HorrorScope Update- Back in Time

My readers are becoming familiar with my pattern. Dearth of posts like that of late mean I have been deep within a book again. Indeed I have. I have begun my rewrite of HorrorScope. It has taken me most of this week to rewrite, rewrite, and smooth out the Foreword. This is always my hardest chapter. I write it first. I write the whole book. Then I come back and rewrite the chapter that sets the tempo.

It is proving agonizing, but I feel (at least right now) that I have it worried.

As is my custom, I must delve back into the era. I must saturate my senses with the times and seasons of when I was a mere nipper, and that the era that came thereafter in the 70s, in the wake of so much upheaval in America and San Francisco.

So . . . I have watched some videos old SF in those gritty, urban days. Here’s one of the embarcadero freeway.


Tonight I watch Dirty Harry. More than most films, Dirty Harry captured the feeling of San Francisco 1970. The city is not just a backdrop, as it is in the Dirty Harry sequels. The plot moves deftly in and out of the real city and the locations where it was filmed during a very unique time.

Last night I watched The Conversation. Unless they told it was SF, you really wouldn’t be able to tell.  Bored me silly.

But Dirty Harry brings SF to you in the post Haight era, in full color and in its gritty atmosphere. I recommend the 1978 short on ZODIAC as well. That voice over of ZODIAC really captures a smug weasel’s attitude quite well. Zodiac: Sign of Death.


And yes, there is a little more substantive to update here. I have come to feel that ZODIAC did disguise his handwriting. Wrap an Kleenex around the tip of your first finger to imitate an old clerk’s rubber tip, then hold the pen between your middle and third finger. Try writing on different angles.

Interestingly, you’re quite conscious of the pen in your hand unlike when we normally write and get lost dividing our attention between the words evolving on the page. Despite the fact you do not make a 3 stroke “K” or 2-stroke “y” you will easily remember to do so without forgetting. The new way of holding the pen will keep the pen and not the words in the forefront of your mind.

This presents a problem, but I do not think an overwhelming one, as I try and finally sew this up by matching Wilcox’s writing to ZODIAC’s.

*         *          *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.


Federation verses Nation– The Electoral College

I avoid politics on here except for political philosophy or historical comparisons. So let’s take a look at a generality that is often if not always misrepresented– the existence of the Electoral College. Ever since Al Gore lost the election to George Bush in 2000 it has been a point of contention, and as US elections become closer and closer in terms of popular vote it continues to be a problem. Even Putin has told Americans that they have this  problem, referencing that the election for president is not democratic. The meaning: stop acting like you have moral superiority and stop criticizing Russia.

In essence everybody is wrong. The Electoral College does reflect the majority. The misperception comes from one thing: believing that the United States is a nation. It is not. It is a federation. The electors from each state will proceed to the college based on the majority vote of their state. But what the people must understand is that each state’s electors must deal with the electors of 49 other states, equal and representing their own states.

It is frequently pointed out that Al Gore won the popular vote by close to 500K votes over George Bush in 2000. It is also pointed out, though not as often, that Al Gore basically won New York city by that same amount of votes. If the president of the United States was elected by the people, in essence New York city, or any other highly overpopulated city, could become the determining factor for who is to be president. No city, such as Chicago, New York or Los Angeles fully reflects the desires and best intents of this huge nation.

The attitudes of the cultures of these great cities mean very little to other Americans. What may be considered quite apt in New York is of littler interest in Wyoming. Los Angeles, though a huge cosmopolitan city, frequently expresses its contempt for New York’s perceived arrogance. New York, in turn, thinks LA is nothing but superficial glitter and philistines.  A system that allows a single city’s populace to control the federation is a dangerous system.

The people elect no Federal position. They never have, nor ever can in a federation. They elect their state officials and representatives. In turn, the states come together for the federation in Washington DC. Even US Senators and Congressmen are not Federal offices, though they are officially called that. Each actually represents their state and legislature in Washington, and each is only elected from within their states. On the other hand, the president of the United States is the only Federal officer outside of the judiciary that does not represent a state. The office is also the only one the people cast a vote for. Federal judges are appointed. Heads of Bureaus are appointed and approved by the Senate/House. Ambassadors likewise.

