Anatomy of Motive: The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Explores the Key to Understanding and Catching Violent Criminals

Anatomy of Motive: The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Explores the Key to Understanding and Catching Violent Criminals

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Overview

Anatomy of Motive: The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Explores the Key to Understanding and Catching Violent Criminals by John E. Douglas, Mark Olshaker

From legendary FBI profiler John Douglas and Mark Olshaker — authors of the nonfiction international bestsellers Mindhunter, Journey into Darkness, and Obsession — comes an unprecedented, insightful look at the root of all crime.
Every crime is a mystery story with a motive at its heart. With the brilliant insight he brought to his renowned work inside the FBI's elite serial-crime unit, John Douglas pieces together motives behind violent sociopathic behavior. He not only takes us into the darkest recesses of the minds of arsonists, hijackers, bombers, poisoners, assassins, serial killers, and mass murderers, but also the seemingly ordinary people who suddenly kill their families or go on a rampage in the workplace.
Douglas identifies the antisocial personality, showing surprising similarities and differences among various types of deadly offenders. He also tracks the progressive escalation of those criminals' sociopathic behavior. His analysis of such diverse killers as Lee Harvey Oswald, Theodore Kaczynski, and Timothy McVeigh is gripping, but more importantly, helps us learn how to anticipate potential violent behavior before it's too late.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780671023935
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication date: 07/28/2000
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 60,485
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(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



Introduction


Dunblane

Why did he do it?

I just happen to be in Scotland when I hear about the massacre.

It's the morning of Wednesday, March 13, 1996, and I'm in a television studio in Glasgow as part of a promotional tour for my book Mindhunter, at the invitation of our British publisher. For the last hour I've been interviewed about criminal profiling on the ITV television program This Morning by a very personable team of cohosts named Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan. How did I begin in the field? they ask. How did I learn what I know, and who did I learn it from? How did my Investigative Support Unit in Quantico, Virginia, go about creating and using a profile of an unknown subject or UNSUB, as he is known in FBI and law enforcement circles? Throughout the tour I've been really pumped up by the Brits' fascination with the subject and the interest they've shown in my career of studying and hunting killers, rapists, bombers — men whose evil and depraved acts challenge the bounds of the human imagination. Fortunately for the people of the United Kingdom, their society is not nearly as violent as ours in the United States; but they come by their fascination understandably. The first known serial killer — Jack the Ripper — terrorized the East End of London in a grisly mystery that's remained unsolved for more than a hundred years. On this tour, interviewers still ask me if the killer could be profiled and the case closed, I tell them that it would be difficult to come up with the Ripper's specific identity at this late date, but that even after a century we can verylegitimately profile the UNSUB and say with reasonable assurance the type of individual he was. In fact, I tell them, I've done it several times in the Ripper murders — both in training exercises at Quantico and on a live international television broadcast with Peter Ustinov some years ago.

I'm back in the TV station's green room when the producer comes in. I assume she's going to thank me for appearing, but when I look at her she's grim, and her voice is urgent.

"John, can you come back on the show here?"

I've just done an hour — what more could they possibly want? "Why?" I ask. "What's happened?"

"There's been a horrible murder in Dunblane."

I'd never even heard of the place. It turns out to be a traditionally peaceful village of about 7,300 people, midway between Glasgow and Edinburgh, that goes back to the Middle Ages. I've got about five minutes before the producer wants me back on, and she quickly hands me the wire service copy.

It says there's been a mass killing of children at the Dunblane Primary School. Reports were frantic and details sketchy, but it appears that a gunman walked into the school at about 9:30 in the morning and began shooting four-, five-, and six-year-olds in the playground. There'd been multiple gunshots, and some of the children had definitely been killed. Others were injured, their teacher fatally wounded. The news reports didn't have a name or age, but apparently the killer had more than one weapon with him — high-caliber military-type weapons, it seemed.

From these brief news flashes, it sounds like a scene of utter and appalling horror. For a father of three — even with all I've seen — it's difficult not to become sick at the thought of small children being massacred on the playground of their own school.

This is all the information we have when we come back on the air a few minutes later, still reeling from the news. The story is broadcast, and Richard Madeley turns to me and says something like, "Well, John, what do we have here?"

"Well, first of all, you're dealing with a mass murderer," I tell them, then explain how that's different from serial murderers and spree killers. A serial killer is hunting human beings for the sexual thrill it gives him and will do it over and over again, believing he can outwit and outmaneuver the police, never expecting to be caught. The spree killer kills a number of victims at different locations in a short period of hours or days. But a mass killer is playing an endgame strategy. Once he commits himself to his course of action, he does not expect to come out of it alive. He will generally either kill himself after he's "made his statement" or commit what we call "suicide by cop" — forcing a confrontation in which the police or SWAT team will have no choice but to open fire. I expect that later reports will say that this individual died at the scene. These killers are such inadequate people, such losers, that they know they cannot get away and won't give others the satisfaction of controlling them or bringing them to justice.

But what kind of person would do this? Judy Finnigan wants to know, genuinely bewildered.

