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The Frankford Slasher

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  • The Frankford Slasher

    A section of Philadelphia which meshes with Kensington to its north is Frankford.

    Back in 1987, Philadelphia had three serial killers operating within the Badlands and the eastern section of the city. Two were caught in 1987 while a suspect was convicted of one of the murders said to have been part of a skein of at least 9. The murder skeins of all three had commenced prior to 1987...yet 1987 was the height of the notoriety of these skeins.

    The map designates the approximate areas convicted killers Gary Heidnik, Harrison "Marty" Graham, and the Frankford Slasher were committing the majority of their crimes. Upward of 20 female victims are attributed to these three...Heidnik was the more infamous of the three as he made soup out of his victims and fed it to soon-to-be-victims until a street wise woman escaped and led police to the dungeon of horrors in the Badlands off of Broad Street in North Philadelphia.

    Heidnik and Graham were apprehended. Heidnik was executed and Graham, due to his limited mental faculties, recieved a life sentence.

    While a black man named Leonard Christopher was convicted of the murder of a woman named Carol Dowd in mid-1990....a murder occurred precisely in the epicenter of where the majority of Slasher murders had been committed prior to Christopher's conviction with all the hallmarks of other Slasher murders. There is a sentiment that still prevails that the Frankford Slasher was NOT caught...but that a man was convicted of one murder which had been assumed to have been the doing of the Frankford Slasher.

    It struck me while reading the story about this local skein in "Killers At Large" to Nina last night that I really didn't know much about the Frankford Slasher skein at all.

    At the beginning of the Slasher's was ascertained that nearly all the victims had been frequenters of a bar at 5200 Frankford Avenue or had been habitues of doorways and alleys in and around the vicinity. In every case, a "middle aged White man" had been seen with the victims before they were savagely murdered and in most cases, eviscerated.

    The story is well worth the read for a couple of reasons.

    First...three of the primary reasons that Jack The Ripper has remained to this day as the most infamous serial killer of all time ( Two more documentaries in January 2011 alone are set to go ) are :

    1. The given rather than true name.
    2. The risks
    3. The fact he was never apprehended ( Unless you dispute this latter one)

    Here in Philadelphia....

    1. There is a serial killer, anonymous to this day, who is virtually unknown. Instead of the condition of anonymity which served as a prime factor towards the popularity of Jack The Ripper, the anonymity of the Slasher has served him poorly.

    2. The Slasher, unlike Heidnik and Graham, neither of whom faced any real risks as they had selected street prosses and killed them in their homes, took exceptional risks, having killed in the homes of the victims and on the streets at the same time our Saucy friend did 100 years previously.

    3. If the sentiments expressed by people from time to time in Philadelphia are accurate, the convicted party in the Dowd murder killed her and she alone....and the Frankford Slasher is either still alive and dormant, in prison, dead, or moved on to safer climes.

    Despite the connectivity of the saloon to the near totality of the early victims of the Slasher....nothing,surprisingly,ever materialized from the noteworthiness of that lone,middle aged, White man seen with the victims.
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  • #2
    Whats In A Name ?

    As Mr. Fido has remarked before...that name... Jack The Ripper...has been very instrumental in the perpetual interest we and others have of that series of murders.

    What if Philadelphia's east side slayer had been given the handle of The Frankford Ripper ? Would it have been instrumental in any way in keeping those unsolved murders on the front burner ?
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    • #3
      Hello How,

      Thanks for sharing this.

      To your question, yes I think its possible it would.


      • #4
        You're welcome Cor.

        I also think that had the trial for Christopher ( who either was the Slasher, a copycat of the Slasher, or a one-off murderer uninfluenced by the prior murders ) not materialized in 1990...that even today, people in Philadelphia would be just as blase' about that skein as they were then or had the series been satisfactorily resolved with a conviction of the man who killed all those women. The murder of the Dehner woman while Christopher was safely behind bars is too much like a Slasher murder,IMHO.

        More information on this case is found here...I just went there myself to locate photos...and only found Graham's and Heidnik's.
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        • #5
          Hello How,

          I think that once a murder is solved, or at least thought to be solved, the "lure" of it dissapears, the mystery. I think thats why Mishter Jack has survived in the pubic eye for so long.

          Interesting though is that if Christopher wasn't the slasher, then the real killer thought it was too "hot" for him to continue, appearently. However, the murders weren't too long ago, so I wouldn't be supprised, if in the future, he kills again.

          Interesting case.


          • #6

            Thanks for the reply.
            What it might mean...this cessation in murders in that area ( There was another skein in the late '90's or early part of this decade where 5 prosses were killed by a s.k. using a vehicle...and that one just vanished as far as any reports...just like the murder of a man named Willie Kent in 2003...whose lungs, heart and liver were removed and his torso dumped into a trash heap in the Badlands.) that,contrary to those who live and die by the FBI...that he stopped. Just like that.

            As to the lure, which in most cases is true as you suggest, the list I provided of three elements doesn't apply here.

