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Katherine Ramsland: What if Jack the Ripper Lived with You?

It seems that after many disturbing crimes, the family, friends, or neighbors, in shock at what happened, often say: “But he seemed so nice. So normal. We had no idea.”

Happens all the time.

My friend Katherine Ramsland addresses this in an excellent new blog post in Shadow Boxing on the Psychology Today site.

 

Ripperexhibit

 

What if Jack the Ripper Lived with You? by Dr, Katherine Ramsland

An early Ripper tale depicts the role of denial in reframing the obvious.

I’ve long known about an early fictional story based on the murders attributed to Jack the Ripper, but only recently read it. The Lodger, by Marie Belloc Lowndes, was published as a short story in January 1911 in McClure’s magazine. Later, she lengthened it into a novella that focused on the female landlady. Alfred Hitchcock changed it somewhat to turn it into a film.

Reportedly, Lowndes was inspired by an anecdote she heard at a dinner party about an elderly couple who were certain that Jack the Ripper had lodged with them around the time of the murders late in 1888. During the Ripper spree, Lowndes had been a young aspiring writer. Although she was in Paris, not London, at the time, she followed the sensational news coverage. Years later, she used the unique context to write a story that drew out gender and class issues in London society. She also shows a keen eye for subtle psychological twists.

The plot is basic: The Buntings, an aging couple with financial problems, are overjoyed when a single man arrives and decides to rent several rooms. Without this stroke of good luck, they would have starved. The lodger, Mr. Sleuth, is an odd duck, but Mrs. Bunting can overlook this as long as he pays and doesn’t cause trouble. Her accommodating attitude foreshadows more dramatic allowances to come.

Mrs. Bunting attends to Sleuth, while her husband spends his time reading newspapers, especially when stories pop up about “The Avenger,” a Ripperesque killer of alcoholic women. Mr. Bunting has a friend on the police force, so he gets behind-the-scenes details. This also gives the author a chance to describe Scotland Yard’s Black Museum, founded in 1875.

Criminological museums popped up in several large cities during the late nineteenth century. Objects and pictures were exhibited to showcase theories about crime and its perpetrators. Into these museums went weapons, poisons, blood samples, fingerprints, hangman’s nooses, morgue photos, crime reconstructions, handwriting samples, police memorabilia, and even human remains.

Mrs. Bunting despises her husband’s obsession with the unsolved Avenger murders, but she begins to suspect that their lodger might be the guy. This is where the story’s genius lies. The more she discovers, the more she covers for him. She even ventures out to a coroner’s inquest – something only vulgar people did – to discover what the police actually know. (Great period detail!)

Mrs. Bunting knows the lodger has a satchel but she cannot find it when she cleans his rooms. She spots red liquid seeping from a locked cabinet, but accepts his hasty and implausible explanation. She begins to act in uncharacteristic ways, including lying to her husband. Each time she discovers something that implicates Mr. Sleuth as a killer, she tones it down.

In part, she needs to feel safe in her own home, and in part, she needs the money. If he’s arrested, she faces poverty.

In this tale you get some early criminal profiling (a “mission killer”), and even a glimpse of Madame Tussaud’s famous wax museum. But most interesting is the way Lowndes so subtly shows how anyone might accommodate the behavior of someone later unmasked as a serial killer.

I hear this question all the time. People just cannot believe that in the home of a serial killer there might be innocent parties. But it happens. Even if certain items or behaviors should seem sinister, denial is a powerful mechanism – especially when a personal investment in seeing things in a more flattering light is strong.

The best expression I’ve seen is in Lionel Dahmer’s memoir about his son, Jeffrey. When Jeff lived in his grandmother’s basement, she complained to Lionel twice about disgusting odors. Jeff had an innocent explanation: he experimented with chemicals on chicken parts from a grocery store. Lionel found a nasty-smelling liquid near the garbage cans that he thought was ordinary meat juice. Why would he have concluded that it was human blood?

“I allowed myself to believe Jeff,” Lionel mused in A Father’s Story, “to accept all his answers regardless of how implausible they might seem…. More than anything, I allowed myself to believe that there was a line in Jeff, a line he wouldn’t cross…  My life became an exercise in avoidance and denial.”

He accepted a stolen mannequin as a “prank”, a .357 Magnum as a “target pistol,” a charge of child molestation as an “accident,” and the request for a freezer as a responsible attempt to be economical. Who would have thought it was for dismembered body parts?

The Lodger sheds no light on the Ripper’s identity, but it does portray what can happen when bias and need infect our perception and beliefs.

Visit the original post: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shadow-boxing/201608/what-if-jack-the-ripper-lived-you

And check out Katherine’s recent interview on Crime and Science Radio:

http://www.dplylemd.com/csr-past-details/katherine-ramsland.html

 

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Francis Craig: Another Jack The Ripper Candidate?

