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Double lust murder, PM mutilation, murderer committed suicide, Hungary, 1943-44

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  • Double lust murder, PM mutilation, murderer committed suicide, Hungary, 1943-44

    A bit late, but an interesting one! Had zero time to dig the archives for quite a long time, but I ran into this one while researching something on football.

    This is one of the most brutal (double) murders in the Hungarian police files, resulting in one of the largest police actions to no avail. As the World War II raged around the country, the number of police force moved (more than 200 detectives deployed - and I am sure in war times they had more things to do!) shows how important the chase was for the Budapest Police Department

    1943: THE MURDER OF A DANCER

    21 January 1943, Thursday. There is a military practice on the pitch of the sports club Kőbányai Torna Club. The pitch was located in Kőbánya (today District X - as 10 - of Budapest, huge industrial zone), 30 Gyömrői út (street). Rough part of town then (my grandfather, who was 18 at the time, grew up in the area), rough part of town now.



    (Photo: Kőbánya. District X of Budapest in the winter of 1940. Typical scenes: railway tracks, industrial buildings, poor, desolate places. Rough neighborhood. Photo: Fortepan/Miklós Lajos)

    The soldiers, practicing in deep snow find the body of a brutally murdered women. The violence on the body is completely shocking.

    The body:
    – The murdered is a woman between 40-45 years old. Weighing 54-56 kgs.
    – First stabs aimed at the breast, probably she screamed
    – The murderer followed it up with a deep throat cut, causing instant death. Stabs to the heart followed, but she was already dead then
    – Throat is cut. Carotid artery severed.
    – Horrible cut going from the larynx to the breast to the abdomen. I understand that it was one extremely long and deep cut
    – Hands and legs mutilated
    – Back mutilated. 10-15 cuts in the back
    – 5 stabs in the heart
    – All in all 56–57 (!) stabs and cuts on the body according to one source. Other source says more than 100 wounds on the body, 56 stabs and cuts, and the others from fighting the murderer. The killer completely went to town on the body.
    – Police was looking for a man in blood-stained clothes, as the blood leaving the carotid artery probably shot right on the killer.

    The body was carried to the Szvetenay street mortuary (District IX). This is the state attorney's forensic/anatomical institute. The most "interesting" bodies end up here.


    (Winter of 1943 in Kőbánya, District X. Photo: Fortepan)

    First steps of the police
    • After the forensic investigation the doctors stated that the murder was probably committed on 15 January, 6 days ago. There was heavy snowfall on 16 January and it covered the body. Police investigation pointed to the murder being committed at the place where the body was found. No chance of murder elsewhere and dumping.

    – Murder spot = where body was found
    – There were signs of struggle between murderer and victim
    – Pools of blood found
    – Last seen in a pub in Kispest on 14 January, around 8 PM. She was with an unidentified man.
    – The murder weapon was a "dikics", shoemaker's cutting knife. Forensic specialists stated it could have been no other type of knife.

    • The police found a soldier who reported that a market-woman saw a woman running away from a tall man. The tall man shouted after her: "You are running in vain, I'll catch up with you and finish you off!"


    (The sports pitch of Kőbányai Sport Club, site of the Schwartz murder. You can see the football pitch in the air photo, made in 1944. Next to the pitch there are fields, abandoned areas and buildings.)

    The victim

    The body was IDd the next day by the sister of the murdered woman. The murdered was Ilona Fábián Schwartz (or Júlia Ilona Fábián Schwartz), aged 47, born in 1896, Budapest.

    She lived in the Állami Lakótelep (State Housing Projects) in Pestszentlőrinc. About 9000 people lived in the projects - it was a slum, but not as bad as the worst ones. About 30% lived in abject poverty though. She disappeared from her dwellings on 14 January.

    Ilona was a textile worker (weaver) in a factory in Kispest (District XIX - these are all South Pest, none-too-posh districts). She fell on hard times. The factory job seemed to be temporary, not regular employment. She often took up smaller tasks to earn a little money.

