"The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run", a.k.a. "The Cleveland Torso Murderer", is a still-unidentified serial killer who was active in Cleveland, Ohio during the 1930s.
Brief Case History
The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run remains unidentified to this day, as do the majority of his victims. However, the first canonical victim was found on September 23, 1935, and it was estimated that he had been killed three to four weeks earlier. The last two canonical victims were found on August 16, 1938. All of the victims had been at their dump sites for various periods of time before being found. The first outstanding suspect was Dr. Francis E. Sweeney, the alcoholic first cousin of Congressman Martin L. Sweeney. Though the authorities felt that he was a viable suspect, Congressman Sweeney found out about it and, it has been suspected, made a deal with the investigating sheriff to find a better suspect. At this point, Frank Dolezal, a 52-year-old Cleveland resident, was arrested. He confessed to having killed Flo Polillo, the third victim, in self-defense, but later recanted on the grounds that he had been beaten into confessing by the sheriff’s jailer. He died in custody in the Cuyahoga County jail six weeks after his arrest. As of today, the case remains unsolved.
The age and sex of all of the Butcher's victims varied, but they were typically drifters or people from the lower class of society. He would usually kill them by decapitating them, sometimes after tying them up, and then mutilate the body severely post-mortem, sometimes dismembering the arms and/or legs, cutting off the genitals and removing organs, and then burn the bodies, either by using oil as an accelerant or using acid or some chemical. It was believed by the investigators that, since decapitations are very messy, the killer performed the murders someplace private and then carried the bodies to their dump sites and burned them there. In some cases, the heads were never recovered, making it possible that the Butcher kept them as a trophy or for some other purpose.
A profile made by the original investigators said that the offender was a psychopath, though probably not obviously insane. He had some knowledge of anatomy, maybe having worked as a physician, butcher, or hunter, and the cuts showed that he would have been very skilled at cutting flesh. As decapitations are very messy, it was believed that he had access to some private space where the murders were performed. If this was correct, the fact that the bodies would then have been carried for a long distance indicated that the killer was probably very large and strong. The killer may also have been familiar with the Kingsbury Run area. It was also theorized that the choice of victims and gruesome mutilations were a way to ensure that the victims were never identified. If this was true, the killer would be profiled as an organized offender.
Note: The dates denote when the victims were discovered.
- September 23, 1935:
- An unidentified man (also castrated post-mortem; estimated time of death was 3-4 weeks earlier)
- Edward W. Andrassy (also castrated post-mortem like the previous victim; found close to the location of the above victim; estimated time of death was 2-3 days earlier)
- January 26: Florence Genevieve Polillo (dismembered post-mortem; her head was never found; estimated time of death was 2-4 days earlier)
- June 5: "The Tattooed Man" (unofficial given name; estimated time of death was two days earlier)
- July 22: An unidentified man (dismembered ante-mortem; estimated time of death was two months earlier)
- September 10: An unidentified man (his head was never found; estimated time of death was two days earlier)
- February 23: An unidentified woman (estimated time of death was 3-4 days earlier)
- June 6: An unidentified woman (possibly one Rose Wallace; removed a rib bone post-mortem; estimated time of death was one year earlier)
- July 6: An unidentified man (estimated time of death was 2-3 days earlier)
- April 8: An unidentified woman (estimated time of death was 3-5 days earlier)
- August 16:
- An unidentified woman (estimated time of death was 4-6 months earlier)
- An unidentified man (found close to the location of the above victim; estimated time of death was 7-9 months earlier)
- September 5, 1934: "The Lady of the Lake" (unofficial given name; was found on almost the same dump site as the first unidentified woman)
- July 22, 1950: Robert Robertson (was found decapitated; estimated time of death was 6-8 weeks earlier)
- Unspecified dates: Numerous decapitated and dismembered bodies found in boxcars and swamps located in various areas of Pennsylvania
- Note: It has also been theorized that the Cleveland Torso murder case has some connection to the c. January 15, 1947, murder of Elizabeth Short, a.k.a. The Black Dahlia.
- Dr. Francis "Frank" E. Sweeney
- World War I medic and veteran
- Entered voluntary psychiatric care shortly after the killings stopped
- Took a polygraph test and failed it
- Taunted Eliot Ness with postcards and fitted Ness's description of the killer
- Frank Dolezal
- Alcoholic Cleveland resident
- Was arrested on suspicion of killing Flo Polillo
- Confessed to killing her in self-defense
- Recanted his confessions shortly before his death, saying he had been beaten into confessing by police officers
- After his death, it was found that he had six cracked ribs, which he, according to his friends, did not have when he was arrested
On Criminal Minds
So far, the Butcher has only been referenced once on Criminal Minds, in Zoe's Reprise in which copycat serial killer Eric Olson was revealed to have partially copied the Butcher as his first known copycat murder. When he did so, he lured the victim out of a local gay bar and shot him in a park, not being able to go through with the full decapitation and dismemberment process, presumably since it was his first murder and he wanted to get it over with quickly. In the episode, it was asserted by the BAU that the original Butcher would pick up his male victims at gay bars, which was enforced through a flashback (in which the Butcher is portrayed by Ken Hurst), though there is no solid evidence that he did so. However, since his first identified victim, Edward W. Andrassy, was an alleged bisexual and had several homosexual friends, this could be a valid claim. Some of the original investigators would actually look for suspects in gay bars. The BAU and local police also incorrectly stated that the Butcher's victims were shot, dismembered, and mutilated while, in actuality, they were usually killed by decapitation.
Also, Max Allan Collins, author of the three Criminal Minds novels, has written a series of novels about the activities of Elliot Ness, one of the Butcher investigators. The second of these books, Butcher's Dozen, is about the investigation of the Cleveland Torso Murders.
Prior to the aforementioned Season Four reference, the Butcher seems to have inspired at least some of the M.O. of Frank Breitkopf, a prolific serial killer featured in Season Two. Both killers' victims did not fall within an established profile and were chosen randomly (as the unidentified Butcher is speculated to have done), were dismembered (although Frank did it ante-mortem while the Butcher did it post-mortem), and (in many cases) only partial remains of them were found long after decomposition.
The Butcher seems to have been the inspiration for Steven Parkett, the prominent unsub of X. Just like the Butcher, Parkett dismembered his victims (although he did it ante-mortem while the Butcher did it post-mortem, presumably as a forensic countermeasure), killed them by decapitation, and then disposed of their torsos, which would be the first body parts found. Also, the two shared near-identical nicknames (Parkett's first nickname was The Mad Butcher of Bakersfield, and his second nickname was The Riverside Torso Killer). In addition, both were profiled as having some close knowledge of anatomy, like a hunter or a butcher.
A number of aspects of the Butcher were used as inspiration for scenes in A Good Husband. First and foremost, the episode's prominent unsub, Mark Tolson, dismembered his victims completely like the Butcher did, with the torsos always being found first, although the Butcher dismembered all of his victims post-mortem while Mark did it ante-mortem with his later victims. Also, Edward Andrassy being an alleged bisexual and having several homosexual friends, plus the police searching for suspects in gay bars, may have been used as references for Mark's sexual orientation and selection of later victims. In addition to Mark, there is an uncaught, fictional serial killer mentioned in the episode, the D.C. Torso Killer, who shares most of the nickname with the Butcher's other nickname, the "Cleveland Torso Murderer". Like the Butcher, this criminal targeted high-risk victims and was profiled to be using dismemberment as a forensic countermeasure to prevent the victims from being identified.