"Well," I respond, "the first thing you have to understand is the motive, and the key to that is in the victimology." Who has he chosen as his victims, and why? Are they victims of opportunity, or was a careful and deliberate choice made?

"Generally speaking, mass murderers are white males, ranging from their mid-to-late thirties to their mid-to-late forties. In your country you don't have that large a percentage of blacks, so the white-male guess is a pretty good one. But even in our country, where we have many more blacks, it's still going to be a white male, and he'll be an asocial loner. That's what this gunman is going to turn out to be."

But these things don't happen in a vacuum. I know very well that even though we have few details at this point, a pattern is going to emerge as soon as we know more, and I already feel I can say what that pattern is going to be. The identity of the person who's responsible for this crime, I state, should not come as any surprise to his community. This is someone who's had a history of turmoil in this locale. And because it's a school that is the target, there must have been some problem in his relationship with the children in the school, with the school itself, or with the parents. There must be something related.

"In this kind of case," I say, "you would know that there has to be a reason why this subject would pick schoolkids — something in his life connecting schoolchildren and himself. And he'll pick a place he's familiar with, where he feels comfortable."

Children are sometimes victims in a mass murder, but normally they will be either incidental victims (such as when someone shoots up a fast-food restaurant) or members of a targeted family. This was a different type of crime altogether, and its perpetrator, I predict, will adhere to a defined pattern of behavior.

Leading up to the crime, these people are very, very frustrated; very, very angry. You would look for this one in Dunblane to have written letters — perhaps to the school principal or headmaster, the local newspaper, or some municipal authority. These types are much more comfortable with the written form of communication — and so they'll express themselves in diaries, express the hate or anger they feel about whatever it is that's bothering them. When they feel they are not getting satisfaction, they may escalate and address their grievances at an even higher level. In the United States, it could be to the president. In Britain, it might be to the queen or prime minister. Then they reach a point in their lives where they feel no one is paying attention. So they take it upon themselves to perpetrate this type of crime.

I tell my television hosts that this crime appears to me to be a kind of revenge. Because the victims were very young children, I suspect it was retaliation for some perceived wrong — real or imagined — perpetrated against the killer. The children themselves were too young to have been targeted individually, too young for the guy to conceive that any of them had personally wronged him. The main target was not the teacher, though. Had that been the case, he would have shot her, then left. She was probably heroically defending the children and he eliminated her merely to get to his primary prey. In my mind, it is as if innocence itself is the target — as if he has decided to take something very precious from either their parents, the school officials, or both.

He will turn out to be single, I say, without any significant relationships with women in his own age range. He will have had something to do with young children, either as a teacher himself or, more likely, as a scoutmaster or volunteer of some sort. This is the only sort of sexualized relationship he would feel comfortable with; he couldn't relate to his own peers, or they to him. He may be homosexual and prefer boys to girls, but not necessarily, since the victims are so far prepubescent. But parents or teachers will have become suspicious or wary of him, enough so that he's been removed from his position in charge of young children. He will think this is unfair, uncalled for; after all, all he is doing is giving them love and attention. That's what his letters will have been about: complaining that his reputation has been damaged.

When no one will listen, he realizes he has nothing of importance left in his life. And if these precious innocents are taken away from him, then he will take them away from those who are causing him this grief. He will take it upon himself to punish the authority figures, his own peers. And it doesn't matter whether the boys and girls in the Dunblane Primary School this morning were the specific focus of his grievance or not. The entire community is to blame, his entire peer group is at fault. No parents or school leaders trust him, so they are all deserving of his wrath. This is a retaliation. This is what we classify as a personal cause homicide. Most likely, too, there was a specific precipitating stressor to cause him to act when he did.

This is not someone who ever blended into the community. So often, when a serial killer in the United States is apprehended, neighbors, acquaintances, or coworkers will express shock, saying that he was the last person in the world they would have suspected of being a vicious murderer. He seemed so charming, or he seemed so ordinary. He seemed to get on so well with his wife or girlfriend.

Not this guy. Mass murderers are different from serial ones. Those around him thought of him as weird or strange. They've had an uncomfortable feeling about him that they might not even have been able to place or articulate. In the United States, I wouldn't be able to attach much significance to the choice of weapon or weapons. There, guns are all too easy to obtain, so the killer could either be a gun nut or someone who just recently procured the firearms for this one intended purpose. Here in Britain, though, guns and rifles are much more tightly controlled. If he wasn't in the military or a specialized wing of the police force, he would have to be a member of a gun club of some sort to have access to these weapons. And given his "odd" personality, this preoccupation with guns should have raised some red flags in itself. This guy was a pressure cooker waiting to explode, and these innocent children paid the price.

I'd already left Scotland by the time the definitive information was made public.

