Detective Maximilian Langsner and the Murderer's Mind Part 1

About the famous detective Maximilian Langsner and the case of the Murderer's Mind, history and solution of the crime.



The Crime

On the evening of July 8, 1928, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police received a panicky telephone call from Dr. Harley Heaslip, who reported a mass murder on a farm some 5 mi. outside of Mannville, Alberta, where the wealthy Booher family lived, along with their hired hands. "Half of them have been murdered," Heaslip said. Constable Fred Olsen went to the scene immediately and found the body of Mrs. Rose Booher slumped over the dining room table. She had been shot in the back of the head. In the kitchen lay the body of her elder son, Fred, shot three times in the face. An inspection of the bunkhouse and barn turned up two more corpses, hired hands who could conceivably have heard the first shots and seen the killer. Since Mrs. Booher was killed while picking stems from a batch of strawberries, she was obviously the first victim, for she would hardly have gone on hulling strawberries if she had heard her son being murdered in the next room. Clearly, Fred had heard a shot and had come to the door to investigate. There the killer had shot him. Then the killer had marched outside and eliminated the two hired hands so that they could never tell what, if anything, they had heard or seen.

Henry Booher and his younger son, Vernon, had spent the afternoon working separately on different parts of the farm, and the two daughters in the family had been in town. Neither of the two male Boohers had paid any attention to the shots because they were common in the country, especially just then when foxes were on the prowl.

Enter the Detective

The police, under Inspector James Hancock, head of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation at Edmonton, and Detective Jim Leslie, arrived the next day to take charge of the case. Nothing had been stolen, and judging by what Mrs. Booher had been doing at the time of the crime, it was also clear the murderer was neither a stranger nor an intruder. Indeed, the fact that the killer had hunted out the men in the barn and bunkhouse confirmed this. The murder weapon was not found, but it was identified as a .303 Lee Enfield rifle, and such a weapon had been reported stolen from the home of a neighboring farmer, Charles Stevenson. The killer obviously knew his way about the Stevenson home as well, since the weapon was always hidden in a closet. Everything pointed back to the surviving Boohers. But which one? Henry Booher appeared totally crushed by the tragedy; however, Vernon seemed strangely unmoved. Police inquiries unearthed the fact that Vernon had recently expressed hatred for his mother because she had broken up his romance with a local girl. Although Vernon was taken into custody, he refused to make a statement, and without the murder weapon the police had no case.

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