Earlier this week I was watching YouTube videos instead of working as I’m sure many, if not most of us do from time to time. I came across a name; Michael Madison. According to the video I was watching, Madison is a serial killer from Cleveland that had recently been sentenced to death. As a true crime writer, this piqued my interest. As I read about Mr. Madison, I found that his death sentence came as a result of a conviction of murdering 18-year-old Shirrellda Terry, 28-year-old Shetisha Sheeley and 38-year-old Angela Deskins in a series of strangulations that occurred between October 2012 and July 2013.
Responding to reports of a foul odor, authorities investigated a garage leased by Madison. From the findings of the investigation, Madison was arrested on July 19, 2013. The body of Shirrellda Terry was found in the garage behind his apartment building on the corner of Hayden and Shaw avenues in East Cleveland. Authorities believe that 18-year-old Shirrellda Terry was his first victim. Madison originally lived with the corpse of Ms. Terry in the apartment with him until the smell overpowered him. At that point, Madison moved the body from the hall closet in his apartment to the garage. The bodies of Shetisha Sheeley and Angela Deskins. were also kept close to him. One corpse was kept in bushes outside and a third in the basement of a nearby vacant home. Wrapped in duct tape and garbage bags, all three bodies were visible from the second-floor balcony of his apartment.
I read on, taking in more and more information regarding this case and thought to myself, “serial killer in Cleveland, why does that seem familiar?” In amazement, (not like utter amazement, just a bit surprised) I realized that this was the second known serial killer in Cleveland in a matter of fewer than five years. I’d suddenly remembered Anthony Sowell.
Anthony Sowell, the Cleveland Strangler was arrested in October 2009 after the bodies of eleven women were discovered by police. Sowell was raised in East Cleveland. After a seven-year stint in the Marines, Sowell was convicted for kidnapping and rape in 1989. On September 22, 2009, Latundra Billups reported to police that after a few drinks Sowell became angry, hit, choked and raped her. On October 29, police arrived at his home with a warrant for Sowell’s arrest. Authorities did not find Sowell at home; however, what they did find shocked Cleveland to its core.
Police found the bodies of two women buried in a shallow grave in the basement. The remains of four other women were found on the 3rd floor of the home, in crawl spaces in the house. After more digging in the backyard, the corpses of three women were found as well as the partial remains of a fourth. A bucket inside the house containing a skull brought the body count to eleven victims. Sowell, arrested two days later; was charged with eleven counts of aggravated murder and 74 counts of rape, kidnapping, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse. On July 22, 2011, Sowell was convicted on all but two counts against him, including the murders of the eleven women whose bodies were found in his house. On August 12th Anthony Sowell was sentenced to death.
Initially amazed to find that the city of Cleveland had been faced with back to back serial killers; further research brought me to the conclusion that serial murder was nothing new to Cleveland, Ohio. By my count, Cleveland had at least 10 serial killers who either got their start or finish there. The first known instance of serial murder in Cleveland started back in the 1930s. The suspect was known to have killed at least 12 victims with some accounts believing the number may be closer to 40 victims during his run. During his reign of terror, he was known to gruesomely decapitate his victims with his bare hands. Many times he would do so while the victim was still alive. Newspapers dubbed this individual the Cleveland Torso Murderer.
From 1935-1938, the Cleveland Torso Murderer also known as the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run; dismembered at least 12 victims and dumped the remains in the area of Kingsbury Run, an area on the southeast side of Cleveland, Ohio. Despite being pursued by Cleveland’s Public Safety Director, famous lawman, Eliot Ness, as well as lead detective Peter Merylo, he was never apprehended.
The victims of the Torso Murderer were normally drifters,
runaways and prostitutes. Of the 12 known victims, only 3 were identified; Edward
Andrassy, Florence Polillo, and Rose Wallace. The sinister acts of depravity
that earned the killer his title were the beheading and dismembering of his
victims. At times he would cut the victim’s torso in half or remove their
appendages. As stated earlier, many times the victim was still alive during
mutilation making the decapitation or dismemberment the excruciatingly painful
cause of death. Most of the victims’ remains were found long after they had
been murdered, this contributed greatly to the inability to identify them.
Especially since the heads were often missing.
