Leon Czolgosz (May 5, 1873 – October 29, 1901) was an American former steel worker, of Polish descent, and is responsible for the assassination of U.S. President William McKinley, introduced in Season 7 of Murdoch Mysteries portrayed by Goran Stjepanovic.


Leon Czolgosz was deeply affected by the economic problems and was often without a job. He eventually joined a radical group known as Sila where he became interested in anarchism.

In 1898, after witnessing a series of similar strikes (many ending in violence), and possible ill from a respiratory disease, Czolgosz went to live with his father who had bought a fifty-five acre farm the year before in Warrensville, Ohio. He did little to assist in the running of the farm and was constantly at odds with his stepmother and with his family's Roman Catholic beliefs. It was later recounted that throughout his life he had never shown any interest in friendship or romantic relationships, and was bullied during his childhood by peers.

He became a recluse and spent much of his time alone reading socialist and anarchist newspapers. He was impressed after hearing a speech by the political radical Emma Goldman, whom he met for the first time during one of her lectures in Cleveland in May 1901. After the lecture Czolgosz approached the speakers' platform and asked for reading recommendations. On the afternoon of July 12, 1901 he visited her at the home of Abraham Isaak, publisher of the newspaper Free Society, in Chicago and introduced himself as Fred Nieman {No man}, but Goldman was on her way to the train station. He only had enough time to explain to her about his disappointment in Cleveland's socialists, and for Goldman to introduce him to her anarchist friends who were at the train station. She later wrote a piece in defence of Czolgosz.

Czolgosz believed there was a great injustice in American society, an inequality which allowed the wealthy to enrich themselves by exploiting the poor. He concluded that the reason for this was the structure of government itself. Then he learned of a European crime which changed his life: On July 29, 1900, King Umberto I of Italy was shot dead by anarchist Gaetano Bresci. Bresci told the press that he had decided to take matters into his own hands for the sake of the common man.

The assassination shocked and stimulated the American anarchist movement, and Czolgosz is thought to have consciously imitated Bresci. New York police officer Joseph Petrosino believed that the same group had previously targeted President McKinley, but his warnings were useless, because McKinley ignored them.[20]

On August 31, 1901, Czolgosz traveled to Buffalo, New York, the site of the Pan-American Exposition, where he rented a room in Nowak's Hotel at 1078 Broadway.[21]

On September 6, Czolgosz went to the exposition armed with a .32 caliber Iver Johnson "Safety Automatic" revolver he had purchased four days earlier for $4.50. He approached McKinley, who had been standing in a receiving line inside the Temple of Music, greeting the public for ten minutes. At 4:07 P.M., Czolgosz reached the front of the line. McKinley extended his hand. Czolgosz slapped it aside and shot the President in the abdomen twice, at point-blankrange: the first bullet ricocheted and lodged in McKinley's jacket; the other seriously wounded him. McKinley died eight days later of an infection which had spread from that wound.

Members of the crowd immediately attacked Czolgosz, as McKinley slumped backward. The President said, "Go easy on him, boys. He could not have known." The crowd chained Czolgosz before the 4th Brigade, National Guard Signal Corps and police intervened. He was held in a cell at Buffalo's 13th Precinct house until he was moved to police headquarters.

Shortly thereafter he was tried for first-degree murder and executed by electric chair.

Appearances and Mentions

The Spy Who Came Up to the Cold

  • Leon first appears in line with the other people to meet President William McKinley. He seems to be nervous, and quiet. The president comments he hopes Leon isn't hurt, and maybe he should've given his lucky flower to him instead of the little girl. Instead, Leon quickly draws his gun and shoots the president, stunning the crowd.
  • Shortly afterwards, Leon is arrested. His actions cause both governments to be worried that his co-conspirators will hide in Canada to escape the law. Because of his anarchist views, many possible anarchists are rounded up and arrested in Toronto.
  • Emma Goldman reveals she did meet the assassin, but didn't know what he was planning to do.


Murdoch Mysteries Season 10
Great Balls of Fire, Part 1Great Balls of Fire, Part 2A Study in PinkConcocting A KillerJagged Little PillBend It Like BrackenreidPainted LadiesWeekend at Murdoch'sExcitable ChapThe Devil InsideA Murdog MysteryThe MissingMr. Murdoch's NeighbourhoodFrom Murdoch to EternityHades Hath No FuryMaster LovecraftHot Wheels of ThunderHell to Pay
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