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Here's the truth, as Vernon Geberth sees it: "Serial killers can come from all races, cultures, nationalities, educational level, economic level, gender and sexual orientation."
Geberth, a consulting criminologist and former commanding officer of the NYPD's Bronx Homicide Task Force, is not alone on that score - the FBI and all available data both from law enforcement and academia agree that serial killers are, by and large, equally distributed per capita across all racial and ethnic subgroups.
The most recent episode of the Crime Scene podcast examined why, despite all the data, the myth persists that most if not all serial killers are white males, but Geberth has done his own scholarly research on the subject.
In a 2012 research report titled "The Imperceptible Phenomenon of Black Sexual Serial Killers" Geberth examines the subject in depth - how that myth has persisted despite all evidence to the contrary, and how that myth has been a detriment to police actually attempting to solve murders.
The result is what he calls "linkage blindness," defined as "an investigative failure to recognize a pattern which links one crime with another crime in a series of cases through victimology, geographic region ... the 'signature' of the offender, similar M.O. and a review of autopsy protocols."
Dr. Delores Jones Brown, a former John Jay College professor studying the intersection of race and crime, agreed during a recent interview that it's an odd kind of racism. The media, police and the public want to see black killings as exclusively drug- or gang-related.
As Geberth writes, "The arrest of Wayne Williams" - who killed at least 23 children in Atlanta between 1979 and 1981 - "was considered an anomaly. The media covered this event as though there had never been any black serial killers prior to 1980."
But Geberth's research demonstrates otherwise. His self-maintained database recognizes 155 black serial killers between 1900 and 2012.
In case you're curious, the most common method of killing used among black serial killers in America is strangulation.
By the way, I'm hard at work and will have a brand new podcast for you next week.
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True Crime News
SHHHHHHHH: A woman was seen bathing nude in city hall fountains, took down and destroyed an American flag and broke some windows. When she later went to the local library, she allegedly verbally abused and threatened the security guard who promptly pepper-sprayed the suspect, later arrested and charged, presumably for disturbing the library's quiet sanctity.
ONE WAY TO GET IN YOUR STEPS: At a particularly dangerous intersection for pedestrians, police stationed an officer to walk back and forth as cars drove past (with a patrol car hidden nearby). If a car violated the pedestrian's right of way, they were pulled over and ticketed. The sting resulted in 77 tickets.
COPS STUMBLE UPON A HOMICIDE: Police, on their way to a reported burglary, happened to notice a dead body lying in in a driveway. The unidentified man had been shot, and the incident had nothing to do with the burglary to which police were responding. I guess that's what you call "killing two birds with one stone."
More to listen to
UNSOLVED: A true crime podcast series, Unsolved guides listeners through real-life mysteries, uncovering new clues along the way. Season two examines the case of toddler Michelle Manders, who vanished from her bedroom in the middle of the night in 1981. Did she wander alone into the darkness? Or was she kidnapped?