It's WNY's most notorious cold case -- the Linden Murders.
It's gone unsolved for 80 years, until now, or so says local author Rob R. Thompson, who spent a year meticulously researching and writing his book, “The Linden Murders...Solved.”
In 1917, 1922, 1924 and 1934 six people were butchered and the killer was never caught. Studying the existing case files and using modern profiling techniques, along with the aid of a former FBI profiler, Thompson claims to have solved the murders and names the killer.
Thompson is a native of Livonia in Livingston County and spent 12 years working as a mental health caseworker in Memphis, Tenn.
When Thompson moved to Attica in 2006, it was his wife, Kendra, who told him about the infamous murders in the tiny hamlet of Linden, near Bethany, between Attica and Batavia.
"While working in mental health, I worked with some of the most violent of mentally ill individuals one could imagine…in doing so I most certainly gained an insight into human behavior,” Thompson said. "I became intrigued by the Linden murders and I spent countless hours at Genesee County History Department and Holland Land Office. I immersed myself in boxes of files containing evidence from the District Attorney’s Office.”
Thompson enlisted the help of Mark Safarik, a retired FBI agent and media expert on serial killers, whose NBC Universal show “Killer Instinct” explores notorious crimes as seen through the eyes of an FBI criminal profiler.
“Based on all existing materials still available from those crimes and based on the profiling of those suspected, I believe Linden local, Andrew Michel, was the Linden murderer,” Thompson said.
"He was the only one who had means, motive and opportunity and who fit the psychological description of a psychopath...98.6% sure he killed Frances Kimball, Hattie Whaley, Tom Whaley, Mabel Morse and Ben Phillips in Attica as M.O. and signature of the crime were identical. Quite sure he killed 'Ruth' in 1917 as well."
“He was a manipulative, deceitful man who knew the difference between right and wrong and he just didn’t care. He possessed all the traits of a psychopath and felt success in life by keeping others in a constant state of fear."
"It was about control. These were not murders committed for financial or sexual gain. He also struck fear into the hearts of the other residents of Linden, likely preventing them from telling authorities enough to result in his arrest.”
Thompson believes that by today's standards, with modern profiling techniques, Michel would be convicted of the murders.
“Andrew Michel, in my opinion, can be credited with at least six kills...it's hard to believe that 'Ruth' in 1917 was his first. I am working on recreating his life between 1890 and 1915 and do believe when all is said and done, he will be found out to be one of the most prolific serial killers in NY state history,” Thompson said.
He is currently working on two books including one on Buffalo’s 3rd Catholic Bishop, James Quigley. He’s also working on developing a TV pilot, which begins filming in October.
Other books written by Thompson include:
The Bills Are Due
From Hell -- The Final Days of Jack The Ripper
Attica Gateway to The West
Attica Gateway to Time and Tales
Attica Gateway to The Civil War -- The Story of The Dragoons
Thompson will be signing copies of "The Linden Murders...Solved" from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, July 13, at Coffee Culture in Batavia. Copies are $20.
Photo by Bonnie Marrocco