By Douglas Starr
With excessive drama and gorgeous element, relates the notorious crime and punishment of French serial killer Joseph Vacher, interweaving the tale of the way Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne, Emile Fourquet and co-workers constructed forensic technology as we all know it
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Additional resources for The killer of little shepherds : a true crime story and the birth of forensic science
He dispatched agents to North America, who followed the couple to New York, Quebec, Vancouver, and San Francisco—always just a few days behind them. Finally, in May 1890, a Frenchman living in Havana recognized Eyraud and alerted Cuban police. His girlfriend, meanwhile, had stayed in Vancouver, where she met and fell in love with an American adventurer. Eventually, he persuaded her to turn herself in. With both suspects in custody, the bizarre story of the crime emerged. Bompard and Eyraud had known of Gouffé’s wealth and reputation for sexual adventure, and they’d heard that he spent most Friday nights at the Brasserie Gutenberg after emptying his office safe.
His guards had instructions to handcuff him and to keep him in view at all times. As the train rumbled on, Vacher asked the guards if he could get off at the next stop to go to the bathroom. 13 They had no intention of letting him off the train, even if manacled, for a minute. He persisted. Finally he offered to stand right in front of the guards and urinate out the door. They paused; the train was flying along at top speed, and it seemed there was no way he could even think of making that leap and surviving.
An old injury, such as a bone break or deformity, would exhibit no trace in the healed-over skin. Bones, on the other hand, were “a witness more certain and durable” than skin, wrote Lacassagne. Long after the soft tissues had decayed, the bones would remain just as they had been in the moment of death. So with little more than bones and gristle to work with, he searched for whatever history those bones might portray. He spent hours scraping bits of flesh off the skeleton, examining the points where ligaments connected, measuring bone size, and opening the joints.