Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit

by John Douglas, Mark Olshaker

Hardcover(Large Print)

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During his twenty-five-year career with the Investigative Support Unit, Special Agent John Douglas became a legendary figure in law enforcement, pursuing some of the most notorious and sadistic serial killers of our time: the man who hunted prostitutes for sport in the woods of Alaska, the Atlanta child murderer, and Seattle's Green River killer, the case that nearly cost Douglas his life. As the model for Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs, Douglas has confronted, interviewed, adn studied scores of serial killers and assassins, including Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and Ed Gein, who dressed himself in his victims' peeled skin. Now, in chilling detail, the legendary Mindhunter takes us behind the scenes of some of his most gruesome, fascinating, and challenging cases -- and into the darkest recesses of our worst nightmares.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780783816937
Publisher: Cengage Gale
Publication date: 04/01/1996
Series: G. K. Hall Mystery Series
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 572
Product dimensions: 6.42(w) x 9.51(h) x 1.27(d)

About the Author

John E. Douglas is a former FBI special agent, the Bureau’s criminal profiling pioneer and one of the creators of the Crime Classification Manual. He is currently a consultant on criminal investigative analysis and the author, with Mark Olshaker, of Journey Into Darkness, The Anatomy of Motive, The Cases That Haunt Us, and Law & Disorder, among others.

Mark Olshaker is a novelist, nonfiction author, and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker. He has written and produced numerous documentaries, including the Emmy-nominated PBS NOVA program Mind of a Serial Killer.

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 1: Inside the Mind of a Killer

