Real-Life Cop Show Killer & Skid Row Slasher Cut Victims Ear to Ear

Jonny Llama
  Published on March 10, 2022   
What the flop is a flophouse?

The Skid Row Slasher was responsible for 9 homicides on Los Angeles's Skid Row from December 1st, 1974 to January 31st, 1975. Media sensationalized the 2-month killing spree after one reporter linked the killer's MO to a recent episode of Police Story, in which a homeless man knives to death other residents living on Skid Row. Police arrested 31-year-old Vaughn Orrin Greenwood, a transient criminal, and convicted him for all 9 slashings.

Scripted Killer

Police Story was a popular 70's cop drama that inspired the Skid Row Slasher to kill 9 victims.

Police Story was a popular 70s cop drama that inspired the Skid Row Slasher to kill 9 victims.


On November 26, 1974, a psychotic killer began bludgeoning to death many of Los Angeles' derelicts living on Skid Row. This man, a derelict himself, killed as a symbolic gesture of "killing himself" for punishment of his own life failures.

However, this "Skid Row Slasher" wasn't real, but an actor playing a role in a popular TV cop drama called Police Story.

Millions of viewers were terrified of the perfectly timed death groans and the red corn syrup that oozed from the victim's necks. Some viewers reasoned with the killer, some even putting themselves in his shoes and trying to understand the origin of his killing lust.

And then the credits.

Newspaper clipping when media realized that the Police Story episode was being played in real life.

Newspaper clipping when media realized that the Police Story episode was being played in real life.


It would be several episodes later before media realized that the plot of the November 26th episode manifested itself into a real-life killing spree that left at least 9 dead.

All cut from ear to ear. 👂

The "real" Skid Row Slasher began his terror campaign on December 1st, 1974, at the main public library at 5th and Hope Street. The slasher's first two murders were brutal and raw, but went unnoticed.

It was the third victim cutting of Arthur Dahlstedt that one reporter linked the recent slayings to the television police drama. Dahlstedt was slashed from existence on December 11, 1974, and found dead in a doorway in an alley on 5th and Town avenue.

The homeless man had camped on some steps the night before and discovered the next morning by a friend and fellow transient. The blood of Dahlstedt had dripped down each step like a tipped over bucket of red paint.

It was apparent that Arthur's last few breaths were taken when awakened by the cold knife nearly severing his head completely off.

From the Los Angeles Times, “The acquaintance stumbled back to the street, waved down a passing motorcycle police officer and led him to the body. The man’s throat had been slashed from ear to ear.”

Before he became another unknown drunkard, Dahlstedt was a recognized WW2 Navy soldier who fought Japanese forces, spending months inside an Osaka internment camp, where he suffered unspeakable horrors. The will to live during those grueling months far outweighed the option of dying in shackles, but in the end, he was cut from ear to ear like the other bums he hobbled with.

Unclear Motives

The investigation reached comical proportions when the Chief Deputy found his voice behind the microphone. “This guy’s a jackal,” and “homosexual…there are strong implications in these killings of his sexual impotence and his feelings of inadequacy.”

Another detective lamented that the slasher “hated his father” and “probably lives like a hermit and only creeps out of his hole to commit these horrible crimes.” It’s unclear what the thinking was that led police to assume that this man had father issues and was a homosexual, but press didn’t care, the story was just getting good.

A Taste for Blood.

The sketch of the L.A. Skid Row Slasher. "Believed to be a maniac and sex deviate."

The sketch of the L.A. Skid Row Slasher. "Believed to be a maniac and sex deviate."


The slasher exhibited three unique behaviors after killing his victims. The first being that he would remove the dead person's shoes and point them towards the victim. It's been said that this was perhaps a Wiccan practice, but the reason is still unclear.

Second, the slasher would drink the blood of his victims. We believe he would catch the blood as it drained from the neck into a disposal cup. They found these cups at the crime scene with evidence of being drank from.

The third unique behavior found in the crime scene was salt sprinkled around the victim's corpse like a "bloody mosaic." Clearly, this symbolized how detectives outline a body with chalk. The salt used was ordinary table salt.

