Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Joubert, Nebraska Boy Snatcher


Ressler attempts to understand what may have been at the base of Joubert's early assaults.  He'd had a friend with whom he'd developed a latent homosexual relationship.  They grew quite close, but during one summer, Joubert went away.  Upon his return, he learned that his dear companion had moved to another town.  He was unable to find out where his friend had gone, and his mother offered no help.  She apparently told him to get over it.  So the stage was set: Joubert grieved over the loss of the friend, felt lost, and developed anger toward a female who symbolized authority and assistance but who hindered him from assuaging his pain.  Soon afterward, Joubert began attacking young girls.  Ressler apparently believes that the mother's unsympathetic actions were instrumental in that.  She had also refused to take Joubert to see his father after they were divorced, which added fuel to his smoldering fire.

So Joubert had crossed a line from fantasy into action and also seemed to be on a slippery slope toward more potent assaults.

Just as interesting is Pettit's approach to Joubert.  He begins his book with a show of sympathy but ends it with genuine concern for the families of the victims and not much for Joubert.  He wasn't happy with Joubert's resistance to admitting to the murder in Maine, so he described Joubert's behavior in such a way as to indicate that he did more or less admit to it.  "It was as if he wanted to tell me straight out, to get it off his conscience, but couldn't.  I took his answer as a yes."  Apparently Joubert had believed that confessing the other two crimes ought to have spared him the death penalty, and when he was sentenced to die, he decided to say no more.

Nevertheless, Pettit was summoned to Maine during Joubert's trial to be grilled on the stand for what Joubert may or may not have said to him.  Joubert's public defender accused Pettit of brokering information for the police, which he denied.  He nevertheless "felt caught somewhere between justice and Joubert."


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