Posts tagged “dismembered bodies

Milwaukee Dismemberment Case Fuels Speculation

Based on a handful of e-mails to SF, the May 30 discovery of a dismembered body in a Milwaukee sewer is cause for intense speculation.  One person asked if a serial killer was on the loose.  Yet another said the crime brought back memories of Johnny Deep dismembering the body of a slain mobster in the movie Donnie Brasco.

What we do know is Department of Public Works employees conducting routine maintenance on a sewerline stumbled upon—no pun intended—human body parts near N. 40th Street  and  W. Garfield Avenue on the city’s north side. An August 16 report, released by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s office, notes that the homicide victim’s upper arms and torso are “still missing.”

“It must be a dope dealer,” one person wrote.  “Why hasn’t anyone reported the victim missing?”

This question is impossible to answer since the medical examiner (ME) and the Wisconsin Regional Crime Lab are unable to identify the body. This means the victim’s DNA is not on file with the Wisconsin Department of Justice or CODUS—the FBI’s nationwide DNA database.

The report from the ME’s office states that the person murdered was “an adult black male” who was “dismembered with an unknown tool.” 

In order to clear a homicide, it is important to establish an investigative timeline. This is virtually an impossible task when investigators are unable to identify the victim. Answering the ‘who’ question—as in who was murdered—enables detectives to develop a reference point in conjunction with relatives, friends, and acquaintances.

Moreover, it is risky to speculate about a motive without knowing the background of the victim. 

Consider the circumstances behind some recent North American dismemberment cases. 

  • In Elmore City, Oklahoma, authorities charged 30-year-old Justin Hammer with killing the ex-boyfriend of his girlfriend, dismembering the body, and placing the parts in a pond on his property.
  • In Bethany, OK, police located the dismembered body of 19-year-old Carina Saunders inside a military-style duffel bag. Two suspects, 34-year-old Jimmy Massey and 37-year-old Luis Ruiz, stand charged in connection to the young woman’s murder.
  • In Montreal, Canada, the so-called ‘cannibal killer,’ Luke Magnotta, killed and dismembered 32-year-old Jun Lin.  According to the Reuters News Service, “…police believe that the murder is shown in a gruesome online video of a man stabbing another man to death before dismembering and defiling the corpse.”
  • Outside of Detroit, members of the U.S. Coast Guard pulled the mutilated torsos of 32-year-old Danielle Greenway and 42-year-old Chris Hall from the Detroit River after their dismembered remains were spotted by a local angler. Prosecutors charged the couple’s houseguest, Roger Bowling, 39, with the slayings.
  • In Canada, a review of 13 dismemberment cases there indicates that, in the majority of instances, the suspects knew the victims.

The aforementioned cases seem to suggest that dismemberment victims typically know their killers.  However, before drawing any conclusions in the Brew City dismemberment slaying, it is important to know and understand the totality of the crime, although a hunch tells me that—absent the identity of the victim—this case might be difficult to clear. 

You can bet that homicide detectives from the Milwaukee Police Department are scouring missing persons reports from Milwaukee and, if need be, Chicago.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit


© Steven Spingola,Wales, WI, 2012