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The Cases That Haunt Us (Anglais) Poche – 1 décembre 2001

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Chapter One: Jack the Ripper

In the dark realm of serial killers, this is ground zero: the point from which virtually all history and all discussions begin.

By modern standards, the ghostly predator who haunted the shadowy streets of London's East End between August and November of 1888 was nothing much to write home about. Sadly, many of his successors -- people I and my colleagues have had to hunt -- have been far more devastatingly productive in the number of lives they took, and even the gruesome creativity with which they took them. But none other has so quickly captured and so long dominated the public's fascination as Jack the Ripper: the Whitechapel Murderer, the personification of mindless brutality, of nameless, motiveless evil.

Why this one? Why him (although some still steadfastly maintain it was a her)? There are several reasons. For one, the crimes -- a series of fatal stabbings that escalated into total mutilation -- were concentrated in a small geographic area, directed at a specific type of preferred victim. For another, though there had been isolated sexually based killings in England and the European continent in the past, this was the first time most Victorians had ever faced or had to deal emotionally with such a phenomenon. Add to this a social reform movement and a newly energetic and outspoken press eager to call attention to the appalling living conditions in the East End, and you have all the ingredients for what became, literally, one of the biggest crime stories of all time.

The reasons why these murders continue to fascinate above all others, even in this modern age with our seemingly endless succession of "crimes of the century," are equally strong, though, as we will quickly learn, often based on misimpression. In spite of their barbarism, they represent a real-life mystery from the era of Sherlock Holmes -- the bygone romantic era of high Victorian society, gaslights and swirling London fog, though where the killings actually took place had little real relationship to Victorian splendor, and each crime was actually committed on a night without fog. On only one of the nights was it even raining. In fact, at the same time the Ripper murders were terrorizing the desperate East End, a melodrama based on Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was thrilling audiences at the Lyceum Theatre in the fashionable and comfortable West End. Together these two events, one safely fanciful and the other horrifyingly real, gave many their first dawning awareness of the potential for inherent evil in so-called ordinary or normal people.

And despite a tremendous allocation of manpower and resources on the parts of two police forces at the time, and the efforts of countless "Ripperologists" in the more than 110 years since then, the crimes remain unsolved, tantalizing us with their profound mystery (though if we were working them today, I feel confident we could crack them in relatively short order). Some of the suspects and motives are very "sexy" -- far out of the range of the normal serial killer -- including not only the royal physician but also the two men in direct line to the throne!

And as important as any other reason for the continuing fascination is that powerfully evocative and terrifying name by which the unknown subject -- or UNSUB, as we refer to him in my business -- was called. Although here again, I maintain that this was not the identity he chose for himself.

But whatever the misconceptions or qualifications, we have to acknowledge that Jack the Ripper created the myth, the evil archetype, of the serial killer.


As a criminal investigative analyst and the first full-time profiler for the FBI, I'd often speculated about the identity of Jack the Ripper. But it wasn't until 1988, the hundredth anniversary of the Whitechapel murders, that I actually approached the case as I would one that was brought to me at the Investigative Support Unit at Quantico from a local law enforcement agency.

The occasion was a two-hour television program, The Secret Identity of Jack the Ripper, set to be broadcast live from Los Angeles in October and hosted by British actor, writer, and director Peter Ustinov, with feeds from experts in London at the crime scenes themselves and at Scotland Yard, the headquarters of London's Metropolitan Police. When the producers approached me about participating in the program and constructing a profile of the killer, I decided it was worth a try for a couple of reasons. First, I thought the profile might be useful in training new agents. Second, it's difficult to resist matching wits, even a century later, with the most famous murderer in history. And third, since it was a hundred years after the fact, no negative consequences were possible other than making a fool of myself on national television, a fear I'd long since gotten over. Unlike with the scores of "real" cases I was dealing with every day, no one was going to die if I was wrong or gave the police bad information. More than a decade later, I still believe in the analysis I did, with an interesting and important addition, which we'll get to later.

I captioned the profile the way I would an actual one that would become part of a case file:






The FBI, like most government agencies, is addicted to acronyms. The one on the last line, NCAVC, stands for National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, the overall program established in 1985 and located at the FBI Academy to encompass a bunch of other acronyms including, but not limited to, the BSU, or Behavioral Science Unit (teaching and research); ISU, the Investigative Support Unit, which carries out the actual consulting, profiling, and criminal investigative analysis; and VICAP, the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program computer database on multiple offenders. During my tenure as chief of ISU, we and other operational entities, such as HRT, the Hostage Rescue Team, were pulled in under the umbrella of CIRG, the Critical Incident Response Group. And after I retired in 1995, my unit was, for a time, absorbed into a new group, CASCU, the Child Abduction and Serial Crimes Unit. Anyway, you get the idea.

