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Alfred Leonard CLINE






A.K.A.: "Buttermilk Bluebeard"
Classification: Serial killer?
Characteristics: Poisoner - "Bluebeard" - To inherit
Number of victims: 0 - 9
Date of murders: 1930 - 1945
Date of birth: 1888
Victims profile: Eight of his wives and an evangelist, Rev. Ernest Jones
Method of murder: Poisoning
Location: California/Nevada/Texas/Massachusetts/Colorado, USA
Status: Never convicted of the murders due to lack of evidence. Convicted of forgery in California and sentenced to 126 years in prison. Died in Folsom Prison, of a heart attack, on August 5, 1948

A prolific American "Bluebeard," Cline was linked with at least nine homicides between 1930 and his arrest in 1945. Eight of his wives were dispatched after willing their earthly possessions to Cline; his single male victim was an evangelist, Rev. Ernest Jones, who made Cline the heir to $11,000 shortly before his "unexpected" death.

With practice, Cline polished his murder technique to perfection. Insisting on a lavish honeymoon, he would check into a stylish hotel, there persuading his bride to drink a glass of buttermilk laced with powerful sedatives. As she lost consciousness, the house physician would be summoned, told that Mrs. Cline was suffering "another heart attack." Hours later, when a second dose of drugs proved fatal, doctors were inclined to issue death certificates citing 'heart failure' as the proximate cause.

In May 1944, Cline married a Chicago widow, Delora Krebs, and promptly set off for the West Coast. Delora's annuity checks were always promptly cashed, but relatives had trouble reaching her by telephone; Cline habitually put them off with tales of illness, shopping errands, previous engagements. When a wire arrived from Portland, Oregon, reporting her death, family members pressed for an investigation, uncovering Cline's criminal activities in a dozen states.

Cremation of his late, lamented wives saved Cline from prosecution on a murder charge, but he was jailed for forgery in San Francisco. Delora's annuity checks came back to haunt him, and testimony from two surviving poison victims persuaded the court that a maximum sentence was justified. Sentenced to 126 years, Cline died in Folsom Prison, of a heart attack, on August 5, 1948.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans


"Buttermilk Bluebeard"

Monday, May. 06, 1946

To the lonely, well-heeled old women he met at church functions, the romantic charm of quiet, heavy-set Alfred Leonard Cline, 56, was considerably enhanced by a remote quality they could not identify.

Cline liked company; but his company usually died suddenly in a hotel room shortly after signing her estate over to him. He liked efficiency. He almost always took his company on pleasure trips, then asked her to drink a glass of buttermilk. When she died, he had her body cremated before police could' examine it.

Next to company and efficiency, he liked forgery. This had cost him two prison terms and an arrest last December. Digging into his secretive past, police found at least eight instances in which Forger Cline's buttermilk-drinking friends had died, leaving him legacies totaling $82,000. They also found that he left one of the coldest trails south of the Yukon.

But in San Francisco last week, Judge Herbert C. Kaufman made it reasonably sure that Alfred Cline would make no more close friends. Charged with nine counts of forgery, the judge ruled that the nine sentences should run consecutively. Maximum time: 126 years.


Dates of Killings: 1931 - 1945

Locations: California, Nevada, Texas, Massachusetts, and Colorado

  • He became friends with wealthy people.

  • He would have his victims put his name in their wills and then he would kill them.

  • Most of the victims were cremated.

  • He was never convicted of the murders due to lack of evidence, but he was convicted of forgery and sent to jail.


SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: T MOTIVE: CE-inheritance

MO: "Bluebeard" slayer of eight wives and one male friend.

DISPOSITION: 126-year. sentence in Calif.; died in prison, Aug. 1948.



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