Friday, May 18, 2012
Harvey Carignan, also known as Harvey the Hammer or the Want-Ad Killer, was born on this date in 1927 in Fargo, North Dakota. Definitely one of North Dakota’s less publicized and celebrated sons, Carignan would go on to kill and brutalize at least five, and possibly as many as eighteen, victims.
Born to a single mother, Carignan spent much of his childhood in the homes of North Dakotan relatives. He lived with an aunt and uncle for a time in Cavalier, with a grandmother in Williams, and with another aunt near Fargo. At the age of eleven, he began stealing and lying, and his mother attempted unsuccessfully to have him placed into an orphanage. She was, however, able to place him into the reform school in Mandan, where he lived until the age of eighteen. He immediately enlisted with the U.S. Army upon his release, and was stationed in Anchorage, Alaska. While there, he attacked two women, Laura Showatler and Dorcas Callen. Callen escaped, but Showatler did not. He was charged with the murder and attacks in a U.S. Court Marshal, and was sentenced to death by hanging. However, his sentence was overturned on appeal in 1951 and Carignan spent the next eight years as a prisoner on Alcatraz.
Within a year after his release, he was back in prison for burglarizing and attacking a Minnesota woman. Carignan spent the next fifteen years in and out of prison, charged mainly with petty burglary and assault. He moved to Seattle and was linked to three different murders, but was never charged. One of the murders occurred after a 15-year-old girl responded to a help-wanted ad, which later earned him the ‘Want-Ad killer’ nickname.
After two failed marriages, he returned to Minnesota, where he was linked to several attacks and murders. Finally, in 1974, he was identified in a line-up by a survivor of one of his brutal attacks and quickly arrested.
During subsequent trials and investigations, the true toll of Carignan’s brutality was discovered, as authorities linked him to various disappearances and bodies. He was ultimately charged with several counts of assault and three murders, which were just a sampling of his total crimes. During trial, Carignan claimed that God had told him to murder women. He was sentenced to a total of 150 years in Minnesota prisons.
Dakota Datebook written by Jayme Job
Rule, Ann. 1983 The Want-Ad Killer. Signet/Penguin Books: New York.