Chapter 20



The Hilsborean 1931
[Tampa Florida, 1931 High School Year book]
The Hilsborean 1931
Victor Licata (1931) Hisborean
Hilsborean 1931 Providence
Providence Licata (1931) Hisborean

  • This picture shows Victor in what can only be considered a state of perfect health, not the 113 lbs.   Victor that we’ve come to know from his mug-shots.   And seeing as he was already under psychiatric treatment for a year or so before the murders, it is thus obvious that whatever medical condition happened, it happened within a very short period of time after this picture was taken.

  • Also note that because Providence was (by everyone’s account) at least a couple of years older than Victor, there is a tendency to jump on the idea that she must be a senior, while Victor was a freshman.   But we have it on good information that Providence was held back for a period of time.   As she was (by credible accounts) 22 years of age at the time of the murders (1933), that would mean she was around 19 or 20 in this 1931 year book photo.

  • Unfortunately, we do not know if Victor was a Senior or Junior, or sophomore or whatever.   In other words, we can’t use the info to ascertain his age, so it still remains a mystery.

LOCAL POLICE CORRUPTION - Tampa Florida Police Department:
The following (internal memo) was found via the Harry Anslinger archival collection, Penn State University Library:

The Hilsborean 1931
The Hilsborean 1931

And reads as follows:

Box 4, File 5 from Penn State University, Harry Anslinger Collection
Title - Local Police Corruption, 1940
"At Tampa, Florida, while Inspector Lanigan and an informer were making buys, the peddlers asked the Chief of Detectives to pick them up and find out who they were.   Lanigan gave the name of Hatfield of West Virginia, whereupon the Chief of Detectives faked a wire from the Chief of Police at Wheeling, West Virginia, which stated that Hatfield was wanted for murder.   This forced Lanigan to disclose his identity, after which the case was abortive."
And while no mention of W. Dodge Bush is made, one can only wonder how many Chiefs of Detectives Tampa, Florida had at that time?   And here, all one can say is IF the above Bureau of Narcotic's memo is true, then it appears the Mr. Dodge Bush was up to his neck in corrupt practices.
While the Chief of Detectives was NOT ACTUALLY MENTIONED BY NAME, given the era (1940), the location and the fact that the police official in question was (quoted) as being "The Chief of Detectives.” This pretty much narrows it down, pretty much to one and only one individual.   Which now brings on the question, why didn't Anslinger press the issue?   Answer, because Mr. Bush was instrumental in keeping the myth of Victor Licata going.   Nuff-said.

For those of you who have not yet had a chance to look over the book itself, the dog in question, according to Det. W. Dodge Bush (Chief Tampa Detective on the Licata case), played a key role in solving the case.   However, it is my contention that the Dog (per say) is a total work of fiction on his part.   Contrived by him solely to account for the fact that at least one of the crime scene photos simply didn’t match his own accounts of what happened, nor the other evidence.

Example:   As can be seen below:
Crime since photo showing blood all over the Center of the room
House sketch
The same room as depicted in newspaper reporters at the time, (The X) shows where Mike Licata’s body was found pined up against the wall

Just how does one get a lot of blood all over the center of the room, when the body was found pined against the wall (right diagram)?   I may not be a Cop but simple logic and reason dictate that something is wrong with this situation.   Something that the crime reporter (at the time) interviewing the chief detective for the ‘Inside Detective Magazine’ article must have also noticed.   Something to which must have caused Mr. Bush to then hit the panic button.   Simply put he had to find some way of explaining the whole situation, but how?   Bush’s calculating mind must have reached out and found a quick solution.

Ah, Ha, --- a Dog was also there in the house, yeah, that was it, a dog, and thus was born a new legend.   But there was one problem, what if that noise reporter wanted to see a picture of it, then what?   The solution was also simple, our good chief of detectives just grabs one from somewhere, probably in desperation the first one he could find of a dog that seemed to fit in with his newly concocted story.   After all, all the witnesses to the crime were either dead or in insane asylums, so who was to tell.

Det. Bush’s photo, of the Dog
Australian Cattle Dog
TYPICAL HEELER DOG [picture courtesy -

But as Arnold Schwarzenegger might have put it; -- BIG MISTAKE.   In fact, one could almost laugh at this one.   According to Mr. Bush’s own explanation of the events * the Licata family dog was at least part police dog (meaning at least part German Shepherd), and granted the Dog (at first glance) does indeed look about right.   However, upon closer examination of the photo one begins to notice a big, BIG PROBLEM.

While not being a dog expert myself, just about every dog expert I have talked with, claims that Mr. Bush’s dog photo is in fact an "Australian Cattle Dog” more commonly known in America as a “Heeler.” A dog having NO German Shepherd anywhere in him.   But instead, is a cross between the Dingo (some kind of animal native to Australia) and a Dalmatian (such as in the movie, 101-Dalmations), and probably a few other breeds, but NO German Shepherd anywhere in there.   In addition, as if to add insult to injury, Heelers were NOT, repeat, not introduced into the United States until some were brought over in 1930; Meaning the chances of one of these babies landing in Tampa Florida was not very high.   And while it remains a mystery where Det. Bush got the photo, again, it probably was the first one that he could grab at the time.

