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Fascinating look inside the serial killer's mind
on 25 April 2010
I searched out this book after watching a surprisingly good TV movie based on it - with a great performance from Carey Elwes as Ted Bundy - and was not disappointed.
Robert Keppel is perhaps the most experienced 'hunter' of serial killers around, starting with the Ted Bundy case of course, and he combines the street cop's experience with the scholarly overview of the associate professor of criminal justice that he later became.
I hadn't realised that the 'Silence of the Lambs' scenario, whereby a jailed serial killer is consulted by law enforcement about an on-going serial case was based on fact, but that's what Robert Keppel did...he took up Ted Bundy's offer to give his unique insight into the mind of the Green River Killer, or 'Riverman' - the seemingly unstoppable killer of perhaps 60 women in a murderous career that spanned two decades.
But what is equally fascinating is the hidden duel between Keppel and Bundy during their meetings : Keppel wants to get Bundy's help with the ongoing case, but also to try to see what he can make Bundy let slip about the unsolved aspects of Bundy's own killing spree, including the unknown murders that he suspects Bundy committed.
And Bundy also has his motives : he is 'grooming' Keppel to be a suitably understanding recipient and transmitter of his version of his story - and then later he wants to use his own usefulness as a consultant to save him from execution.
The book not only covers the Ted Bundy and Green River cases, but also looks at others like the Michigan child murders. In fact it's a fairly comprehensive overview of how serial killing investigation has developed from the earliest days, and Keppel doesn't hide the mistakes and narrow thinking that at times needlessly let killers continue for years. (He is fairly scathing about the FBI and the usefulness of profiling too.)
There are 8 pages of photos, all from the Ted Bundy murders - including an incredible one taken by a private citizen. The snap is of police confronting rowdy bikers at a state park... but this was on the day the killer abducted two girls from that park and murdered them - and without realising it the photographer has also captured an image of Ted Bundy in his infamous VW Beetle!