Saturday, October 29, 2016

Mystery Murderer : The Torso Killer of Cleveland

For this Halloween Weekend, I  bring forward a story of unsolved murders, just so that you will have trouble sleeping this weekend...Bha  hah  ha  hah  ha!

You have heard of Elliot Ness...the FBI agent who, with the help of his posse, finally brought down Alphonse Capone.  It took a charge of tax evasion, but whatever worked, he took it.

In later days, Mr. Ness was working in Cleveland, Ohio.  There was a serial killer, leaving torsos around. At least 12 dismembered bodies were recovered. It all started with the lower half of a woman's torso that washed up on the shore of Lake Erie in 1934. This body, plus all the following dismembered bodies were completely drained of blood.

Doctor Francis Sweeney was thought to be the murderer, but it could not be proven.
He hung around a local funeral home...what a creep.  He also spent quite some time behind the walls of mental institutions.  It is said that he wrote postcards and letters to Elliott Ness and J. Edgar Hoover....taunting them about the murders that had not been solved. Dr. Sweeney was a veteran of World War I, where he was busy preforming amputations and general medical duties.  When questioned by polygraph, he failed....but that could not be used against him.  I think it just raised more suspicion. He committed himself to institutional care, and later died in a veterans home.

Death masks of some victims,

There were reportedly 12 to 20 bodies believed to be involved with this unknown murderer from 1935-1938. Only three of the victims could be positively identified.  They were considered drifters, part of the working poor of the area.  Decapitation was to cause of death for almost half of the persons.

Where were the bodies, or rather, torsos found?  A number of places were mentioned in an article found in Wikipedia ...lake shore, railroad boxcar, swamps, ...

Elliott Ness was the Public Safety Director of Cleveland, according to many articles.  He was really stumped with these cases.

There have been some books written about this horrible circumstance in Cleveland, here are some that I found :

In the Wake of the Butcher, by James Jessen Badal, 2001 Kent State University Press

Butcher's Dozen, by Max Allen Collins, 1988 Bantam Books

Nemisis: The Final Case of Elliot Ness, by William Burnhardt

A map showing the locations of each victim's remains can be found on  Google, searching "Cleveland Torso Murders Map".

Get a good night's sleep...if you can.  This guy may still be out there somewhere, in the dark, outside your door, waiting to catch you off guard.

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