Monday, July 4, 2022

The Brownout Strangler

The not always reliable Wikipedia "reports,"

Edward Joseph Leonski (December 12, 1917 – November 9, 1942) was a United States Army soldier and serial killer responsible for the strangling murders of three women in Melbourne, Australia in 1942. Leonski was known as The Brownout Strangler, given Melbourne's wartime status of keeping low lighting (not as stringent as a wartime blackout). His self-confessed motive for the killings was a twisted fascination with female voices, especially when they were singing, and his claim that he killed the women to "get their voices".[2][3][4]

Leonski is the first and only citizen of another country to have been tried and sentenced to death in Australia under the law of his own country.[5][6]

Although Leonski's crimes were committed in Australia, the trial was conducted under American military law. Leonski confessed to the crimes and was convicted and sentenced to death at a general court-martial on July 17, 1942. American general Douglas MacArthur confirmed the sentence on October 14, and a board of review, appointed by MacArthur, upheld the findings and sentence on October 28. General Court-Martial Order 1 promulgated Leonski's death sentence on November 1. In a departure from normal procedure, on November 4, MacArthur personally signed the order of execution (in subsequent executions this administrative task was entrusted to MacArthur's Chief of Staff, Richard Sutherland). Leonski was hanged at HM Prison Pentridge on November 9.[1][12]

Leonski's defense attorney, former Colorado lawyer Lieutenant Ira C. Rothgerber, Jr. (1913–1992),[13][14] attempted to win an external review, even from the U.S. Supreme Court, but was unable to do so. Rothgerber was likewise court-martialed on MacArthur’s orders for insubordination in questioning the Army’s handling of the case.


  1. Well, that last little tidbit was a tad disturbing. No chance of having a chilling effect on robust defence in future matters, I suppose ...

    1. What happened with the Rothgerber court-martial? Conviction? Sentence?

    2. No idea. From what I can tell he retired as a LTC and went on to teach at Univ. of Colorado. Maybe.

  2. There's a movie:


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