The Vidocq Society was founded in 1990. Philadelphia’s second-in-command U.S. Customs Service Special Agent, a well-known forensic sculptor from Philadelphia, and a prison psychologist from Michigan were the first members.

The trio wanted to establish a venue at which like-minded persons, in and out of forensics, would gather to discuss and debate crimes and mysteries. The first meeting, a luncheon, occurred at the old Philadelphia Navy Yard. Later the organization met at the Olde City Tavern then at the Down Town Club. Today, The Union League of Philadelphia is our primary meeting site.

After the founding, federal state and local law enforcers sought to join, attention grew, and original members now-posted outside of the City of Brotherly love encouraged others to join.

In time the focus of the Society narrowed to where unsolved deaths and, in certain cases, disappearances became the organization’s mandate.

Three Founders

Left to right......William Fleisher, Richard Walter
and Frank Bender

The Society was founded by William Fleisher, V.S.M., Frank Bender, V.S.M., and Richard Walter, V.S.M.

The Society’s original bylaws called for 82 Vidocq Society Members (V.S.M.s), one for each year of Vidocq's life. Today more than 150 men and women from diverse backgrounds comprise our unique group, sprinkled with forensic experts, businesspeople, and others chosen to wear the distinctive red, white, and blue rosette Vidocq rosette.

Our members include

Frank Bender

Frank Bender, V.S.M., a talented sculptor and forensic reconstructionist with the uncanny ability to recreate faces for law enforcement from partial and complete skulls. His work has been featured on major documentaries and television programs across the globe. (Click here to see one of his latest works.)

Dr. Jolie Bookspan, V.S.M., Vidocq science officer. Internationally known researcher and military scientist. Specializes in human survival in extremes of heat, cold, altitude, hypoxia, hyperoxia, G-forces, immersion, and injury states. As a researcher, Dr. Bookspan has carried gear up and down the mountains and deserts of India, Nepal, Asia, and Northern Africa, swam to work in an underwater laboratory, was advisor to The Discovery Channel, police and military training departments, and professor of anatomy at a college in the mountains of Mexico. She has written nine medical and health books and several medical textbooks and encyclopedia chapters. Her training methods, used by SEAL teams and law enforcement, are so successful that clinicians at Harvard University Medical School named her "The St. Jude of the Joints." Her forensic education column appears in the Vidocq Journal.

Frederick A. Bornhofen, V.S.M., The Society's Chairman of the Board and Case Management Director. A former director of security for an international energy company, he heads Frederick A. Bornhofen Associates. His firm serves the needs of the federal government and major corporations, specializing in product counterfeiting and product diversion. Bornhofen is also an expert witness in security-related matters.

William Fleisher, V.S.M., a former Philadelphia Police Officer, FBI Special Agent who later became the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Customs Service in Philadelphia. Fleisher was the prime mover behind the Society’s creation. It was Fleisher (who years later was named one of Philadelphia’s 75 smartest individuals by Philadelphia Magazine) who proposed that the fledgling group be named after M. Vidocq, whose memoirs he had read and reread over the years. Fleisher is a principal of Keystone Intelligence Network, a private investigation and polygraph firm. (link to that pages)

Nathan J. Gordon, V.S.M., a director of the Society and head of the Academy for Scientific Investigative Training - An American Polygraph Association accredited polygraph examiner training school.

Edward Gaughan, V.S.M., a former Philadelphia Police Department Major Crimes detective. Gaughan is a principal of .Keystone Intelligence Network, Inc., the private investigation and polygraph firm operated by Bill Fleisher, V.S.M. and Nathan Gordon, V.S.M.

Richard Lavinthal, V.S.M., Managing Director and CEO of PRforLAW, LLC, is a nationally known legal media relations and crisis communications consultant for attorneys and their clients, primarily small to mid-size law firms, and their individual and corporate clients. For 10 years Lavinthal directed communications for the Vidocq Society, including writing and publishing the monthly, 12-page Vidocq Society Journal, and championing the Society in the media as its spokesman. A former daily newspaper and statehouse-based international wire service reporter, he created and managed press offices for the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey and the New Jersey (State) Division of Criminal Justice. Former Director of Criminal Justice Programs for in New York City, Lavinthal has written OpEds for many newspapers.including The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News, and The Washington, D.C., Examiner.

Robert J. Phillips, V.S.M. is a forensic document examiner with offices in New Jersey, Nevada, and Massachusetts. Phillips is an expert witness in civil and criminal matters in local, state, and federal courts, with more than 30 years' experience in handwriting identification, case evaluation, testifying, court exhibits, technical report writing, lecturing, typewriter reinsertion, and ink and paper differentiation.

Norman Reeves, V.S.M., specializes in bloodstain pattern analysis, crime scene reconstruction, computer imaging and enhancement at BPA Consulting.

Robert K. Ressler, V.S.M. is a former FBI Special Agent who spent 16 years with the bureau's original Behavioral Science Unit. He is credited with coining the term "serial killer" as it is used today and has the distinction of having interviewed more serial killers than any other person. Robert's partner, Mark E. Safarik, V.S.M., a retired FBI Special Agent, served 12 years as a senior profiler in the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit. Together they are the principals of Forensic Behavioral Services, Intl.,, a consulting firm. They specialize in the detailed analysis of violent criminals and their criminal behaviour. This involves crime and crime scene analysis for a wide range of violent crimes, including homicide and sexual assault, in order to determine how and why a crime occurred and how it could have been prevented.

Charles H. Sulzbach Jr., V.S.M., Specializes in accident investigation and reconstruction at K&S Investigations in Jamison, Pennsylvania, and Sea Isle City, New Jersey.

Richard Walter, M.A., a forensic psychologist for the State of Michigan prison system and a crime scene analyst/profiler. Now-retired from government service, Walter consults with agencies and governments.

David Ziegler, V.S.M. specializes in forensic hypnosis, fire, arson and bomb investigations and training. A former ATF Special Agent, Ziegler’s investigative firm offers pro bono training and a new safe schools venture at

The Founders
Vidocq Society Membership
Officers & Directors

Member Specialties
Members by Location
Members on the Web

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