“The Lipstick Killer”

Photo: Note left at crime scene by “The Lipstick Killer;” Source: Criminal Minds Wiki, via Google Image Search

“In Chicago in 1945, police responded to a crime scene where the killer had left the following message scrawled in lipstick on the wall of the apartment.

“For heaven’s sake catch me before I kill more. I cannot control myself.”

The victim, Frances Brown, was found stabbed to death with the knife sticking out of her neck. and a bullet wound in her head. No valuables were taken. Brown was found in her apartment by her building’s cleaning woman, who became suspicious when she found Brown’s apartment door partially open and heard loud music playing. Brown lived alone and was divorced.

A bloody fingerprint was recovered from the apartment door. Neighbor George Weinberg said he heard gunshots at approximately 4 p.m. The night clerk, who was stationed in the lobby, said he saw a man get off the elevator who appeared nervous and described him as 30-40 years of age and approximately 140 lbs.

Before Brown, Josephine Ross, age 43, was found stabbed with her head covered with a dress on June 5, 1945 with a handful of her killer’s hair still in her hand. No valuables were missing .

Photo: (l.) William Heirens at the time of his arrest and ® many years later in prison.

All of the men in Ross’ life provided sufficient alibis. Police were given a description of a man with a dark complexion who was seen hanging around the building. The man was never located.

After Brown’s murder, reports of “The Lipstick Killer” surfaced in the Chicago press.

Two weeks after Brown’s body was discovered, 6-year-old Suzanne Degnan was reported missing. She had been taken from her bedroom. A ladder was found left outside her window.

Eventually, Suzanne’s body parts were found – hear head was dumped in a sewer and the rest of her remains were found around her neighborhood.

Later, it was determined that Suzanne was strangled and her body dismembered in a basement of a nearby building.

Seventeen-year-old William Heirens was arrested during a burglary in Suzanne’s neighborhood six months later. His fingerprints matched those found on a $20,000 ransom note that was left at the Degnan home.

The Chicago press printed reports that Heirens confessed to the murder. Heirens claimed that he had been beaten and given “truth serum” and denied the reports.

Heirens was charged with the Brown and Ross murders based on a handwriting analysis plus fingerprints.

Heirens claimed he was innocent up until his death on March 5, 2012 at Dixon Correctional Center in Dixon, Ill. at the age of 83.


William Heirens, ‘The Lipstick Killer,’ Dies at 83, by Douglas Martin, The New York Times, March 7, 2012