Special Agent: My Life on the Front Lines As a Woman in the FBI

Special Agent: My Life on the Front Lines As a Woman in the FBI

by Candice DeLong, Elisa Petrini

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786890330
Publisher: Hyperion
Publication date: 06/28/2002
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 4.12(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

A twenty-year veteran of the FBI, Candice DeLong was its Head Profiler in San Francisco, helping to track "pattern criminal," such as serial rapists and murderers, with state and local law enforcement agencies and serving as the liaison to the Bureau's world-famous Behavioral Science Unit at Quantico.  As a member of the former Child Abduction Task Force, she lectured widely to lay, university, and professional law enforcement groups as an FBI spokesperson on such issues as protecting women and children and preventing child abuse.

Read an Excerpt

The call came at four 'clock in the morning. It was Tom, my squadmate on the San Francisco Child Abduction Task Force, who had a hot tip from the Nevada FBI. "Candice," he told me, "a guy's passing through town with a kidnapped boy. Wanna get in on the bust?"

"Hell, yes," I said, instantly awake. It's rare to get a chance to thwart a kidnapping in progress and to recover the victim alive. In more than 90 percent of non-custody-related abductions, the child is molested and then quickly released. But each year, of the 200 to 300 children who go missing for more than twenty-four hours, fewer than 50 percent ever make it home.

This child, Joshua, was the eleven-year-old son of a single mother, who had let her friend Michael treat him to a week at the beach. Having raised my own son alone, I can certainly understand how welcome such an offer might sound. But it's not at all uncommon for pedophiles to befriend or even marry women just to get at their children. There's actually a special law enforcement term for it — the stepdaddy syndrome. Others may enter adult relationships as a cover for their true predilections. The notorious John Wayne Gacy, for example, a divorced father of two, married his second wife the same year he embarked on a rampage of abduction and torture that would claim the lives of thirty-three teenage boys. He buried most of them in the crawl space beneath the house where he lived with his wife, her children, and his mother-in-law, who would often complain of the odor of "dead rats."

Frighteningly, a full quarter of the annual tally of sex-related murders have victims under the age of seventeen. Indeed, according to the Department of Justice, children under seventeen suffer a shocking proportion — 78 percent — of the sexual assaults resulting in imprisonment. Over 85 percent of their abusers are people they know and trust — people like Michael, a family "friend" for several years, who had kidnapped Joshua.

On the day he was to come home, Joshua called his mother to ask permission to stay longer. She said no — and then her son disappeared. The local FBI office managed to determine that the abductor had bought two bus tickets to Oakland, California, across the Bay Bridge from me. I went to meet Tom and the rest of the team at the Oakland Greyhound station.

"No luck yet," I was told. It was possible that we had missed the abductor and child, for at least one bus had already come in that night. At 9 A.M., Ray Cummings, supervisor of the Oakland violent crime squad, suggested that we split up and also stake out the Amtrak station, in case they tried to catch the early-morning train. Its destination was San Diego, just ten miles from Mexico. Once they made it across the border, they would probably be lost to us forever.

The train left at 9:30, so we sped right over. Ray's direction proved right, for there on the platform, ready to board, was a man with a young boy who matched the description of the missing child. As soon as we approached, the guy tried to bolt, with the boy tight in his clutches. A chorus of shouts rang out: "Hold it right there!" "FBI!"

As the team grabbed him and tried to wrestle him into handcuffs, I reached through the jostling arms and pried the boy from his grasp. "You're okay, honey," I said soothingly. He was crying and shaking with terror.

Then, all of a sudden, the suspect pitched forward, gasping and gagging, and collapsed, croaking out, "I'm having a heart attack."

I'll just bet you are, I thought.

Leaving Joshua in the care of one of my squadmates, I pushed through the crowd that had started to ring the suspect. "Don't worry," I said, dropping down beside him. "I'm a nurse."

I checked his pupils and his breathing and slid my fingers to his throat to find his pulse. Like a mother examining a child for signs of fever, I laid my palm on his forehead and his cheeks. My suspicion was correct. "He's faking," I told the squad hovering over us.

They yanked him to his feet and cuffed his hands behind him. Sobbing out loud now, Joshua screamed, "Leave him alone! He's my friend!"

That didn't surprise me. The reaction was classic — the outrage of a child seduced by the promise of love. Unlike psychopaths, who get sexual or sadistic or vengeful thrills from their power over the weak, pedophiles have erotic feelings for children and try to woo them with gifts and affection. The lonely child of a mother run ragged by trying to care for her family and to make ends meet may be all too vulnerable to the lavish attentions of another adult. Then, when the adult who has so insidiously won his love awakens his sexuality, the child will be tom apart by confusion and guilt. The psychic damage pedophiles do children, with their seductions and betrayals, is profound.

Over the next eight hours, I would learn the harrowing details of Joshua's ongoing abuse and recent "vacation." At first he kept fidgeting and stonewalling me, reluctant to betray his "friend." Finally he admitted, "Michael said I should never tell the cops about anything. He said you would hurt us and take me away."

