Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The still unsolved mystery of the phantom who for many years stalked the people of the Big Easy, killing them in their sleep without any consistent pattern or motive.

That's what they called the tall, very handsome well-dressed young man, who kept reciting passages from the scriptures. He was the last person seen with a three young murder victims, none of them sexually assaulted, but oddly all three were menstruating at the time of their death. DNA has brought forward new leads in this strange unsolved case.

Abduction and murder of 8 young women associated with the University of Wisconsin in Madison began suddenly in 1968 and ended without a clue in 1984.

The FBI's continued investigation into highway serial killings gives Tammy's family hope that her killer may one day be brought to justice.

Since 1993, upward of 340 young women have been brutally murdered in the Mexican border town. More than a dozen suspects have been jailed, but the killing continues.

Little boy is out of his mother's site for a few minutes and disappears. The story of the first missing child to appear on a milk carton.

The Frankford area of Philadelphia was once a town older than the City of Brotherly Love itself. At one time, it was a prosperous area, but by 1980 it had become a crime-ridden slum populated by prostitutes, junkies, and small businesses struggling to survive. This was the area that Sylvester Stallone selected as the setting for his film Rocky.

It was here in 1985 where the first victim was found in a railroad yard.

Helen Patent was nude from the waist down and she had been posed in a sexually provocative position, with her legs open and her blouse pulled up to expose her breasts. She was 52 when she died, and while it was clear to the police that she had been stabbed many times, it took an autopsy to determine the official cause and manner of death. She had been sexually assaulted and had died from 47 stab wounds to her head and chest. She had also been stabbed in the right arm, and one vicious and deep slash across her abdomen had exposed the internal organs.

Between seven and eight women from 28-68 became the victims of this violent rapist and serial killer in an old section of Philadelphia. Leonard Christopher, a quiet black man who worked in the area, was arrested and convicted for the murder of one victim in the series. But the quality of the evidence used to convict Christopher is controversial, especially since another likely killing in the series occurred while he was in jail.

Jack the Ripper was the most famous serial killer of all time. Brutally murdering prostitutes in London's notorious Whitechapel district, he caused a panic in 1888.

Why does this long-ago killer who murdered a few prostitutes merit the attention he gets? Because Jack the Ripper represents the classic whodunit. Not only is the case an enduring unsolved mystery that professional and amateur sleuths have tried to solve for over a hundred years, but the story has a terrifying, almost supernatural quality to it. He comes from out of the fog, kills violently and quickly and disappears without a trace. Then for no apparent reason, he satisfies his blood lust with ever-increasing ferocity, culminating in the near destruction of his final victim, and then vanishes from the scene forever. The perfect ingredients for the perennial thriller.

A criminal profile by former FBI profiler Gregg McCrary and a penetrating analysis of the many suspects shed light on this legendary killer.

In post-war Britain, it certainly seemed for many that sex was something that was rarely seen and barely ever heard. Sex was a concept shrouded in secrecy. Yet society's suppression of it meant that exponents of the world's oldest profession were rarely short of customers.

Likewise, in the dimly lit back streets of England's capital city, married men were prepared to pay for the kind of services which "nice girls" such as their wives would not provide. Duke's Meadows, on the banks of the river Thames in Chiswick, West London, was one such spot, crudely nicknamed "Gobblers" Gulch' by locals in reference to the sexual practices said to be popular there. However, something considerably more sinister than the usual discarded prophylactics greeted police as they patrolled the towpath early on the morning of June 17, 1959. They stumbled across the body of a woman, sat up against a small willow tree, her blue and white striped dress torn open to reveal her breasts and some scratches on her throat. She had been strangled.

To find a dead body abandoned nearly naked in a public place was shocking even for experienced detectives, suggesting this was different to the crimes of passion, violence or avarice that police were used to. Yet despite house-to-house enquiries, interviews with prostitutes, pimps, taxi drivers, and night shift workers, no strong clues were found as to the killer's identity. As the case slowly went cold, Elizabeth Figg and the strange case of the semi-naked corpse were forgotten. It would be more than four years before anyone had cause to mention her name again.

Claiming as many as eight victims, Jack the Stripper, like BTK, after almost half a century may still be out there. Or like his namesake, Jack the Ripper, he may baffle crime buffs for many decades to come.

Long Island's scenic, yet isolated, Gilgo Beach may have become a serial killer's dumping ground. Police have so far found the remains of 10 possible victims, some identified as missing prostitutes. Many questions still remain as searchers continue to find evidence in these unsolved murders.

Kingsbury Run cuts across the east side of Cleveland like a jagged wound, ripped into the rugged terrain as if God himself had tried to disembowel the city. At some points it is nearly sixty feet deep, a barren wasteland covered with patches of wild grass, yellowed newspapers, weeds, empty tin cans and the occasional battered hull of an old car left to rust beneath the sun. Perched upon the brink of the ravine, narrow frame houses huddle close together and keep a silent watch on the area.

Into this bleak industrial graveyard, walked the well-dressed, handsome and highly educated Eliot Ness, fresh from victories over Al Capone, playing a cat-and-mouse game with a most brilliant and diabolical serial killer.

For decades, this bizarre predator stalked men and women in love, murdered them and sexually mutilated the women. A number of men were suspected of being the "Monster" and there were several trials associated with this unsolved case. This most unusual story inspired author Thomas Harris to locate one of his Hannibal Lecter books in Florence.

Former FBI profiler Gregg McCrary analyzes the behavior, personality, and motives of the notorious Zodiac serial killer who has remained unidentified for decades. The man who called himself the Zodiac was organized, intelligent and meticulous. He constantly changed his method of operating and openly admitted that murder was sport for him. Clearly, the killer wanted credit for them.

Texas bludgeoning and axe murders, mostly of servant women, shocks the quiet Victorian Era city of Austin, Texas.

Who was the Phantom?

One of the first terrorist cases in the U.S. dealt with the poisoning of medicines. Tremendous investigative efforts and preventive techniques did not completely stop copycats from continuing the initial reign of terror.

"It was an urge. ... A strong urge, and the longer I let it go the stronger it got, to where I was taking risks to go out and kill people risks that normally, according to my little rules of operation, I wouldn't take because they could lead to arrest." —Edmund Kemper.

Where does this urge come from, and why is so powerful? If we all experienced this urge, would we be able to resist? Is it genetic, hormonal, biological, or cultural conditioning? Do serial killers have any control over their desires?

We all experience rage and inappropriate sexual instincts, yet we have some sort of internal cage that keeps our inner monsters locked up. Call it morality or social programming, these internal blockades have long since been trampled down in the psychopathic killer. Not only have they let loose the monster within, they are virtual slaves to its beastly appetites. What sets them apart?

The notorious and very bizarre serial killer who called himself The Zodiac remains one of the world's great unsolved cases. In Oct., 1966, a girl was viciously murdered in Riverside, California when she permitted a man to help start the car that he had intentionally disabled when she was in her school library.

This homicide began a ghoulish series of murders that panicked the people of the San Francisco area. For years the Zodiac taunted the police with weird ciphers, phone calls, insulting and cryptic messages.

Even though police investigated over 2,500 potential suspects, the case was never solved. There were a few suspects that stood out, but the forensic technology of the times was not advanced enough to nail any one of them conclusively.

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