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Due to the graphic nature of this episode, listener discretion is advised this episode contains discussions of murder and assault, including against a child that some listeners may find disturbing. Extreme caution is advised for listeners under 13. Jim knew something was wrong the second he saw the closed bedroom door, his six year old daughter Suzanne always left it open at night. It was the kind of thing only a parent would notice, obsessed with every detail of how their child slept and what made them afraid, curious and perhaps a little worried.


Jim open Suzanne's door and saw the worst thing a parent could see. Nothing. No sign of Suzanne anywhere in the small room.


It took a minute for Jim to process what he was seeing. Suzanne's window was wide open, cold winter air swirling through the room.


As his gaze flitted around the room. He saw only the empty bed and the open window. No sign that anyone else had been in the room. But of course, someone had someone had come into this room, taken his little girl and disappeared without a trace.


Hi, I'm Greg Polson.


This is Serial Killers, a Spotify original from podcast. Every episode we dive into the minds and madness of serial killers. Today, we're finishing the story of William George Hiring's. I'm here with my co-host, Vanessa Richardson. Hi, everyone.


You can find episodes of Serial Killers and all other Spotify originals from our cast for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.


Last time we watched Bill's compulsion for burglary sent him into Chicago PD's clutches. At 17, he was arrested following a botched robbery. But after a violent run in with the cops, he woke up in hospital unaware that investigators didn't want him for burglary. They suspected him of murder.


Today, we'll discuss three horrific murders that rocked Chicago and how the police connected Bill hiring's to these crimes. We've got all that and more coming up. Stay with us.


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In June of 1945, the world was changing, the allies declared victory over Hitler and the war was drawing to a close at last. Back in the U.S., people felt relief. Normalcy was just around the corner and people were planning for a brighter future.


One of those people was 43 year old Josephine Ross. She'd been married three times before, but in early June, her psychic told her that she would be married by the end of the year. Josephine was delighted by the news and likely told her two daughters, Mary Jane and Jacqueline, about her good fortune. Unfortunately, Josephine would never walk down the aisle again.


On June 5th, 21 year old Jacqueline left her mother home alone while she went to work.


Jacqueline came home around 130 to eat lunch with her mother, but the second she stepped inside the apartment, she knew something was wrong. It was a mess. Papers strewn everywhere, drawers thrown open. Jacqueline called out for her mother, but the only response she got was eerie silence.


Moments later, she found Josephine's body draped across her bed. Her skirt had been tied around her head with a silk stocking, and there was blood everywhere. Terrified, Jacqueline called the police as they searched the apartment.


Investigators found few clues to help catch the killer. Josephine had fought back against her assailant, and she had some of his dark hairs in her hand. But the attack was vicious.


Josephine had bruises on her head where she was struck repeatedly. But the cause of death was clearly the wounds on her neck. The coroner counted four deep stabs. The violent crime was disturbing, but perhaps just as unsettling was what the killer did after the murder, he'd bathed Josephine's body and left the bloody water floating in the tub. He also covered her neck wounds with adhesive tape, almost as though trying to undo what he'd done. The killer then wiped down the apartment, leaving no fingerprints and no murder weapon.


As they cleaned the apartment, Josephine's daughters realized some valuables were missing, pointing to a burglary gone wrong. But even with a potential motive, there were no suspects. So police were forced to suspend their investigation. How could they find a murderous thief with no leads? The case went cold, joining Chicago PD's long list of unsolved crimes.


And the city carried on as usual as 1945 continued.


Men and women of the armed forces arrived home from the war, curiously matching a trend that often coincides with the end of a war late 1945 saw spark in crime. Nationwide, murders were up 32 percent from the previous year. Additionally, the numbers of robberies, burglaries, auto theft and assaults all saw sharp increases.


If this is going to take over and the psychology here and throughout the episode, as a reminder, she is not a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, but she has done a lot of research for this show.


Thanks, Greg. The explanation for post-war crime has been a topic of debate for years, with both psychological and sociological explanations offered. Regarding the latter, we know that the demographic group most likely to commit violent crime is young men during wartime. These men are largely out of the country, so it seems that a spike is simply a return to normalcy after crime rates dropped during the war.


But psychology is certainly a factor, too, specifically an aspect of postwar life. Researchers have only recently explored PTSD reporting for the United States Veterans Affairs Department, Drs..


