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Lipstick Killer
William "Bill" Heirens

Lipstick Killer's Handwriting:

Lipstick Killer's Handwriting
William Heiren's handwriting sample # 1

Lipstick Killer's Handwriting
William Heiren's handwriting sample # 2

Lipstick Killer's Handwriting
William Heiren's handwriting sample # 3

      William Heirens: On Jan. 7, 1946, 6-year-old Suzanne Degnan was kidnapped from her home and strangled. She was dismembered and parts of her body were found in sewers near her home. Her death was similar to the murder of two Chicago women in separate attacks. Frances Brown, 33, and Josephine Ross, 43 were both mutilated after being assaulted in their homes. On June 26, 1946, William Heirens was arrested for the three murders. At the time, Heirens was a 17-year-old sophomore at the University of Chicago. Surgeons' tools were found in his university room.

      Heirens confessed that he murdered two women and dismembered a six-year-old child over a 6 month period. Heirens was convicted of all three murders and was sentenced to three consecutive life terms.

      Heirens is credited with the: "For heaven's sake, catch me before I kill more; I cannot control myself" message written in lipstick on the wall of Frances Brown's home. Heirens is also credited with a ransom letter that was sent to Degnan's family. The letter said: "Get $20000 ready And waite (sic) for word…Do Not Notify FBI or Police…Bills in 5's & 10's…Burn this for her safty (sic)". While the lipstick message pointed toward a killer out of control and begging to be caught, it did not lead the investigators to the identification of the killer.

      For several years the youth had successfully burglarized homes and stolen women's undergarments. He liked to put on the undergarments and experience sexual excitement Kennedy, F., Hoffman, H., & Haines, W. (1947). A Study of William Heirens. American Journal of Psychiatry, 104, 113-121.The ransom note eventually was of value in linking Heirens to the serial case.

      Heirens was arrested on June 26, 1946, breaking into an apartment. The victim was in the kitchen and her 10-month-old daughter was in the bedroom. A neighbor saw Heirens sneak into the home and called police. As Heirens fled, a janitor walking through the area tried to stop him, but Heirens waved him away with a gun. When a police officer arrived, Heirens fired a handgun twice at the police officer, missing. The officer fired back and there was a struggle. Heirens was finally subdued when a passerby smashed a flowerpot on Heirens' head. A routine fingerprint check revealed a match to prints on the Degnan ransom note. His prints also tied him to an assault of another woman. The FBI confirmed Heirens' prints were on the ransom letter.

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UPDATED: 05 MAY 2006
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