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Forensic Psychiatrist John Liebert

John Liebert is a Forensic Psychiatrist.  He consulted on the Ted Bundy murders, the Atlanta Child Murders and the Green River Killer.

He specializes in studying mass shooters and has written many books on that subject.  He is a strong advocate for helping veterans.

A couple years ago, Dr. Liebert asked me to write a foreword for a book, “Psychiatric Criminology-A Roadmap for Rapid Assessment”.  I was honored to do so. His books are available here.

John also wrote one work of fiction, “The Palace Guard”.  It can be found here.

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Early Reviews

The early reviews are in for my book. I thought I’d share them with you.

“The greatest book I’ve ever read!” -Cloyd Steiger
“I laughed- I cried!” – Cloyd Steiger
“Sure to hit the bestseller list!”- Cloyd Steiger
“Soon to be a major motion picture!”- Cloyd Steiger
“I thought there’d be food.” -Anonymous

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Book Teaser

Here are the first few pages of “Homicide:  The View from Inside the Yellow Tape.”

1

My job’s been murder lately.

I mean that literally; the blood, and the gore. And don’t even get me started about the smell; the metallic scent of blood, usually mixed with alcohol, the putrid odor of decaying human flesh, the maggots, and blood spatter. It’s not the clean, tidy murder like you see on CSI or several other television dramas that think they got it right.

They didn’t.

My work life is about depravity; about asshole gang-bangers to whom life is some gangsta rap song advocating pulling out your gat at the slightest provocation, about sexual psychopath serial killers, domestic terrorists, the criminally insane, and a whole bunch of just stupid people who kill other people for no damned good reason.

At home, my life is PG-13, but my work life is definitely MA-17.
It’s not a job for people who don’t want to get their hands dirty.
This morning was no exception.

I drove the downtown Seattle streets, usually bustling with pedestrian and vehicle traffic, abandoned at that hour, except an occasional street sweeper or transient sifting through ashtrays, seeking out cigarette butts discarded with tobacco enough to roll their own.

The red and blue lights at the top of my windshield pierced the streetlight-lit night, I paused only briefly at each red light before driving through, eventually pulling my unmarked Chevy Impala detective car up to the scene, a gas station off Denny Way in the shadow of the Space Needle. Well, it would have been in the shadow if it wasn’t four in the morning.

Another homicide.

Yellow crime scene tape encircled the lot, a dead black male lying near a gas pump, his head surrounded by a large pool of blood, his eyes in the fixed cloudy stare of death I’d seen hundreds, if not thousands of times in my career.

A young patrol officer stood at the edge of the tape, a clipboard in his hands logging everyone entering the crime scene, his uniform immaculately clean and pressed; obviously a rookie.

“Can I get your name, sir?”

“Steiger,” I told him, “from Homicide.”

“Serial number?”

“Four-three-one-three.”

I saw the look in his eyes; he was looking at a dinosaur. His serial number was probably in the mid-eight thousands.

Two of my sons are patrol officers. He’d consider them old guys with seven and a half and eight years on respectively.
Johney Stevens was the Patrol Sergeant at the scene. I knew him well. I was a patrol officer with several years on when he was the rookie holding the clipboard.

“What’s going on here, Johney?”

“The clerk inside heard a bunch of shots. He ducked and called 911. My guys got here and found this dude obviously dead,” he said, gesturing to the body. “We found four guns; two in the car, and two outside. The thing is, all the shell casings are in the car, none outside. It looks like these guys were all sitting in the car when the shooting went down.”

“Wow,” I smiled. “The shootout at the OK Corolla.”

I walked up to the car and looked in, the scent of cordite and blood in the air. A semiautomatic pistol lay just outside the front passenger door. Another was in the backseat. The magazine was inserted backward. It couldn’t have fired in that condition.

Sucks to be that guy.

Another gun lay on the ground near the dead guy.

This wasn’t my case. I was there to help the primary detectives, in this case Tom Mooney and Jeff Mudd.

Bob Merner, the Chief of Investigations pulled up in his car.
Chief’s rarely show up at “routine” murder scenes. Bob isn’t like a normal Chief. He’d recently come to Seattle from Boston PD, where he’d spent most his career as a Homicide detective or supervisor. He shot up the ranks late in his career to Superintendent of Investigations, Boston’s equivalent of Assistant Chief.

I met Bob a couple years ago. He was a lieutenant with Boston Homicide when I attended a Homicide conference in New York.

I was glad to have him in Seattle.

“How is it I live in the suburbs, twenty-five miles from here, and you live just a few blocks away, but I beat you to the scene?”

“My phone only rang twenty minutes ago!”
I explained the scene to him.

“It looks as though these mopes shot it out in the car,” I said. “It’s amazing only one of them was killed. Most likely, it’s a drug rip. A thinning of the gene pool.”

It’s what we sometimes referred to as a Misdemeanor Murder.