Norman L. Bogon and Schnurr discovered PTSD on its own does not make someone violent, though it does seem to coincide with other risk factors for violence, particularly substance abuse. In the 1940s, that substance was alcohol, and when people drink more, they're more likely to commit violent crimes. post-World War Two alcohol consumption was somewhat higher than before the war, which might also have been because it was more accessible. In the 1920s, prohibition outlawed alcohol. Then the Depression made it an expensive luxury.


Now it was more affordable and likely seemed an attractive option to returning veterans with emotional wounds to soothe. Given this context, the upswing in crime rates were perhaps not surprising. Chicago, already a center of criminal activity during the 20s and 30s, was a hub for the spike in crime and with it crime reporting. Without war news to drive sales, newspapers needed something to sustain their circulation. Crime sold the five daily papers, fought for sales with unrelenting reporting on violent crime, as well as on the Chicago PD seeming inability to close cases.


When Josephine Ross was murdered, it was big news, but her story didn't come close to the horror or media attention surrounding the murder of Frances Brown. 33 year old Francis served in the war herself. She was beautiful, well liked by friends and co-workers and a talented musician. In December of 1945, she lived with a roommate at the Pine Grove Apartments. But on December 10th, her roommate went out to dinner, leaving Frances alone. All evening, a maid found Francis's body.


The next morning, she was draped over the bathtub, nude with her neck wrapped in her pajama top and her head covered in towels. Much like with Josephine Ross, it seemed the killer couldn't stand looking at the face of the woman he'd killed when they arrived at the crime scene.


Police recognize similarities between the two murders. The killer attempted to clean the body and hide her face, but made no effort to clean the blood off of her bed. And just like before, any fingerprints had been carefully cleaned before the killer made their escape. All except one, a bloody smudge in the doorjamb of the bathroom. Curiously, although she was stabbed in the neck, Frances died from a gunshot wound to the head, but death and destruction seemed to be all the killer wanted.


The apartment was ransacked, but they took nothing of value. In fact, a valuable wristwatch remained in plain sight. If the ignored trinket was a message from the killer, it was more subtle than their other communication written on the wall in Frances's lipstick they scrawled, For heaven's sake, catch me before I kill more.


I cannot control myself.


It was a chilling portent and the perfect sensationalist detail to sell newspapers. Public demand for answers was high, and the police made some progress, though they found no matches for the lone bloody fingerprint, the closest they came to a suspect was a description of a man the night clerk recalled seeing leave through the lobby, he described.


The man is in his late 30s, small and nervous. But that was it. With little else to go on. The best police could do was to connect the crime to the murder of Josephine Ross and worry about what the killer may do next.


By the stage, Chikako was on high alert, fighting to feel safe. And unfortunately, the news of January 6th, 1946, banished all illusions of safety.


That morning, Jim Degnan went to his daughter's bedroom to wake her for school. Six year old Suzanne usually slept with her door slightly ajar. So when Jim found it closed, it struck him as odd.


He knew he'd left the door open when he checked on her around midnight. Still, despite his trepidation, he wasn't prepared for what he saw when he entered his daughter's room, Suzanne was gone. A quick scan of the small bedroom told him that the first grader wasn't merely hiding, playing some kind of game.


The window was wide open, letting the frigid winter air blow right in. That's when Jim sounded the alarm.


While police were summoned to the home, the Degnan household went over their memories from the night before.


A few people had heard strange noises in the predawn quiet, but no one had thought anything of the curious, muffled sound.


But now they knew what they'd heard was Susan's abduction.


As the sun rose over a chilly Chicago, a desperate search began. But it was already too late. Coming up, police investigate what happened to Susanne Degnan and make a triumphant arrest.


Hi, listeners. It's Vanessa from Park Cast. When you think of a criminal, do you picture a killer, a gangster, a thief? I bet you didn't think it could be the little old lady down the street who murdered her tenants. Every Wednesday on my series, female criminals meet the unlikeliest of felons, mothers, neighbors and unsuspecting lovers with a penchant for dangerous behavior. Discover the psychology and motives behind their disturbing crimes and find out where their story stands today.