Sixteen children, ages four to six, died that morning, fifteen at the scene and one at the hospital. So had their teacher, forty-five-year-old Gwen Mayor, who courageously tried to stop the attacker as he entered the school and headed for the children's exercise class in the gymnasium — not the playground as we originally understood. Twelve other children were injured. Only one escaped unscathed, and two others, by the grace of God, were out sick that day. The killer had tried to get to the school during a time when hundreds of students were in the gym for the morning assembly, but he had received incorrect information when he asked a student about the schedule; so when he arrived, only one class was present. He had four guns with him, including two revolvers and two nine-millimeter semiautomatics. Headmaster Ronald Taylor called in the emergency and was credited with keeping the others in the seven-hundred-pupil school calm and safe as gunshots echoed throughout the building. The massacre took three minutes in total.

The gunman, Thomas Watt Hamilton, forty-three years of age, white, and unmarried, was a former scoutmaster said to be obsessed with young boys and bitter over the community's rejection of him. He'd become a Scout leader back in July of 1973, but there had been complaints about his behavior and he was asked to leave the organization in March of the following year. His repeated attempts to get back in were unsuccessful. In addition to young boys, his other primary interest was guns. He was a member of a local gun club and held the appropriate permits to fire them under the club's auspices.

Neighbors described the tall, balding Hamilton as private, a loner. Some compared him to Mr. Spock on Star Trek and all thought he was weird. According to their reports, he was invariably dressed in a white shirt and parka with a flat cap covering his receding hairline. He'd originally run a Do-It-Yourself shop called "Wood Craft," then decided to become a professional photographer. Two female neighbors described the walls of his two-bedroom house in the Braehead district of nearby Stirling as being full of color photographs of scantily clad young boys.

When he couldn't get back into organized scouting, Hamilton formed his own boys' club, called the Stirling Rovers, and took groups of eight- to twelve-year-olds on outings and day trips, during which he would take extensive pictures, home movies, and, later, videos. One of the two neighbors was once invited in to watch a home movie of young boys frolicking in their swimsuits.

In 1988, he tried yet again to get back into the Scouts, with the same lack of success. Between 1993 and 1994, local police requested information on Hamilton from scouting organizations after spotting him in a gay red-light district. Around the same time, he sent letters to Dunblane parents, denying rumors that he molested young boys. In the weeks before the massacre, he had been turned down as a volunteer at Dunblane Primary School. He wrote to the media to complain about the police and Dunblane teachers spreading lies about him, and he wrote to the queen that the Scouts had damaged his reputation.

All in all, my profile stood up in every significant detail. Several Scottish newspapers ran headlines such as G-man shares insight into mind of a maniac and Train Police to Spot Potential Killers, Says Expert.

So how was I able to do this? How was I able to peg a man I knew nothing about except his final explosive act, in a place many thousands of miles from where I've lived and worked? Is it because I have a psychic gift when it comes to crime and criminals? I wish I did, but no, I don't and never have. It's because of my two decades' experience in the FBI dealing directly with the experts themselves — the killers and other violent offenders — hunting and profiling them. It's all in what I learned along the way.

And it's because behavior reflects personality. If you've studied this segment of the population as long and as intensively as I have, you come to realize that even though every crime is unique, behavior fits into certain patterns. Why should it not be surprising for a man like Thomas Watt Hamilton to become a mass murderer of children, but highly surprising for him to become, say, a serial killer or bomber, even though those two categories often involve antisocial loners as well?

If you've seen enough and experienced enough to be able to pick out the significant pieces of those patterns, then you can begin to figure out what's going on and, more important, answer the question Why? That, then, should lead to the ultimate answer: Who? That's what every detective and FBI agent want to know. That's what every novelist and reader wants to know. What makes people commit the crimes they commit in the way they commit them?

It's like the old staple of 1930s gangster movies: why does one person become a criminal and the other a priest? Or from my perspective, why does one become a serial killer, another a rapist, another an assassin, another a bomber, another a poisoner, and yet still another a child molester? And within these crime categories, why does each commit his atrocities in the precise way he does? The answer lies in one fundamental question that applies to every one of them:

Why did he do it?

The who? follows directly from there.

That's the mystery we have to solve.

Table of Contents

Contents

Prologue: Dunblane

One: What I Learned from the Bad Guys

Two: Playing with Fire

Three: Magnum Force

Four: Name Your Poison

Five: Guys Who Snap

Six: On the Run

Seven: Shadow of a Gunman

Eight: Random Acts of Violence

Nine: You Make the Call

Index

What People are Saying About This

James Patterson

"The Anatomy of Motive finds John Douglas at the top of his form -- as always. This is a terrific book for true crime and mystery lovers alike." --James Patterson

From the Publisher

Patricia Cornwell crime novelist I met John Douglas in the early days of my research. He is masterful and unrivaled in scientific and gifted probing of the violent mind.

Kathy Reichs author of Déjà Dead Gripping and terrifying. The Anatomy of Motive paints the world of the profiler in vivid detail.

James Patterson author of Kiss the Girls and Cat & Mouse The Anatomy of Motive finds John Douglas at the top of his form — as always. This is a terrific book for true crime and mystery lovers alike.

Stanton E. Samenow, Ph.D. clinical psychologist and author of Inside the Criminal Mind Douglas and Olshaker have done it again! In their latest work, The Anatomy of Motive, they offer penetrating insights based on their keen probing of the remotest and darkest dimensions of human nature.

