by BJW Nashe

“Getting away with murder” now serves as a euphemism for avoiding the consequences of just about any kind of bad behavior. In its most literal sense, however, the phrase points to an especially troubling phenomenon — serial killings committed by psychopaths who somehow manage to avoid being caught and convicted of their crimes. The Zodiac Killer, who terrified the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s and early 1970s with a string of murders accompanied by bizarre cryptograms and letters to the press, is probably the most famous murderer who was never captured. The Zodiac is not alone, however.  Our recent history is littered with unsolved mass murders. The following rogue’s gallery — presented in no particular order, since they are all equally hideous — lists some of the ones who got away with the worst crimes imaginable.

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compiled by Patrick H. Moore

Rainey Bethea, age 27, was the last person to be publicly executed in the United States. Bethea had confessed to the rape and murder of a 70-year-old woman named Lischia Edwards, and — under Kentucky state law — was sentenced to be publicly hanged in Owensboro, where the crime had allegedly been committed. Blunders in performing the actual execution and the surrounding media circus (nothing new here) contributed to the end of public executions in the United States.

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by Jared Keever

Author’s Note: The name Tony Harris, as mentioned in the following story, is fictitious. In the interest of privacy, and because I have not personally spoken to some of them for many years, I have also changed the names of my own friends mentioned in the story.

aau27It seems strange now, after all that happened, but what I remember most about Herb Baumeister was the absurd, white Land Rover — complete with cargo rack — that he drove around my hometown of Westfield, Indiana. In the flatlands of the Midwest, it was unnecessary. As an ostentatious vehicle, I guess it served its purpose, but it was over the top for affluent, but understated, Hamilton County.

I remember seeing it parked in front of Marlow’s Cafe most Saturday mornings during the mid 1990s, back when I was in high school. Occasionally I would glimpse Herb, wearing an equally absurd Panama hat, walk to the truck with his wife Julie and drive off.

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review by Patrick H. Moore

I was recently contacted by a liberal Zionist novelist and humanitarian named Howard Kaplan who wrote two first-rate Israeli spy novels back in  the 1970s and 1980s. To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Kaplan is a religious man, and like most Zionists, strongly believes in the cause of modern day Israel. On the other hand, Mr. Kaplan is by no means a right-wing Zionist reactionary and he decries the wickedness and cruelty that all too often emanates from factions among both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Mr. Kaplan’s stance on this seemingly intractable problem is that the fighting and terrorist acts coming from the radicals on both side must stop, and in its place, a spirit of reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians must arise.

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by JJ Rogers

I was born in Clarkston, Washington and grew up across the Snake River in Lewiston, Idaho.  The two cities are located in a deep valley at the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers.  They are not large cities and they didn’t traditionally experience the horrors of serial killers that metropoleis are known for.  That is, until the late 70’s and early 80’s when I was in my teens. That’s when everything changed.  That’s when one man, filled with loathing and complete disregard for human life, selected a series of girls and young women as the objects of his dark desires.

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by Darcia Helle

In 1870, New Orleans was a city divided by politics, class, and race. The Civil War had left much of the south reeling, and now the government’s Radical Reconstruction attempted to force change by integrating the black population into the white-dominated hierarchy. Some whites rebelled, clinging to their Confederate roots, while others who supported the change suffered ridicule and disdain within their community. The atmosphere was tumultuous. Racism was not only openly practiced but encouraged.

Former United States Supreme Court Justice John Campbell, who resigned in order to join the Confederacy, illustrates this point well. He had this to say to his fellow New Orleanians: “We have Africans in place all about us, they are jurors, post office clerks, custom house officers & day by day they barter away their obligations and duties.”

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by John W. Taylor

Joanna Madonna moved to the Raleigh, North Carolina area in 2007 with her second husband, three daughters, and elderly father. After divorcing her second husband a couple of years later, Joanna married Jose Perez, a much older and severely ill and disabled Vietnam veteran. Jose’s primary physician, Dr. Robert Falge, described him as “one of the most ill people I have ever seen who was able to continue functioning.” With Jose collecting disability from the government, Joanna periodically taught high school. Though their income was limited, the couple managed to live in several very nice homes in the Raleigh suburbs, primarily due to financial contributions by Joanna’s father.

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by BJW Nashe

When I lived in Santa Cruz, California from 1982-87, I had no idea that this pleasant seaside town was once dubbed “The Murder Capital of the World.” By the time I moved there to attend UC Santa Cruz, where I majored in philosophy (with an unofficial minor in hallucinogens), there was little or no mention of murder. The mass killing had occurred a decade earlier. The only murders I recall were found in existentialist novels by Albert Camus and Fyodor Dostoevsky. I lived a block and half from the sea. We liked to stroll along West Cliff Drive late at night. Everything seemed perfect.

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by John W. Taylor

After a drawn-out battle over money and custody, Drew Peterson finally divorced his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in October of 2003. He married Stacy Cales (“Peterson”) days after he finalized his divorce. On March 1, 2004, a neighbor found Kathleen’s lifeless body curled up in her bathtub. Though several of Kathleen’s family members thought Kathleen may have been a victim of foul play, the autopsy report identified the cause of death as an accidental drowning and the police concurred. That was the end of it until Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, went missing.

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review by Patrick H. Moore

I get asked to read a fair number of true crime books. The writers, like writers everywhere, are working hard to promote their creations and are eager for exposure. I hate to say “no” to these requests, but inwardly I sometimes groan as in, “How in the world am I going to find time to read, much less review, another crime book?”

Thus, it was with considerable pleasure and more than a little relief that I discovered that COLD SERIAL: The Jack the Stranglers Murders, by Brain Forschner, provides a fascinating extended snapshot of a string of unprovoked rapes and murders committed in or around Dayton, Ohio between 1900 and 1909. Based on the modus operandi of the killer, the reader comes to the unavoidable conclusion that the murders are the work of a single cold-hearted killer, what today we would term a serial killer.

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