Despite the fact that the people are allowed to cast a vote for the president, this does not mean he is elected by them. As the only elected Federal officer, he must be approved by the states in federation. This is the Electoral College.

This is why there is confusion.

New York city may well indeed be in position to tip the scales and give a candidate the majority popular vote, but only the states in federation, represented by their electors, truly reflect the interests and makeup of this huge nation. Ultimately the states must speak. All the states. Maybe New York city didn’t like that in 2000. And those who do not know the system think it was some kind of blow to democracy. It was not. The president must be president of the whole federation, and the Electoral College alone reflects the broad interests of Americans.



Back in the Loop– EAR/ONS and His Knots

In my last post on the photo of the shoelace released by Sac. Co. Sheriffs found at the Maggiore Double Murder site, I lamented that it was only a single shoelace and that the plastic tips had not been cut off. Moreover, there was a knot in the lace, creating a loop. EAR pre-knotted shoelaces, that is, he tied two laces together with a common knot. This was to make a longer ligature by which to bind his victims. But the pictures shows a single lace with a knot creating a loop. EAR also cut off the plastic tips on the ends of the shoelaces that he used. The presence of the plastic tips on that lace found on the home’s front lawn, plus the fact there was a knot made in a single shoelace, thus creating a loop, was disheartening. It indicated that perhaps there was no real connection to EAR and La Gloria that night.

Maggiore shoelace_in site

Only a single shoelace, and yet it is pre-knotted, creating a large loop. Found on a home’s front lawn near the Maggiore crime scene, February 2, 1978.

However, though only a few crime scene photos have been released showing the ligatures EAR used, the exception seen in the blue shoelace on the lawn on La Gloria could be found. It is contained in a Stockton PD photo. The plastic tips on the brown shoelaces were left on.


Two plastic tips are visible. One of the knots is close to them, indicating there are two laces here tied together to make a longer lace. Another knot can be seen, apparently where he tied the victim.

Sometimes EAR used shoelaces from the shoes of the residence he was about to attack. It could be that he had no time to cut off the plastic tips on the laces. However, he often brought shoelaces with him in his pocket. These he appears to have purchased somewhere and then had the time to cut off the plastic tips in preparation to use them as ligatures. This may explain why many times the shoelaces he used show that the plastic tips had been cut off and, at least once, they had not been cut off.

Nevertheless, why does that blue shoelace show it had been pre-knotted and yet it is only one lace? What purpose does this serve?

*         *          *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Monday the 13th– The Camp Scott Murders

As those who follow my approach to cold cases have learned, I treat them like a hot case. I reinvestigate as though the incident had just occurred. Instead of dwelling on the gory details, I start with the circumstances and context. Context is everything in history, and it is everything in unraveling history, which basically cold cases have become. Reenactment is the crucial step of the French method, which I always combine with the British method of obsessing on every detail.

Camp Scott was a fairly isolated but not too isolated girl scout camp in rural Locust Grove, Oklahoma. It was 50 years old in 1977, which for the era was quite a big deal. The 1970s were a nostalgic decade, a time in which Americans bemoaned that a better era was long gone, that is, the era prior to the antiestablishment movement of the 1960s. The 1930s through 1950s were especially fondly longed for. The younger generation, like me, grew up with a high esteem for the America of the golden age of Hollywood.

In many ways Camp Scott must have been a time capsule of the decades before– old stoves, utensils, woodland architecture that reflected 1930s and 40s cabins and then 1950s expansion (like the main hall). Pictures show that the 1950s coat of aqua green was still on the hall’s interior walls. Old west wagons were about and new chrome fittings on the swimming pool. 1950s signs led the girl scouts to their respective camps; 1970s brochures advertising the daily events were in the bright colors and “love fonts” of the time.

Teen girls had their own camps. Youngsters were billeted separately. Counselors were in their late teens or early 20s. The campsites invariably had Indian names– Comanche, Arapahoe, etc. They were located down narrow trails under the canopy of enveloping woods. The cabins– the cook’s, rangers, admin– were distant and peaked through the pines here and there. Each girl scout camp was set around a permanent building.  This was a long covered cement slab that was largely open. The roof was supported only by beams. The enclosed side was a storage area and shower. The rest was an open patio for a kitchen and dining area.

