Law and Disorder: The Legendary FBI Profiler's Relentless Pursuit of Justice

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From law enforcement legend John Douglas, the FBI's pioneer of criminal profiling and the model for Agent Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs, comes a provocative and personal look at our criminal justice system and mankind's most abominable crime: murder. Delving more deeply into the subject than ever before, Douglas shares his unique perspective on some of his most notorious cases--and reveals how a high-profile crime can challenge even the most seasoned investigator.


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From law enforcement legend John Douglas, the FBI's pioneer of criminal profiling and the model for Agent Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs, comes a provocative and personal look at our criminal justice system and mankind's most abominable crime: murder. Delving more deeply into the subject than ever before, Douglas shares his unique perspective on some of his most notorious cases--and reveals how a high-profile crime can challenge even the most seasoned investigator.

Over the course of his nearly forty-year career, John Douglas has pursued, studied, and interviewed criminals including Charles Manson, James Earl Ray, Dennis Rader, and David Berkowitz--a veritable Who's Who of violent predators. But he has also devoted extensive energies to helping the wrongfully accused and convicted, including several inmates of death row. Now, with longtime co-author and collaborator Mark Olshaker, Douglas addresses every law enforcement professional's worst nightmare: cases in which justice was delayed, or even denied. Eloquently and passionately, he speaks up not only for victims of crime--but for victims of the system itself.

In fascinating and meticulous detail he recreates his ground-breaking findings in the investigation of the West Memphis Three and the bungled trial of Amanda Knox; how he reached his controversial conclusions in the JonBenet Ramsey murder; and his involvement in other historic, headline-making cases. Douglas reveals what happens when preconceived ideas, bias, superstition, and even media coverage obstruct a dispassionate pursuit of the evidence--and shows what we must do to avoid modern-day re-enactments of the Salem Witch Trials.

Brimming with gripping narratives and shedding light on some of our most mystifying questions about guilt and innocence, Law & Disorder is an unrestrained account of the exhilaration and frustration that attend the quest for justice, from the most prominent criminal investigator of our time.

John Edward Douglas served as a special agent of the FBI for over twenty-five years. He is widely admired as the leading expert on criminal personality profiling and modern criminal investigative analysis. A veteran of the Air Force, he has written numerous books including the #1 international bestseller Mindhunter.

Mark Olshaker is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, New York Times bestselling non-fiction author, and critically acclaimed novelist who has worked with Douglas for many years.

Both authors live in the Washington, D.C. area.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

During his twenty-five year FBI career, master profiler Jack Douglas has helped track down master criminals, written true crime bestsellers (Mindhunter; Journey Into Darkness; Obsession), and served as the model of the expert profiler in Silence of the Lambs, but he could never be as forthright as he is in this, his first book since retirement. In his previous efforts, he wrote only about the guilty; in Law & Disorder, he writes about guilty, innocents accused, and even innocents convicted. Among the cases discussed are the Ted Bundy murders, the killing of JonBenet Ramsey, the Memphis Three homicides, and the Amanda Knox case.

