ISBN: 0-86534-492-2



The Phantom Killer of Texarkana, and the Zodiac Killer

Based on the book:


True Crime
By: William T. Rasmussen
Published by Sunstone Press (August 2006)
ISBN: 0-86534-536-8 (Paperback)
First Investigation: The Cleveland Torso Murders and the Murder of the Black Dahlia:

August 20, 2006, The Repository, Canton, Ohio:

“Joseph Chojnowski, homicide detective with the Cleveland Police Department has reviewed Rasmussen’s information ‘I find it quite interesting what he writes,” Chojnowski said, ‘but to say that you have one person who would be responsible for our killings in Cleveland (and for the Black Dahlia)… Could it be possible? Yeah. Would there be a probability of one person doing it? ... That would be a stretch to me.’ Rasmussen has valid points,’ Chojnowski said, but none of his theories has rekindled an investigation.”

Late 1930's
August 28, 1943
October 12, 1944
June 5, 1945
Dec. 10, 1945
January 7, 1946
July, 1946

January 14, 1947
January 30, 1947

February 10, 1947

Cleveland Torso Murders ("The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run")
Jack Anderson Wilson first appears in Los Angeles
Letter from Los Angeles to Cleveland Chief of Police Matowitz
Torso Murders in New Castle, West Pittsburgh, McKees Rocks, PA and Youngstown, Ohio
Jack Anderson Wilson reappears in Los Angeles
Indianapolis: Murder of Corporal Maoma Ridings. Jack Anderson Wilson is in Indiannapolis
Los Angeles: Murder of Socialite Georgette Bauerdorf
Chicago: Murder of Josephine Ross
Chicago: Murder of Frances Brown (The Red Lipstick Murder)
Chicago: Murder/Dismemberment of Suzanne Degnan by the "Mad Butcher of Kenmore Avenue"
The Black Dahlia is in Chicago pretending to be a reporter from Massachusetts, reporting on the William Heiren's case
Los Angeles: Murder/Bisection of Elizabeth Short (The Black Dahlia)
Freddie Woods revealed to the Los Angeles Examiner that the Black Dahlia was "terribly preoccupied with the details of the Degnan murder."
Los Angeles: Murder of Jeanne Axford French (The Red Lipstick Murder)

Famous Los Angeles Detective John St. John ("Jigsaw John") thought he knew who killed the Black Dahlia, the only problem he had was coming up with the corroborating evidence that would support a conviction. St. John knew that a 6'4" sodomist, who walked with a limp, by the name of Jack Anderson Wilson was probably guilty of the murder but by the time he was ready to make an arrest in 1982, Wilson went up in flames at the Holland Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.Wilson was known for his long& thick beard.

In order to determine who killed the Black Dahlia other cases must be studied and piece by piece the puzzle comes together. Consider the following:

From 1935-1938, over twelve individuals were murdered and expertly dismembered in Cleveland, Ohio. Body parts of some of the victims were placed in the Cleveland sewer system at different times by the killer. Some of the victims were tortured prior to being killed. Blood was drained from the corpses. Cleveland's top detective, Peter Merylo, was assigned to the case. Famed untouchable Elliot Ness was hired by the City of Cleveland to apprehend the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run, but to this day the Butcher has never been officially identified. In 1938, the Cleveland Torso Murders "officially" ended. In December of that year a letter was sent by someone in Los Angeles to Cleveland Police Chief Matowitz. The letter read in part: "You can rest easy now as I have come out to sunny California for the winter." Jack Anderson Wilson spent his early years in Canton, Ohio near Cleveland. He was at the Cleveland Great Lakes Exposition in 1936, during the Cleveland Torso Murders. Wilson first appeared in Los Angeles in the late 1930's.

Between 1939-1942, in New Castle, Pennsylvania, five more Torso Victims were discovered. Detective Merylo was convinced that all of the Torso Murders were somehow connected to the same person or persons.

Map of Canton, Ohio and Torso Murders
Picture of Cleveland Detective Peter Merylo, photo courtesy of Marjorie Merylo Dentz
Photo of Detective Merylo, Director of Public Safety Eliot Ness, Sergeant Massey and Lieutenant Schamadam, courtesy of Marjorie Merylo Dentz
On August 28, 1943, WAC Corporal Maoma Ridings was savagely murdered in room 729 at the Claypool Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. She had been viciously stabbed in the neck with a sharp object. The Indianapolis Star reported that two bellboys observed a woman completely dressed in black on Maoma's bed the night of the murder. The Star further reported that the Indianapolis detectives were working on a theory that the woman dressed in black was not a woman but instead a female impersonator. Jack Anderson Wilson was in Indianapolis when Maoma was murdered. He left town immediately after she was killed. It was reported that Wilson was either a female impersonator or associated with a female impersonator. The murder of Maoma Ridings has never been solved.
Photo of Jack Anderson Wilson, courtesy of the Museum of Death, Hollywood, CA

