Readers Forum: Touching Evil

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A three-part series in the Post-Gazette this week describes the contact between a Duquesne University forensic investigation class and a convicted serial killer in an Oregon prison.

Keith Hunter Jesperson, who killed of at least eight women in six states between 1990 and 1995, wrote to the class, and later held a telephone conversation, providing details about his murders and his mind.

Here's what you told us you think about the series.

Reader responses

I think there is much better news to publish. Stick to the things that matter, like Christmas; Soldiers; Steelers; Coach Rod ramming it to WV. Who cares what a serial killer is thinking or perspective is! Save the ink and the paper it is printed on. -- Gregory Parana, Fairmont, WV

My thoughts on the serial killer are simple. Get a rope. -- R.J. Barwell, Finleyville, PA

Excellent series! I could agree that the story doesn't seem to have a time sensitive quality to it (it's not breaking news) and some may object to the timing of it. But like TV, if you don't like what's on, simply change the channel. Presumably everyone that objected to the series still read it. As for content, it was summed up by Mr. Freeman. "In school, they talk to professors, scientists, and I'm an ex-cop. They get our perspective on the criminal justice system. I thought, 'Why not try to look at it from a different side?'" A few letters and a phone call won't get our next generation of forensic investigators thinking like criminals but it's much better than reading a chapter in a textbook. -- Barry L. Sherry, Woodbridge VA

I think this is a terrible time to publish a story like this. Its Christmas time, the new year to begin, a time of hope and you dwell on something as morbid as this. I think the timing is really bad. -- Dave Recker, Columbia, Mo

I agree with Gretchen, why didn't you just run a full front page of this on the Dec 25th issue. Great timing. -- Brian Reed, Zelienople

i would just like to state that the comment i made about feeling bad for keith was taken out of context. i do NOT feel bad that he is in jail for the crimes he committed. i said that if i didnt know what he had done to get into prison and just heard about his regrets and lack of appreciation for life BEFORE going to jail, only THEN would i have felt badly. -- Natalie Sciulli, Pittsburgh

I think that the three-part series is excellent. Being in Legal Studies myself, I can appreciate what these students are doing. The students at Duquesne are learning front and center about a true serial killer. I don't think it's too much to ask that fellow 'Pittsburghers' show their support to our future and their choice of occupation.

I would have loved to be there to listen to Keith and to really dissect what is going on in his mind. This is a totally different way to teach, and I fully support it. Good luck Duquesne, I hope you are able to continue this fascinating project! -- Lauren Inserra, Squirrel Hill

This has been a wonderful series. It goes to show you how wonderful the students and teachers are over at Duquesne University. Instead of wasting time at school these students & teachers are doing something interesting and something that is good for the human mind. >--Matt Hogue

What's the point of this series? Do we really gain any insight into human nature and the crossing over of the line between good and evil?

Quite frankly if I was the Post Gazette I'd be embarrassed for producing such a series and having it grace the front page of the newspaper. I've read the first two installments and that's more than enough, I won't continue to read the rest. It's odd that the PG chooses to be awash in blood and gore and by doing so hopes to sell a few extra copies or drive more traffic to it's website. Newspaper readership is down across the country, and in Pittsburgh there is no mystery as to why. -- Jack Hall

Does anyone else think it was an odd choice to run this series during the holidays? -- Gretchen Hempen, Moon

The first two installments of Mr. Fuoco's series about Duquesne students exchanging letters with a serial killer were interesting; however, I was disappointed not to hear from any one who opposed the correspondence. While I'm sure many forensic science instructors, including Mr. Freeman, would endorse such as lesson, I'm willing to bet a few would not. It would have been fascinating to learn how often other forensic science, law, or even psychology programs engage in such a practice, and why or why not they choose to do so.

Also, I felt the tone of this series was a tad flippant, especially part two's opening mention of a student's red shirt reading "Real friends help you move a body." If I were related to a murder victim, I wouldn't find that very funny. -- Jess Adamiak, Brooklyn, NY (formerly Friendship)


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