PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Claims by 19-year-old Miranda Barbour that she is a serial killer who killed at least 22 people from North Carolina to Alaska are being met with skepticism by a top local crime expert and a top criminal defense attorney who represented one of Philadelphia’s most notorious serial killers.
William Fleisher, who leads the Vidocq Society, a world-famous think-tank of crime experts who tackle unsolved crimes and notorious killers, says he believes Barbour may be making up the claims in an effort to pursue some type of “mental health” defense.
“I would say it is a false memory, if not a false memory, it’s some kind of a ploy to get a defense, a psychological defense,” Fleisher said.
Barbour, along with her husband, are already behind bars in Sunbury, Pa., charged with the November murder of Troy Ferrara who she allegedly lured into a meeting with a sex posting on Craigslist (See Related Story).
Barbour first made the allegations in a jailhouse interview with a local newspaper reporter.
Meanwhile, attorney A. Charles Peruto Jr., who represented House of Horrors killer Gary Heidnik, says he is skeptical because it is very unusual for serial killers to talk about their crimes because they believe they will never be caught.
Heidnik, who raped, tortured and cannibalized women in the basement of his Feltonville home, killing two, was executed in 1999.
“I wouldn’t rule her out as being a serial killer but I would be very surprised if she was,” Peruto said in a phone interview.
Peruto cautioned serial killers very rarely openly volunteer that they have killed, especially if there are potentially dozens of other victims.
“A true serial killer, number one, thinks he is going to get away with it forever. For her to confess to things that we don’t know about yet is very, very unusual, and would go against the grain of all the textbooks on this,” Peruto said.
Police in western Pennsylvania, who are actively investigating the allegations, have not made public any corroborating evidence to back up the claims.
The FBI says it has not opened an investigation, but is prepared to provide assistance if requested by local investigators.