Madman on the loose
Despite a concerted effort, police had no clue who was killing women in three American states
I nitially, the series of murders were not connected. When the ghastly killings were finally attributed to one man, authorities knew they had a sadistic rapist/ murderer on their hands who had terrorized three American cities. On Nov. 28, 1963, Arotha Hawkins, 26, was last seen walking toward a grocery store in Cleveland’s east end. Six weeks after running her illfated errand, the housewife’s battered body was found in woods outside the city. Two months later, the killer struck again. Annie Fay Chandler, 35, and Mary Branch, 30, both prostitutes, were found stabbed to death. Their naked bodies were discovered in the basement of an abandoned apartment building. Their killer had stacked their bodies one on top of the other. The mutilations to the bodies of all three victims were so similar that investigating officers knew they were seeking a single perpetrator. The word went out that a madman was raping, mutilating, stabbing and strangling women, whether they be housewives like Hawkins or prostitutes like the last two victims. Despite a concerted effort, no clue to the killer’s identity was uncovered. A year passed. On Feb. 1, 1965, the body of Delores Young, 19, was found in a burned- out building in Benton Harbor, Mich. She had been raped and mutilated. On April 4, the headless body of Mary Jones, 37, was found by a boy playing in woods near his home a few miles north of Benton Harbor. Detectives were astounded. While securing the crime scene, they came across another naked body. The victim had been horribly mutilated before being stabbed in the heart. She was later identified as Amelia Boyer, a cleaning lady at a laundromat in Benton Harbor. Amelia’s husband informed detectives his wife had complained about a black man annoying her as she cleaned the laundromat. The stranger called himself “Tennessee Tom.” Had police come across the dumping ground of a madman? Before the day was out they had their answer. The body of seven- year- old Diane Carter was found 50 metres from that of Amelia Boyer. The little girl had gone missing the previous week while playing near her home. When police found a Christmas card addressed to Delores Young near the scene of the latest murders, they attributed all four Benton Harbor killings to one man. The citizens of the entire area lived in fear. They secured their homes as never before. Women walked in pairs. Forty- eight officers were deployed in an attempt to apprehend the fiend who was now mutilating children as well as adults. Still, no clue to the killer’s identity was uncovered. Eventually, the case of the three murdered women and one child was relegated to the back burner. More pressing current murders took precedent. In the summer of 1965, a woman’s skull was found in a wooded conservation area outside Chicago. All efforts to identify the victim failed. Two police officers, Lt. Jerry Harmon and Cpt. Thomas Brown, decided to play a long shot. Both men were familiar with the work of well- known psychic Irene Hughes. Though skeptical, they decided to meet with her and show her the skull of the unidentified woman. Hughes took the skull into her hands and said one word, “Walker.” She went on to tell the officers that the skull had something to do with someone called Walker. The officers checked out the name with those of women reported missing and drew a blank. The skull remained a mystery for a full year. On July 4, a group of picnickers in a conservation area north of Chicago came across a woman whom they believed to be dead. This Chicago housewife had had her throat cut from ear to ear. She had been raped, her abdomen slashed, along with other mutilations, and had suffered a severe beating about the head. Miraculously, she was still alive. The 22- year- old woman had been lying in the woods for three days and nights before being found. Later, in hospital, she was able to tell police her horror story, which had begun, ironically enough, in a police station. She had gone there concerning a domestic complaint. While at the station, she had made the acquaintance of a tall black man who had offered her a lift to Skokie. After a short while on the road, the man drove into the Busse woods and dragged her into thick underbrush. He tore her clothing off and raped her, after which he took out razor blades and slit her throat. The crazed attacker then slashed her stomach. As she lay near death, he raped her a second time. In a rage, he ripped a ring from her finger and robbed her of $ 10. The attacker picked up a broken bottle and beat the helpless woman over the head. He then left her for dead. A week later, the decomposed body of another woman was found in woods west of Chicago. She, too, had been stabbed and mutilated. A picture of the unidentified body was shown to Irene Hughes. She would only say that the name Walker was connected to the photograph. Only five days after the discovery of the decomposed corpse, another female body was found bearing the telltale signature of the serial killer. Once again, Lt. Harmon paid a visit to psychic Irene Hughes. This time he showed her clothing belonging to the second unidentified victim. Hughes repeated the name “Walker.” Police searched their files for a tall, black man named Walker, but once again drew a blank. On Labour Day, Sept. 5, another woman’s mutilated body was found in woods just outside Chicago. Again, the police were stymied. As in the past, Harmon took some clothing for Hughes to examine. She confirmed the man she called Walker had claimed another victim. Harmon sent photographs of the dead girl to every police department in Illinois and surrounding states. He heard back from Gary, Ind. The family of a missing girl identified the photograph of the victim as Audrey Ellis. Identifying the body was important, but it didn’t result in police apprehending the killer. Then an event took place so improbable that, if it had occurred in a fictional novel, one would hesitate to believe it. The only survivor of the series of murders, the Chicago housewife who had been left for dead, was riding on a bus when she looked out the window and spotted her attacker on the street. She got off the bus, hailed a police car and directed them to the corner of Forty- Seventh Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. There he was, leaning against a building. The first question asked by the officer, “What is your name?” The man replied, “Clarence Walker.” Walker was taken into custody and charged with attempted murder, rape and robbery. Jewelry taken from victims had been pawned by Walker’s wife, who told police he had often bragged to her about killing several women. She steadfastly refused to testify against him in court. Two more bodies were found in the Chicago area after Walker’s arrest, but no new murders were committed after his apprehension. An exchange of information took place between law enforcement agencies. All the killings outlined here are attributed to Clarence Walker. How did he get away with murdering females in Cleveland, Benton Harbor and Chicago for so long? Investigators learned Walker had changed identities. He had lived in all three areas at the times of the murders, but was known as Clyde Haynes. In most cases he had lived near his victims, but was clever enough to strike without being seen. Despite the evidence against him, Walker never confessed to any of the murders. The state felt the cases against him were weak and they might not obtain a conviction. Instead, he was tried and found guilty of crimes committed against the lone survivor, who testified against him at his trial. Walker was sentenced to 100 to 150 years in prison on the rape charge, 100 to 150 years for armed robbery, and ironically, 19 to 20 years for attempted murder. All the sentences are to run consecutively, for a maximum of 320 years.