cover image ShadowMan: An Elusive Psycho Killer and the Birth of FBI Profiling

ShadowMan: An Elusive Psycho Killer and the Birth of FBI Profiling

Ron Franscell. Berkley, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-593-19927-5

In this exceptional true crime account, Franscell (The Darkest Night) tells the fascinating story of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit’s early days and the very first psychological profile used to catch a killer. In the summer of 1973, six-year-old Susie Jaeger was taken from her tent at a family campsite in a Montana state park. Nine months later, FBI special agent Pete Dunbar and his team discovered human remains near the park of a missing young woman and a small girl. Dunbar went to Quantico to ask two agents who taught a course in profiling to create a profile of the unknown suspect in the Jaeger case. Using clues from the crime scene and the investigation, they predicted he would be a white male, a military veteran, a loner—and that Susie wasn’t his first kill. One suspect who fit the bill was David Meirhofer, known as an “oddball,” but he passed three lie detector tests, and it wasn’t until body parts were found in his freezer that he confessed to four kidnapping and killings, including Susie’s. The profile also predicted he could be suicidal. In September of 1974, Meirhofer died by suicide while in jail. Franscell’s portrait of rural Montana will remind many of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, and the way he weaves together the threads of the different killings is spellbinding. This is a must for Mindhunter fans. Agent: Linda Konner, Linda Konner Literary. (Mar.)