Staring into the Abyss
In his 30- year career, Jeff has dealt with dozens of sexual offender and serial killer cases, poring over the offences with the perpetrators. some of His career highlights still torture him today
In his autobiographical book, Jeff’s experiences investigating sexual predators are distinguished by individual victims, rather than cases or killers. It’s more personal, a more intimate look at the crime, and a more disturbing insight into the criminal’s mind.
Earlier in Jeff Rinek’s FBI career, he was given the case of a seven- month- old baby boy who had been kidnapped at gunpoint. The kidnappers were gang members who’d recently gotten out of prison, and were stealing a baby to order for an 18- year- old woman who wanted a replacement after her miscarriage. Jeff went in at the vanguard of an eight- man SWAT team, and burst into an ordinary family living room with two parents and a young baby on the floor. There followed a surreal scene in which the armed men examined the child to identify it. It’s one of the happier results from his career.
Alexander was the victim of megalomaniac cult leader Ulysses Roberson, who leveraged a harem of followers and considerable financial resources to get a soft sentence for killing his four- year- old son. Like Roberson’s ‘ wives’, Alexander experienced a ritual of physical and mental abuse at his hands, but was picked out for exceptional treatment. The day Alexander died, beaten, naked and alone in a freezing garage, there were eight people in his house who were too intimidated to do anything. His remains have never been found. Roberson got a 15- year sentence on a second- degree murder rap.
Jeff Rinek describes this case as the one that has haunted him most in the last 20 years. Eight year- old Michael disappeared in 1996, on his way back from school in Yuba City, California. He was found not long after, in a bush by a riverside, naked except for a T- shirt, having suffered lengthy torture that ended with his throat being slashed. The violence and evident sadism with which Michael was murdered made even veteran crime scene professionals gasp. “Quite frankly,” Jeff Rinek told us, “The case of Michael Lyons – that crime scene depiction that I give in the book – I wake up with that every morning.”