In October 1980, as the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Unit – and the art and science of profiling – was just beginning to gain a foothold, before the concept of serial killers became part of public consciousness, a racist and anti-Semitic by the name of Joseph Paul Franklin stalked, shot and killed black men and half-breeds on a wide path across the United States. The sniper attacks from Pennsylvania to the south and the crossing into the Midwest were seen as part of a series of murders that would last three years. Franklin had previously escaped police once when Special Agent and Pioneer Profiler John Douglas was called in by FBI Headquarters to provide an assessment of the fugitives. Franklin was mobile, fueled by hate, no doubt feeling the pressure of being the subject of the hunt for once, and clearly very dangerous. With the victims seemingly selected at random, anyone, almost anywhere in the country, could be his next target. Raising the stakes even higher, Franklin had sent a hate mail to President Jimmy Carter, who was campaigning for reelection in the South. Could Franklin chase him too? For Douglas, putting the pieces together to help investigators find Franklin – and quickly – would involve everything he learned about these offenders, along with some creative analysis, to figure out where to look and how to catch him.
It was also personal. Some of Franklin’s victims were so young that, as a father, Douglas couldn’t help but identify with family members, feeling anguish and rage at the senseless loss. And, practically speaking, the nascent profiling program was at play. It was as publicized as the cases came. With the eyes of FBI officers and investigators across the country on him, John couldn’t afford to fail.
In Cincinnati, the deadly shootout of two African-American teens on June 8 had obsessed city homicide detective Thomas Gardner for months. When Franklin was identified as a suspicious sniper across the river in Florence, Ky., Gardner figured he might have the break he was looking for.
Cincinnati cousins Darrell Lane, 14, and Dante Evans Brown, 13, were shot with a high-powered shotgun from the Bond Hill Railroad easel as they walked along Reading Road in below a hot Sunday evening.
“The weapon was identified as a .44 caliber Magnum rifle,” the FBI file told Douglas. It seemed in line with Franklin’s (MO) perceived modus operandi. OM can evolve as the criminal gains experience and learns what works best. With MO we consider what we call the offender’s “signature”, which describes the elements of the crime that emotionally satisfy or satisfy the offender. This could mean taking memories, torturing the victim in a particular way, or even developing a scenario for the victim to interpret during a sexual assault. Unlike MO, the signature doesn’t change much, although it can get more elaborate over time. In Franklin’s case, shooting victims from afar with a high powered rifle would be classified as MO, while selecting African-American victims would be the signature.
“Detective Gardner from Cincinnati couldn’t understand why someone would wait to kill two teenagers he probably had never even met.“
Darrell and Dante had just left their grandmother’s house to go buy candy. Darrell’s sister heard the gunshots and rushed out of the house. By the time she joined them, first responders were dealing with the two boys. Darrell’s father, a paramedic, was part of the first rescue unit to arrive at the scene.
But her son died instantly. Dante was brought to the hospital clinging to life. His mother, Abbie Evans, was attending Darrell’s funeral days later when she was instructed to return to the hospital immediately so that she could see her beloved middle child alive for the last time.
“It’s devastating. It’s a void. You never get over it, ”she told a USA Today reporter over thirty years later.
By the time the two boys were killed, my wife, Pam, and I had two little girls: Erika was five years old and Lauren was six months old. Pam had recently returned from maternity leave to her job as a specialized reading teacher in the public school system in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. I have always tried to put myself mentally and emotionally in the mind of the victim, as well as that of the killer. But it was just amazing to me, the idea that two innocent children could be taken out of life for no reason by going out for candy. It was disgusting, and I would be less than frank if I denied that a lot of law enforcement people like me have a hard time giving their children the freedom and independence they need to grow up, regardless. what we saw.
Likewise, Detective Gardner from Cincinnati couldn’t understand why someone would wait to kill two teenagers he probably had never even met. It might just have been a thrill-seeking murder, but he wouldn’t rule out the possibility that it was a racial hate crime. After seeing teletypes from the director of the FBI and the Salt Lake City field office, where a similar shooting had taken place, Detective Gardner contacted Salt Lake City PD sergeant Robert Nievaard, and the two agreed. that there were similar elements in their two cases. it was worth considering.
As it turned out, this was just the first of several connections that happened thanks to the Salt Lake Teletype. The two cases certainly seemed to fit in with the MO of a sniper-style shooting of a Métis couple in Oklahoma City last October, a 19-year-old African American in an Indianapolis mall in January. and another mixed. purebred couple in Johnstown, Pa., in June. If they all turned out to be related, then we were dealing with a particularly effective and deadly serial killer, a serial killer who traveled easily from state to state and never got close enough to his victims to leave much behind. behavioral or physical evidence. , other than rifle ballistics.
Taken together, all of these incidents described a series of murders that, at a minimum, had lasted for at least a year and probably longer.
Of SHADOW OF THE KILLER by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker, published by Dey Street. Copyright © 2020 by Mindhunters, Inc. Reprinted courtesy of HarperCollinsPublishers.
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