An Unexpected Criminal

An Unexpected Criminal

The Unspeakable Crimes of Dr. Petiot, by Thomas Maeder

Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909) believed there was an association between physical characteristics and the innate tendency of individuals toward sociopathy and criminal behaviour. Lombroso.JPG

Lombroso’s main idea was inspired -partly- by evolutionary and genetical studies, and proposed that certain criminals had physical evidence of an “atavistic” or hereditary sort, reminiscent of primitive stages of human evolution. These anomalies -called stigmata– could be expressed in terms of abnormal forms or dimensions of the skull and jaw, assymmetries in the face and in other parts of the body.

These associations were later shown to be highly inconsistent, and that’s when new theories based on the environmental causation of criminality became dominant.

Today studies show that serial killers and psychopaths can look extraordinarily ordinary on the outside. Jack Levin –director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University in Boston– says that’s pure mythology that serial killers are loners or antisocial, and that most of those psychopaths may appear successful and perfectly normal, beyond any suspicion.

Dr. Marcel Petiot was one of those psychopaths who wore the mask of sanity in order to  prey on more than 150 men, women and children desperate to escape Nazi-occupied Paris.

On March 11, 1944, police were called to investigate foul-smelling smoke pouring from the chimney of an elegant private house near the Arc de Triomphe. In the basement of 21 rue Le Sueur, they made the first of many gruesome discoveries: a human handcover90248-medium.png dangling from the open door of a coal-burning stove.

Proceeding to the rear of the home, detectives found rib cages, skulls, and internal organs strewn across the floor and large piles of quicklime mixed with fragments of bone and flesh. Were Hitler’s henchmen responsible for the carnage? Or was it the work of French Resistance fighters purging Paris of traitors and German spies?

As the investigation unfolded, a more sinister possibility emerged. The building’s owner, Dr. Marcel Petiot, was a handsome and charismatic physician whose past was littered with bizarre behavior and criminal activity. When he was finally captured eight months later, Dr. Petiot claimed he was a loyal member of the Resistance who helped kill Nazi collaborators. Prosecutors charged that he was a sadistic mass murderer who lured at least twenty-seven innocent people to their deaths with promises of escape. Estimates of the actual number of his victims ran as high as 150.

Thomas Maeder reconstructs one of the twentieth century’s most cruel and disturbing murder case from the first stages of investigation to the sensational trial. The Unspeakable crimes of Dr.Petiot is a compelling reading about one of the most brilliant yet sadistic mind ever known.

 


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Couples Who Kill: Folie à Deux

Couples Who Kill: Folie à Deux

Brad and Hindley: Genesis of the Moors Murders, by Fred Harrison

You can call them psychopaths. You can call them crazy. Still -after all these years- you can’t make sense of their behaviour. What brought a young couple to commit multiple gruesome murders  will probably remain beyond rational comprehension.cover88009-medium.png

Between 1963 and 1965, Ian Brady and his lover and partner, Myra Hindley, were responsible for the abduction, rape, torture, and murder of five young victims. The “Moors Murders” -named for the desolate landscape where three of the corpses were discovered- are one of the most horrific and shocking killing spree in British history.

Fred Harrison faced the devil -Ian Brady-  on a  face-to-face prison interview, and this book is in part based on that experience. Digging deeply into Brady and Hindley’s personal histories, Harrison examines the factors that led to their mutual and dangerous attraction and what brought them to lured boys and girls into their trap, desecrate their innocence and bury their bodies on bleack windswept moors.

While Ian was the true psycho, Myra was the victim of a condition psychiatrists call Folie à Deux, she shared Ian’s insanity and  adapted her persona to perfectly blend with his. Together they were simply lethal.

True Crime books examine tragedies that are so horrendous they remain cheseled on the collective psyche of a nation long after the perpetrators are gone.  Murders, serial killers, sadists, pedophiles rise great interest and curiosity, but what do we really know about them? Why they commit murders? What motivates them to kill? Can they blame it on the brain just pleading insanity defense?

After years spent studying crimes and perpetrators what I know is that what makes us different from the cruelest serial killer is a fine, subtle line made of where we come from, our backgrounds, education…It’s as simple as that. We all have a faint evil vein running through our bodies. For someone its pulse is just too strong to be ignored.


Get your own copy now! On Amazon.com (Book) – (eBook)