On a frigid winter day in January 1910 the Chicago headlines trumpeted, "Chicago Fiend Second White Chapel Ripper". The reason for the sensational story was based on the opinion of Assistant Police Chief Schuettler following the coroner's report for a post mortem completed on the body of Mrs. Jennie Cleghorn (AKA Anna Furlong). She had been found mutilated and decapitated in a south side rooming house which doubled as a brothel situated over a saloon owned by James Seeley at 1702 Armour Avenue (also given as 51 West 17th Street.)
The police believed the murderer had crept into the woman's flat while she slept, but there was a mystery as to how he had gained entry. He then strangled her since her trachea had been crushed, and then with a dull knife he went on to chop, hack and slash the woman's body. Other stories describe it was believed an ax had been used for the crime.
The police found her body clad only in a nightgown. The room reflected that the woman had fought terribly for her life. The furniture and walls of the room were splattered with blood. The killer cut out her heart and other organs and then replaced them inside the body cavity. In an effort to hide her identity, he took the head. Her scalp had been torn from her skull and was found, with an ear attached under the bed. The police also found that the incisions made on the body were done with surgical skill.
The woman was identified as Jennie Cleghorn, 50, once wealthy. Her nails were carefully manicured, and fashionable clothing was found in the closets of her room. After interviewing, others living at the rooming house it was learned that the victim told a story where she once owned property in Englewood which her husband sold. He then took the money and left her for another woman. Abandoned also by her friends she drifted into a life of prostitution. For a time she went to St. Louis then n the summer of 1909, she returned to Chicago.
One day later, six blocks from where the woman was murdered (251 Armour Ave), two small boys came across something wrapped and frozen inside four towels. It was the victim's head with her mouth cut from ear to ear. The skull was crushed.
During this investigation, Coroner Hoffman noted the coincidence that on the same date of January 20th, two years before, almost to the hour, another woman was murdered. She was found in Lake Michigan off Jackson Park. She was nude and the corpse was headless. A portion of the lower jaw clung to the torso. The top of the head was completely missing. Most of the bones in the body were broken and the police wondered if the body had also been caught in a steamer's propellers. They woman was estimated to about 25 years old, stood 5'5" and was blonde. She had been nude when she went into the water, 1 month to 2 weeks before the discovery of the body.
The theory was entertained if the women had been victims of some secret cult or organization that used this date as a special anniversary. This woman was never identified.
During those days, Eugene Cleghorn of Geneva, Wisconsin came forward to identify himself as the victim's husband, but stated that he would have nothing further to do with the case.
The authorities wondered if these women had been killed by the same person. In May, four months after Jennie Cleghorn's death another victim was found murdered. She was killed in a West Side rooming house located at 133 South Morgan Street, with her head nearly severed and the body terribly slashed. The young woman's body was found fully clothed within ten hours of her death. The room exhibited evidence of a terrific struggle. The golden haired girl remained unidentified.
In June 1910, Galesko Enchevy (also spelled Alseco Inchevy, Galesko Enchev, Galenco Enchiff) was arrested for the murder of Jennie Cleghorn. It appeared he had told several persons that he had committed the murder. When police searched his room they found a book on surgery, a pair of surgeon's shears and a dirk knife that appeared stained with blood. After his arrest, he was sent to Cook County Insane Asylum at Dunning. Then he was deported to his native Bulgaria where he escaped from an insane asylum, then smuggled himself back into the United States.
Two years passed, and the newspapers reported on the death of the Pfanschmdit family. They claimed it was the work of the axman who had killed several families in the midwest and had returned to Illinois. The family consisted of the parents, and their daughter Blanche, and a fourth person Miss Emma Maempen. They were killed in the house and then it was burned down. The newspapers said the number of the axman's victims totaled 26.
By 1914, Assistant Chief Schuettler suspected that Galesko Enchevy the confessed slayer of Jennie Cleghorn was the axman. He wrote incoherent, taunting letters to Schuettler. It was during these years that the various killings of families throughout the midwest were reported.
Schuettler described each murder occurred just after the change of the moon from the last dark quarter, and always on Sunday night which alienists reported as when most lunatics were active. The crimes were committed as the killer moved eastward along railroad lines.
In 1914 another family had been slain on Blue Island again with the use of an axe. What became known as the Midwest Ax-Man Murders were never solved, as were the killings of the three women in Chicago between 1910 to 1912. Was it the work of the same person? This question also remains unanswered.
PART 1 OF THE STORY
We want you to feel at home when you post a comment on Stranger Than Fiction Stories. That’s why we reserve the right to delete comments and ban users as needed to keep the comment threads here civil and substantive. So read the guidelines below to make sure you are coloring inside the lines.
Do you have a story to tell?