Interviews

On Tuesday, June 22nd, barnesandnoble.com welcomed John Douglas to discuss THE ANATOMY OF MOTIVE.


Moderator: Welcome, John Douglas! Thank you for coming back to the barnesandnoble.com Auditorium to chat about your new book, THE ANATOMY OF MOTIVE. How are you doing tonight?

John Douglas: I am doing real fine. I am anxious to talk to any of you who have good questions.


Paul from Morris Plains, NJ: How is this book different from your past book, OBSESSION? Which, by the way, I really enjoyed....

John Douglas: OBSESSION primarily had to do with victims of violent crimes. THE ANATOMY OF MOTIVE is more like my first book, MINDHUNTER, and that is better understanding the people who perpetrate these crimes. I use a formula -- How + Why = Who. If we can answer the hows and whys in a crime, we generally can come up with the solution in a case.


Mannie from New York City: How do you first approach solving a crime when you have a new case? Walk us through some steps you take to solve the mystery.

John Douglas: First, the investigation has to be very very thorough on the part of the police investigators as well as the forensic team and medical examiners. To me, the solution of the case lies with the victims. First you ask yourself, Why was this person the victim of this violent crime? And then you assess the victim's risk level. Was there something in the behavior of the victim that increased their risk level? Were they simply in the wrong place at the wrong time? Then you look at the method and manner, the way the victim was assaulted as well as the method of disposal. And basically what I do is then rely on past experiences I have had working thousands of cases and my interviews with hundreds of violent criminals, and then identify common denominators that I found in similar cases.


Scott Hampton from Ridgeroad: In ANATOMY OF A MOTIVE, you say that one of the first steps in solving a case is figuring out a perpetrator's motive. What factors lead you to discovering the motive? What are some case examples of some of the most difficult motives that you have cracked?

John Douglas: As an example, generally speaking the motive behind most serial violent crimes, including homicide and rape, is anger and power. This inadequate person wants to put himself in the position where he can totally dominate, manipulate, and humiliate a victim for a set period of time. The key thing is to attempt to walk in the shoes of the victim to try to experience what that victim was thinking at that time. For instance, I assisted the Ron Goldman family in the O. J. Simpson case. My analysis of the crime scene was that the primary victim was not Ron Goldman but Nicole Brown Simpson, and I came to that conclusion because of the way that she was murdered. Ron Goldman was basically defending himself, fighting for his life. Nicole, on the other hand, was attacked with such a vengeance the only word that I could use to describe the crime scene was "overkill." She was killed with such a vengeance on the part of the subject that she was nearly decapitated. When you see crimes like that you know that whoever is responsible for the crime is no stranger to the victim. It is someone who is very very close to the victim, i.e., the husband.


Montana from Boulder, CO: Having been formerly employed by the Ramsey family, I am curious to get your opinion about what has transpired with JonBenét and company? Will they ever really solve this mystery?

John Douglas: I would like to feel comfortable that the case would one day be resolved. However, as many of you know, there was a major contamination at the crime scene when local law enforcement allowed people to freely roam through the house. I will, however, take the position that has been a somewhat controversial position, and that is that I do not believe that the family, John or Patsy or the son, was involved in the death of JonBenét. It is difficult to comprehend that John and Patsy Ramsey -- on Christmas Day, a happy time of the year, planning to go to Michigan the following morning, with their car packed with gifts, out with friends for the evening -- would suddenly return home and kill their daughter, especially in the way that she was killed, i.e., blunt-force trauma to the head, which causes an eight-inch fracture in her skull, coupled with a ligature tightly bound around her neck, as well as sexual assault.


Nicole Craig from New York City: First and foremost, I just have to let you know that I am fascinated by what you do and am very thankful to have great FBI agents like yourself working for the people. I have read all of your books and have just started reading the new one. Okay, the question: I grew up in Stafford, Virginia, where my parents still reside, so the story of the Lisk girls really hit home. I'm not sure if you can answer this, but what ever happened to the case? It's like it just faded away, and I haven't heard anything about it for quite some time. P.S. I wish I could make it up to your book signing today. Will you be having any more in the New York City area soon? Sincerely, Nicole Craig.

John Douglas: The Lisk sisters, two young sisters as well as a young child named Silva, were all murdered by the same offender, and the reason we know that is because there was a common signature done with each of the victims. A signature is a ritual that is done by the perpetrator and is really unnecessary during the commission of the crime. For example, I testified that the ritual was posing the victims after death. Unfortunately, to date this case still remains unsolved, and probably what frightens people the most is that a serial killer is out there in a community populated only by 25,000 people. Sorry, no more book signing in NYC, but I will be on MSNBC at 10pm tonight and the other book signings will be up in the Boston area. Also, Larry King on Friday night at 9pm.


Eric Wildstein from Scotch Plains, NJ: How often if ever, have you come across a case in which there was no evident reason for the person's snapping? For example, how often have you faced a case similar to the List family in Westfield, New Jersey, but this time without any note?

