Cracking a Serial Killer Mystery

Hosted byIan Punnett

Cracking a Serial Killer Mystery

About the show

Legendary statistician and writer Bill James has applied his analytical expertise to crack an unsolved century-old mystery surrounding one of the deadliest serial killers in American history. He joined guest host Ian Punnett to discuss a monstrous criminal who committed a series of murders between 1898 and 1912, killing entire families in cold blood as they slept. The killer is known as 'the man from the train,' as all of the murders happened in houses within walking distance to a train station.

According to James, the man from the train killed as many as 90 people, and more if you count those who were lawfully executed or lynched for his crimes. Numerous similarities tie his crimes together, James explained, noting almost all of the murders happened around midnight on weekends, they involved an entire family usually with a prepubescent girl, and took place in logging towns too small for a police department.

"What the man from the train did was to exploit the peculiar weaknesses of the criminal justice system to evade capture," James continued, adding the killer knew if he committed a crime and got out of town before it was discovered, it could not be connected to him. The man from the train preferred warm weather for his killing sprees, was likely short, left-handed, and an experienced logger who used the blunt side of the axe for his crimes, James reported. He revealed the true identity of the man from the train as German immigrant Paul Miller.


Halloween in Salem

In the first hour, Edgar Award-winning travel writer, J.W. Ocker, talked about what happens during the Halloween season in Salem, Massachusetts. A small city of about 40,000, Salem accepts an additional 100,000 tourists just on Halloween, Ocker reported, noting how over the course of Haunted Happenings from October 1-31 as many as 250,000 people visit the infamous town. He described the celebration of Halloween in Salem as "absolute pandemonium," comparing it to the party atmosphere of Mardi Gras in New Orleans and suggesting it is not the best time to experience the historical city. Ocker also spoke about the challenge real witches there face in practicing their religion as they deal with the legacy of the witch trials and Halloween caricatures.

News segment guest: Juanita Jennings, Roswell, NM Public Affairs Director

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