The Story of Jack the Strangler

The influence of Jack the Ripper had a worldwide effect, along with the tabloid-like practice of naming killers. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, a series of criminals were given similar monikers, from Jack the Peeper, a man who broke into houses to tickle the feet of the lady residents, Jack the Grabber, an exhibitionist, all the way to Dayton, where a vicious serial killer who terrorized Dayton for 9 years (1900-1909) was nicknamed, “Jack the Strangler.”

In a range of 9 years, Jack the Strangler killed 5 young girls. Present day victimology would link them together by age range and beauty. Every girl murdered was described as being a sweet, beautiful girl.

Victim #1: Ada Lantz, age 11


Ada was playing with her friend at her parents’ birthday party. She went outside to use the outhouse and went missing. Her family found her in the well of the outhouse later that night. A local Civil War veteran who walked with a limp and a cane was suspected of her murder, but he disappeared.

Victim #2: Dona Gilman, age 19


Dona was on her way home from work, but never made it home from the Trolley stop where she was dropped off. Her body was found in a field across from her family home. Her family was accused of her murder, but never convicted.

Victim #3: Anna Markowitz, age 18


Anna was out with her sister and a gentleman friend. Her date, Abe Cohan, was also murdered that night by the same attacker. Local man Layton Hines was convicted of her murder, but speculation and two murders with the same MO after that undercut his conviction.

Victim #4: Mary Forschner, age 15 (pictured above)
Mary was on her way to the bank when she was accosted. Her stepfather found her body in a nearby barn later that night, still warm. A man named Elmer Carr was accused of her murder, along with the murder of Elizabeth Fulhart.

Victim #5: Elizabeth Fulhart, age 18


Elizabeth traveled to Dayton from Vandalia to seek employment. Her body was discovered wrapped in a gunny sack and dropped into a cistern after she had been missing for a month. The body was so badly decomposed; the coroner was unable to tell if she had been sexually assaulted.

To get the full story and information, the book Cold Serial by Brian Forschner is recommended. Forschner was doing some family research when he came to learn about his great-aunt, Mary Forschner. His book details the lives of the 5 girls before their deaths, the drama that ensued after their deaths, and provides a satisfactory ending.

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