Born as Earle Leonard Ferral on May 12 1897, to Frances Nelson (his English mother) and Spanish father James Ferral in San Francisco, California, Earle did not have an easy or good early childhood life. When he was just 9 and a half months old, his mother passed away from syphilis, she was a very young mother, and his father then followed and passed away from Syphilis 7 months later. Essentially Earle became an orphan in less than 2 years being on this earth. After both his parents passed away, Earle went to live with his maternal Grandparents Lars and Jennie Nelson, there 2 other children were Willis and Lillian, who were 12 and 10 respectively. Jennie Nelson (the grandmother) was extremely religious and strict. She was said to have been fascinated with the apocalyptic scripture in the book of revelations. Side note, have you ever seen how rough the bible actually is?! Anyway, I digress.
She noticed from a young age that Earle was, odd to say the least. He would have super high energy, then at other times he would slip into a type of melancholic depression for days. He had a strange thing where he would leave the house looking presentable and nice and then somehow return wearing completely different clothes and looking like a hobo. He would also somehow lose his underwear? He also had some very peculiar eating habits. Every meal would be drenched in olive oil, and then it would be slurped up by the child like an animal. As a small child he definitely had his issues, and he was often teased. He had moments of self-loathing, but then also not be bothered by certain things as well.
By the age of 7 he was expelled from primary school due to bad behaviour, he was known to suddenly break out into wild fits of rage and lashing out violently. He started stealing small items and by 10 he was known as a trouble maker. was growing tired of this behaviour and she tried resorting to physical punishment, however, as Earle grew up, and became bigger, this didn’t really help. She knew also that he was obsessed with scripture, so she would try to use that to appeal to him to just be better, but nothing seemed to work, so she started threatening to kick him out.
At the age of 10 Earle was trying to impress some older boys with his new bicycle, and he raced across the train tracks, getting hit by a trolley on his back wheel, throwing him off the bike, head first into the ground. He sustained a very serious head injury, with a gaping hole in his head, he was unconscious for about 6 days, but somehow he woke up and the doctor said he would be "just fine"
Jennie died in 1908, and Earle went to live with his Aunt, Lillian. By the age of 14 he had dropped out of school and was performing variety of jobs, however he could not manage to keep a job for longer than a few weeks. His physical strength, as well as his polite personality is what attracted his employers to him, however, his disturbance wouldn’t stay hidden for long. At some jobs he would just stare at the sky for hours, at others he would just put his tools down, walk away and never return. He had a very peculiar fashion sense as he did when he was a child, nothing ever really made sense, and now that he was earning his own money he could dress how he wanted to.
Earle was a very odd human, the oddest human. He would randomly start walking on his hands, pick up chairs with his teeth and then just stare unblinking at Lillian's friends. The neighbourhood started talking about how he was "deranged" and he started doing more petty crime. He was also a lover of true crime and newspaper articles based on the crimes around that time, as well as paranormal and pseudo-scientific works. At 15, he had a furious sexual appetite that simple wanking would not appease, he started to visit brothels and get some hanky-panky there, he also started drinking heavily at around this time. He would often disappear from home for weeks at a time and then return. Lillian had 2 children who Earle was very good with, however, he would often start having a conversation with people that only he could see and that kinda freaked them out a little bit.
Now as he grew up, he kept doing odd jobs and strange things, but he would supplement his income by thieving. He would break into abandoned places and take things, one day while passing through Plumas County, Earle broke into an isolated cabin, but he was busted while leaving with some stuff. Just a few months after his 18th birthday Earle entered San Quentin prison to begin his 2 year sentence for burglary. Now while Earle was in prison, the great war happened, and Earle suddenly became extremely patriotic and decided to enlist in the US army under his birth name, Earle Leonard Ferral, and was sent for training in California. This new army life seemed to be too much for Earle, because only 6 weeks after enlisting, did he go AWOL, because one night he had to stand guard in the cold. In his desertion he decided to give the Mormon life a crack and went to Salt Lake city. He lost interest in this and decided to give military life another shot. He enlisted as a cook in the navy, and soon found himself in San Francisco's Nare Island Naval Base. But surprise, he found his duties to be too oppressive, so after a few weeks he disappeared again. This guy.. Commitment issues to the max. Less than two months later in July of 1917 he enlisted AGAIN but this time as a private in the medical corps, and after 6 weeks he deserted again, claiming he had a bothersome burning around the anus from his haemorrhoids.
You would think that he would stop this right? Or that he would get into some serious trouble, but no no. In 2018 he was back in the navy! But this time instead of deserting, he just refused to do any work, instead he would spend his days reading his Bible, and talking about the end of the world.
On April 24, 1918, after complaining bitterly of headaches and refusing to leave his cot, he was placed in the Mare Island Naval Hospital. After three weeks of observation by a hospital psychologist named Ogden, Ferral was committed to the Napa State Mental Hospital, arriving on May 21, 1918, just nine days after his twenty-first birthday. Earle was examined by Dr JB Rogers who was assigned to overseeing his treatment over the next 13 months. Physically, he noted, there seemed to be nothing wrong with his patient, besides one pupil being slightly larger than the other one, he also made a note about how perfect Earle's teeth were, which, weird flex but ok. He learned that Earle had contracted Syphilis and gonorrhoea earlier on in his adolescence, and he also learned that Earle would masturbate, a lot between the ages of 13 and 18, but not anymore. The doctor did some mental tests to see if Earle was all there, and it appeared that he was, he then did some intelligence tests which Earle also did quite well in. At the end of the preliminary tests the doctor concluded that Earle Leonard Ferral was "non-violent, homicidal, or destructive." Oh how wrong he was.
On the 13th of June 1918, Earle somehow managed to escape the facility, but he was tracked down and returned on 11 July, 6 weeks later on August 25th he escaped again, this time he was gone for over 3 months. When he was finally returned, he was given the nickname Houdini. The next day after he was returned, he escaped again! And a few months later he was found and returned. By the time of his final breakout in May 1919, the Navy who had been paying for this stint just gave up and didn’t even bother pursuing him, they wrote him off, and discharged him from service. His doctor made one final note that said "improved." Again, how very wrong he was.
He returned to his Aunts home, and got a job as a janitor at St Marys hospital, now, he was technically still a fugitive because he went AWOL, so he started this job under the pseudonym, Evan louis Fuller, 3 names ok, why not just John Smith, anyway. At work he met a cleaning lady named Mary Teresa Martin, who took his interest almost immediately, she was 58 but Earle was into it! Mary was said to have been very quiet and mousy, but very sweet. She got nervous in front of most people, except for Earle, who at this time was only 22. The details of their early relationship are sparce, however, they started as friends, and soon became lovers. Many think that it was Mary 's maternal instincts kicking in, because Earle so badly needed a mother figure in his life. Just a few weeks after meeting, Earle suggested marriage, and Mary agreed! Earle had to change to Catholicism, which he did not mind doing, and so on 5 August 1919, they got married!
Poor Mary did not know what she was getting herself into. She quickly learned that his personal habits were very strange, in that his hygiene was comparable to that of a hobo, he hardly bathed, and they lived in a very small apartment which meant that she could often smell him, this made her turn into more of a mother to him because she would often try to get him to behave like just a normal human being. As an example, one night they were set to go out but he stank so Mary asked him to bathe, he instead got a glass of water, removed his shoes and poured the water on his feet. That was the extent of his bath. His eating habits also really embarrassed Mary, because remember, he ate like an animal. Even as an adult his fashion sense was questionable, and he would still leave the house in one outfit and return in a much weirder worse off outfit, often losing his underwear somehow throughout the day. He even took one of her favourite skirts and cut it up to fashion himself a new pair of pants. Such a weirdo, but she stuck by him! He would sometimes jump out of bed at 3AM and announce that he was going to look for a job! He was also incredibly jealous, to the point of violence. Mary was not allowed to even speak to anyone else. He had a strong sexual appetite and Mary obliged most of the time, but on nights when she could not or would not submit to his desires, he would lie next to her and masturbate repeatedly, which freaked her out. She was a devout catholic and divorce was out of the question for her.