But that's not all. Airing right now on female criminals is our special five part look at the world's most infamous femme fatale women who were deceptive and deadly but not always the villain. Catch these episodes and more by following the Spotify original from past female criminals. New episodes, premier weekly. Listen free on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Now that you're firmly outside your emotional comfort zone, how about a trip outside base jumping, Cameron mountain biking or maybe just anywhere but home?


Wherever you go, the Bronco sport is built wild with seven available goat modes that go over any type of terrain. It also features a cargo management system for all your gear, interior bike racks, molly straps and more. So you're never not prepared for an adventure. Bronco sport built wild. Learn more at Ford Dotcom. Now back to the story. In January of 1946, Jim Degnan discovered his six year old daughter, Suzanne, had vanished from their apartment on the north side of Chicago, panicked, he immediately called the police.


It just so happened that Jim had friends who worked in law enforcement. So when police arrived at the house, they came in numbers. And right behind the cops were the press eager for a new scoop. Over 40 people came to the Degnan house that morning. Within moments, the crime scene was contaminated.


Still, there were some clues that remained. One of these was a small scrap of paper near Suzanne's window, an oil slick to ransom note demanding 20000 dollars from the dead deadman's. Interestingly, the note was rife with spelling errors after many of the officers handled the note.


It was eventually taken to the crime lab and inspected for prints.


After a lengthy examination, they acquired one usable print. It was incomplete and smudged, but it was something.


Meanwhile, police expanded their search for Susann moving outside of the home. They found a ladder near the house that might have been used to reach Suzanne's window. Crucially, there were fresh footprints nearby that could potentially connect a suspect to the scene.


However, the latter might have been a red herring the night before had been wet. Yet there were no markings on the side of the house where the ladder would have been positioned. Curiously, there was also no sign that wet shoes entered through Suzanne's window. Plus, Susan was large for her age and reportedly weighed over 70 pounds, which would have made carrying her down a ladder difficult while investigators ran into frustrating dead ends.


The main priority was still finding Suzanne. As news of the abduction spread through the city, tips started flooding in and one in particular had the eerie feel of authenticity. The caller insisted that the searchers check the sewers.


Police fanned out around the neighborhood looking for signs of manhole covers that have been disturbed. They found one not far from the Degnan home when they lifted the manhole cover and police peered inside. One officer reported what he thought was a doll's head floating in the water.


But it wasn't a toy. It was the severed head of Suzanne Degnan. The hunt for a kidnapper was now the hunt for a killer.


In the coming days, the police learn more about the crime, but little about the killer, other pieces of Suzanne's body were recovered until all but her arms were accounted for. The coroner determined the dismemberment was carried out with surgical precision and suggested that police look for a doctor or a butcher. Further careful examination of the body suggested that Suzanne was strangled to death sometime between midnight and 1:00 a.m..


As the forensic investigation continued, tips kept pouring in. People called to report strange people and vehicles they saw on or around the night Susan was murdered. Unfortunately, many of these tips were dead ends, but one was a great help. Information from a concerned neighbor led police to an apartment basement near the sewer where they recovered Susanne's head in the basement. They found evidence of human flesh inside a drain, suggesting that the killer brought the body there to cut it up.


After the gruesome deed, the killer placed the pieces of Suzanne's body in bags stolen from basement lockers with the seemingly unending horrors of the case.


Police were desperate to catch this killer, as were the people of Chicago. Suzanne Degnan was everywhere in the Chicago press. Every minute detail, tip, witness statement and theory was published in the papers because Suzanne's story sold incredibly well.


And it did so because it tapped into the primal fear of the city. A six year old child taken from her home while her parents slept in the next room. It made clear to everyone no one's kids were safe seeking someone to blame.


The public turned on the police with over 30 detectives working the case. People wanted to know why they hadn't yet found the killer. Not that arrests weren't made as the months wore on. Suspect after a suspect was arrested.


Every time the police made bold announcements claiming that this was definitely the killer, then they had to sheepishly admit that the fingerprints didn't match, that a lie detector test proved this latest suspect innocent or when an airtight alibi showed up.


As winter melted into spring, the case remained unsolved and the police grew more and more embarrassed for the Chicago PD to have any respect from the community they served, they knew they had to catch the killer.


But with all their leads exhausted, no one knew how that would ever happen. Some began to believe that the only way they'd catch the killer was if they somehow nabbed him, committing another crime. However, that summer, the cops got the lucky break they'd hoped for.