Library Journal
A 25-year veteran of the FBI, criminal-profiling expert Douglas faced questions every time he evaluated a crime scene: How could he find the solution? What evidence is admissible as fact? As he explains here, the art of profiling has evolved significantly over time, from the hysterical accusations of the Salem Witch Trials to the collection of DNA samples and other modern evidence-gathering techniques today. Readers are taken on a fascinating and, at times, graphic tour of the criminal mind as Douglas describes how detectives strive to solve numerous cases using every forensic tool at their disposal. The time from crime to punishment or acquittal of the innocent can last as long as 20 years to complete the process; each case is thoroughly reviewed and reexamined for proof of guilt or innocence and it can take as long as 20 years to complete the process. The many crime cases highlighted in the book are gut-wrenching and profoundly sad; they include the murder of six-year-old beauty pageant queen Jon Benet Ramsey, which has yet to be solved and once riveted the nation's attention. VERDICT An essential title for those interested in true crime stories, forensic science, or law enforcement.—Claire Franek, Greenville, KY
Kirkus Reviews
From a pioneer of behavioral analysis, a look at notorious murder investigations marred by controversy. Well-known FBI profiler Douglas has co-authored several books with Olshaker on this specialty (The Cases that Haunt Us, 2000, etc.). Here, he focuses on diverse cases that share one commonality: Either the investigation developed around false leads with disastrous results, or the actual killer was targeted yet saw justice confounded by similar procedural issues. "The role of the profiler is to redirect or refocus an investigation and to help police narrow and analyze their suspect list," he writes. The cases he discusses here are those he did not address as an active-duty agent, and he often wonders if he would have fared better as an investigator. In at least two cases, he reluctantly argues that wrongful convictions led to miscarriages of justice. William Heirens served a life sentence as Chicago's "Lipstick Killer," yet Douglas believes him innocent: "I would have considered him too young to…make the leap from petty burglaries to violent rapes and murders." He also argues that Texas executed Cameron Todd Willingham for the arson murders of his children based on scientific theories that were disproven well before the execution. The author devotes long sections to two notorious cases: the murder of JonBenet Ramsey and the wrongfully convicted West Memphis Three. He consulted in both cases and remains convinced that shoddy evidence management, prosecutorial overreach and media frenzies led to false accusations with dreadful consequences. Douglas remains fascinated by the nitty-gritty of advanced investigation, and he smoothly explains key evidentiary details and psychological twists, though he becomes impatient with those who question his conclusions. Yet, his thesis remains bifurcated: He both agonizes over the prospect of an innocent person being executed and strongly argues that the death penalty ought to protect society from the "worst of the worst," sadistic repeat offenders like Ted Bundy. The prose is mostly workmanlike, but in a culture besotted with serial killers, Douglas can claim a rare authenticity regarding the evil that men do.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758273123
  • Publisher: Kensington
  • Publication date: 2/26/2013
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 487,099
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

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Copyright © 2013 Mindhunters, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-7312-3

Chapter One

Catch Me Before I Kill More

It was one of the most hideous and brutal murders in the history of Chicago, a city already notorious for the brutality of its crimes.

In the early-morning hours of Monday, January 7, 1946, an adorable, flaxen-haired six-year-old named Suzanne Degnan was snatched from her first-floor bedroom in the family's house at 5943 North Kenmore Avenue, in the Edgewater neighborhood on Chicago's north side. A poorly written ransom note demanded $20,000, warned her parents not to NoTify FBI oR Police, and instructed them to wAITe foR WoRd. A ladder was found outside Suzanne's bedroom window.

An anonymous caller instructed police to check sewers near Suzanne's home. Before nightfall, police had found her dismembered remains in several sewers near her home, as well as in a bloody basement laundry room, where her body was cut apart in an apartment house on nearby Winthrop Street. The cause of death was apparent strangulation in an unknown location between her home and the laundry room.

This all happened the year after I was born. By the time I got involved with the case, the confessed and convicted defendant had already been in prison thirty-three years.

After tours as a street agent in Detroit and Milwaukee, I'd been assigned in 1977 to the Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, teaching applied criminal psychology to new agents, seasoned detectives and police brass through the National Academy program. The trouble was, many of these guys (there were very few women students back then) knew more about the cases being taught than I did, and every so often we'd get a chief or senior investigator who'd actually worked the case under review.

In an attempt to keep myself from looking uninformed, stupid or both before the veteran cops in my classroom, I decided to try to meet these violent predators face-to-face, to interview them and find out what was actually going on in their heads when they committed their crimes and what they thought of them afterward. My fellow instructor Robert Ressler and I did regular "road schools" for local police departments and sheriff 's offices around the country, which I figured provided us the perfect opportunity to visit these offenders at their various institutions of long-term residence.

Out of those informal and unofficial origins, we began our original serial killer study, which ultimately led to a rigorous study funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). I coauthored two landmark books with Ressler and Dr. Ann Burgess, of the University of Pennsylvania, entitled Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives and Crime Classification Manual, and solidified my career as the Federal Bureau of Investigation's first operational behavioral profiler.

Surprisingly—at least we thought so at the time—virtually every killer on our "wish list" agreed to talk to us. One of the earliest interviews Bob Ressler and I did happened to be with William George Heirens at Statesville Prison in Joliet, Illinois. As a seventeen-year-old, Heirens had confessed and pled guilty to murdering little Suzanne Degnan, as well as two adult women in the preceding months: forty-three-year-old housewife Josephine Ross and thirty-one-year-old Frances Brown, a former Navy WAVE who had served during World War II.