One day while working for a landscape gardener, Earle fell from the upper branches of a tree and onto his head, he was admitted to hospital for a concussion but fled the hospital after 2 days. After this accident his behaviour became even more erratic (seemed impossible I know), but he would not stare at walls more often and experienced more headaches. When asked what he was staring at his response would be along the lines of "the faces !, don’t you see them?". His religious obsession also became more intense at this time. Not knowing what to do, Mary visited her priest to ask for advice. The advice he gave her: Do her best and bear with it…
Earle did one of his disappearing stunts and on the 19th of May 1921, he showed up at a house in San Francisco, and claimed to be a plumber, there to fix a pipe. The oldest son of the house allowed him inside where he went straight for the basement, where upon encountering 12 year old Mary Summers, he attacked her. She fought like a hell cat and scratched and kicked and screamed, when her brother came running in and tried to grab Earle, who managed to get away. He was arrested that day and taken to the city jail and booked on an assault charge. Mary received a call from the jail, and it was only then that she learned that Earle's real name was Earle and not Evan, as she was told when they met. She went to his trial and said that he was not well in the head, the doctor agreed and he was placed back in the mental asylum, Napa State Hospital. Among some of the reasons that he was sent there were his lapses in memory, and the seeing and hearing of things. He was admitted 2 years after he had last escaped. They started a treatment of an arsenic based medication which was an anti-syphilitic drug called Salvarsan. Now I'm no doctor, but isn't arsenic kinda bad for the human body? Obviously Earle escaped a few times and was captured each time, because its what happens in this guys life, he remained in the hospital until March 10, 1925, with one final note in his file: "discharged as improved.
Now over the past 10 years of his life, he spent a majority of that time either in prison or in the hospital, this I am sure can lead to some serious social issues. He returned to his wife and begged her to take him back which she did until one day in February 1926 he suddenly announced he was going to find a job. Mary didn’t see him again until June, less than 2 months later he disappeared again. The doctors called this "nomadic dementia". During this time he did have a job as a handyman, gardener for Frank J Arnold, who knew that Earle was touched with the cuckoo stick, but he worked hard. Some days it was said, that Earle would show up with his tools in one hand, and his Bible in the other, he would often stop working and just stare off into the sky. He also shaved his hair and offered his hair to Mrs Arnold as pillow stuffing?? By the time that he was told to leave, he had already started killing.
I am now going to explain what happened over the next 16 months. It's very hard to believe that so much happened over such a short period of time, and also that so much had happened with Earle in only 28 years of being on the planet so far.
His first confirmed murder victim was Clara Newman, she was around 60 years old and she was said to have been a lady of means. She managed to turn a small inheritance into a small fortune. Clara owned property in several states, 2 of those properties being in San Francisco. She was quite a frail lady physically, but mentally she was sharp. She had her nephew Merton Newman help around with her admin and all that jazz. She lived at 2037 Pierce Street on the 1st floor. On the top floor there were 2 apartments that she rented out. The first one was rented and the other, was up for rent, she had put a for rent sign in the window. On Saturday, the 20th of February 1926, just before noon, the doorbell to Mrs. Newman's place rang. Clara answered the door, and Merton carried on reading his newspaper, after 15 minutes, he felt a bit chilly so he went downstairs to fix the radiator. He was downstairs for about 15 minutes, and when he got back upstairs, he saw a strange man leaving the apartment. He asked the man if he could help him with anything and the man just responded that he was going to be taking the apartment upstairs, he could let the land lady know. Later Merton commented on how strangely this man was dressed, and how he seemed to be short but strong. After a few hours, he realized that he had not actually seen his aunt for a while, so he started searching the house for a while, eventually he got to the vacant apartment, which was locked, he kicked the door open and was horrified with what he found inside. Inside he found Clara Newman's body, curled on her left side, naked from the waist down, her necklace scattered all over the floor. An autopsy was performed by Dr Selby R Strange (great name) and her manner of death was strangulation. She had been sexually assaulted after death.
Now remember that Earle had disappeared from home in February of 1926, then returned. Just keep that in mind.
His next victim was Laura Beal, she was around 60 years old and married to a semi-retired real estate agent, Mr. Harvey Beal. Laura was active in the church and she was the leader of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. Laura owned the building at 521 East Santa Clara Street in San Jose (which is close to San Francisco), her and her husband lived there and she rented some space to other people, all apartments were taken except for one. On Tuesday the 2nd of March 1926, Harvey said goodbye to Laura and went to work. He arrived back home just before 6PM, and Laura was nowhere to be found. This did not alarm him though, he just assumed that she was visiting a friend, so he made himself a sandwich. He started to grow worried after about an hour and she was not yet home. He went around to all the tenants and asked if they had seen his wife, and none of them had seen here, but 1 of the tenants did say that they noticed the door to Mrs Beal's apartment had been open since about 4PM. Mr. Beal searched the whole neighborhood, he called all of Laura's friends, and he still could not find her. At about 10PM he checked the whole building again, and the last place to look that he did not look at earlier was the vacant apartment on the 3rd floor. The door was locked, so he got his spare keys and opened the door where he saw his wife's dead body sprawled across the mattress. From the state of the room, and the bruises on her face, there had been a struggle. She had been strangled with the cord from her dressing gown, it was pulled so tightly that it had embedded itself into her flesh. Her garments had been hiked above her waist and it was later determined that she had been raped postmortem.
So Clara Newman's nephew had seen the man and he had made a statement on his physical appearance. An ice cream vendor near Laura Beal's place had seen someone that matched that description leave the house at around 4.30PM. A specialist in abnormal psychology said that the killer was "a maniac possessing extreme criminal cunning". And a man was arrested on that Saturday afternoon, a 33 year old Austrian immigrant named Joe Kessek, he was released after Merton Newman said that it was not him that he had seen in his aunts house. You will see that this becomes a very frustrating pattern in this case.
There was a short break between this victim and his next, but if you remember, he returned home and started working as the gardener / handyman at this point, then left.
Victim number 3 was a 63 year old lady named Lillian St Mary. Lillian was separated from her husband and she lived with her adult son named James. They lived at 1073 Dolores Street in San Francisco, and to bring in extra income she would rent out the spare rooms in her large home. Every evening she would prepare dinner for her tenants, and every day at around 2pm she would go to the shops to get the supplies for dinner. On Thursday the 10th of June 1926, she was just on her way out to go do the shopping when her doorbell rang, it was a man looking for a room to stay, so she put down her purse and showed him the house. She was murdered by this man in the spare room. One of the other tenants at her house found her body. He returned home at around 5pm and he was surprised to see that she was not cooking like she normally was at that time. He climbed the stairs and saw the door to the spare vacant room was ajar. When he looked inside he saw her body stretched on the bed, glasses still on her face, hair disheveled, and her dress shoved above her waist. He called the police immediately. It was later discovered that she too had been raped post mortem.
The detective on the case called the Bureau of criminal investigation for help. Lillian St Mary had finger marks on her throat, showing that she had been strangled, as well as 9 broken ribs which indicated that the killer had knelt on her while he strangled her. Her glasses still being on indicated to the detectives that there was not much of a struggle, they believe she was probably taken by surprise.
It was at around this time that the press started reporting about the "dark strangler" a monster who would get into elderly ladies homes that had rooms for rent and strangle then assault them. There was a panic amongst the people who lived in the San Francisco bay area, and every detective was put on the case, a whole 10 detectives, I don’t know how many detectives there are in that area now, but I feel like its way more than 10. Anyway, the roaring 20s man. Another man named Otto Krueger was arrested at this point on suspicion of being the strangler. He was just babbling all sorts of weird things so you know, Arrest the man!, they had no proof it was him so he was released.
