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'Lipstick Killer' William Heirens dies after over 65 years in prison

This undated photo provided by the Illinois Department of Corrections shows William Heirens. Heirens, who was dubbed the "Lipstick Killer" after three murders in Chicago in the 1940s and who became Illinois longest-serving inmate, died Monday, March 5, 2012 at a Chicago hospital. He was 83. AP Photo/Illinois Department of Corrections

William Heirens
AP Photo/Illinois Department of Corrections

(CBS/AP) CHICAGO - An 83-year-old man who was dubbed the "Lipstick Killer" after confessing to three murders in Chicago in the 1940s and who became Illinois longest-serving inmate, has died.

The Cook County medical examiner's office tells the Chicago Tribune that William Heirens died Monday at a Chicago hospital after officials at Dixon Correctional Center found him unresponsive in his cell. An autopsy is planned.

Heirens was a 17-year-old University of Chicago student and petty burglar when he confessed to killing two women, Frances Brown and Josephine Ross, in 1945 and a 6-year-old girl in 1946. The child, Suzanne Degnan, was dismembered and her remains were scattered in Chicago's sewers.

Investigators at one of the women's homes found a message scrawled in lipstick that read: "For heaven's sake, catch me before I kill more."

Heirens later recanted his admission of guilt, and said he'd only confessed to avoid the electric chair.

According to CBS Chicago, Heirens had been suffering from renal failure and hypertension.

  • Crimesider Staff

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