Western prof’s latest book on U.S. campus murders

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A London criminologist sets his sights on a string of unsolved U.S. campus killings in his latest book, debunking the police claim that the deaths were the work of a serial killer, who may not even exist.

In Mad City, bestselling author Mike Arntfield, a former London police officer, sinks his investigative teeth into 12 cold-case homicides, most of them at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, between 1968 and 1984.

The deaths have long stumped investigators, who chalked them up as the work of the Capital City Killer, a mysterious figure who has never been brought to justice.

But Arntfield’s sleuthing has led him to believe a former medical student, whose name is published in the book, is responsible for at least two of the campus killings.

“He’s revealed for the first time in this book,” Arntfield said of the now-deceased man, adding two other serial killers were responsible for the other deaths.

Though Mad City doesn’t hit bookstores across North America until Oct. 1, pre-orders for the book already have propelled it to the top of Amazon’s bestseller lists in three genres.

Mad City is the followup to Arntfield’s debut novel, Murder City, an examination of the killings of 29 women and children — some solved, others still open — that concludes London was fertile ground for serial killers and sexual predators from the 1960s to the mid-’80s.

As he did in his previous work, Arntfield draws on primary sources to shine new light on the cold cases in Mad City.

The Western University professor unearthed new information after his students used Facebook to contact the friend of one of the homicide victims. Linda Tomaszewski, who plays a central role in the book, spent decades tracking and investigating the man who she believes killed Christine Rothschild, an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Wisconsin, in 1968.

“Basically, she spends the next 40 years chasing this guy, making sure he doesn’t kill again,” said Arntfield, who concludes the man was responsible for two of the campus killings, as well as a pair of unrelated homicides.

Arntfield’s work has made him a sought-after speaker at universities and policing conferences across North America. Last month, he presented his findings from Mad City to the Wisconsin State Police annual homicide conference in Green Bay, Wis.

He also was the lead investigator on the television series To Catch a Killer on the Oprah Winfrey Network in Canada.

And don’t slap the true-crime label on Arntfield’s work; he prefers the moniker popular criminology.

“True crime tends to be very offender-centric. It really tends to lionize and glorify the killers and be written in a very down-market, tawdry style,” Arntfield said. “I’m more interested in the back stories about people, where the people are now.”

Too often, true crime books and podcasts simply regurgitate information, rather than presenting new material, Arntfield said.

“You’ve got to break new ground,” he said.

Arntfield wrote his 327-page book in less than a year while serving as the 2016 Fulbright visiting research chair in crime and literature at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. His third book, Monster City, is in the editing process and will be released next year.



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