Behavior reflects personality.One of the reasons our work is even necessary has to do with the changing natureof violent crime itself. We all know about the drug-related murders that plaguemost of our cities and the gun crimes that have become an everyday occurrence aswell as a national disgrace. Yet it used to be that most crime, particularly mostviolent crime, happened between people who in some way knew each other.We're not seeing that as much any longer. As recently as the 1960s, the solutionrate to homicide in this country was well over 90 percent. We're not seeing thatany longer, either. Now, despite impressive advances in science and technology,despite the advent of the computer age, despite many more police officers withfar better and more sophisticated training and resources, the murder rate hasbeen going up and the solution rate has been going down. More and more crimes arebeing committed by and against "strangers," and in many cases we have no motiveto work with, at least no obvious or "logical" motive.Traditionally, most murders and violent crimes were relatively easy for lawenforcement officials to comprehend. They resulted from critically exaggeratedmanifestations of feelings we all experience: anger, greed, jealousy, profit,revenge. Once this emotional problem was taken care of, the crime or crime spreewould end. Someone would be dead, but that was that and the police generally knewwho and what they were looking for.But a new type of violent criminal has surfaced in recent years-- the serialoffender, who often doesn't stop until he is caught or killed, who learns byexperience and who tends to get better andbetter at what he does, constantlyperfecting his scenario from one crime to the next. I say "surfaced" because, tosome degree, he was probably with us all along, going back long before 1880sLondon and Jack the Ripper, generally considered the first modem serial killer.And I say "he" because, for reasons we'll get into a little later, virtually allreal serial killers are male.Serial murder may, in fact, be a much older phenomenon than we realize. Thestories and legends that have filtered down about witches and werewolves andvampires may have been a way of explaining outrages so hideous that no one in thesmall and close-knit towns of Europe and early America could comprehend theperversities we now take for granted. Monsters had to be supernatural creatures.Theycouldn't be just like us.Serial killers and rapists also tend to be the most bewildering, personallydisturbing, and most difficult to catch of all violent criminals. This is, inpart, because they tend to be motivated by far more complex factors than thebasic ones I've just enumerated. This, in turn, makes their patterns moreconfusing and distances them from such other normal feelings as compassion,guilt, or remorse.Sometimes, the only way to catch them is to learn how to think like they do.Lest anyone think I will be giving away any closely guarded investigative secretsthat could provide a "how-to', to would-be offenders, let me reassure you on thatpoint right now. What I will be relating is how we developed the behavioralapproach to criminal-personality profiling, crime analysis, and prosecutorial strategy, but I couldn't make this a how-to courseeven if I wanted to. For one thing, it takes as much as two years for us to trainthe already experienced, highly accomplished agents selected to come into myunit. For another, no matter how much the criminal thinks he knows, the more hedoes to try to evade detection or throw us off the track, the more behavioralclues he's going to give us to work with.As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes say many decades ago, "Singularityis almost invariablya clue. The more featureless and commonplace a crime is, the more difficult it isto bring it home." In other words, the more behavior we have, the more completethe profile and analysis we can give to the local police. The better the profilethe local police have to work with, the more they can slice down the potentialsuspect population and concentrate on finding the real guy.Which brings me to the other disclaimer about our work. In the InvestigativeSupport Unit, which is part of the FBI's National Center for the Analysis ofViolent Crime at Quantico, we don't catch criminals. Let me repeat that: we donot catch criminals. Local police catch criminals, and considering the incrediblepressures they're under, most of them do a pretty damn good job of it. What wetry to do is assist local police in focusing their investigations, then suggestsome proactive techniques that might help draw a criminal out. Once they catchhim-- and again, I emphasize they, not we-- we will try toformulate a strategy to help the prosecutor bring out the defendant's truepersonality during the trial.We're able to do this because of our research and our specialized experience.While a local midwestern police department faced with a serial-murderinvestigation might be seeing these horrors for the first time, my unit hasprobably handled hundreds, if not thousands, of similar crimes. I always tell myagents, "If you want to understand the artist, you have to look at the painting."We've looked at many "paintings" over the years and talked extensively to themost "accomplished" "artists."We began methodically developing the work of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit,and what later came to be the Investigative Support Unit, in the late 1970s andearly 1980s. And though most of the books that dramatize and glorify what we do,such as Tom Harris's memorable The Silence of the Lambs are somewhatfanciful and prone to dramatic license, our antecedents actually do go back tocrime fiction more than crime fact. C. August Dupin, the amateur detective heroof Edgar Allan Poe's 1841 classic "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," may have beenhistory's first behavioral profiler. This story may also represent the first useof a proactive technique by the profiler to flush out an unknown subject andvindicate an innocent man imprisoned for the killings.Like the men and women in my unit a hundred and fifty years later, Poe understoodthe value of profiling when forensic evidence alone isn't enough to solve aparticularly brutal and seemingly motiveless crime. "Deprived of ordinaryresources," he wrote, "the analyst throws himself into the spirit of hisopponent, identifies himself therewith, and not infrequently sees thus, at aglance, the sole methods by which he may seduce into error or hurry intomiscalculation."

What People are Saying About This

Jonathan Demme

John Douglas knows more about serial killers than anybody in the world.

Patricia Cornwell

…in this chronicle of his remarkable and chilling career, John Douglas allows all of us to accompany him into unthinkably dark places where we find the bloody tracks of the Ted Bundys, John Hinckley Jrs., and Charles Mansons.
—(Patricia Cornwell, bestselling author of The Body Farm and From Potter's Field)

