Saturday, July 28, 2007

Chicago’s Lipstick Killer Up For Parole




He was dubbed the, “Lipstick Killer” who was apprehended while armed with a .25 automatic as he allegedly tried to kill a Chicago cop responding to a routine burglary call. 1946 was not a good year for prisoner’s civil rights in the Windy City. Interrogation rooms were simply confessionals. Police tactics were legendary and make brutality claims of the last three decades pale by comparison.

He was an exceptionally bright 17 year-old student and part-time burglar from the prestigious University of Chicago. The crimes committed were in the Rogers Park neighborhood. A lot of burglaries and three brutal murders were pinned on the young suspect. The most notorious of the murders was that of six-year old Suzanne Degnan who’s dismembered body parts were retrieved from various catch basins.

Lipstick was used by the killer to scrawl the ominous message on one victim, Frances Brown's living room wall, "For heavens sake, catch me before I kill more I cannot control myself."

William Heirens became Chicago’s Boogieman feared by every young mother. Heirens was soon paraded around like a wild animal in a traveling zoo exhibit. Sensational news stories and bizarre photos were the rule for this sordid saga..

Along with the beatings, in two lawless exercises of Voodoo Science of the day cops and prosecutors forced Heirens to undergo a spinal tap and injected him with the drug sodium pentathol. For a while that drug was wrongly thought to be some kind of a truth serum. Curiously Heirens easily passed the heralded, Keeler polygraph test. I can’t imagine what the courts would say today about the experiments and torture used by Chicago’s crime busters on William Heirens.

Was this lad the killer or a scapegoat? In the mid-1990s I was asked by ABC news to find a Chicago man, Richard Russell Thomas who confessed to killing the Degnan girl while he was in the Maricopa County Jail in Arizona but was quickly dismissed as a suspect by Chicago police. Police had already made their investment in Heirens and lost interest in the second confessor who was a convicted child molester.

Richard Russell Thomas died decades before my search but his family members in Austin Texas verified the confession as well as telling me about his writing of at least one song made popular by Les Paul and Mary Ford. lots of additional evidence connecting Thomas to the Degnam murder surfaced over the years. Heirens’ Lawyer Jed Stone knows this story well and was not able to develop this as a basis for a new trial.

God only knows what really happened or who the killer was or if the three murders were somehow connected. There was no security video or DNA in 1946. I don’t have much faith that justice really happened in this case.

In the end William Heirens had two choices. Plead guilty to the crimes or be convicted and quickly fried in the electric chair. Unlike today, that process could be completed with all appeals within months in 1946. The Guilty plea was accepted and Heirens has since served more time than any Illinois prisoner.

Ever since Heirens arrived at the Illinois prison system he’s never been a discipline problem and was the first inmate to get a college degree while incarcerated. 61 years later Heirens is a feeble and wheelchair bound old man. Heirens is far from a threat to anyone and his prison cell needs to be filled by a much younger convict who is really dangerous.

There were several books published about this case. The Court TV crime library has a great article on this murder investigation that can be found here.

Lots of pictures gathered from Chicago's newspapers with information about the crimes assembled by S. Sherman can be found here.

These has been loads of misinformation published that tainted this case.

There there is this from author Dolores Kennedy.

The board ruled and you can read about it here.

An update: Hereins had a parole hearing in July 2009. In late late August he was denied parole, having received two votes when eight are needed. There was concerns that he is costing the state $70,000.00 per year in care. If he was released they could hire two prison guards for younger and more dangerous prisoners.

16 comments:

Private Eye said...

Paul what a story. I love the ole crime noir photo. Paul if this man was innocent, what a tragedy. I say give him parole. Even if (if) he’s guilty there’s grace in the Blackstonian view, “it is better to let ten guilty escape than allow one innocent to suffer". Moreover, even more grace by God.

Anonymous said...

you forgot to mention the part where they gave him a spinal tap with no pain killers, then dragged him out of bed right after to hook him up to the polygraph - he collapsed and they returned him to his cell. Then there was the fake confession - written and fabricated by an ace reporter - published so that everyone still believes its contents to this day. Dear God. If they really had the evidence, they would have gone for the death penalty. The authorities refuse to admit any wrongdoing here - they refuse to admit to documented torture. He was no choirboy but the crimes don't fit his MO, and worse, they don't fit one another's MO - one was a murder by a pedophile SM snuff killer, who may or may not have been an extortionist (he had no history of this) the other two involved grown women of different ages - where the note left in one case was written by someone illiterate, not a 17 year old scholar. No pattern except the homes appeared to have been ransacked in the murder of the women - and no real burglary in the child killing. ANYONE can see that they weren't connected! ANYONE can see that this man spent his entire life locked up because of lies piled on top of lies.

