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The Skeleton Crew

How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America’s Coldest Cases

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Solving cold cases from the comfort of your living room…

The Skeleton Crew provides an entree into the gritty and tumultuous world of Sherlock Holmes–wannabes who race to beat out law enforcement—and one another—at matching missing persons with unidentified remains.

In America today, upwards of forty thousand people are dead and unaccounted for. These murder, suicide, and accident victims, separated from their names, are being adopted by the bizarre online world of amateur sleuths.


The web sleuths pore over facial reconstructions (a sort of Facebook for the dead) and other online clues as they vie to solve cold cases and tally up personal scorecards of dead bodies. The Skeleton Crew delves into the macabre underside of the Internet, the fleeting nature of identity, and how even the most ordinary citizen with a laptop and a knack for puzzles can reinvent herself as a web sleuth.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 31, 2014 – Though experts can't settle on a figure from 13,000 to 40,000 they agree that there are multitudes of unidentified remains in America, and it's more than law enforcement can handle. That's where the public comes in. Self-proclaimed Web sleuths have been identifying victims and investigating unsolved murders since 1999, according to journalist Halber. In her first book, she profiles individuals from this unique subset in a lively study that's part whodunit, part sociological study. She introduces readers to Todd Matthews, one of the scene's celebrities, who began investigating unsolved murders in his teens and has spent most of his adult life (to the detriment of his family) attempting to identify Kentucky's "Tent Girl," and founded one of the first sleuth websites. Readers also meet Betty Brown, a gifted sleuth who "can find anything" except for the remains of her own brother, as well as Cheri Nolan of the National Crime Information Center and coroner investigator Rick Jones. Using Matthews's quest for the identity of the Tent Girl as a framing device, Halber shares the petty arguments, forensic techniques, and trivia (both New York and Philadelphia are built upon mass graves). The result is eminently entertaining and will be devoured by armchair detectives.

Customer Reviews

Interesting Story...if You Skip the Facebooking

This is an interesting story published as if you were required to read every irrelevant tweet and facebook entry for both the author and the players before returning to the identity search. Chronology is so jumbled her editor must have skipped English class and relied on a Cliff's notes summary on James Joyce's style.
Subject is fascinating but almost an other source will be be a better read.

The Skeleton Crew
View in iTunes
  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Social Science
  • Published: Jul 01, 2014
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Seller: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
  • Print Length: 304 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings