DNA could provide key clue in unsolved '30s murders

CLEVELAND (AP) - Crime sleuths hope DNA genetic testing can
provide clues to the city's unsolved "Torso Murders" from the Depression era.
From 1934 to 1938, pieces of seven men and five women were found in fields and alleys and floating in streams and the Cuyahoga River. Seven heads were recovered and only three victims were identified.
At the suggestion of a documentary filmmaker, police hope to see if DNA material from vintage mail items can link the slayings to a suspect, Dr. Francis E. Sweeney, who died in 1964.
Eliot Ness, the famed Chicago "Untouchable" who was Cleveland safety director at the time of the slayings, got several postcards and letters for years after the killings. They had various signatures, including an "F.E. Sweeney, M.D."
The correspondence has been part of the Western Reserve
Historical Society collection since Ness' death in 1957.
DNA testing plans will be outlined Saturday during a centennial celebration of Ness' birthday sponsored by the Cleveland Police Historical Society.
Mark Stone, a producer-director from nearby Lakewood, suggested the DNA testing when he shot scenes at the police museum two months ago for his documentary about the slayings.
Patrolman Tom Armelli, a museum member, took the suggestion to the department, which hopes to arrange for transfer of the mail items to detectives and the coroner.
Stone said DNA testing could bolster the theory that Sweeney was the suspect described by Ness as the killer.
Ness lacked enough evidence to file charges.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)