Armchair detectives are always looking for what I call “prime constraint circumstance”…a fact that everything else must be filtered through…an immovable object and/or irresistible force that assumes priority over all others. And it’s usually something that you never see coming…a blindside hit to your carefully constructed scenario.
I like to excavate these tingling minutiae that keep true crime mavens awake at night….those little details that destroy reasonable doubt and close a case – or throw it wide open!
How could Bruno Richard Hauptmann have kidnapped that baby if only a few servants knew the Lindbergh’s would be staying in Hopewell New Jersey on a Tuesday night? Any normal week puts them back in New York – but because the baby had a cold they stayed past Monday. Hauptmann, three hours away in the Bronx, could never have anticipated this schedule change, or even arrived there in time after getting off work.
How could Jack Ruby have been part of a conspiracy to kill Lee Harvey Oswald if he was telegraphing money to a stripper 5 minutes before the shooting? His transaction might have caused him to miss Oswald’s transfer from the jail down the street. Throw in the tiny fact that his beloved poodle Sasha was with him – those who knew Ruby swore he never would have left the dog in the car knowing he would be arrested after killing JFK’s alleged assassin.
How could Sam Shepard have beaten his pregnant wife to death when a third blood type was found at the crime scene? In 1954 the coroner ruled the blood trail was dripping from the murder weapon, yet modern forensics proved it wasn’t Marilyn’s or Sam’s blood – the killer was bleeding because she bit him while fighting for her life. Her husband had no open wounds, but suspected serial killer and former Sheppard window washer Richard Eberling had motive and opportunity – plus an unexplained scar on his hand years later.
How could Albert DeSalvo have murdered 13 women and then gone back to being a casual rapist? The Boston Strangler crimes were committed by multiple killers – the age and race of the victims were too diverse, and the cases of the younger women all had solid suspects who knew the victims. And no serial killer would savagely slaughter that many women and be satisfied with returning to the “Green Man” crimes DeSalvo was arrested for – stealthy, non-violent rapes where he apologized to his victims and even gave them money.