Detective Maximilian Langsner and the Murderer's Mind Part 2

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

GREAT DETECTIVES AND THEIR MOST SPECTACULAR CASES

MAXIMILIAN LANGSNER AND THE MURDERER'S MIND (1928)

With the investigation still stymied after several weeks of investigation, Inspector Hancock did a strange thing for a professional policeman. He risked public ridicule by bringing in a Vienna-born mind reader who was then demonstrating his art in Vancouver. Maximilian Langsner had studied psychology with Freud in Vienna and later had gone to India, where he researched the way yogis attempted to control the mind. According to Langsner, the human mind, under stress, produces signals that another trained mind can learn to pick up. Newspaper accounts of his career told of the aid he had given European police in solving crimes. For instance, he had assisted the Berlin police in the recovery of some stolen jewels. To do this, he had sat facing the suspect for some time, until he got a "signal" telling him where the jewels were hidden. Following Langsner's instructions, the police found the loot, and the thief confessed. Remarkably, Langsner had recently duplicated this feat in a similar case in Vancouver.

The Chase

Langsner, a dapper little man of 35 who resembled screen actor Adolphe Menjou, arrived in Edmonton a few days later. After being briefed, he was taken by the inspector to confront Vernon Booher. Following a quick, silent meeting with the prisoner, Langsner told Hancock, "The rifle is unimportant. He is guilty. He admitted it to me."

Hancock reminded Langsner that this was not proof, and added that if they could locate the Enfield, they would probably get a confession. Langsner placed a chair outside the suspect's cell and sat there staring at 21-year-old Vernon Booher. He explained to Hancock that the prisoner would know he wanted to determine where the rifle was and so would start thinking of it, thus giving off the proper impulses. Finally, after a five-hour period during which Booher alternately sat quietly and screamed at the mentalist, Langsner left the cell block. He had his information.

The Solution

Langsner sketched a farmhouse, a number of bushes, and some trees. Then he sketched more bushes some 500 yd. from the house and said the rifle was buried there. The building Langsner described was white with red shutters--the Booher place. When Langsner and the officers went to the farm, they quickly located the bushes the mind reader had sketched. Within moments the .303 Enfield was found buried under the soft sod. Brought to the scene and confronted with the rifle, Vernon Booher broke down and confessed, as his tearful father and sisters watched. He had only meant to shoot his mother, but when his brother Fred rushed into the house, Vernon knew he had to kill him too. Vernon expressed remorse only for the death of his brother. He shrugged off the murder of the handymen as merely part of a necessary cover-up.

Vernon Booher--the man who, according to Langsner, could not "escape his own thoughts"--was hanged for quadruple murder on Apr. 26, 1929. As for Maximilian Langsner, whose work in the case was fully reported in the newspapers of the time thanks to a grateful Inspector Hancock, he left Vancouver shortly thereafter to spend the next several years conducting psychic research among the Eskimos. The little Austrian was last heard of in 1939, as he prepared to launch a tour of the Middle East.

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