The next victim was 53 year old Ollie Russell. She was married, and lived at 425 Chapala Street, which was in Santa Barbera. Just for reference, for the people like me that have no idea where anything is on the united states continent, Santa Barbera was about 325 miles or 523 Km from San Francisco. This trip would take about 5hrs to drive, today, back then the cars were much slower. I did a map with the Stranglers movements and I calculated all the distances, so I will put that up online somewhere so you have some sort of reference. Anyway, Ollie Russell was a very cautious lady, especially since she had heard of this "dark strangler". She had fixed her windows so that they could not open more than 6 inches to prevent anyone from breaking inside. She would also remove all her jewelry before she saw anyone she did not know, sounds like how we all have to live nowadays. On the 24th of June 1926, someone arrived at her door inquiring about the room that she had available for rent. The fact that she let this stranger in, goes to show how well he carried himself, for her to be calm enough around him to let him in. What happened next is quite disturbing. One of her boarders, a fireman named William Franey who worked night shift discovered the murder. He was asleep in his room which was an adjoining room to the one that was up for rent, when a commotion woke him up. He thought maybe he was getting a new neighbor and that they were just bumping things around while moving in. He was a curious sausage, so he peeked through the keyhole in the door and he saw a man with his pants down on top of a woman, he was not sure who either was. He checked his watch which said that the time was about 3.32Pm. When he peeped back again, the man pulled away, pulled up his pants and left. He thought the lady lying there looked a lot like the landlady, Ollie Russell but he could not be certain. He then had the idea that maybe she was having an affair. He did not want to meddle in other people's business though, but he did go around the porch and peer through the window, where he could see that she was not moving and there seemed to be blood on the bed near her. The curtains obscured his sight a bit so he was not sure. To be fair, he did act a tad suspicious, and weird, he started going towards her husband's place of work, then turned around and decided against it. He rang the doorbell to the house, and there was no answer, so he let himself back in, then he noticed that she had left her door open which she never did, this caused alarm, so he rushed to her husband's place of work, and told him what he thought he saw. The husband went back home and had a look and then called the cops. They found that she had been strangled with a loop of cord that had been pulled so tightly that it tore the flesh of her throat. As Mr. Franey witnessed, she too was sexually assaulted postmortem. Both Mr Franey and her husband were suspects for a while, but later released due to lack of evidence.
Over the next week there were a few people that were actually arrested, all because of being homeless or strange looking, all were released.
Side note, it was in this week that year that there was a pack of man eating lions roaming around, thought that was interesting.
On the 11th of August, a man named Phillip H Brown confessed to the Strangler killings. After some intense questioning, they found out that he was actually a 28 year old narcotics addict named Paul Cameron, OK Paul.
Mary Nisbett was in her early 50s, she lived at 525 Twenty Seventh Street in Oakland with her husband Stephen. Just for reference, Oakland is around 320 miles or 515kms from Santa Barbera, this is about 5hour drive, or 8 hour train today. Not much was really said about Mary in my source material, but one thing that was said was that her and her husband were truly in love, they were #couplegoals. Mary was the landlady at their apartments and Stephen worked as a school custodian. On the 16th of August 1926 at around 4.50pm Stephen returned home from work and his wife was not there, however, there were ingredients for a stew, half prepped. He assumed that she had just quickly gone to the shops to get something, but then he found her purse in the bedroom and thought she would return shortly. Nearing 6pm he started to get a bit more worried, he asked the tenants if they perhaps knew where she was, the tenants suggested that he go to the grocer to see if he had seen her, which he had not. At 7.30pm, he grew very worried. He did a quick check to make sure that she was not in the house somewhere and then went to the police. The police in true police fashion suggested that he should go home and wait for another hour, then if she didn’t return home, they would step in. When he got home, he realized that he hadn't checked the bathroom in the vacant apartment, so he went and checked that. To his horror he found Mary sprawled face down on the bathroom floor. She had been garroted with the kitchen towel, which had been pulled so hard that it had frayed. Her face was slammed into the tiles as the killer knelt on her back. Her teeth were shattered and her lower body was battered and bruised. She was raped post mortem.
Beata Withers was a 32 year old divorcee who lived with her son Charles Withers at 815 East Lincoln Street, in Portland. Portland is around 635 miles or 1021 kms from Oakland, it takes a 10 hour drive in today's cars. Back to Beata, she was a very pretty and social lady who was often visiting friends or running errands. On Tuesday the 19th of October 1926, Charles arrived home from school at around 3.30pm and found that his mother was not there. By supper time he called her "friend" Mr WR Frentzel, the 2 of them searched the house and could not find her. Charles spent the night alone at home and the next day he got up early and went to the police station to report his mother missing. When he got home from school that day, his mother was still nowhere to be found. Charles called Mr. Frentzel again who arrived with a friend of his and they did a more thorough search. The last place that Mr. Frentzel searched was in the attic. When he got up there, he saw a big trunk where he knew that Beata kept some clothing, he opened the trunk and saw that her clothes were just haphazzardly stuffed inside, which Beata would never do. He started to remove some of the clothes and was shocked to find her stuffed in the trunk, underneath her clothes. Her corpse was naked, except for a thin cotton slip that she had on, she lay in the fetal position inside the trunk. The police arrived and did a search of the house. Detective Tackaberry, who was the detective on the case and also a moron, came across a small picture in the kitchen of a box with little faeries coming out of it with a poem that went as follows:
Build for yourself a strong box,
Fashion each part with care.
When it is as strong as your hand
can make it.
Put all your troubles there.
Hide there all thought of your failures
And each bitter cup that you quaff,
Lock all your heartaches within it,
Then sit on the lid and laugh!
Tell no one else its contents,
Never its secrets share;
When you’ve dropped in
your care and worry
Keep them forever there;
Hide them from sight so completely
That the world will never dream half;
Fasten the strong box securely—
Then sit on the lid and laugh!
Upon seeing this the detective had a little brain fart and decided that she MUST have stuffed herself inside that box and suffocated to death, he ordered another police man to get inside and pull the clothes over himself and then close the lid, which the detective was able to do. Tackaberry considered himself very smart for solving this case so quickly. His reasoning that she committed suicide by trunk was a diary that he had found that explained her love affair with Mr Frentzel, who was a married man, and she was very upset about this. Mr. Frentzl, and her ex-husband were suspects in this but there was not enough evidence for either.
In late October, another man was arrested in San Jose on suspicion that he was the strangler, he was actually found to be a serial rapist, and not the dark strangler that everyone was looking for.
Only 1 day after the discovery of Beata Withers' body, Virginia Grant, a 59 year old lady was found in the basement of one of her properties at 604 East Twenty Second Street in Portland. This was the 21st of October 1926. Her body was found behind the furnace and 2 of her diamond rings were missing from her fingers. The police in all their wisdom, determined that she was an elderly woman and she must have died from natural causes, possibly a heart attack. Yeah right.
Victim number 8 was a lady named Mabel Fluke, she was 37 years old and a widow. Mabel was the daughter of a prominent business man, and her husband had died from cancer. She was a small, pretty lady, but her health was not great. She was however, very headstrong. She owned a house in Portland at 1521 East Twenty First Street, but she moved back to her parents' estate and stayed in a bungalow there. She had enrolled in business school and did stenography, while renting out her house in Portland. She had put out an ad in the newspaper that she would be holding vbiewings at the house on Wednesday, the 20th of October from 10AM to 5PM. Early on Wednesday morning she went to the house and she saw a few prospective tenants. She was seen at 1pm showing a couple the house, then 2 hours later a family arrived but there was no answer at the door. By Thursday she had not arrived back at her parents house. On Saturday her family grew worried and her father along with a police officer went to the house. They found her body in the attic, stretched out on her back, one shoe on and one shoe off. She had died of strangulation, her silk scarf tied tightly around her neck. Judging by the smell they assumed that she had been dead for a few days. Her diamond rings and overcoat were missing.
The deputy coroner, made the dumbass remark that she could have done this to herself in an act of suicide. She could have pulled her scarf tightly around her neck and tied it there.
The 3 previous victims had not been raped. The police dedicated every available detective to the cases.
On the 31st of October *Halloween! Houdini the famous magician, passed away.
We now go back to San Francisco. Mrs William Anna Edmonds (Also saw Willhelmina in other sources) was around 56 years old, she occupied a 2 story house at 3524 Fulton Street. She was a widow, and basically was housebound at this time because she had fallen and broken her shoulder blade, ouch. She wanted to sell the house because she thought that it was too large, and she wanted something smaller and easier to manage. Her grown son Raoul, lived on his own, so she was all alone in this large house. On Thursday, the 18th of November, at around 6pm Raoul arrived at her house to discuss birthday plans for the following day (her birthday was the next day) There was no response when he arrived, which was strange to him, because he knew she should have been at home with her shoulder, so he walked around back and saw that the back door was open. His mother was nervous at the best of times, but since her shoulder injury, she was even more nervous, which alarmed him because she never would have left the door open. He called for her, and searched the house, there was no answer. The final room that he got to was her "radio room" where she would enjoy listening to the radio and reading the paper. The door to this room was locked so he picked the lock with his pocket knife and inside he found his mother's body sprawled on the floor, hair a mess and her ankle length skirt pulled up to her waist. The jewellery that she wore was missing and her purse was stolen.