The tents were large and billeted 4 girls in each. Each tent was set up on a heavy, elevated wood floor. The tents were taken down when the campsite was not in use. So for winter a camp area would be nothing but 9 wood floors, appearing like giant squares, set around an empty shower and kitchen unit.

It was the duty of the camp Ranger, along with his assistants, to set up the tents the week before the campsite was to be opened. With summer camp soon to open on Sunday, June 12, 1977, Ben Woodward, the ranger, had set up the campsites that would be in use. For the week preceding the opening, Camp Scott was largely not in use. The counselors came for their sessions and to prepare, but they also came and went. Ben lived on Camp Scott in one of the cabins with his family. Camp Scott was a huge area, including part of a river, a barn used as a club house, and several campsites far from any others. The camp dog had free territory to roam. But, in essence, anybody could stalk the camp and not be seen. The counselors were only told if they saw someone who was not to be there, they were to tell them it was private property and they must go.

Only a few of the campsites were to be in operation. Comanche was one of them, so was Kiowa. In a sense, Kiowa was the most remote camp. Since Ben had set up the tents here anybody prowling Camp Scott would know which campsites were to be used. They were obviously the ones on the west side of the camp, those sequestered in the woods near the tree line that bordered the open field of the rancher/famer next door.


This Google identifies Camp Scott. 1, is the entrance. At the end of the long, wooded road is the main camp and hall (2). Kiowa is marked by 3.

For most of the week before, the wooded areas of Camp Scott was a silent, eerie place of fully provisioned tents with cots sitting idly therein. The counselors slept in a cabin or grouped together in one camp.Therefore, all said and done, anybody stalking the camp a week before it opened need only creep about and see where the tents were erected to know which campsites were going to be used.

During this lazy week,  as Ben Woodward went about preparing the camp, a few curious things happened indicating someone was visiting the camp and going unnoticed. While resting inside the counselor’s cabin, one of the counselors heard someone walking  outside the cabin. The camp dog went wild and came rushing past, barking and chasing something.

More unusual was a 6 inch or so slice found in one of the ten flaps in Camp Kiowa. It had been cut one night, not long after being erected. More strange still was the fact that on Saturday it was discovered that about a 4 to 5 foot piece of a tent flap had been cut away from Tent 5. No explanation could be found for either occurrence.


Camp Scott opened the next day, Sunday June 12. About 200 kids were at the camp in the various campsites. Seven tents in each camp held 4 girls each, making a total of 28 girls. Three counselors were in the 8th tent in each camp. Camp Kiowa was short one girl because she had been billeted elsewhere in another camp. Therefore the most isolated tent in Camp Kiowa only had 3 girls in it.

In the early morning hours of Monday June 13, someone silently crept into the Kiowa campsite and murdered two of the girls in this isolated tent and took the third girl in the tent and dragged her to a fork in the path to the camp and raped and killed her there. The killer also then carried the other 2 girls’ bodies in their sleeping bags and placed them by the fork in the trail. These girls were 9 and 10 years old. They had all three been raped and murdered.

In the early morning, one of the counselors found them as she walked from the campsite. One body was obvious. It was spread eagle and raped. Next to it were two bundled up sleeping bags wherein were the other two girls. Clues left about were a flashlight, some of the heavy, specialty black tape used to bind them, and a pair of glasses belonging to one of the counselors.

The murders were chilling and gruesome enough on their own, but apparently the killer had crept about the campsite and took things from the counselors’ tent while they had slept. He was a silent, deadly predator.

Aerial-Camp Scott

Camp Scott. 1, Kiowa Camp. 2, Main hall. 3, Counselors’ cabin.  4, Cherokee. 5, Comanche.

There was no explanation for why and, at times, how this could have been done. The camp was ruined. It closed immediately and the other 200 remaining girls were quickly ushered back home by  buses.

There are those who prefer to believe that Gene Hart, a renegade Cherokee, committed the murders because he had been tried for the crimes but acquitted. Though found not guilty, those who believe he did it simply dismiss the verdict as a miscarriage of justice. Hart had been in prison before for rape on adult women. He had broken out and been on the run long before the murders. When finally found he was living in the woods with another Cherokee.