John Douglas: Generally, there are different types of killers. Mass murderers generally fester before a period of time before they erupt, but any one of us may have a breaking point. People will handle that point differently. Someone will go out and get a new job or just read a book. Others have difficulty coping. Someone who has been totally humiliated and feels that is worth than death, can't deal with the problem peacefully. You will see boys in schoolyards fighting, and countries will go to war over this. When I was interviewing violent offenders in prison, when I ask them their greatest fear, it was always this humiliation right before they went on their crime spree.


Jim from Shreveport, LA: Do you think it necessary to edit your books for information that might aid violent criminals?

John Douglas: That is a good question. The books are intended to be educational. What I do is discuss types of people who perpetrate these crimes, as well as their modus operandi. Certainly there may always be someone who is inclined or prone to be violent and they may read my book, or those similar to mine. However, if a perpetrator thinks he can read my book and alter his modus operandi or his signature, someone like myself would still be able to recognize this, and it would have no effect on us successfully profiling the case.


Linda from Nantucket, MA: When viewing a crime scene, do you initially assume the victim and assailant knew each other, and how do you initially link the victim to the assailant?

John Douglas: Generally, in cases that I refer to -- cases that I call personal cause homicides, where the subject and victim know each other -- you can detect such indicators at the scene. One is that there is more damage to the victim -- particularly the victim's face, neck, and upper chest -- the closer the relationship of the killer to the victim. Another indicator is that the cause of death is blunt-force trauma, ligature strangulation or manual strangulation, or stabbing. When you see that kind of a homicide you're immediately looking at the likelihood that there is a relationship between the killer and the victim. A good example of what I just said is the Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman homicide.


Pac87@aol.com from xx: Have you read the new Thomas Harris novel, HANNIBAL?

John Douglas: I just started reading Harris's book, and I already know the ending of the book -- someone told me -- but it sounds very unbelievable, and people should read it knowing it is a novel. What is more frightening are the 35 to 50 serial killers that are operating in our country at any given moment, and these people will look like your next-door neighbor.


Gretchen from Grand Rapids, MI: I had the opportunity to attend your lecture at UAB in Birmingham, Alabama, in April, and it was fascinating. You have done some amazing work! I was curious as to whether or not you have worked on a case that has been particularly interesting to you or have ever interviewed a serial killer who has had an effect on your career?

John Douglas: The case that basically brought attention to the work I was doing was back in 1981, the Atlanta child killings. I was a very young agent when I went down to Atlanta, and after looking at the facts of the case, I publicly stated that the killer would be an African American, which caused a lot of concern and consternation for the FBI as well as the local law enforcement, who believed that serial killers were historically white males (they are right). When Williams was identified and turned out to be an African American, I received a large amount of publicity, as did the FBI's criminal profiling program. I now began to receive hundreds of cases from police all over the world, requesting assistance.


Aaron from Raleigh, NC: My father bought JOURNEY INTO DARKNESS for me, primarily for the chapters dealing with crimes committed against young children and how to protect them. What is the best single piece of advice you can give to a parent in regard to protecting his child from a predator?

John Douglas: Don't assume that your neighborhood is a safe haven. I am always surprised when a crime was committed by how many potential suspects are living within that geographical area who have had a prior criminal history. I guess the most important precaution is not to place your child in a position where they become a high-risk victim, like dropping a kid off at a shopping center, particularly toy stores or video arcades. Research has proven that these are the places that subjects will go to find children not being attended to.


jwc90@aol.com from NJ: Have you ever seen the NBC show "Profiler" -- about an FBI profiler? How accurate do you think that show is?

John Douglas: I don't feel the show is very accurate. The police are going to be the ones who will eventually solve the case. A profiler is primarily a guide for the investigation, making suggestions to the police. Profilers rarely make the arrest. The show portrays the profiler as being more of a psychic than an investigator.


Linda Yates from Nantucket, MA: Is your profiling method used internationally? Is it computerized so that countries can share information?

John Douglas: There is no system to date where you can computerize profiling. I believe that there could be a system that could classify crimes of violence, based on another book I have done, A CRIME CLASSIFICATION MANUAL, but my work is very similar to an internist in medicine who has to rely on personal experience, interviews, and other cases where there are different variables. The computer can only provide a very generic profile. We have trained officers in several countries in the area of criminal profiling. Those countries are England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and they have been relatively successful. There have been no real cultural differences in the way profiles are paired.


Nicole Craig from New York City: In addition to the "triad" common to many serial killers, have you seen many physical brain problems, i.e., frontal lobe damage, and do you believe that these physical disabilities have any weight in the debate over why serial killers do what they do?

John Douglas: I have spoken to neurologists and have posed that question to them, and it was their opinion that in some cases, neurological behavior will cause impulsive behavior. But to date, there is nothing concrete that some malfunction in the brain will cause someone to be born to kill.


Frank from California: Hi John, I'm a federal law enforcement officer, and I've read most of your books. I notice in THE ANATOMY OF MOTIVE, as in your previous books, your reference to stressors. Is this a key part in establishing motive? I used that premise recently when interviewing a suspect. The interview seemed to be going nowhere, then after a brief break I asked him what was going on at home. To my surprise, he opened up and stated that his wife had cut him off from sex. In this case it helped us establish his motive and brought fast closure to the case. Thanks for the insight, by the way....