Anonymous said...

Paul , WTF ! How can you defend this piece of S##T ? He was guilty 61 yeras ago and he's just as guilty now. He needed to die in the electric chair long ago. It would have saved the tax payers of Illinois a lot of money . How many millions of dollars have been spent on feeding clothing and medical over these last 60 years ?
TO MUCH ! Let this bastard die in hell where he deserved to die 61 years ago. The cops should have tuned him up then .

Anonymous said...

Paul,
This type of story is why I continue to visit your site. Considering how many cases have been overturned over the past few years due to DNA evidence and the excellent work of The Innocence Project, it is frightening to think how many people may have been convicted, incarcerated, and/or executed for crimes they did not commit in the years before modern technology and civil rights. Every murder demands justice, but justice is never served with scapegoats. As ugly as it may be, I hope that other old cases are brought into the light.

Anonymous said...

Hello Paul,
I am someone who used to be very naieve and believed that the police never screwup,not anymore. I have been a cop along time and can attest to things not always being correct.

I think they should let this old foogy out,it doesn't look like things add up properly.

To all the young new guys,just look at the Mike Mette case.

Anonymous said...

You seem to believe that he was tuned up. He must have been because of the times. All police engaged in that kind of interrogation techniques.
That's a lot of speculation. You seem to believe the CONVICTED KILLER more then the police. Where you there? How do you know he was beaten. You just assume he must have been. Maybe he was. I believe he was guilty and the courts agree. Maybe a guilty guy was beaten, but you and I don't know this to be a fact. We weren't there.
You state he was just a burglar. A burglar with a gun? I have caught my share of burglars and I have never caught one with a gun.
Burglars don't burglarize when people are at home, therefore they dont need a gun. A gun makes him much more then an ordinary burglar. He obviously had different intentions. You even question whether he actually pointed a gun at an officer in a previous burglary.
Since when have you become such a police hater. I thought you were a police officer once. You doubt every thing the police did and believe everything the CONVICTED KILLER claims.
Maybe he was on his way to become a serial killer. You know they are all psychopaths. Psychopaths are all great at lying. I think this one has fooled you.
The offender wrote on a mirror asking for the police to catch him. If this was not the right guy how come the killings didn't continue? The guy who wrote that didn't seem to believe he could stop killing. I believe they have the right guy.
You even suggest that even if he did do it he should be released. There is the cost issue. There is also the likely hood of him committing future crimes. He will still cost us money if he is released. He needs health care and i'm sure he's not going to get a job as a CEO with great health care if he were to be released. He still would be dependent on the State. If he beaths he's capable of killing again. How many pounds of pressure does it take to sqeeze a trigger? You also beleive he has changed. Psychopaths don't change. They are a defect. First of all you have to acknowledge you have a problem. Psychopaths don't beleive they have a problem. They like killing and that isn't a problem to them.
Now lets look at the victims. Do they also get PAROLE. Of course not. They never come back. Their loved ones get a life sentence, no chance of parole. You were once a police officer. You were the voice of the victims. Now you are the voice of the offender. How did that happen?
I believe he earned his jail sentence and it should stand. He should die in prison. The way I see it that's not a bad deal for taking several peoples lives away. That is compassionate. If this were the Middle East we wouldn't even be taking about him anymore.

Anonymous said...

HOORAY for the Illinois Parole Board , They denied his Parole request . May he ROT in Double Hell.

S. Sherman said...

Paul,

Here is a summary of the case against Heirens:

June 1945: Josephine Ross is murdered. There is no evidence leading to any suspect but the similarity to the later slaying of Frances Brown makes the police believe the same person killed both women.

October 1945: Evelyn Peterson is assaulted in her apartment near the University of Chicago. Her sister coming to visit may have interrupted the attack. Heirens' fingerprints are found in the apartment and he is identified by eyewitnesses as being in the building at the time. Heirens admits that he was in the building but he claims he was just looking for apartments to rob and denies committing the assault.

October 1945: Veronica Hudzinski is shot and wounded in her apartment about two blocks from the Degnan home by a bullet fired through her window. There is no evidence leading to any suspect but the similarity to the later assault on Marion Caldwell leads police to believe it was the same assailant and the proximity to the Degnan home leads them to believe the two crimes might be related.

