Ten of the Darkest True Crimes in Cleveland
Cleveland, the heart of the Rust Belt, a city that back in the day, always got a bad rap. Sure, the river once caught on fire thanks to industries that polluted it with waste. And yeah, until the Cavs won it all back in ‘16, the city had an abysmal sports history. But these days, Cleveland has turned itself around. After all, it’s the birth place of rock ‘n roll. And home to an amazing food scene. Cost of living is more than reasonable. Parks are abundant. Cultural institutions include the fabulous Cleveland Orchestra and museums galore.
But every city has a dark underbelly, and Cleveland is no exception. The shining jewel of the North Coast has a history that includes plenty of tragedy and more than a few famous murders.
- Marilyn Sheppard.
Thirty-one-years-old and pregnant, Marilyn Reese Sheppard was beaten to death in her home in Bay Village, a suburb of Cleveland, in the early morning hours of July 4, 1954. Her husband, Sam, a prominent neurosurgeon, told police he woke to the sounds of his wife’s screams and struggled with a bushy-haired intruder. Sheppard was eventually arrested, tried for the murder, and sent to prison. A retrial ten years later found him not guilty. The case was a media circus and inspired the TV show and the movie, “The Fugitive.” The murderer has never been found.
- John O’Mic
It wasn’t the first crime on the North Coast, but it was the first execution when in 1812, Native American John O’Mic was found guilty of the murder of a fur trapper. O’Mic’s hanging coincided with the outbreak of the War of 1812 and many Native Americans fought on the side of the British partly to avenge O’Mic.
- The May Day Riots
May 1, 1919, and the country is in turmoil. Socialists, trade-union members, police, and military troops face off in disturbances throughout the US. Cleveland is the site of the most violent unrest. Thirty thousand people marched in a parade, and the city used mounted police, army trucks, and even a tank from the Western Front to restore order. Two people died in the unrest.
- Beverly Potts
Ten-year-old Beverly Potts left a neighborhood park in 1951and never returned home. Beverly was never seen again and no evidence was ever found. To this day, writers and amateur detectives, obsessed with the mysterious disappearance, look for answers.
- Anthony Sowell
Anthony Sowell, also known as the Cleveland Strangler, killed 11 women and hid their bodies in his home. He is currently in prison.
- Danny Greene
Mobster Danny Green was blown to smithereens in a car-bombing in 1977. His life inspired the movie, “Kill the Irishman.”
- Jeffrey Dahmer
The infamous serial killer grew up in a bucolic suburb of Cleveland and committed at least one murder in Ohio.
- The Kresge Fire
July 3, 1908. A spark from a sparkler demonstration at a Kresge dime store ignited a customer’s dress which in turn ignited $30,000 worth of fireworks on display. Panicked shoppers crowded a stairway, and many of them ended up trapped at the end of a corridor where shelves and steel bars blocked a window. Seven people died and dozens were injured. The event prompted the city to pass an ordinance against the sale of fireworks that was later copied by other cities to encourage “a safe and sane” Fourth of July.
- Little Arthur Noske
The eight-year-old disappeared from his home in the suburb of Brecksville in 1977. Later, his mother testified against her boyfriend, Dr. Stuart Kutler, and said the doctor had killed the child and tried to burn his body in a fireplace. Arthur’s remains have never been found.
- The Torso Murders
The city’s most notorious–and still unsolved–string of murder began in 1935 and ended in 1938 and by that time, there were at least 12 known victims, always beheaded and sometimes dismembered. As a side note: Eliot Ness of Untouchables fame was Public Safety Director of Cleveland at the time, and the killer taunted Ness by placing the remains of two victims in full view of his office in city hall.
Kylie Logan is a lifelong Cleveland resident and author of the Jazz Ramsey mystery series. Jazz, too, lives in Cleveland where she works as a cadaver dog trainer and handler. The newest book in the series is “The Secrets of Bones.” When one of Jazz’s dogs discovers a skeleton at an exclusive all-girls school, Jazz sets out to find answers, and discovers that the hallowed halls of St. Catherine’s hide the secrets of a long-missing teacher. Kylie can be found online at: www.kylielogan.com