Monday, January 26, 2009

Mad Butcher

The reign of terror ranks up there with Jack the Ripper's, but few today have heard of the decapitating legacy of the "Mad Butcher."

January 26, 1936

On this day 73 years ago, police found the third dismembered victim of the so-called Mad Butcher, sparking a citywide panic in Cleveland.

The body of Florence Polillo, 42, was discovered in a basket and several burlap sacks behind a downtown business. Like the others, she was beheaded and cut with precision.

The official count is 12 victims between 1935 and 1938, although the lead Cleveland detective believed the Mad Butcher could have been responsible for more than 40 deaths around Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Youngstown, Ohio.

The victims were usually drifters whose identities were never determined. Sometimes the torso was cut in half; in many cases, the cause of death was the act of decapitation itself.

One suspect, an actual butcher named Frank Dolezal, was interrogated for 40 straight hours until he confessed to killing Polillo. However, he changed his story and killed himself in his cell. Few authorities believed Dolezal was actually the killer.

The true identity of the Mad Butcher remains a mystery.

Washington D. C. Examiner, January 26, 2009.

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