December 1945: Marion Caldwell is shot in her apartment in Rogers Park by a bullet fired through her window. Ballistics indicate that the bullet was fired by a gun later traced to Heirens. Heirens claims he was standing on the roof of a nearby building that night and was firing his gun for practice and he "might" have accidently hit Mrs. Caldwell.

December 1945: Frances Brown is murdered. Heirens' fingerprints are found in her apartment.

January 1946: Suzanne Degnan is murdered and dismembered. Heirens' fingerprint is found on the ransom note. A knife belonging to Heirens is found three blocks from the Degnan home. Heirens claims that he just coincidentally discarded the knife near the Degnan home.

buffhunter said...

To S. Sherman: I will answer point by point.

"June 1945: Josephine Ross is murdered. There is no evidence leading to any suspect but the similarity to the later slaying of Frances Brown makes the police believe the same person killed both women."
----
Great that well may be true, but as you imply there is no evidence that connect her to Heirens.

"October 1945: Evelyn Peterson is assaulted in her apartment near the University of Chicago. Her sister coming to visit may have interrupted the attack. Heirens' fingerprints are found in the apartment and he is identified by eyewitnesses as being in the building at the time. Heirens admits that he was in the building but he claims he was just looking for apartments to rob and denies committing the assault."
---
Possible since he was a known burglar, but given the hinky fingerprint evidence I have to be suspicious of police claims. More on this later. Also, if he was this vicious killer, why didn't he do her in?

"October 1945: Veronica Hudzinski is shot and wounded in her apartment about two blocks from the Degnan home by a bullet fired through her window. There is no evidence leading to any suspect but the similarity to the later assault on Marion Caldwell leads police to believe it was the same assailant and the proximity to the Degnan home leads them to believe the two crimes might be related.
----
As with the first shooting the two incidence could be related but nothing connects Heirens to it.

"December 1945: Marion Caldwell is shot in her apartment in Rogers Park by a bullet fired through her window. Ballistics indicate that the bullet was fired by a gun later traced to Heirens. Heirens claims he was standing on the roof of a nearby building that night and was firing his gun for practice and he "might" have accidently hit Mrs. Caldwell."
-----
As I said before, I am very suspicious of the Chicago Police handling of the case so I would like to see the ballistics report, and when it was made. As to his confession, given the brutal treatment by the police, the State's Attorney's office lies to the press and the press including printing a phony confession by the Chicago Tribune and handling by hand by a civilian reporter from the Chicago Daily News a key peace of Degnan evidence-the ransom note with its fraudulent non existent "Indentation writing". I would feel that the world was against me and confess to anything to avoid the chair. Also they tried to hang the Estelle Carey murder on him too but Heirens was at a boarding school in Terre Haute, Indiana at the time. Again, let me see that ballistic report and who made it.

"December 1945: Frances Brown is murdered. Heirens' fingerprints are found in her apartment."
----
Ah yes the door jamb print. This is one of the most suspicious things about this case. First Sargent Laffey, their fingerprint expert, declared that the bloody print didn't match Heirens; then two weeks later the police not only says it matched Heirens it matched to a 22 point comparison match after clearing him. But under oath during Heirens's sentencing hearing, Laffey said it only had a six point match for the middle joint and only an 8 point match for the end joint, both far below the FBI standard of 12 point comparison matches for a positive identification. Then throw in the fact that it looked liked a rolled print from a fingerprint card indicating that it had ridge detail from the sides of the finger than it should had if it was a normal latent I would take it with severe doubt that it was even Heirens let alone a match. This aside the fact that Heirens's hand writing didn't match the "stop me before..." message.

January 1946: Suzanne Degnan is murdered and dismembered. Heirens' fingerprint is found on the ransom note...."
---
There are questions with the validity of those prints Sargent Laffey didn't match Heirens to the print until after he was a suspect despite the fact that Laffey worked on the case almost to the exclusion of others for six months and having Heirens's fingerprints on file at least since May 1, 1946 and probably before since he was arrested for burglary before. Also when asked about the fingerprint evidence at Heirens's sentencing hearing they don't even mention the finger prints on top of the note the ones proclaimed to be Heirens which was at best a partial, only the so called palm print and yet another print on the reverse side of the note that they somehow discovered after the note had been handled many times after they got it back from the FBI. Even before they sent the note to the FBI the note was mishandled. The FBI seemed to somehow not notice this palm print under its Iodine Fuming test and the photographs of both sides of the ransom note taken immediately after the processing. After he got photos of the prints back from the FBI Sargent Laffey said: they were "so incomplete that it is impossible to classify them." One other thing: there were unidentified fingerprints on the window sill of the Degnan home. All of this is aside from the fact that the writing on the note doesn't match Heirens at all.