Jack

Perhaps the most famous serial killer of all time is Jack the Ripper. Part of his popularity resides in the fact that he has never been positively identified. Many folks, including best-selling author Patricia Cornwell, have made claims that they have uncovered Jack’s identify, but each theory remains controversial. Cornell, among others, named Walter Sickert as the likely Ripper. Other candidates have been John Pizer, George Chapman, and Aaron Kosminski, to name a few.

3 Jacks

Now a new candidate has entered the picture—Francis Craig.

Dr. Wynne Weston-Davies, in his book THE REAL MARY KELLY, postulates that Francis Craig, the estranged husband of Mary Kelly, is the mysterious Jack. Mary was apparently Jack’s fifth and final victim. Weston-Davies suggests that Craig killed all the women when in fact Mary was his intended victim—-the others were to provide cover for the killing of his wife. Well, that has indeed happened before.

Mary Kelly

Mary Kelly

For those who study Jack, Mary Kelly’s murder has always been problematic. She was the only victim killed indoors, in her home, and she was mutilated much more so than were others. It has been suggested that Jack was able to “do more” since he was indoors and less likely to be interrupted in his work. Maybe. It might also mean that the killing of Marry was indeed very personal. More so than his other victims. Such as a spouse might do. So, yes, all the killings could have been done to cover the real target—-Mary Kelly.

Or, perhaps, Craig knew of the other murders—-how could he not if he lived in London at that time?—and seized an opportunity. He could kill his estranged wife and make it look like Jack did it. It’s not like that’s never happened before either.

The overkill of Mary could fit either of these scenarios since her killing seems more personal than the other four. Plans are to exhume her corpse for examination. I doubt much useful will come from this but I hope I’m wrong. Regardless, it will interesting to watch.

 

Jack The Ripper Identified?

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A new book titled Naming Jack The Ripper by Russell Edwards presents information that the author feels solves the famous Jack The Ripper case. The five murder-mutilations that occurred in London’s East End during 1888 have baffled criminologists for over a century. Several suspects have been identified but none have been proven to be the real Ripper. So who is Jack? According to Edwards, it’s Aaron Kosminski, a Polish immigrant who had “mental issues,” was 23 years old at the time of the killings, and who ultimately died in an insane asylum many years later at the age of 53. He never confessed or anything convenient like that, but he has long been one to the prime suspects.

So is he really Jack? Maybe. Here are some articles. Make up your own mind.

Daily Mail UK: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2746321/Jack-Ripper-unmasked-How-amateur-sleuth-used-DNA-breakthrough-identify-Britains-notorious-criminal-126-years-string-terrible-murders.html

Independent UK: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/has-jack-the-rippers-identity-really-been-revealed-using-dna-evidence-9717036.html

Mirror UK: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/jack-ripper-murder-mystery-solved-4177665

 

Jack-the-Ripper-shawl-4

 

Jacqueline The Ripper?

Was Jack the Ripper a woman? Did she kill out of rage over her own inability to have children or perhaps because one of the victims was having an affair with her husband? A new book, JACK THE RIPPER: THE HAND OF A WOMAN, by John Morris, postulates exactly that. It is his belief that the killer was Lizzie Williams (not to be confused with Lizzie Borden), wife of Sir John Williams, himself considered a suspect by many ripper experts.

 

Lizzie Williams

Obviously this crime remains unsolved and the theories are many but the one thing that is known is that during a 10 week period in 1888, Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Kelly all suffered horrible deaths at the hands of a very deranged individual.

Huffington Post Article

Global Post Article

Yahoo News Article

The Mary Sue Article

Birmingham Mail Article

 

Guest Blogger: The French Ripper and the Brilliant Pathologist by Katherine Ramsland

As forensic science was getting a foothold during the 19th century, pathologists worked under tough conditions. Among the fascinating items that science journalist Douglas Starr includes in his new book, The Killer of Little Shepherds (Knopf), are the innovations they used to make their workspace – the corpse – tolerable for an autopsy. For example, bacteria that colonized a decomposing body produced fetid gases, so Paul Brouardel devised a way to clear them out: he would prick the body with numerous small holes and light the escaping gasses. This produced a series of fine blue jets that burned for days. When they disappeared, Brouardel knew he could safely proceed.