The police hesitated to attribute this to the dark strangler because besides the 2 bruises on her neck, there was no real signs of a struggle, and the body wasn’t concealed in any way, however, they did determine that she had been assaulted after death. A neighbour recalled that they had witnessed Mrs Edmonds talking to a man at around 1.30pm and they were told that the man was interested in buying the house.
On the 19th of November, 1 day after Mrs Edmonds attack, a pregnant 28 year old lady named Mrs HC Murray was attacked in her home at around 6pm. SHE LIVED! What happened with her, was that she had put the house up for sale a few months earlier. While her husband was at work that day, a stranger showed up at her door and she showed him the house, she said that he was very nice, but she did get a bad vibe and tried to stay some distance away from him while showing the house. While going through the house he spoke a lot. He spoke about the building, then spoke about religion and how his ex-wife was a flirt and how he just could not stand it. He also kept trying to draw her attention to the ceiling, any way to make her look up, finally he tricked her and tried to strangle her, but she fought back like a banshee, screaming and scratching at him, getting him in the face. She somehow got loose and threw herself through the screen door, and he ran away. She was ok, besides the obvious trauma.
At this point the police realised that he had switched up his MO a bit and went from pretending to rent rooms, to wanting to buy a house.
We now move on to Seattle, which is around 810 miles or 1303 kms from San Francisco, this is a 13 hour drive, or 1 day and 5 hour train ride. His next victim was Florence Monks, 48 years old. She was often alone, however her friends did describe her as somewhat vain. She unfortunately had a heart ailment but that did not stop her from being fabulous! She wore a lot of expensive jewellery, all the time. Sweeping? Diamonds, shopping? Diamonds! You get the point. She was twice widowed, which is how she got her fortune. She inherited money and real estate from both of her dead husbands. Her and her second husband had relocated from New York to Seattle 5 years earlier and he passed shortly after moving. Just to explain how rich this lady was, she was rumoured to be worth at least $500 000, which in today's money is around $7.7 million dollars, or R115 454 547! That’s a lot of money. She would often walk around with her expensive diamonds strapped to the inside of her leg, and her fancy brooches pinned to her under clothes. She was trying to sell the house at 723 Twelfth Avenue North in Seattle. On the 22nd of November she posted about it in the paper stating that she would be doing viewings on Wednesday the 25th of November. On the 23rd (Tuesday) she arrived at the Seattle house to prepare for the viewings. She called a few friends to discuss upcoming plans, and a couple came around that afternoon to look at the place. At around 2.30pm she called the caterer to make plans for a huge party in December. After about 15 minutes on the phone with the caterer, she cut the call short and said that she had to go as there was someone at the door.
At around 8PM that night one of her friends arrived at the house to discuss an upcoming party. Nobody answered the door, so he tried calling for her. He walked around the house and eventually gave up and went home. At around 6pm the following day, the neighbours noticed some people outside Mrs Monks house, they seemed frustrated, so the neighbour went to check what was up. They had made an appointment to view the house and now nobody was answering. This neighbour happened to have a key because Mrs Monks gave him one for when she could not make it for viewings, so he got his key and showed the people the house. They were obviously uninterested because they cut the viewing short and left before they could get through half of the house. This neighbour checked the garage and noticed that Mrs Monks car was there, which made him worry. He called another neighbour over and they did a quick check to see if they could find her, they did not know where the light switch was for the basement so they just left. At around 8pm that night the caretaker of her estate arrived after growing worried about her and let himself in. The house seemed to have been ransacked, and he went down to the cellar / basement where he knew exactly where that pesky light switch was, and there he found her body. It had been shoved behind the furnace. He quickly called the police who arrived and started to investigate. It was not immediately clear that she had died of strangulation, there were marks on her throat, but there was also a large contusion on her head. They believed that she had been bludgeoned or died of shock. There was no sexual assault in this case, so they assumed that the motive must have been robbery.
The captain detective Charles Tennant actually went so far as to say in a press conference that if anyone was to blame in Mrs Monks death, it was the victim herself because of her vanity.
6 days later, back in Portland, the dark strangler attacked again. For reference Portland is around 174 miles or 280 kms from Seattle, this would take around 2 hours 40 minutes to drive or 3 and a half hours by train. His 11th victim was Blanch Myers, a beautiful 48 year old widow. Her husband had died from a heart attack 4 years prior. She stayed in an apartment at 449 Tenth Street in Portland. She rented the house from Alexander Muir and she sublet 2 of the rooms. On Monday the 29th of November, Mr Muir was having lunch with Blanch when somebody rang the doorbell. She excused herself from the table and went to the door where she chatted for a short while. She returned with some coins and told Mr Muir that someone had rented out the room and paid a week in advance (just for interest sakes, it was $3.50 for the week) He had apparently come around on the previous Saturday and looked at the place, but now he had gone for a nap because he was "dog tired". Mr Muir needed to leave, it was around 1pm. It is assumed that within the hour after she was called to the new tenants room, and she was then killed. Her youngest son Lawrence, who still lived at home notified the police of his missing mother after 12 hours of not hearing from her. 2 police officers went around to the house and they found her body stuffed under the single bed in the room that was rented out the day before. It had been concealed with a low hanging quilt. She was strangled to death with her tea apron which had been wrapped around her neck 5 times and tied. There were a few items missing and they were unable to tell if she had been sexually assaulted or not.
Now the police work has been pretty crappy until this point, I mean remember the detective that climbed into the trunk, getting rid of all the evidence?? But with this case, they actually did what they were supposed to do, they closed off the scene and took as many photographs and as much evidence as they could.
Chief Thatcher made a statement that he believed that the perpetrator was not taking things from these crime scenes for the sake of robbery, he believed that he was taking them as souvenirs, which back then was unheard of almost, today we know that this is a common thing for serial killers to do to relive the crime.
Quick interesting story about 2 elderly widows, Mrs Edna Gaylord and her tenant Mrs Sophie Yates who stayed at 3rd street in Portland. They stated that they had stayed with the strangler the days leading up to Blanches attack. A man calling himself Adrian Harris showed up at around 10AM on the 23rd of November (the day before thanksgiving), and he seemed like the perfect gentleman. He took the room on the second floor, paying 1 week in advance, went to take a nap because he was " dog tired", then emerged later that evening, where he had a fat chat with the 2 ladies, especially about religion and how his ex-wife was a cheater and a flirt and how much he couldn’t stand that. He left the house to do some shopping and returned with 2 grocery bags full of food for thanksgiving. He spent a whole $14 dollars on this food. The next day, Thanksgiving, they had a lovely time, cooking, eating and chatting. Altogether he stayed there for 4 and a half days, he would only leave to get the newspaper. At around 10 AM on Monday, November 29, he declared that he was leaving, he left the 2 women with extravagant gifts, several costly pieces of jewellery - which happened to be Florence Monks jewellery! He did also try to sell a very specific white gold brooch at a few pawn shops, but nobody took it.
At this time the police were able to connect the fingerprints that were found at the Monks scene to the Myers scene, which was a pretty big deal. Another big deal was the fact that everyone that came into contact with this monster commented on how nice he was, just showing his Dr Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde personality.
3 weeks after the murder of Mrs Myers, The dark Strangler struck again, this time in Council Bluffs, which is in Iowa. To get to Council Bluffs, it is a trip of around 1662 miles or 2674 kms. This would take around 24 hours to drive. The next victim, Mrs john Brerard ( I don't know how naiming worked back then man) who was 41 years old, lived with her husband and 19 year old daughter at 351 Willow Avenue in Council Bluffs. She rented out the 2 spare bedrooms on the 2nd floor of their house. The one room was taken by a tenant named Robert Moore. At around 3.15PM on the 24th of December, Mr Moore was on his way to work (he worked night shift) and he saw Mrs Brerard chatting to a man in the sitting room. She called him over and introduced the man as Mr. Williams, but Robert was running late so he shook his hand, didn’t pay much attention to him and left. At around 4pm that day, her daughter arrived home from work and found the house empty, she wasn't concerned, however, as she knew that there was a big celebration the next day for Christmas, as well as Mrs Brerards birthday which was on the 28th of December, so she assumed her mom went to the shops. Mr Brerard arrived home just after 5pm and he and his daughter went out to do some shopping together, probably last minute Christmas shopping, you know how it is. They arrived home and there was still no sign of Mrs Breard. He found her body in the basement, stuffed behind the furnace. She had been strangled with a mans shirt that they assumed was on the wash line. It seemed that she had put up a huge fight, the whole basement was a mess and she was also battered and bruised and had typical defensive wounds. Clumps of her hair had been pulled out. The police did some digging and they found out that she had recently been discharged from a mental hospital for a 'nervous disorder' so they then speculated that she must have committed suicide. Some did not agree and immediately accused the husband, then there were others that thought it could have been that 'Mr. Williams" character that she was seen talking to.