During the murder investigation detectives had found an abandoned but recently used campsite in the hills surrounding Camp Scott, and were able to link its occupant with the murders. But had this been Gene Hart? How did he escape this campsite, apparently the day of the murders, and get far from there on foot until he was helped by another Cherokee?

Several clues give us a chain of events the killer had to go through in short order in order to pull off the crimes and get quickly away. It is hard to imagine that someone like Gene Hart, without a car, could pull it off.

A chain of events also indicate that the murder of the girl scouts was quite premeditated, and that the stalker of the camp had been preparing for quite some time. In the April preceding, 15 year old girl scout Michelle Hoffman found a scribbled note in an empty donut box at their campsite. It said 4 girl scouts were going to die. It was taken as a bad joke, and nothing was made of it. The note was not saved.

In our next post we will look at the clues that give us a precise chain of events that night. This will give us insights into what the killer had to do. Due to the warning note, we know the killer had been waiting months to do this, and he struck the very day the camp opened and had a plan by which to quickly escape.

*         *          *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Headless Clue– The Cleveland Torso Killer

The Rayon plant in 1935. Just off to the left of the picture, the body of Victim 5 was found on July 22, 1936.

Cleveland had been red faced during the Republican National Convention in June 1936. The Tattoo Man  had just been found in Kingsbury Run a few days before it opened. Somehow the predator shadow of the shanties had set upon him at the right moment and killed him by beheading, then stripped him of his clothes, bundled his head in his pants, and trotted him further into the Run and there under a willow left the ghastly parcel to be found on June 5 by two boys playing hooky.

The Plains Dealer had already drawn a connection to Jack the Ripper. That was all Cleveland needed during the Republican Convention. But the comparison wasn’t out of place. Of all the cities in America, Cleveland had its own unique Whitechapel.

As one of the great Midwestern cities, it had already become a valve for the Depression migration. Hobos rode the rails from east to west, coming out of the farm belt and coming from failure in the great eastern cities.  Cleveland was situated so that it had both the Cuyahoga River Valley and then running into this was Kingsbury Run. These gorges were never used for settlements. The railroads occupied the Run, industries the Cuyahoga River Valley. Clevelanders sat on top, their communities built on the buttes and hills around these gorges. The city gently sloped with the landscape until it reached the beaches of Lake Erie. In between was downtown Cleveland.

As such, when the Depression intensified, Cleveland’s Kingsbury Run and Cuyahoga Valley became clefts of shanties. Hobos and bums built their towns. Even to those Clevelanders who lived in the districts nearby, the Run and Valley were distant vistas. Thin white  smoke curled up in little groups marking hobo encampments. Their shanties looked like little cardboard boxes in the distance. The campfires were like weak breaths, the lean-tos like houses of cards compared to the great plumes of dirty smoke that belched up from the railroad engines and streamed out of the smokestacks of the factories. It looked like this from Jackass Hill and from every other community on the shoulders of the surrounding buttes; and yes, this even included the view from little Ralphie’s house as well. The hobos came and went to and from Cleveland via the railroads in the Run, which acted like arteries transporting the blood of the Depression.

Others viewed them as the refuse of the Depression.

Within this industrial wasteland stalked the shadow of Kingsbury Run. But he wasn’t some mad itinerant hobo. Andrassy’s murder proves he lurked within the dives of town. This is where the comparison to Jack the Ripper was apropos. He stalked the Roaring 40s. Now in the Summer of 1936 the Tattoo Man’s murder meant that he was also stalking the Run. It had been at least several months since Andrassy and John Doe had been found last September 23, 1935. The “Headhunter” must be a local. He was still around. But this was the first time he killed in Kingsbury Run. Evidence pointed to the probability he was a doctor. Thus it seemed the profile of Jack the Ripper was reborn. Only this was Jack the Beheader.

The neatness of the beheading did, in fact, speak of some familiarity with anatomy or, very likely, lots of practice. Some shadow, the “Jack the Headhunter,” was prowling the down-and-out in the Run and in the dives of the nearby Roaring 40s and murdering them for some unknown reason. Just like Red Jack.