On October 12, 1944, socialite Georgette Bauerdorf was found lying face down in her bathtub in her apartment on Fountain Street in Los Angeles. She had been raped as she lay dying. A tall man with a limp dressed like a soldier was seen near her abandoned car shortly after the murder. Los Angeles Detective Al Hutchinson suspected a soldier, about 6'4", who walked with a limp that the victim dated "until she though he was a bad egg". Sheriff's files identified the soldier as Jack A. Wilson "DOB 8/5/20 other 8/5/24." Some Los Angeles detectives thought the murder of Georgette Bauerdorf was connected to the murder of the Black Dahlia. Status: unsolved.

On June 5,1945, Josephine Ross was savagely murdered in her Chicago apartment. "Four times her killer had plunged a knife into her throat severing her jugular vein." Frances Brown met a similar fate on December 10, 1945, in her apartment located close to the Ross apartment. Her killer left a large knife lodged in her neck. A note written in red lipstick was found on her living room wall six feet above the floor.

On January 7, 1946, six-year-old Suzanne Degnan was kidnapped from her parent's Chicago apartment, strangled and expertly dismembered. Her body parts were discarded in separate Chicago storm drains. After the murder of Ross, Brown, and Degnan, seventeen-year-old William Heirens was arrested in Chicago on several counts of burglary. The public and press wanted someone to pay for the unspeakable horror inflicted on Suzanne Degnan. He was eventually charged with the murders of Ross,Brown, and Degnan. Facing a long sentence for the burglary charges and a possible death sentence if convicted of the murders, Heirens was "persuaded" to plead guilty and was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences and one year to life for burglaries and assaults.

2004, Photo of William Heirens, courtesy of Dolores Kennedy

On January 15, 1947, the nude body of Elizabeth Short was found near the corner of 39th and Norton Avenues in Los Angeles. Prior to her death her killer tortured and expertly and surgically bisected her body at the waist. Her corpse had been drained of blood. In Cleveland, Detective Merylo thought the Cleveland Torso Murders were connected to the murder of the Black Dahlia, but he couldn't prove it.

Here is another clue that I noticed after my book was published that could be useful in connecting the murder of the Black Dahlia to the Cleveland Torso Murders: The 1938 letter to Cleveland Chief of Police Matowitz, mailed from Los Angeles, contains the same odd punctuation marks that were included in the January, 1947 letter that may have been mailed by the Black Dahlia Avenger to the Los Angeles District Attorney. Here is a photo of the 1938 letter from Los Angeles to Chief Matowitz:

Photo courtesy of Marjorie Merylo Dentz
The 1947 envelope containing the letter that may have been from the Black Dahlia Avenger is addressed as follows:



(See page 170, Black Dahlia Avenger: The True Story by Steve Hodel)

On both envelopes the first line is followed by a comma and the last line is followed by a period. Most writers would not put a comma after the first line on an envelope and most writers would not put a period after the non-abbreviated name of a state on the last line. This may simply be a coincidence, but then again, it might not be. The envelopes may have been addressed and mailed by the same person.

As recently as 1990, the Los Angeles Police Department thought the murder of the Black Dahlia may have been connected to the Cleveland Torso Murders. Now here is where the story gets interesting. In 1937, Cleveland Detective Orley May reported on a tip that was typical of thousands of tips the police department were given regarding the Cleveland Torso Murders. Detective May is quoted as having said:

Detective Musil and I received information from a person who does not want her identity revealed and who stated that while she was in the workhouse a woman by the name of Helen O'Leary, who was the former wife of a man who was shot and killed several years ago-since got married to Gas House O'Malley, a stage hand, told her that she knew the man that killed Flo Polillo. She asked him who it was and she said "You know, his name is Jack Wilson." We learned from the informer that Jack Wilson was a former butcher and worked for Sam who operated a grocery store and meat market on St. Clair Avenue, and that he was known to carry a large butcher knife. Informant also stated that this Wilson was a sodomist, and that he committed sodomy on a number of persons known by the informant and is committing these decapitated (sic) murders in Kingsbury Run and may be killing them for the purpose of committing sodomy on the victims, and would be a good suspect in the above murder. (Badal, James Jessen. In the Wake of the Butcher: Cleveland Torso Murders, page 58)

I recently found some other information that may be worth mentioning and that may shed some further light on this mystery. I note, however, that as of the date of this writing I have not found verification of the following information. I read a book written by Max Allan Collins entitled Angel In Black, published by Signet in 2002. Mr. Collin's book is, in his words, "based on history" although it is "a work of fiction." Before writing his book Mr. Collins and his research associate, George Hagenauer, did extensive research on the Cleveland Torso Murders in Cleveland. Collin's book included three entries that caught my attention:

1. Page 202: "We even had a suspect, a young homosexual who worked in the butcher shop of a St. Clair Avenue grocery. but this never panned out."