One of Mrs Brearards neighbours, Mrs Brown who also had a for sale sign up was approached about 30 minutes before the man was seen at the Breard house by a man going by the name of mr Williams who claimed to be an inspector of fireplaces, who wanted to get into her house to see inside, she refused him access. How lucky she was.
3 days later in Kansas city, Iowa, which is around 200 miles or 321kms from Council Bluffs, Bonnie Pace was killed. Bonnie was only around 23 years old, she stayed at 3920 Hammond Street, Kansas City. She was married to a man named Raymond and they had a 6 year old son named Victor who was bedridden due to having a tubercular spine. On Monday, 27 December, Raymond returned home from work at around 2pm. When he arrived home Victor called out for him from his bed, he said to his father that his mother had fallen down the stairs. Raymond rushed to the staircase, and did not see any sign of his wife there. He went upstairs and he found her body in a bedroom, her dress had been hiked up to her hips and she had marks on her throat. When the police interviewed Victor, he said that he heard his mother let someone into the house, then he heard a struggle, a thump, and someone fleeing. He thought maybe it could be a family friend named Robert Mckinly who often "visited mama while papa was away at work". Both Robert and Raymond became suspects, but both of them had airtight alibis.
Exactly 24 hours after the discovery of Bonnie Pace's body, at 2pm on Tuesday the 28th of December a man named Marius Harpin returned home to 2330 Mercier Street in Kansas City, where he found his 28 year old wife Germania Harpin, and Trigger Warning, their 8 month old son Robert Harpin dead. Both were strangled to death. There was a cigarette butt found in the bathroom, but nobody in the Harpin household smoked, and they knew from the interview with the ladies that lived with the strangler for a few days, that he loved to smoke. This would unfortunately not be his last child victim, but this was his last murder for the year of 1926
The year is now 1927, There's still flappers flapping about, no cell phones, a serial killer on the loose, and the term " serial killer had not even been coined yet, side note, the term serial killer is believed to have been coined by FBI agent Ressler in 1974. It only really caught on in the media in the early 80s though. Now it's used in everyday language basically!!
Another fun fact, sorry I'm just sprinkling them in like it's going out of business! A lot of people actually blame the advent of the motorized car with the rise in serial killers. Think about it, before the car was a thing, people could not travel as easily or as quickly, so they were more likely to be caught!
Anyway, The Dark Strangler's 16th victim was a lady named Mary McConnell. She was a 53 year old widow who lived in Philadelphia on South Sixteenth street (street and victim number both 16!) Again I am going to be doing the distances for those who are interested in them. Philadelphia is around 1200 miles or 1931 kms from Kansas City, this would take around 17 hours to drive, so this is now on the East Coast of the us of a. So in this case a neighbour of Mary's saw a strange man approach the house at around 2.45pm, on the 27th of April. The house was up for sale and had been on the market for nearly a year. About half an hour after the neighbour saw the man, they saw him leave again. Her body was found only a few moments later by her son-in-law, who was there to help her re-paper an upstairs bedroom. He arrived at the house at around 3.30pm and when he got inside he saw that the place was a mess, it seemed like there had been some kind of struggle. He found her body stuffed under the bed. She had been strangled with a dust rag that had been knotted so tightly that her son-in-law could not get it loose with his fingers and had to cut it off. An old cotton sock had also been stuffed deep into her mouth. After examining the scene, the detectives concluded that this was the work of the strangler, whose description by that point was known by every state.
1 month and 3 days later, he struck again. This time he was in Buffalo. Buffalo is about 400 miles or 643kms from Philadelphia and would take around 6 hours to drive. Mrs Jennie Randolph was a 53 years old widow who was described as loving and almost saintly. Her story is the saddest one for me. What happened was, she and her only son Orville had moved into the 2 story house at 175 Plymouth Avenue in Buffalo 18 years earlier after the death of her husband. Only 6 years later, Orville died from complications of a ruptured appendix. This loss made her loved ones fear that she might just give up, however, she decided that she would keep moving onward, and she plunged herself into church work and she dedicated herself to the welfare of others. To make ends meet she would work as a waitress at the YMCA restaurant, and she also started taking in tenants who provided her with that extra bit of income as well as acted as an outlet for her to express her maternal side. At around 11am on Friday the 27th of May 1927 a man who called himself Charles Harrison appeared at her door, Jennies brother Gideon, who happened to be one of her tenants opened the door and greeted the man, who explained that he was looking for a place to live, and he saw that there was a room available there. Gideon told him that the room was $5 a week, which made this strange man almost decline the room, saying that it was too high for him. Jennie showed up at the door to see what was happening, when this strange man suddenly reconsidered.. SUSPISH! He then left and returned at around 6pm that evening with $5 for the room and went and settled in. On Sunday the 29th of May, Jennie found herself chatting with this strange new tenant of hers for hours. They sat in the sitting room, along with Jennies brother, chatting merrily into the night. At around 10pm, Jennies brother went to bed, he said that he woke up at around 12am the next morning, and he heard that they were still in the sitting room talking. At around 3am, he awoke again and went downstairs to take the milk bottles out, and instead of going back to his room, he fell asleep on the couch. Another tenant, Fred Merrit, who was a night shift watchman, returned from his shift at around 7.30am, he was surprised to see that Jennie was not there getting ready to go to work, but he shrugged it off and went out to go get himself some breakfast, about 15 minutes later he returned, and she was still nowhere to be found, so he woke up Gideon, and they started to search. Gideon noticed ugly red stains in the kitchen that Fred had not seen, they looked like blood stains. They rushed towards her room, and they saw the same reddish stain leading up the stairs, the trail of blood stains ended at the new tenants door. They bashed the door open and there they saw a pair of woman's feet sticking out from under the bed. Her assault was described as Bestial. Her eyes were black and bulging, her nose was beaten flat and her face was covered in scratch marks. She had been hit hard on the side of the head with a blunt object and she was garrotted with a kitchen towel, that had been pulled so tightly that it had embedded itself in her flesh. She was naked below the waist, her skirt and under garments violently ripped off, she was raped post mortem. Her tenant " Mr Harrison", nowhere to be seen.
The police chief in Buffalo immediately knew that it was this Harrison guy and he also said that he believed it was the strangler from the other side of the country, the one who called himself Adrian Harris.
His next attack was a double hit and it was in Detroit which is 256 miles or around 411km from Buffalo, this is about a 4.5 hour drive from Buffalo. This slaying happened on the 1st of June 1927, only a few days after Jennie Randolph.
The two victims were Mrs Noresh Chandra Atorthy, however, at the time she was going as her maiden name Maureen Oswald, she was married to and divorced from her ex-husband who was a Hindu physician. According to her own reports in the divorce proceedings, Dr Atorthy was highly abusive and a terrible husband who would humiliate her all the time. In his report, he said that his wife was an alcoholic and a drug addict who had stolen narcotics from his office. Later on the discovered that she had served in the army and was wounded and sadly had become addicted to morphine, morphine is insane, it's so addictive, I have seen so many people's lives ruined by it. Any way, she had taken up a room at 640 Philadelphia Avenue West, which was a boarding house that was managed by a widow named Mrs Fanny May. Now not much was really said about what happened, but the owner of the boarding house, Mr Leonard Sink (cool name), went around to collect the rent on the 1st of June and there was no answer at the door, so he left. On the 2nd of June he returned, again there was no answer, so he left again, finally on the 3rd of June he went back, he collected 2 officers and they went into the house. They found Mrs May's body first, she was lying face down on the tiles in the upstairs bedroom, her white cotton dress was bunched above her hips and an electric cord was wrapped around her neck. Mrs Atorphy (Maureen Oswald) was found stretched on the floor of the adjacent room, she had been garrotted with a length of black ribbon. The front of her blouse was ripped open, and her skirt was pulled up to her waist, her hat was on the floor next to her. They assumed, by the way that the 2 ladies were dressed, Mrs May in her house clothes, and Mrs Atorphy in her going out clothes, that Mrs May was killed first, then the killer waited for Mrs Atorphy to arrive. Now Mrs Atorphy, who was known to have a small wee bit of a drug problem, was also said to have been a bit rough, so the police assumed that she had been killed by one of her drug friends, essentially blaming the whole thing on her.
