Each has passed into history. The cases occurred between the 1930s and 1950s, and the villains have faded with time. They skirted justice. They have left mystery in their wake . . . and for all that remains is the hope that these cases can still be cracked.
America had its own Jack the Ripper in the 1930s, but there aren’t many who can appreciate this fact. Some evil shadow carefully preyed upon the homeless and down-and-outers in Cleveland, Ohio’s, Kingsbury Run. It was the city’s hobo village. The fiend came to be known as The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run or the Horrible Headhunter because he cut the heads off his victims and then dismembered some of their bodies. It was a source of embarrassment for the city that they could never solve the crime series, despite the fact that “Untouchable” Elliot Ness, in charge of the city’s safety, also tried to solve the case and bring a sense of safety back to the citizens.
In 1946 on the outskirts of the crossroads city of Texarkana, Texas, a man donned a hood that looked like some old grain sack. He had cut two holes in it for his eyes and another for his mouth. He stalked lovers’ lanes, wounding two and killing at least 6 others. He left even fewer clues than the Butcher of Kingsbury Run. The skill used on the “Butcher’s” victims at least indicated a man with medical or anatomical education. The lover’s lane killer of postwar Texarkana left such few clues that he is known only as “The Phantom of Texarkana.”
The kidnapping, torture, murder and display of “Black Dahlia” is the epitome of Crime Noir. She was a Hollywood wannabe who vanished for a week in January 1947. Then her once seductive body, cut in half, was found in a middleclass neighborhood, posed and displayed for all to see. Enigma and mystery followed as to exactly who was Black Dahlia and why did someone go to such lengths to kill her and pose her as a taunt to the police.
The era’s psychology believed in “crazed killers” and “homicidal maniacs” as the only viable culprits. Today criminology realizes that serial killers can be very normal looking, calm and calculated. Back then did the police actually have the killers in their dragnets but then dismissed them because they did not fit the stereotype of the time?
A look back in history at these cases and those around them may provide a clearer picture of the culprit in light of the greater knowledge today on serial killers. This is the purpose of this section of the Quester Files.
I am not a true crime writer. In fact, I don’t particularly care for the genre. I like to crack mysteries. Short of solution I will at least try to bring clarity to the cases in the hopes that someone else can go beyond me and find the solution. For each of these cases an investigative approach rather than cycling a superficial narrative will yield much.