The official body count of the Torso Murderer was 12, however area murders that fit the profile of other victims go as far back as 1921 when dismembered bodies were found in swamps and boxcars near New Castle, Pennsylvania. On July 22, 1950, the decapitated body of 41-year-old Robert Robertson was found in Cleveland. This means that crimes fitting the same modus operandi as those of the Torso Murderer were occurring years after they were thought to have ended.
I was totally taken back by the sheer number of serial killers that have called Cleveland Ohio home at some point. Most of society remember being sickened by the despicable exploits of Ariel Castro, however many are unaware that Cleveland has ties to the Milwaukee cannibal Jeffery Dahmer. As I concluded my studies of this otherwise booming metropolis I came to the conclusion that the Rock and Roll Capital of the World may also be the Serial Killer Capital of America.
“Ich kundige,” I heard the maid scream as she grabbed her belongings and stormed out of the kitchen door. Loosely translated meaning,”I quit,” I listened quietly as she explained to Mrs. Gruber her reasons for quitting. She told her that because of Andreas’
immoralities, spirits have invaded their home to steal, kill and destroy. She was certain that ghosts inhabited the house and wanted nothing to do with the place or the occupants. It was late September and the Lord has blessed our Bavarian homesteads to be prosperous. The crops were finally beginning to come in and it was looking like we were going to have a blessed winter. She threw Andreas a piercing stare as she darted out. For months she had complained to the Grubers about hearing footsteps in the attic, objects not in their proper place around the house as well as missing food. She constantly insisted that the farm was haunted. Andreas told her that it was all in her imagination, however, that was just him attempting to keep her from snooping unnecessarily. Unbeknownst to the Grubers, the hand of God was upon them and they were to be cleansed for their sins.
The Gruber’s maid had been a member of our congregation, even longer than she had been in their employ. Having been a part of the Gruber family for years, Mrs. Gruber relied on her more and more as she gotten older. Cazilia Gruber, almost 10 years older than Andreas, was deeply saddened by her sudden departure. Their daughter, Viktoria and her daughter little Cazilia had come to live with them during the war. Her husband Karl Gabriel had been presumed dead in battle, though his body was never recovered. The years had been exceptionally kind to her, she had grown to become so beautiful. One day, while doing her daily chores the maid walked into Viktoria’s bedroom unannounced and immediately caught Andreas and his daughter engaging in carnal sin. Shocked and ashamed, the maid immediately ran from the room. I don’t recall if the maid ever actually turned Andreas into authorities, but she told others of his debaucheries. When I heard, I was instantly sickened and knew that I would soon be called to fulfill my duties as God’s loyal and righteous hand. I could not allow the anger of the Father to jeopardize what could possibly be our most bountiful crops in years. You see, through faith the Lord has commissioned me to act as the hand of God; to act as judge, jury, and executioner against the unrighteous in our flock.
At some point, Viktoria began a relationship with their half-wit neighbor, Lorenz Schlittenbauer. The daughter eventually gave birth to Josef. Unsure of the actual father of the boy, she held Schlittenbauer financially responsible for the child; and he paid handsomely. I was the spirit on the Hinterkaifeck farm the maid came to fear. Through God, I was able to move throughout the property undetected. However, many times due to my clumsiness, I thought that they were aware of my presence. I would unintentionally leave things out of their normal place, moving items and forgetting to put them back where I found them. Once I left a newspaper that Andreas didn’t read out in the common area. Once Andreas tracked my footprints in the snow on to the property, however, he would see no footprints leaving. Andreas went from house to house, asking if anyone was experiencing anything strange. Other farmers, knowing full well of the transgressions of the Grubers, simply looked and said no. The maid attributed any suspicions to the presence of spirits. permitting me to remain hidden and able view their incestuous relations first hand. Committing an abomination against the Lord of such a magnitude required great penance. It was my job to act on behalf of the Lord, lest their perverse way of life would bring down the wrath of God upon Ingolstadt as well as Schrobenhausen; quite possibly all of Bavaria.
Six months had come and gone. The spring frost was melting, preparing for the new harvest. It was time to reap what had been sown. I looked down at my mattock, as I am an extension of the hand of God, so is my mattock to me, both readily prepared to do the work of the Lord. The Grubers hired a new maid yesterday, Maria Baumgartner. Though I am not familiar with her, she too would need to be changed over to atone for her sins. I riled up the horses to get the attention of the family; anticipating that Andreas would come out first to investigate the commotion. Just as I’d hoped, Andreas Gruber walked in first. “What’s the matter fellas?” he said as he calmed the horses. Powered by the hatred of his incestuous lifestyle and strengthened by the vengeance of the Lord I eased behind him and swung my mattock, striking him upon the crown of his head. Blood spewed everywhere as he fell. For good measure, I brought the weapon down upon his head as he laid prone. Gurgling and choking on his blood he attempted to say something but could not. He laid shaking and trembling until he passed away. I pulled him by the leg to a clump of hay in the corner. I knew that at any moment, someone would be out to check on him.
