Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Joubert, Nebraska Boy Snatcher

Initial Impressions

There were a number of signals that the killer was not overly concerned with concealment, which indicated compulsive behavior, or something he could not easily control.  Ressler thought it was significant that the perpetrator had left Danny Joe's body in a place where he might have been seen.  It was a dead-end road, but not far from an area where people would have been driving.  In addition, the offender had picked Danny Joe up during the early daylight hours, and he hadn't bothered to take his prey further down the road to dump him in the river.  To the offender, the body could be found fairly quickly, and his behavior indicated that he did not care.  Even if it had still been dark when he left the body there, someone passing by could easily have spotted him or his vehicle in that spot.  It was high-risk behavior.

Photo: Rope used to tie hands
Rope used to tie hands

The news reports the next day indicated that Danny Joe had been stabbed, but Ressler said it was worse than that.  He lay face-down in the weeds, his hands and feet bound behind his back with a rope.  His mouth had been closed with surgical tape, which was also used around his ankles and wrists.  His clothing, except for his undershorts, had been removed, and he'd been stabbed multiple times.  He'd also been hit in the face and his neck was slashed.  Under the tape over his mouth, according to the medical examiner's report, a pebble had been found.  That indicated that the boy had been a captive for a short time somewhere other than where he was found rather than killed quickly at this site.  In that case, it seemed most likely that he'd been murdered shortly before he was found.  While it appeared to have been a sexual crime, there was no evidence of outright sexual assault before or after death.

Other boys, including Danny Joe's brother, reported that a man in a tan car had followed them in the days before the abduction.  He'd never approached them, but in light of these circumstances, it now appeared to be suspicious.  He might have been scoping out the area and making his selection.

Investigators got busy trying to find the source of the pebble found in Danny's mouth.  If they could identify an area that contained such pebbles, they might be able to find more evidence, and possibly the missing clothing.  They did locate a potential source, but around the same time, the ME admitted that he'd made a mistake in his report.  He had mixed up Danny Joe's case with another one, and no pebble had been found in Danny Joe's mouth.  That was both disappointing and frustrating for investigators.  They had thought they were closing in on a potential lead.


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