Cleveland must have sighed in relief when the Republican National Convention finally left. But it wasn’t long before Clevelanders would be shocked again. On July 22 another body was found. But it wasn’t in the Run. It was west of the Cuyahoga, in the Brooklyn area. Marie Barkley had been walking in the quiet evening, down West 73rd and then crossing the railroad tracks she walked along heading for the wooded Big Creek. Just behind the Rayon plant on Walford, she strolled through the woods to reach Clinton Road. Beyond that was Big Creek. The railroad tracks were just to her right. They separated the Rayon plant from the wooded area. She suddenly game upon what looked like a bronze mummy. It was a nude, beheaded man, chest down in a gully.




Victim No. 5

It took a while for Cleveland police to get to the location. But the local police had insisted. They said it bespoke of the Headhunter of Kingsbury Run.

So it did. The body was nude, the clothes striped afterward and found about 15 feet away, partially concealing the head. The neck bones revealed no scratches. The “Headhunter” knew his stuff. The coroner publically stated it would take an expert to take someone’s head off this neatly.

In many ways Victim 5’s murder appears a dry run for the Tattoo Man. And it seems that it did occur before that. The body had been there for at least 2 months, meaning Victim 5 had been murdered in late May 1936, before the Tattoo Man.


The appearance of the topography of the general area.

Victim 5 was killed near to the railroad line that comes straight out of the Run. It is only a thin nuisance here. The tracks are 10 or more deep in the hub that is Kingsbury Run, but they each eventually branch out, and like this single line of tracks they snake away through the countryside. It is only minutes from Kingsbury Run by rail, though it is quite a distance from Cleveland’s downtown by car. But more importantly here, it was in a wooded area where hobos had been. Their campfires had been found, cold and without a curl of smoke, but they had been here.

Putting this murder together with that of the Tattoo Man and an interesting sequence is uncovered. It appears that Victim 5 was a dry run. This would be the first victim that the “Butcher of Kingsbury Run” killed on the spot. Previous victims Edward Andrassy and Flo Polillo had been identified, and with this the newspapers were full of reports of some hidden lair where this expert but deranged killer did his insidious work. The result was that the Headhunter shifted his MO and killed the Tattoo Man on the spot in the Run. The motive? It may have been to divert theorizing away from the idea he was medically trained and had an establishment in Cleveland. However, Victim 5 was truly the next victim, not Tattoo Man. He was also far from the Run, though on a line that led from there. Why? Something creeps to mind. Logistically, the Headhunter  would have to see if it was possible to kill and behead on the spot and not get caught.

The Run as like Piccadilly. The Headhunter would need some place remote to try this out. In this light Victim 5, though far from the Run, fits perfectly into the chain of events of the crime spree. Victim 5 fits even better when the Tattoo Man is added to the equation.Victim5-location

1, Kingsbury Run, 2, the location of Victim 5.

Yet the Headhunter returned to the Run. The object always seemed to be the bums around the Run. He wanted to strike in the Run. He wanted to kill the bums in the heart of Cleveland.

There are many reasons why. Perhaps it was a political move. He wanted to cause social and political unrest. Jack the Ripper was thought to dovetail on this idea as well, as I showed in Scarlet Autumn. The pickings were also quite regular in the Run. In the boondocks, like those near the Rayon factory, it was hit and miss. The cold hobo fires attest that hobos did not always bivouac here.


On Walford, looking through the old Rayon plant to the railroad tracks. Beyond them in the wooded area the body had been found.

It had been a few months since Flo Polillo had been murdered. Was it worth the Headhunter to take this amount of time to scout out an area where he could find a bum from time to time and eventually at the right moment strike?

The unidentified beheaded hobo was found near to the tracks, but this does not mean a madman was riding the rails. Where else would you find hobos but near tracks? The area was also between a major factory and the main roads that led to the area, these being Denison and Clinton. Someone could just as easily drive to the area from Cleveland and not stand out.


Given the timeline, Jack the Headhunter he was soon back in the Run killing the Tattoo Man. Yet again, another “lady in the lake” would be found soon. Though found a year later, it is clear that the “official” Victim 8 was killed in the Summer of 1936 and her torso and head put in the Cuyahoga Valley near the Run. The Summer of 1936 was a busy time for the “Butcher.” But there were reasons to suspect more than one killer was afoot now.

