In July 1924, eight-year-old Francis McDonnell was playing on his front porch, supervised by his mother who sat nearby. Soon after, McDonnell’s mother noticed a frail, elderly man standing in the middle of his street clenching and unclenching his fists all while muttering to himself. The man soon tipped his hat to her and disappeared. Later that day, the same man was spotted watching Francis and his friends playing. Francis was soon called over, and a neighbor reported him walking into a wooded area with the old man. When Francis missed dinner, his family knew something was up, leading his father to organize a search for the boy. Francis was later found under a pile of branches, his clothes torn and his suspenders having been used to strangle him. The boy was also beaten so badly that policemen believed the killer might have had an accomplice, since they couldn’t believe that a frail old man could have caused that much damage. However, the killer was never caught.
Later, on February 11, 1927, four-year-old Billy Gaffney was playing with his three-year-old neighbor, who was also named Billy, outside of Gaffney’s apartment. A twelve year old neighbor went to join them, but was babysitting his little sister at the time, and when he heard her crying, he rushed back into his apartment to tend to her. When he finally joined them, he noticed that the two boys were missing. Upon telling the younger Billy’s father, a search was carried out, and the three-year-old Billy was found on the roof of the apartment building. When asked what happened to Gaffney, the three-year-old replied with “the boogey man took him.” The police ignored this explanation, and tried to look for Gaffney themselves, to no avail. As a last resort, they asked the three-year-old for a physical description of said “boogey man.” The boy claimed he was a slender old man with a gray mustache and gray hair. Police failed to recognize the correlation between this case and the 1924 McDonnell case. This connection wouldn’t be figured out until years later, when both crimes were connected to infamous serial killer and cannibal Albert Fish, also known as the “Boogey Man.”