"...A knife belonging to Heirens is found three blocks from the Degnan home. Heirens claims that he just coincidentally discarded the knife near the Degnan home."
----
Yes, And coincidences were rife in this case, including the moniker you have chosen for yourself, S.Sherman (unless of course you are the real S.Sherman, either Sidney or Seymore) referring to the coincidental leaving of a handkerchief with the laundry mark "S. Sherman" on it and the arrest of an Sidney Sherman who happened to live in Chicago at the time of Suzanne Degnan's with his handkerchief near one of the crime scenes where the remains of Suzanne were found and who coincidentally left town all of a sudden without taking his last paycheck from work and without signing out of the YMCA. Very suspicious but all a coincidence. And given how many suspects were arrested in that case there was a lot of coincidences to link them to the crime to make them suspects, certainly suspects worth beating like Hector Verburgh who they treated brutally trying to get him to confess, which by his admission he almost did. I would be very surprised if the only suspects beaten in that case were Verburgh, a 65 year old man and Heirens, a 17 year old boy. At any rate, was the knife forensically linked to to any of the murders?

I have seen your site, and I must say you leave out a lot of key information about the case, like the brutal treatment Heirens suffered at the hands of the Chicago PD for six days, including beatings and out and out torture; you leave out how excruciating the spinal tap was or how they attempted to polygraph test him just 15 minutes after the tap when he needed days to recover. He eventually past both he was given (I don't actually believe in polygraphs but the Chicago PD did and cleared many suspects based on that at any rate the State's Attorney suppressed the favorable results to Heirens) Then the State's Attorney lied and that it was inconclusive when the results really indicated he was truthful; a warrantless imposition of so called "truth serum" sodium pentathol, and the "lost" of the transcript of the interrogation and the State's Attorney lies that he hadn't authorized and participated when he did. The fact that the writing on the ransom note and the wall don't even match each other or Heirens. Two lies printed by the Press of his so called confession and "indentation writing" and the handling of the ransom note by a civilian supposedly looking for the non existent hidden writing; Lies by the police and prosecution about the fingerprint evidence that magically appears including an non-existing palm print, or misrepresenting the quality of the existing fingerprint evidence and their contamination of them. The possibility of They had a eyewitness who all of a sudden was able to identify him when he didn't before.

Finally, there is another viable suspect for the Degnan murder in the form of Richard Russell Thomas. You mention him at your site but you do not go into depth with him. He is a far more likely suspect for the Degnan murder than Heirens ever was.

Sorry, given the brutal, suspicious lying and fraudulent way the Chicago PD had handled the case I don't trust anything they say, that is why I want to see other evidence of what they have including the ballistics report on the bullets fired. Beat suspects, screw with witnesses, screw with fingerprints, lie about the polygraph and the sodium pentathol examination they can lie about the ballistic test. I would like to see the actual report, if the ballistics were examined independently by the FBI or another police force.

S. Sherman said...

Re Evelyn Peterson:
"given the hinky fingerprint evidence I have to be suspicious of police claims....Also, if he was this vicious killer, why didn't he do her in?"

Heirens does not deny he was in Peterson's apartment and he does not deny that those are his prints. He merely denies attacking her. Her sister knocked on her door around the time of the attack, which may have saved her life.

----------

Re Marion Caldwell:
"As I said before, I am very suspicious of the Chicago Police handling of the case so I would like to see the ballistics report, and when it was made."

Heirens has had defense attorneys working for him at least since the early 1950's (the first was Herbert Wetzel) and, as far as I know, the ballistics evidence in the Caldwell case has never been challenged. And, as I said, Heirens does not deny that he "may" have shot Caldwell. He says, if he did, it was an accident.

----------

Re Estelle Carey:
The police understandably looked at Heirens for that murder but they soon concluded he did not do it. They did not "try to hang it on him." He was never charged with it.

---------

Re Frances Brown:
"First Sargent Laffey, their fingerprint expert, declared that the bloody print didn't match Heirens; then two weeks later the police not only says it matched Heirens it matched to a 22 point comparison match after clearing him. But under oath during Heirens's sentencing hearing, Laffey said it only had a six point match for the middle joint and only an 8 point match for the end joint, both far below the FBI standard of 12 point comparison matches for a positive identification. Then throw in the fact that it looked liked a rolled print from a fingerprint card indicating that it had ridge detail from the sides of the finger than it should had if it was a normal latent I would take it with severe doubt that it was even Heirens"

Who is claiming that it is a "rolled print?" Laffey sent a copy of the print to the FBI and the FBI confirmed a match with Heirens. If there had been something funny about the print, wouldn't the FBI have noticed it? Would Laffey have had the guts to risk sending a phonied-up "rolled print" to the FBI?