Cleveland police detective Peter Merylo was being assigned the case. He wanted to ride the rails and try and see if this really was a mad hobo or someone educated posing as one. We can guess why he proposed this tack to superiors. The railroad, once again,  went straight out of the Run to the spot where Victim 5 was found. But more provocative was that another beheaded victim would be found, this time to the east of Cleveland. Near the railroad lines to the east, just across Ohio in Pennsylvania, a gruesome history would be uncovered.

The Murder Swamp around New Castle was well known to the local sheriffs. Since the 1920s headless skeletons had been found there. The cops thought it was mob killings. But now this new discovery indicated that the Butcher of Kingsbury Run was striking along the railroad lines and was not a local Clevelander.

Elliot Ness was now officially in charge of the case. He sent his assistant along with the police to investigate the area around New Castle. Disagreements would erupt between the departments as to just how many killers were responsible.

It would be easy to say that a definite progressively logistic mind  was at work here, one who wanted to perfect his strikes in the Run where victims were easy. To do so he familiarized himself with the wooded area by the factory and practiced killing on the spot, using as his guinea pig the hobo he found. He killed him in a gully, so the killer certainly didn’t want to take the chance he might be seen. All this would fit perfectly if not for the discoveries at New Castle. Was there a madman riding the rails? Or are two killers involved? We must look at The Murder Swamp in our next post.


*         *          *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

The Shadow Grows– The Headhunter of Kingsbury Run

The summer of 1936 was a nightmare for Cleveland. The Republican National Convention came to Cleveland just a few days after the Tattoo Man was found butchered in Kingsbury Run on June 5. The city had to face the embarrassment of national attention on its hobo shanties and a mad shadow stalking the Run. Then on July 22 another man, a hobo ostensibly, had been found beheaded and his clothes and head nearby. This was, however, far from the Run in the west of Cleveland. Interestingly, he was mummifying. He had been killed back in May, making him a victim before the Tattoo Man.

This was significant, and it can be fitted logically into the killer’s desire to successfully haunt Kingsbury Run. But here let us concentrate on the next major victim– Victim 6.

It is Victim 6’s body that brought the summer to a terrifying end. On September 10, 1936, his body parts were found in the Run. This time it was off 37th street, within the part of Kingsbury Run heading toward The Flats– in other words closer to downtown. It presented several problems. The body was that of a man like the others, but the body had been dissected. Parts were floating in a stagnant pond. It was the torso bobbing about that attracted the attention of a man waiting to board a freight train nearby.


Standing by the railroad tracks, a man waiting to jump on a freight saw the body in the pool below, which is now a mound of earth. The highway did not exist back then.

The police scoured the area, of course. They drained the pool. They looked all about. They found more pieces but never the head. A bloody boulder nearby revealed the “chopping block.” Detectives felt he had been beheaded here and then carved up nearby and his pieces thrown into the stagnant pool. Pieces of flesh on a ledge marked the area where the villain stood and threw the dissected parts into the pool. He must then had taken the head with him.


The location today on East 37th Street. The stagnant pool is under the mount of dirt and rubble.

Officially this was Victim 6. He was and was not like the others. This body had been emasculated, like Andrassy and John Doe, but he was killed on thespot like the Tattoo Man and Victim 5. Victim 5’s head, however, had been found nearby to his body, only about 15 feet away and partially hidden by his clothing, like the Tattoo Man. Victim 6’s head was never found. Most alarming was that this latest victim (No. 6) was found dissected. Cleveland had been facing a problem with dissected women having been found. The first was “The Lady in the Lake” on September 5, 1934. Then there was Flo Polillo on January 26, 1936, who was popularly linked with the “Butcher of Kingsbury Run” despite the difference in her location and dissection. However, this latest victim seemed a confluence of them all. The  difference from Polillo was that the murder and butchering was done on the spot here. Flo had been taken somewhere and neatly carved up, her head also never found.

