The Devil's Dozen: 12 Notorious Serial Killers Caught by Cutting-Edge Forensics

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9780425270776: The Devil's Dozen: 12 Notorious Serial Killers Caught by Cutting-Edge Forensics
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What led authorities to the murder castle of H. H. Holmes? What cast a cloud of suspicion over cannibal Albert Fish? What drove Russia’s Killer X to confess?
How many victims were actually buried on that Vancouver pig farm?
 
In The Devil’s Dozen, Katherine Ramsland explores the true stories of twelve of the most notorious serial killers of the last century and the cutting-edge forensics that delivered their downfalls. Through their compelling case histories, she traces the fascinating evolution of forensic investigation. What clues did these killers unwittingly leave behind? How were the unpredictable twists and turns of their criminal behavior thwarted by the weapons of science and logic?
 
From the developing stages of the nineteenth century’s earliest investigative tools and ingenious police procedures to the first DNA dragnet to the remarkable twentieth century CSI advances, The Devil’s Dozen provides a fascinating window into the world of those who kill—and those who dedicate their lives to bringing them to justice.
 

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About the Author:

Dr. Katherine Ramsland has master’s degrees in forensic psychology, clinical psychology, and criminal justice, and a Ph.D. in philosophy. She has published forty-six books, including SNAP: Seizing Your Aha! Moments, The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds, The Mind of a Murderer, and The Forensic Science of C.S.I. With former FBI profiler Gregg McCrary, she coauthored The Unknown Darkness: Profiling the Predators Among Us; with Dr. Henry Lee, she coauthored The Real World of a Forensic Scientist; and with Professor James E. Starrs, A Voice for the Dead. She wrote biographies of Anne Rice and Dean Koontz, and her Crimescape e-book, Psychopath, was a #1 Wall Street Journal nonfiction bestseller. In addition, Ramsland has published more than a thousand articles on serial killers, criminology, and criminal investigation. She is a professor of forensic psychology at DeSales University in Pennsylvania, appears on numerous true crime documentaries, and writes a regular blog for Psychology Today.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Praise for the works of Katherine Ramsland

Beating the Devil’s Game

“A great forensic thriller, and once again Katherine Ramsland has brilliantly captured the insights and drama of some fascinating cases.”—Dr. Henry Lee

 

The Human Predator

“If you’re looking for the perfect gift for someone who’s riveted to television shows like C.S.I., you won’t find a better one than Dr. Katherine Ramsland’s The Human Predator. You’ll not only learn about serial murder but also the historical background of forensic science. This book is unique in the field.”

—Court TV Crime Library

 

The C.S.I. Effect

“A fascinating must-read for C.S.I. fans and anyone interested in criminal justice.”—Booklist

 

The Unknown Darkness: Profiling
the Predators Among Us
Coauthored with Gregg O. McCrary

 

“This is a must-read for true crime fans. A beautifully written expert analysis of high-profile killers.”—Ann Rule

 

“One of the most immensely readable and gripping accounts of serial murder I have ever read.”

—Colin Wilson, author of Serial Killers: A Study in the Psychology of Violence

The Forensic Science of C.S.I.

“Fascinating...a must for anyone who wonders how the real crime solvers do it.”—Michael Palmer

 

“With the mind of a true investigator, Ramsland demystifies the world of forensics with authentic and vivid detail.”

—John Douglas

 

Piercing the Darkness: Undercover with Vampires
in America Today

“A riveting read, a model of engaged journalism.”

Publishers Weekly

Other Books by Katherine Ramsland

BEATING THE DEVIL’S game:
a HISTORY of FORENSIC SCIENCE AND CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
THE C.S.I. EFFECT
THE FORENSIC SCIENCE of C.S.I.
True STORIES of C.S.I.
THE Human PREDATOR:
a HISTORICAL CHRONICLE
of SERIAL MURDER AND FORENSIC INVESTIGATION
INSIDE THE MINDS of MASS MURDERERS:
WHY THEY KILL
INSIDE THE MINDS of SERIAL KILLERS:
WHY THEY KILL
INSIDE THE MINDS of HEALTHCARE SERIAL KILLERS:
WHY THEY KILL
a VOICE for THE DEAD
(with James E. Starrs)
THE SCIENCE of COLD CASE FILES
THE unknown DARKNESS:
PROFILING THE PREDATORS
among US (with Gregg McCrary)
THE CRIMINAL MIND:
a WRITER’S GUIDE To FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY
PIERCING THE DARKNESS

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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

 

THE DEVIL’S DOZEN

 

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

 

Copyright © 2009 by Katherine Ramsland

 

All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form
without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in
violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
BERKLEY® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The “B” design is a trademark belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

 

PRINTING HISTORY
Berkley trade paperback edition / April 2009

 

eISBN : 978-1-101-02894-0

 

An application to register this book for cataloging has been submitted to the Library of Congress.