Towards the end of June 1946, six months after Susanne's murder, 17 year old Bill Hyman's was picked up not far from the Degenhardt home. He'd been caught burglarizing a home in the neighborhood and was cornered by police. Depending on which side of the story you believe, Bill threatened the cops with a gun or was shot at with no provocation. Either way, the cops overpowered the teenage thief, knocking him unconscious in the process. Then, while he recovered in hospital, they compared his fingerprints to the one found on the Degnan ransom note.


It was a match.


It's unclear why police connected Bill to Susanne's murder so quickly, but the answer may lie in the circumstances of his arrest during the chase. Bill had displayed athleticism and knowledge of the neighborhood, and because one of the officers said Bill threatened him, he was deemed violent. But it was really the fingerprints that sealed the deal. That said, the prints were from his left hand, which was badly injured by a flowerpot a cop beat him with during his arrest.


So it's possible that this affected the quality of his print.


Nevertheless, it was a closer match than any police had found so far, with nine points of comparison. FBI protocol required 12, but the case wasn't under their jurisdiction, so Chicago PD could be less stringent.


Still, State's Attorney William Touhy knew that the print wasn't enough for a conviction, despite his confidence that Bill was Suzanne's killer. Now he and the police just needed to prove it.


While they searched for that proof, Toohey and police boasted to the press that they had the murderer in custody at last, and this time the fingerprint was a match even before any charges were laid. It felt like investigators were taking a victory lap.


Meanwhile, Bill's parents, Margaret and George, were caught in the crush. Their home was swept by police and the press. How did them at every opportunity, trying to stay afloat in the madness. They hired a lawyer and focused on one goal seeing their son, but they were kept from Bill.


This was 1946, 20 years before Miranda vs. Arizona guaranteed the rights of people placed under arrest. It was against investigators interest to allow Bill access to a lawyer, and they certainly didn't want him to exercise his right to remain silent.


The questioning was relentless, even though Bill was recovering from a head injury. The interviews never stopped, and as the questions continued, the list of potential charges grew. Suddenly, police seemed keen to close cases. Besides the murder of Susan Degnan, that particular slaying hadn't yet been connected to any other crimes, but police were ready to take any shot they could.


Among the cases Bill was questioned about was the assault of Evelyn Peterson. It turned out to be one of the few cases the 17 year old could actually be tied to by evidence. After all, he had been there by his own admission, damningly, police found his fingerprint on what, Babylon's walls.


Last time we discussed Bill's claims that he found Evelin after she'd been assaulted and helped her back into her apartment. But now police suspected that Bill had actually snuck in through her skylight to steal from the apartment, then struck her when she surprised him. With that narrative in mind, the interrogation focused in on other unsolved attacks on women around Chicago, including the murders of Josephine Ross and Frances Brown. Frustratingly, Bill had no answers for their questions. He'd heard of Suzanne's case, but claimed he didn't know the names of the other women.


Still, the police were determined to get a confession, so they lied to Bill, telling him his mother and his girlfriend were both in jail and wouldn't be released until he told them the truth. If that wasn't bad enough, they also starved him, withholding food and water for days in a clearly diminished state. Bill was kept awake for hours as police showed him horrific images from the crime scenes, refusing to let him sleep. They detailed his alleged crimes and demanded he own up.


When this didn't work, the torture turned physical.


Officers beat him and poured chemicals on his genitals. When even that failed to produce the results they sought, investigators turned to an exciting new drug, sodium pentothal. This so-called truth serum had been used to help World War Two vets open up in therapeutic sessions and talk about wartime trauma. The cops hoped it would be the push they needed to make Bill talk. Although police most likely knew that torture and truth serum would give them the results they wanted, they might not have known that those results might not be the truth.


The allure of a truth serum and its usefulness in solving crimes is obvious, but whether it's psychologically sound is a little more complicated. The idea behind a truth serum is simple. Lying requires effort. Sodium pentothal is a barbiturate, a type of sedative. The theory is that by lowering the energy someone can put towards lying or obfuscating facts, the truth will emerge.