    Before World War I she was using the stage name of Lili Szentgyörgyi and was a well-known revue dancer in the Folies Caprice bar – one of the best entertainment spots of Budapest! She was possibly only 14 at this time. Later she danced at Casino de Paris and the Orfeum – all posh, rich, fashionable entertainment venues. Apparently she was a great dancer (she must have looked very good and danced very good to get employed in these revues), known for her "beauty of movement". She was said to be highly attractive.

    In 1912, aged 16, she became a "vengerka", and left for Russia. Many Hungarian dancers did that back in the time, basically they worked as dancers and more often than not doubled as "luxury" prostitutes. Sometimes they got a benefactor from the nobility for themselves and ended up rich. When the communists rose to power, they kicked these "vengerka" ("Hungarian women") out of the country and sent them back to Hungary, where most of them ended up in poverty. Ilona was luckier than this.


    (Promo poster of the Folies Caprice, where Ilona Schwartz was a revue dancer. Photo: Hungarian National Széchenyi Library)

    Interestingly enough her sister said that Ilona got in touch with the Russian high nobility and got home with enough money and a Russian greyhound, after dancing in Vienna, Berlin, Paris and Istanbul. She quit dancing in 1935 and started living from the accumulated wealth – wasting all the money in a few years. She turned to heavy drinking and ended up living in poverty. She got a job as a temporary factory worker to make ends meet.

    She was a heavy alcoholic by the time she was murdered. She was only known as "drunkard Ilona" in the projects. She was well-known in the shadier pubs and dives of Kispest as a regular. The locals said that when she drunk she often met rogues and shady men. The newspapers do not state it, but aim at that she might have been soliciting. Despite her drinking, she was known as a decent, kind-hearted woman who was very good with children. She was a polyglot, speaking 8 languages and occasionally worked as a private language teacher.

    This is... a victim who shared quite many things with some in Whitechapel. Woman over 40, who had seen better times, but ended up in a slum as an impoverished alcoholic, probably occasionally dabbling in prostitution, meeting her fate randomly.

    Summing up the victim: Ilona Fábián Schwartz, 47-year old woman, dancer/factory worker, probably occasional prostitute, heavily alcoholic, impoverished. Throat cut; front and back of the body, arms and legs all horribly mutilated. She was murdered on the spot where she was found. Struggled with her murderer. Was probably chased. There seemed to be no staging of the body or organs. No organs reported missing. Some jewelry (ring, earrings) was missing, probably robbed.

    The hunt

    More than 200 police officers started the manhunt. They got a report that on the night of 14 January (Thurday, victim last seen around 8 PM) turning to 15 January (Friday, victim murdered) a taxi stopped by the Gyömrői út sports pitch. A woman and a man emerged, both heavily drunk. The man was so drunk he smashed in the window of the taxi. After a short quarrel they paid the driver and the window and left on foot, through the grass.

    The last hours of the victim were reconstructed within days by the police:

    14 JANUARY 1943, THURSDAY

    15.30: Ilona Schwartz leaves a restaurant in Teleki tér, Józsefváros (District VIII - the most notorious district of Budapest). Teleki tér had a busy market and was – still is – quite a rough place. I know, my best friend lived in a side street. Toughs, gangs, prostitutes, whatever. I'm sure where she dined was not a reputable place. Ilona is drunk. So much so that the conductor refuses to allow her on a tram.

    16.00–19.00: Whereabouts unknown. Ilona was in an overcoat and a snowshoe in Teleki tér and both went missing later, so police thought she pawned these to get money for a taxi ride, after not being allowed on a tram.

    19.00 to 20.00: Ilona moved south, to Kispest, into one of her frequented dives. She was accompanied by a man. The man wore a 3/4 length brown coat, "Polish trousers", boots and a tall fur cap (kucsma in Hungarian, busby). Ilona was still drunk, so much that the barman refused to serve her. The man said he takes responsibility for her. He was described well-built, not particularly tall, around 28-30.

