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Would you recognize a serial killer if you rubbed elbows with him in a bar or if he struck up a conversation with you on a hiking trail? Maybe something about the person would set off alarm bells, especially if you found yourself alone with him. A sociopath or a psychopath can often present a charming demeanor, though, so most of us would never notice the predator in our midst. We might not realize the friendly stranger is a brutal murderer until we read the news the next day.
I learned about the killing spree of John Fautenberry in a Facebook message from a reader named Brian Akre. Brian was an Associated Press correspondent in Juneau, Alaska, in 1991, when he encountered Fautenberry at a bar on the night Fautenberry murdered his last victim. Brian said he talked to Fautenberry at the bar and saw him with the man he would murder a few hours later. Brian said, “It was a weird experience. When I saw the news story in the Juneau Empire and realized it was the same guy I had seen at the bar, it sent a shiver down my spine. He just seemed like any other loud, intoxicated guy at a bar on any Saturday night.” Akre said the incident at the Juneau bar was the closest he ever wanted to come to meeting a serial killer.
John Joseph Fautenberry. Murderpedia. Available at https://murderpedia.org/male.F/f1/fautenberry.htm
John Fautenberry. Wikipedia. Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Fautenberry
John Joseph Fautenberry. Clark Prosecutor. Available at http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/death/US/fautenberry1170.htm
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Robin Barefield is the author of four Alaska wilderness mystery novels, Big Game, Murder Over Kodiak, The Fisherman’s Daughter, and Karluk Bones. Sign up to subscribe to her free, monthly newsletter on true murder and mystery in Alaska.