Earle Leonard Nelson (né Ferral; May 12, 1897 – January 13, 1928), also known in the media as the "Gorilla Man," the "Gorilla Killer," and the "Dark Strangler," was an American serial killer, rapist, and necrophile. He was the first known American serial sex murderer of the twentieth century. Born and raised in San Francisco, California by his devoutly Pentecostal grandmother, Nelson exhibited bizarre behavior as a child, which was compounded by head injuries he sustained in a bicycling accident at age ten. After committing various minor offenses in early adulthood, he was institutionalized in Napa for a time. Nelson began committing numerous rapes and murders in February 1926, primarily in the West Coast cities of San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. In late 1926, he moved east, committing multiple rapes and murders in several Midwestern and East Coast cities before moving north into Canada, raping and killing a teenage girl in Winnipeg, Manitoba. After committing his second murder in Winnipeg, he was arrested by Canadian authorities and convicted of both murders, and sentenced to death. He was executed by hanging in Winnipeg in 1928. In undertaking his crimes, Nelson had a modus operandi: Most of his victims were middle-aged landladies, many of whom he would find through "room for rent" advertisements. Posing as a mild-mannered and charming Christian drifter, Nelson used the pretext of renting a room in the landladies' boardinghouses to make contact with them before attacking. Each of his victims were killed via strangulation, and many were raped after death. His penultimate victim, a 14-year-old girl named Lola Cowan, was the only known victim to be significantly mutilated after death. Nelson's crime spree, which consists of 22 known murders, made him the most prolific serial killer in American history until the discovery of Dean Corll's crimes in 1973, and was a source of inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's 1943 film Shadow of a Doubt.