Brown's naked, bloodstained body was discovered in her apartment not far from Ross's home on the morning of December 11, 1945, when housemaid Martha Engels came to clean. She found Brown in the bathtub with a bullet wound to her skull and a butcher knife stabbed into her neck. On the living-room wall, scrawled in Brown's own red lipstick, was the apparent plea or, perhaps, mocking taunt:

For heAVens Sake cAtch Me

BeFore I Kill More I cannot control myself

By the next day's editions, Chicago's enterprising newspapers had a name for the unknown subject ("UNSUB" in our terminology) of this disgusting and horrific crime: the "Lipstick Killer."

Before the interview in Joliet, Ressler and I prepared by reviewing the case file and William Heirens's prison record. He had been a model prisoner throughout his incarceration and had become the first inmate in Illinois to complete a college degree. He'd since done graduate work.

Unlike many of the offenders we had or would study, there was nothing arrogant about Heirens, nothing "sinister," egotistical or overbearing. There was nothing intimidating about him; and unlike some we interviewed, he didn't give the impression of wanting to rip off our heads. He was polite and spoke well, but throughout the several-hour interview he insisted he was innocent. He maintained that he'd been intimidated by Chicago police into confessing and was railroaded by his attorneys into taking a plea deal that they had come up with in a bold attempt to keep him out of the Illinois electric chair.

No matter how we approached the case or what we asked him, Heirens had a ready answer. Though he freely admitted to his extended career as a breaking-and-entering man, he swore he had an alibi for the nights of each of the three killings and wasn't even close to any of the scenes. He was so passionate about his innocence, so compelling in his insistence, I was convinced he could have passed a polygraph on the spot. As we left the prison, I was thinking to myself, Man, maybe this guy really got the shaft!

One of the ultimate mysteries of the human condition is what really happens between two people in any situation. When that situation is a murder, that mystery can intensify to the extreme. Is it possible that this given individual is capable of the worst act one person can perpetrate against another? And if not, then who is?

At its essential level, criminal justice is about assembling evidence, clues and other indicators to come up with, and then telling a logical, consistent and believable story. The investigator has to have one, and so do the defense and the prosecution. The version that the jury buys ultimately determines the outcome of the case. That's what I did and the current profilers still do at Quantico: apply our knowledge, experience and instinct to intuit a story about a known victim and an unknown predator. Like everything else in criminal justice, there are several ways of telling the rest of the William Heirens story.

I was so affected by Heirens's rational-seeming claims of his innocence after so many years in prison that as soon as I got back to Quantico, I dug out my copies of the case materials and reviewed all the critical points.

I took the file over to the second floor of the academy library, where I often went when I needed to concentrate. At my desk, the phone rang constantly and colleagues were always stopping by to ask questions or kibitz. Also, working in a field in which darkness and night are such prevailing metaphors, I liked having sunlight. At the time, Behavioral Science was housed in offices sixty feet underground, in space that had originally been designed as an emergency-command bunker, leading to our frequent quip that we were buried ten times deeper than dead people.

Sure enough, all of the incriminating facts were plain to see in Heirens's case file. He had the bad background I had come to expect from repeat predators: a risk-taking loner who had almost burned down the house with a chemistry experiment, and later jumped off a garage roof to try out his homemade cardboard wings; parents who had violent arguments and periodic money troubles; a string of burglaries going back at least to the age of thirteen; gun charges; and a record of being in and out of correctional schools. Based on stolen books found in his possession, including Richard von Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis, as well as a scrapbook he'd put together on the Nazis, he seemed to have an abiding interest in sexual perversion. He was even found to have his own portable surgical kit. The instruments were too small and delicate to have been used to take apart a body, but the interest it demonstrated in such things didn't exactly look good for someone who'd confessed to the postmortem dismembering of a child.

The confession itself was straightforward enough, except for the parts about a collaborator named "George Murman," who authorities decided was his face-saving alter ego who "drove him to it." George was Heirens's middle name, and Murman, they concluded, was short for "murder man." It appeared to be what our research would soon show us to be a classic case of escalation to murder through two opportunistic situations in which the owners of the premises happened to be home at the time of the break-ins, followed by a further escalation with the savage killing of the little girl. Heirens officially signed off on the confession not once, but twice, both times with attorneys present.