----------

Re the Degnan ransom note:
The FBI lifted the print and it was checked against 700 people with no match found. When Laffey found a match with Heirens, he sent it to the FBI and they confirmed it. I don't see how the print could possibly have been faked. The FBI had already seen the note in January. Are you saying Laffey would make an alteration and risk that the FBI might catch it?

Why exactly would Laffey do that?

----------

Re: "I have seen your site, and I must say you leave out a lot of key information about the case"

I left out the information about the brutal treatment Heirens received at the hands of the police because it turned out to be irrelevant. I also discounted Heirens' confession except for one crucial part of it which is backed up by physical evidence: his statement about the knife. He said he threw a knife up onto the EL tracks at Glenlake and Winthrop and, lo and behold, it was actually there. And it was identified as a knife that had been stolen by him.

When an admission is backed up by physical evidence, I find it pursuasive.

----------

Re Richard Russell Thomas:
Thomas was never overlooked, contrary to what Heirens' defenders suggest. He was front page news for four days in June of 1946. One might say Thomas was tried and convicted in the press for the Degnan murder, just as Hector Verburgh, Vincent Costello and Sidney Sherman had been before him.

Chicago cops went out to Phoenix to interview Thomas and they quickly sized him up as a crank. When they asked him questions about the case, he got the details wrong. The biggest thing he got wrong was, when they asked him where he had hidden Suzanne's arms, he said he had hidden them on the South Side. He was apparently unaware that the arms had been found at Hollywood and Broadway in February.

When Thomas learned that Heirens had been charged, he changed his story and now claimed that he had not actually done the crime but that he had written the ransom note. Thomas merely wanted to get out of Arizona. His confession was a complete phony.

mark said...

MR.ANONOMOUS SHOULD SHUT THE HELL UP!!!!!!! MR.HEIRENS IS INNOCENT AND EVERY MINUTE THAT HE IS IN JAIL IS ONE MINUTE TOO MANY!!!!!!!
I HAVE SO MUCH RESPECT FOR THIS MAN HE IS MY HERO!!!!!!! WHAT A GUY, REALLY!!!!!!!Mark-Vincent.

mark said...

HE IS INNOCENT !!!!!!! ALL THE PROVE IS THERE!!!!!!! THE REAL KILLER DIED YEARS AGO AND IS THE FATHER OF A DETECTIVE WHO ALSO SAYS THAT HIS FATHER IS THE REAL LIPSTICK KILLER!!!!!!!YOU PEOPLE KNOW NOTHING !!!!!!!

mark said...

GEORGE HODEL IS THE REAL KILLER!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

yeah this guy may have did the crime but that is up to the judge to judge him not you. and if he hired jed stone to do the job then it is always a job well done.

Mandy said...

I feel sorry for this man :(

Anonymous said...

George Hodel is the real killer. he was in Chicago when the Degnan girl was killed, and i believe along with the son of George Hodel ho is a police detective.

That George Hodel his own father is the killer. He also believes That Hodel is responsible for

"The Black Dalhia murder" where a Hollywood actress was dismembered in a similar fashion as that of the Degnan girl. In both cases the dismemberment required surgical skills and guess what Georges profession was a surgeon. And to make it even more obvious the Hollywood actress was dumped in south Hollywood next to a street witch is called Degnan street. "And before you think no way" let me just tell you right now yes the name of the street next to were the body was found is called Degnan Street. So its almost as if George Hodel was trying to send a sick message to the investigators. "If your smart enough and your able to connect the dots you can find me" Even though George Hodel had an alibi at the time of the black dahlia murder. Which is believed to be false, he did not have an alibi for when the murder Of Degnan was committed. He was actually in Chicago at the time. And as for the other victims of the lipstick killer. We can at least put him in Chicago at the time of Frances browns murder as well. So my conclusion is that George Hodel is the lipstick killer. Sadly hes dead now But his son believes that his father is responsible. And so does Dr. Michael Stone in the discovery channel documentary "most evil" were he in one episode talks to the son of George Hodel and Heirens. He says that Heirens doesn't fit the psychological profile of a serial killer but that George Hodel Fits. George Hodel had an IQ of 170 he showed classic signs of being schizophrenic and having an Anti Social Personality Disorder. So all in all high IQ mental decease that can cause a person to lose contact with reality, plus antisocial personality disorder witch is the medical perm for being a psychopath so Heirens shude be set free.