Black and white photo of man in suit seated at a desk
"Elliot Ness restored a sense of hope and pride to a beleaguered community,” an admirer wrote on the day of his resignation as Safety Director of Cleveland in 1942. “Today, policemen no longer have to tip their hats when they pass a gangster on the streets.” Ness was taunted by the torso serial killer, who murdered at least 13 and perhaps more than 20 people.

LOUDONVILLE — The Cleo Redd Fisher Museum’s Speaker Series continues this month with a Nov. 20 look into Cleveland’s greatest murder mystery — and its connection to America’s most famous lawman, with “Eliot Ness and the Torso Murders.”

Eliot Ness was best known as the American Prohibition agent who organized and led a crack team of incorruptible agents known as The Untouchables to take down Al Capone and other major criminals.

Following the end of Prohibition, he was hired as the Public Safety Director for Cleveland, a role overseeing both the city police and fire departments.

Among his accomplishments in this role included modernizing the Police department, stopping juvenile delinquency, improving traffic safety, and declaring war on the mob.

Despite these achievements, Ness’ time in Cleveland coincided with a gruesome string of unsolved murders by a serial killer known both as the Torso Murderer and as the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run.

The killings were characterized by the dismemberment of 13 known victims, though some suspect upwards of 20 victims.

The disposal of their remains was primarily dumped in the impoverished neighborhood of Kingsbury Run. However, the bodies of two victims were placed within view of Ness’ office window, taunting him to solve the case.

The Torso Murders became the biggest police investigation in Cleveland history, resulting in 9,100 investigations and over 1,000 other crimes solved.

Still, the identity of the killer was never confirmed.

Mary Manning

This discussion will be led by Mary Manning, the Education Coordinator for the Western Reserve Historical Society.

A graduate of Case Western Reserve University with a PhD from Rutgers, Mary has previously worked with institutions such as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, Oberlin Heritage Center, Ohio Humanities, and Ohio Local History Alliance.

This program is slated for Monday, Nov. 20 in the lecture hall of the Cleo Redd Fisher Museum at 203 E. Main Street in Loudonville.

The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the event beginning at 7 pm.

For more information on the museum and activities, please call 419 994-4050 or visit

The Life section is supported by Brethren Care Village in Ashland.