And there is some veracity to this idea. As medical historian Allan Winter puts it, drugged patients have less control over what they say in the drugged state than in a sober one. So it is less likely that a deliberate lie can be perfectly maintained. But within that we see a problem with a truth serum interrogation. The subject may not be able to deliver a consistent, intentional lie, but they've also been drugged and might not tell the complete truth. In fact, drugged people become more suggestible and likely to pick up on verbal and nonverbal cues.


Interestingly, torture has a similar effect. Neuroscientist Shane Omkara discovered that while torture does make a guilty individual more likely to confess, the victim of torture loses touch with reality and can't separate fact from fiction outside of the ethics of truth serum and torture.


The science behind both shows the clear problems with each interrogation tactic. The subject is more likely to tell the interrogator what they think they want to hear, even if it's not true.


With that in mind, what happened next is interesting. Bill received sodium pentothal without his consent and was subjected to questioning. The transcript of the interrogation was lost. So Bill's account is all we have to go on.


We know that police found a note on Bill's person during his arrest, a letter from someone named George M.S. It was actually an old creative writing assignment, but the police thought it was evidence of Bill's nefarious deeds.


It's possible the note came up during the drugged interrogation. That might explain why Bill in his sedated state said to police it may have been George George's bad, sometimes to an assistant state's attorney who was present.


That simple utterance was all he needed to move forward. The interview ended shortly after, and Bill was finally allowed to see his parents. It had been four days since his arrest.


As soon as he saw her, Bill swore to his mother that he didn't kill Suzanne Degnan, despite police insisting he had. But by now he was confused. He was tired, and he no longer knew what was real.


But outside of Bill's hospital room, police continued building their case with a partial fingerprint match. They were determined to make bill pay for Susanne's murder.


To do that, they believed they just needed to work out who the mysterious George was. Then everything would fall into place.


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Now back to the story. Midsummer, 1946, police arrested and interrogated 17 year old Bill hiring's for days about his involvement in multiple murders, the torture culminated in Bill blaming a mysterious George for the crimes while drugged on sodium pentothal. Meanwhile, detectives sought physical evidence against the thief to start with.


They had his fingerprints. One was a loose match with one connected to the murder of Suzanne Degnan. Another matched one linked to the attack on returned army nurse Evelyn Petersen after interrogating Bill about the murder of Frances Brown. Police discovered his print matched the smudged doorjamb print in her apartment, but on their own, the prints weren't enough for a conviction. So investigators began a thorough search of Bill's belongings, both at his college dorm and his parents home. Their search and covered bills, various caches of stolen goods.


Among the many pilfered items they found, a stolen surgical kit bill used to change the names on war bonds. The police seized on this, believing he used the tools to dismember Suzanne, ignoring the fact that they were far too small for the job.


Another notable finding was a book, Psychopathic Asexuals, a wildly influential text that detailed different sexual acts as dangerous fetishes. The police believe the book offered insight into Bill's motive. However, Bill's friends and family found the book far more innocuous. Bill was known to have advanced tastes in reading material, and his girlfriend said that lots of students at the university had read it.


If police took this into consideration, it didn't dissuade them from their theory that Bill was the killer. Nor did it when Bill's roommate came forward with an alibi for the night Susan disappeared. He and Bill were at a university party on campus on the other side of town and didn't leave until midnight.


If this is true, Bill could not have made it to the Degnan home before 1:00 a.m. when Suzanne was supposed to have died. But either the police didn't believe the alibi or they just didn't care they were on a mission.


Next, they turned to handwriting analysis. Bill was asked to reproduce the Degnan ransom note in his own writing. It's important to note here that the killer's letter was published in newspapers after Susanne's murder. Everyone had seen it. Here's where things get interesting. When Bill transcribed the note, he misspelled a word just as the killer had.


According to Bill, he remembered the error from the papers and was trying to copy the note exactly per the detective's wishes. But unsurprisingly, the police claimed the error as proof that Bill wrote the note. It should be mentioned that Bill didn't copy all of the errors of the original note, but that was seemingly unimportant to detectives feeling sure their case was solidifying. They subjected Bill to a lie detector test. However, the results were reported as inconclusive. Setting those results aside, police developed a theory about how and why Bell killed, and it all hinged on his drugged utterance about someone named George.


The belief was that George was the Mr. Hyde to Bill's Jekyll, a twisted alternate self with a violent streak.


It was an idea that fascinated investigators and one that Bill's own admission seemed to support as his arraignment drew nearer, psychoanalyst's visited to assess his sanity and made some interesting discoveries.


