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Crimes and Disappearances   Tags: current events, research  

This guide helps find resources on unsolved murders, kidnappings, and disappearances.
Last Updated: Aug 31, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Just the Facts

In order to complete this assignment, you will need to think like a detective. You will want to gather facts, read theories, and sort out opinions. You will want to come up with a solution that is logical and fits the facts as you know them. You will need to know the who, when, what, and where to figure out the how and why.

The following library resources will help you in assembling your evidence. These are all reference books and some are print and some are electronic.

Crime & Punishment in the United States - Gerstenfeld, Phyllis B.
Call Number: EBook Gale Virtual Reference Library
Publication Date: 2008

Dictionary of Culprits and Criminals - Kohn, George C.
Call Number: HV6245 .K64 1986 REF.
Publication Date: 1986

Encyclopedia of American Crime - Sifakis, Carl
Call Number: HV6789 .S54 REF.
Publication Date: 1981

Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice - Dressler, Joshua
Call Number: HV6017 .E52 2002 REF
Publication Date: 2002

Encyclopedia of Kidnappings - Newton, Michael
Call Number: HV6595 .N49 2002 REF
Publication Date: 2002

Encyclopedia of Lawmen, Outlaws, and Gunfighters - Metz, Leon Claire.
Call Number: F596 .M48 2003 REF.
Publication Date: 2003

Encyclopedia of Murder & Violent Crime - Hickey, Eric W.
Call Number: HV6515 .E5323 2003 REF
Publication Date: 2003

Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes - Newton, Michael
Call Number: HV6251 .N48 2004B REF.
Publication Date: 2004

Famous American Crimes and Trials - Bailey, Frankie Y.
Call Number: HV9950 .F36 2004 REF
Publication Date: 2004

Great Lives From History: Notorius Lives - Bankston, Carl L.
Call Number: HV6245 .G687 2007 REF.
Publication Date: 2007

The encyclopedia of crime and punishment : volumes I-IV - Levinson, David
Call Number: HV6017 .E524 2002 REF
Publication Date: 2002

World of Criminal Justice - Phelps, Shirelle.
Call Number: HV7411 .W67 2002 REF.
Publication Date: 2002


Finding People

If the crime you are researching involves a person-either as victim or criminal, you will need to find out about that person. Many notorious individuals are the subject of biographies so you may want to look them up as subjects in the online catalog. Other places to look include:

Biography in Context
Call Number: Databases under Biography

Gale Virtual Reference Library
Call Number: Databases by Title
Go to advance subject search and type in your name as a subject or your event as a keyword.



In order to find out what happened, you will have to research the various theories and if you are lucky, newspaper and magazine accounts of what happened at the time. For the online sources, go to the library webpage ( and go to the menu on the right for Database Directory. Scroll down to News and Current Events which will provide a list of useful resources such as

Academic Search Complete--This is always a good starting point since it covers major newspapers and magazines. You may also find book reviews leading you to books on your topic.

LexisNexis Academic Universe--This resource covers newspapers from all over the world not just the United States. (NOTE: most of these only go back about 20 years.)

Newspaper Source--This database covers major national and international newspapers from the last 20 years. It also indexes the New York Times but does not have full-text articles. You will need to go to the third floor, Serials-Media Center to get the microfilm.



The New York Times Index AI21 .N45 REF 1851-1978 on shelf range one and 1979 to the present on Index Table #2B.


Due to the notoriety of a number of these crimes, you will find many websites devoted to the various theories of what happened and why. Some of these are well-researched and provide reasonable theories, others not so much. When you use the Internet as a resource, the determination of validity falls on you.




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