Crime History: 'Boston Belfry Murderer' kills first victim

Local,Crime,Scott McCabe

On this day, Dec. 5, in 1873, the "Boston Belfry Murderer" killed his first victim.

Thomas Piper bludgeoned and strangled Bridget Landregan in the snow and was scared away by a couple who said the killer looked "batlike," with a flowing black opera cloak. In 1874, another young girl was clubbed to death by a man with a cape. A third victim was bludgeoned in 1875.

Police began to stop and question all men in opera cloaks, causing the garment to go out of fashion.

In 1876, Piper, a church worker, was questioned after he was last seen with 5-year-old Mabel Young, who was found dead with a crushed skull in the church's belfry. Piper confessed to the four killings and was hanged.

- Scott McCabe

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