphia and discovered that the shirt maker sold to only one outlet, the Berg Brothers store on North Front Street.  Roseman went there in the hope that he could find a clerk who might remember a swarthy, smelly man like that described by the victims.  But he was disappointed.  No one could place the man. 

Yet the shirt had to have been purchased there, so there was some chance that the man lived in the general vicinity.   Now it became a matter of looking up the name Kalinger in the phone book—a daunting task.  Roseman called the police department one more time and quickly found out that they did indeed have a record for a man by such a name, but it turned out to be Kallinger, not Kalinger.

With the correct surname in hand, Roseman went from one laundry and shirt-service place to another until he got the full name: Joe Kallinger.   The owner of Bright Sun Cleaners on North Front Street recognized the shirt from the distinctive smell.  It came from a chemical that Kallinger used in his shoe repair business.  Roseman learned that Joseph Kallinger lived in Kensington in northeast Philadelphia.  That's where his shop was located as well.  He had a wife and five children.  The police knew of him because of the way one of his sons had mysteriously died in 1974.  They had been watching him, waiting, certain he would one day slip up. 

From those who had investigated the case, Roseman learned the full story.


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