On Friday the 4th of June, he killed a 27 year old landlady named Mary Cecilia Sietsema in the living room of her home at 7501 South Sangamon Street, Chicago. This is about 283 Miles or 455 kms from Detroit, and would take a train about 6 hours, or it would be about 4 hour 20 minute drive. At first there were 2 suspects that were named in this case , but they were both cleared, the one who had blood on his shoes (which is suspishious) was able to prove that it had come from a wound he sustained when opening a tub of butter in his father's shop (still feels suspish) and the other suspect was able to prove that he was out getting drunk, which, ok man. There was literally nothing else that I could find about this case, but this was his last victim in America, she was Victim number 20.
Earle Nelson was now moving his way to Canada, Winnipeg to be more precise, he crossed the border into Canada on the 8th of June 1927. To get to Winnipeg from Chicago it is around 1100 miles or 1770 kms, and would take around 17 hours to drive. We know that Earle hitched rides to get there. He did not have 2 cents to rub together so he sold some clothing and began looking for a place to stay.
He arrived at 133 Smith Street just before 5pm on Wednesday the 8th of June. The lady who I assume owned the place, but she definitely ran it name was Mrs Hill. She answered the door, and he introduced himself as Mr Woodcoats. She was like a battle axe and told him immediately that she did not allow drinking or whoring, he said he was happy with the rules because he wanted a quiet place , to study his bible. He knew just what to say to manipulate the ladies. Anyway, she liked what she heard and invited him inside, she had a room available for $12 and a smaller room for $10 but the smaller one would only be available the next week, he said he would take the larger one for now, but he didn’t have any money on him and asked if he could pay the first weeks rent on that Friday, she was OK with that. So they chatted for a while, and she said later that he seemed like a man of high ideals, and that she liked him. He went to bed and only emerged at teatime the next day, Thursday 9 June, this is when he attacked his next victim.
There is a trigger warning for this next victim, she was a child. Lola Cowan was only a few days away from turning 14. It was said that she was still a child but she had the body of an adult and could have passed as 20. On the 9th of June, she was waiting around in the park wanting to play baseball with her friends and at 5pm she scooped up her books and headed home. She was a responsible child for the most part, her father had fallen ill and therefore could not work, so in the evenings she would take fake flowers that her sister made and she would try to sell them. She arrived home at about 5.20pm that night, did some homework, then at around 6.15pm she got dressed and ready to go out and sell her flowers. 2 people recall seeing her that night. She had knocked on their doors trying to sell them some flowers and both declined, so when and where, and how she ran into earle Nelson is not known, and never will be. The theory is that he bumped into her on the street then in an effort to get her to be alone, he told her he wanted to buy some flowers, but she would need to go back to his place with him so he could get some cash. Just, if someone says you need to go back to their place so that they can buy your product or service, rather run in the other direction please. He did somehow lure her there though on that evening, June 9th and he somehow got her inside his room without anyone knowing or seeing anything, because this is where he murdered Lola Cowan, by strangling her, he hid her body under the bed and it went undetected for days. Earle was gone from the lodging house by 11pm that night.
A few miles away in Elmwood, an elderly widower noticed a man across the road at his neighbours house fiddling with the door. He often saw the husband leave early and only return after dark, and he assumed that the man was the husband of the house. The family that lived at the house was named Patterson, it was a husband and wife named William and Emily, and their 2 sons, they had just arrived in the country from Ireland 2 weeks earlier. The elderly neighbor also did not recognise that same strange man leave the house in completely different clothes about half an hour later.
A secondhand clothes dealer (Thrift shoppingggg) on main street had a customer come in at around 1.15pm that day and ask for a full new outfit, so he picked one out and was able to pay $30 dollars for the lot. He had a bunch of notes in his pocket that he used to pay for this (this is important later). He then also went for a shave and haircut at 2pm. That evening he hopped on a trolley (train) after eating and purchasing a weird fedora hat, and he sat next to a man and introduced himself as Walter woods, he kept asking the man if he was religious and the man was like, uh, not really. Eventually one of the things that he said to the man that stood out to him was "Satan has too much power over educated men like me." Then he gave him his weird hat that he had just bought.
At around 6.25pm, William Patterson arrived home in Elmwood. The house was empty, and his 2 sons were still at his neighbour, Mrs Evelyn Stanger, who had not seen their mother since that morning when they chatted while dropping their kids at school. He took the boys back home, fed them and put them to bed, but by 10.30pm he started to worry about his wife. They did not have a phone so he went back to the Stanger household and used their phone to call all of Emily's friends, no one had seen her or heard from her all day. He returned home just after 11pm and was worried sick. He noticed something that he had not noticed earlier, his little locked suitcase where he stashed his nest egg money, about $60 had been tampered with and pried open. He went to look inside and his money was gone, replaced with a hammer. He had no idea what was going on, he claimed that he felt dizzy with confusion and being the deeply religious man that he was, he knelt by his sons bed and started to pray, as he got up his knee caught the low hanging cover and he saw something under the bed, it looked like his wife's sweater, so when he felt under the bed he got the shock of his life. His wife's strangled and mutilated corpse was stuffed under their sons bed. Emily was only 23 years old, her skirt had been yanked up to her waist and her stockings were rolled down to her knees. She had blood all over her face from her beaten nose and mouth. She also had a nasty bruise on her forehead that they thought could have come from the hammer that Mr Patterson found in his suitcase. She was hit with the hammer, then strangled to death, she was raped post mortem, they found some dried semen on her thigh.
The detectives at the scene found that one of Mr Patterson's coats was missing, and that the killer seemed to have left his own coat there in the corner, inside the coat they found a piece of newspaper that had the rooms for rent section on it crumpled in the pocket.
At this point the police were like "hmm, we think this is that dark strangler fellow from the states, we must be on high alert!" They went to boarding houses throughout the area, which included the boarding house that Mrs Hill ran (the one where Earle had stayed for a while). They asked her if she had any dodgy lodgers, and she said no, because remember she thought that Mr Woodcoats was lovely, even though she had not seen him for a few days, she assumed that he was still there! By the following day, Sunday the 12th of June, she did start to get a bit worried though, because he still owed her rent for the week that he was there. So she went to the door and knocked, there was no answer so she opened the door. She saw that nobody had been there since she last went into the room a few days ago, she also noticed a foul stench that was in the room, she assumed that the smell was the lingering stink of Mr Woodcoats, coz remember, he stanky. So she opened the window then left the room, leaving the door open behind her. She then went downstairs and told her husband that she may have inadvertently lied to the police and that she was worried. He told her that he would stop at the police station the next day on his way home from work, which he did the next day at about 5.30pm. At around this exact time, another one of Mrs Hills tenants who was staying in the nice room, happened to be walking up the stairs and he looked inside the room that was now open that Mr Woodcoats had stayed in, when he caught a glimpse of something under the bed. When he realised what he was looking at, he freaked out and ran to Mrs Hill who went to go and investigate. When she looked under the bed, she saw the naked body of 14 year old Lola Cowan, (obviously she didn’t know who it was). Shame, by this time the news had broken and hundreds of people gathered outside the boarding house, all with a morbid curiosity that only people can have. Poor Mr Hill was so unaware of the fiasco at his house, after going to the police station, he went to church and only arrived home at about 7.30pm. He was shocked to see the crowds of people, and he just heard bits of conversations about the murdered woman, so he damn near had a heart attack, and he rushed inside. He was relieved to see his wife was alive, but when he looked in the room he saw that the bed had been moved and there on the floor lay a naked 14 year old girl, stiff and very much dead. She had a small smudge of blood on her thigh. The cops had no way of identifying her.