Flo Polillo


The pattern was alarming and at the same time confusing. Andrassy and John Doe had ben taken somewhere and silently killed, cleaned and then dumped in the Run. Flo Polillo had also been taken somewhere and quietly killed, butchered and then neatly wrapped before being deposited behind Hart Manufacturing on 20th and Central. Then The Tattoo Man was set-upon in the Run and killed by the same way as the others– he was beheaded. Victim 5 was beheaded, but much further to the west. Now Victim 6 was set-upon near E 37th, beheaded on a boulder, then emasculated like Andrassy and John Doe, and then carved up like Flo Polillo.  The MO indeed seemed a confluence of all the variations so far experienced.

Cleveland was aghast. Kingsbury Run was becoming a source of worry. Having a large section of the industrial part of the city as a home of various hobo towns was worrisome enough, but now a murderer was clearly stalking the Run and parts of town thereabouts. The Run had become Cleveland’s Whitechapel. But what was most worrisome was that no motive could be discerned. At least Jack the Ripper took parts from his victims that could inspire some theories. He also confined himself to street walking dregs. But the “Horrible Headhunter” and now “Butcher” of Kingsbury Run beheaded execution style, carved up his victims, both male and female, and sometimes took the heads, sometimes he didn’t. Nothing fit except a haughty mind preying on the down-and-out.

Elliot Ness was the chief of public safety.  Naturally he was following this as closely as he could. But it seemed Cleveland Police didn’t want to share much with him. He was getting information quietly from various sources. It appears that since Andrassy’s death doctors had been suspected.  It could be because of the neat slice in the heads of the first victims. But it could be because he had been an orderly at the hospital, and his death still suggested “revenge.” Ness was picking up on the doctor angle, but so far it had led nowhere except he knew that Cleveland Police had been rounding up every doctor who had been disbarred for some strange reason.

John Doe Victim 2
John Doe, above, and Edward Andrassy represented the original MO of the killer, but when the police discovered the identity of Andrassy and then Flo Polillo the killer’s MO noticeably shifted.


But there is much more here than skill at dissecting. The killer had noticeably shifted MO. He now went out of his way to kill in the Run or, for Victims 4, and 6, on the spot. His MO was no longer sending clues back about a dank lair somewhere, but he had already left those clues with the first victims. Now it was more important to hide the whole idea of a lair and simply take the risk to kill where he found his victims. How did he ingratiate himself?  How did he get them alone? Most of all, why execute guillotine style? Why dissect only to toss the pieces nearby? Why take the head sometimes and not others?

The killer was laying down a confusing pattern, but one thing was obvious. Kingsbury Run was still his object.

It is the much neglected Victim No. 5 in the west of Cleveland that tells us much. He was killed on the spot before any of the others that were to follow. He was found stripped, his head close by with his clothes. It was the MO of the Headhunter. All this happened, however, far from Kingsbury Run. In our next post we must look at the significance of this.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

The Tattoo Man Compared– The Butcher of Kingsbury Run

There is nothing more macabre than a dismembered head.

Beheading is a degrading way to kill a person. It symbolizes the substance of the act. It removes the intellect and personality, separates it from the body. It is to treat the body like nothing but pulp. It is like someone chopping off a head of cabbage. The person was of no more value than that. To behead is more than to kill. It is to conquer.

The “Horrible Headhunter” of Kingsbury Run in Cleveland was unique in the annals  of crime in that he killed his victims by beheading as though he was the human guillotine executing the guilty.

Of his first two victims one was identified as ne’er-do-well Edward Andrassy. He was the only one to be identified. Was it coincidence or convenience? Did the “Headhunter” hang out in such dives as Andrassy visited because it was easier to get the prey he wanted?  Or did he look for those who, in his estimation, deserved to die?

If the “Headhunter of Cleveland” had twisted justice in mind, he realized he made a mistake with Andrassy. When the newspapers showed his face and name the Headhunter realized his victim had not been some transient. John Doe, his first victim, would never be identified.  That’s the way the Headhunter wanted it.

His next victim must have gone through quite a vetting. This is the case of the Tattoo Man. He had so many distinctive tattoos you would think it would be easy for the police to identify him, but it seems he was not from anywhere local. Wherever he had been picked up, the handsome Tattoo Man accompanied the “Horrible Headhunter” to the shanties of Kingsbury Run close to E55th and Jackass Hill once again.

