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Authors: John Douglas,Mark Olshaker

Tags: #Mystery, #Non-Fiction, #Autobiography, #Crime, #Historical, #Memoir

The Cases That Haunt Us

BOOK: The Cases That Haunt Us
2.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

To the victims
of all the
unsolved violent crimes
this book is dedicated
with respect and love.

They must never be forgotten
nor their cause abandoned.

Authors’ Note

s usual, we are indebted to many people for making this book possible:

—Our brilliant and insightful editor, Lisa Drew, always there for us.

—Our agent and close friend, Jay Acton, who has shaped our writing careers and everything that goes with them.

—Ann Hennigan, dauntless and intrepid Mindhunters research coordinator, who makes sure we know what we need to.

—Katherine Johnston Ramsland, Ph.D., accomplished author in her own right, who researched and worked up these cases for us and then played the role of local law enforcement agency to John’s mindhunting.

—Jake Klisivitch, Lisa’s assistant and the one who kept us on track and put together all the pieces.

—Martin Fido, distinguished and prolific author, scholar, criminologist, and now good friend, for his extraordinary contributions to the Jack the Ripper case and our understanding of it, as well as his general good counsel.

—Mark W. Falzini, New Jersey State Police archivist, for his hugely valuable help on the Lindbergh kidnapping case.

—Leonard Rebello, Fall River historian, for equally valuable assistance on the Borden case, photos, and generosity in reviewing the Borden chapter.

—Donald Rumbelow, another of the foremost Ripper experts, for his wonderful book and profound personal insights.

—Paul Cardalucci and the other teachers, staff, and residents of High-fields school, formerly the Lindbergh house, Hopewell, New Jersey, for their gracious hospitality and fascinating tour.

—John Ross, curator of the Museum of Crime, the famous “Black Museum,” New Scotland Yard; writer Kris Radish; Martha and Sally McGinn and the staff of the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, Fall River, Massachusetts, for all of their consideration and kindness.

And, as always,

—Carolyn C. Olshaker, without whose help … well, we all know the rest.


June 2000


How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains,
however improbable
, must be the truth?

The Sign of Four


n its most essential level, criminology is about why people do the things they do; that is, it is about the human condition. And of all the millions of horrendous crimes that have been committed over the years, certain criminal cases seem to have lives of their own. Despite the passage of time, they continue their hold on our collective imagination, and our collective fears. For some reason, each of these cases and the stories surrounding them touches something deep in that human condition—because of the personalities involved, the senseless depravity of the crime, the nagging and persistent doubts about whether justice was actually done, or the tantalizing fact that no one was caught. In any event, the case remains a fascinating and perplexing mystery and gets to the core of how we see ourselves as human beings and our relationship to society.

Each of the cases we’ll be examining in this book has remained extremely controversial. And each of these cases contains some universal truth at its base to which we can all relate. Taken together, they present a panorama of human behavior under extreme stress and an inevitable commentary on good and evil, innocence and guilt, expectation and surprise.

Through the cases we’ll examine, we hope to show the uses, benefits, and limitations of modern behavioral profiling and criminal investigative analysis as practiced by the behavioral science units of the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime at the
Academy in Quantico, Virginia. The operational division that actually does the profiling and case consultations has undergone several changes of name and designation. At the time that I was its chief until my retirement in 1995, it was known as the Investigative Support Unit, or
. Sometimes, we can go a long way in determining the identity of an unknown offender. Sometimes, we can only say who it is not. Sometimes, we can’t do either. But we’ve greatly improved our ability to interpret forensic evidence from a behavioral standpoint. Had the discipline been around at the time of the earliest cases in this book, I believe we would have solved them and delivered the offenders to justice.

We will be focusing on several key themes that will be familiar to readers of our previous books. One is motive: why an individual decided to do what he did and how we try to determine that. Another is the evolution and development of the criminal: you don’t just wake up one morning and commit any of these crimes without prior behavioral indicators and a specific precipitating stressor. A third is postoffense behavior: how an individual who has committed a serious crime may be expected to act and react afterward. All of these factors will go into our evaluations.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Are we going to be able to “solve” each of these crimes that have tantalized and eluded experts for years, decades, or in two instances, more than a century?

Frankly, that’s doubtful.

What we are going to do is to approach each one to some extent differently than it’s been approached in the past. We’re going to look at and examine each one as I would have as a profiler and criminal investigative analyst for the
. We’re going to use the crimes and crime-scene evidence to indicate the type of individual we should be looking for. Then we’ll evaluate the subjects—those suspected, accused, and/or convicted of the crime—to see how well they fit in.

In much of the revisionist-theory industry surrounding these cases, writers tend to decide what they think and then employ the evidence to support that theory. Then they essentially challenge skeptics to prove a negative. Among the examples of this phenomenon, which will become clear as you read on:

—Why couldn’t Mary Kelly’s estranged husband have killed four of her friends to scare her into getting back with him, then killed her when she would not, and blamed it all on some mythical Jack the Ripper?

—Why couldn’t Emma Borden have secretly come back, snuck into her house, and killed her parents?

—Why couldn’t Patsy Ramsey have killed her daughter in a rage if she discovered the child was being molested by Patsy’s husband? And why couldn’t John Ramsey have been a molester?

