The killer of little shepherds : a true crime story and the birth of forensic science

by Starr, Douglas P.

Format: Print Book 2010
Availability: Available at 4 Libraries 4 of 4 copies
Available (4)
Location Collection Call #
Avalon Public Library Nonfiction 364.15 STA
Location  Avalon Public Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  364.15 STA
CLP - Main Library Mezzanine - Non-fiction KJV131.V33 S73 2010
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Mezzanine - Non-fiction
Call Number  KJV131.V33 S73 2010
Carnegie Free Library of Swissvale Non Fiction 364.15 Sta
Location  Carnegie Free Library of Swissvale
Collection  Non Fiction
Call Number  364.15 Sta
Penn Hills Library Non-Fiction 364.152 STA
Location  Penn Hills Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  364.152 STA
A riveting true crime story that vividly recounts the birth of modern forensics.

At the end of the nineteenth century, serial murderer Joseph Vacher, known and feared as "The Killer of Little Shepherds," terrorized the French countryside. He eluded authorities for years--until he ran up against prosecutor Emile Fourquet and Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne, the era's most renowned criminologist. The two men--intelligent and bold--typified the Belle Époque, a period of immense scientific achievement and fascination with science's promise to reveal the secrets of the human condition.

With high drama and stunning detail, Douglas Starr revisits Vacher's infamous crime wave, interweaving the story of how Lacassagne and his colleagues were developing forensic science as we know it. We see one of the earliest uses of criminal profiling, as Fourquet painstakingly collects eyewitness accounts and constructs a map of Vacher's crimes. We follow the tense and exciting events leading to the murderer's arrest. And we witness the twists and turns of the trial, celebrated in its day. In an attempt to disprove Vacher's defense by reason of insanity, Fourquet recruits Lacassagne, who in the previous decades had revolutionized criminal science by refining the use of blood-spatter evidence, systematizing the autopsy, and doing groundbreaking research in psychology. Lacassagne's efforts lead to a gripping courtroom denouement.

The Killer of Little Shepherds is an important contribution to the history of criminal justice, impressively researched and thrillingly told.
Published Reviews
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Starr (Blood) eloquently juxtaposes the crimes of French serial killer Joseph Vacher and the achievements of famed criminologist Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne during France's belle epoque. From 1894 to 1897, Vacher is thought to have raped, killed, and mutilated at least 25 people, though he would confess to only 11 murders. Lacassagne, who headed the department of legal medicine at the university in Lyon, was a pioneer in crime scene analysis, body decomposition, and early profiling, and investigated suspicious deaths, all in an era when rural autopsies were often performed on the victim's dinner table. Lacassagne's contributions to the burgeoning field of forensic science, as well as the persistence of investigating magistrate Emile Fourquet, who connected crimes while crisscrossing the French countryside, eventually brought Vacher to justice. Vacher claimed insanity, which then (as now) was a vexed legal issue. Lacassagne proved the "systematic nature" of the crimes. Starr, codirector of Boston University's Center for Science and Medical Journalism, creates tension worthy of a thriller; in Lacassagne, he portrays a man determined to understand the "how" behind some of humanity's most depraved and perhaps take us one step closer to the "why." 16 pages of photos. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Vacher, Joseph, -- 1869-1898 -- Trials, litigation, etc.
Lacassagne, A. -- (Alexandre), -- 1843-1924.
Fourquet, Emile.
Trials (Murder) -- France.
Serial murderers -- France -- Biography.
Serial murders -- France -- History -- 19th century.
Forensic sciences -- France -- History -- 19th century.
Publisher New York :Alfred A. Knopf,2010
Edition 1st ed.
Language English
Description x, 300 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages [283]-288) and index.
ISBN 9780307266194
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