The Man Who Crawled Inside the Mind of a Murderer

The mug shots of Vernon Booher who was unmasked by Maximilian Langsner and charged with murdering his family.

He deduced that the human mind can pick up signals from other human minds that are under stress—such as the minds of criminals under suspicion.

The Vienna-born Maximilian Langsner was a debonair little man of thirty-five that bore a definite resemblance to Menjou. What made him distinguishing was not that he, himself, was an actor, but that he had a reputation for being a mind reader of sorts, and he had actually studied psychology with Freud.

Langsner had the desire to dabble in all sorts of odd areas and he did. He had traveled to India to study with Yogis—about how they were able to control their own minds and bodies.

As a result of his intense studies and self-discipline, he deduced that the human mind can pick up signals from other human minds that are under stress—such as the minds of criminals under suspicion.

In the early years of the 1900s, he found himself being contacted by police departments from all over Europe to help solve crimes by observing suspects. Newspapers were full of accounts of his success. One of his most famous successes was that of helping the Berlin police recover a huge cache of stolen jewels.

Perhaps that is why, in 1928, Langsner was contacted by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Edmonton, Alberta. That is such a far distance to be sure, but they had been stymied since July 28th of that year when a distraught Dr. Heaslip phoned in a call about a mass murder on a farm five miles outside of Manville.

The Booher family was wealthy and it looked like at least half of them had been killed. They seemed to have met their fate in the middle of household activities—an element of surprise, spontaneous. They had been shot, and when sons working in distant fields had heard gunshots near the house, it caused no alarm. It was sometimes necessary to shoot marauding foxes on the place. The police who arrived at the scene saw no evidence of robbery.

The weapon was missing, but tests proved that it was a .303 Enfield rifle, and it was from the nearby Stevenson home. The gun had been reported as stolen at an earlier time. Police did surmise that the murderer(s) knew the layout of the Stevenson home well, as the gun was always hidden in a closet.

Police were convinced the culprit was one of the still-living Booher sons, but they had no way to prove it. They also had heard rumors that one of the sons was angry at his mother for breaking up his romance with his girlfriend.

Vernon Booher, 21, was taken into custody, but he was not talking and there was no way they could make any charges stick, especially without a weapon. As if by magic, Maximilian Langsner had just arrived in Edmonton. Inspector Hancock knew he would be ridiculed by locals for asking his assistance.

Langsner was given the back-story by detectives and then he was led to a hasty silent meeting with the prisoner, Vernon. In the silent meeting, Langster was told by Vernon’s thought waves that he was guilty. When Langster reported this to the police he added that finding the gun was not important, because he had admitted his guilt.

Police were quick to point out that they believed him, but none of it was any good without proof—it was all hearsay. They needed the gun to extract a verbal confession.

With that, Langsner shifted into a higher gear. He asked to be put outside Vernon’s cell, where he would collect his thought waves, silently. He told the police that Vernon would know how badly they wanted to find the gun, so he would be thinking about it, and where he hid it, worrying about it. Langsner was convinced that he could pick up enough thought impulses to determine the location. After about five hours of sitting by the prisoner, outside the cell, Langsner asked for supplies to draw a map.

Soon he had sketched the Booher farmhouse, trees, bushes, and some more bushes 500 yards from the house. He said, “The Enfield is buried here.” They found the rifle in the sod and presented Vernon with the evidence. He broke down and confessed. He admitted he wanted to kill his mother but that his brother and two handymen were killed because they rushed in on the scene. Tears streamed down the faces of his living family members when they heard his pitiful confession. He was later hanged for his crime of quadruple murder.

After Langsner was thanked by Inspector Hancock, he headed off for more research. One report had him doing psychic research among the Eskimos. In 1939 he was readying himself to tour the Middle East.

Sara Marie Hogg is the author of Dark Continent Continental. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.

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