I cautioned the producers the same way everyone in my unit had been trained to caution the police and law enforcement agencies around the United States and the world with whom we dealt: our work can only be as good as the case information provided to us. Many of the tools we'd have to work with today -- fingerprints, DNA and other blood markers, extensive crime-scene photography -- were not available in 1888, so I'd have to do without them in developing my analysis. But then, as now, I would still begin with the known facts of the crimes.

Like most serial murders, the case is complicated, with multiple victims and leads that go off in many directions. It is therefore useful to go into the case narrative in some detail, just as we would if we were receiving it from a local law enforcement agency seeking our assistance. So we'll relate the details -- anything that might be important to the profile -- and analyze each element at the proper point in the decision-making process. In that way, we can see something of how the analytical decisions in mindhunting are made and on what they are based. By the time we present the profile, you should have some background and perspective for understanding the choices and conclusions I've come to. We can then apply this process to all of the subsequent cases we'll consider. The more a profiler knows of the story of what happened, the better able he or she will be in putting together the why and the who.

Whenever we construct a profile or offer analytical or strategic assistance to a local law enforcement agency on a series of unsolved crimes, a critical part of the case materials we request is a map with crime scenes indicated and a description of what each area is like. And in this case, geography is a particularly important consideration because it so carefully defines the type of victim selected and type of offender who would feel comfortable here.


I always stress the importance of understanding the victimology and social context of the crime. And you can't understand this case without some comprehension of what life was like in the East End of London, specifically Whitechapel and Spitalfields, in the final decades of the Victorian era. Adventure novelist Jack London would characterize this area as "the Abyss" after spending seven weeks living there during the summer of 1902. The nonfiction book that emerged from this experience, The People of the Abyss, would become just as much of an instant classic in its own circles as The Call of the Wild, published the same year. And the conditions and situation described were little different in 1902 than they had been fourteen years earlier.

The most extreme areas of the East End -- the region bordering Whitechapel High Street and Whitechapel Road, just north of the Tower of London and the London Docks -- was a strange, distant, and fearful place to those fortunate enough to live elsewhere within the metropolis. Though it was but a short cab or railway journey away from central London, the virtual capital of the Western world when it was true that the "sun never set" on the richest and most economically productive empire in history, this district was a teeming, Dickensian area of factories, sweatshops, and slaughterhouses. Dominated by poor cockneys, it was increasingly populated by immigrants straight off the docks, particularly Eastern European Jews escaping persecution and pogroms, with their strange languages, insular customs, and wariness of gentiles. Many of them joined their fellow countrymen in the tailoring and leather trades centered around Brick Lane. Middlesex Street, better known as Petticoat Lane, became a bustling Sunday marketplace ...

Revue de presse

Us Weekly Absorbing and surprising.

Patricia Cornwell John Douglas is masterful and unrivaled in scientific and gifted probing of the violent mind.