Other elements fit as well. The neighborhoods in which the murders took place were within the areas Heirens had burglarized in the past, what we would call his "comfort zone." He was apprehended in the midst of a burglary and attempted to shoot pursuing police officers before an off-duty cop happened to see what was happening and conked him on the head with a ceramic flowerpot, sending him to Bridewell, the medical lockup associated with Cook County Jail. Despite his checkered academic background, he was sufficiently intelligent to be accepted to the vaunted University of Chicago at age sixteen. In that, he equaled the feat of those other notorious Chicago killers, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, convicted of the thrill murder of Loeb's fourteen-year-old neighbor and distant cousin, Bobby Franks, and only saved from the death chamber by the impassioned defense of Clarence Darrow. The local press saw to it that none of these details was lost on the terrorized and news-hungry public. The Chicago Tribune labeled the Suzanne Degnan homicide: one of the most atrocious American murders since the Loeb-Leopold case.

Once enrolled in the prestigious university, Heirens majored in electrical engineering and continued to burglarize private homes, stores and apartment hotels. The meager cash, jewelry and odd objects he stole speak to someone who was more interested in the kick than in profitable criminal enterprise. If this kid was able to compartmentalize his life to that extent, then maybe the plaintive plea to catch him before he killed more made some sense. You could even explain the immature scrawl as a psychological attempt to separate the highly intelligent "Bill Heirens" from the sinister "George Murman."

Most compelling was the physical evidence: Heirens's fingerprint showed up both on the ransom note and in blood on a doorjamb in Frances Brown's apartment. The ransom note print was eventually questioned as not having the necessary number of points of comparison (this one had nine; the FBI required a minimum of twelve). But the one from the Brown murder scene was unimpeachable.

In this context, the reality of the case became clear. Sitting in prison all those years with endless time to think about it, the intelligent and introspective Heirens had let himself psychologically off the hook and convinced himself that while he was an inveterate serial burglar, he was innocent of the three murders to which he had confessed.

We taught the William Heirens case for years after we included it in our Criminal Personality Research Project, the first organized study that actually correlated each step of a violent crime with what the offender was thinking and doing at the time. That study formed the basis of a discipline that has proven accurate and useful in finding and trying serial murderers, rapists and other violent, predatory criminals over more than forty years, through many thousands of investigations and prosecutions.

In 1987, nearly ten years after my interview with Bill Heirens, a detective from nearby Arlington County, Virginia, named Joe Horgas, came calling at Quantico. Through years of persistent investigative work, which I can only characterize as brilliant and inspired, Horgas thought he had linked bold break-ins, violent rapes and horribly vicious rape-murders that had taken place in Arlington, neighboring Alexandria and down in the Richmond area over a period of years. Others in the various police departments didn't buy the connection. However, Horgas was positive. In his mind, the series of crimes went back to the murder of Carolyn Hamm, a thirty-two-year-old attorney, in Arlington in 1984.

After hearing the detective's presentation and considering everything—from timing and method of entry to physical and behavioral evidence, choice of victims and lab reports—we agreed the cases were almost certainly related. There are very few absolutes in our business, and none in profiling, but this was a pretty damn good matchup.

Then Horgas sprang a major curveball on us. "Hamm is actually a closed case," he explained, "because an individual has been arrested, tried and convicted."


He told us about David Vasquez, a Hispanic male who was thirty-seven years of age when the Arlington Police Department arrested him two weeks after the murder. He'd been living with a friend in Hamm's neighborhood and had been witnessed around her house by two individuals. When detectives searched his room, they found pornography involving bound and gagged women, as well as peeper photos he'd taken surreptitiously of women in various stages of undress. He couldn't be linked to semen samples found on Hamm's body or clothing, though some hair samples were suggestive. But the slam dunk was that he had confessed!

"Do you think there's more than one person involved?" Horgas asked.

This wasn't an idle question. Because Vasquez was demonstrably of very marginal intelligence and the crime was criminally sophisticated, there was some compelling thought that the Hamm murder might have been the work of two offenders, the UNSUB being the dominant one and Vasquez more of a compliant partner. We'd seen a number of examples of this over the years; so while rare, it wasn't beyond the realm of possibility. Normally, there are some pretty strong indicators at the crime scene, with elements representing both organized and disorganized aspects.

But at no point had Vasquez mentioned anyone else, nor was there any reference in his confession, nor was there anything from the Hamm case or any of the others that looked to us like a two-person crime. In fact, from what he told us about Vasquez, it didn't seem that he had the intellectual capability or the experience to have pulled off something this criminally sophisticated.

