Sunday, April 21, 2019
The Murder Room by Michael Capuzzo
In 1990, three men involved in law enforcement met over lunch and laid out the idea of a group devoted to helping police forces solve cold crimes. From that meeting, the Vidocq Society, named after a French real-life detective many believe was the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes. The Society meets once a month over lunch and cases are brought up and discussed, giving the requesting law enforcement agency new avenues to investigate and new insights. The society is still active; it accepts cases only for law enforcement. Membership is by invitation only and is kept to 82 experts.
The book focuses on the three men who created the society. William Fleisher was the person who was the driving force behind the group and performed most of the administrative tasks. A customs agent who started as a policeman, working up to being a homicide detective, William saw the gap that experts in various fields that touched law enforcement could provide to detectives stumped on cases. One of those experts was Frank Bender. Frank never served as a policeman but was integral in solving many cases. His expertise was recreating faces from skulls so that victims could be identified; often the stumbling block in a cold case. The third man was Richard Walter who served for years as a forensic psychiatrist in asylums and prisons. He has spent his life looking at the worst men can do and is considered one of the world's experts in evil.
The book is interesting not only for the look into the Society and these three men, but the insight into various cases. Some are familiar cases, such as John List, who annihilated his entire family and was caught decades later. Others are cases that are less familiar such as the Roger Scott Dunn case in Texas. Dunn was killed by his live-in girlfriend and an accomplice over several days after he tried to break up with the girlfriend, Leisha Hamilton. She is a prime example of the power anger killer that Richard Walter considers the worst of all criminal types. There are many other cases as well and the reader will discover a wealth of information about criminal cases and the men and women who solve them. This book is recommended to true crime readers.