Ohio · Serial Killers

The final Cleveland Torso Killer victims found

August 16, 1938
Cleveland, Ohio
The bodies of the final 2 victims of the Cleveland Torso Killer are found

During a three-year span, the Torso Killer killed, decapitated, sometimes castrated, and occasionally dismembered at least 12 victims. However, as the bodies of the victims were found months or years after their deaths, it’s probable there were other victims whose bodies were never found. Additionally, other murders share common features to the Torso Killer murders, though they were never officially associated.

Of the 12 victims, only two were positively identified. The remaining ten consisted of sic men and two women. The victims were primarily white, though one of the female victims was black. It appeared as though at least most of the victims were in the “working poor” class who lived in shanty towns and would have made easy targets.

No suspect was brought to trial and the case remains unsolved. Two suspects were questioned, including one who died under suspicious circumstances in jail (his autopsy revealed six broken ribs, an injury he did not have before being jailed) and a WWI doctor assigned to amputations on the field who was personally interrogated by Elliot Ness and twice failed polygraph tests. The doctor, Francis Sweeney, was protected by his cousin, a congressman, who also hounded Ness for his failure to catch the murderer. Sweeney later committed himself in a mental hospital and, as there was no evidence connecting him to the murders, no arrest was made.


An exposition at the Cleveland Police Museum and featuring the death masks of four of the victims

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