mad as a hatter

Australia has had its fair share of home grown murderers. Back in 1942, we imported one named Leonski from the good ol’ US. He would become known as The Brownout Strangler as his killings were all perpetrated during the wartime “brownout” at night.

may murders

On May 3, 1942, Ivy Violet McLeod, 40, was found dead in Albert Park, Melbourne. She had been beaten and strangled, and because she was found to be in possession of her purse it was evident that robbery was not the motive.

ivy ling po 14 amazons 2

Ivy Ling Po not Ivy McLeod

Just six days later, 31-year-old Pauline Thompson was strangled after a night out. She was last seen in the company of a young man who was described as having an American accent.


Pauline Bonaparte, not Pauline Thompson

Gladys Hosking, 40, was the next victim, murdered on May 18 while walking home from work. A witness said that, on the night of the killing, a disheveled American man had approached him asking for directions, seemingly out of breath and covered with mud. This description matched the individual Pauline Thompson was seen with on the night of her murder, as well as the descriptions given by several women who had survived recent attacks.


Gladys Zender not Gladys Hosking

These survivors and other witnesses were able to pick 24-year-old Edward Leonski out of a line-up of American servicemen who were stationed in the city during World War II. A Private in the 52nd Signal Battalion, Leonski was arrested and charged with three murders.


Edward Munster not Edward Leonski

During the investigation, police found that all three of the women had sung in choirs or professionally at concerts. Detective “Bluey” Adams, who was not assigned to the case, happened to be sitting in a bar one night where Leonski, not yet under suspicion, was drinking with friends. Bluey watched the soldier swallow a mixture of beer, whiskey and hot sauce and then walk on his hands along the top of the bar.


Bluey not Bluey Adams

He turned to his colleague and said “That bloke’s as mad as a hatter. And look at his hands – they’re the hands of the Brownout Strangler”


Handstand image by Philip Greenspun found here

Decades later when William Nagle was writing a movie screenplay about Leonski’s crime, he noticed an odd coincidence in the names of the murderer and his victims.

The victims were McLEOd, ThompsoN and HoSKIng…….

Published in: on November 5, 2009 at 7:34 am  Comments (34)  
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34 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Its a 5.9 from the American judge for the handstand. I hope she stuck the landing.

    • Only 5.9? I’d give it a 7.5

  2. It could be a coincidence. He could have found a Leona Robinski, and only have had to kill one person. Was it a coincidence that all three ladies sung in a choir? Or was he a church hopping, hand-standing, whiskey/beer/hot sauce drinking, deck washing American psycho?

    • The latter…..

  3. I would like to be a prisoner of that Zender. Or perhaps provocative Pauline? Murder stories scary, but Ed Munster scarier – eek!

  4. bluey needs to let out the waistband of those shorts before something falls off…

    • I’m worried it already has 😦

  5. Since when do American’s have accents?! Oh, sure, blame us. You’re all descendant of criminals, you know.

    • Not me – I’m a New Zealander πŸ™‚

      Didn’t England send about 50,000 of its criminals to America?

      Let’s blame it all on the English πŸ˜‰

      • That’s an EXCELLENT strategy! It all goes back to them, anyway.

      • Nurse Myra! Naughty! Your own friend spinach pie was born and raised in England. I may have to take punitive action next time I see you. πŸ˜‰

    • Ahh.. Everyone has an accent..

      Sorry I’m commenting now, doing an assignment on Leonski

  6. I’m a hat madder.

    (As you can see, I’ve got nuttin’.)

    Dona Nobis Pacem & Thursday Thirteen

  7. How long did it take Mr. Nagle to see that coincidence??

  8. Creepy name thing but great handstand

  9. What makes a mass murderer? Why does the US seem to have a preponderance of mass murderers and serial killers? Indeed, what sort of behaviour or experience drives a man to kill women? Is the proclivity for mass murdering and serial killing confined to Caucasians? (I’d say not, given the recent story out of Cleveland, Ohio.)
    Alas, the photo of the nude handstanding woman of fine form has made me care little to none at all to know the answers to my questions.

    • I see Anthony Sowell’s stepmother is “safe” in a nursing home…..

  10. I had a brownout after too many tacos.

    • ewwwwwwwwwwwww

      No more runs to the border for you.

  11. I’ve pondered what an American accent is to foreign ears. I’m assuming it just sounds like the person is an asshole. Or maybe it’s just when I hear recordings of my voice. “God that guy sounds like an asshole. Oh wait, that’s me.”

  12. Us Americans are crazy nuts about murder, especially serial murder. Make you more famous than Jesus being a serial killer.

  13. hmmmm, when I took fixit jr trick or treating on halloween, I went dressed as a cereal killer…
    spoon in one hand, ravaged box of cornflakes in the other, and milk running down my chin…

    • what was fixit jr wearing?

  14. oooohhh creepy!

  15. Always nice to see little Eddie Munster. Interesting story – especially the name part.

    Hope you’re well Nurse Myra!

  16. Hot sauce in beer AND whisky? I hope they hung the philistine for his mortal sin of murdering innocent alcohols.

  17. pretty spooky. remind me not to sing
    waltzing matilda when i go to australia.

    • Are you planning on a visit? I’d love to show you around

  18. As usual, you pick really interesting stories to tell, but those pictures? You’re awesome πŸ™‚

  19. I want to know why he was covered in mud? Maybe his handstanding wasn’t as good as first thought!

  20. Love the handstand – and the rest of his work – both clothed and unclothed πŸ™‚

  21. Nice photo

    • Which one? The handstand?

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