The Killer in the Attic

And More True Tales of Crime and Disaster from Cleveland’s Past

John Stark Bellamy


This 4th collection of Cleveland crime and disaster features 26 more gruesome, horrible, tragic—and true—tales. Includes Mafia legend Shondor Birns, whose high-profile life of crime came to an explosive end in his Lincoln Continental, and two doomed workmen buried alive in the very concrete that became a Cleveland landmark, the Terminal Tower.

Softcover / 298 pages / 5.5 x 8.5 inches / 70 photos

ISBN: 9781886228573


“Fascinating and yes entertaining . . . often in a bizarre way that leaves the reader feeling guilty for being so entertained.” — Medina County Gazette

The fourth volume in John Stark Bellamy’s classic Cleveland crime and disaster series features 26 more gruesome, horrible, tragic, and despicable—but true—tales, including:

• Love-crazed Clark Hill, who warmed up his teenage girlfriend with an overdose of Spanish Fly in her milk shake;

• The chilling Cuyahoga River scow disaster, in which 16 clinging, drowning men fought so desperately to stay afloat that they dragged each other to the dark bottom of the river;

• Doomed workmen Patrick Toolis and Patrick Cleary, buried alive in the very concrete that became Cleveland’s celebrated Terminal Tower;

• Not-so-friendly Dorothy Kaplan, who deposited shards of glass in her neighbors’ milk in hopes of helping slow the “noisy” couple down a bit;

• Mafia legend Shondor Birns, whose high-profile life of crime came to an explosive end when he started up his Lincoln Continental one fine day;

And other detailed and compelling accounts of the unspeakable.

Additional information

Weight0.8 lbs

Softcover, Softcover (Autographed)

Table of Contents



1. Smithereen Street (The 1953 West 117th Street Explosion)

2. Friday on His Mind (The 1948 Spanish Fly Killer)

3. A Gangster’s Gangster (The Improbable Story of “Big Jim” Morton, 1884–1960)

4. Cuyahoga Death Trip (The 1896 Willow Bridge Scow Disaster)

5. The Man with the Twisted Life (The Sad Saga of Ernst Watzl, 1929–1930)

6. “They’ll Never Take Me Alive!” (The 1906 Slaughter of Mary Sheperd)

7. Death in the Deep Pit (The 1928 Terminal Tower Tragedy)

8. “A Quiet, Middle-Aged Man” (The 1930 Assassination of Dr. Alfred P. Scully)

9. A Most Unquiet Grave (The Sarah Victor Scandal, 1868)

10. Paddle Wheel Deathtrap (The 1850 G. P. Griffith Disaster)

11. When Monsters Walk (Mary Jane Brady and the Collins Twins, 1943)

12. The Killer in the Attic (The 1903 Reichlin Murder)

13. Sooner or Later . . . (The 1949 Thompson Trophy Tragedy)

14. Jazz Age Hit-Skip (The Alice Leonard Story, 1928)

15. “I Am Settling for All Past Wrongs . . .” (William Adin’s 1875 Cross-Town Bloodbath)

16. Damn the Torpedoes (The Fireworks Factory Horrors, 1902–1903)

17. “No Mother, Nor No Mother, Nor Nothin’” (The 1900 Death of Alfred Williams)

18. Death of the Dance Hall Girls (The 1905 Anna Kinkopf/Eva Meyer Murders)

19. Burning, Burning, Burning River (The Cuyahoga River Fires of 1868, and . . .)

20. Three Distaff Poisoners (Elsie Bass, 1917), Anna Kempf, 1928), and Dorothy Kaplan, 1956)

21. Orville’s “Little Boy Blue” (The 1928 Melvin Horst Mystery)

22. The Body in the Harbor (Samuel Smith’s Fatal Jetsam, 1904)

23. A Victorian Scandal (The 1888 Thomas Axworthy Affair)

24. Shot in His Own Bed (The 1868 Murder of David Skinner)

25. Rampant Criminality (The Legend of Shondor Birns, 1906–1975)

26. When Nature Frowns (The 1924 Lorain Tornado)

Photo Credits

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