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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 176 commentaires
36 internautes sur 36 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Par Gerard T. McGuire - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Not since his first work, MINDHUNTER, have I read a Douglas book this interesting. Mindhunter set the pace for all the profiling narratives that followed. Although nobody does it better than Douglas, his subsequent works were somewhat lacking because they did not grab the reader with the same tenacity as his first novel. He takes a somewhat new direction with THE CASES THAT HAUNT US and in turn a better book surfaces.
In CASES THAT HAUNT US Douglas looks at some of the more infamous murders of all time and adds his professional perspective. Whereas he can offer nothing new (after all there have been thousands of books on Jack the Ripper for example), he does weigh some of the more mentioned theories and shows their strenghts and more often than not, their weaknesses. He picks some of the all time chilling real life horror stories....Jack the Ripper, The Zodiac, The Boston Strangler, The Lindbergh Kidnapping, and even the infamous Jon Benet Ramsey case. All the chapters are intriguing and well thought out. He does an outstanding job of showing how some of the conventional thinking on these cases is flawed and in turn relays his years of hands on experience in the field. Along the way, he peppers his views with recollections of cases he has touched.
The main point of controversy in this book in sure to be the Ramsey killing. It is no secret that Douglas was called in to offers his thoughts on this tragic event by the lawyers representing the Ramseys. While I do not agree that he sold out as some would insist, I do question his desire to hire himself out to the main suspects in this grisly event. (in all fairness to Douglas he does contend that after the initial consultation fee he refused to accept further payment and even paid for subsequent flights to Atlanta). This chapter should not prevent anyone from reading the book. Rather, it ranks as one of the more interesting sections of this work. Douglas offers his own insights and makes convincing arguements for an inturder theory. You dont have to agree with the man to respect his logic, reasoning, and experience.
Overall the book reads at the speed of light. All of the chapters with the possible exception of the Lizzy Borden case are well written and really grab the reader's attention. True crime fans will have to read this book.
50 internautes sur 53 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Fascinating insight on infamous cases 14 novembre 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Relié
This is the best Douglas book since his first, "Mindhunter." Subsequent books has have tended to be repetitive with not much new information. In this book, since he is looking into historical cases for the most part, he offers new analyses and ideas about the Unsubs in cases including Jack the Ripper, Lizzy Borden, Charles Lindbergh Jr, Zodiac killer, and Boston Strangler.
I almost wish he hadn't included the JonBenet Ramsey case, because I think that takes away from the rest of the book. He could have included some other cases that still "haunt" us, that would be interesting from a historical point of view. I don't think enough time has passed for people to consider the Ramsay case objectively. I am not saying I disagree with his conclusions about the Ramsays, but I don't completely buy them either. If he is ever proved wrong, he will have to eat a ton of crow. Enough said.
Still, I would recommend this book for true crime lovers, historical crime buffs, and anyone with an interest in psychological profilings. I admit freely my favorite TV show is Discovery Channels "The New Detectives." If you have never seen it, and you fall into one of the above categories, you must check this show out.
38 internautes sur 45 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A VERY promising start, but disappointing ending... 7 août 2001
Par John Rummel - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I've read most of John Douglas' books, and most of the other books inspired by the work done in the FBI's Behavioral Sciences unit. I have a deep respect for Douglas and his many colleagues around the country who continue to work in law enforcement and are students of the criminal mind.
"The Cases that Haunt Us" is, for the most part, a work that deserves as much accolade as Douglas and Olshaker's previous books. The historical perspective and fresh evaluative light shed on such classic cases as Jack the Ripper and the Lindbergh kidnapping is fascinating and invaluable. However, upon reading the final chapter, I was left with the nagging feeling that every chapter in the book was a carefully calculated setup to prepare the reader for the final chapter, where Douglas presents his findings and opinions on the JonBenet Ramsey murder case.
I don't fault him for being unobjective. He admits that he was hired by the Ramseys' lawyers to provide his opinions on their possible guilt or innocence. He was not, as is often assumed by the public, hired to provide a profile of the killer (he was never given access to the autopsy reports, crime scene photos, physical evidence, etc., that would be necessary for a true profile). As with his style in the previous chapters, he presents the facts of the case. But his chapter on JonBenet is hopelessly contaminated by his own involvement with the family (none of the other high profile cases in the book involved him personally). The result is a missive that reads like a cross between a rationalization and an apology. Don't get me wrong, Douglas presents his findings in a clear and very logical manner, and I don't disagree with his findings. I just wish for the sake of this book, that he had left the Ramsey case alone and had added some additional historical cases (JFK or MLK Jr assassinations, for instance, or the OJ case) in which he was not personally involved.
Much has been written about the JonBenet Ramsey murder, and I was curious to see Douglas' own conclusions on this case. But by including it in this book, he busted what was easily a 5-star work down to 3 stars.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Murder most foul! 7 janvier 2007
Par Jeffrey Leach - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Jack the Ripper. Lizzie Borden. The Zodiac. Bruno Richard Hauptmann. The psycho who killed JonBenet Ramsey. Crispin Glover. O.k., that last name doesn't belong there, but the guy is so weird I thought I'd throw him in for good measure. All of these folks (except for Crispin Glover), according to former FBI profiler turned author John Douglas, share a common theme. One is murder, of course, but the other is their involvement in criminal cases that continue to haunt the public imagination. Plug in any one of the abovementioned names into a search engine and you'll understand why the authors chose "The Cases That Haunt Us" as the title of the book. On one of the most popular search engines JonBenet Ramsey brings up 780,000 returns. Jack the Ripper has over two million, Zodiac a million and a half. While not all of these links directly relate to these infamous cases, obviously, the numbers do show how these names have worked their way into the popular consciousness. And that occurred, sadly, because the crimes documented in this book are truly hideous, bone-chilling incidents of murder most foul that stand out even in a country as violent as America.

John Douglas is a familiar name to those of us who follow dastardly deeds. He once worked as one of the premier criminal profilers at the FBI. Profiling is a cutting edge psychological approach to fighting crime that attained national prominence thanks to the film "The Silence of the Lambs". It's also a lot older than the FBI. Profiling an unknown criminal in an attempt to catch him or her stretches all the way back to the 19th century. But Douglas and his ilk updated the techniques and have used them to catch many murderers. Clever killers who would never have been captured are now sitting in prison thanks to profiling. So what exactly is profiling? Well, according to this book it involves assembling every scrap of available evidence and using said evidence to assemble a mental profile of the suspect. Douglas and his colleagues then determine if the killer is "organized" or "disorganized". They can then use the profile to identify likely suspects. Many times their profile matches a person being held in another, minor case. The purpose of "The Cases That Haunt Us" is, therefore, an attempt to apply profiling to major unsolved crimes. The results are, to say the least, interesting and likely controversial.