2. Page 269: "You had a suspect. some fag butcher." "A young homosexual, yes, who worked on St. Clair Avenue. Like Watterson he liked to prowl the skid row sections of town, preying on societies dregs. And his name, as you've guessed was Arnold Wilson." "Yes, but the description of the St. Clair Avenue butcher shop boy was not common: he was a very pockmarked kid, very thin, very tall, Merylo said.perhaps as much as six four."

3. Page 317: (Here Collins makes reference to his factual account in Angel In Black) "Although my pairing of Wilson and the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run may seem fanciful, one of Wilson's aliases is in fact the name of a suspected accomplice of the Kingsbury Run Butcher."

I spoke with Mr. Collins and his recollection is that the information contained in # 1, 2 & 3 above was based on information obtained during their research of the Cleveland Torso Murders.

I have not personally located the source of this information but it makes sense that the Cleveland Detectives would have followed up on the tip received by Detective Orley May from the woman in the Workhouse. They could have located a young 6'4" sodomist-butcher who worked for "Sam" on St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland during the Cleveland Torso Murders. There may very well be a police report or an article in The Plain Dealer that expressly identifies the sodomist-butcher fingered by the lady in the Workhouse in 1937. If so, then it appears that the Cleveland detectives were investigating a 6'4" sodomist by the name of Jack Wilson ( a/k/a Arnold Wilson) as a suspect in the Cleveland Torso Murders but couldn't pin the murders on him, just like the Los Angeles detectives, years later, identified a 6'4" sodomist by the name of Jack Anderson Wilson (a/k/a Jack Wilson, a/k/a Arnold Wilson) as a suspect in the murder of the Black Dahlia, but couldn't find the corroborating evidence necessary to make an arrest.

Years after the murder of Elizabeth Short on January 14, 1947, author, John Gilmore, wrote a book entitled The Tuscon Murders. After his book was published a man by the name of Jack Anderson Wilson contacted Gilmore and told him he wanted to talk about the murder of the Black Dahlia. Wilson was a convicted sodomist. He eventually agreed to allow a tape recording of his story. Wilson's story was eventually recorded with on hitch, he spoke in the third person so that everything he said was hearsay and not admissible in a court of law. Wilson claimed a person by the name of Al Morrison killed the Black Dahlia. Gilmore took the tape recording of Wilson to Detective John St. John. After listening to the tape several times St. John was convinced that Wilson was Morrison and that Wilson knew more about the murder of the Black Dahlia than the police did. St. John became convinced that Jack Anderson Wilson had killed the Black Dahlia but he needed corroborating evidence to make an arrest. Before St. John could arrest him for the murder of Elizabeth Short, Wilson burned to death in a fire at the Holland Hotel in downtown Los Angeles in 1982. You will note that passages in Jack Anderson Wilson's tape recorded message found on pages 182-193 in John Gilmore's book SEVERED and on pages 82-90 in the book CORROBORATING EVIDENCE parallel, in many ways, certain aspects of the Cleveland Torso Murders (1935-1938) and the murder of Suzanne Degnan in Chicago in 1946, including, but not limited to, reference to dismemberment, use of a tub and running water, use of a butcher knife, burning the cloths following the murder, mopping the place of dismemberment, experimenting with her body, necrophilia, use of a sack following the murder, etc.

Cleveland Detective Peter Merylo believed that the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run "was responsible for the more recent Black Dahlia murder case in Los Angeles" (Page 75, Greatest Crimes of the Century, 1954, by A.W. Pezet and Bradford Chambers). Detective John St. John was convinced that Jack Anderson Wilson killed the Black Dahlia. St. John's assessment that the murder of the Black Dahlia and the Cleveland Torso Murders exhibited separate and distinct "signatures" was based on incomplete information supplied by the Cleveland authorities. Had St. John received all of the facts concerning the Cleveland Torso Murders, including the fact that more than one of the Cleveland Torso victims was tortured, then his assessment of the murders could very well have been consistent with that of Detective Merylo.

