Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Twisted Tale of Peter Braunstein

Caught

Officer Jay Johnson explains the capture of the fugitive
Officer Jay Johnson explains
the capture of the fugitive

The officer called for assistance and as they approached Braunstein, he supposedly said, "I'm the one they're looking for from New York," and proceeded to slash or stab himself three times on the right side of his neck with a double-bladed, three-inch knife. The officers hit him with pepper spray but he didn't flinch. Finally they managed to handcuff him and rushed him to a local emergency room, where he received around fifteen stitches and was listed in critical condition. They found the BB gun he had allegedly used on the victim in his coat. When he was stable two days later, Braunstein was taken to a cell at the Shelby County jail and the NYPD prepared to come and get him.

Shelby County jail
Shelby County jail

Inside his knapsack, according to the Web site for America's Most Wanted, was a journal, a blank video tape (with no sexual images on it), and two devices that were similar to the device used to assault the victim (no details were forthcoming on the nature of these devices, but they were possibly more pairs of shackles.) In the journal, Braunstein made no mention of the New York incident, but he did write about other crimes he had committed during his flight to Tennessee. Other reports state that he told the police that everything he had done was in the journal. They also had found a local reward poster for a lost dog in his knapsack.

The scene of the arrest, shows Braunstein's knapsack and blood from his self-inflicted wound
The scene of the arrest, shows Braunstein's knapsack
and blood from his self-inflicted wound

Braunstein's mother, Angele, had said (according to several news sources) that she hoped he committed suicide (perhaps in response to the family's humiliation), but dutifully arrived from New York to speak with him. Braunstein was described as being cold toward his father, but he brightened in the presence of New York reporters, joking with them and showing off his stitched-up wounds. He thought his arrest had been an "Edward Scissorhands moment," referring to a film about a young man with cutting shears on the ends of his arms instead of hands. 

Tennessee authorities dropped charges so Braunstein could be extradited to New York. He agreed not to resist and was returned in handcuffs to the city to await his fate.

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