Approximately 30 minutes had passed, I waited patiently receiving instructions from on high. I heard a faint voice in the distance. “Andreas,” a soft voice said. “Andreas are you in here?” The voice said from the barn entry. I recognized the voice as that of Cazilia Gruber. I readied myself for an attack. Oddly enough Mrs. Gruber came through another door and spotted me crouched, waiting for her to appear. Spotting Andreas’ body on the hay heap she screamed,”You killed my husband!” She actually lunged at me; shocked, I swung my to halt her charge. The mattock lodged deeply into her head, nearly decapitating the woman from the eyes up. Her body spun a full 360 as she fell, The pickaxe was so wholly fastened to her head that I had to use my foot to remove it from her cranium. I placed my left foot on her forehead and pulled the weapon from her lifeless body. After getting the axe out of her head blood immediately sprayed everywhere. Not trying to pull the separated portion of her head from the rest, I grabbed her by her blouse and placed her corpse on top of that of her husband. I was certain that someone had heard her and would be rushing out to check on the noise.
Quietly, I laid in wait. Surprisingly it was over an hour that I waited; then suddenly I heard the screen door of the house slam shut. Viktoria and her daughter had come out on the porch. “Papa, Mama, are you out there,” she yelled from the porch. Hesitating at first then completely stopping not making any other steps forward. Worried that this would thwart my task, my mouth suddenly opened and yelled, “Komm, ich brauche deine Hilfe.” In a voice identical to that of Andreas Gruber, the Almighty had spoken through me and told Viktoria to come, I needed her help. Hand in hand she and her daughter Cazilia skipped out to the barn. “Papa,” she said, expecting to see her father and lover. As I eased behind her she turned her head and yelled, “Mr,” and before she could spew my name from her wicked lips my mighty weapon came down upon her head with such force it disfigured her face and killed her instantly. With a swing to the side, I’d hope to catch the child with the same level of power, intending to kill her suddenly so that she might go without much suffering; such was not the case though.
The pickaxe caught the side of little girls head, about the ear area. She dropped to the ground. Writhing in pain she rolled around crying and pulling out her own hair. I stopped her moving by placing my foot on her chest and brought the mattock down on the top of her head. Finally, in peace, her facial expression changed and she quietly gave up the ghost. As I drug the mother and daughter to the pile to join the other corpses I could hear the clang of pots and pans as well as the wailing of a child in the distance. Still slick with the blood of the Grubers, I dragged my mattock as I made my way to the house.
The front door was open through the screen door shut. I made my way up the stairs and found the new maid in her room. She had no idea that I was behind her as she feverishly looked through her dresser drawers for something. Totally fixated on her search, I was able to hoist my mighty weapon and bring it down squarely upon the back of her head. She died immediately. I found the baby sleeping on a cot next to his mother’s bed. I looked at the child, not as a helpless infant but as the evil spawn of relations that should never have been. I brought my mattock down squarely upon the infant’s head. The boy opened his eyes, spit up a stream of blood then closed his eyes and passed away.
I had completed my charge and once again the wicked has fallen to the will of God. I was about to leave then I glanced into the kitchen. The maid had prepared dinner for the family and honestly, being God’s hand had left his disciple quite hungry. I ate the dinner that was prepared and fell asleep. A bitter cold had come in and the fire in the home was burning quite nicely so I spent the night, a couple nights in fact. As a gentleman, I thought it improper to leave without taking care of the basic farming chores. I fed the animals, milked the cows and tidied up the common areas before I made my way to my next destination.
Thr Gruber funeral was a sight to behold. Forgotten was their sins now called discrepancies. There was much sad singing and flower bringing as everyone recalled their most pleasant moments with the family. I was even called upon to say a word or two about Andreas and Cazilia. I spoke my peace, withholding any thoughts I held about their personal lives. The procession continued and we buried the family. Neighbors brought their best meals and a gathering was held on their farmstead afterward, (lucky I cleaned up a bit eh?)
