The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run
Yet suicide, quick or slow, a sudden spill
or a gradual oozing away through the years, is the price John
Barleycorn exacts. No friend of his ever escapes making the
just, due payment.
Jack London, John Barleycorn
(The Curtis Publishing Company, 1913) p. 15
But to the imaginative man, John Barleycorn
sends the pitiless, spectral syllogisms of the white logic.
He looks upon life and all its affairs with the jaundiced eye
of a pessimistic German philosopher. He sees through all illusions.
He trans-values all values. God is bad, truth is a cheat, and
life is a joke. From his calm-mad heights, with the certitude
of a god, he beholds all life as evil.
Ibidem p. 14
had been away from his home for almost a year and had quite
a lot of catching up to do with current events. The headlines
in the newspapers told of a series of indictments concerning
"Cleveland's Bad Boys," Donald A. Campbell and John E. McGee.
These two men were the most feared and powerful union bosses
in the city. The indictments were the culmination of months
of investigation by the office of the Safety Director of Cleveland.
Director's name was Elliot Ness. The same Elliot Ness of "Chicago
Untouchable" fame. Elliot Ness, the crime fighter who helped
destroy Al Capone's criminal empire, helped in put away the
Purple Gang, and cleaned up Chicago. The newspapers also reported
another of Elliot Ness' famous cases. A case that fascinated
Clarence more than all of the political hoopla.
was the case of the "Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run." Clarence
had taken an interest in this case long before he had been "asked"
to leave Cleveland. He remembered that this case, in particular,
involved a series of murders which had taken place in the Kingsbury
Run area of Cleveland. The area was a vast stretch of land around
what was known as the "Roaring Third Precinct", near the Cuyahoga
River. The river divided East and West Cleveland.
gruesome murders, which began to surface around September 1935,
involved the murders and dismemberment of several people. Most
of whose identities were never determined. The police surmised
that the killer would pick up a hobo or prostitute, befriend
them, and take them to some unknown place. Police assumed the
victims were taken to the killer's home, fed and then murdered.
murders, it was also reported, began with decapitation. This
while the helpless victim was still alive. The killer then would
cut the body up into smaller pieces, and these pieces, often
minus the head, would turn up in Kingsbury Run, cleaned and
drained of all of their blood. The neatness of the amputations
and the precision of the cuts led the police to believe that
the murderer was probably a doctor, or at the very least, a
person with trained, surgical skills. The coroner of Cleveland
stated that the logical suspect would be a physician "who performs
the crime in the fury of a long drinking bout or derangement
following the use of drugs." These "bodies" would turn up approximately
every five months.
read these accounts on the bus, he saw that the latest body,
"Victim #9," had been found sometime in July of that year, 1937.
It was now December, and Cleveland was about due for another
was familiar with the "Roaring Third", due to its notorious
drinking establishments. He had often frequented these establishments.
He remembered that when he had seen the hobos and down-and-outers
who were forced to live in the shanty towns hidden deep within
the run, he had often said to himself, "Before I get as bad
as them, I'll stop drinking."
drifted off to sleep briefly, remembering the glaring headlines
of almost a year earlier. In February 1937, a body had been
found washed up on Euclid Beach. It was found by a man from
East Cleveland. He had told police he just happened to be walking
by at that time.
woke up with a start. What had awakened him so abruptly was
that the name of the passerby at Euclid Beach had disturbed
him greatly. Not just disturbed him, but sent shivers of terror
up and down his spine and throughout his whole body. He sat
up, jumped with a start, and was in a cold sweat. No matter
how hard he tried, he could not recall the name of the man who
had just sent such utter terror into him.
finally arrived in Akron. Slowly he got off of the bus. He had
convinced the driver that he was on his way to a doctor and
needed some money to get there. The driver loaned Clarence some
money, and Clarence quickly proceeded to the nearest bar to
quench his thirst from the long bus ride and to calm his now