Bill revealed that his Catholic upbringing severely affected him, in particular at warped his sexual development, leading him to the emergence of strange sexual urges. He said that breaking into people's homes brought him a thrill and that he occasionally reached orgasm during the act. He also claimed to have lost the memories of his crimes, which helped investigators understand why he'd never given them details about the attacks. According to Bill, he only snapped back to reality once he'd climaxed to the analysts, Bill admitted feeling a deep shame about his actions.


It was so overpowering that he started to believe there was another person inside him, a man named George. He was the one with the strange sexual urges, not Bill and the investigators. Ed. To understand this psychologically, we need to examine how the human mind was understood at the time and what we know now in the early 20th century, Sigmund Freud was the leading voice in understanding the human mind. His theories focused on repressed memories and emotions, suggesting that our true self was hidden even from ourselves.


The idea of a secret sexual darkside fits right into that Freudian framing. It seemed that Bill's tortured, repressed mine acted impulsively to commit the burglaries, then violently lashed out when he was caught in the act. The theory explained everything. However, modern psychology has disproved most of Freud's theories. So how do we explain Bill's seemingly out of character violence and lack of memory? To do so, we turn to dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder.


DID is one of the most controversial modern mental health diagnoses. Because of our cultural assumptions, we assume people living with did have an extreme shift to completely new personalities, the way the condition is dramatized in soap operas and pulp films. In reality, these dissociation tend to be far more passive. In his 2005 article, Dr. Paul FDL details how most dissociative symptoms are moments of partial consciousness, where one is aware of their actions but feels as though they aren't acting like themselves.


Bill's entire burglary career could be described that way. It's not that George was a fully fledged split personality, but rather an outpouring of Bill's trauma, sexual and otherwise, that he couldn't recognize as himself. And sometimes that separation was so sharp. Bill suffered a sense of amnesia.


If Bill is guilty, he represents one of the darkest and most terrifying parts of the human psyche, the idea that a 17 year old boy was so broken that he could violently kill and dismember a child and completely forget about it is terrifying.


As we discussed in the last episode, Bill was deeply affected by his family's financial troubles and never felt in control of his actions, which led to his years as a burglar. Bill, the murderer is simply the more violent manifestation of the same impulses. That is, if it's true.


When Bill was finally released from the hospital, he realized what a mess he was in since his arrest, Chicago newspapers had been endlessly reporting on him and it's easy to see why he was a handsome teenager hiding a murderous alternate personality.


Additionally, it seems as though every police theory about Bill and the murders was published as fact, so readers had no reason to doubt the stories. Bill and his lawyers knew that it would be almost impossible to get an impartial jury for his trial.


The final nail in the publicity coffin was a story in the Chicago Tribune. The piece claimed to tell the true story of exactly how Bill murdered Josephine Ross, Francis Brown and Suzanne Degnan. The journalist George Wright attributed his facts to, quote, unimpeachable sources, except the article had few verifiable facts at all.


Instead, it contained a bevy of information only available to police and the state's attorney. But it was in a respected paper. So who was going to doubt the story's supposed veracity?


Bill knew he was trapped. The cops believed him guilty. First, they told the press who convinced the rest of Chicago, seeing no other way out. The teenager decided that all he could do was try and save himself from the death penalty. The specifics of what happened next depend on whether you believe Bill, guilty or innocent, Bill didn't give his own version of events until years later. So we'll first tell you what happened as the police experienced it.


As far as we can tell, states attorney Touhy still wasn't confident in securing a conviction against Bill to we cooperated, but Bill's attorneys to pressure him to confess.


In exchange, he'd receive life in prison instead of the electric chair. After that, things moved quickly.


While guilty pleas and their subsequent sentencing hearings are often uneventful, bills was different. It was important to the Chicago PD that there be no doubt that Bill was guilty. So it was something of a circus. During the public proceedings, investigators testified about the fingerprints and a handwriting expert announced that bill was a match for both the Degenhardt note and the lipstick message from Frances Brown's wall.


When Bill pleaded guilty, he was made to read his confession in the courtroom. There were details he couldn't remember, a time he couldn't account for, but that was glossed over. It was a hole no one wanted to see, but one that was explained by Bill's supposed blackouts.