    The man stated he met Ilona in Teleki square. After being rejected from the tram, they walked towards Kispest. They took a taxi at Szent István Hospital and wanted to go to Kispest, but the taxi driver stopped at the city limit, as he could go no further. There was a quarrel and the woman broke the taxi window. (This does not correlate with what is written earlier, but this is the probable version)

    Ilona left the dive first. A few minutes later the man also left. They had a disagreement over money. Police thought the woman was waiting for him outside. Then they probably walked to the sports pitch (deserted place - maybe to have sex?) where she was murdered.

    Night of 14 January, turning to 15 January, exact time unknown: Ilona Schwartz is brutally murdered at the sports pitch.

    The police did not have that many leads after the couple disappeared into the night. They were looking for shoemakers and combed through mental institutes, taking special interest in someone who "murdered a woman with horrible cruelty" in 1937, deemed a dangerous lunatic and was released a few weeks before the murder.

    47 men were rounded up and paraded. 3 were arrested. Not one of them had anything to do with the murder, but those 3 were wanted for other crimes. Police pretty much ran into a wall within two weeks.

    Poor Ilona Schwartz was buried on 31 January in the cemetery of Pestszentlőrinc. Locals donated for the burial costs. Several hundred people turned up, including well-off men, who knew her from her time as a dancer.


    (Detectives of the police force at the International Fair of Budapest in 1940. Photo: Fortepan/Lenkey Márton)

    The police messes up

    On 1 February police thought they found Ilona's accompanying man from the night of the murder, in Miskolc, a major city in Northeast Hungary, cca. 185 kms from Budapest. Two detectives went to Miskolc. Full failure! The suspect had a stone cold alibi and did not leave the Miskolc city limits for weeks.

    The manhunt is growing ever larger. Now police all over the country is searching for the murderer. A puzzle is falling into place: the couple were pawning some items of the woman indeed (overcoat, bag, probably snowshoe), and kept drinking in a restaurant in the time slot that was "dark" so far.

    1400 people are contacted by mid-February. Interrogations do not turn anything up. Police conduct a major razzia in and around Teleki tér with 200 detectives and 150 police patrolmen. They stop and search everyone (about 1500 people!), search the market stalls, more than 300 people are taken into custody, mostly pimps and prostitutes. Some new data is gathered. But no breakthrough!

    (The scale of the manhunt is insane! This must have been one of the biggest police operations in the history of Budapest)

    In March a theory emerges that the body might have been dumped where it was found. The theory states the murderer killed Ilona in a vacant house or industrial building and carried her to the sports pitch, dumping the body. The police makes a reconstruction by night, at similar moonlight, in snow. They rubbish the dumping theory. Police and doctors say that there was no dumping, and the mutilations could have been easily carried out on the murder spot, there was enough light.

    The caretaker of the sports pitch is contacted. Police conducts a "screaming reconstruction". The wife of the caretaker says she heard faint cries on the night of the murder. The caretaker corroborates. The reconstruction proves that they could indeed hear faint cries for help.

    Police went out on night patrols, surveying this quite abandoned and dark area. Not a single soul turned up during these nights. Looks like people wanted to avoid this place. Dark, secluse, in a rough area - why would anyone move around? Perfect for murder, though. After investigating the footpaths, the detectives stated that the murderer probably knew the area very well, knew the place was desolate and there was little chance for disturbance. He possibly led his victim to the murder spot.

    The case disappears from the newspapers in March 1943. The police hit a wall and the manhunt proved a complete failure. No killer, no trace, no lead, no anything.

    1944: A MURDER-SUICIDE

    29 August 1944, near Székesfehérvár, Central Hungary, west of Budapest.

    Railway workers find a decapitated body of a man on the tracks between Székesfehérvár and Bény. Sure suicide. The man laid down on the tracks, neck over one of the rails, the train ran through him and decapitated him. ID is found. The deceased has papers for the name of Pál Rácz. 31 year old. Turner originally. Factory worker in the Weiss Manfréd Factory (biggest and most important factory of the time in Hungary) in Csepel (island in Budapest). Father made a positive ID.