"You know, I have a son named Seth who looks just like you," I told him. "Do I seem like someone who would hurt you?"

He acknowledged that I didn't.

"Besides," I went on, "nobody's going to hurt you because you've done nothing wrong. Adults who like children in the wrong way will say things like that to fool them."

I kept using the words children and child to emphasize to Joshua that whatever had gone on, he wasn't responsible, even if — being eleven and so immature that he looked nine — he wanted to think he was a man. He had suffered enough emotional torment to overwhelm a grown man. I wanted to give him permission to feel victimized.

But Joshua insisted that Michael was his friend and wanted to show me his gifts to prove it. When he unzipped his duffel bag, I saw a crack pipe sticking out of a tangle of clothes. "What's that thing?" I asked.

He pulled it out and then let a little of the story leak. Fed only cookies and soda pop by his kidnapper — and plied with crack cocaine, presumably to numb him into submission — in a single week he had dropped from eighty to a haggard seventy pounds. Still, Joshua thought that getting to smoke crack was "cool." "And look what he bought me, Agent Candy," he said, digging out some CDs. "He loves me more than my mother — and I hate her."

This kind of brainwashing is typical too. Pedophiles try to boost their odds of success and reduce their risk of exposure by alienating their young victims from their families. 

"That's what bad adults do," I told him. "They buy presents — they'll try anything to get what they want. They tell lies and make promises to make children think they love them. But your mother is the one who loves you more than anything. She's the one who called so we would rescue you. That's how much your mother loves you."

I reiterated, "And no matter what a bad adult might say, nothing bad that happens is ever the child's fault. The adult is the one — the only one — who is wrong."

Clearly, love had little to do with the abductor's plans. He had told Joshua that they were headed for Mexico, where he would "buy" a little girl and take the two of them to the Netherlands. They would make a video to send Joshua's mother, explaining that he was never coming back. That the Netherlands figured in the scheme suggested that they'd be making other videos too, for shooting child pornography films there is relatively easy. After that, I had no doubt, two children would be useless, disposable baggage to a man on the run.

I also felt certain that Joshua had been sexually abused. We had discovered that his abductor was wanted in Texas for parole violations following two prior child-molesting convictions. It appalled me that such scum had been allowed to ooze back onto the streets. Yet abusers all too commonly are. Child molesters rarely do serious time, even though they murder children's innocence.

But it is very hard for any eleven-year-old boy to talk about sex, never mind one who has been abused by a man. I tried to give Joshua neutral language to express what had been done to him. "Were you ever touched in the 'bathing suit area'?" I asked. "That's what some adults will do to children."

Little by little I chipped away at his resistance. When Joshua finally opened up, it was like a boil had been lanced, and what came out made me want to cry. In a rush, he described the acts he had been forced to perform, some of which Michael had captured on video. A search of Michael's duffel bag would turn up these homemade sex tapes. For over a year, Michael had been, in Joshua's words, "violating" him, just as he had done with his older brother in the past.


I kept reaffirming that the abuse wasn't his fault, that any wrongdoing was Michael's. "He's the one who could go to jail, not you," I stressed.

The idea of Michael behind bars seemed to comfort Joshua immensely. I still remember how his shoulders relaxed, as if he were shedding a burden, and how his face softened. I was watching a brittle young man ease up and become a sweet little boy again — the child he deserved to be. He clung to me for solace, and I just held him and let him cry. He then fell fast asleep, sitting in a chair.


