Friday, October 1, 2010

Anybody Seen A Torso?

Posted By on 10.01.10 at 10:47 AM

Chicago Tribune, September 4, 1933. Among murderers, there are two basic philosophies of body disposal: "lumpers" prefer to concentrate the telltale byproducts of homicide in a single location, even to the extent of creating their own private and unmarked cemeteries; "splitters" like to sow bits and bobs of their victims across the map, apparently in the belief that such distribution will foil forensics and impede identification of the deceased. I'm drawn toward the lumping school myself: it always seemed to me that the splitters are really motivated by a desire to get caught. On top of which, who in their right mind wants to take apart a human? I'm still recovering from the dismemberment sequence in Ian McEwen's The Innocent.
“Roughly hacked” seems like a telling detail for investigators: “We’re looking for an amateur here, boys, someone with no finesse. Exclude all packing plant workers from your criminal canvass.”

“The identity of the limbs”? Yeesh, someone needs to wave a meat ax at the copy editor. “One of the victims has provisionally been identified as a Mrs. Ulna McElbowson, missing since last July.”

"A Century of Progress" was a great big 1933 Chicago World’s Fair-type of exposition, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the city and designed to bring the good times back. They actually held it over for a second year to try to break even on it, but no soap. I'm thinking I'm gonna take this story and gin it up into a knock-off of Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, with breathlessly alternating cliff-hanger chapters devoted to the killing and the expo. Apparently there is insatiable public hunger for such punk literachoor.

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