KILLER AMONG US

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In 1973, teenage girls began disappearing from Folly Beach, a small town on a barrier island in South Carolina. Initially thought by police to be a spate of runaways, the real story emerged when a police officer on patrol heard a cry for help and found three girls bound and gagged in an abandoned beach cottage. Further investigation turned up bodies buried in the dunes nearby. The police reacted quickly and closed off the only bridge to the mainland, thereby trapping the townspeople with the certain knowledge that one among them was a serial killer. Everyone became a suspect, as neighbor turned against neighbor in an atmosphere of rapidly growing hysteria.

What effects does the presence of a serial killer have on the collective health of a community? What strategies do people adopt to manage the fear and anxiety that accompany news of a serial killer’s predations? And why do citizens and the media respond as they do to serial killers, who usually account for only a small portion of the homicides in the communities in which they are active? Killer Among Us: Public Reactions to Serial Murder examines serial murder from this fresh perspective: an exploration of the ways people react when a killer is at large in their community. Drawing on 19th-century tabloid accounts of the predations of Jack the Ripper and on 20th-century media coverage of such villains as The Son of Sam and Jeffrey Dahmer, the author constructs vivid and provocative retellings of many of the most infamous cases of serial murder.

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Description

Synopsis

1. Introduction

Richard Raymond Valenti
Folly Beach, South Carolina (1973-1974)

2. Serial Murder: Public Reactions

3. The Common Denominator

Albert Henry DeSalvo: The Boston Strangler
Boston, Massachusetts (1962-1964)

4. The Coed Killer and Clairvoyant

John Norman Collins
Ypsilanti, Michigan (1967-1969)

5. The Media and the Murderer

David Richard Berkowitz: The Son of Sam
New York, New York (1976-1977)

6. A House Divided

Wayne Bertram Williams
Atlanta, Georgia (1979-1981)

7. There All the Time

Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer
Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1987-1991)

8. The Classic Case

Jack the Ripper
London, England (1888)


“I first read this book some ten years ago, and I knew almost immediately it was “a keeper”. Without a doubt, it is the very best book on the subject of public reactions to the serial murderer; a subject, I might add, that was off the radar, as it were, until the publication of this book. Also, it is not often that I finish a work and ponder how fortunate we are that the author decided to travel down this literary road, but this is exactly the reaction I had upon closing Mr. Fisher’s book. It is a fine academic study of the subject, and I’m betting it will be around for many decades, as its message is timeless. Indeed, folks reading it a hundred years from now will find it as “telling” as we do today.”

– Kevin M. Sullivan


“A semi-scientific study of modern serial killers. Fisher, a market researcher and author of several books on crime, here addresses a host of American killers, as well as Jack the Ripper. Fisher discusses the infamous, like Jeffrey Dahmer, to good effect, and provides an interesting view of how nearly everyone involved in the case ended up suing each other; one victim’s mother even sued Dahmer’s parents for bad parenting. The chapter on Atlanta child killer Wayne Williams provides valid insights into his crime spree, which left at least 28 children dead…”

 Kirkus Reviews

“Between 1968 and 1974, I had the dubious distinction of living in two communities that were threatened by serial killers.’ So begins this rigorous report by Fisher, a criminologist with a flair for archival research, on the ways in which communities respond to the trauma of serial killings….Along the way, Fisher debunks some stereotypical notions about serial murder investigations, including the value of complicated personality profiles and of psychic investigators in apprehending the guilty….[H]e presents a wealth of information and, especially in his coverage of the Son of Sam investigation, offers a mildly satirical look at ‘the bond of mutual exploitation’ created among the public, the authorities, the killer and the press–a bond, he suggests, that may excite the killer, desperate for media attention, to strike again.”

Publishers Weekly

Additional information

Weight 19.2 oz
Dimensions 6 × 1 × 9 in
Pages

256