Discovering the killer of the Black Dahlia and the Cleveland Torso Murderer maybe purely academic at this time but uncovering the true identity of the killer of Suzanne Degnan, Josephine Ross and Frances Brown is more than an exercise in historical study. Suzanne Degnan was surgically dismembered by someone with a great deal of expertise and knowledge of human anatomy. She was kidnapped, strangled, possibly sexually molested, and dismembered in a laundry room with running water and functioning tubs. Coal dust was found embedded in her pajamas. Her body parts were deposited in separate storm sewers and catch basins. She was murdered close to a train tract near Lake Michigan on January 7, 1946. The modus operandi of the killer in the Degnan case closely parallels the modus operandi of the Cleveland Torso Killer. The method of murder in the Josephine Ross and Frances Brown cases closely resembles the 1943 method and murder of Corporal Maoma Ridings in Indianapolis.

It seems odd to me that during 1934-1947, there were several strikingly similar dismemberments and bisections of human murder victims in large cities by someone with the "finesse of a surgeon." How many murders have occurred in the United States since 1947, where the body has been surgically and expertly severed or dismembered? The idea that a copycat killer committed one or another of these crimes during the same time period begs the question: Is it statistically possible that during this time frame two separate individuals intent on murdering another human being would be capable of performing the act with such precision, being able to stomach the gross dismemberment/bisection, draining the blood and commit these separate crimes and dispose of the body parts in populated cities without being detected? I doubt it.

Suzanne Degnan was killed and dismembered in Chicago, the former home of Elliot Ness, almost exactly one year before the Black Dahlia was bisected in Los Angeles. The Black Dahlia was known to have been in Chicago at or near the time Suzanne Degnan was killed.


Author, John Bartlow Martin, wrote in his book Butcher's Dozen in 1945, on page 65, the following account concerning Flo Polillo, one of the Cleveland Torso victims:

About six weeks before she was murdered, Flo Polillo had returned to the hotel, this time with "an unknown Italian," described as twenty-seven years old, five feet eight or nine, 135 pounds, dark complexioned, wearing a dark suit and dark cap, a description that nearly matched the description of Andrassy's friend, "Eddie."

On page 66, Mr. Martin wrote the following:

"And there was "an Italian named "Al" who is a drug addict and also furnished Florence Martin with drugs."


Author, John Gilmore, wrote in his book Severed, in 1998, on page 180:

"The informant said he met Smith 'quite a few years earlier,' at an apartment in the Silver Lake area occupied by a man named Eddie and a girl.

On page 182, Gilmore wrote the following:

"There was another young man in the photo who Smith said was Al Morrison. Smith did not want the informant to handle the photograph, and held it by the edges so that the informant could examine it without touching it. It was Morrison that Smith would claim was responsible for Elizabeth Short's murder."

Detective John St. John, who was assigned to the Black Dahlia case for about one year, was convinced that Al Morrison was Arnold Smith a/k/a Jack Anderson Wilson (See page 195, Severed).

The Los Angeles Examiner included the following information in the January, 1947, edition:

In Chicago Freddie Woods, age 23, who described himself as a "friend of the slain girl revealed that she was "fascinated" with the brutal slaying of six-year-old Suzanne Degnan, which took place in Chicago a year ago.

Woods said he met Miss Short last August when she was in Chicago for 10 days. She told him she was a Massachusetts reporter covering the trial of William Heirens, who was convicted of the Degnan kidnapping and slaying. "Elizabeth Short was one of the prettiest girls I ever met", Woods said, "But she was terribly preoccupied with the details of the Degnan murder."

Was Elizabeth Short preoccupied with the details of a murder in Chicago where a young girl was dismembered? Did Elizabeth Short know who really killed Suzanne Degnan? In order to answer this question it first must be determined that Elizabeth Short knew Jack Anderson Wilson. Following the murder of Georgette Bauerdorf an eyewitness reported seeing someone fitting the description of Jack Anderson Wilson near her abandoned automobile. Elizabeth Short and Georgette Bauerdorf worked at the same USO canteen and Georgette Bauerdorf mentioned Elizabeth Short by name in her diary (page 201, Severed, by John Gilmore). In addition, detectives at the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department suspected Jack Anderson Wilson killed Georgette Bauerdorf, but were never able to prove it. According to John Gilmore's taped interview with Jack Anderson Wilson, Elizabeth Short appeared to have known Wilson because she "got into his car and sat with him for a while" (See page 82, Corroborating Evidence, or page 185, Severed.)

