Dr. Robert D. Keppel - retired WA Detective, prolific forensic scientist, and hunter of Ted Bundy - is dead

Wess Haubrich

The legendary detective passed away today on his 77th birthday.

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Dr. Bob KeppelFacebook Page

Keppel made his bones as an investigator in one of the most heavily trafficked areas for serial murder: Washington state. As many who live in the Pacific Northwest will tell you, they believe there’s more killers active in this area because there’s are just so many spots where bodies could be dumped at and never be found.

Keppel first made his reputation in law enforcement as a lead investigator on what turned out to be the murders of Ted Bundy.

While Bundy is known to have killed at least 36, Keppel believed his real number of victims was somewhere in the hundreds. Keppel was also a lead investigator in the Green River Killer case of Gary Ridgway who was convicted on 49 counts of murder but confessed to 71.

It was through his experience on the Bundy case and extensive interviews with the killer, that Keppel started refining the way that we understand an offender’s signature – signature elements of a crime scene are elements within a series that are superfluous to the commission of the actual main offense itself.

A bank robber demanding the tellers strip down to their undergarments to give him more time to get out would be an example of signature.

Signature itself often serves purely psychological ends in evaluating an offender’s mental state. It is also separate from Modus Operandi (“M.O.”) which often changes and evolves with time and the offender learning.

Dr. Keppel’s legendary book “Signature Killers” and his others will be classics in forensic science for years to come. His steel-trap forensic mind and immeasurably good law enforcement legacy will forever live on in the hearts of many.

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Former editor, now dogged-maverick journalist and researcher covering the crime beat. I examine the weird, absurd, and downright infamous in American crime both here and at Real Monsters podcast. Contact: wess@realmonsters.live

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