Saturday, March 6, 2010

On the Road to Villisca

The New Book "On the Road to Villisca The hunt for the Midwest Axemen by Hank Brewster has finally arrived on amazon. It covers the list of axe murders that were printed all over the Midwest, as the axe murders occurred, grew in number and became unsolved.
It is pieced together from newspaper articles collected all over the North West and presented in a easy to read and understand format, that takes the reader along for the hunt of the Axemen.

The book Can be found on Amazon by clicking the link above right!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jennie Cleghorn

The hundreth anniversary of Jennie Cleghorn's murder has come and gone. Her beheading was attributed to the Chicago Ripper. This is an article I transcribed for the book. The man who eventually confessed was also thought to be a prime suspect for the Villisca and Wayne-Burnham murders as well as many others:

The Headless Body Of a Woman is Found
in a Cheap Rooming House.
Crime is Laid to Criminal Who Rivals Whitechapel Slayer
Nine Arrests Are Made, But the Police have Discovered No Clue.
Special to the News-Palladium.
Chicago, Jan 21.--The discovery of the headless and otherwise mutilated body of Jennie Cleghorn, 48 years old, a woman who was once quite wealthy, in a cheap rooming house at 54 West Seventeenth street, revealed a murder rivaling the atrocious Whitechapel outrages committed in London a number of years ago.
The body was grewsomely mutilated. The head had been cut from the woman's shoulders and carried away by the murderer. The heart and other organs had been cut out and then replaced.
Fought for Her Life.
The flat showed conclusive signs of the terrible fight the woman had made for her life. Her scalp had been torn from her skull and was found, with an ear attached, lying under a bed. On her chest and shoulders were marks where her assailant had gripped her.
The devilish knowledge of anatomy which the murderer of the Cleghorn woman must have had has puzzled the police more than any other feature of the crime. The woman's head was severed cleanly from the trunk. The removal of the scalp was made possible by well directed cuts of a sharp knife. The incisions in the body were made with surgical skill.
No Clew to Murderer.
A hundred detectives searched scores of houses within the radius of a mile for the house for the missing head. Fully half a hundred women and men were taken to the Twenty second street police station and questioned.
Eight persons were held. The best one arrested was Tillie Taylor an elderly woman who runs the house where the Cleghorn woman was slain.
Barber Saw Body.
A remarkable incident connected with the murder came from James Isabelle, 28 years old a barber, admitted that he had slept in the rear room of the flat during the night. He confessed that he had seen the dismembered body, but declared he had been so frightened that he fled from the scene. He said that he had feared that if he told the officers he would be charged with the murder. He declared that he had heard no struggle in the woman's room.
Capt. Cudmore of the Twenty-second street station declared his belief in the barber's story. No chair was placed against Isabelle, but he was held.

On the Road To Villisca

I have been fascinated by the Midwest Axemen and their wave of terror in 1911-1912. Over years I've collected hundreds of articles and newspaper clippings. With the 100 year anniversary soon upon us, I wanted to compile these murder cases in a easy to read and understand format, first for myself, then once I saw what I had, decided to make it available for those interested in following along with the dates and anniversaries of the murders.

It is a morbid curiosity as well as an instinctual pursuit to want to know what happened, the mystery and the mystique surrounding the murders.

The book will soon be available on