Now, with this in mind, it seems logical to me that Elizabeth Short may have either known who killed Suzanne Degnan or was reasonably sure that Jack Anderson Wilson was the culprit. Being preoccupied with the details of the Degnan murder/dismemberment and "reporting" the details of the murder may very well have led to Short's murder by Jack Anderson Wilson, the same person who may have killed and dismembered Suzanne Degnan.

Also, keep in mind that the person who killed the Black Dahlia carved her face to make her appear that she had a "big mouth." Perhaps her killer had tortured and killed her because she was telling to much about the Degnan murder.

Jack Anderson Wilson's five page rap sheet on file at the State of California Department of Justice, Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, reflects an entry March 22, 1943, and the next entry is on May 9, 1948, after that date there is an entry every few months. It has been reprted that Wilson was in the military service during 1944 and was probably in California at the time, however, from the end of 1944-1948, nothing shows up on his California rap sheet. This would tend to indicate that he was not in the State of California during most of that time period. One thing is for sure, wherever he was, he was probably killing and dismembering someone to satisfy his deviant sexual drive.

Here is the sequence of events:

1. January 7, 1946, murder/dismemberment of Suzanne Degnan in Chicago.
2. August, 1946, Elizabeth Short is in Chicago for 10 days "reporting" on the details of the Degnan murder.
3. Less than 5-6 months later, on January 14, 1947, Elizabeth Short is murdered and "expertly" bisected in Los Angeles.

I also note that on January 28, 2005, I revisited the Western Reserve Historical Library in Cleveland. At the library I found that the Cleveland City Directory for the year 1936, listed the following grocery stores and meat market located on St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland and owned by a person with the first name "Sam":

1. Sam Kass Grocery 4034 St. Clair Avenue
2. Sam Gold Grocery 9115 St. Clair Avenue
3. Sam Rocco Grocery 10819 St. Clair Avenue
4. Sam Pistillo (Pistitello) Meats 15808 St. Clair Avenue

There may be a descendant of one of these business owners who may recall a young , 6'4", thin, pockmarked-individual employed as a butcher by the name of Arnold Wilson (a/k/a Jack Wilson, Grover Loving or Arnold Smith) sometime between 1934-1937, in Cleveland.

4. Jack Anderson Wilson: Following the fire at the Holland Hotel in Los Angeles an autopsy was performed on Jack Anderson Wilson's charred body. After the autopsy was performed Wilson's body was released by Los Angeles County for cremation. In hindsight cremating the remains and destroying his DNA was not the best decision ever made.

The Los Angeles District Attorneys Office determined that the death of Jack Anderson Wilson precluded "any conclusion as to his involvement" in the murder of the Black Dahlia. I am not so sure about that. Even though Wilson is dead and his remains were cremated, there may still be a way to connect him to the murder of Elizabeth Short and other victims. In addition to possible DNA comparisons mentioned in numbers 1, 2 & 3 above, other trace evidence may still exist that could establish Wilson's involvement in the murders. Consider the following:

A. Cleveland Torso Murders: A cast of a "bloody footprint" found in one of the McKee's Rocks boxcars could be compared to other known footprint casts.

B. Georgette Bauerdorf Murder: Fingerprints were lifted off the automatic light over the outside entrance to her apartment, throughout her apartment, her automobile window and her automobile's steering wheel. Prints from her car "were linked to the prints on the unscrewed light bulb."

C. Josephine Ross Murder: A bloody fingerprint was found on a door jam in her apartment.

D. Suzanne Degnan Murder: Footprints in the back yard of the Degnan home were inspected for future comparison. There may have been prints lifted from the outdoor light to the Degnan home. (If this evidence has not been destroyed or lost over time, a thorough search of the Chicago police evidence lockers may turn up something.) In addition, the FBI was involved in the investigation of the Degnan murder and may have a file that included trace evidence that could be used for comparison. A left palm print was lifted from the ransom note.

E. Jeanne Axford French: Shoe imprints found at the crime scene could be compared with footprints found in the other murders. Hair samples and possible fingerprints found at the scene. Fingerprints were lifted from the glove compartment of Charles Schneider's taxi and from the $20,000 ransom note found in his glove compartment.

F. Jack Anderson Wilson: In the late 1940's, Wilson was arrested a number of times in Los Angeles and Oakland, California. According to his five-page rap sheet he was arrested in Medford, Oregon and booked on November 16, 1960. His fingerprints and other possible trace evidence should be on file with the arresting agencies.