John Douglas: Congratulations. That is exactly what you look for when you are assessing any potential suspects. Generally, there is some type of event or stressor that is the breaking point. Once you identify that you know you are on the right track. Remember -- Why + How = Who.


Nelson from Columbia, SC: Do you have some sort of psychological or psychiatric education? Just curious. How do you get into the heads of criminals?

John Douglas: I have a doctorate, but it is in adult education. I think anyone who likes people, is a good listener, and shows interest in others can obtain information from people -- in my case, criminals. They don't teach this type of stuff at colleges or universities. If you go in on an interview knowing every aspect about the case and the crime perpetrated, you will receive a wealth of information that can help law enforcement. If anyone conducts interviews of offenders and simply relies on the self-reporting of the perpetrators, I can tell you that the perpetrators will lie to you and never fully take responsibility for their crimes.


Moderator: Thank you, John Douglas! Best of luck with your new book, THE ANATOMY OF MOTIVE. Before you leave, do you have any closing comments for the online audience?

John Douglas: I would just like to thank you for your continued support, and God bless.


Introduction

PROLOGUE

Dunblane

Why did he do it?

I just happen to be in Scotland when I hear about the massacre.

It's the morning of Wednesday, March 13, 1996, and I'm in a television studio in Glasgow as part of a promotional tour for my book Mindhunter, at the invitation of our British publisher. For the last hour I've been interviewed about criminal profiling on the ITV television program This Morning by a very personable team of cohosts named Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan. How did I begin in the field? they ask. How did I learn what I know, and who did I learn it from? How did my Investigative Support Unit in Quantico, Virginia, go about creating and using a profile of an unknown subject or UNSUB, as he is known in FBI and law enforcement circles? Throughout the tour I've been really pumped up by the Brits' fascination with the subject and the interest they've shown in my career of studying and hunting killers, rapists, bombers — men whose evil and depraved acts challenge the bounds of the human imagination. Fortunately for the people of the United Kingdom, their society is not nearly as violent as ours in the United States; but they come by their fascination understandably. The first known serial killer — Jack the Ripper — terrorized the East End of London in a grisly mystery that's remained unsolved for more than a hundred years. On this tour, interviewers still ask me if the killer could be profiled and the case closed, I tell them that it would be difficult to come up with the Ripper's specific identity at this late date, but that even after a century we can very legitimately profile the UNSUB and say with reasonable assurance thP>This is all the information we have when we come back on the air a few minutes later, still reeling from the news. The story is broadcast, and Richard Madeley turns to me and says something like, "Well, John, what do we have here?"

"Well, first of all, you're dealing with a mass murderer," I tell them, then explain how that's different from serial murderers and spree killers. A serial killer is hunting human beings for the sexual thrill it gives him and will do it over and over again, believing he can outwit and outmaneuver the police, never expecting to be caught. The spree killer kills a number of victims at different locations in a short period of hours or days. But a mass killer is playing an endgame strategy. Once he commits himself to his course of action, he does not expect to come out of it alive. He will generally either kill himself after he's "made his statement" or commit what we call "suicide by cop" — forcing a confrontation in which the police or SWAT team will have no choice but to open fire. I expect that later reports will say that this individual died at the scene. These killers are such inadequate people, such losers, that they know they cannot get away and won't give others the satisfaction of controlling them or bringing them to justice.

But what kind of person would do this? Judy Finnigan wants to know, genuinely bewildered.

"Well," I respond, "the first thing you have to understand is the motive, and the key to that is in the victimology." Who has he chosen as his victims, and why? Are they victims of opportunity, or was a careful and deliberate choice made?

"Generally speaking, mass murderers are white males, ranging from their mid-to-late thirties to their mid-to -late forties. In your country you don't have that large a percentage of blacks, so the white-male guess is a pretty good one. But even in our country, where we have many more blacks, it's still going to be a white male, and he'll be an asocial loner. That's what this gunman is going to turn out to be."

But these things don't happen in a vacuum. I know very well that even though we have few details at this point, a pattern is going to emerge as soon as we know more, and I already feel I can say what that pattern is going to be. The identity of the person who's responsible for this crime, I state, should not come as any surprise to his community. This is someone who's had a history of turmoil in this locale. And because it's a school that is the target, there must have been some problem in his relationship with the children in the school, with the school itself, or with the parents. There must be something related.

"In this kind of case," I say, "you would know that there has to be a reason why this subject would pick schoolkids — something in his life connecting schoolchildren and himself. And he'll pick a place he's familiar with, where he feels comfortable."

Children are sometimes victims in a mass murder, but normally they will be either incidental victims (such as when someone shoots up a fast-food restaurant) or members of a targeted family. This was a different type of crime altogether, and its perpetrator, I predict, will adhere to a defined pattern of behavior.

