Cleveland December 26, 2016
This Area In Cleveland Has A Dark And Evil History That Will Never Be Forgotten
The Torso Murders are infamous in Ohio, and have intrigued and inspired true-crime buffs across the country for 80 years. The bodies of most of the victims were found in Kingsbury Run, an east side slum which itself has a long and interesting history. Delve into the dark history of Kingsbury Run…
To give some background to this story, here is a photo of Kingsbury Run, ca. 1920
For comparison, here is the same view of Kingsbury Run in 2002.
In the 1930s, Kingsbury Run was a shanty town that was essentially built on landfill and trash.
The residents of the slums were mostly the working poor - people who were drawn to the city for work, and/or pushed into poverty and consequently out of housing during the Depression.
Kingsbury Run was catapulted into infamy by the still-unsolved Torso Murders, or Kingsbury Run Murders.
The Torso Murders are often referred to as the US's answer to Jack the Ripper - a prolific, violent killer preying on the most vulnerable. Another commonality is that neither killer was ever caught or even identified. Here, police officers inspect some remains.
The official number of victims is 12, between 1935 and 1938, although some claim that there were as many as 20 between 1920 and 1950. This photo shows police officers examining a body of water where some body parts were found.
Despite having significant manpower, the murders were never solved.
It was suspected that the murderer chose this location to leave the bodies due to the relative anonymity that the overcrowded slums offered.
The Cleveland Police Museum now has a permanent exhibit on the murders, with original case files, documents, photos, and death masks. Only three victims were ever identified, and only two of those identifications were ever official.
Florence Polillo was officially identified...
... as was Edward W. Andrassy.
Rose Wallace was identified as one of the victims, but the coroner never agreed with the identification, which was based on potentially unreliable information. It is assumed that all of the victims were working poor who lived in the slums, and therefore had little to no medical or social records which could posthumously identify them. The killer likely chose their victims knowing this.
The one thing the bodies of the victims certainly had in common was that they were always beheaded and dismembered. Some of the male victims had their genitalia severed, and many victims died as a direct result of beheading or dismemberment.
This photo shows the arrest of a suspect, Mike Borich, in 1936. Like every other suspect who was arrested or questioned, he was later cleared of the murders.
Eliot Ness, who was famous for being an incorruptible and stalwart crime-fighter, was made (in)famous by what many saw as his inability or unwillingness to solve the murders. His presence in the Torso Murders investigation, and his unsuccessful run for Mayor of Cleveland, made him a Cleveland legend.
Some even accused him of deliberately stifling the investigation either to protect the murderer or his own political career. This case has inspired films, TV series, books, and this graphic novel (pictured,
Torso: a True Crime Graphic Novel by Brian Michael Bendis).
After the murders, the shanty town was destroyed by the city. Tenements and shacks were torn down.
Eventually, the slum was razed.
It’s a classic whodunnit, which will likely remain forever unsolved, at least in the official records. Despite many plans over the years to completely redevelop the area, and many actual redevelopments, Kingsbury Run will always be remembered for being the site of these gruesome and tragic murders.
Do you have a pet theory about the Torso Murders?