Now back to the poor Cowans, when Lola failed to return home on Thursday night, her parents were worried sick, but they tried to stay calm and call her friends, they thought maybe she went somewhere and didn’t tell them, early the next morning, her father arrived at her school where she was absent, he asked her peers if anyone knew where she might have been but nobody knew. He then went to report her missing. By Sunday they had no idea where she might be, in a desperate attempt, her mother hired a fortune teller who said that a man in a blue suit will bring news of Lola before Monday. Her father went to church on Sunday evening where he heard people talking about the dead teenager that was found, he went to the house where he learned that the body of a 14ish year old had been found and was taken to the undertaking parlour, he rushed to get to the undertaking parlour, and when he got there, he found that his wife was already there. Remember how she filed that missing person's report? Well the police at the scene of the crime checked with missing persons and they found this child that was reported missing, so constable Payne showed up at her house that evening in his blue suit and asked her to come and identify the body.
Now the hunt was on. The police knew that they had to catch this guy because he would just carry on, and if he got back into America, there would be no way of stopping him, so they went balls to the wall! At this point it was all over the news, everyone was on the lookout for what they called "The Gorilla man". Every deadbolt, door chain and lock was sold out almost immediately because there was such widespread panic and fear. People who ran boarding houses turned away any strangers, so visitors were forced to find other accommodation, like hotels. There was a manhunt for this man, and sooo many people got themselves involved. There were patrols being done and households were being interviewed by the police. There was a reward put up for $1000, which someone added to, making it $1500 for any information that led to an arrest.
In the beginning they seemed to make progress, they found Mr Patterson's suit in the second hand store on manin street, the owner gave the police details on the man and what had happened the day that he was there, with this information, the police were able to put a bulletin board up with information, it described the suspect as the following:
28 to 30 years, 5 ft. 7 or 8 ins., 150 lbs.,
dark sallow complexion, has Jewish or Italian appearance, peculiar eyes, fairly well
built, hair thin on top and brushed back in long pompadour, newly barbered and
inclined to be curly, believed to have very bad corns or bunions on feet.”
Earle had arrived in Regina, which is in (forgive me) Saskatchewan, about 350 miles from Winnipeg on that Saturday afternoon. The first thing he needed to do was find a place to stay so he went to a news stand to get the rooms to rent from the newspaper. At around 3.00pm he arrived at Mary Rowe's house at 1852 Lorne Street, he told her that he was there for the room and she showed the open room to him, he asked if she had something smaller or more secluded, she did not. He said he would think it over, but after 20 minutes he was back and he said that he would stay there. He introduced himself as Harry Harcourt, then ran off to go to the shop. He only returned home much later that evening at around 10.45pm. On Sunday morning, another lodger at this house got a bit of a fright when a strange man entered her room and just stood there staring at her for a while, he then apologised profusely and said he thought that her room was the bathroom. On Monday, the 13th of June, Mary Rowe sat outside watching her daughter play, she also had a chat with her new lodger, she mentioned that she felt uncomfortable with him near her daughter because he would not stop looking at her. Later that afternoon, she realised that she had not seen her daughter in some time, so she looked around the house and there was no sight of her. She started to panic so she put her street clothes on and ran to the park near by where her daughter liked to play. She could not see her there, but she did catch a glimpse of her little blue umbrella through the bushes, so she pushed through the bushes onto a street where she found her daughter walking with the umbrella resting on her shoulder, with Mr Harcourt walking next to her (creep). She gave her daughter a stern talking to and told her not to be alone with that man. That evening she didn’t feel comfortable being alone in the house with him(smart) so she took her daughter out for dinner, he asked where he could get a shave and said that he had a "hot date" llater that evening. When she returned, he had the shave but mentioned that he got stood up.
The next morning. 13 June, he left the house and hurried back about 20 minutes later, he was rushing, and she noticed that he had a copy of the newspaper in his hand. He literally ran upstairs, got changed into something else and left, leaving his belongings behind.
What had happened, is that he saw in the paper that the whole of Canada was basically after him, so now he had to run. When he left the boarding house, the first place he stopped was a jeweller. He had a gold ring that he had taken off of Mrs Pattersons body that he needed to sell, the jeweller later commented that he had never seen such large hands before. He then went to a thrift shop and swapped his clothes for a khaki shirt and some overalls. He left the thris=ft store and was receiving some strange stares - fancy fedora, had to sell for plainer hat.
By 10am he was a mile southeast trying to hitch a ride - trying to get back to USA. Driver only took him about an hour, wasn’t going as far as he wanted to go
While taking a break, another car stopped with a travelling salesman inside, offered him a lift, only took him about 3 miles. A few moments later another man named Silverman stopped and asked Earle where he was headed and explained that he was looking for scrap metal and that he needed a hand, earle took the opportunity. Spent the day picking up scrap metal, spent the night in a hotel, next day went in search of scrap metal again. Spent the night at another hotel, thenn the next day Silverman dropped earle off, he was now only 20 miles from the border.
According to criminologists, the typical mass murderer—the seemingly normal man who suddenly snaps and goes on a wildly destructive rampage—is motivated not just by homicidal impulses but by suicidal ones as well. The disgruntled work- er who shows up at the office one morning and guns down everyone in sight is a kind of human time bomb, erupting in insane, random violence. When the explo- sion is over, there are corpses scattered everywhere—his own included, since most killers of this kind either take their own lives to avoid capture or die in a barrage of police gunfire. Essentially, these are men who—having reached some psycho-
logical breaking point—decide to go out in an apocalyptic blaze, taking as many people with them as they possibly can. The case tends to be different with serial killers. To be sure, some of them are actively self-destructive. In the view of many crime historians, Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror ended abruptly when the notorious harlot butcher—overwhelmed with revulsion after his final enormity—took his own life. And other homicidal maniacs have clearly wished to be stopped—most famously, the 1940s “Lipstick Killer,” William Heirens, who left a desperate message scrawled at one crime scene: “For heaven’s sake catch me before I kill more, I cannot control myself.” For the most part, however, serial murderers aren’t interested in stopping. They try to keep killing as long as they can, for a very simple reason: they enjoy it. Lust murder is their ultimate thrill. Even when their behavior borders on the reckless (on one occasion, for example, Ted Bundy abducted two young women from a crowded public beach in broad daylight), pleasure is their primary motivation. The risk-taking only adds to the excitement. Earle Leonard Nelson typified this pattern. Since embarking on his deadly spree in early 1926, he had done everything possible to avoid arrest—keeping constantly on the move, assuming a string of false identities, changing his wardrobe every time he hit a new town. Endowed with the usual traits of his breed—cunning, intel- ligence, and an abnormal sangfroid—he had managed to elude pursuers through- out the United States.
rom the moment he crossed into Canada, however, his behaviour almost guar- anteed his capture. Though it is possible that he was possessed by self-destructive impulses—a secret desire to be punished for his crimes—there are other, equally plausible explanations for his actions. Arrogance is one—the disdainful belief that, after failing to nab him for a year and a half, the police were simply no match for
him. It is also the case that, as far back as 1921, Nelson (then known as Ferral) had been diagnosed as a “constitutional psychopath with outbreaks of psychosis,” a man with a profoundly disordered mind.
Whatever the reason—suicidal feelings, hubris, or delusional thinking—Earle Leonard Nelson had left clues in his wake from the moment he arrived in Winnipeg on Wednesday, June 8. And by the following Tuesday, the police had finally picked up his trail.
The Canadian police were doing the damn thing! They were contacting everyone who was thought to have had contact with the strangler and they were closing in! They somehow found out by talking to numerous witnesses where he was (Regina) and they were headed there. Once there they found out that he had fled and which way he was going.
On Wednesday June 15 police were announcing everything they knew on the radio, in the papers, wherever they could get it out. A man named Roy Armstrong was driving along when he spotted a stranger walking on the road, he had heard what the police were saying, so he pulled over and asked the man where he was headed. The man said that he was headed to his ranch in Sparting?
Only drove a few miles, but Royt knew it was him. Now Roy over here was a bietjie greedy ok, he could have called everyone he knew and had this guy caught in no time, instead, all he could think about was the $1500 reward, so he called one guy, constable Joe young and they decided to try and catch him on their own. They literally had a cat and mouse chase, following clues and leads and trying evrything in their power to catch this guy. It squite funny actually, they stopped off eerywhere and when they heard that someone had seen a strange man they would go off in the direction of that man, the one farmer mentioned that he had seen him, but invited them in for dinner, and they wer like yeah we are pretty hungry so they went inside and ate? They were apparently hot on his tail when they somehow got their truck stuck in some mud. This was around 5.45 pm, and they were only about 5 miles from the US border.