For years people have attempted to find out what really happened here. “Experts,” have tried to find out who committed these murders and why. Over 100 suspects have been interviewed by authorities. The police tried to explain that it may have been the work of transients, vagrants, craftsmen or robbers. Laughably; some people even thought that Viktoria’s husband Karl Gabriel, though he had been killed in the war; had come from the dead and killed the Gruber’s in a jealous rage. All were mistaken and I tell you that no man will uncover the killer of these sinners. The coppers even questioned me; I simply told them that the Lord saw fit to take them. Covered in the cloak of righteousness and possessed by the spirit of the Lord I was commissioned to bring the godless infidels to justice. Hinterkaifeck was not my first cleansing and wasn’t my last.
This is not an official account of anything. I am merely implementing my skill and writing style of creative nonfiction in this post.
We’ve all had relationship break-ups. People handle this situation in various manners. Often times it’s a mutual agreement between the couple. Other times it comes out of the blue and leaves one of the involved parties hurt and devastated. Regardless of the reason behind the split, for most of us the end result is the same. We hurt for a while then we get over it.
In the late 1990’s it was a breakup that led to a 5 year reign of one of the most prolific serial killers in Chinese history, Yang Xinhai; the Monster Killer. Yang Xinhai confessed to committing 65 murders and 23 rapes between 1999 and 2003. The murders ended 2003 when he was apprehended by authorities. Yang Xinhai was found guilty and executed in February of 2004.
Yang Xinhai was born in Zhengyang County, Zhumadian, Henan Province, China on July 29, 1968; the youngest of four children. In 1985, the 17 year old high school drop-out traveled around China working as a laborer. When work was not available Yang became a burglar. In 1988 and 1991, Yang was sentenced to labor camps for theft in Xi’an, Shaanxi and Shijiazhuang, Hebei. In 1996, he was sentenced to five years in prison for attempted rape in Zhumadian, Henan and released in 1999.
After his release in 1999, Yang met and began a brief relationship with a young female student. After learning of his criminal past the young lady broke all ties with Yang. Based upon his interrogation, this break-up is what Yang cites as the motive of his 5 year, 67 victim, killing spree. His rampage was so extensive that it would take hours to chronicle each murder separately; however I will enlighten you on just how he would operate.
Calling upon his experience as a burglar he would gain entry to a home. Always wearing new clothes and oversized shoes he noiselessly roamed through the home, not to steal; simply to murder. Using axes, hammers and shovels, he would violently slaughter his victims. Many times he would quietly take out whole families, primarily farmers. From 1999 through 2003 Yang Xinhai terrorized the provinces of Anhui, Hebei, Henan and Shandong, murdering anyone unfortunate enough to be at home that night. During these home invasions he would rape the women before murdering them in cold blood. The beginning of the end of his bloody rampage occurred in October 2002. Yang killed a father and a six-year-old girl with a shovel and raped a pregnant woman. The woman survived the attack and despite enduring serious head injuries; described the assailant to authorities.
During a police “shakedown,” of nightclubs in Cangzhou, Hebei; Yang was brought in for questioning. Authorities noticed that he appeared excessively nervous and soon found out why. A person fitting his exact description was wanted for murder in four provinces. As the interrogation intensified, Yang eventually confessed to 65 murders, 23 rapes and five attacks causing serious injury: 49 murders, 17 rapes and five attacks in Henan; eight murders and three rapes in Hebei; six murders and two rapes in Anhui; and two murders and one rape in Shandong. DNA matches in several crime scenes sealed the cases against Yang. Ironically, unbeknownst to Yang, he had contracted HIV from one of his rape victims. When asked about the reasons for the murders, Yang told authorities that he lashed out against society due to this girlfriend breaking up with him. From that breakup he developed a hatred of people. When asked about his crimes he was quoted as saying: “When I killed people I had a desire. This inspired me to kill more. I don’t care whether they deserve to live or not. It is none of my concern…I have no desire to be part of society. Society is not my concern.”
On February 1st, 2004 Yang Xinhai was found guilty of 67 murders and 23 rapes, and sentenced to death in Luohe City Intermediate People’s Court, Henan. In an instance of swift justice Yang was executed only 13 days later. On St. Valentine’s Day 2004, Yang Xinhai was executed by firing squad. Thus was the end of The Monster Killer, Yang Xinhai.
