Skeleton in the Chimney

Sep 3, 1989 – Madison, WI
The bones of a male cross-dresser were found at the bottom of a chimney at Good 'n Loud Music, 5225 University Ave.

Workmen opened the chimney to find a pile of bones and clothes and shoes that indicate the victim was a female. Tests later prove the victim was a slender man dressed as a woman.

The clothing: sleeveless paisley dress with matching belt, button-down oxford shirt, White Stag brand shaggy-pile sweater, low-heeled, pointed shoes, socks. He carried an extra pair of socks and wore no underclothing. Also with the bones and clothes, an “iron cross'” medallion, a butter knife and a pocket comb.

The most likely theory is the cross dresser, perhaps a male prostitute, surprised someone who was angry enough to murder him and stuff the body down the chimney. The only sign of injury to the bones is a crushed lower pelvis, which indicates the genitalia of the victim were stomped on before he was shoved into the chimney.

He may have been in the chimney for a month, or for two years. The tube in which the skeleton was found is 12 inches in diameter and is eight feet underground.

It was never determined who the man was. About 20 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall with brown hair and an overbite.

The case was featured on national television, Chimney Bones – “Hard Copy” November 13, 1989

The face was reconstructed by Smithsonian experts


Dec 14, 2010 – Wisconsin State Journal – Madison, WI
The remains of a slender man in women's clothes have cooled for 21 years at the Dane County morgue, unidentified since he was found at the bottom of a chimney at a music store on University Avenue.


John Peyton Cooke put this "skeleton story" and the "drifter-murderer story" together and fashioned a novel, “The Chimney Sweeper,” (Mysterious Press, 1995) that takes place in a city called “Isthmus City.” The lakes in this fictional city have Indian names.