Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Joubert, Nebraska Boy Snatcher

The Paperboy

Map: Bellevue, Nebraska
Bellevue, Nebraska

It was early on a fall morning in Bellevue, Nebraska, a few miles south of Omaha, on Sunday, September 18, 1983.  Thirteen-year-old Danny Joe Eberle had arisen early, around six, and was delivering the Omaha World Herald newspaper to seventy of his neighbors.  He'd left his home on Valley Drive on his bike, with the intent of getting done and getting back as quickly as possible.  So when he failed to come home from his job, his parents began to worry.  It wasn't like him to not let them know if he was going somewhere.  And there was an added concern: The route supervisor had roused Mr. Eberle from sleep to let him know that Danny Joe had not finished the job.  People were complaining.

Photo: Danny-Joe-Eberle150.jpg
Danny Joe Eberle

The Eberles called around to people who knew him, but no one had seen him.   That made them apprehensive, so they went outside to see if he was around and just hadn't told them.  But Danny Joe was nowhere to be found and his brother, who also had a paper route, had not seen him, although he recalled having been followed recently by a white man in a tan car.  He had no idea if that was connected. 

The events of that morning would rock the small town of just over 30,000 residents. They would soon learn that there was a killer in their midst who could strike during the day without anyone noticing.

Book cover: Whoever Fights Monsters
Whoever Fights Monsters

The story is told from different angles by reporter Mark Petitt in A Need to Kill and Robert Ressler, who was called in to consult on the situation, in Whoever Fights Monsters.  Criminologists and psychologists have also discussed the case, and Colin Evans used it to demonstrate a specific type of forensic investigation.  Details of the following incidents were also summarized in an appeals document, and one author penned a novel, A Perfect Evil, inspired by what happened in Nebraska as that year came to an end.  The residents knew it as a 116-day siege.

 

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