“It’s interesting when people die,” Don Henley, DIRTY LAUNDRY 1982. That phrase sums up America’s obsession with death. Whether its gang violence, serial killing or mass murder; each night we position ourselves in front of the television to receive our nightly fix, fed to us by the media. The focus of “The Darker Side of Evil,” was not only to bring to light the existence of Black serial killers in the U.S; the book also addresses the media’s ability to lessen the body count of these monsters through information and exposure. These predators, Black or White, normally operate within familiar circles and hide in plain sight, normally victimizing women within their own race, yet having no personal ties to. Female prostitutes and drug addicts comprise the target prey of most serial murderers. The disappearance of these individuals from the community go unnoticed a great deal of the time, enabling the perpetrator to continue to kill, virtually unnoticed
Occasionally, serial killers operate outside of the norm. Many choose young males as their choice of quarry. As in the case of Israel Keyes, some operate in multiple geographical areas. A select few choose to cross racial lines in their bloodlust. Such was the case of Cleophus Prince Jr., “The Clairemont Killer”. Prince terrorized the Clairemont community of San Diego County, California from January through September 1990. Though he chose to victimize women as most serial murderers do, his preference was to stalk rape and murder White women while he himself is African-American.
Cleophus Prince Jr. was born in Alabama on July 24, 1967 to Dorothy and Cleophus Prince Sr. Unlike the childhood experiences of most other serial killers, Prince Jr. Had not been abused in his youth and grew up in an environment that, described by his sister Tesa, was gentle and loving. However, Prince did not have a totally violence free upbringing. His father, Cleophus Prince Sr.; spent over 11 years in prison for murder.
As an adolescent, Prince never got into drugs, gangs or any other of the known pitfalls of youth. Growing up he never had any brushes with the law and became a role mode to his 7 younger siblings. After graduating high school in 1987 Cleophus Prince Jr. enlisted in the US Navy. In December 1989, not long after his stint in the service, Prince and his girlfriend Charla Lewis moved into the Buena Vista Gardens; an apartment complex in the Clairemont section of San Diego. Unfortunately, in January 1990, a 21-year-old Tiffany Schultz met her new neighbor.
On January 12, 1990 Prince spotted Tiffany Schultz sunbathing in a bikini just inside the door of her apartment. He then requested a hanger from the building manager; his reason was that he had locked his keys in his automobile. After receiving the hanger, Prince went back to the apartment building instead of heading to the parking lot. Moments later, neighbors that lived in the apartments below Ms. Schultz claimed that they heard noises and running water from her apartment. They described the noise as the sound of someone being beaten.
Neighbors noticed later that no one had seen Tiffany leave her apartment. Phone calls to her home went unanswered. It would be her roommate that endured the horror of discovering Tiffany’s lifeless body in her bedroom, lying face-up, clad only in bikini bottoms. Extending under the bed was her left leg and her right leg was posed at a 60-degree angle. A pathologist would later count 47 separate stab wounds around her left chest area, nearly half of which clustered around her breast. The murders were committed with so much rage that many of the punctures went all the way through the body. The other two areas that had sustained an attack were her neck and upper right thigh.
After an examination it was deemed that Tiffany had not been raped. Her boyfriend was immediately questioned and released by authorities. Tiffany worked part-time as an exotic dancer. Investigators thought that this was an isolated incident of one of her customers following her home and causing her untimely demise. They were dead wrong.
On February 16th, Janene Weinhold dropped her roommate off at work at about 9a.m. The two women were also residents of the Buena Vista apartment complex. Later that day the roommate waited patiently for Janene to pick her up from work. Oddly, the normally dependable 21 year-old was not only late but was not answering the phone. At approximately 8p.m., the roommate finally made it home. The young lady was horrified to find the body of the deceased Janene Weinhold.
The corpse lay on the bedroom floor wearing nothing but a bra. Similar to the first murder, her legs had been left open and she bore a concentration of stab wounds over the right breast. Not similar to the first, this woman had been raped. The frightened roommate soon found the phone and called police.
During the investigation police interviewed neighbors. The neighbor directly below Janene told authorities that earlier, at approximately 11:30 a.m. she saw a Black man sitting on the stairs; head in hands and with a saddened expression on his face. Moments later she heard noise coming from the apartment upstairs, the neighbor thought to call upstairs but just as quickly as they had begun, the noises stopped so she went on with her day.