It was June 1936. The Republican Convention was drawing nigh to an embarrassed city, a city embarrassed over the murders. National attention was and would be centered on the city over the Republican National Convention coming in a few days.  Cleveland Police didn’t need any other ghostly butchery in Kingsbury Run. It was would not only be another unsolved murder, it would highlight the problem with the hobo villages in the Run.

The convention would open in only a few days when on June 5 two boys playing hooky passed through the Run southwest of Kinsman Road and nudged a pair of pants rolled up. Out rolled a head. Inside the pants were rolled up the shirt, the belt, the socks.  The killer had stripped off his victim’s clothes after the victim had been killed, from the look of things. The shirt was torn at the shoulder and very bloody. There had been a struggle obviously. Put together it would seem it was a necessity for the “Butcher” to pounce upon his prey unaware and kill him by beheading. There was no indication the Tattoo Man had been knocked unconscious first, choked or throttled in any way. Like Andrassy and John Doe he had been killed in the way that alarmed the Coroner. He had been beheaded.

This time, however, there were clear hesitation marks in the cutting, no doubt because of the darkness or the Tattoo Man somehow struggling back as the Headhunter dug in with his knife. The hesitation marks were under the chin, at the axis. This is not qualified, so that we do not know if the hesitation marks were deep in and made while trying to separate the head or if this is telling us the Headhunter began cutting under the chin first and not at the jugulars. In any case, there had been a struggle, and the Tattoo Man had failed.


Tattoo Man

Cleaned up for the morgue, the head was placed on display and thousands came to see it. He was never identified.

Finished with his gruesome task, his prey now limp, the Headhunter set aside the head and stripped the body and stuffed the clothes in the pants. But he didn’t emasculate it like the others. He left the body by the bloodstained, violated ground, rolled the head up in the victim’s pants and walked further into the Run, to the railroad tracks. Here between the rapid transit line and the other lines, he set it down.



Understanding the Run. At Kinsman here, in this Google, looking across the Run to East 55th. In the distance the body had been found, closer to E55th.


Panning to the left, you can see how great lines of tracks are separated and now a building is in the center. Trees and ridges here from the tracks. It is probably in the center area, under a willow, where the head was found.  

Was it to make the police think he boarded a freight? Did he intend to take the head away as to hide the victim’s identity but felt people were close at hand and dropped the incriminating parcel?

It doesn’t seem so. A pair of shoes were found nearby with the socks stuffed in them. They seem to be the victim’s. Thus the Headhunter had carried the head under one arm and the shoes in the other. He had left only the nude, headless body behind.

The body was found the next day (6th of June) just east of the E55th bridge over the Run. It was nude, on its side between the tracks of the Nickel line and the New York Central, near pools of dried blood, within the dry twigs of the brambly grass. This was only about 1,000 feet from where the head was found. How the police missed the body the day before when combing the Run is a question that was not posed so it was never answered.

1 2 4

An estimation of where the Tattoo Man’s body was found (4) in relation to where Andrassy and John Doe had been found (1,2). East 55th spans the Run in the center to Jackass Hill. It could be that the Tattoo Man was found south of where marked, near Jackass Hill.

Thousands streamed through the morgue to look at the head to see if they could identify the handsome young man. No one could. None of the tattoos on the body led to his identity either.

The Republican National Convention opened to a backdrop of a maniac on the loose. Not since Jack the Ripper had a killer systematically pinpointed the down-and-out and killed them, for apparently no reason, and did so in circumstances that puzzled the police.

For Andrassy and John Doe the killer had some safe hideout. For the Tattoo Man they entered the Run, obviously at night, and in the shadow of darkness, and in the silence of sound created by the roar of the trains, he killed the Tattoo Man by a vicious beheading. He left everything in the Run.

But the locations indicate he came with the Tattoo Man from the E55th way, as would be expected. But he wanted the police to think he left toward the Kinsman Road direction. Did he simply walk back the way he came after taking the head and shoes deeper into the Run?

What was this savage shadow’s game? Whatever it was, it required that he select and eliminate the Tattoo Man in a very different way than he did John Doe and Edward Andrassy.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.