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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Crime Tidbit: Unsolved Mystery--The Butcher of Kingsbury Run

So this blog is supposed to be geared toward both my historical fiction writing (or just histfic in general) as well as my crime drama writing (or just that in general). But...I tend to do a lot of historical stuff, a lot of writing how-to stuff, and even some cross over from my scifi/fantasy/dystopian blog, Musings on Fantasia. Not that any of that stuff is bad, but I've really been neglecting the mystery/thriller/crime drama angle.

My first crime novel isn't slated for release, courtesy of Jolly Fish Press, until 2014, but I want to try and do more things with that subject matter on this blog. I'm going to start doing more frequent crime posts like crime tidbits (i.e. unsolved mysteries, factoids, current technology, etc.) and crime writing how-to.

So...here goes!

Searching for more of victim #6
in Kingsbury Run murders
Did you know that in the 1930s, near Cleveland, Ohio, there was a savage, prolific serial killer who was never caught? This case was similar to that of the Zodiac killer or Jack the Ripper, in that it became a media sensation, but the killer was never identified. For some reason, the Cleveland case is much less well-known (or just less remembered?) today than the other two.

Now known as the Butcher of Kingsbury Run, this killer murdered and dismembered at least twelve victims over a two year period. Most of them were found in pieces and in many cases, the heads were never recovered.

Kingsbury Run, also called the Roaring Third, was a shady part of town filled with drug users, prostitutes, hobos, and seedy dives. This was the Butcher's hunting ground and, while not all is victims were identified, many lived high-risk lifestyles in this part of town.

Elliot Ness
To make things more interesting, Elliot Ness--yes, that Elliot Ness! The one that put Al Capone behind bars for tax fraud--became involved in the case. Recently appointed Safety Director of the area, Ness took charge and helped launch the biggest police investigation in Cleveland history. By the time they were finished, they'd interviewed over 5000 people!

Furthermore, many people speculate the famous Black Dahlia may--in which an ambitious, would-be Hollywood starlet, was murdered and dismembered, her body left in an open field--may have been the Butcher's work. The two cases were not connected while they were happening. The Black Dahlia body was found hundreds of miles away and would have been considered too far out of the way to be associated with the Butcher, but the MO is eerily similar and brutal, and the distance was not so far for anyone with decent transportation. (We must remember that this was in '30s, so police work was still in its infancy, and nothing was standardized or "fully integrated." The two police departments wouldn't have even been very aware of one another's cases--at least, not until the Black Dahlia case hit the air waves and became infamous.)

I've always thought this would make terribly fascinating fodder for a crime story, based in truth. Books have been written about it before, but they're quite old (seventies, I think) and out of print.

What do you think? Would this make a great (albeit creepy) story? Do you think the Black Dahlia and the Butcher of Kingsbury Run could be one and the same case?


  1. These are the kinds of stories that make me enjoy reading and writing historical fiction. I stopped by your other blog also!

  2. My favorite popular genre is crime fiction and usually the only kind I dabble in reading outside of nonfiction and literary fiction, usually. I loved this post-- so intriguing! I often read through news stories thinking, "This would make a great book."

  3. Quite interesting! I enjoy good crime fiction and the stories behind the stories. Will keep coming back to see what else you've got going in the future. :)

  4. 12 people in two years! Sheesh, that's horrible Liesel.