Torso Killer: Today on Serial Killer Corner

Welcome back to Serial Killer Corner. I’m including the transcript for those of you who prefer to read, but the video is much more fun. Please note: the transcript may not be word-for-word. It’s close, though.

Today let’s discuss a fascinating yet terrifying serial killer classified as a Torso Killer. On the net there’s not a lot written about Torso Killers, which made researching a lot more time-consuming, but sometimes that’s a good thing, because you can really dig into more FBI profiles rather than opinions that you find on the net. And you can get deeper into what makes them tick.

So, anyway, a Torso Killer dismembers his victims and dumps the body parts where they’ll easily be found. They need attention. It’s a “Look what I can do; look how great I am” type of cry. A Torso Killer falls into the extreme sadist category. He may even begin dismembering his victims while he or she is still alive.

Terrifying, right?Torso Killer on Serial Killer Corner

The most notable aspect of a Torso Killer is their inherent jealously and thirst for revenge. They’re also extremely territorial. If, say, another serial killer is active on their self-proclaimed turf, the Torso Killer may be tempted to snuff him out. A real-world example of this is the Manorville Butcher and Long Island Serial Killer aka LISK. The Manorville Butcher is a Torso Killer, LISK was not. The Manorville Butcher wasn’t pleased when LISK stole his spotlight, and the media went crazy with one story after another.

What’d the Manorville Butcher do?

He dumped pieces of an adult male and a child in LISK’s trophy garden. LISK only murdered female prostitutes, spaced 500 feet apart, with their faces turned west [Correction: east]. So, this was a clear warning to LISK to back off. But like most serial killers, LISK believed he was unstoppable and didn’t heed the warning. This aligns perfectly with a Torso Killer. Some say the Manorville Butcher took him out because LISK suddenly stopped killing, and that’s probably a pretty good assumption.

When a Torso Killer throws the gauntlet, the challenge goes something like this: “Who’s the most proficient killer, you or I? Step aside or suffer the consequences.”

A Torso Killer takes their threat very seriously too.

Another perfect example of a Torso Killer’s wrath is the murder of Jack the Ripper. Now, before I go any further, let me say this. You don’t have to agree with me. This is my opinion. I am not stating this as fact … that Jack the Ripper was murdered. It seems lately, every time I post about a real-world case, Discovery ID—and I love that channel—does a show on the exact case I posted about a month before or whatever, and I get a plethora of scathing emails and rude comments. So please, let’s avoid all that. Okay? I’m saying Jack the Ripper was murdered. You don’t have to believe me. As I said, I’m not stating this as fact. I’ll tell you when I am stating things as fact, and then you can argue with me. Okay? Super.

Back to my point.

During Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror in the fall of 1888, [FACT] unrelated body parts were showing up in London. One of the killings is listed as one of the twelve Whitechapel murders. So, was it the work of Jack of Ripper, or is it possible that two separate serial killers were active at the same time? And is it also possible that one was a Torso Killer? I believe that yes, it is possible. And not only that, I believe it is likely.

More than a year before Jack the Ripper began murdering prostitutes, in May 1887, a bundle containing a female torso was dragged from the river in Rainham, a village in the Thames River Valley. Over the next two months, other pieces of the same woman were discovered in various parts of London, minus the head and upper torso. The bust, if you will, which was never found.

When a Torso Killer gets angry, they’re lethal. They’re also very hard to catch, because they choose victims who they have no connection with, and they scatter the body parts in multiple jurisdictions. In Blessed Mayhem I talked about “link-blockage,” which basically means one department isn’t communicating with another, so finding MO similarities becomes an arduous task. We can talk more about link-blockage and why it happens another time.Blessed Mayhem

For Jack the Ripper, however, some say his reign of terror ended because he’d finally met his match … a Torso Killer. And I believe that too.

A real-life Torso Killer example is Joel Rifkin, who murdered 17 prostitutes before state police pulled over his vehicle after his license plate fell off. Anyone else find this freaky? For paranormal fans, what better way could a murder victim get justice than by popping off the license plate mere moments before State Police pulled behind him. Just throwing it out there.

Karma, baby. Mess with her at your own peril.

With a body in the trunk, Rifkin refused to pull over and what can only be described as a slow-speed chase ensued. I say slow-speed because Rifkin never exceeded 50 mph. He had no problem slaughtering innocent lives but couldn’t bear to commit a traffic violation?

Truth really is stranger than fiction.

Another prime example of a Torso killer is Robert Shulman, the former Hicksville, NY postal worker who horrified residents by murdering, dismembering, and discarding female body parts in Long Island from 1991 till his arrest in 1996. A search of his room revealed hundreds of bloodstains scattered over nearly every surface.

A Torso Killer is the most vicious serial killer of them all. They’re cunning, curious, and clever. The best way, and perhaps the only way, to find a Torso Killer is to first find his prey.

That’s all for today. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of Serial Killer Corner. See you next time!

A Torso Killer on Serial Killer Corner

About Sue Coletta

Member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers, Sue Coletta is the bestselling, award-winning author of psychological thrillers and mysteries. OOTG Flash Fiction Offensive magazine published her flash fiction and her short stories are published in numerous anthologies and collections. InSinC Quarterly featured her forensic articles about Radiocarbon Dating and Skeletal Differences. In 2017, Feedspot awarded her Murder Blog as one of the Top 50 Crime Blogs on the net. Sue's also the communications manager for Forensic Science and the Serial Killer Project. As a way to help fellow crime writers, Sue created a team of crime experts (detectives, coroners, police captains, etc.) and founded #ACrimeChat on Twitter. She's also a proud member of the Kill Zone, where she blogs every other Monday.


