Thursday, January 19, 2012

Online Database Yields Clues That Point To Serial Killer

I love reading these kinds of stories: There's a piece over at the Columbus, Indiana Republic that details the story of an amateur crime analyst who discovered evidence of a serial killer while pouring over a database of unsolved killings.

New York authorities, asked about Fallon's discovery, are talking for the first time about the extraordinary efforts they made to solve a string of killings of women in the Rochester area that occurred in the shadow of the much-heralded arrest of "Genesee River Killer" Arthur Shawcross. He died in prison in 2008 after confessing to 11 murders.

Fallon detected a second group of strangulations of women, whom police say were mostly prostitutes, killed after Shawcross was apprehended.

"Yes, we did have a second serial killer," said Capt. Lynde Johnston of the Rochester Police Department's homicide division. "I think we all agreed that he had killed seven. Some of us think eight."

Retired FBI supervisory special agent Gregg McCrary, who worked as a profiler in the Shawcross cases, remembers the second series of killings vividly.

"What are the chances of having two of these guys in the same city?" McCrary asked. "The focus was on the Genesee River Killer. But we had an unsettling feeling that something else might be going on."

I this shows that there is some value to publicizing data on cold cases where having as many eyes as possible on the data might yield insights that may have gone unnoticed. It also demonstrates how collecting the data through programs like FBI's ViCAP are worthy endeavors.

If you want to look at the Scripps-Howard Serial Killer database referred to in the Republic story, you can access it here.

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