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Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 124 reviews.
GonzoRN More than 1 year ago
At the end of this book you come away feeling as though you have been through a lot of this with Mr. Douglas, and you have a strong since of who Mr. Douglas and his team are. If at some point you are not disturbed by this book there is something wrong. You find yourself feeling for, and with, John throughout the book. To start you find yourself in the middle of something that had to leave him shaken and worried. Then you have to follow the hard work (mentally and physically) that John had to go through to hone his craft. He truly proves to be one of the best ever in the business. This is the first of John Douglas' books that I have read and I can't wait to dive in to the next one I can put my hands on. If you have interest in true crime, serial killers, violent crime, or the hard work and stress that profilers have to go through, make sure you have this book, and when you are done keep it for reference. This book is fully indexed so it is easy to find what you are looking for. For either the veteran true crime enthusiast or your first look into the dark underbelly of human race, make sure to pick up this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found Manhunter both disturbing and fascinating . First and foremost I believe the people in the Investigative Support Unit deserve a great deal of thanks for their work. It is traumatic experience to put yourself in the mind of the serial killer and or victim. This book shows that this is what must be done to solve these cases. It shows that a keen understanding of behavior can turn up leads for investigators which may go unnoticed in a classic investigation. I also learned that parental support during a child¿s younger years can either help them lead a full and rewarding life. The lack of it can lead to consequences that are shown in this book. Serial killers are made, not born. I loved the part where John Douglas lays into a psychiatrist who believes a particular criminal is almost ready for release. Douglas asks if the psychiatrist knows the details of his crime. He doesn¿t and when John informs him he becomes irate. Well too bad, I¿m glad John stood up to this guy. He has no idea this criminal can¿t be rehabilitated. If he gets out he will kill again. It has been proven time and time again. Don¿t read this book if you don¿t have a strong stomach. If you do read it expect to be VERY affected by it.
tattooedmommie More than 1 year ago
Being a criminology major, loving true crime and interested in the mind of serial killers, this was a great read. I've heard of John Douglas in regards to his association with big profile serial killer cases but never really felt that I "got to know him" more. Not only did you get to "get to know" John Douglas but you get to see more of how the FBI's elite serial crime unit grew into what it is today!
JWWitness-III More than 1 year ago
I read this book. It had some interesting information in it. I like the book but it seems that the author John Douglas likes to take credit for a lot of things that Robert Ressler did before him. The Author comes across as certifiably narcissistic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book while home alone for a weekend while my husband was away...NOT a good idea! I just couldn't put it down and was scared. You'll never look at your neighbor or an unmarked white van again!
eversewenglish More than 1 year ago
Dear John, I just finished pouring over your book Mind Hunter, the one you signed and gave to Mac as a gift. Thank you for your pages of experience. Congrats on a well written book!! I just had to let you know how much I appreciate your line of work and the efforts of your investigative career path travelled. I feel blessed as a citizen to know that there are agents like you and those you have trained and influenced, working hard to keep up with the increasing sophisication of criminals out there. You have am amazing thought process, and it is astonishing to read how you have broken down information to uncover criminals identities. I am the daughter of a murderer, so it was why I picked up your book to read so that I would learn something about criminal minds. My father murdered my mother in 1979, in England in our home. I have spent my life agonizing over his act, and live through the damage he caused to our family, not to mention my mothers life being ended at age 36. Your book touches why he choce the method he used and on his personality type " if I can have her, know one can", my father would make such threats over the years and no one thought he would ever carry out his statement, he was perceived as a "salt of the earth type of guy" to outsiders, but inside our home I knew a different person. If you ever feel up to it, I would love to talk, there are aspects surrounding my mothers case I would love some answers on. I want to send you a "Big" congratulations, on a superb book that enlightens the public on criminal conduct. I feel educated now to keep my wits about me when dealing with the public at large. I can imagine the toll your job in the past took on you and your family. I hope now you are enjoying your retirement and are able to live a peaceful exsistance. Your life deserves a well earned rest. We would love to have dinner sometime with you and Pam. I'm going to research which one of your books I want to read next. Bravo John Bravo. Gratefully... Jennifer Church
BellaFoxx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
John Douglas takes us through his history first, his experiences growing up, what made him decide to become an FBI agent and how he used profiling even before he became an agent and knew what it was. While he does not mince words when describing crimes the descriptions are neither gratuitous nor graphic, what comes through all his narration is respect and sympathy for the victims. He explains that profiling is an investigation into the why of a crime, and why this is important in solving certain types of crime.He also details the interviews he and another agent had with convicted serial killers and how this has helped him and other agents fine tune their investigative skills. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy reading about investigative technique (profiling) and psychology.