  1. The Jack the Ripper murder idea is the best idea I’ve heard of why he suddenly stopped. It’s chilling to think about these kinds of killers let alone just a murderer. Sorry, I’m on the squeamish side but I LOVE your research

  2. That was really interesting, Sue. I’d love to see you do a more in-depth look at Jack the Ripper sometime, and why you think he was murdered. What you shared above was just the tip of the iceberg, I’m sure.

    The whole post was fascinating. And gruesome to think about. *shudder*
    Mae Clair recently posted…Book Release: Keeper of His Soul by Lauralynn Elliott #Paranormal #VampiresMy Profile

    • I could do a more in-depth episode about Jack the Ripper in the future. The case is certainly intriguing enough, but I’m hesitant to do it until the barrage of nasty comments die down. For some reason, after Discovery ID spotlighted three different cases that I’d written about, every armchair detective in the world, it seems, wants to debate the guilt or innocence of the convicted murderers, as if I am somehow able to change the outcome of the cases. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind if feathers get ruffled when I’m stating facts. To post my theory about Jack the Ripper doesn’t bother me, either–I’ll be damned if I’ll let anyone tell me what I can or cannot post about–but for my own sanity I’d rather not deal with them while writing Book 3 of Grafton County Series. Once I’m done, however, I’ll rile ’em up again. 🙂 #WritersLife

      • I saw your comment in the post and wondered about it. You mean to say that you had nasty comments on your blog after Discovery ID posted cases you had written about?

        I don’t get people. Even if they wanted to debate your theory vs. yours, why be nasty about it? I had no idea you were getting slammed by trolls. That really sucks, Sue. Discussion I understand, but slamming and flaming, no.

        When things quiet down, I’d love to see you take on the Ripper. In the meantime, go get ’em with writing and your next book. You’ve got plenty of fans who are behind you!
        Mae Clair recently posted…Book Release: Keeper of His Soul by Lauralynn Elliott #Paranormal #VampiresMy Profile

        • Ooops! That was suppose to be their theory vs. yours.
          Pardon my slip….I just came off doing a book presentation and am still a little wired, LOL
          Mae Clair recently posted…Book Release: Keeper of His Soul by Lauralynn Elliott #Paranormal #VampiresMy Profile

        • Oh, absolutely. I’ve gotten these types of comments for quite a while — hazard of having a crime resource blog, I guess — but lately, I’ve gotten slammed. The worst part is, they’re not arguing with me about the facts of the case or errors in my research. In their view the wrong man went to prison, and I must be horribly bias not to show alternate suspects. The courts have already convicted these people! I didn’t find them guilty.

          I have no problem with a friendly debate, like we had in the comments of nature vs. nurture. It’s a lot of fun to see different perspectives. But this? This is just ridiculous.

          To top it off, my website got hacked a week or so ago, and Bluehost shut it down till I was able to regain control. On the plus side, it forced me to update my security. But it also set me behind even more. I’m still dealing with the aftereffects. Just this morning I received an email from a domain company telling me some Hong Kong based company is trying to buy,, and Probably the same people (also Hong Kong based) who scoffed up when I wavered for two days on whether to keep it. Now, I’m left with two choices: do nothing and deal with the fact that someone is luring people to their site by using my name (*cringe*), or buy all the different domain extensions and have them point to this site.

  3. Interesting stuff. Like the ghost idea.

  4. Nice job on your narrative, Sue! Natural & confident. Okay, flattery’s over and before I send you a plethora of scathing emails and rude comments again, where’s this JTR being a murder victim theory come from? I’ve never heard of this 🙂
    Garry Rodgers recently posted…WAS PRINCESS DIANA REALLY A HOMICIDE VICTIM?My Profile

    • Hahaha. Stand in line. 😉 You must deal with this too, no?

      Thanks! After digging and digging, I stumbled across the theory by accident, and then dug specifically for that theory of the case. As you know, there’s a gazillion posts written about Jack the Ripper, so it took a while. But when you consider a torso killer’s traits it makes perfect sense … to me, anyway. 🙂

  5. Great post. I am totally into murder, so, of course, serial killers have to be at the top of my list. I do watch ID, sometimes for hours on end. My Wonderful, my hubby, goes along with me, but…Thank goodness he doesn’t think I’m nuts. I just got my Joe Kenda book. I can hardly wait to read it I love the guy and his I Will Find You attitude. I think his my my my sums it up. 🙂
    sherry fundin recently posted…Giveaway & Review – Halloween is Murder by Carolyn Arnold @Carolyn_Arnold @dollycasMy Profile

    • I’m with you, Sherry. My husband and I binge-watch ID, and Joe Kenda is one of our favorites. I’ve tried and tried to get him on my blog, but no luck so far. I’m not giving up, though. One day I’ll snag him like I did with Graham Hetrick, The Coroner. It’s just a matter of time before he weakens to my charm. 😉

  6. Love the video! I see exactly what you mean about how dangerous and hard-to-catch a Torso Killer really is. Your real-life examples are pitch-perfect, too!

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