    Family states Pál Rácz showed signs of insanity from the age of 16 and was in treatment in mental institutes multiple times, latest in 1943. He was married, but did not live together with the wife, after he attacked her with a razor. He was wanted for a murder attempt in 1927.

    Police turned up to the small shack of the deceased in Csepel, in a forest area called Királyerdő. The shack door is locked. Police force it open. They are not happy from what they see.


    (Királyerdő, Csepel, Budapest, 1940. Forest after flooding. Photo: Fortepan/Schmidt Albin)

    A HORRIBLE FINDING.

    In the shack the body of a naked, horribly mutilated young woman is found, lying in a large pool of blood, already rigid. First scene investigation finds the following:

    – The victim is Ilonka Gábor, 21 year-old factory worker woman. She was from a village, and moved to Budapest recently in search of work
    – Multiple stab wounds
    – Body possibly lying there for a few days at the time of discovery. Possible date of murder is given as "around 25 August", by night
    – Horrible post-mortem mutilation. Stabs, deep cuts, body ripped. A large chunk of flesh is cut out from the waist area. Large flaps of skin are missing from the thighs, as if she was flayed.
    – Police chalk it up as a lust murder
    – They quickly establish a link between the young woman and Pál Rácz. They met at the factory and became lovers, disappearing to the shack for days.

    The body is taken to the forensic institute for further investigation, while police picks apart the shack.

    FORENSIC FINDINGS, POST MORTEM

    The forensic experts return with their findings:

    – Victim is Ilonka Gábor, 21 year-old factory worker
    – Murder is dated on the night of 20 August (Hungarian national holiday), turning to 21 August
    – Before the murder the killer tied Ilonka up (ankles, waists). Might have been a sex play? Or was the victim unconscious already?
    – Throat is cut. Carotid artery severed, causing instant death. Severe post mortem mutilation followed
    – Horrible cut from the neck to the pelvic bone, quite similar to the one on the body of Ilona Schwartz
    – Abdomen is ripped
    – Both breasts are cut off, removed
    – Thigh is ripped, skinned
    – By the left breast a chunk of meat is cut away, so much that the ribs are visible

    By the surprise of the police, two pieces of clothing belonging to Ilona Schwartz are found! Can it be that Pál Rácz was a serial lust killer who murdered both Ilona Schwartz and Ilonka Gábor and then committed suicide?

    Police and forensic experts, after consulting psychologists, agree. The MO is similar. Only major difference is mutilating the back of the body, too (Schwartz murder) vs removing the breasts and some flaying (Gábor murder). But throat was cut in a similar way, causing death. Huge, deep cut running from the neck down. Extensive post-mortem mutilations over the bodies.

    The conclusion: the two murders are similar enough. The age of the murderer fits. Pál Rácz was under psychiatric treatment in the winter of 1943, not working at the time. He was often seen around Teleki tér. With the (mostly) matching MO, the profile of Pál Rácz and the items found, police tentatively closes the case: Pál Rácz murdered both women and then committed suicide.

    Case is off the table, no further details.

    Post mortem mutilators are rare in Hungarian crime annals, especially ones that cause this much destruction. Maybe Pál Rácz committed the first murder, then his mind gave way, he was taken to mental hospital and was not found because of this during the extensive police manhunt? Mental institutes were contacted, but what if he turned up in an institute later than when the police was there and pulled the records?

    Was it the same killer? Or police found a convenient way to tie the two murders and close the cases? What do you think?

  • #2
    Welcome back, Gergely

    I'll read it thoroughly when I get home today.....thanks for sharing this story.
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    • #3
      That was a massive police effort in the first case...you're right.
      Sounds like something on the level of a search for the murderer of the Whitechapel prostitutes back in October 1888.

      Additional information may be in this piece...

      https://translate.google.com/transla...search&pto=aue
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      • #4
        Nice find and there is! Huszadik század is a good, 20th century history site.

