Maniac in the Bushes: More True Tales of Cleveland Crime


The second volume in Bellamy's popular series includes 13 more incredible true stories of Cleveland crime and disaster, including . . .

? Martha Wise, Medina?s not-so-merry widow, who poisoned a dozen relatives with arsenic?including her own husband, mother, brother, niece, and nephews?because she enjoyed attending funerals;

? The legendary Torso Murders, which baffled Cleveland safety directory Eliot Ness, two Cuyahoga County coroners, and the entire Cleveland police force as they tried in vain to catch the ...

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The second volume in Bellamy's popular series includes 13 more incredible true stories of Cleveland crime and disaster, including . . .

• Martha Wise, Medina’s not-so-merry widow, who poisoned a dozen relatives with arsenic—including her own husband, mother, brother, niece, and nephews—because she enjoyed attending funerals;

• The legendary Torso Murders, which baffled Cleveland safety directory Eliot Ness, two Cuyahoga County coroners, and the entire Cleveland police force as they tried in vain to catch the perpetrator—whom newspapers dubbed the “Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run”;

• The unspeakably horrible Collinwood School Fire of 1908, in which 172 schoolchildren perished in panic because of obstructed fire exits;

• Hammer-wielding Velma West, a big-city girl of Cleveland’s Jazz Age driven to murder her small-town husband by the slow pace of life of Painesville—and her own obsession with another woman;

• The Flats lumber fire of 1914, which leveled Cleveland’s industrial Flats, melted bridges, and very nearly set the entire city ablaze;

• The enduring mystery of ten-year-old Beverly Potts, whose puzzling disappearance from west-side Halloran Park in 1951 launched Cleveland’s greatest manhunt;

And many other local heroes and villains in these compelling tales of mayhem, melancholy, and mystery.

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Editorial Reviews

Free Times
Bellamy . . . [is a] Homer of our homicides, wandering through dark places and remembering.
News Journal
Take the titles of his past books and you get the idea. The Maniac in the Bushes, They Died Crawling, Corpse in the Cellar, and Killer in the Attic probably reside in half the residential book cases on northern Ohio. Certainly in mine. They are a guilty pleasure if your mind works that way . . . [Bellamy’s] the best writer and historian to come out of Cleveland since George Condon.
The Plain Dealer
Murder, shoot-outs, serial killers, damsels in distress, roller coasters headed to nowhere, killers in the attic, matricide, patricide, black widows . . . Cleveland had it all, as Bellamy deftly and floridly notes in page turners like this. Who knew history could be such great, bloody fun?
— Laura DeMarco
The Times... Of Your Life
John Bellamy II has turned crime into an art with the second of his books on local crimes and disasters . . . [He] is a thorough researcher and has mined so much definitive material, you almost believe you are reading and reliving the stories of a current crime. The characters come alive with well defined narrative strength and you are swept up in their lives.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781886228191
  • Publisher: Gray & Company, Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/28/1997
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 298
  • Sales rank: 953,722
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

John Stark Bellamy II is the author of six books and two anthologies about Cleveland crime and disaster. The former history specialist for the Cuyahoga County Public Library, he comes by his taste for the sensational honestly, having grown up reading stories about Cleveland crime and disaster written by his grandfather, Paul, who was editor of the Plain Dealer, and his father, Peter, who wrote for the Cleveland News and the Plain Dealer.

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Table of Contents


Torso Prologue: The Mystery Begins

1. “Twelve O’Clock Girl in a Nine O’Clock Town”: The Red Rage of Velma West, 1927

Torso Interlude 1: Jackass Hill, Kingsbury Run

2. Ash Wednesday Forever: The 1908 Collinwood School Fire

Torso Interlude 2: Flo Polillo and the Dog That Did Bark in the Night

3. The Maniac in the Bushes: The 1921 Foote-Wolf Terror

Torso Interlude 3: Birth of a Legend

4. “Bring Out Your Man!”: The 1887–1888 Saga of Bold, Bad “Blinky” Morgan

Torso Interlude 4: The Mad Butcher of Big Creek

5. Death of the Music Lovers: The 1908 Ziechmann-Bernthaler Tragedy

Torso Interlude 5: The Remains of the Day

6. Bad Day at Newburgh: The 1872 Northern Ohio Insane Asylum Fire

Torso Interlude 6: Beulah Park Redux

7. A Fiend Walks in Cleveland: The 1930 Death of Janet Blood

Torso Interlude 7: A Rose Ain’t Necessarily a Rose

8. A Fatal Bottle of Beer: The J. J. Phillips Mystery of 1907

Torso Interlude 8: Torso No. 10—The Legend Grows

9. Medina’s Not-So-Merry Widow: Martha Wise’s Deadly Crying Game, 1925

Torso Interlude 9: Another Lady, Another Dead End

10. “They’re Killing Them on the Bridge!”: The 1920 Sly-Fanner Payroll Murders

Torso Interlude 10: “They Call Me Mad and a Butcherer . . .”

11. Cleveland’s Burning!: A Trio of Catastrophic Fires, 1883–1914

Torso Interlude 11: Mad M.D.s and Frank Dolezal

12. “You Better Be Home Before Dark”: The Beverly Potts Mystery, 1951–?

Torso Epilogue: Farewell to the Mad Butcher

Photo Credits

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