Leading up to the crime, these people are very, very frustrated; very, very angry. You would look for this one in Dunblane to have written letters — perhaps to the school principal or headmaster, the local newspaper, or some municipal authority. These types are much more comfortable with the written form of communication — and so they'll express themselves in diaries, express the hate or anger they feel about whatever it is that's bothering them. When they feel they are not getting satisfaction, they may escalate and address their grievances at an even higher level. In the United States, it could be to the president. In Britain, it might be to the queen or prime minister. Then they reach a point in their lives where they feel no one is paying attention. So they take it upon themselves to perpetrate this type of crime.

I tell my television hosts that this crime appears to me to be a kind of revenge. Because the victims were very young children, I suspect it was retaliation for some perceived wrong — real or imagined — perpetrated against the killer. The children themselves were too young to have been targeted individually, too young for the guy to conceive that any of them had personally wronged him. The main target was not the teacher, though. Had that been the case, he would have shot her, then left. She was probably heroically defending the children and he eliminated her merely to get to his primary prey. In my mind, it is as if innocence itself is the target — as if he has decided to take something very precious from either their parents, the school officials, or both.

He will turn out to be single, I say, without any significant relationships with women in his own age range. He will have had something to do with young children, either as a teacher himself or, more likely, as a scoutmaster or volunteer of some sort. This is the only sort of sexualized relationship he would feel comfortable with; he couldn't relate to his own peers, or they to him. He may be homosexual and prefer boys to girls, but not necessarily, since the victims are so far prepubescent. But parents or teachers will have become suspicious or wary of him, enough so that he's been removed from his position in charge of young children. He will think this is unfair, uncalled for; after all, all he is doing is giving them love and attention. That's what his letters will have been about: complaining that his reputation has been damaged.

When no one will listen, he realizes he has nothing of importance left in his life. And if these precious innocents are taken away from him, then he will take them away from those who are causing him this grief. He will take it upon himself to punish the authority figures, his own peers. And it doesn't matter whether the boys and girls in the Dunblane Primary School this morning were the specific focus of his grievance or not. The entire community is to blame, his entire peer group is at fault. No parents or school leaders trust him, so they are all deserving of his wrath. This is a retaliation. This is what we classify as a personal cause homicide. Most likely, too, there was a specific precipitating stressor to cause him to act when he did.

This is not someone who ever blended into the community. So often, when a serial killer in the United States is apprehended, neighbors, acquaintances, or coworkers will express shock, saying that he was the last person in the world they would have suspected of being a vicious murderer. He seemed so charming, or he seemed so ordinary. He seemed to get on so well with his wife or girlfriend.

Not this guy. Mass murderers are different from serial ones. Those around him thought of him as weird or strange. They've had an uncomfortable feeling about him that they might not even have been able to place or articulate. In the United States, I wouldn't be able to attach much significance to the choice of weapon or weapons. There, guns are all too easy to obtain, so the killer could either be a gun nut or someone who just recently procured the firearms for this one intended purpose. Here in Britain, though, guns and rifles are much more tightly controlled. If he wasn't in the military or a specialized wing of the police force, he would have to be a member of a gun club of some sort to have access to these weapons. And given his "odd" personality, this preoccupation with guns should have raised some red flags in itself. This guy was a pressure cooker waiting to explode, and these innocent children paid the price.

I'd already left Scotland by the time the definitive information was made public.

Sixteen children, ages four to six, died that morning, fifteen at the scene and one at the hospital. So had their teacher, forty-five-year-old Gwen Mayor, who courageously tried to stop the attacker as he entered the school and headed for the children's exercise class in the gymnasium — not the playground as we originally understood. Twelve other children were injured. Only one escaped unscathed, and two others, by the grace of God, were out sick that day. The killer had tried to get to the school during a time when hundreds of students were in the gym for the morning assembly, but he had received incorrect information when he asked a student about the schedule; so when he arrived, only one class was present. He had four guns with him, including two revolvers and two nine-mi llimeter semiautomatics. Headmaster Ronald Taylor called in the emergency and was credited with keeping the others in the seven-hundred-pupil school calm and safe as gunshots echoed throughout the building. The massacre took three minutes in total.

The gunman, Thomas Watt Hamilton, forty-three years of age, white, and unmarried, was a former scoutmaster said to be obsessed with young boys and bitter over the community's rejection of him. He'd become a Scout leader back in July of 1973, but there had been complaints about his behavior and he was asked to leave the organization in March of the following year. His repeated attempts to get back in were unsuccessful. In addition to young boys, his other primary interest was guns. He was a member of a local gun club and held the appropriate permits to fire them under the club's auspices.

Neighbors described the tall, balding Hamilton as private, a loner. Some compared him to Mr. Spock on Star Trek and all thought he was weird. According to their reports, he was invariably dressed in a white shirt and parka with a flat cap covering his receding hairline. He'd originally run a Do-It-Yourself shop called "Wood Craft," then decided to become a professional photographer. Two female neighbors described the walls of his two-bedroom house in the Braehead district of nearby Stirling as being full of color photographs of scantily clad young boys.