  • Oral reports from neighbors, relatives and neighbors who still living in the Tampa area, unequivocally state that the Licata Family did not have a family dog.

  • Other than Det. Bush’s photo, there is NO other evidence that such a dog existed.   No veterinary statements, no police K-9 acknowledgement
* As per Inside Detectives Magazine, to which the whole article can be found at:

What’s in a picture, here I’ll give you some clues of my own doing:

Victor Licata, norma
Hilsborean 1931 Providence
[My own creations, however back in the 1930’s, well let’s just say that I wouldn’t be the only one playing “photo-shop” with them.  

NOTE:   How big was Victor Licata?
Well, he was 5 foot, 8.5 inches, and weighed only 113 lbs., at the time, yet you wouldn’t know it by the pictures that were being circulated; --- or more accurately put, “first photo-shopped” and then circulated.   With the obvious intent of making Victor look a lot bigger than he actually was.

photo shop Victor
Tipton Daily Tribune 1933-10-25p3
[This I assure you in no way could have been Victor]

Daily Herald 1933-10-22p4
Normal view DailyHerald1933-10-22p4
Evening News Journal 1933-10-21p1
Shorter, just a little, just enough to distort the photo, Evening News Journal 1933-10-21p1


According to Harry Anslinger
“In Florida, police found a youth – staggering about in a human slaughterhouse.   With an ax he had killed his father, mother, two brothers, and a sister.   He had no recollection of having committed this multiple crime.   Ordinarily a sane, rather quiet young man, he had become crazed from smoking marijuana.”   -- AMERICAN MAGAZINE July 1937 -“Marihuana the Assassin of Young” by Harry Anslinger
Which leads its readers into believing that it was the “Marihuana” that led to Victor’s insanity.   And while the very concept of such a thing today would be considered ludicrous, still back in the 1930’s such a concept was believed to be the truth.   After all weren’t our narcotics police saying it was so and would they lie to us?

However, as can be seen from these wire service reports below, the evidence clearly shows that EVERYONE at the time knew that Victor had been mentally ill for some time.
(United Press Wire Service)- Oct 17, 1933
“He was known to have been insane, they said, but the slain family had refused to place him in an institution.”

(Associated Press Wire Service) - Oct 17, 1933
"Police Chief A. Logan said Victor Licata had been under the care of physicians for two years* and that members of the family had expressed fear for their lives."
[* - Probably incorrect, 1 year would have been more likely]

(INS WIRE SERVICE) - Oct 17, 1933
" . . . the youth who was found in hiding and who has been under treatment for symptoms of insanity; . . . "
Thus, so much for the myth created by Anslinger, and as for the Marihuana, there was never any proof of that and Victor toward his dying day, insisted that he had never used it.   And there was never any evidence that he had ever done so.


According to the United Press:
(United Press Wire Service)- Oct 18, 1933
Among his victims were his parents who several years ago successfully defeated efforts to place him in an asylum, claiming that he would be better at home.   Authorities had attempted to place him in an institution after he had almost killed a policeman as the youth was arrested for smoking cigarettes containing Marajuana.
At the present time, we simply don’t have enough facts to either dispute or validate this accusation.   Even the police (Tampa, Fla.) seem to have conveniently lost all written records of the said event.   However, it seems logical that had Victor actually attempted the killing of a police officer that no judge (back then) worth his salt would have allowed a mentally ill Victor back out on the streets.   Also, Victor himself (to his dying day) insisted that he had never used Mariajuana.

But again, the facts needed to reach a proper conclusion are simply not there.   No police records, no current to the incident, newspaper accounts, nothing.   Thus, we must ask the reader to delay judgement.

I do not wish to involve myself in what is known as “name-calling” activities.   As such, it is enough to say that there are those who have not come to the same interpretation of the facts as I have. Specifically, that there was “no serial axe murderer” etc. *   Meaning (by implication) that it must have been Victor who murdered his whole family, meaning (again by implication) that it must have been the Marihuana that caused his mental illness, meaning (yet again by implication) that Anslinger and his narcs must have been right all along.   --- Well, let’s just look at the facts:
  • First, granted, people have been committing acts of murder since Cain killed his brother Able.   However, here we are dealing with a string of killings, all committed within a certain time frame, within a certain geography, etc., and all “seemingly” without any kind of motive involved.

  • Then there was the (Modus Operandi) or M.O., which consisted of someone (or if you believe it was a mob hit, some group) would enter a home in the middle of the night and murdering everyone there (man, women, children) in their sleep.   A methodology making it all but impossible for copycat killers to imitate.

  • Then there was the simple fact that all the (so-called axe) blows, each and every one of them, all landed on their victims in the exact the same place.
People, I may not be a police detective but in the words of Bob Dylan, “You don’t need the weather channel to know which way the wind is blowing.”
*   Typing in the keywords “Victor Licata Innocent” in almost any internet search engine will give the reader a pretty good idea of what’s going on.


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