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Patrick Steward & John Douglas

Patrick Stewart & John Douglas

Writing about William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday yesterday put me in mind of the time  more than fifteen years ago when Patrick Stewart came to Washington to play Othello at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. I had met Patrick when I was filming my documentary Discovering Hamlet in England, and we soon became good friends. Patrick narrated that film, then I asked him to narrate the PBS-Nova program Mind of a Serial Killer, during which production I met John Douglas.

One of the most accomplished actors of his generation, the classically trained Stewart is a veteran of the Royal Shakespeare Company and has always been a rigorous explorer of character and motivation. Many people have said that the classical gravitas he lent to the character of Captain Jean Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation was one of the elements that made the series so successful. So when Othello rehearsals began, Patrick called me and asked what insights my study of criminal investigative analysis might offer as he developed his approach to the title role.

I suggested getting him together with John Douglas, and that’s where the Othello murder case began.

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William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

Today marks the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare, the greatest creative genius who ever lived. There is virtually nothing to say about the human condition,  of good, evil, love, hate, honor, jealousy, motive, prejudice, conspiracy, courage, cowardice, rationality, madness, homicide, suicide, fairness, injustice, innocence, guilt, evidence – in other words, all of the things that concern us in criminal justice and every other field of endeavor – that Shakespeare did not say first, and better.

I do not think it is an exaggeration to agree with Yale Professor Harold Bloom that our modern concept of ourselves as human beings derives directly from Shakespeare.

Inscribed above the door at the west end of the Great Hall of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. is a four-line testimonial from the 19th and early 20th century American poet and literary critic William Winter, that speaks as eloquently as any I have seen:

“There is not anything of human trial
That ever love deplored or sorrow knew,
No glad fulfilment and no sad denial,
Beyond the pictured truth that Shakespeare drew.”

Amanda Knox & Rafaella

Amanda Knox & Raffaele Sollecito

There is little doubt that this photograph of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito – in full lip lock outside her cottage in Perugia, Italy, while police inside investigate the murder of her flat mate Meredith Kercher – helped seal their image in the collective public mind. The photo quickly went viral, and supported the prosecution and media’s contention that this young woman and man were totally callous and uncaring, so they must have had something to do with the murder.

In reality, however, the picture is not a stand-along photograph at all. Rather, it is a single frame from a video, and its selection tells us a whole lot more about those who chose to publish it than it does about the two seeming lovebirds.

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Joseph Paul Franklin & Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr.

Joseph Paul Franklin & Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr.

Michelle Easterly Moore is the wife of our good friend Steve Moore, the former FBI special agent who was among the first to take up the cause of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito after examining the evidence in the Meredith Kercher murder case in Italy and realizing that they were innocent. In fact, it was Michelle who challenged Steve to examine the case and has, herself, become a formidable analyst and advocate.

Thinking about all of the people on the Internet who have vilified Amanda and Raffaele and those of us who have come to their defense, Michelle recently posted on Facebook: “John Douglas and Mark Olshaker said they’re a bunch of nutters. Would love to get a more detailed analysis of ‘nutters’ people filled with SO much hate, who constantly try simply to shoot the messenger.”

We don’t recall if we actually used that term, but we certainly don’t object to it. But in attempting to provide “a more detailed analysis,” we’re going to up the ante and suggest that all of these fringe behaviors come from a similar source to that of someone who has recently shot more than the messenger: Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr., a.k.a. Frazier Glenn Cross.

Herewith, some ramblings on the fringe:

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Papyrus

Gospel of Jesus’s Wife papyrus

If there is one attribute you are likely to acquire once you’ve been studying criminal investigative analysis for a while as I have, it’s skepticism. You learn never to take anything at face value and look to the evidence before forming any theory of the case.

This skepticism tends to permeate every aspect of your life. So when news reports surfaced that scholars and scientific experts from Harvard, MIT and Columbia had examined a small fragment of a document written on papyrus that purported to be “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” and declared it genuine, I was intrigued . . . but skeptical.

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