Exclusive: John Douglas Q & A with Criminalprofiling.com

Recent developments in Seattle surrounding Gary Ridgway and the Green River Murders have attracted national attention. One of the lead investigators in the initial investigation was FBI ‘Profiler’ John Douglas. Now retired, Douglas spent most of his 25 years of service inside the FBI’s Investigative Support Unit (Behavioral Science Unit). Along with Robert Ressler, Douglas conducted landmark research into the personality and behavior of the violent criminal and has helped to pioneer the use of profiling in serial crimes. He is a veteran investigator of serial killers and sexual predators and, holding a doctorate in education, he is also a gifted scholar and lecturer who has co-authored and contributed to over 100 articles and research papers.

Douglas is also the author of such best sellers as MindHunter, Obsession and The Anatomy of Motive.

Despite his busy schedule and the upcoming holiday season Mr Douglas has graciously taken the time to briefly answer a few questions from our members. Questions and answers appear exclusively below.

Q. Recently the book “The Gates of Janus : An Analysis of Serial Killers” was published by convicted British serial killer Ian Brady. Do you believe such a book could offer any worthwhile insight – or is it, as one victim’s father put it “…only an attempt by Brady to play games and try to prove he’s cleverer than the police”?

A. I believe the victims father is correct . Although I’m not familiar with the book, Brady will in all probability demonstrate how intelligent he is and how inferior law enforcement is. He can’t be too smart because he is incarcerated!

Q. In 1979 you investigated a series of murders in San Francisco. When composing a profile of the then Unidentified Offender for local law enforcement officers you stated the Offender would have a speech impediment. When the killer was finally apprehended he had a very distinct stutter. What led you to this [correct] conclusion?

A. The killer could have spent hours of uninterrupted time with his victims but he decided to kill his victims quickly. The reasoning here is because of this MO the subject will have low self-esteem caused by some type of physical ailment or disability. I got lucky!

Q. You have stated before that rehabilitation does not work with many violent offenders because many have never been habilitated. Recently in England the two children (now 18) who murdered 2 year old Jamie Bulger were deemed ‘rehabilitated’ and released from custody. Do you have a view on this? If not, what is your view, in general, on the rehabilitation of children who commit violent acts of murder?

A. I’m familiar with this case because the Bulger attorneys were attempting to have me testify in the case. Crime reflects personality. It doesn’t really matter what the age is of the offender(s) is. They committed a very grown-up crime that was premeditated. You cannot rehabilitate people that were not habilitated to begin with.

Q. How can profiling be used as an effective anti-hijacking tool?

A. If one interviews convicted hijackers from an investigative perspective a pattern of behavior and personality characteristics will surface.

Q. I’ve read that while with the FBI you tried to establish a ‘flying investigation unit’ of sorts which would consist of various experts possessing the most advanced skills and technology who would attend upon violent crime scenes nationwide. In fact your novel “Broken Wings” centers around a similar squad. Can you tell me a little about this ‘squad’ and how it would assist in jurisdictional problems?

A. We have over 18,000 different law enforcement agencies in the U.S. with officers having varying degrees of expertise and experience. A flying squad could assist those agencies having these deficiencies.

Q. In “Sexual Homicide : Patterns and Motives” Roy Hazelwood said that most of the theoretical models of academic psychology were simply not applicable to investigators in the criminal justice field. Do you believe that there is a difference in perspective regarding Criminal Profiling between the Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement field and the traditional Psychology/Academia field?

A. We believe that what ever model one uses should include an investigative perspective. You must study the crime before interviewing the subject. The best combination would be a psychologist who also has the investigative experience.

Q. Which would you say is the greater contribution of profiling:

a.) that it narrows the suspect pool BEFORE a suspect is identified; or
b.) that it aids in developing proactive techniques and interviewing strategies AFTER a suspect is identified.

A. They are equal. In some cases a profile may not be fruitful because it may be too general. Therefore, investigative techniques and strategies would be the way to go.

Q. You have a great deal of teaching experience with both the FBI and institutions across the country – even the world. Is this something you still find yourself involved in and if so on what scale?

A. Most of my presentations are an overview of what I and others do. Occasionally, a dept. will bring me in to teach them for a day or two.

Q. You’ve not only had a successful career with the FBI but you’re also a Best Selling author. Do you have any other writing projects in the works? And is it true that you are working on an educational ‘Profiling’ textbook?

A. I am currently working on four (4) books. One of them is more of an academic book. They will be released over the next two years.

Q. With regard to your writing do you have any appearances lined up for the new year? Will you be including these on your website?

A. I will be posting my appearances over on my website if the people or schools that brings me in opens it up to the general public.

This article was prepared by the team at Criminal Profiling. This website began way back in 1999 - over 15 years of the latest Criminology news and updates. If you've found this article of interest, please do share and comment! We love all your views and opinions. If you have a story to tell, please do let us know.