Sadly, the True Crime genre is governed by an economic mentality, not by the true hunters who seek the elusive serial predators. If you look at Wikipedia (if you must) on the list of unidentified serial killers the individual articles are largely a quick hash of the crimes and then, if any, an equally slim overview of the original suspects. And it is stretching to call some of the latter “suspects.” There’s the True Crime genre in a nutshell.
For historical cases it is diabolic. Details are not preserved. Much has been lost. This is most poignantly felt in such cases as the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run in the 1930s. Jack the Ripper is well documented, but the Horrible Headhunter is not, and he is the closest thing America has to Jack the Ripper– he stalked the down-and-out and used them to experiment.
There is only one suspect in the rehash– crazy Dr. Sweeney, a man who frankly was not sober long enough to lift a dog’s tail let alone a scalpel. In the context of the crimes he would have been unable to perfect the precision seen in some of the victim’s dismemberment, especially in Andrassy. As such he’s a poor fit. But he got in the narrative and one point and that becomes the reality.
Dr. Sweeney holds his position because, it is said, Elliot Ness suspected him– brand name! The genre loves that! But, in truth, all we have is that Sweeney wrote to Ness for years from Happy Dale, the local madhouse. He taunted. He provoked, and sometimes he may have very subtly implied he was the butcher.
Experience teaches us that this is nothing. In the case of EAR/ONS, for instance, I have at least 2 correspondents who could make Freud sit up and blink. Their communication is nearly identical to mad Dr. Sweeney’s. They progress from the pitch they are going to cut me into the identity of the true criminal, to assertions they are the true genius who will out the man, then to insults, little jibes, and then the implication that they are the perp themselves. Snarky insults and degradations follow. The thrill of the poison pen pal has reached its ultimate level.
As you might imagine they have the IQ of shoe size, and despite their delusions of grandeur they have no originality.
Anybody who attains notoriety in True Crime is subject to mad Dr. Sweeney ripoffs.
Mad Dr. Sweeney’s inclusion as the prime suspect in the case of The Mad Butcher or Cleveland Torso Murders is a reflection of naivety of actually practicing investigation. They don’t understand how commonplace these generic madmen are. The anonymous nature of the internet only helps them spontaneously reach a wider audience. But they are paper doll cutouts of earlier loons like Sweeney.
But the point here, ultimately anyway, is that the most bizarre string of serial murders in the US remains poorly documented, and its anemic rehash follows the pattern of highlighting Sweeny rather than documenting the cases accurately first (in detail!) and then proceeding to investigate it.
So much more has to be done to find and release as much as possible relating to this Depression era case of a skilled, ghoulish figure of the night who prowled the down and out in the hobo villages of Kingsbury Run and experimented on them in horrid ways. He’s the true American Ripper, but time and formula has obscured him.
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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 or Q Man. “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.