The fact that the crimes had stopped in Northern Virginia at a certain point, and then similar ones started occurring around Richmond three years later, established a pattern that was highly suggestive: Since this type of offender rarely stops on his own, we speculated that he had been picked up for some crime, like a burglary, which carried a three-year sentence, then was put on some sort of work release in Richmond.

Horgas pursued this idea, following up on every record of someone who might fit the pattern. He went back to the Arlington neighborhoods where the early crimes took place. Before long, he recalled a troubled African-American teenager named Timothy Wilson Spencer, whom he'd once investigated for a burglary. Several computer checks confirmed a bull's-eye. Spencer was twenty-two when he had been arrested in 1984 for burglary in Alexandria and was released to a halfway house in Richmond in 1987. Once Spencer was targeted as a suspect, everything started falling into place. Most important, his DNA matched three of the murder scenes and several of the rapes.

Though he never confessed, Spencer was convicted of murder in the first degree in three separate trials, and sentenced to death in all three. His convictions represent the first successful use of DNA evidence in the United States. After the failure of all of his appeals, on April 27, 1994, Timothy Wilson Spencer was executed in the electric chair of the Virginia State Penitentiary in Jarratt.

For people like me who have spent our professional lives helping police hunt down the worst of the worst and seeking justice for those who can no longer seek it for themselves, this was a highly gratifying outcome. But one giant loose end persisted. David Vasquez remained in prison for a crime we were convinced was part of a string committed by someone else. The two witnesses against Vasquez would not alter their testimony, and the crime scene samples had degraded to the point of being useless. The best shot at getting him sprung—of demonstrating that the Hamm murder was committed by the same offender as the others—was probably a behavioral science approach. So that was when we took the lead.

The FBI's profiling group is now called the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). When I became the first full-time operational profiler, I was part of the Behavioral Science Unit, which was essentially academic. In an effort to be taken seriously by our police clients, and to "get rid of the BS," I called the new profiling group the Investigative Support Unit (ISU). There were twelve profilers whom I affectionately nicknamed "the Dirty Dozen." Soon we were analyzing more than a thousand cases a year, so we set up a system in which each special agent profiler was assigned a geographic area of the country.


Excerpted from LAW & DISORDER by JOHN DOUGLAS MARK OLSHAKER Copyright © 2013 by Mindhunters, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Prologue Witch-Hunting....................1
Chapter 1 cAtch Me BeFore I Kill More....................11
Chapter 2 Upon Further Review....................21
Chapter 3 "An Innocent Man Is Going to Be Murdered Tonight"....................39
Chapter 4 The Fire on West Eleventh Street....................56
Chapter 5 Burning Questions....................70
Chapter 6 Suzanne's Story....................87
Chapter 7 The Body in the Park....................93
Chapter 8 An Empty Seat, a Flag at Half-Staff....................101
Chapter 9 Defending the Indefensible....................104
Chapter 10 One Individual Story....................111
Chapter 11 Going the Distance....................114
Chapter 12 "I Can't Stop Thinking About Them"....................128
Chapter 13 Who Should Be Executed?....................141
Chapter 14 A Christmas Nightmare....................163
Chapter 15 What We Know, and How We Know It....................174
Chapter 16 Enter Lou Smit....................201
Chapter 17 Robin Hood Hills....................219
Chapter 18 Damien and Jason....................230
Chapter 19 Looking for Lucifer....................235
Chapter 20 State v. Damien Wayne Echols and Charles Jason Baldwin....................253
Chapter 21 Damien and Lorri....................270
Chapter 22 Fitting the Profile....................279
Chapter 23 West Memphis Heat....................292
Chapter 24 Two Stepfathers....................301
Chapter 25 Arkansas Revisited....................309
Chapter 26 A Deal with the Devil?....................315
Chapter 27 Meeting Mr. Echols....................324
Chapter 28 The Day of the Dead....................330
Chapter 29 The Facts of the Case....................337
Chapter 30 Legal Limbo....................357
Chapter 31 Trial....................361
Chapter 32 Appeal....................371
Chapter 33 In Summation....................381
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    loved it


    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2013

    It is past time for this guy to stop writing books.

    I enjoyed a couple of his books. He is so full of himself.
    This one is really another pat on his own back.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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