Later that Saturday morning, my contribution to this case was complete. Because of this case, the next murder would be mine. My partner, Jason Kasner, was out of town on vacation, so I’d be on my own. I went home at eleven AM.
By eight o’clock that night, my ass was dragging. I’m too old for this shit, and my years in Homicide has taught me, always assume you’ll get called right back in. Get sleep when you can.

I went to bed.

My instincts were correct.

I woke to my cellphone ringing. I looked at the clock on my nightstand. Three-thirty in the morning again; two nights in a row.

Within a few minutes, I was in my car, red and blue lights flashing, heading up I-5 on my way to another murder. I’m definitely too old for this shit. This case is mine. I’ll be at work for fifteen or sixteen hours.

At least it’s my day off.

I’d been thinking of retiring. I’d been a cop thirty-six years. That’s a long time. Twenty-two in Homicide.

I’d seen a lot during that time that someone not in this business wouldn’t believe.

It’s been a long road.

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Retired Seattle Police Officers Association Presentation

On Valentines day, I presented to the monthly RSPOA meeting about the Patrick Fleming homicide, (which is recounted in my book.)  It’s the second time I’ve presented there.  All those old retired cops and their wives like hearing murder stories.

Dick Rovig, (foreground, left) seems especially enthralled.  (Actually he’s the guy that asked me to speak.)

I usually attend these meetings.  The saying goes, when you retire, you don’t miss the job; you miss the people.  This is a good way to stay in touch.

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Composite Sketches

MSN.com had an interesting article this morning about suspect sketches that helped make an arrest in a case.  I was lucky to have access to good artists that drew very good sketches, many of which, once the suspect was arrested, looked like they posed for the sketch.  Many I see put out by agencies are a joke and don’t even look like a real person.

I hate how they depict them on television.  The witness sits in a chair and says, “He had a large nose,” etc.  In reality, the artist has a book of different facial features, each with a code.  The witness looks through the book and tried to point out features they think looked like the person.  Once all those are picked out, the artist draws the sketch based on those pieces, (hence the term composite).  When the sketch is done, the artist sits down with the witness again and makes any changes the witness wants.  At that point, the witness scores the drawing from 1 t0 10, with 10 being best.  Most witnesses score then between 7 and 9.

The artist I used the most was Betty Kincaid.  She had been a civilian employee at SPD, but after she retired, she contracted for sketch work. (I mention her a couple times in my book).

Aside from being a great artist, she was a great interviewer of the victim or witness.  She was able to draw out the victim’s memory with an almost hypnotic style.

A woman had been attacked in the middle of the night in her South Lake Union condo while she slept.  The suspect had crawled up the outside patios to her unit, which I think was on the seventh floor.  It was dark, and she had 20/400 vision with her glasses off.

I had Betty work on a sketch with her.  The victim was very pessimistic about her ability to do a sketch, but we tried anyway.

When the sketch was done, she scored it a 4.  (The lowest score I’d ever seen).  When the suspect was eventually arrested, he could have posed for the sketch.  It was incredible work.

Another time working sex crimes, a victim mailed in a sketch of the suspect.  It was a stick-figure.  I told the other detectives in the unit, “This is obviously the work of the Saint.”

The MSN article is here.

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Kenneth Mains

I was in the middle of a homicide investigation one day in 2014, when my cell phone beeped, informing me that I had an email.  I checked and found it was from Ken Mains.

“Who the hell is Ken Mains?”, I said to myself, and then opened the email.

Ken told me he was the president of the American Investigative Society of Cold Cases, and wanted to know if I would like to be on a consulting committee for the group.

“Sure”, I wrote back, “but I’m in the middle of something right now.  I’ll get back to you.”

Thus began my association with this great group, where I’ve met many of the friends who I post about here.

Ken recently starred, (along with retired LAPD Homicide Detective Sal Labarbera – also a member of the group) on a limited series on the History Channel, “The Search for the Zodiac Killer”.  Look for it on demand.

Ken also wrote a book about cold case murders.  It can be found here.

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Anthony Meoli

Anthony Meoli is also a friend of mine.  He’s a criminologist and    lives in the Philadelphia area.  He corresponds with several serial killers around the country by mail and phone calls.  He’s written books about some of them.  His books can be found here.

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M-Vac Wet Vacuum DNA Collection System

The M-Vac DNA collection system is a breakthrough in forensic DNA collection.  It allows investigators to find DNA and match it to offenders from places never before possible.  My buddy, Jared Bradley is the President of M-Vac Systems, a technique originally designed to find E-Coli in food.  He was recently interviewed by a television station.  You can view that interview here.

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Great Article about Serial Killers- Katherine Ramsland

Katherine Ramsland is a Forensic Psychologist, a professor of forensic psychology at DeSales University, a friend of mine, and an associate at AISOCC.  She is a prolific writer, and author of more than 60 books.  She also writes a blog for Psychology Today, called Shadow Boxing.

She recently wrote an article about myths about serial killers.  You can read it here.

As I said, Katherine’s a prolific author, from True Crime, to Paranormal non-fiction and fiction.  Her books can be found here.

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