Uptown Chicago History Correspondent
It was a
hot summer evening, 1945. We were sitting on the back porches in
order to seek a little relief from the heat. My mom was the first to
notice a ruckus coming from the next building to the North, that would
be 4741 Kenmore.
Now, as kids we were all schooled in the scam of the "boiler inspector." There was always a child molester in the area, and as kids we were
taught how to avoid them and never allow ourselves to be in close
proximity to them. One of the ruses was the "boiler inspector," in order
to get some unsuspecting kid to show them where the boiler was.
Mr. Nelson, the building owner, had caught a young guy trying to entice his 10-year-old daughter to go into the basement with him.
"boiler inspector" was in good shape and very athletic, looking to be
about 20 years old . Mr Nelson had him on the ground by the throat and
hollered up to us to call the police.
Now in these days very few
people had phones, and there certainly was no 911, so if a call was made
to the police it would be at least 30 minutes before they arrived. Dad
was already on his way down from the second floor when the "boiler inspector" jumped up
and pushed or hit Mr. Nelson at the same time, screaming that he didn't
want his daughter anyway, he wanted the little blond girl next door (that would be my seven-year-old sister), at which time Mom was hollering
from the porch, "Kill the SOB!" Dad was moving faster than I ever seen
him move. Thats when the BI jumped over the fence into our backyard
and was gone before Dad could get to him.
I don't remember if the
police were ever called or not. This became the topic of conversation
in the neighborhood for a few days and was forgotten about, until
sometime during the winter, a 6-year-old girl, Susan Degnan, was missing from her home
in the 5900 block of Kenmore. Her dismembered body was found sometime
later, and the following June, William Heirens was arrested for her murder. As
soon as we saw his picture in the paper, both Mom and Mr. Nelson said he
was the "Boiler Inspector." According to the newspapers, Heirens' first murder took place at 4108 Kenmore in June 1945, the second one
was at 3941 Pine Grove in the winter of 1945.
Was William Heirens really our "boiler inspector"?