As a historian of forensic science and psychology, I’m always happy to find a well-researched book on the subject, and Starr has exhaustively explored the activities and contributions of one of my favorite forensic scientists, French criminalist Alexandre Lacassagne. For context, Starr lays out the crime spree of an infamous serial killer, Joseph Vacher, whom journalists likened to London’s Jack the Ripper.  For authentic material, Starr had perused the files and met the descendants of the nineteenth century’s greatest pathologist, and years or research he’s produced a gripping tale. In addition, he brings attention to just how much the forensic scientists of today resemble their forerunners. “Theirs was the first generation of modern criminologists,” Starr writes, “ and they developed the techniques that characterize forensic science to this day.”

Vacher and Lacassagne

Lacassagne was one of the top innovators in Europe, as he approached crime scenes with a healthy sense of doubt. Too often he saw the effects of investigative tunnel vision that led to hasty resolutions that ruined innocent lives. Like forensic scientists today, Lacassagne and his colleagues were concerned about hired guns on the witness stand, the presentation of scientific material to uneducated juries, the best way to handle evidence, and using the most advanced knowledge and techniques. He kept on eye out for improving conditions and supporting justice.

 

Vacher Crime Scene Sketches:

 

Years before the publication of the first story featuring Sherlock Holmes, Lacassagne exercised full critical examination of the cases on which he consulted. When he suspected that a suicide was actually a staged homicide, for example, he asked colleagues to tell him immediately of recent deaths so he could see whether he could get the decedent’s hand to grip an object as tightly as the “suicide victim” had clutched a gun. A dead hand, he learned, could be positioned to form a loose grip, which tightened with rigor mortis. This weakened the determination of suicide, and with other suspicious factors, it inspired the police to re-open the case. They arrested the victim’s son for murder.

Due to his careful work, prestigious university position and authoritative bearing, Lacassagne became a celebrity consultant. Although his most memorable contributions were in pathology and criminalistics, I was most interested in his innovations for criminology. Lacassagne instigated the earliest criminal autobiographies, encouraging many inmates at Saint-Paul prison to write about themselves. Each week he checked their notebooks, correcting and guiding these men and women toward some revealed insight. Their family histories were full of violence, tension, and disease, which taught him a great deal about the origins and influences of criminality. However, he had no sympathy for malingerers.

Enter Vacher, arrested in 1897. Starr ably alternates his story with Lacassagne’s until they merge for Vacher’s pre-trial assessment. Vacher had terrorized the countryside, picking victims at random for bludgeoning, strangling, and mutilation. Despite how geographically far apart these cases were, common patterns alerted an astute magistrate to the possibility of a single offender. Thus, the country went on high alert. Vacher, a roaming vagabond, confessed to eleven murders, but he was suspected of many more. In his defense, he claimed to suffer from an irresistible impulse.  Having been bitten by a rabid dog when he was a child, he insisted that his blood had been poisoned. His defense team believed his claim of madness.

Lacassagne was the lead examining physician for the prosecution, and he spent five months learning about Vacher’s background, supposed spells of temporary insanity, persecution mania, and trail of violence. In the trial, Lacassagne took the stand in an unruly courtroom, where Vacher shouted at witnesses and challenged anyone who did not believe him. (The courtroom scenes alone make this book worth reading.) Starr presents Lacassagne’s philosophy about the role and demeanor of an expert witness (including how to dress) and shows how the pathologist carefully laid out his opinion to a breathless audience. He’d even made his own crime scene sketches. Even Vacher was impressed.

Lacassagne once said, “Societies have the criminals they deserve.”  While he believed that disease and addiction, passed on to successive generations, could cause mental and physical degeneracy, he thought that poverty, social marginalization, and other factors were also involved. “The criminal is a microbe,” he said, “that proliferates only in a certain environment.”  Still, he knew that psychosis could be faked, and he found Vacher to be a “sanguinary sadist,” i.e., a calculating, bloodthirsty psychopath.

Starr gives both men so much life and dimension that readers will feel as if they’re right there in the courtroom, awaiting the outcome. Vacher holds his own as a belligerent and grandiose serial killer, which provides plenty of tension for the adversarial arena. This book is a must-read for anyone who likes tales about intelligent investigators matching wits against wily offenders. Along the way, you’ll also learn a lot about the birth of forensic science.

Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D., holds graduate degrees in forensic psychology, clinical psychology, and philosophy. Currently, she chairs the Social Sciences Department and teaches forensic psychology and criminal justice at DeSales University in Pennsylvania. She has published over 900 articles and thirty-seven books, including The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds, True Stories of CSI, Beating the Devil’s Game: A History of Forensic Science and Criminal Investigation, The Human Predator: A Historical Chronicle of Serial Murder and Forensic Investigation, The CSI Effect, Inside the Minds of Serial Killers, Inside the Minds of Healthcare Serial Killers, Inside the Minds of Sexual Predators, and Inside the Minds of Mass Murderers. She has been published in ten languages. Her background in forensic studies positioned her to assist former FBI profiler John Douglas on his book, The Cases that Haunt Us, to co-write a book with former FBI profiler, Gregg McCrary, The Unknown Darkness, and to collaborate on A Voice for the Dead with attorney James E. Starrs on his exhumation projects and on a forensic textbook with renowned criminalist Henry C. Lee, The Real World of a Forensic Scientist. She also published The Forensic Science of CSI, The Criminal Mind: A Writer’s Guide to Forensic Psychology, and The Science of Cold Case Files, and has written numerous editorials on breaking forensic cases for The Philadelphia Inquirer. For seven years, she contributed regularly to Court TV’s Crime Library, and now writes a column on historic forensics for The Forensic Examiner, offers cases analysis for the media and speaks internationally about forensic psychology, forensic science, and serial murder. She has appeared on numerous cable network documentaries, as well as such programs as The Today Show, 20/20, Montel Williams, NPR, Larry King Live and E! True Hollywood.

Visit Katherine’s Website

 

Katherine Ramsland reviews MY SECRET LIFE by Jack the Ripper

In a Dublin bookstore a month ago, I spotted a book about Jack the Ripper that suggested yet another new suspect. I couldn’t resist. Every year, it seems, we get a chance to reconsider the case from a different angle. Yet despite the claims of certain authors (with the emphasis on certain), I doubt we’ll ever achieve a definitive resolution to this vexing mystery. At a 2008 conference for die-hard Ripperologists, eminent British historian Martin Fido summed it up: “When the Day of Judgment comes, and Jack the Ripper is asked to come forward and make an account, everyone else will be holding their breath, waiting, wondering, ‘Who is he?’”

I agree, but far be it from me to thwart others who think this long-standing case will one day be solved. With this in mind, I’ll examine this scintillating new theory (spoiler warning): that Red Jack was in fact a nineteenth-century pornographer who penned an immense amount of bawdy material under a pseudonym. Identify the author and you’ll know who the Ripper was.

Jack the Ripper’s Secret Confession, by documentary director David Monaghan and author Nigel Cawthorne (Constable & Robinson, 2010), offers this premise: “Walter,” the author of My Secret Life: The Sex Diary of a Victorian Gentleman, dropped hints throughout about his criminal activities. While the publication date of this eleven-volume sexual memoir is uncertain, the authors claim it was 1888, the same year as the Ripper’s spree. Monaghan states that after he’d seen a victim’s pain while filming a documentary, he reread Walter’s writings from a more victim-centric perspective and noted its similar lack of empathy to the 1894 confession of H. H. Holmes. Then he spotted Walter’s description of a corpse in the Thames and sensed a veiled admission. He was certain that if Scotland Yard had read Walter’s suggestive ramblings they’d have considered him a good Ripper candidate.

Reading only the abridgement, which Grove Press published in two volumes in 1966, one might never see a connection with the Whitechapel murders, but allegedly within the unpublished material locked up in the British Library, the clues were there all along for the astute literary detective. My Secret Life is a sexual autobiography of extreme cruelty, criminality, and depravity. Now available on the Internet, it’s also a record of the shadows of Victorian Society and evidence of Walter’s acquaintance with the type of women who fatally crossed paths with the Ripper. The authors seem to think that Walter penned his confession in erotic code so he could brag about his bloody acts without being tossed in the slammer. That may be so, but it’s not easy to prove.

For the roguish Walter, it all began with a bit of clandestine peeping. Soon, he found cronies in corruption and his sexual addictions acquired sophistication. He became a stalker, debaucher, con artist, rapist, pedophile, predator, sadist, and, perhaps, a killer. For him, women were mere objects for his pleasure – a theme common to gynocidal serial killers. Supposedly, he had a powerful motive: in order to publish his racy memoir anonymously, he had to murder the witnesses (older whores) who’d procured children for his sexual appetites. Such women were plentiful in the streets, so he would view killing one as no real loss. (In this, he would have been like H. H. Holmes, who kept firing construction workers to avoid paying them and to prevent them from seeing how his hotel was actually a torture chamber.)

Monaghan and Cawthorne use a bit of psychology to reveal the suppressed anger in Walter’s descriptions. In fact, like Bundy and others who claimed that an “entity” compelled them, Walter did describe his inner imp. Even so, that’s hardly evidence of a killer instinct. But there’s more. The authors are also suspicious of the fact that Walter never mentions the Ripper, despite mingling with prostitutes during this period of terror – as if he doesn’t want to raise any suspicion about himself. In addition, for his voyeuristic activities he used a long, thin knife to bore holes into walls — the same type of instrument used on some of the Ripper’s victims.

