The untold truth of the Chicago Strangler

Chicago is known for its hot dogs, deep dish pizza, the Chicago Cubs, and frigid winters. The Windy City is also known for its ties to the mob, thanks to famous Chicago mobsters like Al Capone, Bugs Moran, and John Dillinger, and its violent history also includes America's very first serial killer, Dr. Henry Howard Holmes (better known as H. H. Holmes, though his actual name was Herman Webster Mudgett), who confessed to 27 murders in the late 1800s, having burying some of those bodies in his "Murder Castle" in the city's South Side, according to the Chicago Tribune.

However, the Windy City might have another serial killer on the loose, whose terrifying tale might only be beginning to unfold. While the "Chicago Strangler" might sound like a historical villain who stalked the Windy City sometime during the Great Depression, this possible serial killer — or killers — has claimed victims as recently as 2018.

Who is the "Chicago Strangler"?

For two decades, Chicago has seen a series of eerily similar strangulation murders. According to CBS Chicago, the first victim was found in 2001, and bodies have turned up in empty lots, vacant buildings, dark alleys, and even garbage containers. The victims have all been women, most with a history of sex work or addiction. All in all, there are 51 unsolved murders that all follow these patterns.

"It's essentially a serial killer detector, and for many years our algorithm has been signaling red alert about a series of strangulations in Chicago," Thomas Hargrove, director of the nonprofit the Murder Accountability Project, told CBS Chicago in a 2019 interview. Hargrove also gave WBEZ Chicago some insight into the geographic pattern of these murders,  showing how the victims have been found in three specific areas: the West Side, the South Side, and the Chicago's far South Side. Another interesting detail about the possible serial killer is that from 2001-2014, the murders kept occurring, but suddenly stopped from 2014-2017, suggesting the killer was in jail during this period, and picked back up where he/she left off after being released.

In January, the Chicago Police Department made their first arrest in connection with these murders, according to ABC 7 Chicago. Arthur Hilliard was arrested for the 2017 killing of Diamond Turner. While his case is similar in many key respects to the other 50 victims, Hilliard has (so far) only been charged for Turner's death.