Manhunt

Undercover cops dressed in tattered jeans walked up and down the streets of Skid Row, some even lying in the filth hoping to be the one whose name appeared in the Sunday edition.

Walking by “all-night porno theaters, bars, flophouses, greasy spoons, sexbook stores, pinball parlors, and seedy hotels,” these cops did nothing more but to drive the killer from his safe zone to a new killing field.

We got our man! Right??

Vaughn Greenwood bore no resemblance to the sketch of the Skid Row Slasher.

Vaughn Greenwood bore no resemblance to the sketch of the Skid Row Slasher.


Vaughn Orrin Greenwood was arrested by the LAPD and convicted for the Skid Row Slasher's crimes. However, there is significant doubt that he was involved.

They arrested Greenwood on February 3, 1975, after breaking into a Hollywood Hills home belonging to William Graham, 36, and Kenneth Ricker, 22.

The two men fought off Greenwood, who was equipped with a hatchet.

"The intruder carried a knife and a hatchet. In the struggle, Graham crashed through a plate-glass window and ran to a nearby residence owned by actor Burt Reynolds."

Burt Reynolds was not home.

Vaughn Greenwood bore no resemblance to the sketch of the Skid Row Slasher.

Vaughn Greenwood bore no resemblance to the sketch of the Skid Row Slasher.

Greenwood escaped into the woods but was quickly apprehended by police. They charged him with 4 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and 2 counts of burglary at the Reynolds home.

The confession is not public, but the police informed the media that Greenwood had also confessed to all 9 slasher murders.

The judge said, “It is fairly evident that he suffers from some inner drive which compels him to kill, not to accomplish robbery because most of those murdered were rendered unconscious or defenseless before having their throats cut.”

Vaughn Orrin Greenwood, the Skid Row Slasher, died in prison in 2020.

[arve url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6f0Na9OxvU" /]

Sources

Third Skid Row man's throat cut; tv script may be clue (The LA Times 12 Dec 1974)
Police may link murders to tv show (The Fresno Bee 12 Dec 1974)
Arthur Dahlstedt (Findagrave.com) (POW)
Huge manhunt for Skid Row Slasher (The Berkeley Gazette 31 Jan 1975)
Skid row believes slasher is maniac and sex deviate (The Berkeley Gazette 31 Jan 1975)
Hatchet Man named ‘Skid Row Slasher’ (Intelligencer Journal 24 Jan 1976)
Suspect booked in L.A. stabbings (Spokane Daily Chronicle 8 Dec 1978)
‘Slasher’ jury finds man guilty (The Spokesman-Review 30 Dec 1976)
Ninth victim of ‘Slasher’ found (The Chico Enterprise-Record 01 Feb 1975)
Commenting for supporters. If you are already a supporter, click the Patreon button to signin or signup.

Leave a Reply

18 comments on “Real-Life Cop Show Killer & Skid Row Slasher Cut Victims Ear to Ear”

        1. There maybe another related incident of the "Skid Row Stabber" and from what I'm seeing, he was also the wrong guy. I haven't covered that case though.

  1. Great episode as always - I feel like this sort of thing has to happen more often with how prevalent true crime is. I wonder how many serial killers are inspired by what they see on TV all the time

  2. lol, love that. I did recently by a Lizzie Borden book for her, so maybe that will help kick things off. I really want to cover that story.

  3. There was just an unbelievable murder in my hometown, Green Bay Wi. I thought you guys might like to know the story, Google Taylor Schabussiness…. It’s definitely a little gruesome!

  4. Imagine if Burt had been home. Probably would’ve knocked the shit out of the guy.
    Y’all just really make my week a lot funnier. Still waiting to go drinking in Greenville

  5. Lmfao that was the greatest thing ever listening to you try to figure out what a flop house was.. not necessarily a homeless shelter. Basically a flop house is anywhere you can just crash. Could be someone’s house could be a vacant apt etc. often a place where someone goes to hang out and use drugs and also crashes there..

Combat Veteran Operated (please.. no loud noises)
2022 - Copyright, All Rights Reserved, Talkocast, LLC.
crossmenu