Edward Joseph Leonski (12 December 1917 - 9 November 1942) was a serial killer who committed his crimes in Australia, although Leonski himself was American.
Born in New York he was called up for the US Army in February 1941 and arrived in Melbourne on February 2, 1942.
On May 3, 1942, Ivy Violet McLeod, 40, was found dead in Albert Park, Melbourne. She had been beaten and strangled, and because she was found to be in possession of her purse it was evident that robbery was not the motive.
Just six days later, 31-year-old Pauline Thompson was strangled after a night out. She was last seen in the company of a young man who was described as having an American accent.
Gladys Hosking, 40, was the next victim, murdered on May 18 while walking home from work at the Chemistry Library at Melbourne University. A witness said that, on the night of the killing, a disheveled American man had approached him asking for directions, seemingly out of breath and covered with mud. This description matched the individual Pauline Thompson was seen with on the night of her murder, as well as the descriptions given by several women who had survived recent attacks.
These survivors and other witnesses were able to pick 24-year-old Edward Leonski out of a line-up of American servicemen who were stationed in the city during World War 2. A Private in the 52nd Signal Battalion, Leonski was arrested and charged with three murders.
Leonski confessed to the crimes and was convicted and sentenced to death at an American military court on November 4, 1942. He was hanged at --Hentridge Prison five days later. People who knew him said Leonski was a laid-back and cheerful young man, but prone to heavy drinking.
- The 1986 film Death of a Soldier is based on Leonski.