If you believe Lizzie Borden killed her father with forty whacks, Douglas agrees with you--except for the forty whacks part. It took far fewer blows to do in Andrew Borden. But Douglas does believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that Lizzie killed her father and stepmother. He also comes up with a compelling suspect in the Jack the Ripper murders, although it's nothing we haven't seen in other treatments on the monster of Whitechapel. His analysis of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping endorses the view taken by history, i.e. that Bruno Richard Hauptmann was guilty of the crime, if not its prime architect. As for the Zodiac case...well...Douglas does a great job summarizing his terrible crime spree. Coming up with a viable, living suspect is another matter entirely. He also tackles the Black Dahlia mutilation, Bambi Bembenek, and the Boston Strangler outrages. He doesn't really shed new light on these cases, at least not in my opinion, but he does do an excellent job of assembling the facts and giving us an insight or two into the twisted minds that carried out the crimes. Ahh, to have had a modern profiler back in Jack the Ripper's day!

The most controversial part of the book deals with the JonBenet Ramsey murder case. If you ever want to read about a crime that chills the blood, peruse the various accounts of this horrific killing. It's a case so bizarre in nearly every one of its aspects that solving the crime has proved insurmountable to everyone involved. That doesn't stop Douglas, who once worked as a paid advisor to John and Patsy Ramsey, from taking a crack at this mystifying incident. Those who believe the Ramseys killed their daughter will fume at Douglas's conclusions. He believes that an intruder invaded the house and murdered the young beauty queen. So do I, actually, although there's always that little part of me that suspects the parents. How else to explain the pineapple on the table, or that weird ransom note? To totally exclude the parents, one has to believe them incapable of carrying out such an evil act, and we know from the newspapers and television that such evil acts (and far worse) occur every day. We can't seem to rely on the evidence, which points to just about everyone in JonBenet's life as a possible suspect. Douglas does a great job of condensing the pertinent facts down to a few pages, but his analysis will do nothing to stop the endless speculation concerning the case that continues unabated to this day.

On the whole, I'd say "The Cases That Haunt Us" is a worthy effort. It's not going to solve any of these cases, or even bring about a seismic shift in how we view these crimes, but it is a well-written account of these nightmarish events. I would definitely recommend this book to someone just starting to read about famous crimes. Douglas's ability to summarize the evidence is masterful, always a plus when you're refreshing the old memory banks or just charting a course into the dark waters of real life murder and mayhem. If you're an old hand looking for new information on Saucy Jacky, Lizzie, and JonBenet, I'd probably look elsewhere. You have already seen everything that appears here, and you have already heard about the suspects Douglas names in these pages.
31 internautes sur 39 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Hotly Contested Book 5 novembre 2000
Par William Holmes - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I bought this book about a week ago--both my wife and I have finished reading it already, and we spent most of the week reading over each other's shoulders (or "borrowing" the book when the other wasn't looking). Douglas has a lot of interesing things to say, and Olshaker is an excellent writer. Their collaboration has produced a book that is nearly impossible to put down.
The most controversial part of this book will be the last chapter, in which Douglas sets out his views about who killed JonBenet Ramsey. He will be pounced on by many irate readers who are just absolutely, positively certain that one (or both) of the Ramseys did it--these readers will give the book an undeserved "one star" rating not because the book isn't terrific but because they disagree with Douglas' conclusion.
For my part, I found Douglas' defense of the Ramseys to be diplomatic, well-reasoned and persuasive. After reading Steve Thomas' JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, I was convinced that the crime was not committed by an intruder. Douglas made me think twice about that conclusion and has moved me back to sitting on the fence.
For those who are ready to hang the Ramseys from the nearest tree, remember that the standard of guilt in America is "beyond a reasonable doubt." The only thing that is "beyond doubt" about the Ramsey murder is that an understandably inexperienced Boulder police department allowed the crime scene to be turned into a world class mess within the first few hours of arriving at the Ramseys' home, thus insuring that, short of a confession, the real killer would never be brought to justice. (Douglas once thought that having a child murdered was the worst thing that could happen to someone; now he believes that the worst thing that could happen to someone is to have a child murdered and be wrongly blamed for it.)
And for those who are focused to the point of obsession on the Ramsey murder, Douglas reminds us that 804 other children were murdered in the year JonBenet died. As Douglas says, those are the cases that should really haunt us.
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