Friday, May 31, 2019

The Shadow Of Death by Philip Ginsburg

Things were changing in the early 1980's in the Connecticut River Valley.  The River went between two states, New Hampshire and Vermont and was made up of small towns and people used to a rural life.  But outside life was intruding.  City dwellers were moving out to escape the high prices and crime of the big cities.  Instead of everyone knowing everyone else, now families came and went and one encountered many strangers each day.  Soon, things would change even more as young girls and women started to disappear, found later dead.

At first it was young girls, girls who were walking along the small highways or even hitchhiking, which was more common then.  At first, the cases seemed unrelated but as the total number started to climb, the similarities between the cases were more noticeable and soon the police and the general public realized that one person was responsible.  After much investigation, a young man named Gary Schaefer was arrested and imprisoned.

But the cases did not stop.  Women alone in cars along the highways were still being grabbed up, their bodies found months later.  One woman was last seen talking on a public pay phone outside a store.  Another was taken from a rest stop one snowy evening returning from a ski trip.  One was killed in her house minutes before her husband returned; an outlier but the house was impossible not to see and its occupants were basically living in a fishbowl.  These women were older than the first group of victims and as unbelievable as it might seem, it became clear that this small rural area had another serial killer working the roads.  This one was never caught although there were various suspects over the years.

Readers of true crime will find this book fascinating.  It is not one of the most publicized cases so it will be new to most people.  Although the second killer was never found, the story of the investigation, the families of the victims and the police who worked the case are interesting.  It is a good viewpoint into what a case was like as the notion of serial killers was just making its way into the mindset of the country.  I found this book especially interesting because of one investigator.  It was a psychiatrist named John Philpin, who was one of the earlier individuals doing what the FBI was to later make so famous in books and TV shows, building a psychological profile of the killer that could be used to identify and capture the killer.  I was in an email group with John years ago and to read about his early career was satisfying.  This book is recommended for readers of true crime.

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