FBI Investigator Will Speak at University of Nebraska at Kearney on Criminal Profiling

Randy Mertens
Director of Media Relations and Internal Communications 308.865.8136 or mertensrj@unk.edu

A retired FBI special agent who helped establish criminal profiling as an investigative tool will discuss his case files with the public at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 16, in the Ponderosa Room of the University of Nebraska at Kearney Student Union.

John Douglas, former chief of the FBI Investigative Support Unit, is considered by many experts as the world’s leading authority on criminal profiling, His evening presentation, free and open to the public, will cover details of the most notorious serial killers and criminals of our time, including Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, John Wayne Gacy, David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) and James Earl Ray.

Douglas has authored seven books detailing his work, and continues to consult with law enforcement agencies, victims and judicial and correctional officials throughout the world.

Douglas was a film consultant to The Silence of the Lambs movie. He is an expert at examining crime scene behavior and creating profiles of the perpetrators. Such work has become a valuable tool in making arrests of serial criminals, and to successfully interrogate and prosecute offenders.

“I’m extremely proud of my work,” Douglas said. “As an FBI agent, I hunted some of the most vicious predators in American history, including the Atlanta child murderer, the Green River Killer and San Francisco’s Trailside Killer. Profiling was in its infancy when I got started. It was an exciting, emerging science — with a lot of skeptics and much work yet to be done. I learned as I went, conducting face-to-face interviews with Ed Kemper, Charles Manson, David Berkowitz, Richard Speck and many violent serial criminals whose single positive contribution to society was the window they gave me and my colleagues into the criminal mind. By talking with and observing them, we learned how they thought, from the escalation of their violent acts to victim selection. We learned how to predict their behavior. Most importantly, we learned how they revealed themselves through their crimes. That’s the basis of profiling. You look at the evidence – from crime scene to forensics to ‘victimology’ — and find in the thousands of pieces of information the behavioral indicators from which you put together a picture of the perpetrator.

“Profiling went from theory to science during my years at Quantico, and my unit turned it into a tried-and-true investigative tool. It’s now an essential part of complex investigations. That’s something I’ll always take pride in. And although I retired from the FBI just over 10 years ago, my work as a profiler hasn’t ended. I make my living through book publishing and speaking engagements, but much of my time is spent doing pro bono work for victims of violent crime and their families, advising pardon and parole boards, and speaking to law enforcement groups about the value of profiling in their work.”

Douglas will speak that morning to UNK students, faculty and staff as part of the 19th Annual Criminal Justice Conference and Job Fair.

The Department of Criminal Justice is part of UNK’s Natural and Social Sciences College. The department prepares students for leadership in law enforcement, corrections and the courts. The department offers 25 specific courses in criminal justice. In addition to preparing students, the department also researches present and historical trends of crime and criminal methodology.

Discussing the criminal justice system with UNK students from a different point of view will be John Terzano, president of the Justice Project, and Kirk Bloodsworth, program officer. 

Bloodsworth’s criminal case became the first U.S. capital conviction to be overturned as a result of DNA testing. A former Marine and Maryland resident, he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. After years of fighting for a DNA test, results indicated his DNA did not match any of the evidence received for testing. After nine years in prison, two of which spent on death row, he was released and pardoned by Maryland’s governor. Subsequently, another individual was convicted of the murder based on a positive DNA match.  

The public event is sponsored by the UNK Loper Programming and Activities Council, an organization that brings prominent events to campus.