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In the Wake of the Butcher

Cleveland'd Torso Murders, Authoritative Edition, Revised and Expanded

James Jessen Badal

Publication Year: 2014

In 2001 The Kent State University Press published James Jessen Badal’s In the Wake of the Butcher: Cleveland’s Torso Murders—the first book to examine the horrific series of unsolved dismemberment murders that terrorized the Kingsbury Run neighborhood from 1934 to 1938. Through his access to a wealth of previously unavailable material, Badal was able to present a far more detailed and accurate picture of the battle between Cleveland safety director Eliot Ness and the unidentified killer who avoided both detection and apprehension.

In his groundbreaking historical study, Badal established beyond any doubt the truth of the legend that Ness had a secret suspect whom he had subjected to a series of interrogation sessions, complete with lie detector tests, in a secluded room in a downtown hotel. Badal also disclosed recently unearthed evidence that identified exactly who that mysterious suspect was. But was he the infamous Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run? Badal presented all the evidence available at the time and invited readers to draw their own conclusions.

Now, armed with conclusive new information, Badal returns to the absorbing tale of those terrible murders in an expanded edition of In the Wake of the Butcher. For the very first time in the history of research into the Kingsbury Run murders, he presents compelling evidence that establishes exactly where the killer incapacitated his victims, as well as the location of the long-fabled “secret laboratory” where he committed murder and performed both dismemberment and decapitation.

Was Eliot Ness’s secret suspect the Mad Butcher? Thanks to this new information, Badal is finally able to answer that question with certainty. This new, authoritative edition also includes an appendix by geographical profiler Luke G. Moussa.

Published by: The Kent State University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Preface and Acknowledgments to the Authoritative Edition

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pp. xi-xiv

“It’s your destiny,” laughed my longtime collaborator and research partner Mark Wade Stone when I told him the Kent State University Press had asked about the possibility of a revised and expanded edition of my 2001 book In the Wake of the Butcher: Cleveland’s Torso Murders. And so it...

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Acknowledgements to the First Edition

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pp. xv-xviii

My book Recording the Classics: Maestros, Music and Technology had hardly made it to the shelves when I approached John Hubbell and Julia Morton of The Kent State University Press in the summer of 1996 with a proposal for a book on the Kingsbury Run murders. At the time, I doubted...

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pp. 1-21

When I took American history in the eighth grade, our teacher rounded off the academic year by reading us John Bartlow Martin’s 1949 Harper’s Magazine article “Butcher’s Dozen: The Cleveland Torso Murders” over a two-day period. Just why he thought twelve decapitation murders from...

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September 5, 1934: The Lady of the Lake

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pp. 22-28

Thirty-four-year-old Frank LaGassie of 21 Brookfield in Beulah Park was searching the beaches of Lake Erie for driftwood to burn. It was a regular part of his morning ritual, something he did every day before leaving for his job as a photostat operator at the Dodd Company. But this day would...

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September 23, 1935: Double Murder

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pp. 29-49

Kingsbury Run is a broad, deep gorge, once a prehistoric riverbed, swinging in a long, lazy southeast arc from Cleveland’s sprawling industrial area in the Flats out to about East 90th. Bordered on the north by Woodland Avenue and on the southeast by Broadway, the desolate area took its name...

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January 26, 1936: A Frozen Corpse

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pp. 50-61

It was a brutally cold winter night. The city lay locked into the sort of unrelenting cold snap with which Clevelanders are all too familiar, and freezing weather had hung on for weeks. It was the kind of bitter cold that drove people inside and kept them there. The area around East 20th...

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June 5, 1936: The Decapitated Tattooed Man

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pp. 62-70

As the summer of 1936 approached, city leaders had reason to be optimistic about Cleveland’s economic and financial future. First, the city had landed one of the season’s two prize political plums—the Republican national convention. After the city had spent $150,000 to spruce up Public...

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July 22, 1936: Murder without a Clue

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pp. 71-76

Marie Barkley was an attractive seventeen-year-old who had no idea she would earn a small niche in the history of Cleveland’s most notorious murders. She had simply decided to take advantage of the pleasant summer weather by hiking through a wooded area close to where she lived...

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September 10, 1936: Circus at a Stagnant Pool

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pp. 77-88

Sergeant James T. Hogan was deeply apprehensive. Although the chief of homicide had not been among those at the foot of Jackass Hill when the bodies of Edward Andrassy and his unnamed companion were discovered a year before, he had been one of the first behind Hart Manufacturing the...