Under current state regulations obtaining police records, with a couple of exceptions, is very difficult if not impossible. It would be very interesting to find out if Jack Anderson Wilson was ever arrested, collected Social Security benefits, was involved in a civil lawsuit, hospitalized, had a telephone listing was employed or was photographed in Canton, Cleveland or Youngstown, Ohio; New Castle, West Pittsburgh or McKee's Rocks, Pennsylvania; Chicago or Indianapolis between 1935-1946.

In the Cleveland Torso Murders, the murder of the Black Dahlia and the murder of Suzanne Degnan certain undisputed facts emerge:

A. The victims in each case were moved from point "A" (I will refer to this as the `safe haven') to point "B" (where they were killed) to point "C" (where their body parts were discarded)

B. The victims were all "expertly" severed and or dismembered by someone with "knowledge of anatomy."

C. The murders occurred in large cities

D. Following each occurrence the killer "taunted" the police.

E. In the Cleveland Torso Murders and the murder of the Black Dahlia blood was drained from the body by the killer.

For a complete list of comparison click here.

In the annals of crime there is no question that several people have been killed and dismembered over the years. However, in order for someone to commit a crime, similar to the Cleveland Torso Murders, the murders of the Black Dahlia and Suzanne Degnan, the person would have to meet all of the following requirements:

1. He would have to want to kill someone.

2. He would require the fortitude to stomach the gross dismemberment/bisection.

3. He would require similar "expertise" to professionally sever and/or dismember a human body.

4. He would require the ability, patience and sleuth to transport a person from one location; move, kill, dismember and/or bisect the body and dispose of the body parts by posing the corpse in a third location in a large-populated city without being detected.

5. He would have to know how to contact and have the mindset to taunt the police after committing the horrifically gory-crime without being apprehended

If someone, other than the Cleveland Torso Killer, murdered the Black Dahlia and Suzanne Degnan and if someone other than the person who killed the Black Dahlia murdered Suzanne Degnan, then one would have to conclude that three separate individuals met the requirements mentioned in numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 above within a time span of twelve years.

It is extremely rare to here about a person who commits a murder/dismemberment or murder whereby the victim's body is subsequently severed and all of the elements of numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 above are present. The likelihood of this occurrence is again reduced significantly when the relatively short time frame (1935-1947) is brought into the equation. The odds that the above mentioned requirements were met by three separate individuals, the Cleveland Torso Killer, the killer of Suzanne Degnan on January 7, 1946, and the killer of the Black Dahlia on January 14, 1947, is a long shot by any stretch of the imagination.

I have not personally found any statistics regarding the above-mentioned events but it seems highly unlikely to have two individuals, in addition to the Cleveland Torso Killer, during this short time frame, which had similar professional skill and could accomplish what the Cleveland Torso Killer accomplished. Therefore it would seem logical that, based on known facts, the Cleveland Torso Killer may also have been responsible for the murders of the Black Dahlia and Suzanne Degnan.

How many times since the date of the Black Dahlia's murder on January 14, 1947, has a killer fulfilled the requirements listed in items 1-5? If the answer is never, then one would suspect that during the 1935-1947 time frame there might have been one, and only one, diabolical killer capable of and responsible for the Cleveland Torso Murders, the murders of the Black Dahlia and Suzanne Degnan. Consider this by way of comparison: During the reign of the Zodiac Killer from 1966-1970, and during the reign of the BTK Strangler from 1974-1991, how many other serial killers engaged in the same behavior, killing, taunting police, writing letters to newspapers and so on? If the answer to this questions is none, then it would appear highly likely that the same person committed the Cleveland Torso Murders, the murder of the Black Dahlia and the murder of Suzanne Degnan, bearing in mind that the murder/bisection of the Black Dahlia occured within one year and one week from the date of Suzanne Degnan's murder/dismemberment, and the requirements listed in numbers 1-5 above were met in each instance.

It is reasonable to dismiss Cleveland's "Jack Wilson" as a different person than the Los Angeles Jack A. Wilson a/k/a "Jack Wilson"? The possibility of separate individuals having the same expertise to sever a human body during this relatively short time period and having the exact same name is so far beyond the realm of possibility that the notion becomes an absurdity. The "Jack Wilson" mentioned in conjunction with the Cleveland Torso Murders was more than likely the same "Jack Wilson" who murdered and severed the Black Dahlia.