Copyright © 2001 Candice DeLong and Elisa Petrini

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4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy Candice DeLong shows and interviews this book will take you behind the scenes of her life and how she got her job for the Fbi. She talks about her tough cases, from child abduction to how they found and arrested the uni-bomber. Overall a very exciting and interesting biography about Candice DeLong.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Special Agent: My Life on the Front Lines as a Woman in the FBI, Candice DeLong demythologizes the role of women in law enforcement in today's world. With just enough information about her personal life to keep the reader turning the pages, she manages to not only inform but entertain as well. Readers are also given clear, concise words of wisdom on how to not be a victim of crime. DeLong also manages to inspire readers who may have been on the receiving end of America's criminal injustice system. Her life's work of keeping America safe are an inspiration in these trying times.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Special Agent' is an informative and revealing story into the life of a woman in the FBI. Candice DeLong, with the well-written help of Elisa Petrini, shares the positive and negative sides of working for a U.S. federal agency. Despite the image of an agency frequently clouded in secrecy, the author does not gloss over the workings of the FBI. She offers a frank and refreshing perspective on accepting a job in this agency--a job that becomes a way of life. She explains the hardships involved with being a woman in the FBI, yet does not overly criticize the men who make her presence a minority. Ms. DeLong is a fair and hard-working professional who dedicated 20 years to uphold justice and safety for Americans. She deserves sincere respect for her service. By providing a book that offers many stories from her life, some humorous and some sad, readers can enjoy a fast-paced tale of a real-life FBI story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a great book for anyone interested in law enforcement issues. This author should meet Darlene Catalan, the author of U.S. Customs, Badge of Dishonor. All women thinking of entering the criminal justice field should read these two books first!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was by far the best autobiography I have ever read. Exceptionally well written, her story from her first days at Quantico up until her retirement are not only eye-opening, but astounding. This has inspired me to want to be the in FBI, I truly look up to this writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was such a great book. I've always had a deep curiosity and interest in criminology, profiling, and the FBI. Hearing all about this from Candice was fantastic. I honestly could not stop reading it until I was finished!
Mari2367 More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a book that made me not want to put it down. It was very well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Candice DeLong's father wanted her to do something besides going into the FBI. He didn't view it as a femine thing to do. However, she went for it, passed the FBI Academy at Quantico's high standards with flying colors, and proceeded to embark on a rewarding career as a woman in a field dominated by men. She candidly discusses her work on cases and her personal life during those 20 years. She is able to address the sometimes sexist views held by her male peers without causing tension. I highly recommend this book. It provides both a good look into the FBI, and good information that every person should know. A truly amazing woman, she stands for equal rights and feminism in a way that speaks to everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recommend this book to anyone wanting to enter into the FBI, especially if you are a woman. Candice De Long talks about her life in the FBI and how she was also able to be a mother to her son. She really gives you an inside look into the FBI.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a very good account of one of the first female FBI agents and the hardships she endured to succeed as a federal law enforcement officer. Ms. DeLong is a dedicated and brave agent and relates many of her own cases as well as other famous (and infamous) cases worked by the FBI. Ms. DeLong does show some animosity toward the National Rifle Association (NRA) and toward all firearm collectors in general. This is commom with many high ranking and politically motivated law enforcement officers and can be overlooked as it doesn't detract much from the theme of the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the most inspiring book I have read about a woman's career since I became familiar with Ms. Jane Goodall's books about her pioneering work in Africa with chimpanzees. Many people will see Ms. Candice ('don't call me Candy') De Long as a real-life Clarice Starling (the FBI agent in Hannibal). I think she is more impressive than that. This fascinating book recounts her three lives as a psychiatric nurse who worked with violent patients and did home health care for poor people, an FBI special agent (specializing in profiling of repeated, sexually violent offenders) from 1980 through 2000, and as a divorced mother raising a son alone. Each side of her life is equally impressive, and she is the kind of person we all should admire. She has always done her duty, and we are all the better for that. While many pioneering women in 'men's' professions often were given 'token' roles, Ms. De Long wanted and went to where the action was. During her career, she rescued a child from a pedophile abductor, captured a terrorist who had murdered three men, and caught a Class A fugitive. She was also present and part of many famous investigations. Her memoir will give you a much better idea about crime and how the FBI and DEA combat it. The book also contains many lessons for how women and children can avoid becoming crime victims. When J. Edgar Hoover died in 1972, there were no women field agents. By 1980, around 4 percent of the agents were women. At her retirement in 2000, this had risen to 15 percent. Ms. De Long sacrificed a lot to become an agent. She had to leave her young son for 16 weeks for the initial training. She missed a lot of evenings and weekends with him to do surveillance. The training included a lot of harrassment (female and general). For example, she was made to fire a shotgun so often in one day that she developed a permanent injury that kept her from being able to use that shoulder for firing a shotgun again. Another time, she had to box a large man who knocked her out cold. Her starting salary was half what she had made as a nurse. She could accept that. 'I wanted to lead a heroic life.' She certainly did succeed in that objective. She took the men on at their own game, and was proud of being called one of the 'b_____s with badges.' Her signature was the fedora she always wore at the Bureau. Some of the famous cases she worked on included the Tylenol tampering, being part of the surveillance team on the Unabomber leading up to the arrest of Ted Kaczynski, and the brothel closings in Chicago. She correctly says relatively little about her personal life. But some of the anecdotes will keep you laughing for days. When she was asked to be a hot dog mother in her son's third grade class, the children noticed that she was packing. She got a lot more respect after that, and was invited back to talk about her work. Another time, she accidentally noticed a surveillance suspect while driving around and tailed her. The team had lost the suspect. Only well into the chase did she realize that her son was in the back seat. She kept him safe while her eye was peeled on the suspect. The profiling work will intrigue you. You will learn about all of the different kinds of creeps who victimize women and children. It was amazing how well the profiles predicted who the guilty party was. Using the profiles allowed the FBI and local police to find the suspects much faster than would otherwise have occurred. Since these are repeat offenders, lives were saved and injuries were avoided as a result. Part of the worst of this was that many times the women could have been saved if someone had called the police. 'If you are ever assaulted, never count on help.' The stories of the harrassment she endured from insecure males in the FBI will amaze you. She indicates that conditions improved over time. One of the most ridiculous examples was when she was sent to the home of an informant to babysit his child while the bust went d
Guest More than 1 year ago