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Cleveland’s Shame

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pp. 89-107

The summer of 1936 faded into autumn, leaving Cleveland a markedly changed city. When the head and body of the tattooed man were discovered in early June, authorities began to realize that the brutal murders they had initially regarded as isolated crimes were, in fact, connected. Over...

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February 23, 1937: A Second Lady of the Lake

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pp. 108-115

History was about to repeat itself. On a cold winter afternoon of biting wind and lead-gray sky and water, fifty-five-year-old Robert Smith of 40 Brown Street, Beulah Park—a community close to ten miles northeast of Kingsbury Run—went down to the Lake Erie shore to check on a sailboat...

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June 6, 1937: Bones in a Burlap Bag

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pp. 116-121

Fourteen-year-old Russell Lauer was riding the bus on his way home from the movies. He was about to become part of an emerging and deeply disturbing pattern: children making terrible discoveries. As the bus headed toward Cleveland’s near west side shortly after 5:00 p.m., the boy idly...

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July 6, 1937: Savagery along the Cuyahoga

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pp. 122-131

There were labor troubles in the Flats that summer. In May 1937, the Steel Workers Organizing Committee struck Republic Steel, Youngstown Sheet & Tube, and Inland Steel over the companies’ refusal to recognize and deal with the union. Ohio governor Martin Davey managed to get negotiations...

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April 8, 1938: Drugs and the Maiden

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pp. 132-140

Joe Perry noticed the black Lincoln sedan immediately because it was so out of place in an industrial area such as the Flats. Perry, foreman of the Booth Fisheries Company, and another employee, Sam Bosak, watched curiously as the relatively old car—they judged it be a 1932 model—cruised...

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August 16, 1938: Double Murder Again?

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pp. 141-151

The most grotesque public spectacle the city had seen since Sergeant James Hogan led the unsuccessful search for the arms and head of victim no. 6 in Kingsbury Run two years before, began to unfold in the late afternoon of August 16. James Dawson, Edward Smith, and James McShack...

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August 18, 1938: A Descent into Hell

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pp. 152-157

Eliot Ness had had enough. Egged on by a flurry of sensational front-page newspaper coverage, public agitation had soared over the appearance of two more mutilated bodies at the Lake Shore Drive-East 9th dump. Within a couple of days of the terrible discovery, it became obvious that...

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1939–1943: Murder, Mutilation, and Mayhem

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pp. 158-168

On December 29, 1938, a Cleveland postal inspector called Detectives Merylo and Zalewski to his office and handed them a letter, addressed to Cleveland chief of police George Matowitz and dated December 23, 1938, that had been found in the dead letter office...

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July 22, 1950: An Echo from the Past

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pp. 169-173

Workmen called him the sunbather. He was curiously, even comically out of place in the sprawl of industrial wasteland and run-down housing close to East 22nd and the lakeshore, an area frequented by hoboes and transients. Yet the heavy, fiftyish-looking man with thinning gray hair came...

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Portrait of a Killer

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pp. 174-183

With the forensic techniques available today, could Ness and the police have caught the Butcher? This fair but difficult question is one that I am invariably asked whenever and wherever I speak on the Kingsbury Run murders. Indeed, the almost total lack of hard evidence that could implicate any...

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pp. 184-222

Today, more than seventy years after the Kingsbury Run murders were committed and in the absence of most of the police files, there is no way to tell how many viable suspects authorities may have had. After the legions of bizarre characters cataloged by the press are discounted, few potential...

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“Good Cheer, the American Sweeney”

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pp. 223-262

Eliot and Elizabeth Ness’s adopted son Robert Eliot Ness died at age thirty of leukemia on August 31, 1976. In memory of her husband, Sharon Ness donated her father-in-law’s scrapbooks to the library at the Western Reserve Historical Society the following year. The materials meticulously...

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pp. 263-266

“Every once in a while we still get a tip on the damn thing,” reflected homicide head Lieutenant David Kerr on the Kingsbury Run murders in the late 1940s. The book is never closed on unsolved homicides; after more than seventy-five years, the torso killings are still officially regarded...


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pp. 267-271


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pp. 272-274


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pp. 275-290

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781612778266
E-ISBN-10: 1612778267
Print-ISBN-13: 9781606352137

Page Count: 300
Publication Year: 2014

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Serial murders -- Ohio -- Cleveland.
  • Homicide investigation -- Ohio -- Cleveland.
  • Ness, Eliot.
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