Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

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Jack Unterweger
Jack Unterweger
In his new life, Unterweger become the darling of Viennese intellectuals. He was much in demand, attending book launches, literary soirees and opening nights. Fegefeur was a made into a movie, and he was a frequent guest on talk shows. A traveling theater troop presented his plays, inviting him to the openings. A suave and stylish figure in white suits, silk shirts and gold chains, he drove expensive cars with the license plate - JACK 1. He was good-looking and gregarious, an author with clout, who showed up regularly in Viennas trendy champagne bars and nightclubs to charm the women.

Their panties would hit the floor when Jack walked in," an envious acquaintance told a reporter for an Austrian paper. "He was screwing all of Austria."

Another thing Unterweger was good at was sniffing out stories that the public craved to read. It wasnt long before someone had the idea that he ought to be covering murder, since he certainly knew that subject first-hand, so he avidly pursued these cases, wrote about them, and talked about them on television...while also promoting his books.

In the recent string of prostitute murders, he hounded investigators about why they had not yet arrested someone or offered the public any information. He interviewed prostitutes in the streets, writing about the Courier and alerting the public that their worst fears were true. Austria had a serial killer. Everyone wanted to hear what he had to say on the matter.

Investigators took this all in. Having a better sense of this flamboyant killer-turned-reporter, now that he was a suspect, they instituted a discreet surveillance on him to see exactly what he was doing. To their disappointment, he did nothing suspicious. He went about his business, meeting literary colleagues and dining with various women. Then on June 11, three days into the surveillance, he flew to Los Angeles to write free-lance articles for an Austrian magazine about crime in that city. He was now beyond their jurisdiction. But they knew he would be back.

During the five weeks Unterweger was in Los Angeles, the murders stopped. Dr. Ernst Geiger, the most experienced detective on the force, according to McCrary, and the number two man in the Austrian Federal Police, took charge of the investigation. He knew that his job was to build a clear case against Unterweger or eliminate him and move on. It would not go well for the police in the public eye if they falsely accused such a popular figure. Geiger did not really believe he was a reformed criminal with a literary flair, but as yet all he had was information about Unterwegers past that bore remarkable similarities to their unsolved cases. They already knew that he had traveled around Austria and could be the killer they were searching for. Now they had to prove it.

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