The Serial Confessor (Updated)

T his is another entry taken from a true-crime book which I'm writing, a book about a series of murders set against the backdrop of a sleepy American town. This part is a digression dealing with the fabrications of caged psychopaths, the phenomenon of the serial confessor, who claims credit for crimes which he had not committed. While this is only a cursory look at the subject, I felt it formed something of a mini-story of its own, and was more or less ready to be posted. P sychopaths, particularly high-functioning psychopaths, are well skilled at adapting their presentation – or, in other words, their mask – depending on the rewards and punishments available in a given context. If incarcerated, a psychopath will exploit the venues for his own gains, and will often seek replacement stimuli in place of those no longer available. He may, for instance, have to replace physical domination with

President Herbert Hoover and the Girl from the Ruins. A World War II mystery. (Updated)

Adolf Hitler’s plan for Poland’s capital Warsaw had always involved demolishing the city and rebuilding it as “a provincial German town”, but the 1944 Warsaw Uprising provoked the dictator into proceeding with the plan far earlier and far further than even he had at first envisioned. Reginald Kenny's 1946 photograph of the Girl from the Ruins. Colorized by Jaromir Król. The earlier 1943 Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto had already provoked Hitler to send SS-Gruppenführer Jürgen Stroop’s troops to annihilate 50 thousand people within its walls, deport 36 thousand survivors to die in concentration camps, and destroy any remaining structures, which constituted about 15% of the entire city. After the massacre and destruction was over, Stroop’s official report, sent to Himmler as a leather-bound souvenir album, triumphantly declared: “The Jewish Quarter of Warsaw Is No More!” on its title page. Jürgen Stroop’s report (1943/1946, International Military Tribunal / Public Domain) The v

An Experiment with the Zodiac Killer (Updated)

The Portrait  On October 11, 1969, at 9:55 PM, a yellow taxi driven by 29-year old part-time journalist, part-time cabbie Paul Stine stopped near the corner of San Francisco’s Washington and Cherry Street. The passenger, the man who had named himself the Zodiac, shot Stine in the head, killing him instantly. Minutes later and a few hundred yards away, an 8-year old witness saw the man and recognized his face – or so he thought. The young witness identified the man as X., a 38-year old local who often went by a shortened version of his full first name. He shared it with a famed Greek playwright, philosopher and militarist, whose best-known work - the story of Greek soldiers caught behind enemy lines in ancient Persia - had just inspired a novel about troubled youth in New York's underworld of street gangs, and, in a decade, would serve as the basis for its legendary film adaptation, made by director Walter Hill. The information about X., who had