            First, he had a handle given to him, as did the Ripper, either by his own doing or by someone else. In any event, its a handle.

            Number two....the risks and types of wounds were, to be frank, far more horrific than anything Graham did and admittedly they pale to the descriptions provided by Josephine Rivera, the girl who escaped that psycho Heidnik. Yet, Graham, while not being as recognizable a name as Heidnik is in Philadelphia, is more notorious than the Frankford Slasher.

            Finally, both Graham and Heidnik were caught. The Slasher,like the Ripper, wasn't...or at least convicted for all the crimes attributable to him.
            Yet, despite the lure which has diminished over time, they remain more notorious than a killer who equalled their total combined....and even if Christopher was the Slasher...he still remains a lesser known, nearly forgotten murderer to this day.

            None of the three elements...risk,anonymity,and escape....are applicable to this one killer. Certainly, there are others in the pantheon of killers where this is likewise duplicated,Corey....but since I was reading about the case last night to my Dear Boss in bed....I thought I'd share these observations with the folks.
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            • #7
              Hi Howard & Corey

              I'm familiar with Heidnik but I didn't know about feeding the soup to victims

              There was evidence of him cooking up some flesh but I'm not sure if that was for disposal

              I think the sexual element to Heidnik's crimes increased interest in his case by the general public

              I'll read further on the slasher


              • #8
                Originally posted by How Brown View Post
                Finally, both Graham and Heidnik were caught. The Slasher,like the Ripper, wasn't..
                My gift in life is coming up with ideas for others to work on.

                Reading through this thread, and considering the current SK you have running around, and the old prison etc etc there's MORE than enough to justify an American Ripper conference in Philadelphia. OK, so we'd have to/want to broaden our range of speakers, maybe we could get Badel to schlep in for the Kingsbury Butcher (weren't there suspected victims in PA as well?) but there's a lot of meat here. (Perhaps a poor choice of words...)

                OK - so there you go, as if you aren't busy enough.

                And it'd be a 3 hour drive from the greatest city in the world, so our furrin visitors could get a look at class before heading off to America's closest approximation of Victorian Whitechapel. People might even go see the deserted town where the coal fire is raging underground.



                • #9

                  "I'm familiar with Heidnik but I didn't know about feeding the soup to victims..."

                  Not Campbell's Manhattan Clam or Progresso HeartyGumbo soup,buddy....but a mishmash made out of the women's bodies that he added dog food to and spooned it to the women before electrocuting them.

                  You couldn't provide any real justice to Heidnik. He got off easy.
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                  • #10
                    I'm sure Heidnik was mentally subnormal so I suppose its a question of degrees of insanity - and what constitutes sanity for that matter

                    It's arisen before where the crimes are so out of the ordinary that the miscreant must be assumed to have some type of mental disfunction or aberration


                    • #11

                      Heidnik was a shrewd investor and amassed over $500,000 in the stock market taking $ 1,200 and within 6 months accumulating a half a million smackers.
                      The walls in his house from Hell had dollar bills taped from one end to the other on them.
                      I can't recall where at the moment, but I think I have a book which mentions Heidnik's IQ, which was allegedly above average.

                      This is a link which discusses Heidnik.

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                      • #12
                        I was gonna create a separate thread for this case but I see Howard already made one, so I guess I might as well add my own two cent regarding this case. It's kinda chilling for me because I lived only about 2 or 3 miles north, at most, when this guy was doing his thing. I was too young to be interested (I was born in 1981, mind you) but I remember my parents talkign about it and hearing about it on the news. I wonder if there has been any effort to re-open the investigation. Are there any books on the subject? If not, then there should be. Here is a sketch of what the subject looked like:
                        Attached Files


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by How Brown View Post
                          As Mr. Fido has remarked before...that name... Jack The Ripper...has been very instrumental in the perpetual interest we and others have of that series of murders.
                          Hi Howard

                          There's no doubt whatsoever that the name JACK THE RIPPER is itself an absolute KILLER in riveting the interest of the public down through the years, though the fact that he was never definitively identified and got away with his bloody crimes time and time again undoubtedly helps as well.

                          Thanks for starting this thread to tell us more about the Frankford Slasher. I find it very informative.

                          Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
                 Hear sample song at

                          Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
                          Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at


                          • #14
                            My pleasure CG...

                            JT....notice how the press in Philly lost interest in the Kensington Strangler Case within a day or so as soon as that critter was apprehended ?

                            Don't hold your breath about them re-opening the Frankford case...the current crop of affirmative action-hired cops are good at finding coffee shops at Bridge n' Pratt but little more.
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                            • #15
                              I'm a little surprised that Christopher was convicted. Some rather dubious witnesses said that they saw him with that one victim but she was also seen with a man who resembled the suspect sketch. According to his g/f, he lied about being with her that night but that's her word against his. Also, maybe he wasn't with her but thought he needed to lie because he was up to some other thing he was attempting to cover. I'm not saying that he's innocent; only that he could be in my view.