January 26, 1936 : So-called Mad Butcher terrorizes Cleveland

Introduction

Thedismembered body of Florence Polillo is found in a basket and several burlap sacks in Cleveland. The 42-year-old woman was the third victim in 18 months to be found dismembered with precision. It sparked a panic in Cleveland,where the unknown murderer was dubbedthe “Mad Butcher.”

In June 1936, another head, and later a headless body, turned up and police were unable to identify the victim. Even when a replica mask of the victim’s face was displayed at theGreat LakesExposition, the victim remained a mystery, while the Mad Butcher continued killing.

By the summer of 1938, with the body count into double digits, the Cleveland police were desperate to find the Mad Butcher. One suspect, an actual butcher named Frank Dolezal, was interrogated for 40 straight hours until he confessed to killing Florence Polillo. However, he subsequently changed his story many times and killed himself in his cell before his guilt could be determined.

In reality, though, few authorities believed Dolezal was actually the killer—it is believed that the real suspect was relatively prominent and politically connected, and as a result the police department trumped up the case against Dolezal. All official police records of the matter have been destroyed.

The Mad Butcher’s attack stopped in Cleveland after the Dolezal’s suicide. The true identity of the Mad Butcher remains a mystery to this day.

Article Details:

January 26, 1936 : So-called Mad Butcher terrorizes Cleveland

  • Author

    History.com Staff

  • Website Name

    History.com

  • Year Published

    2009

  • Title

    January 26, 1936 : So-called Mad Butcher terrorizes Cleveland

  • URL

    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/so-called-mad-butcher-terrorizes-cleveland

  • Access Date

    November 18, 2017

  • Publisher

    A+E Networks