Thus, by weaving together what detectives describe as a totality of circumstances, Monaghan and Cawthorne make their case. It’s not without holes, but for argument’s sake, if Walter is Jack, we need only unmask the anonymous pornographer. However, this task proves as daunting as linking any other suspect to Jack. The authors offer a list of possibilities, much like one would expect in a Ripperology text, but that’s not quite the same as revealing – at last!– the Ripper’s identity.  We don’t learn who Walter was (and it’s not Walter Sickert, for those of you who know the long-running debates), so in the end, the premise doesn’t produce on its promise. Despite specific suggestions, there remain numerous loose ends.

Many serious Ripperologists with their own favored candidates will dismiss this book and perhaps even trash it, but there’s no reason not to indulge the hypothesis. I’ve seen others with even less credibility gather adherents. So, let’s add Walter the pornographer to the list of Ripper candidates. There will probably be another one next year.

Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D., holds graduate degrees in forensic psychology, clinical psychology, and philosophy. Currently, she chairs the Social Sciences Department and teaches forensic psychology and criminal justice at DeSales University in Pennsylvania. She has published over 900 articles and thirty-seven books, including The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds, True Stories of CSI, Beating the Devil’s Game: A History of Forensic Science and Criminal Investigation, The Human Predator: A Historical Chronicle of Serial Murder and Forensic Investigation, The CSI Effect, Inside the Minds of Serial Killers, Inside the Minds of Healthcare Serial Killers, Inside the Minds of Sexual Predators, and Inside the Minds of Mass Murderers. She has been published in ten languages. Her background in forensic studies positioned her to assist former FBI profiler John Douglas on his book, The Cases that Haunt Us, to co-write a book with former FBI profiler, Gregg McCrary, The Unknown Darkness, and to collaborate on A Voice for the Dead with attorney James E. Starrs on his exhumation projects and on a forensic textbook with renowned criminalist Henry C. Lee, The Real World of a Forensic Scientist. She also published The Forensic Science of CSI, The Criminal Mind: A Writer’s Guide to Forensic Psychology, and The Science of Cold Case Files, and has written numerous editorials on breaking forensic cases for The Philadelphia Inquirer. For seven years, she contributed regularly to Court TV’s Crime Library, and now writes a column on historic forensics for The Forensic Examiner, offers cases analysis for the media and speaks internationally about forensic psychology, forensic science, and serial murder. She has appeared on numerous cable network documentaries, as well as such programs as The Today Show, 20/20, Montel Williams, NPR, Larry King Live and E! True Hollywood.

Katherine’s Website

 

Guest Blogger: Dr. Katherine Ramsland: The Unique Allure of the Scene of a Crime

 

Visits to murder sites reveal more than mere curiosity.

There’s been a lot of attention lately on why people love true crime. I can recall when publishers considered the subject a waste of their time. Suddenly, it’s big business. Psychologists are weighing in, mostly guessing at the motivation. I’ve seen no representative studies on the topic, but I’ve been among true crime fans for more than two decades, so I can speak anecdotally.

I don’t think it’s because, as one expert put it, people are fascinated with evil. That’s just a superficial sense of something deeper. Crime is specific. The fascination is not with evil itself but with the formation of the motivation to harm and the development of a mind that can think up twisted and cruel treatment of others.

Extreme behavior is difficult to fathom, especially the cold-blooded kind, and TC fans want to try to understand. Women, especially, are attuned to motives and to victim predicaments. They enjoy feeling compassion and empathy. Sometimes, they identify with the woman who snaps or plans revenge.

The intensity of emotion typically involved in murder, whether a domestic homicide or a mass killing, draws us out of everyday dullness. We focus. There’s a heightened sense of suspense and thrill. For some, it also involves the cycle of being scared by what happens in the story and then feeling safe.

Another expert said that the current interest in true crime is driven by the 24/7 news cycle. It does play a part. When news anchors hype crimes with over-the-top coverage, the networks that broadcast “all crime all the time” will scoop up the story. The media certainly contributes, but possibly only to stoke a spark that is already present. The news covers other areas of life every day that don’t become obsessions; true crime stands out. So, it’s not just about 24/7 news.

We get closer to the embrace of TC when we study the core narratives that turn up in one presentation after another. Most TC books, documentaries, and TV series build up to the same resolution. They present the lure of a puzzle, provide guidelines for protection and preparation, and resolve tension by showing how the perpetrator was caught (often by being outsmarted) and punished. Thus, TC narratives play on our desires for catharsis, safety and closure. We enter through the intrigue of mystery and exit feeling better, sometimes even smarter.

