Thu, 30 Jan 2014

Was Leonard Christopher The Frankford Slasher Serial Killer?

Leonard Christopher is a man described by his peers as mild-mannered. He had no history of violence or any other crime and was generally well liked. This same man is currently in prison for life. Convicted for the murder of Carol Dowd, police said that with his arrest, the case of the "Frankford Slasher" should be laid to rest. For most people however, this crime and several others still remain unsolved. Was Leonard Christopher The Frankford Slasher Serial Killer?

The Frankford Slasher's First Victim

Frankford, Philadelphia was once a wealthy area. By the time of the first crime, 1985, it had fallen and turned into a slum inhabited by mostly addicts, prostitutes and struggling businesses. It was in a railroad yard that the first victim was found.

The First Victim was Helen Patent, a woman well known in most of the bars around the area. She was 52-years-old when she died. Her body was found lifeless, sprawled on the railroad tracks. She was placed in a sexually provocative pose and had multiple stab wounds, with one gaping slash running from her navel downwards.

Years of No Leads

Several other victims of the crime shared the same characteristics: multiple stab wounds, slit abdomen, clothing in disarray. After the third victim, police still had little evidence. They were hesitant to confirm that there was indeed a serial killer at large. Authorities said that the first three murders happened in different areas of Frankford.

When a fourth corpse appeared, police connected the murders and journalists dubbed the killer as the "Frankford Slasher."

Two years passed without any progress in solving the crime. A fifth body was found, but this time, there was a witness. A barmaid at Frankford Avenue spotted Marge Vaughn, the fifth victim. She was drinking with a middle-aged white man who had a round face and wore glasses. No one was arrested. The sixth victim was also spotted with a similarly identical middle-aged Caucasian man. Still, the police could find no one to fit the description.

Carol Dowd

Behind a fish market in Frankford Avenue, the body of the seventh victim was found. She was Carol Dowd. When police canvassed the neighborhood, they found a witness who said she was seen with a round-faced, middle-aged Caucasian man several hours before her body was found. Detectives were ready to call it another dead end to a grisly crime spree when an unexpected lead turned up.

Leonard Christopher was a fish market employee who had previously spoken about the crime. He called the alley a prostitute's paradise and a place where drug deals frequently occurred. Christopher said he spent the night at his girlfriend's house but she insisted she was alone. This made investigators think twice and they eventually considered Christopher a suspect.


A mail carrier testified that Christopher was with Dowd at a bar on the night she died. Another witness, a convicted prostitute, said she saw Christopher and Down walking near the scene of the crime. Yet another prostitute told authorities that she saw Christopher walk out from the murder site with a knife under his belt and his shirt over his arm. Based on those statements, police obtained a warrant and arrested Christopher.

They searched his house and found nothing but a pair of slacks that had a tiny bloodstain. Unfortunately, it was not large enough to be tested or to link him to the crime.

His boss also testified against him, saying that Christopher knew details about the crime that wasn't made public. Also, a few days after the crime, he made a strange confession to his boss saying that he had trouble sleeping after witnessing a murder. Christopher also mentioned seeing a white man commit the crime and he was afraid that he was being followed.


Despite all this, there was still a significant lack of physical evidence. The bloodstain on his slacks couldn't prove he committed the crime. Witnesses of the prosecution were mostly addicts and prostitutes. Add that to the fact that he did not match witness description at all and there was no evidence to link him to other murders. The so-called evidence of the crime was mostly based on hearsay.

Was Leonard Christopher The Frankford Slasher Serial Killer? Lack of strong evidence and the general opinion that the police were pressured to solve the case was enough for several people to call for his release from prison. What is possibly the biggest evidence in favor of Christopher was the fact that a similar murder occurred while he was in jail, awaiting trial. This is a crime that might always remain unsolved.

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