Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Joubert, Nebraska Boy Snatcher

FBI Report Continued

Besides being local, the perpetrator was thought to be in possession of no more than a high school education.  He was likely employed in a job that required few skills.  While the crime had likely been preplanned, it seemed to lack follow-through, as if only one part of the fantasy had been worked out, which showed a lack of intelligence as experience.  Because it seemed to have been a sexual crime without penetration, it seemed likely that the perpetrator was driven by fantasies but not by experience, except for some forced molestation of younger children when he was a child.  He was probably single and likely had a mental imbalance or emotional problem that had long been part of his life.  He was deviant, to be sure, but it was not altogether clear in what manner.

In terms of what to look for, Ressler thought that, given the possibility that Danny Joe was held captive somewhere for a couple of days, the perpetrator might have missed some time at his job, if he was employed.  "This last characteristic I suggested because of my interviews with murderers," Ressler wrote.  "Many such as [David] Berkowtiz had told me that the right time around the murder was quite important to them, so that they had absented themselves from their usual routine before and after it."  In addition, the perpetrator might try to inject himself into the investigation, ostensibly to assist, but actually seeking information.  In that case, if a drawing was made, it should be kept within the law enforcement community.

The fact that he'd been out that early in the morning suggested that he might have been up all night drinking, and that he had no one to report to.  Substance abuse might have empowered him to actually commit the crime.  Ressler thought that he'd considered dismembering the body, but had decided instead to dump it.  His killing seemed tentative and spontaneous rather than clearly planned.  The killer had also made some unusual wounds on Danny Joe's leg and shoulder, possibly to conceal a bite mark.

Ressler delivered his ideas in a round-table format to the core group of investigators.  He indicated that the perp was probably a loner with latent homosexual tendencies who worked in some capacity that brought him close to children, such as a coach or Boy Scout leader.  He did not believe the man was a serial killer.

Slide showing investigative activity
Slide showing investigative activity

The task force put surveillance on the dump site, Danny Joe's grave, and the general neighborhood from which the boy had disappeared in the hope that the killer might show up to relive the experience.  Shortly after the funeral service, says Pettit, a man called the Eberle home to ask if Danny Joe could come outside and play.  (There is no mention of that call in any source.)  Danny Joe's mother did not recognize the voice and there was no way to trace the call.  Nothing else occurred and no one was arrested.  Danny Joe's grieving family was left to wonder if someone would be made to pay for what had been done.

The bindings and the rope used on Danny Joe were sent to the FBI lab for analysis, as were some strands of hair that appeared to be from a source other than Danny Joe.   The rope proved to be unique and difficult to identify.