The Vidocq Society – Solving Tough Murder Cases Over Lunch

On the third Thursday of every month, some of the world’s greatest crime specialists meet up in Philadelphia to try and solve some of the toughest murder cases in history, over a delicious lunch. This is the Vidocq Society.

Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Kojack, those guys from CSI, they are all brilliant minds on their own, but what if they all got together to solve the toughest criminal cases in history? They’d have a much better chance of success, at least in theory. That’s what the Vidocq Society is all about, bringing together the most brilliant minds in criminology and trying to get to the bottom of hundreds of thousands of unsolved cases. Once a month, the members of this 20-year-old exclusive club assemble in an old Victorian dining room, to enjoy fine cuisine and talk about unsolved murders. As their motto (Cuisine & Crime Solving ) suggests, crime is always on the menu at Vidocq Society meetings.

Photo: Paris Match

The mysterious crime-solving club was named after Eugene Francois Vidocq, an 18th century crook-turned-crime-fighter, considered to be the father of modern criminology and the world’s first private detective. William Fleisher, Richard Walter and Frank Bender, the three founding members of the Vidocq Society, began gathering experts in criminology in 1990, and now the club numbers 82 retired cops, ex-FBI agents, profilers, coroners and even a psychic, from 17 American states and 11 countries across the globe. On their monthly meeting, they all brainstorm to try and solve cold cases, and many times these last chance detectives manage to bring peace to families of victims whose killers were never caught.

Photo: Wikileaks News

Vidocq Society gatherings start off like a normal lunch, only some of the members go easy on the food, knowing that after coffee they’ll be treated to some horrific crime scene photos. One of the club’s founding members admits that at first, their only purpose was to get together over lunch and just enjoy themselves. But after one of them was asked to speak at a conference in Texas organised by parents of murdered children, they decided to change the purpose of their little secret society and try to solve cases for people who are hurting. And that’s exactly what they have been doing. The Vidocq Society reckons it has helped solve around 300 murders, and provided valuable information to official investigators on about 90% of the cases presented before its members.


The Vidocq Society invites criminal detectives from all over the United States to present their cold cases in hopes of gaining new insights that might eventually help solve them. In most cases, they leave impressed by the members knowledge and expert opinions, and with plenty of valuable information.

If you want to learn more about the fascinating Vidocq Society, you can visit their official site or read Michael Capuzzo’s book, The Murder Room. He spent three years with the members of this unique group and documented some of the cases the society has worked on during that period.

Sources: NPR, The Guardian

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