Despite absolutely no evidence for any of these suppositions, despite a feeding frenzy of character investigation in all three cases, facts become almost irrelevant to certain “analysts.”

“It could have happened that way” is good enough for some theorists. It won’t be good enough for us. When there is a discrepancy in the evidence or more than one version of the same set of facts, we’ll acknowledge that and see what we can do with it. Whatever we can determine or whatever we fail to determine, we’re going to let the evidence lead us, not the other way around.

Okay? Then let’s get started.

Jack The Ripper

n the dark realm of serial killers, this is ground zero: the point from which virtually all history and all discussions begin.

By modern standards, the ghostly predator who haunted the shadowy streets of London’s East End between August and November of 1888 was nothing much to write home about. Sadly, many of his successors—people I and my colleagues have had to hunt—have been far more devastatingly productive in the number of lives they took, and even the gruesome creativity with which they took them. But none other has so quickly captured and so long dominated the public’s fascination as Jack the Ripper: the Whitechapel Murderer, the personification of mindless brutality, of nameless, motiveless evil.

Why this one? Why him (although some still steadfastly maintain it was a her)? There are several reasons. For one, the crimes—a series of fatal stabbings that escalated into total mutilation—were concentrated in a small geographic area, directed at a specific type of preferred victim. For another, though there had been isolated sexually based killings in England and the European continent in the past, this was the first time most Victorians had ever faced or had to deal emotionally with such a phenomenon. Add to this a social reform movement and a newly energetic and outspoken press eager to call attention to the appalling living conditions in the East End, and you have all the ingredients for what became, literally, one of the biggest crime stories of all time.

The reasons why these murders continue to fascinate above all others, even in this modern age with our seemingly endless succession of “crimes of the century,” are equally strong, though, as we will quickly learn, often based on misimpression. In spite of their barbarism, they represent a real-life mystery from the era of Sherlock Holmes—the bygone romantic era of high Victorian society, gaslights and swirling London fog, though where the killings actually took place had little real relationship to Victorian splendor, and each crime was actually committed on a night without fog. On only one of the nights was it even raining. In fact, at the same time the Ripper murders were terrorizing the desperate East End, a melodrama based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s
The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
was thrilling audiences at the Lyceum Theatre in the fashionable and comfortable West End. Together these two events, one safely fanciful and the other horrifyingly real, gave many their first dawning awareness of the potential for inherent evil in so-called ordinary or normal people.

And despite a tremendous allocation of manpower and resources on the parts of two police forces at the time, and the efforts of countless “Ripperologists” in the more than 110 years since then, the crimes remain unsolved, tantalizing us with their profound mystery (though if we were working them today, I feel confident we could crack them in relatively short order). Some of the suspects and motives are very “sexy”—far out of the range of the normal serial killer—including not only the royal physician but also the two men in direct line to the throne!

And as important as any other reason for the continuing fascination is that powerfully evocative and terrifying name by which the unknown subject—or
, as we refer to him in my business—was called. Although here again, I maintain that this was not the identity he chose for himself.

But whatever the misconceptions or qualifications, we have to acknowledge that Jack the Ripper created the myth, the evil archetype, of the serial killer.

As a criminal investigative analyst and the first full-time profiler for the
, I’d often speculated about the identity of Jack the Ripper. But it wasn’t until 1988, the hundredth anniversary of the Whitechapel murders, that I actually approached the case as I would one that was brought to me at the Investigative Support Unit at Quantico from a local law enforcement agency.

The occasion was a two-hour television program,
The Secret Identity ofJack the Ripper
, set to be broadcast live from Los Angeles in October and hosted by British actor, writer, and director Peter Ustinov, with feeds from experts in London at the crime scenes themselves and at Scotland Yard, the headquarters of London’s Metropolitan Police. When the producers approached me about participating in the program and constructing a profile of the killer, I decided it was worth a try for a couple of reasons. First, I thought the profile might be useful in training new agents. Second, it’s difficult to resist matching wits, even a century later, with the most famous murderer in history. And third, since it was a hundred years after the fact, no negative consequences were possible other than making a fool of myself on national television, a fear I’d long since gotten over. Unlike with the scores of “real” cases I was dealing with every day, no one was going to die if I was wrong or gave the police bad information. More than a decade later, I still believe in the analysis I did, with an interesting and important addition, which we’ll get to later.

I captioned the profile the way I would an actual one that would become part of a case file:






, like most government agencies, is addicted to acronyms. The one on the last line,
, stands for National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, the overall program established in 1985 and located at the
Academy to encompass a bunch of other acronyms including, but not limited to, the
, or Behavioral Science Unit (teaching and research);
, the Investigative Support Unit, which carries out the actual consulting, profiling, and criminal investigative analysis; and
, the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program computer database on multiple offenders. During my tenure as chief of
, we and other operational entities, such as
, the Hostage Rescue Team, were pulled in under the umbrella of
, the Critical Incident Response Group. And after I retired in 1995, my unit was, for a time, absorbed into a new group,
, the Child Abduction and Serial Crimes Unit. Anyway, you get the idea.

BOOK: The Cases That Haunt Us
2.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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