The following month Anna Cotalessa-Ritchie, another second floor tenant of the Buena Vista apartment complex left her apartment heading to the corner store. On her way she noticed a Black man waiting at the bus stop. Returning from the store she noticed that the man was gone, assuming that he had caught the bus. The next time she would see this man he looked as if he was coming directly toward her in an aggressive manner. Surprisingly the man went right past Anna. Badly shaken, Anna hurried frantically to the door of her apartment. As she fumbled with the keys she heard footsteps coming up the stairs approaching her. Suddenly Anna had an epiphany, the man had never caught the bus, he had been stalking her since the time she saw him at the bus stop. Miraculously she found the right key, ducked into the apartment and locked the door before he made it up the stairs. Panic-stricken she listened with her ear against the door until she was sure he was gone. Anna Cotalessa-Ritchie had escaped the wrath of the Buena Vista Gardens murderer. Unfortunately, the next woman wouldn’t be nearly as lucky.
Eighteen year old Holly Tarr chose to visit her big brother, a Buena Vista Gardens apartment complex tenant, for spring break from her Michigan high school. She decided to bring along her best friend Tammy and both of the high school seniors were looking to enjoy a California spring break. On the morning of April 3rd the two young ladies enjoyed playing tennis in the rec area. The girls then headed to the pool to do some sunbathing and noticed a Black man in the weight room area watching them. Leaving Tammy poolside, Holly returned to the apartment to take a shower. Ten minutes later Tammy followed suit and headed to the apartment. As she approached she heard Holly scream. She ran to the door yelling her friend’s name but received no response. Eventually Tammy’s yelling and knocking at the door drew the attention of a member of the maintenance staff, who opened the door.
Tammy gained entry to the apartment just in time to see the same man that was watching them from the weight room scramble out of the bedroom. The man, holding a cloth to his face and a knife in his hand fell, got up and ran out of the apartment. Tammy ran into the bedroom and saw Holly, wearing only panties and bra, lying on the floor, barely alive. She had been stabbed once through the heart and like the others, her legs had been left spread apart. Tammy cried as she watched her friend gurgle blood and struggle for breath yet slowly expire. EMTs, though expeditious, could not save the dying teenager. As they removed the body, Tammy noticed that the opal ring Holly wore was missing.
As officers closed off the crime scene and searched for evidence they noticed several key clues. A Nike Air Jordan shoeprint was found near the door. The print did not match any shoes in Holly’s brother’s closet. Holly’s blood soaked T-shirt as well as a blood stained knife was found in the parking lot. Tammy told authorities of the Black man that watched them from the weight room. As officers checked the sign in sheet, there was only one name that they weren’t familiar with; a C. Prince. After further investigation it was found that C. Prince was Cleophus Prince Jr., a tenant in the building.
Officers tracked Prince down the following day and questioned him concerning his whereabouts on the day of Holly’s murder. During the interview he refused to be fingerprinted, answered the detective’s questions with a flippant tone and immediately asked if he could leave. Simply working out was not illegal and since the officers had no evidence to the contrary, his request was granted and Prince was allowed to leave without being charged.
The relationship that brought Prince to the Buena Vista apartments had ended earlier that spring. He now shared an apartment with Robert and Robin Romo. He confided to them that during a recent date he had that he in fact had raped his date multiple times during their night out. Not long after the police interview Prince moved out of the apartment complex.
In late May, Prince burglarized the home of Elissa Keller. The 38-year-old Keller shared an apartment with her 18-year-old daughter in the Top of the Hill apartment complex. On May 21st Keller had not reported to work nor was she answering phone calls. Co-workers thought this odd and contacted her about Elissa’s absence. Her daughter, who was away at the time, called and also got no answer. Worried she informed the police of her concerns. The daughter cut her trip short and returned to their apartment late that evening. She was horrified to find the dead body of her mother on the bedroom floor. Identical to the Buena Vista murders, the victim had a cluster of stab wounds to her chest. Elissa had also been beaten in the face, as well as choked. Next to her lifeless body lay her blood soaked underwear turned inside out. Devastated as she spoke with detectives, the daughter informed them that a gold nugget ring her mother wore at all times was missing from her finger.
Investigators walked the crime scene and soon deduced that the perpetrator entered through a window that had been left partially open. Detectives also noticed a familiar shoe print on the floor nearby. They also noticed a peculiar honeycomb pattern in the blood that was found at the other murder scenes.
