These are the fictional journals of Dr. Frank E. Sweeney, a man of high intellect and imagination, a well-educated graduate of medical and pharmacy schools who was elected vice-president of his sophomore medical school class, and was later the protégé of the top teaching physician in northern Ohio. He was not the elite scion of a wealthy Cleveland family, but a man who grew up in abject poverty. From the age of fourteen until the time the Army sent him overseas, he worked to help and care for his siblings. For much of his youth and young adulthood, his father was hospitalized for tuberculosis, alcoholism, and paranoid schizophrenia. His mother died when he was nine.
Sweeney joined the US Army as a medic in World War I and served in France for two years, where he sustained a head injury severe enough to get a monthly disability check. To put himself through pharmacy school and medical school, he worked full and part-time jobs. In his last year in medical school, he married a beautiful nurse, and they had eventually had two sons. In 1929, Sweeney was licensed to practice medicine and surgery in Ohio. At the age of thirty-five, his many years of hard work had finally paid off. It was the fulfillment of the American Dream or, so it seemed. He was charming and entertaining. People liked and respected him for his intellect, dedication to science, and his sense of humor.
Over the next few years, he began to drink heavily and used barbiturates. Addiction likely modified the effects of his head injury from the war and contributed to bouts of paranoid schizophrenia that caused hallucinations and bizarre, aggressive behavior. Everything he had worked so hard for was destroyed in a few short years−his marriage and relationship with his sons and his once-promising career. During his years of increasing addiction and mental illness, thirteen gruesome decapitation murders terrorized the people of Cleveland. Eliot Ness was head of Cleveland’s police department for most of the killings and his inability to solve them tarnished his reputation. The serial murder case is known as “The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run” and the “Cleveland Torso Murders.” It officially ended in 1938. Eliot Ness’ chief suspect for the murders was Dr. Sweeney. These fictionalized journal entries, even though they are embellished with numerous variations from the history of this case, capture the personality of the unique individual who was Dr. Frank Sweeney.