Perhaps there’s an evolutionary benefit, as some psychologists suggest, in terms of making us pay better attention to dangers in our environment. Whenever I teach a course on serial killers, multiple students tell me they now lock their doors and notice people around them. But I don’t think this fully explains the fad. It’s true that TC has always fascinated, but recently it’s become much more of a cultural obsession. There’s an emotional payoff that’s become a collective pursuit.

True crime lets us experience anxiety and fear in a controlled way. It’s not happening to us, but we can work our way through it. People gawk at terrible things sometimes for reassurance. We can let ourselves imagine monsters coming for us because they can’t really get us. We purge fear within a frame of safety. As the TC community grows, we can share our “guilty pleasure” and form groups that reinforce the payoff.

Although a small sliver of the TC fan community seeks the bloodiest, most disgusting images they can find, most immerse themselves, then and get out. They’re interested in human behavior, not a gore-fest.

This brings us to visiting actual murder sites. I once wrote a travel column about tourable murder sites and I’m currently creating a presentation about “Dark Tourism.” This involves looking for sites that people visit who want to see where a murder happened: The steps of Gianni Versace’s former South Beach home, for example, where Andrew Cunanan gunned him down, or the clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin’s campus from which Charles Whitman picked off targets in August 1966 until police killed him.

It may sound morbid, but getting close to the intense energy of disturbing events initially evokes a rush. The energy of madness, anger, lust, or jealousy seems to pervade the place. People linger outside the “Amityville Horror” house where Roy Defeo shot his entire family, the home in Ohio where Jeffrey Dahmer killed and buried his first victim, and the former boarding house where kindly Dorothy Puente murdered men for their welfare checks and buried them in her garden.

In some cases, there are tours. In London’s Whitechapel neighborhood, expert guides will take you to where Jack the Ripper allegedly killed at least five women in 1888. In Wisconsin, there’s a Jeffrey Dahmer tour, and in Los Angeles, you can take any number of tours to infamous places, like where the Black Dahlia’s body (parts) were placed, where Nicole Brown Simpson was killed, or where the Hillside Stranglers dumped their victims. In Chicago, there’s an H. H. Homes tour (“The Devil in the White City”), although his actual murder castle is long gone.

You can see Lizzie Borden’s infamous former house just by walking by it in Fall River, Massachusetts, although it’s worth taking the tour inside – or getting a room. You can also see the JonBenet Ramsey murder house and the house in Villisca, Iowa, where a sensational mass murder occurred a century ago. Now it’s a museum. Another museum graces the Jesse James Farm in Kearney, MO, as well as the Sarah Winchester House in San Jose, California. Frank Lloyd Wright’s tourable Wisconsin estate, Taliesin, was the scene of a massacre in 1914.

Savannah, Georgia, hosts several genteel homes in which murder occurred. The most famous is Jim Williams’ Mercer House, the setting for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which is open to tours. Then, there’s the murder-suicide in poet Conrad Aiken’s former home. Many of the ghost tours in the historic area describe criminal incidents, but Savannah has also added a few TC tours.

New York, New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco – practically any large city has a crime history that lends itself to tours or museums. People go to experience the details of the horrendous acts by getting as close as possible to the physical setting.

I said above that, initially, there’s a rush. This often gives way to reflection and sadness. At the sites, people learn more about the victims than they typically know. When I stood in front of the homes where Dennis “BTK” Rader killed his victims, I thought a lot more about them than about him. Whatever one might have learned from offender-centered media, the sites themselves usually humanize the victims and invite us to imagine their plight. It’s about lore, not gore.

Dr. Katherine Ramsland is a professor of forensic psychology and the assistant provost at DeSales University in Pennsylvania. She has published over 1,000 articles and 65 books, including The Psychology of Death Investigation, Forensic Investigation: Methods from ExpertsConfession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer; The Mind of a Murderer; The Forensic Science of CSI; Inside the Minds of Serial Killers, and The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds. She presents workshops to law enforcement, psychologists, coroners, and attorneys, and has consulted for several television series, including The AlienistCSI and Bones. She also writes a regular blog for Psychology Today and has appeared on 20/20Dr. Oz and numerous crime documentaries for the ID and Oxygen Networks.

