Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Profiling, Interactive

More Clues

The DNA match was helpful in getting a warrant to search Unterwegers apartment in Vienna. When investigators arrived, he was not at home, but their hunch about him inspired a comprehensive search. They discovered a menu and receipts from a seafood restaurant in Malibu, California, as well as photographs of Unterweger posing with female members of the Los Angeles Police Department. They also found a brown leather jacket and red knit scarf, which they seized from the apartment. All of these items provided more leads.

Geiger contacted the LAPD. This had paid off in Prague and it might pay off in America. While they might only acquire items for a circumstantial case against their suspect, the more circumstantial evidence they had, the better. Geiger asked about unsolved murders in the city and discovered that the authorities in L.A. were investigating three seemingly linked killings.

Los Angeles victims: Irene Rodriguez, Shannon Exley and Sherri Long
Los Angeles victims: Irene Rodriguez, Shannon Exley and Sherri Long

Geiger pressed for details and each one confirmed his fears: All of the victims had been prostitutes, all were left out in the open, all were strangled with their bras, and all had been killed during the time when Unterweger had been in the city. In fact, the cops there even knew about him. Detectives Jim Harper and Fred Miller discovered that Unterweger had come in to get a police escort to the seedier parts of town. He had introduced himself as a European journalist and said he was working on an article about prostitution in L.A., so he needed to know where these women might be found.

Using the recovered receipts from Unterwegers apartment, Gieger learned that the places where each victim was last seen alive were near one of the seedy hotels in which Unterweger had stayed. Now for the first time, the LAPD had a viable suspect and Geiger had even more supporting information. He also discovered that Unterweger actually did publish an article on prostitution. Real life in L.A., he had written, is dominated by a tough struggle for survival, by the broken dreams of thousands who come to the city and an equal number who leave, sometimes dead.

University of Berne, campus building
University of Berne, campus building

In Switzerland, according to press reports, analysts at the University of Berne had finished their examination of the leather jacket and red scarf from Unterweger's apartment. Fibers from these items were consistent with those found on the body of Heidemarie Hammerer. No one could definitely identify the scarf as the source of origin, but it could not be eliminated, either. Yet this allowed Geiger to take one more step and get an arrest warrant.

However, when the police arrived at Unterwegers apartment, he was gone. They went around Vienna, talking to his associates. Piecing the stories together, they learned that Unterweger had gone on a holiday with his girlfriend, Bianca Mrak. She was a slender, pretty 18-year-old who had met him in a wine bar where she worked as a waitress. His attention flattered her and she soon moved in with him. Now she was gone as well.

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