Zodiac Features has launched creative packaging for a Cleveland Torso Murders limited scripted series currently titled, NEX (Latin for violent death, butcher or murder). The Los Angeles and Cleveland based indie producer most recently produced and co-financed 2019’s SXSW midnighter I See You (Saban Films), starring Helen Hunt and directed by Adam Randall. A true-crime docuseries companion piece and a serialized true-crime podcast are also in the works.
Three years have passed since Eliot Ness and his Untouchables took down Al Capone in Chicago. Ness is a national hero. Young and brash, he and his impeccable reputation arrive in the deadliest city in America, Cleveland, after being recruited by the newly elected mayor to become Cleveland’s Public Safety director and clean up the sixth-largest city in the Union. It’s the height of the Great Depression and good, honest, working men and women have lost their homes. Poverty spreads like a flesh-eating virus, preying predominantly on the immigrant working class, and from the detritus, one of the most frightening and dangerous places America has ever seen emerges—The hobo jungle known as Kingsbury Run.
Nestled between a sprawling rail yard and the foot of Jackass Hill, Kingsbury Run is not only a den of squalor filled with thieves and dangerous drifters, but also provides a grim nocturnal hunting ground for a force the law is ill-equipped to handle—America’s first widely publicized “serial killer”, a term that would not exist for another forty years. From 1934-1939 a trail of severed body parts from thirteen victims would be left by the killer throughout the waterways, dark alleys, and trash dumps of a terrified city, baffling law enforcement, and forever staining the career of America’s most famous lawman, Eliot Ness.
To help build the series’ world, the company has acquired the definitive trilogy of Torso Murder books written by Dr. James Jessen Badal: In the Wake of the Butcher: Cleveland’s Torso Murders, Though Murder Has No Tongue: The Lost Victim of Cleveland’s Mad Butcher, and Hell’s Wasteland: The Pennsylvania Torso Murders. Producer Matt Waldeck has worked closely with Dr. Badal for the last three years to finally uncover the true story surrounding the murders.
Through the efforts of Dr. Badal and Waldeck, a new discovery surrounding the topic was made with the recovery of a lost archive and personal memoir belonging to the lead investigator on the case, Detective Peter Merylo. “The Merylo memoir is the only first-hand account of the Torso Investigation that exists in the world, and with the support of the Merylo estate, we couldn’t be more thrilled to share it with audiences through a scripted series and documentary companion piece platform. As it relates to the topic, it’s the true crime equivalent of finding the Dead Sea Scrolls,” says Waldeck. “When I met with the family, I was shocked at the depth of the materials they had been holding on to all these years. The family is excited to have their grandfather’s story told. He’s a bonafide hero.
“The Torso Murders investigation has caught the eye of some of the industry’s top creative minds over the last twenty years, but Detective Merylo’s perspective is the critical piece of IP which will finally allow the true story to be told.”
Dread Central has been provided an exclusive first look at the contents of the Merylo archive. The video below contains never before heard audio of an interrogation conducted by Detective Merylo of an unknown witness sometime after the third victim was discovered in an alleyway next to a meat market on the morning of January 26th, 1936. Two half-bushel baskets were resting in the snow and in the baskets were the severed, newspaper wrapped body parts of the Torso Killer’s most recent victim. Viewer discretion is advised.
Are you familiar with Cleveland Torso Murders? Are you excited to see how NEX develops? What do you think of our exclusive interrogation audio? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also carry on the convo with me personally on Twitter @josh_millican.