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Episode 106 The Singing Slayer of the South

Kenneth Neu loved two things: music and himself. He was a talented singer and dreamed of becoming a star with his name in newspapers and his voice on the radio. Neu would get his wish in the 1930s when people from New York City to New Orleans heard his name on radio reports and saw his name and photos printed in newspapers. The headlines featured news that he had confessed to two murders.

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Louis Kenneth Neu, known as Kenneth Neu, was born in Queens, New York in 1910. When Kenneth was six years old his family moved to Savannah Georgia. Tragically, within a few years, his mother died. His father remarried and there was tension at home. Kenneth and his stepmother were constantly at odds and by the time he was 13 there were concerns about his mental health.

He was said to exhibit extreme behaviors. His father believed the Army could help but soon after he enlisted Neu suffered a head injury when he dove in shallow water during a training exercise. Within two months Neu was discharged into the custody of his father due to the Army classifying him as unfit for duty because of his “permanent psychosis”. Neu returned to Savannah in 1927 and within weeks was confined at the Georgia Lunatic Asylum at Milledgeville where he remained for two years.

Neu’s father, Louis, later explained the decision to confine his son at the asylum was difficult but had to happen because his son was “unquestionably mentally unsound”. Doctors at Milledgeville told Mr. Neu hat his son could be cured but he doubted it saying “His inability to control his temper is one of the evidences of his insanity.”

When Kenneth Neu walked out of the Milledgeville asylum he left Georgia and by late 1932 we know he was married to a woman named Cecile and living in Key West, Florida with their two children. In early 1933 Kenneth and Cecile were caught stealing a car. When officers moved in to arrest them, the couple put on a little impromptu song and dance show in the street in front of police.

Despite that display of unity, the couple had been struggling with their relationship. Kenneth was known to sleep around on Cecile and had been diagnosed with syphilis. A few months after their arrest, Kenneth abandoned his family to pursue his dream of becoming a star.

Kenneth Neu was 26 years old with dark hair and eyes and movie-star good looks that made women swoon…especially when he turned on that southern charm. He used his good looks and charm to get what he wanted. Within months of splitting with his wife he would charm a married woman into leaving her family and murder two men.

That’s the just beginning of the story of Kenneth Neu who would be dubbed The Singing Slayer of the South.

Episode Photos

Kenneth Neu Photo: Find A Grave
Kenneth Neu “The Singing Slayer” behind bars in Louisiana Photo: Owensboro Messenger
Kenneth Neu (left) dances with with Cecile after stealing a car in 1933
Lawrence Shead Photo: Monroe-Star
Sheffield Clark Photo: Find A Grave

Episode Sources

Theater Manager Found Murdered. The Wilmington Morning News. September 11, 1933
Crooner Held for Murder Pens Poems in Jail Cell. The Shreveport Times. September 23, 1933
Neu’s Defense at N.O. is Insanity. The Alexandria Town Talk. December 13, 1933
State Demands Death for Penalty for Slayer. The Monroe-Star News. December 15, 1933
Night Club Singer Goes to N.O. Gallows Today. The Shreveport Times February 1, 1935
Girl Pays for Neu’s Funeral. The Alexandria Town Talk. February 2, 1935
State v. Neu, 180 La. 545, 157 So. 105 (La. 1934). Casetext
Is Gay Panic Still An Excuse For Murder In The Courtroom? Oxygen True Crime. August 20, 2019

Episode Music

Loneliest Road in America by Jesse Gallagher Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution

Slow Hammers by Kevin MacLeod. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Source: http://incompetech.com
Theme Song “Dark & Troubled” by Pantherburn. Special thanks to Phillip St Ours for permission for use