Scene of the Crime

http://www.toronto-crimestoppers.com/pages/posters/AbuseCrimeSceneFeb05.htmlRecognize this hotel room? Then you should call the Toronto police: A 9-year-old girl was sexually abused here two or three years ago.

Even though she’s been airbrushed out of the photo, the room still has a haunted quality. The same girl was apparently photographed in an elevator, near a fountain, even in an arcade.

Stranger still are the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, dollhouse recreations of actual crime scenes. They were created in the 1930s by Frances Glessner Lee, a millionaire heiress who wanted to improve police skills in forensic pathology. Four puzzles are presented here, and the Baltimore medical examiner won’t reveal the solutions — he’s still using them in training seminars.

Jack the Ripper

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FromHellLetter.jpgThis is the “From Hell” letter, sent by Jack the Ripper to the president of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee that was pursuing him. He included a bloody fragment to prove his identity:

“I send you half the Kidne I took from one woman and prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise. I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer”

Whoever he was, Jack certainly had a flair for dramatic horror. But much of his fame is really due to newspapers, which were becoming popular at the time. His crimes, which combined sex, violence, mystery, class warfare and police ineptitude, were tailor-made for cheap sensation. (In fact, it was probably a journalist who invented the “Ripper” nickname.)

Casebook: Jack the Ripper has gathered examples of lurid accounts from as far away as Poland, Jamaica, and Mexico. “All London is ringing with the horror of the thing,” writes one New Zealand editor. “The woman who reads, with hair standing on end, the details of some fresh outrage to-night cannot feel sure that on the morrow she may not be the next victim.” The whole episode is a low point for responsible journalism.

BTW, today the Ripper’s story has spawned a rather unwholesome fanbase, with concentration games, crossword puzzles, and fan fiction. Somehow time can make even serial murder seem quaint.

Serial Killer Art Review

http://www.yuppiepunk.org/2005/01/killer-art-serial-killer-art-review.htmlYuppiePunk’s Serial Killer Art Review presents the jailhouse compositions of 14 career murderers.

This piece is the work of Henry Lee Lucas, whose pathetic life was dramatized in the film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

Born to a legless alcoholic and a violent prostitute who shot his pony and beat him into a coma, Lucas lost an eye and experimented with bestiality as a teenager before stabbing his mom and launching a one-man crime wave.

He eventually confessed to 3,000 murders; if that’s true, he killed someone every day between 1975 and 1983. Kind of explains why he didn’t paint still lifes.

If you’re into this stuff, check out John Douglas’ disturbing book Mindhunter. A former FBI profiler, Douglas inspired Scott Glenn’s character in The Silence of the Lambs.

After studying sociopaths for 25 years, Douglas could examine a crime scene and give an uncannily accurate description of the killer: he has a speech impediment, he drives a red Volkswagen Beetle, he owns a German shepherd, he lives with sisters. And he’d be right. That’s one talent I don’t envy.