On the morning of September 13th, neighbors of the Clark family heard 18-year-old Amber Clark, arguing with a male. Suddenly they heard Amber cry out then silence. Not long after, Pamela Clark returned home from her morning workout. Pamela, who was due to be at work in the afternoon, never arrived to her office. Phone calls made by her colleagues went unanswered. Curious, Pamela’s friend from work stopped by the Clark home and was shocked to find the body of Pamela lying in the doorway of the home. Pamela was on her back, nude, with her arms spread out at 90-degree angles to her body. She had been repeatedly stabbed, with eleven deep wounds to the upper left chest area. From blood trails on the floor, it appeared that she had been stabbed elsewhere and dragged to this location. Near her head lay a bloody knife.
After regaining her composure the friend called the police, however unbeknownst to her, the horror wasn’t over. As she walked through the home she found Amber dead on the bedroom floor. Though she was partially clothed, her breasts were exposed. Like her mother, she too had eleven stab wounds in a cluster on her chest. Another bloody knife was found in the bathroom nearby.
Examining the horrific scene, officers found that money had been taken from the women’s purses. Also missing was Pamela’s wedding rings and other small items. Officers located a torn dining room window screen and identified the window as the point of entry. They also found footprints made by an athletic shoe near the window.
Law enforcement compiled all of the similarities of the recent murders and drew the conclusion that this was the work of a serial killer. The county of San Diego was in an uproar and citizens put great pressure on law enforcement to solve these murders. A city councilman whose district included Clairemont told reporters he was fielding some 300 to 400 calls a day from concerned citizens. He went to meet with some people and found that they were in a state of terror. A task force was assembled to work these cases day and night. The task force consisted of twenty-seven detectives, five sergeants, one lieutenant, and a police captain. The murders were highlighted on America’s Most Wanted to gather any information that the public may have.
Ironically, during the same time frame, San Diego was being plagued by a series of burglaries. The burglar wore socks on his hands to so not to leave fingerprints. The perpetrator of the burglaries was no big secret though, except to law enforcement. Cleophus Prince Jr. bragged to trusted friends at work of the loot he had come across by burglarizing homes, even offering his foreman at Nacomm Communications several pieces of jewelry. A consummate talker, Prince now began to brag about women he was dating. Prince told friends he was dating an older white woman, a massage therapist. He had a wedding ring he said was hers, and he added that he was having sex with the woman’s daughter as well.
Eventually boasts from Prince’s mouth got to the ears of law enforcement. Neighbors from the various burglaries remembered the older model bluish-gray vehicle with a noisy muffler being present at the scene of burglaries. A BOLO, (Be on the Look Out) was placed on the car description. Soon officers got a tip that a member of the Family Fitness Center on Miramar Road (the same gym that Pamela Clark belonged to) drove such a vehicle. On February 4, 1991, an employee called police and reported that a man had just driven a 1982 Chevy Cavalier through the parking lot. The driver, Prince, was sitting there in his car when officers arrived fifteen minutes later. Though he had been a member of the club, Prince’s membership had been cancelled making him a trespasser and subject to arrest.
During the search of Prince’s vehicle officers found black leather gloves and wool gloves, along with a knife with an eight-inch blade, a steak knife, and two folding knives of different sizes. Though the items were suspicious, none were illegal. Prince could not be held for long on the trespassing charge so after being fingerprinted and having a blood sample taken he was released. Prince immediately left town and headed to his native Birmingham, Alabama.
Prince’s samples were sent to Maryland for testing along with samples from each of the murder scenes. Three weeks later, the police learned that there was a match between Prince and the semen samples from the Weinhold rape and murder. Police also learned that for each of the similar murders, Prince resided in the immediate area. Dispatched to his most recent address officers found that Prince no longer was in the area. However, during the search of his old apartment officers did find an opal ring that matched the description of the one removed from Holly Tarr when she was stabbed.
The police got a tip as to where Prince had gone and were elated to find that he had been arrested in Birmingham for burglary. The down side is that he had made bond and been released. After finding out the nature of San Diego’s interest in him his bondsman was contacted to find out where he was. Prince was then alerted to turn himself in. The following day, accompanied by his parents, he turned himself in to Birmingham authorities.
