The Joseph Vacher Trial: Forensic Science’s First OJ Case!

It might not be the drama of the OJ Simpson case that drew us in for weeks on end as we waited to see if the gloves fit.  But if televisions were around in the 1890s, viewers might have tuned into watch the 1898 trial of serial killer Joseph Vacher, who had confessed to nearly a dozen murders across the French countryside, but claimed to be insane at the time.  Besides the fact that it was a media circus, not unlike the OJ trial, what most don’t know about this famous 19th-century trial is that it gave birth to forensic science.

In the video below, Douglas Starr, co-director of the graduate Program in Science and Medical Journalism at the College of Communication, vividly recounts the birth of science-meets-detective work in his new book, The Killer of Little Shepherds.

Watch this video on YouTube