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS AND DEDICATION

I was pleased to discover that my agent, John Silbersack, and editor, Ginjer Buchanan, spotted the value of this book right away. Having written fuller histories of both serial murder, The Human Predator, and forensic investigation, Beating the Devil’s Game, I had noticed that some of the more inventive improvements to criminal investigation had resulted from cases of serial murder. However, in those books it was difficult to fully explore them. Thus I’m deeply grateful to John and Ginjer, who have supported me through many projects, for sharing my vision and encouraging me to write this.

Along the way, I received information, photos, or enthusiastic assistance from a number of other people. I must especially thank Michelle Mrazik and Debbie Malone from the DeSales University library, and Sharon Brown from the Macon Public Library, for digging out articles that were difficult to find. Dr. Lawrence Farwell provided his full report, and John Timpane went to Philadelphia’s Free Library to get documents on the Holmes case. But then John Borowski and Waterfront Productions created excellent documentaries on both the Holmes and Fish cases, with terrific footage, and that, too, was a great help. Marilyn Bardsley, my former editor at the Crime Library, encouraged me for eight years to pursue research on serial killers, and Gregg McCrary, Robert Ressler, and John Douglas opened the doors to FBI profiling. Sir Alec Jeffreys, Mike Wild, D.A. William Heisler, Detective Joe Pochron, Chief Roger MacLean, and Officer Brian Lewis provided information, interviews, and/or photos to make this a better book. I’m grateful to them all.

I also wish to thank Dr. Karen Walton, the provost at DeSales University, and to acknowledge the generosity of DeSales for providing release time to work on this project.

Mostly, I’m grateful for the persistent, dedicated investigators who go the extra mile to solve cases and bring killers to justice. To them, I dedicate this book. I appreciate their work and am pleased to have the opportunity to showcase it and provide their example to future investigators.

Table of Contents

Praise

Other Books by Katherine Ramsland

Title Page

Copyright Page

Acknowledgements

Introduction

 

ONE - H. H. HOLMES:Deduction, Determination,and Dogged Persistence

TWO - LUDWIG TESSNOW:Secrets in Blood

THREE - ALBERT FISH:Deciphering a Deadly Document

FOUR - LUCIAN STANIAK:The Art of Darkness

FIVE - COLIN PITCHFORK:First DNA Sweep

SIX - ANDREI CHIKATILO:Lured into the Mirror

SEVEN - JACK UNTERWEGER:Linkage Analysis and the Detective’s Database

EIGHT - HARVEY ROBINSON:A Risky Sting

NINE - RICHARD ROGERS:The Most Expensive Fingerprint

TEN - DENNIS RADER:Computer Forensics and a Clever Lie

ELEVEN - JAMES B. GRINDER:The Brain Never Lies

TWELVE - ROBERT PICKTON:Mass Fatality ID

THIRTEEN - LESSONS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT

 

INTRODUCTION

They know who he is and they’re closing in. After investigating seven gruesome murders that exploited the victims’ weaknesses, intrepid investigators have chased down the killer, ready to corner him . . . or shoot him. Their lives are on the line, because he’s been extremely clever and they can’t be certain if he’ll outsmart them, but their weapons are ready and they pray for the advantage. At least, that’s how it goes in fiction.

Novels and films often play up the supposed excitement of chasing a serial killer, and while such cases are actually rare, in the history of law enforcement some killers have posed such a challenge that they’ve inspired extraordinary efforts or forensic innovations. Thus we have factual tales that do feature suspenseful sparring between genuine villains and heroes. From the detection of arsenic to the analysis of brain patterns, serial murder has been intricately intertwined with investigative invention. Extraordinary killers command extraordinary methods, and so we present twelve tales of killers who have affected the forensic culture. Among the first was a nineteenth-century poisoner from Nuremburg, Germany.