Initially on five murders had been linked to Prince until searches turned up another item that had belonged to a victim: a unique ring that matched the one missing from Elissa Keller. She was added to the victim list. Among the evidence against Prince was DNA matching several crimes. The Air Jordan shoes owned by Prince left footprints at several crime scenes also. The victims all fit a similar type: white, attractive brunettes that were physically fit. All except Holly Tarr had received the cluster type stab wounds. Her friend Tammy had interrupted her murder.
On July 13, 1993 Prince was convicted of murdering six women – Tiffany Schultz, 20; Janene Weinhold, 21, who was also raped; Holly Tarr, 18; Elissa Keller, 38; and Pamela Clark, 42, and her daughter, Amber, 18 – who were stabbed to death in their homes in Clairemont, University City and East San Diego. He was also convicted of 20 burglaries that occurred at the same time. Cleophus Prince Jr. was sentenced to die by lethal injection. Due to numerous appeals Prince currently resides on death row in San Quentin, as of this posting no death date has been set.
Normally I refrain from providing commentary on my posts, but I must get this out. Prince was sentenced to death in 1993 however, due to a vast number of appeals he is still alive 21 years later. These cowards find it so easy to prey on unsuspecting women, raping and murdering them without a second thought. But once they are caught, they make deals, file appeals, do any and everything imaginable to either avoid the death penalty or squeeze as many years as they can out of the state in which they are incarcerated. How many times have we seen the perpetrator agree to enter a guilty plea in order to take the death penalty; “off of the table?” Over and over again we have seen the defendant flee to Canada or some other sympathetic country to receive asylum from the death penalty when they gave no sympathy to their victims, brutally murdering just for the sport of it.
In every photo of Cleophus Prince Jr. he is shown smiling. The look on his face illustrates the arrogance and narcissistic demeanor of this individual. Each picture pisses me off more and more especially when I read that this punk is trolling for pen pals. In short, on behalf of the families of his victims and real men everywhere, I would love the opportunity to wipe that goofy ass grin off of his face and give him exactly what he is looking for; an old fashion ass kicking.
The Roseland community in Chicago has had more than their share of serial murder over the years. The new millennium brought to light the serial murderer Geoffrey T. Griffin. From July of 1998 to July 2000, Griffin used the neighborhoods of the Roseland area of Chicago as his personal killing fields. In a modus operandi familiar among African American serial killers, Geoffrey Griffin would lure area streetwalkers to abandoned buildings in lieu of receiving drugs or cash. Once inside, Griffin would rape then murder his victims. Arrested on June 17, 2000, he was subsequently charged with eight murders and 1 aggravated criminal sexual assault. Many of his charges stem from bodies found long after his arrest.
On September 22, 2005, Judge Fred Suria convicted Griffin of killing Angela Jones after watching a videotape in which he described how he squeezed Jones’ throat during sex after the two smoked crack cocaine. Judge Suria acquitted him of killing Beverly Burns even though the man’s shirt and jacket were spattered with her blood. The judge said that he was troubled by the lack of evidence at the crime scene against Griffin and by the fact that there was no blood of the victim at the scene. Griffin was sentenced to 100 years in prison on November 06, 2005. Trials for the other murders are forthcoming.
In 2010, serial murder returned to Roseland. Michael Johnson, a 24 year old Roseland resident was arrested on May 22, 2010 and charged with three counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of criminal sexual assault. Johnson’s DNA was taken and said to have matched at least four unsolved murders in the area. Currently held in Cook County Department of Corrections on no bond, Johnson now 27 is being investigated for additional murders in the Roseland community.
The premise and purpose of writing and publishing, “The Darker Side of Evil,” was to enlighten society of the existence of Black serial killers as well as to advise African-American communities of these predator’s abilities to hide and operate in plain sight. As usual the victims of these crimes were women. More specifically, women labeled nightwalkers or prostitutes that take to life on the streets by virtue of drug addiction. Drug addicts and prostitutes are viewed by some as people whose behavior brought their fate upon themselves. In my book, I pointed that society views these people as “throwaways,” people that society has basically given up on and truthfully wish would fall from the face of the earth anyway.
WE MUST CHANGE THE WAY WE VIEW EACH OTHER. The only time society seems to feel any level of empathy is when a problem affects us directly. We as a civilized society must change our judgmental views of each other and begin to care for something outside of ourselves. The devil cannot exist and operate if we keep an eye out for the well-being of the people around us. He thrives on our selfishness and inability to concern with the issues of the people we see and interact with daily. As long as we continue to do what we’ve always done, we will continue to get what we’ve always gotten.