So I just love how involved everyone in Canada was at this time, so earle was now rushing to cross that border, but a man's gotta eat, and smoke, so he stopped at a convenience store, the owner was sure it was him, he then passed a farm where the farm owner noticed him and called the police. The police rusherd to the area and they set off to catch him before he could cross the line. They pretty much all rushed to the area where there was a railroad track and at around 6.45pm, constable Gray tracked him down, drew his pistol and ordered the man to stop. At 7.45pm, he was arrested, he claimed to be Virgil Wilson, and Canadian, but they immediately picked up on the fact that he used the term ranches instead of farms, so they were like.. Hmm ok then no.
In the car, they were driving to Killarney for him to be imprisoned, the man was super chatty and really nice. The officers actually started having doubts if it was the right guy! The news had spread fast and there was a crowd waiting outside for him. He got put into his cell and he lay on his bunk, seemingly ok with everything.
Gray locked him in and left telling a Mr Dunn to keep an eye on the prisoner, about 2 hours later at 11.15pm, Dunn burst into Gray's office and exclaimed that the prisoner had escaped! What happened was, while Dunn was watching the prisoner, he wanted to have a smoke but realised he had no matches, so he figured 2 minutes away wouldn’t do any harm and went to go find matches, IT DID HHARM DUNN!
The alarms went off, a prisoner had escaped, everyone was on alert about 100 townsmen equipped with lanterns and weapons combed the woods in search of him. At this point Gray put out a notice to every department from there to Winnipeg, and the Winnipeg squad decided they would go and help in the search but there was a very heavy rain so they arranged with the train company for a special train to take them. At 2.15am, that train departed with 18 officers and 2 bloodhounds. Their anticipated arrival time was 8.30am.
What happened was, there was a small wooden shelf in the cell that Earle was placed in, he felt the shelf and there was somehow a nailfile that had slipped behind it and he used that to escape! He ran away from the jail and when he heard the alarms and the people he actually climbed up a tree (Like the Gorilla man) and he hid on the top branches while the people looked on below him. When they were gone he climbed down and carried on running. He was going in the general direction of the railroad in hopes of hopping on a train and getting out of the country. He would duck into any vacant building or spot whenever he saw a light approaching, then carry on. He eventually came up to a vacant barn where he found a pile of clothing in the corner, in the pile of clothes he found an old pare of hockey skates, which he managed to tear the blade off of , and he put those onto his bare feet. He also pulled on an old cardigan. He fell asleep in that abandoned barn, and something woke him at around 8AM, it was a train! This was it, his time to escape! He had used train hopping many times to get to his destinations, so he knew exactly how to do it.
Now this guy had balls, balls of steel! He decided, on his way to the train, he would stop and bum a smoke from a guy tending to his garden?? Now the guy that gave him the smoke kinda realised that this was the guy, but he played it cool, coz you know, murderer. When he left towards the tracks, the man that gave him a smoke found some youths and told them to rush to town to tell the people that the strangler was there! He decided to follow the man. Now at this point a police officer named Renton was on his way to get the Strangler, but his car broke down and needed repairing so he took it to the mechanic. The young boys came roaring uo the street and they told him what the other man had seen, so he jumped in their car and they sped off in the direction. They saw the strange man near the train track so Renton jumped out of the car, and Nelson saw him and tried to run but Renton told him that he had a gun. Earle stopped, he tried to lie his way out of it but it didn’t work. Shortly after this, he was driven to the train station where the train had just stopped (the one full of police personnel.) They were expecting a man hunt but the man they were hunting was delivered directly into their carriage.
The train left almost at around 10AM to go back to Winnipeg, they attempted to put handcuffs on Nelson but he got loose from them within seconds, so they had to shackle him to a chair. He kept saying that his name was Virgil Wilson, and he spoke with everyone as though he was a long lost friend. The train finally arrived at its destination at around 5.30PM. When he was marched into the interrogation room, he was fingerprinted and asked to write down his name, which he wrote as Virgil Wilson, Vancouver, but after a moment, he crossed out what he had written and actually wrote down his real name "Earle Nelson, San Francisco" as though he knew that it was over for him. He was picked from a line-up by 2 witnesses. So I don’t really have enough time to tell you about what went down at the trial, but basically the trial was set to start on the 26th of July, and his court appointed attorneys worked very hard to get it postponed. He was on trial for the 2 murders in Canada in a Canadian court. By the end of June however, he was indicted for first degree murder in 5 US cities, that being Buffalo, Detroit, Philadelphia, Portland and Fan Francisco, but Canada wanted to get him for the crimes commited on their land. He maintained his innocence the whole way through. The trial was postponed until November. The defences only hope was to get him out on insanity, they even got someone in to take x-rays of his brain to try and prove thast the head injury caused brain damage or that he may have had a syphalitic legion.
- Clara Newman, San Francisco, February 20, 1926
- Laura Beal, San Jose, March 2, 1926
- Lillian St. Mary, San Francisco, June 10, 1926
- Ollie Russell, Santa Barbara, June 24, 1926
- Mary Nisbet, Oakland, August 16, 1926
- Beata Withers, Portland, October 19, 1926
- Virginia Grant, Portland, October 20, 1926
- Mabel Fluke, Portland, October 21, 1926
- Mrs. William Anna Edmonds, San Francisco, November 18, 1926
- Florence Monks, Seattle, November 23, 1926
- Blanche Myers, Portland, November 29, 1926
- Mrs. John Brerard, Council Bluffs, Iowa, December 2, 1926
- Bonnie Pace, Kansas City, Missouri, December 27, 1926
- Germania Harpin, Kansas City, Missouri, December 28, 1926
- Robert Harpin, Kansas City, Missouri, December 28, 1926
- Mary McConnell, Philadelphia, April 27, 1927
- Jennie Randolph, Buffalo, May 30, 1927
- Fannie May, Detroit, June 1, 1927
- Maureen Oswald Atorthy, Detroit, June 1, 1927
- Mary Sietsma, Chicago, June 4, 1927
- Lola Cowan, Winnipeg, June 9, 1927
- Emily Patterson, Winnipeg, June 10, 1927
On the evening of August 23, 1925 (not long after Nelson was dis- charged from Napa State Hospital), a sixty-year-old widow named Elizabeth Jones was found strangled to death in the bedroom of her home at 3565 Market Street in San Francisco. According to several witnesses, Mrs. Jones, who had recently put her house up for sale, had been visited on the day of her death by a stocky, dark-skinned man who professed an interest in buying the property.
Several weeks later, on October 1, another San Francisco woman was strangled and raped after death—a strikingly attractive, thirty-two-year-old divorcee named Elma Wells. Her naked, outraged corpse was found jammed into the clothes closet of a vacant apartment at 628 Guerrero Street, one of several buildings she man- aged.
On Saturday, November 7, 1925, a waitress named Mary Murray was strangled in the kitchen of her house at 1811 Judson Street by an unknown fiend, who carried her lifeless body up to a second-floor room, carefully deposited it on a bed, then sexually violated the corpse. Just four days later, a thirty-three- year-old housewife named Lena Weiner of 2421 Napa Street was murdered and out- raged in precisely the same way. An overcoat and two suits belonging to Mrs. Weiner’s husband, Hyman, were stolen from the home. A third Philadelphia victim (whose death received significantly less attention in
the press) was a young woman dismissively identified in the papers as “Ola McCoy, colored,” who was strangled to death in the parlor of her Montgomery Avenue house, just a few blocks away from the Murray home. As in the other cases, Mrs. McCoy’s body was carried to an upstairs bedroom and subjected to post- mortem rape. Detectives from America tried to get Earle to confess to these killings, but he kept saying that he was innocent and that he had never been to any of the places that they said he was at (liar)
While he was in his cell Earle obsessed over a particular passage in the Bible, that was Proverbs Chapter 23, Verse 28:
My son, give me your heart
and let your eyes delight in my ways,
27 for an adulterous woman is a deep pit,
and a wayward wife is a narrow well.
28 Like a bandit she lies in wait
and multiplies the unfaithful among men.
This suggested that Earle was the type of sex-killer that sees his victims as “whores,” filthy man-traps who get exactly what they deserve.
The trial happened and Earle was found guilty, and he was sentenced to Hang on the second Friday of January 1928 - Friday the 13th.
Asked if he had any last words, Nelson—speaking in a clear, firm voice—said, “I
declare my innocence before God and man. I forgive those who have injured me
and I ask pardon from those I have injured. May the Lord have mercy on my soul.”