Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Joubert, Nebraska Boy Snatcher

Does Not Play Well with Others

When Joubert was six, his parents were going through a difficult divorce but apparently did not discuss it with him.  His father kept the house and Joubert moved with his mother and sister into a small apartment in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  He spent a lot of time with a babysitter and fantasized about killing and cannibalizing her.

It didn't help matters that he never fit in with other kids and ended up spending a lot of time alone and lonely.  And though he was often near his father's house when he stayed with the sitter, he was not allowed to see him.  His anger and bitterness grew, especially as his mother controlled every aspect of his life and laid down strict rules for him.  Then, in 1974, she moved the family to Portland, Maine.

Joubert asked to go live with his father, but his mother would not hear of it.  So he remained in a place where he was unhappy, picked on, and increasingly isolated.  He turned inward to entertain himself and continued to develop his violent fantasies.

When he was thirteen, Joubert went for a bicycle ride and slammed a pencil into a young girl's back.   As she cried out in pain, he felt stimulated and sexually aroused.  No one caught him, so this experience became one that would make him feel powerful and give him fodder for fantasies.  But then he'd want more.  The daydreams were insufficient.  So the next time, he armed himself with a razor blade.  He mounted his bike and went looking for a girl.  When he spotted the right target, he rode by quickly and slashed her. 

Photo: John Joubert, Boy Scout
John Joubert, Boy Scout

In later adolescence, he also beat up an eight-year-old boy one day, attempting to strangle him.  The boy fought and got away, but Joubert had learned from that incident how much he enjoyed turning the tables and becoming the bully.  He enjoyed the sense of power and control he'd experienced.  It was something he'd rarely felt and he wanted more of it.  Approaching the kid had been easy, and he'd very nearly killed him.  He then approached a girl, learned how little fear children had of strangers, and eventually armed himself with a knife.

He stabbed or slashed a few people, who survived his attacks, and never got caught.  In fact, he became the "Woodford Slasher," Pettit writes, and that made him feel quite bold.  The police had even stopped him but had failed to ask any probing questions.  To Joubert, attacking others was easy enough to do, and because it was satisfying and he could get away with it, he planned to continue.  But two years went by before he struck again.  Before joining the Air Force, he attacked once more, and this time he killed a boy: Ricky Stetson.  Joubert left the area and went to Texas, then Nebraska.  He put the incident behind him, and it was not something he would admit to, despite how many details he offered about the other two murders.


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