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True Crime & Stumped: 5 Lesser Known Unidentified Serial Killers

As of late, serial killers haven't been as prominent as they were in past decades, such as the 60's or 70's. There are an array of reasons why this is now the case, such as technology, GPS tracking in your phone, etc. -- in 2020, your classic serial killers like Ted Bundy and Dennis Rader just don't exist anymore. With the help of new DNA technology and other techniques, the FBI can track down a serial killer much more efficiently than they did 50+ years ago. However, some of them still manage to find a way to slip through the cracks. When one thinks of an unsolved 'serial killer,' he or she is usually quick to say The Zodiac or Jack the Ripper, both of which were covered in True Crime & Chill's 'The Killing Season.' However, there are many more cases that still remain unsolved to this day. So, if you were a fan of Netflix's 'Unsolved Mysteries' series, then look no further than the following puzzling slayings:

1) The Cleveland Torso Murderer (1935-1938)

While the city definitely came to the forefront in 2013 due to Ariel Castro and his horrific kidnapping crimes, Cleveland first made headlines 78 years prior, as the Cleveland Torso Murderer instilled a great deal of fear in its citizens. This killer, who was also known as the 'Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run,' was believed to have murdered and dismembered anywhere between 12 to 20 people over the course of 3 years. Most of the victims were members of the 'working poor' class and were therefore considered easy prey, especially back in the Depression Era. The Torso Murderer always beheaded and often dismembered his victims, including occasionally severing the victim's torso in half or removing appendages. In many cases, the cause of death was actually the decapitation or dismemberment itself. Most of the male victims were castrated and some bodies showed evidence of chemical treatment being applied. Unfortunately for the victims' families, forensic evidence was new and somewhat ineffective at making positive ID's. In 1939, one suspect named Frank Dolezal was arrested and questioned, but later died of 'suspicious circumstances' while in custody.

2) Chicago Strangler (2001-2018)

Unfortunately, Chicago has been no stranger to serial killers over the years (i.e. John Wayne Gacy, Richard Speck). However, this case is much more recent, with activity within the past 2 years linked to it! I've lived in and driven around both Chicago and "the Chicagoland" for most of my life and even I knew NOTHING about the Chicago Strangler. Originally, Chicago Police (CPD) suspected a that it was an individual committing various rapes and murders across Southwestern Chicago; as of last year, CPD believed that there could actually be two or more serial killers committing these crimes. Victims of the Chicago Strangler(s) were predominantly African American women between the ages of 18-58 and nearly all victims were left in abandoned buildings, alleys, garbage bins, parks and snowdrifts after strangulation. Over the course of two days back in 2007, a pair of women were killed, their bodies discarded in garbage cans and set on fire; the unknown 'Chicago Stranger' was blamed.

3) The Doodler (1974-1975)

The Doodler was a serial killer responsible for 16 murders and 3 assaults in the San Francisco area, with the victims of his crimes being exclusively men from the LGBT community. The Doodler received his nickname because it was believed that he would sketch his victims while he scoped them out at gay nightclubs, before ultimately luring them in and killing them. Police believed that the Doodler would kill his victims in the exact locations where their bodies were eventually found; each of his murder victims would be found with a similar stab wound in both the front and back of their bodies. Fortunately in this particular case, three men were able to survive and provide a description of the killer: an African-American male between 19-25 years old, around 6 feet tall with a slender build. Police did question a suspect that they strongly believed could be the Doodler, but he was ultimately never convicted or even tried, because victims would not appear in court; the suspect was also never publicly named. As of May 2018, the case remains open and ongoing as the San Francisco PD uses new forensic evidence testing methods. Last year, San Francisco PD offered a $100,000 reward for information on the killer and also released an updated sketch of the suspect’s profile.

4) Dr. No (a.k.a. I-71) Killer (1981-2004)

Sorry Ohio, you made the list again. Dr. No, also known as the I-71 killer, was a serial killer who murdered at least 9 women across the state of Ohio. Three of the victims worked at the "Union 76" truck stop in Austintown, east of Akron and west of Youngstown, causing the investigators to suspect that the killer was a truck driver. Investigators were also disturbed to find that most victims were found without their underwear and shoes. The killings began in 1981, when the corpse of a young woman was found in Miami County on April 24. After a forensic examination, it was determined that the woman died from strangulation, having also suffered a head injury beforehand. During the investigation, Ohio State PD questioned hundreds of prostitutes, pimps, service station employees and truck drivers in an attempt to find the killer. According to witnesses, the killer appeared to be a tall, heavyset man with fair skin and dark hair, aged 25-40; the suspect also wore glasses and talked with an accent matching that of someone from the Northeastern United States.

The Ohio State Police Department and volunteers from various civil society organizations offered a $10,000 reward for information about the killer. As a result, five people were detained, each of which shared the nickname "Dr. No," but no charges were filed against any of them and names were never disclosed to the public. Also discovered on the victims' bodies were traces of DNA thought to be from the perpetrator. To establish if the sperm was indeed left behind by the suspect, a forensic test was carried out; testing unfortunately yielded mixed results, due largely to the fact that all of the victims had engaged in prostitution during their lives. Since no other incriminating evidence was found at the crime scenes, Ohio State PD has been unsuccessful in identifying the killer. Samuel Legg was the most recent suspect as of 2019; Legg was arrested in Arizona after DNA profiling linked him to the crimes, but there wasn't enough hard evidence and he ultimately wasn't charged.

5) The Flat-Tire Murders (1975)

For some reason, Florida loves to be in the spotlight when it comes to crime. Before Ted Bundy’s Chi Omega murders in 1978, Dade County was in the news for another potential serial killer. Police believed that this killer would deflate the tires of victims' cars and offer them assistance, only to ultimately murder them. Police theorize that this serial killer committed murders of between 5 and 30 women over the course of 5 months, all of which took place in Cutler Bay and the Palmetto area in South Dade County. One investigator did insinuate that Ted Bundy himself could have been involved in these crimes, but ultimately nothing became of this theory. Investigators believed the killer to have an above average IQ, strength and prowess. The suspect had a combined method style of killing that included shooting, stabbing the victim with an ice pick and causing blunt-force trauma with a hammer. Police struggled to even identify 3 of the early victims due to severe disfigurement.

So, there you have it! Hopefully these strange cold cases are ultimately solved so that the families affected can experience some closure. If you know of any other similar cases that I didn't cover, feel free to let me know in the comments!

- Gabby


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