bibliosk8er on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not really a "true crime" guy -- generally hate that stuff, but I found this on my dad's bookshelf a few years ago and it was pretty fascinating.
NellieMc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you're a CSI fan, this is the book for you. Enthralling descriptions of horrific crimes; if you've ever doubted some people are simply born evil, this will cure that conviction. A little self-serving (we heard a few too many times how hard he worked and how skeptical people were), but given the results--getting some of these people off the the streets--he's earned the indulgence.
nightprose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas, Mark OlshakerUpon retiring, Special Agent John Douglas was finally able to share his story. He is the elite pioneer of what we now know as criminal profiling. He is also the model for the chief male agent in the book and movie, ¿Silence of the Lambs¿. In this book, Douglas takes us into the early days of the FBI¿s special unit for this highly specialized field.Special Agent Douglas was involved in several notorious crimes, including John Wayne Gacy, the Tylenol poisoning case, the Atlanta Child Murders, and the Green River Killer. His profiling of the criminal mind was integral in solving these among other major crimes.To hone his skills, Douglas studied and interviewed the likes of infamous serial killers Richard Speck, Charles Manson John Wayne Gacy and other serious offenders. This enabled him to understand the working of their mind, as well as what drove them to commit such heinous crimes.A fascinating psychological read, this is also an excellent account of true criminal justice. Fans of the TV show ¿Criminal Minds¿ will certainly appreciate this compelling book.
jesselunsford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great read for someone interested in the basis for and origin of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit. If you are looking for Criminal Minds or Silence of the Lambs, you're out of luck. John Douglas, with the help of Mark Olshaker, provide tremendous insight into the fascinating task of profiling and targeting the most depraved that humanity has to offer. While this book is not one of fast paced action, it will have you flipping the pages faster and faster to see what is next. Even if your fascination with this topic was forged from viewing Silence of the Lambs, this factual look at these monsters and the FBI¿s attempt to capture them should still keep you captivated.
LiteraryFeline on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
John Douglas was brought to my attention when his talk radio show first aired on the radio. He was a ¿profiler¿ for the FBI for many years, retiring from his position as Director of the Behavioral Investigation Unit. In this nonfiction book, he describes how he came to work for the FBI and describes the nature of the work, providing the reader with a general overview. I found the information interesting and am curious to read some of his other books, with more specific focus on the different crimes or types of crimes he investigated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome non fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Self aggrandizing and moralizing got the better of this author, informative though, just not my cup of tea. Braggarts rarely make good authors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to put down, and gave me a lot to think about. Is there any possibility of rehab for people who commit the kinds of murders ascribed to serial killers? At what stage can we legitimately say we should try? If not, why do we go through the motions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Decided to read due to the new Netflix series coming out. I'm hoping the series goes into more detail of the crimes and not so much detail of the authors career.
Ismael Morales More than 1 year ago
"Mind Hunter: Inside The FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit" by John E Douglas, is a story about John E Douglas one of the FBI's best agent. The book was published back in 1998. This book is very similar to the book "Signature killers" as they both go inside the mind of America's most dangerous killers. The book takes place in Michigan State. This book is in 3rd point of view because the character is telling his own story and constantly uses I, he and she throughout. The Protagonist is John Douglas who has just been promoted from a clerk to a Special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Along with the promotion comes a great amount of stress and fear because he knows nothing about being an agent. This book is very similar to the book "Signature Killers" by Robert Keppel as they both visualize the very gruesome murders that criminals participate in. Murder is also a recurring theme in this book as every criminal that he interviews explains to him how and why they murdered. For example on page 108 it depicts one of the murders by stating "Kemper went into her room and attacked her repeatedly with a claw hammer until she died. He then decapitated her and raped her headless corpse." Overall, I would give this book a 10 out of 10. I give it this rating because it kept me interested with all the stories of murder. I recommend this book for people who are pursuing a career of law enforcement such as me. Because of the disturbing and gruesome murders that this story depicts I would only recommend this book for people in high school or older.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Anatomy of Motive is better.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is good, and if you're a Criminal Minds fan, you'll see how they use some of the real situations and scenarios. It only gets three stars, though, because the book is too expensive. Ebooks shouldn't cost nearly $20.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my all-time favorite books...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quite possibly my favorite book