Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run

The facts:

On September 23, 1935 the bodies of two men were discovered at the foot of Jackass Hill in Kingbury Run, near East 49th Street and Praha Ave.

Edward Andrassy and a never-identified man were each murdered by decapitation, with their genitals severed from their torsos. The genitals were discovered together nearby. The heads were discovered buried nearby, in different places.

Andrassy was heavily involved in vice, his parents even receiving a phone call recently threatening to kill him if he didn’t stay away from the caller’s wife.

On January 26, 1936 a basket was found near East 20th and Central. This basket contained body parts wrapped in newspaper: an arm, two thighs and the lower half of a female torso. They belonged to Florence Polillo, a middle-aged woman, alcoholic, occasionally engaging in prostitution. The newspapers dated back between as recently as the day before and the previous August.

On February 7, in an abandoned lot on Orange near 15th Street, was discovered more of Polillo: upper torso, lower legs, left arm and hand. But no head. On February 8 a former associate of hers named Captain Swing jumped out a third story window, broke his heels, and “mumbling things that tended to implicate him in the killings.” (Cleveland Press)

On June 5, near the Kingsman Road bridge, some boys found a head rolled up into a pair of pants. The torso was found nearby, genitals intact. Like the first two men, the corpse was absent of blood indicating death (by decapitation) elsewhere and that the body was left where it was to be found. Never identified, this victim is known by its numerous tattoos.

July 22 turned up a badly decomposed male corpse near the tracks south of Clinton Road. Killed where it lay, it had been decapitated, and its clothes were found nearby. Its condition suggests it was murdered prior to the tattooed victim.

On September 10 a vagrant trying to catch a train tripped over the armless, headless torso of a man near the East 37th Street bridge. Soon police discovered the lower half of the torso, separated at the abdomen and the legs cut off at the hips. A stagnant pool nearby was fished, revealing his clothes. The man was emasculated, his genitals, arms and head never found. He was murdered by decapitation.

September 14: “I want to see this psycho caught. I’m going to do all I can to aid in the investigation.” - Eliot Ness

Or to put it another way, due to public hysteria created by a media-driven drive to sell papers, the Safety Director was called upon to comment on and meddle in affairs better left to detectives of the Police department.

Ness did bring it upon himself, raising his profile high above that of your average Safety Director (can you name your current Safety Director?) But the quote from Eliot Ness reflects to prevailing belief that these disconnected events were perpetrated by a single man. “This psycho.”

Really? The first two guys, sure. Polillo, not at all. The fourth, fifth and sixth victims had as little to do with each other, their similarities should easily have been written off as coincidence or intentional copy-cat crimes.

UPDATE: In 1937, the body of a second woman - eventually suggested to be Rose Wallace, an African-American prostitute who had disappeared the previous August - was found at the foot of the Lorain-Central (now the Lorain-Carnegie) Bridge. This body was dismembered, like Polillo's corpse, and bound in newspaper dated June, 1936. Wallace and Polillo went in the same circles, and even had One-Armed Willie, he of the jumping out the three-story window - in common. These two murders may have been committed by the same person. Parts bound in paper, female victim. But nothing like the other murders. Do you see how a craze comes about?

Source: The Maniac in the Bushes: More True Tales of Cleveland Crime and Disaster

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