Three terrible murders took place between the months of June, 1945, and January, 1946, to startle not only Chicago, but the rest of the country as well.
On June 5, 1945, Josephine Alice Ross was the first victim. Finding the apartment aclutter drawers pulled out, chairs knocked over, newspapers unfurled across the floor Jacqueline Ross hurried to her mother’s bedroom where she found a horrendous sight. Josephine was sprawled across her bed, her throat gashed by multiple stabbings, her head wrapped in a dress; blood had spewed across the room onto the walls, the drapes, the furniture, and it soaked the mattress. In the adjoining bathroom, several articles of the woman’s clothing and undergarments lay in a pool of bloody water in the tub. Only change money was missing from the premises.
The killer’s second victim was Frances Brown. Her nude body was discovered the morning of December 11, 1945 by Martha Engels, the housemaid. Curious as to why the tenant’s radio was playing so uncharacteristically loud at 9 a.m., and why her door was ajar, Engels peeked into Room 611 to find Brown’s bed splattered with blood and a trail of it leading to the bathroom. There, she found the tenant stretched over the bathtub, her head wrapped in her pyjamas, a butcher knife rammed into her neck and a bullet hole in her skull.
Starkly written on the living room wall, in letters of lipstick, were the words: For heavens sake catch me before I kill more. I cannot control myself.
The third victim, Rosy-cheeked, tow-headed six-year-old Suzanne Degnan went to bed Sunday evening, January 6, 1946 and taken from her bed while her family slept.
As police searched for the missing child, an anonymous call suggested they check surrounding sewers. That evening, January 7, detectives did just that. Noticing that a sewer cover on nearby Winthrop Avenue looked misplaced, they shone their flashlight into the well and found what looked like the head of a golden-haired doll. But, it was no doll’s head. An alarm went out. Before the evening ended, the rest of Suzanne Degnan her legs and torso were found scattered in the debris of adjacent sewers. (Her arms were found several weeks later.) A basement washtub below an apartment off Winthrop Avenue proved to be the place of dismemberment. Blood, pieces of human flesh and blonde hairs were found in its drain.