The severed body of Elizabeth Short (the Black Dahlia) January 15, 1947, Photo courtesy of Delmar Watson Archives
Here is an outline of several curious similarities:
1. Man fingered as the killer of Cleveland Torso Victim, Flo Polillo by a lady in the Cleveland Workhouse (Flo Polillo and other Torso Victims are dismembered)

Jack Wilson

2. Person the lady in the Workhouse identified as a Sodomist

Jack Wilson

3. Person the lady in the Workhouse identified as a former butcher

Jack Wilson

4. Seventeen-year-old boy who worked at the Great Lakes Exposition in 1936, identified by the Cleveland detectives as a possible suspect in the Cleveland Torso murders

Last name: "Wilson"

5. Cleveland Torso Victims

"expertly dismembered"

6. Cleveland Torso Murders "officially end"


Letter to Cleveland Police Chief Matowitz from Los Angeles

December 23, 1938

Additional Torso Murders in Pennsylvania, not far from Cleveland and close to the New York Central Railroad Line


9. After 1942 Torso Murders in Pennsylvania stop
1. Person being investigated for the murder of the Black Dahlia by Los Angeles Detective John St. John
Jack Anderson Wilson
a/k/a Jack Wilson

Los Angeles Police records indicate he was a convicted Sodomist

Jack Anderson Wilson
a/k/a Jack Wilson

3. Lived in Canton, Ohio near Cleveland during his early years. The New York Central travels near Canton, Ohio to where the Torso Murders occured.

Jack Anderson Wilson
a/k/a Jack Wilson

4. Has been placed in Cleveland in 1936 during the Great Lakes Exposition

Jack Anderson Wilson
a/k/a Jack Wilson

5. Black Dahlia

Expertly severed with the "finesse of a surgeon"

6. First appears in Los Angeles in late 1930's

Jack Anderson Wilson
a/k/a Jack Wilson

7. 1942: Re-appears in Los Angeles as Grover Loving, Jr.

Jack Anderson Wilson
a/k/a Jack Wilson

8. Refers to use of a butcher knife in his tape recorded message

Jack Anderson Wilson
a/k/a Jack Wilson

9. In the same paragraph that he mentions a butcher knife he refers to "dismemberment" in his tape recorded message even though the Black Dahlia wasn't dismembered

Jack Anderson Wilson
a/k/a Jack Wilson

There may be a way to prove through DNA testing that Jack Anderson Wilson was the person responsible for these murders provided, of course, that the evidence has not been lost, destroyed or otherwise rendered useless. The following might be available for DNA comparisons:

1. Cleveland Torso Murders: Evidence at the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office including spermatozoa that may be present on the bloody underwear marked with the laundry marks "J.W." found with the sixth torso victim. Torso victim, Edward Andrassy appears to have been sexually assaulted, an anal swab might have been taken and preserved. A thorough search of the evidence locker at the Cleveland Police Department may uncover envelopes sent by the killer including the envelope sent with the 1938 letter from which DNA may be extracted.

2. Josephine Ross, Frances Brown and Suzanne Degnan: The William Heirens Case: DNA on envelopes and stamps that may have been sent by the killer. Evidence associated with these crimes either has been destroyed or has otherwise disappeared from the Chicago Police Department files, however, the FBI was called in to analyze handwriting samples and they may have a file with original envelopes mailed by the killer from which DNA could be extracted. The envelopes may include the same odd punctuation marks as those found on the 1938 and 1947 envelopes outlined above. Suzanne Degnan may have been sexually assaulted by her killer, a sperm swab may have been taken and preserved at the Cook County Coroner's office or at the Cook County Morgue.

3. The Black Dahlia: "The anal opening is markedly dilated and the opening measures 1 1/4" in diameter...There are multiple abrasions...Smear for spermatozoa has been taken." (The Crime Library) Also DNA may be found on the envelopes and stamps sent by the Black Dahlia Avenger. This information may be available at the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department or the Los Angeles Police Department.

4. Jack Anderson Wilson's DNA may be available for comparison. Read CORROBORATING EVIDENCE: The Black Dahlia Murder and see where it might be located.

Here is another interesting clue that may help prove that the same person who killed the Black Dahlia may have killed Suzanne Degnan:

Following the murder of Suzanne Degnan on January 6, 1946, Chicago Police Chief Walter Storm received the following enticing communication (See page 51, William Heirens: His Day In Court).

"Why don't you catch me. If you don't ketch me soon, I will cummit sui-
cide. There is a reward out for me. How much do I get if I give myself
When do I get that 20,000 dollars they wanted from the Degnan
girl at 5901 Kenmore Avenue.
You may find me at the Club Tavern at 738 E. 63rd St. known as Charlie
the Greeks. Or at Conway's Tavern at 6247 Cottage Grove Av.
Please hurry now."

Now compare the letter to Chief Storm to the letter received by the Los Angeles Herald Express, in January, 1947, following the murder of the Black Dahlia (See page 172, Black Dahlia Avenger).