At age forty-nine, Anna Maria Schonleben neé Zwanziger realized she might spend the rest of her life alone, in poverty. Against her will, she had married an alcoholic lawyer twice her age, but he died, leaving her in debt. She stole a valuable ring, which got her banished from her married daughter’s home, and she twice tried but failed to take her own life. It was the early 1800s and a woman without means had little hope after a certain age of supporting herself. There was also evidence that she suffered from a nervous disorder and was possibly borderline psychotic. She’d had a baby out of wedlock and a miscarriage, both of which had badly affected her, as had a lover’s abandonment. Facing fifty and having lost her looks, Anna decided to try to win a husband by proving her worth as a domestic servant to the head of a household.

She knew she would face hurdles on this quest, especially if the man she targeted was married. But her secret weapon—her “truest friend”—was arsenic: she could always kill the wife. Anna knew that aging men were often afraid to be alone. Dependent as they were on a woman to take care of their household, such men, she believed, could be persuaded to form a partnership of convenience.

She set her sights on a Judge Glaser in Bavaria, killing his wife, but the new widower did not respond as she’d hoped. In a huff, she moved on, finding employment with a Judge Grohmann, a widower already. However, when he married someone else, Anna retaliated by placing poison in his food, killing him and some of his servants. The wife of a third employer, a magistrate named Gebhard, was the next target. She seemed to know she was being poisoned, but her husband dismissed her suspicions. She died and he grew ill, so he sent his glassware and several food containers for analysis at the local apothecary. He learned that the saltshaker contained arsenic, so he alerted authorities.

Anna was now associated with several suspicious deaths, but the science of arsenic analysis had, at the time, barely been used in a forensic context. Toxicologists were just learning how to detect this centuries-old “inheritance powder,” but in 1806, chemist Valentine Rose devised a method for confirming its presence in human organs. He had utilized Johann Metzger’s 1787 discovery: when arsenious oxide is heated with charcoal and a cold plate is held over it, the heated substance forms a dark mirrorlike deposit. This was arsenic.

To develop his theory about how to detect arsenic in the human body, Rose had cut up the stomach of a victim of suspected poisoning and dissolved the contents in water. He filtered this substance before treating it with nitric acid, potassium carbonate, and lime to evaporate it into arsenic trioxide. When he treated it with coals, he derived the telltale arsenic mirror. This confirmed that the victim had been murdered.

Able with this method to prove such poisonings, investigators who arrested Anna on October 18, 1809, found several packets of the toxic substance on her person. A chemist applied Rose’s innovative procedure to the organs of Judge Glaser’s wife, which revealed the presence of arsenic. Since this substance had turned up in salt containers in another household where Anna had been employed, the evidence was convincing. She admitted to the double homicide, adding other names, and said she did not think she could stop. After being convicted of murder, she was beheaded in 1811.

This is the sort of story you will read in these pages. Faced with an elusive killer who has proven to be hard to identify, investigators find ways around the hurdles, setting new standards or devising new methods. As crime detection improves, the challenges increase, so many of these cases have compelling twists and turns, but history has shown that science and logic are equal to the test.

Before describing just how serial killers do get caught, let’s first clarify the meaning of serial murder. Often, it comes with enormous associations based in stereotypes and misinformation.

Serial Murder

While any type of incident that involved a number of murders was once called “multiple murder” or “mass murder,” investigators eventually decided that distinctions were needed. The term serial killer was first used in The Complete Detective in 1950, but it’s generally agreed that during the 1976 Son of Sam case in New York, FBI special agent Robert Ressler limited the term to cases on which he and his colleagues in the Behavioral Science Unit were consulting. Thus it became the standard term for a specific type of multiple murder incident.

According to the FBI’s official manual, the term serial murder implies that there are at least three different murder events at three different locations, with a cooling-off period between events, but the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and some criminologists allow for only two such events. In addition, some killers bring successive victims to a single location at different times, so there are problems with the FBI’s approach. To achieve clarity, in The Human Predator, I defined the various terms thus:

1. Mass murder is a concentrated response to a single event or idea, occurring in one basic locale, even if the killer travels to several loosely related spots in that general area, and there are at least four fatalities.

2. A spree is a string of at least three murders arising from a key precipitating incident occurring close in time to the murders, but the spate of killings is fueled by continuing and associated stress, taking place in several locales and across a relatively short period of time; there is no psychological cooling off.

3. A serial killer murders at least two people in separate incidents, with the strong likelihood of killing again. There is a psychological cooling-off period between incidents, which might serve as a time of preparation for a later killing. He, she, or they also choose the modus operandi and may either move around to kill or lure successiv...

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