The Serial Homicide Case of the Day, from "Hunting Humans, the Encyclopedia of 20th Century Serial Killers" , by Michael Newton
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Joubert, John J.
On August 22, 1982, 11-year-old Richard Stetson disappeared while jogging near his home, in Portland, Maine. A motorist found his body the next morning, lying beside a rural highway, and while he was initially believed to be the victim of a hit-and-run, autopsy results showed that Stetson was strangled, then stabbed several times in the chest. Bite marks on the body were inflicted by a set of human teeth.
Investigators had no solid evidence to work with, and a year elapsed before a suspect, 24 years old, was booked for Stetson's murder. Charges were dismissed in February 1984, by which time there were two more victims on the list, some 1,500 miles away.
Danny Joe Eberle, age 13, was delivering newspapers in Bellevue, Nebraska, when he vanished on the morning of September 18, 1983. His bicycle and papers were found inside a gate, at the fourth house on his route, but Eberle remained missing until September 21, when searchers pulled his body from some roadside weeds. Partially stripped, he had been stabbed repeatedly, then dumped where he was found. Detectives noticed bite marks on the body, and his ankles had been bound before he died.
On December 2, 12-year-old Christopher Walden disappeared while walking to school in Papillion, Nebraska, three miles from the scene of the Eberle murder. Stabbed repeatedly, his corpse was found by pheasant hunters two days later, hidden in a grove of trees outside of town.
Six weeks later, on January 11, 1984, a suspicious young man was seen loitering around a Bellevue preschool. Challenged by an adult attendant, he shoved her, threatened her with death, then ran to a nearby car and sped away. The attendant memorized his license number, and the rented vehicle was traced to 20-year-old John Joubert, an enlisted man at nearby Offutt Air Force Base. A search of Joubert's quarters turned up rope identical to Danny Eberle's bindings; more rope and a hunting knife were found in his car when Joubert was arrested that night.
In custody, the suspect confessed both local murders, warning detectives that he might kill again, if released. Charged with two counts of homicide on January 12, Joubert was held in lieu of $10 million bond pending trial. He pled guilty to both counts on July 3, 1984, and a panel of three judges fixed his sentence at death.
As a native of Portland, Maine, Joubert had also been making headlines at home. Detectives noted similarities between the two Nebraska murders and the Stetson case, instantly bumping Joubert to the head of their short suspect list. Hair samples and tooth impressions were obtained from Joubert in February 1985, and he was indicted for Richard Stetson's murder on January 10, 1986. Authorities in Maine have voiced their inclination to proceed with trial, despite the Nebraska death sentence , but no further steps have been taken at this writing.
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