The Skeleton Crew

The Skeleton Crew

How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America's Coldest Cases

Large Print - 2014
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The Skeleton Crew provides an entree into the gritty and tumultuous world of Sherlock Holmes-wannabes who race to beat out law enforcement -- and one another -- at matching missing persons with unidentified remains. In America today, upwards of forty thousand people are dead and unaccounted for. These murder, suicide, and accident victims, separated from their names, are being adopted by the bizarre online world of amateur sleuths. It's DIY CSI by ordinary citizens equipped only with laptops and a snack for puzzles.
Publisher: Waterville, Maine : Thorndike Press, ©2014.
Edition: Large Print edition.
ISBN: 9781410471772
Characteristics: 511 pages ;,23 cm.


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Feb 13, 2016

A well-written account of how internet-savvy true crime fans can now become armchair detectives and actually solve cold cases. At first reluctant to admit the public into their inner sanctum, police investigators are now becoming more willing to tap into their collective intelligence to help solve crimes. Across the country, police have begun to post databases of info on missing persons and unsolved cases. The book also tries to raise awareness of the problem of the number of unsolved murders involving unidentified victims.. a much larger problem than many realize, with the remains of Jane and John Does in the thousands in America's morgues and crime labs. They are waiting on someone.. perhaps even you or me.. to help identify them!

Dec 28, 2015

Readers of mystery fiction or true crime will find this book interesting. Unsolved murders in the US range from 10,000 to 40,000, as do the remains in morgues, buried nameless, or found every year. The advent of the Internet made inevitable the rise of "civilians" using it to try to make matches and bring closure to families. Halber, a journalist, probed the strange world of people who spend hours and in often years at, usually, outdated computers trying to solve their pet cases. In the beginning of this phenomenon, around the late 1990s, cops rarely cooperated with their efforts. Yet after a few widely publicized successes, some law enforcement departments began to accept their help. Halber doesn't present a history of the movement so much as describe several cases that interested her. She interviewed the amateurs, the law enforcement officials involved, and, when they were willing to talk to her, the families of the dead. Many cases are still open. "The Lady in the Dunes," a beautiful young woman, was murdered near Provincetown on Cape Cod, decades ago. Several long-term police chiefs spent their time in office searching for her identity and her killer, with the help of several amateur sleuths. No luck, yet. Halber also discusses dissension among people with a common desire to solve cold cases. A recent Washington Post article interviews a Chicago police detective who, using mostly DNA, is working to identify some of the victims of John Wayne Gacy, several of whom couldn't be identified at the time. So far, he's identified at least one of Gacy's victims, and other people unconnected with Gacy, some still alive, and been able to reunite them with their families. He credits one of the groups in Halber's book with helping him.

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