        Ilona Schwartz, hailing from a family of 16 (!), studied classical ballet. She was an average dancer but great performer. She got her first revue contract in 1910, at the age of 15. Was paid quite OK. Her number was a Russian dance "in red boots, blue velvet trousers and red top". She usually dined with the journalist table where the famous writers and journalists of the time often turned up. She was pretty much a language genius, picking up vocabulary and grammar at an amazing speed.

        Interesting bits! She must have been quite an unusual talent, too bad she started drinking.

        As you can see, here she is called Schwarz. This family name in Hungarian is a true curse when researching. It can be Schwartz, Schwarcz, Schwarz even Svarc. Maddening.

        She is even mentioned in a famous literary memoir, because the papers were full of the gory details. I might ask my grandpa. Maybe he remembers, very old people sometimes have really vivid memories and this case was huge.

        He also played football for Törekvés, the ground of which is a 20 mins walk from the other pitch and the murder site. I'm sure he played at that football pitch, too!

        Originally posted by Howard Brown View Post
        That was a massive police effort in the first case...you're right.
        Sounds like something on the level of a search for the murderer of the Whitechapel prostitutes back in October 1888.

        Additional information may be in this piece...

        https://translate.google.com/transla...search&pto=aue

        Comment


        • #5
          Gergely:

          She is even mentioned in a famous literary memoir, because the papers were full of the gory details. I might ask my grandpa. Maybe he remembers, very old people sometimes have really vivid memories and this case was huge.

          Considering what was going on in Hungary at the time, why do you think so much attention was given this one murder ? Is it possible that someone with clout and not affiliated with the police had a hand in the amount of effort to find the killer ?
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Howard Brown View Post
            Gergely:

            She is even mentioned in a famous literary memoir, because the papers were full of the gory details. I might ask my grandpa. Maybe he remembers, very old people sometimes have really vivid memories and this case was huge.

            Considering what was going on in Hungary at the time, why do you think so much attention was given this one murder ? Is it possible that someone with clout and not affiliated with the police had a hand in the amount of effort to find the killer ?
            Very good question. It is wartime. Police is overstretched. They are also helping out other services. And hundreds of detectives and PCs are deployed to look for the murderer of an alcoholic, poor ex-dancer. This is like deploying hundreds of police right after the first Whitechapel murder. Does not make sense on this scale. If it was the 3rd-4th body in a serial murder, I would understand. But not this way. Not after a random killing and PM mutilation.

            I can only think of two things. One: the murder was so outlandish and horrible that the police department had to mobilise, try to solve it and get the goddamn thing out of the papers (after some weeks there were quite many articles about the police meeting dead ends and being generally useless). The other: when the victim was a dancer, she was certainly connected to higher circles, including journalists, businessmen and nobility. Maybe a former patron of her had some suction at the police department, but if this is true, then it must've been a rather rich and influential fellow! And her contacts in the press could've pushed the case into the papers (not that it was not an instant leading story material, they caught one of the bloodiest murders in city history...)

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            • #7
              I've made an interactive map with (more or less) contemporary photos, reconstructing the day of the first murder.

              https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1K7r1DyIB9Q5NMYI-3c0ntX1o3EQ9zlDX&usp=sharing


              I cannot locate the taxi exit point for the couple, but I do have a theory, must be near the city limits of 1943, the Ferencváros-Kispest border (Ferencváros is within city limits, Kispest is outside). We know the driver refused to cross the city limits. The place given as exit point is much more inwards, towards the city, near the supposed taxi entry point. That does not make sense, and neither does the distance to the murder site from there.

              My hypotetical exit point takes the couple about 15-20 minutes walking from the murder site. Back then the railway tracks might have been more easily crossed. It should have been pitch dark (beware of a random bombing, it is a world war going on!), only the snow and maybe a handlight. They could have used a shortcut (the police suspected the murderer knew the footpaths and shortcuts in the area well).