When he couldn't get back into organized scouting, Hamilton formed his own boys' club, called the Stirling Rovers, and took groups of eight- to twelve-year-olds on outings and day trips, during which he would take extensive pictures, home movies, and, later, videos. One of the two neighbors was once invited in to watch a home movie of young boys frolicking in their swimsuits.

In 1988, he tried yet again to get back into the Scouts, with the same lack of success. Between 1993 and 1994, local police requested information on Hamilton from scouting organizations after spotting him in a gay red-light district. Around the same time, he sent letters to Dunblane parents, denying rumors that he molested young boys. In the weeks before the massacre, he had been turned down as a volunteer at Dunblane Primary School. He wrote to the media to complain about the police and Dunblane teachers spreading lies about him, and he wrote to the queen that the Scouts had damaged his reputation.

All in all, my profile stood up in every significant detail. Several Scottish newspapers ran headlines such as G-man shares insight into mind of a maniac and Train Police to Spot Potential Killers, Says Expert.

So how was I able to do this? How was I able to peg a man I knew nothing about except his final explosive act, in a place many thousands of miles from where I've lived and worked? Is it because I have a psychic gift when it comes to crime and criminals? I wish I did, but no, I don't and never have. It's because of my two decades' experience in the FBI dealing directly with the experts themselves — the killers and other violent offenders — hunting and profiling them. It's all in what I learned along the way.

And it's because behavior reflects personality. If you've studied this segment of the population as long and as intensively as I have, you come to realize that even though every crime is unique, behavior fits into certain patterns. Why should it not be surprising for a man like Thomas Watt Hamilton to be come a mass murderer of children, but highly surprising for him to become, say, a serial killer or bomber, even though those two categories often involve antisocial loners as well?

If you've seen enough and experienced enough to be able to pick out the significant pieces of those patterns, then you can begin to figure out what's going on and, more important, answer the question Why? That, then, should lead to the ultimate answer: Who? That's what every detective and FBI agent want to know. That's what every novelist and reader wants to know. What makes people commit the crimes they commit in the way they commit them?

It's like the old staple of 1930s gangster movies: why does one person become a criminal and the other a priest? Or from my perspective, why does one become a serial killer, another a rapist, another an assassin, another a bomber, another a poisoner, and yet still another a child molester? And within these crime categories, why does each commit his atrocities in the precise way he does? The answer lies in one fundamental question that applies to every one of them:

Why did he do it?

The who? follows directly from there.

That's the mystery we have to solve.

Copyright © 1999 by Mindhunters, Inc.

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VanillaBear More than 1 year ago
I use this book for my class when I teach Criminal Psychology. It is a fast read and takes the ficiton out of the make believe world as depicted on TV and film. Motivation is a crucial issue. It's more than the "why" of things--it's the human psyche behind the "why." This book helps to bring it into reality. Criminal investigation is tedious, but an accurate outcome, as this book will show you, is worth the chase.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a student who is interested in a career in criminal psychology this book was truly fascinating! Taking an inside look through the mind of a profiler (the pseudo science of finding a criminal based on the circumstantial evidence found on the scene and throughout the crimes). This book exceeded my expectations. I was not expecting the stories he told to be so personal and factual. I was encouraged to pursue my career after this read. This book pulled you in with each story. My personal favorite story was 'Guys Who Snap' to me it was the most intriguing and  made  the most sense to me. Taking the fiction out of the book made it an in depth look at how people truly act. My only disappointment was the morality of the whole subject. Should we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong? I was hoping to get some sort of the authors view on the subject instead of just a factual read, but overall i am very impressed with the writing style and lexicon. ABlakely Book Review
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Douglas' books. This is the first that I had read from him and the enjoyment and mind stimulation that it brought to me and how it made me view things simply compelled me to buy the rest of his collection.
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I really enjoy these types of books that explore the psychological reasoning for criminal behavior. Very fascinating read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To anyone that's trying to make sense of the Boston Marathon bombing, this guy was an FBI profiler. He goes over serial killers, mass bombers, spree killers etc. I found it readable while still pertinent to the lastest killings in Sandyhook and the Boston bombing which he couldn't even have known about when this book was written...
RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
Writers often go to many lengths, in the name of research, to produce quality fiction for their readers. THE ANATOMY OF MOTIVE proved a rather enjoyable read, as I delved into the minds of serial killers, spree killers, and mass murderers. This book’s approach proved perfect for my research endeavor. It described the crimes that took place, analyzed many high profile incidents, and then it delved into the mind of the man or woman that would commit such an act. It ended with a series of four cases where the co-authors asked readers to judge who might have committed four alleged crimes. All-in-all, it was exactly the book I needed as I attempt to write my serial killer novel, and more than that, it gave me insights into another book I plan on writing in the near future. So if you’re looking for profiling, straightforward analysis, and a brief dip into the mind of a criminal, then this is the book for you. If you’re an author looking for your own research material, as you delve into the mind of a killer, then this is one book you probably want to add to your to-read list. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigato
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George7171 More than 1 year ago
a look into the minds of these killers and motives that drive them
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