At one stage, the entire court traveled to the crime scenes, where a bill reenacted how he'd enter the buildings and what he'd done. Curiously, he pointed out that the furniture in some of the rooms was arranged differently to how he remembered it was a damning detail from what everyone was convinced was a cold blooded killer. At the end of the proceedings, Bill was sentenced to three consecutive sentences of 20 years to life for each murder from the outside.


It was a bittersweet ending 17 year old boy with great promise locked away because of crimes caused by his own tortured psyche. Still, justice had won out. The monster was safely behind bars. The Chicago police had at last fulfilled their duty.


There was just one problem. According to Bill, it was all a lie. He didn't feel sexual shame. There were no erections, no orgasms, no memory loss. He didn't remember the details of the murders because he didn't commit them. This is the version of events if you believe Bill is innocent, a version he swore by for the rest of his life.


During his questioning, Bill tried several tactics to secure his freedom. First, he tried to convince the psychoanalyst's that he was insane, using information he'd read in the book Psychopath The Asexuals, he wove a story of repressed sexual urges and a mysterious alter ego named George.


But the experts proclaimed him legally sane. Then the Tribune published its piece declaring Bill guilty beyond any doubt, and he knew he was sunk. His only option left was to avoid the electric chair by telling authorities what they wanted to hear.


So he confessed. The problem with that was he didn't know anything about the crimes. So he and his attorneys used the Tribune's articles as a base for his tale. Everyone already believed it anyway. So it made the most sense.


When it came time for his arraignment and the crime scene reenactments, he could recall the dozens of photos police had shown him during his interrogation. He allowed State's Attorney William Toohey to correct him when he made mistakes and answered his leading questions without complaint. He gave everyone what they wanted. He played the part of a guilty man on the evening of his sentencing bill, asked for a sheriff from the jail to come to his cell.


Bill had a message for the officer. He said, I didn't kill her. Tell Mr. Degnan to look after his other daughter because whoever killed Suzanne is still out there.


That wasn't the last time Bill proclaimed his innocence. He never stopped trying to overturn his sentence in the years to come. His lawyers presented new evidence claiming that some of the evidence was falsified. One of the fingerprints was fishy and the lie detector test that police called inconclusive actually exonerated Bill.


The handwriting analysis was also discredited. Experts said that Bill's handwriting didn't match the ransom note.


With all this in mind, the case against Bill is less convincing. Without his coerced confession, the evidence against him was weak were it not for the threat of a jury pool tainted by reckless journalism. A conviction seems unlikely.


In the end, there was little Bill could do to clear his name, whether truthfully or not he'd confess to the murders, even the ones with no physical evidence linking him to the scene. The coercion was swept aside, the torture was ignored, and all that remained was a teenager sentenced to life behind bars.


That's where Bill spent the remainder of his life. He was never granted parole and was never able to formally clear his name. He died in 2012 at the age of 83.


He made no deathbed confession, maintaining his innocence until his last breath.


Unfortunately, this is one of those maddening stories where the truth is lost to time or the physical evidence is long gone and anyone with firsthand knowledge of the crimes is long gone. All we have are two stories. On one side, there's William, hiring's monster, liar, killer. That's the easier tale to hear because it ends with good triumphing over evil and a killer kept off the streets. In that story, justice wins. Then there's the one about Bill.


Hiram's a petty thief who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. In that story, an innocent man spends his life locked up for someone else's crimes. Perhaps more chilling to consider is that the person or people who killed Josephine Francis and Suzanne went free in that story. No one wins. As for which one is true. It's something we'll likely never know for sure. Thanks again for tuning into serial killers.


We'll be back soon with a new episode for more information on William.


Hiring's amongst the many sources we used, we found William Hiram's his day in court by Delores Kennedy.


Particularly helpful to our research. You can find all the episodes of Serial Killers and all other Spotify originals from podcast for free on Spotify.


Will see you next time. Have a killer week. Serial Killers is a Spotify original from podcast.


Executive producers include Max and Ron Cuddler Sound Design by Russell Nash with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden and Bruce Kittridge. This episode of Serial Killers was written by John McDonough with Writing Assistants by Joel Kaplan, fact checking by Hayley Millican and research by Brian Petrus and Chelsea Wood.


Serial Killers stars Greg Polson and Vanessa Richardson.