Originally posted on the Psychology Today website:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shadow-boxing/201907/the-unique-allure-the-scene-crime

 

Criminal Mischief: Episode #07: Famous and Odd DNA Cases

 

Criminal Mischief: Episode #07: Famous and Odd DNA Cases

LISTEN: https://soundcloud.com/authorsontheair/criminal-mischief-episode-07-famous-odd-dna-cases

PAST SHOWS: http://www.dplylemd.com/criminal-mischief.html

 

FAMOUS AND ODD DNA CASES NOTES:

 

Colin Pitchfork: The Beginning

http://aboutforensics.co.uk/colin-pitchfork/

Timothy Wilson Spencer, The Southside Strangler” First US DNA Conviction

(David Vasquez—first to be exonerated by DNA)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Wilson_Spencer

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/352011

Brown’s Chicken Murders:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown%27s_Chicken_massacre

https://chicago.cbslocal.com/2018/01/08/browns-chicken-massacre-25-years-anniversary/

Lonnie Franklin, The Grim Sleeper: Familial DNA

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grim_Sleeper

https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/grim-sleeper-serial-killer-everything-you-need-to-know-252246/

James Lynn Brown: Familial DNA

https://www.ocregister.com/2012/12/04/family-members-dna-solves-1978-killing/

Gary Ridgway, The Green River Killer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Ridgway

Pierre G: Kiss DNA Foils Jewel Thief

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/10616806/French-jewellery-thiefs-fate-sealed-with-a-kiss-after-conviction-from-DNA-on-victim.html

David Stoddard: Dog Bite DNA Case

https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/akron-canton-news/dna-from-dogs-mouth-solves-barberton-home-invasion-suspect-david-stoddard-also-charged-with-murder

Maggot DNA Case:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22971153

Willow Martin Arson Case and Potato DNA:

http://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-strippers-arson-drugs-0713-20160712-story.html

https://www.mycitizensnews.com/news/2018/05/woman-sentenced-to-8-years-for-arson/

 

 
 

Guest Blogger: Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D.: Killer Pen Pals

 

Killer Pen Pals

Whenever I give talks about my work, people sometimes ask how they can be pen pals with a serial killer. They’ve gotten hooked on true crime shows and they have the idea that because offenders are behind bars, they’re no longer dangerous. This would give the would-be correspondent a “safe” form of titillation and something cool to tell friends.

Sometimes, people just want to ease someone’s (or their own) loneliness. So, they look for an inmate who seeks connection.

I’m not talking about criminologists and journalists who correspond with killers to acquire information to improve our comprehension. I’m talking about people – especially kids – who think it would be fun to write to a killer. Often, they don’t grasp the potential consequences of having an offender focused on them. Not only do inmates know people on the outside whom they might persuade to be their proxy, but some of them eventually get out, too.

There are plenty of stories about pen pals becoming so enamored that they turn into prison groupies. In fact, in British news this week, a young pen pal from Poland supposedly became engaged to the ailing Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe. He’s 72. She’s 17. This kind of bond can make a person more vulnerable to manipulation.

It doesn’t take much searching to find examples where such relationships have ended in murder. Phillip Carl Jablonski murdered his wife in 1978. He was serving a sentence for it when he placed an ad for a pen pal. Carol Spadoni answered it. In 1982, they got married while he was still in prison. He got out in 1990. A year later, he sexually assaulted and shot Carol’s mother and suffocated Carol with duct tape before stabbing her to death. (That same month, he also murdered two other women.)

These potentially violent inmates can hook people by talking about how lonely they are and how they’re looking for love. They promise that they’ve reformed, they’re “spiritual” now, and they just need a friend. Some pen pals want to give them a second chance. Laura Jean Torres offered a helping hand to violent ex-con Robert Hernandez, who’d served time for aggravated battery. Torres ended up fatally stabbed.

David Goodell, 33, murdered pen pal Viviana Tulli, 22. They’d met when she was 16 and began a relationship through correspondence when he went to prison for assault. Once Doodell was out on parole, they reunited. Their mutual affection was short-lived as he soon strangled her to death. Hoping to avoid prison, he decided to fake a fatal car crash. Putting sunglasses and a hat on Tulli’s corpse, he placed it in the front seat of her car. His staging failed and he was arrested. In 2013, he pleaded guilty.

Darren Pilkington, convicted of manslaughter at 18, had a reputation for being a troubled kid. From prison, he put out word that he wanted a pen pal, which got the attention of 15-year-old Carly Fairhurst, five years younger than him. When she was 16, she visited him in prison, and after he was freed, he moved in with her. He soon began to abuse her. In 2006, after they came home from a pub, they argued. Pilkington hit Carly and she fell down the stairs. He covered her, waiting until morning to call for help. She died a week later from her injuries.

And it’s not just females who are vulnerable.

In 2014, Scott Kratlian fatally strangled 82-year-old Harry Major, a former high school teacher. The men had become pen pals while Kratlian was serving a sentence for manslaughter. Upon his release, Major invited Kratlian to move in. That was a fatal mistake.

Then there was Thomas Knuff, on parole in Ohio after serving 15 years for armed robbery and home invasion. He’d become acquainted with John Mann, 65, and his girlfriend Regina Capobianco, 50, through a prison pen pal program. He’d asked them to pick him up. Since he had nowhere to go, they brought him to their home, where he tied them up and stabbed them, killing both. He then lived in their home, with the bodies, for a week.