              Now the question is:

              Why does a woman goes with a stranger (they knew each other for some hours...) in the night, in winter, in snow to a desolate industrial (railway) area in a shady part of town? It must have been only railroad tracks, vacant lots, industrial buildings. Not a single soul walking there.

              The dwellings of the woman were further southeast, so to go home she should have continued a rather long walk outwards on Üllői út. Certainly not northward to the railway zone.

              Maybe the man offered sex and told he knew a secluded spot? Maybe a vacant house? The woman was very drunk. It's winter night and snow. Plausible?

              Or did they have a quarrel and the man chased the woman? A story alluded to this. He chased her towards a spot he knew well and he knew well that it was deserted? But why didn't the victim try to flee on Üllői út? These part was more deserted and around slums, but still, more chance to get saved than running into a pitch dark, desolated railway zone and then to a football pitch/military practice pitch?

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              • #8
                Thanks for the map, GM !
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                • #9
                  Some more bits. There was a frenzy in the tabloids after the murder (unfortunately not all of them are online), so much so that a paper had a column about needing to curb sensationalism.

                  Ilona Schwartz went to Russia in 1912 with a group of 5. She danced in one of the posh bars of St. Petersburg, the Ambassadeur. Apparently she knew an archduke, probably they have had an affair and she might even met Rasputin!

                  When the communists took power, they kicked out these foreign dancers (usually doing a side-job as escort women or luxury prostitutes). Ilona had to leave quite many riches behind.

                  She went to other big European cities (as mentioned previously), but when she returned to Hungary, she could not secure another contract. She lived off her money gathered earlier, giving private language lessons, but she was not good with money. A paper aims at that she also was a cocaine addict. I guess that eats money away very quickly...

                  She went back to the revue circuit - as a cloakroom warden... But she was drinking more and more and slid further and further down. A paper states that she was still an "active" drug addict when she was murdered. We don't have the post-mortem report in full, so we don't know.

                  One theory floated in Népszava (socialist paper) was the following. They've been to the post-mortem and probably talked to police.

                  "All probabilities show that the murderer met her on the streets or in a dive. Either he followed her around or he led his future victim to the abandoned sports pitch."

                  Other reports write that Ilona often met shady men in local dives (that might have been alluding to occasional prostitution). This article though states that lately she was steering clear of men and was often pissed off when men tried to "accompany her" when she left a pub.

                  Maybe there was a disagreement (e. g. the man wanted sex or wanted to go home with her), she said no, the rejection sent a "red mist" on the man, who chased her towards the abandoned sports pitch, blitzed her and killed+mutilated her in a frenzied attack?

                  There is one (or maybe 2, police was searching for another one) witness who saw the drunk couple getting out of the taxi, the window being smashed and then them paying and leaving. The witness puts them "close to the sports pitch". We know the official exit point, toll booth, Kispest. The murder was in Kőbánya, so the exit point was probably close to what I guessed, still in Kispest, but not far from the neighboring district (you cross Üllői út and you go north, it's Kőbánya).

                  Police turned up to the funeral with plainclothes detectives! I don't know what was behind this, but they mobilised everything they had.

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                  • #10
                    I superimposed the 1944 aerial photo on Google maps and showed possible movements. Murderer and victim entered from the southwest, moved on foot (chase?) towards Gyömrői út (northeast). Unfortunately I cannot "visit" the erstwhile sports pitch, as now it's within the barriers of a major pharma company. Today a little park is there.

                    There is an account of a chase by a witness. If there was a chase, maybe the victim ran towards Gyömrői út. If she was somewhat familiar with the place, she knew it was the only exit from a trap situation. The murderer is behind her, is probably less drunk, armed and stronger. So she cannot turn towards Üllői út, where they came from. On the right there is a field. Then shacks. Vacants, too. Maybe barriers. On the left industrial buildings, possible vacants, railway huts as well, probably. Things that were used during the day and mostly deserted by night.

                    Gyömrői út is a rather important, medium sized road with public transport on. Industrial buildings but private dwellings, too. It was the logical place to flee towards.

                    But still, why did the woman enter and walked into this desolate part with the man?

