Things You Probably Didn’t Know About The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run

The three most infamously uncaught serial killers are Jack the Ripper, The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run, and The Zodiac.  Today is The Mad Butcher’s Day.

  • These murders are also known as The Cleveland Torso Murders because all the victims were dismembered to some degree.  Most were beheaded as well as having their limbs removed, but not all.
  • The actual victim count remains unknown.  There were severed heads and limbs found both before and after the primary spate of killings.  The number is 12 at the very least and possibly as many as 100, since it was hard to match arms to heads that were found months and sometimes years apart.
  • Eliot Ness did have a suspect in mind.  As a matter of fact, he was convinced that Dr. Francis Sweeney was responsible.  Sweeney was the nephew of a congressman and entered an institution before Ness could act upon his suspicions.  However, he cryptically wrote down that he had spoken to the Torso Murderer in an institution, but would never be able to prosecute him.
  • The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run was believed to have surgical skills, unlike Jack the Ripper.  The coroners noted that the dismemberments were done with great skill.  In almost all cases, cause of death could not be determined but was thought to be either strangulation or exsanguination (yes, that would mean his victims were alive when he started cutting them up).
  • Aside from Sweeney, the list of possible suspects was very long.  So long in fact that it couldn’t all be verified with alibis and following of suspects.  However, a handful did move up the list.  In an odd twist of fate, one of them was living a few blocks away from the where the body of the Black Dahlia was found, severed in half and drained of blood.  This has led many researchers to wonder if after the Torso Murders in Cleveland, the killer moved to Los Angeles and began killing there.
  • There was another set of murders that had much in common with the Torso Murders and were even called the Torso Murders.  However, they happened forty years earlier, in London.  While Jack the Ripper was terrorizing Whitechapel, a second serial killer was dismembering bodies and dumping the body parts.  Most of them ended up in the Thames, but a few were found in secluded parks… Near Whitechapel.  At one point during the Ripper investigation, the two murderers were even compared and it was decided that The Torso Murderer of London and Jack the Ripper were not the same serial killer.  It is unlikely that the killer from 1888 in London dismembering bodies was the same killer doing it in Cleveland in 1936.  Even if the London murderer was 18 at the time, he would have been 58 when the first body turned up in Cleveland.  However, there has been speculation that the two sets of murders could have been committed by a father/son.  It is possibly the earliest mention of a father passing along his desire to kill to a son.  At the time of the Torso Murders in Cleveland, this was dismissed as farfetched, but recent research has revealed that some of the details of the crimes are almost exact matches for each other.  In 1937 however, it was proposed by a coroner who was aware of the Torso Murders in London and Ness made the coroner swear to never repeat the theory or he’d fire him for being incompetent.
  • The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run had no victim gender or age preference.  At a time when serial killers were all considered to be sexual fiends (like Jack the Ripper), it was hard to imagine what the Mad Butcher was gaining from his kills.  The only psychological blueprint they had for this genderless, ageless preference was H H Holmes, who killed for profit, but The Mad Butcher picked the poor and destitute, making robbery seem an unlikely motive.  It was this detail that sparked the memory of the coroner who connected it to the Torso Murders of London.  That killer also had no gender or age preference.
  • Ness’s reputation and career were both seriously damaged by his inability to capture The Mad Butcher.  He would not live long enough to see it redeemed with the publication of the book The Untouchables.  He died bitter and changed by his experience with the Cleveland Torso Murders.
  • As a matter of fact, most of the law enforcement officers involved with The Mad Butcher case were left changed.  Several would later tell of their experience finding body parts in shrubs and bushes around the shantytowns and poor neighborhoods that made up Kingsbury Run.  Furthermore, several also stated they believed the murders continued well into the 1950s and that Sweeney’s involvement was less rock solid than Ness would have liked everyone to believe – Which does fit in with the theory that the Mad Butcher was responsible for the murder of the Black Dahlia.
  • The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run and the Cleveland Torso Murders as a whole are the least well known unsolved serial killer case of the three I mentioned above.  However, his savagery exceeded that of Jack the Ripper in most cases and always when compared to The Zodiac.  Part of the reason for this is that most researchers are willing to give Ness the benefit of the doubt and believe Sweeney responsible for the murders.  Only recently have researchers begun to investigate other suspects in the case.

6 thoughts on “Things You Probably Didn’t Know About The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run

    1. We are finding criminality does seem to get passed along regardless of who or how the child is raised. There was a case a dozen years or so ago where a man was convicted of the exact same crimes his father committed. Only the man had been adopted when he was just 8 months old by a wealthy family in a different state and had never even known his father’s name. Once in prison for murder, he befriended a man and after some years it was discovered that the older man was actually his biological father. There are also a few cases in which twins who were raised by separate families both ended up in jail or prison each having committed the same crime to land them there. Usually around the same time and with no previous knowledge they were twins. Some element of criminality almost had to be inherited.


  1. there are always motive to kill, robbery, sexsual , revenge and jealousy.,these are four main motives,that man kills, in 1998 in danmark ,an ugandian prostitue was killed, and then police find out that she had AIDS, ,PROBABLY ,MOTIVE IS REVENG,LIKE ,JAck the ripper, motive is 100 percent revenge,and makes highly ,prince albert victor and montague john druitt and jacob levy primary suspect s in jack the ripper case,if you want to find kingburys run killer, you have to establish motive and then go forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. there is a story which no one ever mention in serial killer cases , one was caught in iran ,in early 1960.who latter is called the fedora killer,you may fine it in youtube,he killed as many as 35 young mans and boys , police could not catch him as iranian police knew that a serial killer is at work,but when he killed a german engineer,germany had sent two detectives which led iranian police make arrest,ended in his excution in april 1963, he confessed to 18 but police had a record of 35,he also confessed ,ate some parts of victims.

    Liked by 1 person

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