Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Frankford Slasher

Hit and Miss

1400 block of Ritner Street, near Methodist Hospital, where Anna Carroll's body was discovered
1400 block of Ritner Street, near
Methodist Hospital, where Anna Carroll's
body was discovered

Early in 1986, on January 3, the next stabbing victim was found.  Anna Carroll, 68, lived in another Philadelphia neighborhood, on the 1400 block of Ritner Street.  The door to her apartment was standing open on that cold winter day, and she was found lying on the floor of the bedroom.  As Newton notes, she was nude from the waist down, and she had been stabbed only six times in the back, with one gaping postmortem wound going from breastbone to groin, as if the killer intended to gut the body. A kitchen knife had been left in her.

While this scene was ten miles from where Helen Patent had been found, the brief time that had elapsed between the incidents and the similarity of the condition of the bodies, as well as the incidents' timing — both had occurred during the night — made authorities consider the possibility of a predator common to both victims.   But they did not actively investigate them as such.

Anna Carroll, too, had been seen in Frankford's area bars, as noted in the Philadelphia Inquirer, as had the next victim, who turned up murdered nearly a year later, on Christmas Day, when neighbors found her door open.  In fact, all three had been seen at "Goldie's," as the Golden Bar was known, situated at the 5200 block on Frankford Avenue.    It was near the elevated train terminal.  Susan Olszef, 64, was also found in her apartment and had also been stabbed six times in the back.  She lived on Richmond Street, which was closer to the scene of the first murder by seven miles. 

The 5200 block of Frankford Street, "Goldie's" Bar
The 5200 block of Frankford Street,
"Goldie's" Bar

Frankford began as a town older even than Philadelphia, writes Linda Loyd in the Inquirer, and was famous as the winter headquarters for traveling circuses.  The neighborhood supported a symphony orchestra and a football team, which eventually became the Philadelphia Eagles.  The El (elevated train) arrived in 1922, bringing prosperity and industry as the larger city subsumed the town, but by 1980, the place was a crime-ridden slum populated by prostitutes, junkies, and independent businesses struggling to survive.  Newton mentions that Sylvester Stallone selected this rundown area as a setting for his film, Rocky.  Frankford Avenue, once known as the King's Highway, comprised a 13-block strip of diverse storefronts that sat in the El's shadow.   Commuters disembarked at the busy station but scattered quickly to their homes.

Among the problems that hindered the murder investigation was the fact that many people were drawn to the Frankford Street area because of its nightlife.  One can grab a doughnut or newspaper, or buy a drink at any time, and that made it a busy area.  An anonymous murder could be committed easily.  Another problem was that the police did not yet accept the three murders were linked, because they had occurred in different areas of the city.  They had no hard leads after three killings, but they were about to get another nasty surprise.

By 7:30 A.M. on January 8, 1987, the fourth victim had turned up.


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