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                    • #11
                      And a wider section of the google map, with a pre-1950 district map in small size. The exit point must have been where the border of Kispest, District IX and District X meet. The red star shows the murder spot.

                      Why move inwards? Why not towards home?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        This is like deploying hundreds of police right after the first Whitechapel murder. Does not make sense on this scale. If it was the 3rd-4th body in a serial murder, I would understand. But not this way. Not after a random killing and PM mutilation.
                        -Gergely-

                        That's a good analogy and along the lines of what I was thinking too, Boss. I noticed the comment about the newspaper column urging calm. Remarkable.


                        You'd think that the capital would have more pressing issues considering losses the Honved suffered in January '43 and pressure from the Nazis on Horthy....so it is striking that this crime got the level of ink it received.

                        Solid research, as always, Gergely...
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Howard Brown View Post
                          This is like deploying hundreds of police right after the first Whitechapel murder. Does not make sense on this scale. If it was the 3rd-4th body in a serial murder, I would understand. But not this way. Not after a random killing and PM mutilation.
                          -Gergely-

                          That's a good analogy and along the lines of what I was thinking too, Boss. I noticed the comment about the newspaper column urging calm. Remarkable.


                          You'd think that the capital would have more pressing issues considering losses the Honved suffered in January '43 and pressure from the Nazis on Horthy....so it is striking that this crime got the level of ink it received.

                          Solid research, as always, Gergely...
                          Yes, I am sure the police had hands very full. OK, large-scale Allied bombing did not begin until 1944, but they've had many more things than usual. Massive smuggling, looking for people fleeing from the army, all kinds of crimes during war.

                          Friss Ujság – pretty much a bad tabloid - wrote in March 1943 that the police was to start from scratch, taking a new look at the case. A theory was (because of the contacts of the victim abroad) that maybe some spy game was involved. And there was a rather outlandish theory that a "neither man, neither woman" hermaphrodite murdered her.

                          Come on, now.

                          The spy lead might make some sense, but police were looking for working class murderer and everything points to someone who frequented similar (bad) dives as Ilona and liked his drink a lot.

                          Unfortunately this tabloid is not archived for January 1943, and nor is the police magazine (I'd be really interested in that!).

                          +++

                          The taxi ride inconsistencies (and the possible witness inconsistencies) are maddening. A supposed witness said the taxi stopped and they exited very near the murder site, but the police officially released the exit point name, and the witness puts the exit in another district. Now OK, police might not have been at the top of their game, but they'd probably get the district right... Also, if they wanted to go to Pestszentlőrinc and the taxi stopped because of the city limits, there is no logic in turning north, towards Kőbánya then.

                          Police was looking for:
                          - A woman who apparently saw a man chasing a woman near the murder site, and told this story to a soldier.

                          - A man who apparently saw the couple exiting the taxi near the murder site, on Gyömrői út. They exited the car and walked towards the pitch and the nearby field.

                          - The taxi driver, whose window was smashed.

                          It looks to me that none of them turned up, which is very surprising in the case of the taxi (if it belonged to a company, a smashed window would not go unnoticed and every paper ran the request for the driver to turn up at the police). Police interviewed all taxi companies.

                          10 taxis had their window broken that day, not one of them by the toll booth at Kispest. The police was adamant that the exit was made there (I found a contemporary film reel and my hypothetical exit point is right. This is the toll booth, on the right. The road is "Ferihegyi repülőtérre vezető út", so the road leading to the airport that starts here.



                          +++

                          Poor Ilona must have been quite a bad alcoholic. An account says she was loaded on rum and pálinka (distilled spirit) already in the early afternoon, walking unsteady and twice falling over. There is another allusion to drug usage, this time heroin.

                          There are accounts that say the "couple" quarreled over money that was obtained at the pawnshop. This sounds realistic. Apparently the man took money from the woman, the woman wanted money back (as her stuff was pawned), but the man replied with "fool, I had to pay the broken taxi window".