"To Los Angeles Herald Express
I will give up
in Dahlia Killing if I get
10 years
Don't try to find me"

In each letter not only were exactly the same words used by the writer but also notice that the order of the words in each communication was very similar:

First: "I will"
Second: "if I get & I get if"
Third: "find me"

Remember, there were very few communications received by the authorities following the Degnan and Short murders. Each communication was very short. The chances of two separate individuals writing the same words, in the same order, would seem to me to be extremely unlikely. If nothing else, one thing is for sure: William Heirens could not have written the letter in 1947, to the Los Angeles Herald Express because he had been imprisoned in Chicago since July, 1946.

Was Elizabeth Short killed because she knew the real killer of her friend, Georgette Bauerdorf and Suzanne Degnan? There were reports that she was extremely afraid of someone shortly before she was murdered. Was her killer concerned that Short would talk too much and tip-off the authorities? Consider this, on Wednesday, January 29, 1947, fourteen days after the Black Dahlia was murdered, Federal Inspectors at the Terminal Annex Post Office in Los Angeles received the following note:

A certain girl is going to get same as E.S. got if she squeals on us.
We're going to Mexico City-catch us if you can.

(See page 173, Black Dahlia Avenger)

Not only was the person who wrote this note concerned about someone "squealing" on them, like they may have been concerned about Elizabeth Short squealing on them, they also used the word "catch" in the communication, the same word that was written in the "red lipstick message" by the person who killed Francis Brown, December 10, 1945 in Chicago:

"For heavens
Sake catch me
BeFore I kill more
I cannot control myselF"

And in the enticing communication to Chicago Police Chief Walter Storm following the murder of Suzanne Degnan:

"Why don't you catch me. If you don't ketch me soon.."

(See: William Heirens:His Day In Court)

Read this fascinating analysis, study the clues, and learn the killer's true identity. You be the judge.

2nd Investigation:


On February 23, 1946, Jimmy Hollis, 24 and Mary Jean Larey, 19, were severely beaten on a lonely lovers lane near Texarkana, Arkansas. Just over a month later on March 24, 1946, Richard Griffin, 29 and Polly Ann Moore, 17, were shot to death near U.S. Highway 67 in Texarkana. Less than one month later Paul Martin, 16 and Betty Jo Booker, 15, were shot to death near Spring Lake Park, also in Texarkana. On May 4, 1946, a farmer by the name of Virgil Starks was shot to death and his wife, Katy, was wounded by the same gunman ten miles Northeast of Texarkana on U.S. Highway 67. The person responsible for these crimes became known as the “Phantom Killer of Texarkana” and is sometimes referred to as the “Moonlight Killer of Texarkana.” To this date the killer has never been identified.

On October 30, 1966, Cheri Jo Bates, 18, was brutally murdered in Riverside, California. On December 20, 1968, Betty Lou Jensen, 16 and David Arthur Faraday, 17, were killed near Vallejo, north of San Francisco. Someone who called himself the “Zodiac” claimed to be the killer. He sent taunting letters, notes, greeting cards, codes, secret messages and hidden clues to newspapers and the police, and the killings continued.

The author presents intriguing connections between the unsolved Phantom Murders in Texarkana and the unsolved Zodiac Murders in California. Letters that may have been written by the Phantom Killer closely resemble letters written by the Zodiac Killer years later. The hood worn by the Phantom Killer and other similarities may be clues to the identity of the Zodiac Killer.

The author believes there is a high possibility that the Zodiac is still alive and currently incarcerated for some other crime.

CORROBORATING EVIDENCE II: 2nd Investigation The Phantom Killer of Texarkana and the Zodiac Killer is available at:

Barnes and Noble and
your local bookstore

Additional Books recommended on these subjects:


IN THE WAKE OF THE BUTCHER: Cleveland's Torso Murders by James Jessen Badal

SEVERED: The True Story of the Black Dahlia Murder by John Gilmore


CHILDHOOD SHADOWS: The Hidden Story of the Black Dahlia Murder by Mary Pacios

WILLIAM HEIRENS: His Day in Court/Did and Innocent Man Confess to Three Grisly Murders? by Dolores Kennedy

ZODIAC: by Robert Graysmith

TEXARKANA GAZETTE: The Phantom at 50

ANGEL IN BLACK, by Max Allan Collins


illiam T. Rasmussen was born and raised in northern Michigan. He graduated from Central Michigan University and the Detroit College of Law. After graduating from law school, he attended George Washington University in Washington D.C.

The Black Dahlia-Cleveland Torso Murders Connections Web Site