Over a period of four years, 12 different victims were brutally murdered and dismembered by the Cleveland Torso Murderer, who has never been identified.
The first body was discovered in September 1934, by a young man who was walking along the shore of Lake Erie, by the time it was found, it barely resembled a body, more like a part of one. The remains that were uncovered were that of a woman's lower torso, amputated at the knees. A chemical was present on the skin that turned it red in colour and made the texture like that of leather.
The rest of the woman's body was never found, the victim was also never identified. She quickly became known as the "Lady of the Lake," after being taken to the morgue, she was left forgotten about until many years later when police noticed that she fit almost perfectly into a local serial killer's pattern.
A year later from the discovery of the first body, another corpse was found. This time two teenage boys uncovered the decapitated body of a man at the bottom of a hill in Kingsbury Run. The body was found wearing only a pair of socks and was identified as a 28-year-old man by the name of Edward Andrassy.
The discovery of Edward Andrassy was the second in a long list of mutilated bodies that were discovered in Kingsbury Run that would be attributed to an unknown murderer that was dubbed "The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run," and later the "Cleveland Torso Murderer." Andrassy is often referred to as the first official victim, this is because the body of the first woman that was found was not actually linked to the killing spree until much later.
To this day, no one has ever been convicted of the horrifying murders.
Between the period of September 1934, and August 1938, a total of 13 bodies were discovered, all in very similar conditions, all missing heads and other limbs, and all of them came from what was described as the "lower class," of society. In almost all of the cases, it was deemed that decapitation or dismemberment was actually the cause of death.
Some of the bodies were found with their missing limbs close by, others took authorities days to slowly piece together, like a gruesome jigsaw puzzle, some of the victim's body parts were never actually found.
Only two of the bodies differed from the usual modus operandi, the body of victim number nine was found eviscerated, the heart was ripped out and the abdomen completely gutted. The body of victim ten was discovered with drugs in her system, however, due to the fact her arms had been removed, authorities could not rule out that she could have potentially have been an addict.
Out of the 12 confirmed victims, only three of them would ever be identified, and only two of them positively. The first one was Edward Andrassy, the third body that was found was identified as Florence Polillo, and the eighth body that was discovered was believed to be that of Rose Wallace, however, her identity was only confirmed through uncorroborated dental records.
Officially the investigation of the murders continued for five years, during this time two major arrests were made, however, there were no convictions.
In 1936, when the case was still fresh in everyone's mind and bodies were still being uncovered, Safety Director Eliot Ness became heavily involved. Ness was known for heading up a group of law-enforcement agents that played a big part in taking down Al Capone, the group was known as "the Untouchables," authorities believed that the input of Eliot Ness would quickly bring this case to a conclusion with the perpetrator being brought to justice.
In 1938, the final two bodies were found dumped, wrapped in an old quilt and a blue blazer, the dumpsite at which the bodies were discovered was clearly visible from Eliot Ness' office window, it is believed that the killer left the victims here intentionally to provoke Ness.
Two days later, Ness, leading a group of 35 police officers raided Kingsbury Run, home to the city's most "lower class," residents. They gathered 63 men and ended up burning down the shantytown after they had concluded their raid.
After the raid Eliot Ness was criticized heavily, the public believed that this aggressive tactic would serve no purpose in stopping the murders, however, after the raid, no further bodies were ever found.
Within a few days of the raid, Francis Sweeny, a doctor, was arrested under suspicion of being the Cleveland Torso Murderer. Sweeny had previously served in WWI as a medic, responsible for field amputations. Eliot Ness personally interviewed Sweeny, he was also given two separate polygraph tests, he failed both of them.
Before Sweeny could be taken to trial, it was revealed that he was the first cousin of Congressman Martin Sweeny, who was Eliot Ness's political opponent. Quickly realising that there was no way he would be able to prosecute Sweeny, he was forced to release him.
The next arrest came in 1939, a bricklayer by the name of Frank Dolezal was arrested by Sheriff Martin O'Donnell for the murder of Florence Polillo, the eighth body that was found. Sheriff O'Donnell discovered that Dolezal had previously lived with Polillo for a while and that he was also acquainted with Rose Wallace and Edward Andrassy, the only two bodies that had been positively identified.
Authorities had initially claimed that Frank Dolezal has confessed to the murders, however, there was speculation that he had been forced or coerced into making his confession. Before he could be taken to trial, Frank Dolezal hung himself in his jail cell.
After his death, his autopsy revealed that he had sustained six broken ribs whilst in O'Donnell's custody. It was also later revealed that O'Donnell was the only person who actually believed that Dolezal was guilty of the gruesome murders. Shortly after the death of Dolezal, the authorities had no further suspects and no further bodies were discovered and the case ran cold.
Since 1939, there has been no new information that has been discovered regarding who the Cleveland Torso Murderer was, and it is looking very unlikely that it ever will.
Now you have read the story of the Cleveland Torso Murderer, make sure you check out the story of Edmund Kemper, the Co-Ed Killer.