                          +++

                          In line with the frenzy in Whitechapel, police had to deal with a lot of stuff. Lunatics turned themselves in. Mysterious letters were sent to the detectives. 72 reports were made, 70 were bullshit. All kind of bogus that slowed the work down. Even a clairvoyant (...) turned up at the police to offer help!

                          +++

                          There is a detailed description of the murderer! "Looks like a better situated man from the working class or a tradesman. Talks fluent Hungarian Height about 170 cms. Slender. Nose bigger than usual, straight. Longish face, healthy, reddish. Nut-brown hair, well-groomed nut-brown moustache. Wore a brown busby, middle grey or brown coat going down to the knees, might be wool or leather. Grey or khaki shorts, grey stockings, hunter boots."

                          +++

                          Some parallels I noticed:

                          - Even almost 60 years after the Whitechapel Murders, a lust murder + mutilation was just as shocking and just as difficult to get hold of. Within 4 weeks the police totally hit a wall with the investigation.

                          - Lot of bogus info is slowing down the investigation.

                          - Some areas where Ilona moved on the day of her death were (are) amongst the worst in Budapest. "Criminal" areas. This probably meant that the locals were not exactly generous with information.

                          - It was most probably a random meeting in a seedy pub, ending up in an all-day binge and a murder. Nobody knew the man. Nobody saw the man before. Came out of nowhere. killed, fled.

                          +++

                          My best take:

                          Ilona goes to her sister, starts drinking early. Drinks in some of the most vicious places of Józsefváros (Magdolna utca, Lujza utca, Teleki tér). Randomly meets a man who "accompanies" her for the day. Ilona is so drunk she falls over twice. Multiple people offer help, but she only listens to her companion and would-be murderer. They get refused tram entry. They pawn some stuff of Ilona to raise money for taxi and further drinking in another notoriously bad street (Diószeghi utca). They go and do some further drinking. Then they hail a taxi by the hospital.

                          It seems the next stop would've been planned for Pestszentlőrinc, probably the dwellings of Ilona. Maybe they wanted to have sex? Sounds likely to me. You do not take a random, drunk stranger home if you do not want something.

                          The taxi stopped and the driver said he cannot cross city limits. Ilona breaks the window and they pay the ride and the window. They possibly got out at the District IX-District X-Kispest (city limit) triple border. A would-be witness is allegedly placing their exit in District X, very near the murder spot. The two stories do not correlate, and police info points to the first exit point being more likely.

                          They have quarreled earlier and do so at the pub they were last seen. Now they don't have much money (drinking+taxi+window-breaking). The home of Ilona is a further one-hour walk, it is winter and night. And snow. And they are both drunk. Probably no money for another taxi that is licenced for Kispest and Pestszentlőrinc.

                          The next would-be witness account states a man was chasing a woman near the murder spot. This sounds believable.

                          I still don't get why they went towards a dark, desolate, industrial area. The murderer had a reason, but why did Ilona go with her? I can think of two things. She was not a dumb woman or someone inexperienced. You just don't enter a pitch dark place with a man by night in the winter without a reason. I can only see drugs or (more likely) sex as a reason. Maybe they did not want to walk an hour to the woman's dwellings and the man said he knows a spot (a vacant?) where they can have a quick go?

                          It's snow and cold, so pretty much no chance for street action. If this is true, moving to the dark industrial area makes sense. The man is leading (police also suspected that). He knows the area well. Another quarrel is ignited (money? refusal?). The woman makes a run for it. Because the man is behind her, she cannot turn and run back towards Üllői út. The next big(gish) road is Gyömrői út, where she can hope to find at least some traffic and attention. She never reaches it, the murderer catches up with her at the sports pitch and after a struggle kills and mutilates her.

                          This does not sound too implausible to me, but we have no proof for sex/planning to have sex. I can't really see other reasons to move 1 km away from a major road that was also the way back home and into a desolate area.

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                          • #14
                            Gergely:

                            Has anyone written a comprehensive book about the Schwartz Murder ?
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