Edward Andrews started a correspondence with Thomas Jeffrey Brooks, nearly forty years younger than him. Upon Brooks’ release in 2007, he moved into Andrews’ mobile home. They became lovers, or so Andrews believed. Brooks had other ideas. With an accomplice, he killed Andrews, wrapped his body in duct tape, entombed it in a cement egg in a former employer’s rock garden and drained Andrews’ bank accounts.

“It’s not shocking when inmates behave like criminals,” says former U. S. Probation Officer Sally Keglovits. “It’s what most people expect. Manipulation comes with the territory and it’s not difficult for them to project a sympathetic image while in prison. What is somewhat shocking is the number of people who invite and encourage manipulation. They fall in love with an image that an inmate created. Reality can slap them in the face, often literally, upon the inmate’s release.”

Although many offenders do benefit from a kind word and a helping hand, those people who wish to assist (or acquire a more serious friend) should learn the behavioral red flags. Past violence is among the best indicators of future violence. So is a lack of remorse for harming others, a history of deception, a lack of respect for others, and a tendency to blame others for one’s own behavioral issues. Convictions for murder, sexual or physical assault, home invasion and crimes involving deadly weapons all foreshadow a dim future with such offenders. Often, they have poor skills for inhibiting impulses and for negotiating in relationships.

More to the point, what they’re like behind bars is no indication of what they might be like once free. Those who seek to become an inmate’s pen pal need to educate themselves about risk factors.

Follow Katherine on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katherine.ramsland

Originally posted on Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shadow-boxing/201807/killer-pen-pals

 

DEEP SIX One of Suspense Magazine’s Best Books of 2016

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Suspense Magazine’s Best Books of 2016

Cozy:

“Death at the Day Lily Café” by Wendy Sand Eckel
“Crime and Poetry” by Amanda Flower
“Michelangelo’s Ghost” by Gigi Pandian
“The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper” by Phaedra Patrick

Debut:

“Murder in G Major” by Alexia Gordon
“Behind Closed Doors” by B.A Paris
“Blood on the Tracks” by Barbara Nickless
“IQ” by Joe Ide
“Summit Lake” by Charlie Donlea

 Romantic Suspense:

“Tripple Six” by Erica Spindler
“Shadow Rider” by Christine Feehan
“Into the Whirlwind” by Kat Martin
“The Obsession” by Nora Roberts

Horror:

“A Time of Torment” by John Connolly
“Adam Frankenstein: A Collection of Short Stories” by Sheila English
“Hex” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
“The Hatching” by Ezekiel Boone

 Dark Urban Fantasy/Paranormal:

“Night Shift” by Charlaine Harris
“Kill Switch” by Jonathan Maberry
“Feverborn” by Karen Marie Moning
“Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis” by Anne Rice

Indie:

“The Seven Year Dress” by Paulette Mahurin
“A Wild Fright in Deadwood” by Ann Charles
“Thirty-Six and a Half Motives” by Denise Grover Swank
“The Saints of the Lost and Found” by T. M. Causey

Historical:

“Ruler of the Night” by David Morrell
“This Was a Man” by Jeffrey Archer
“The Last Days of Night” by Graham Moore
“The Murder of Mary Russell” by Laurie R. King

 

Anthology:

“The Thrill List” by Catherine Lea and Others
“The Big Book of Jack the Ripper” Edited by Otto Penzler
“Echoes of Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon” Edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger
“Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror” Edited by Ellen Datlow

 

True Crime:

“Possessed” by Kathryn Casey
“Framed: Why Michael Skakel Spent Over a Decade in Prison for a Murder He Didn’t Commit” by Robert. F. Kennedy
“A Mother’s Reckoning” by Sue Klebold
“A Killing in Amish Country” by Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris

 

YA:

“Isabel Feeney: Star Reporter” by Beth Fantaskey
“Girl on the Brink” by Christina Hoag
“The May Queen Murders” by Sarah Jude
“Crooked Kingdom” by Leigh Bardugo

 

Thriller/Suspense:

“When Shadows Come” by Vincent Zandri
“Right to Kill” by Andrew Peterson
“Deep Six” by D.P. Lyle
“The Steel Kiss” by Jeffrey Deaver
“The Woman in Cabin 10” by Ruth Ware
“A Great Reckoning” by Louise Penny
“Backblast” by Mark Greaney
“Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch
“Strong Cold Dead” by Jon Land
“The Obsidian Chamber” by Preston and Child

http://suspensemagazine.com/blog2/2016/12/14/the-best-books-of-2016/

 
3 Comments

Posted by on December 22, 2016 in Writing

 
 
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