9 - راه رفتن در کفش ها

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9 - راه رفتن در کفش ها

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Chapter 9

Walking in the Shoes

By this time in the early 1980s I was handling upward of 150 cases a year and was on the road an equal number of days. I was starting to feel like Lucille Ball trying to get ahead of the conveyor belt in the famous I Love Lucy candy factory skit—the more stuff that came at me, the more frantically I had to scramble to keep from falling behind. Actually getting ahead of the game so I could take a moment to breathe was out of the question.

As our work and results became known, requests for assistance were pouring in from all over the United States and many foreign countries. Like a triage officer in an emergency room, I had to start prioritizing cases. Rape-murders where there appeared to be a threat of further loss of life got my most immediate attention.

With cold cases or those where the UNSUB didn’t seem to be active, I’d ask the police why they’d called us in. Sometimes the victim’s family would be pressuring them for a solution. That was certainly understandable and my heart always went out to them, but I couldn’t afford to spend precious time on an analysis that was just going to be shelved by the locals without any action.

With active cases, it was interesting to note where they came from. In the early days of the program, anything from one of the most major departments—say, NYPD or LAPD—would arouse my suspicion as to why they’d come to our unit in Quantico at all. Sometimes it was a jurisdictional feud with the FBI, such as who gets the surveillance films, who’ll do the interrogation, and who’ll prosecute a series of bank robberies. Or it could have been that the case was a political hot button and the locals just wanted someone else to catch the flak. All of these considerations went into my decision on how to respond to a request for assistance, because I knew all of them would help determine whether that particular case was going to get solved.

Initially, I had provided written analyses. As the caseload increased exponentially, though, I didn’t have time for that any longer. I would take notes as I examined a file. Then, when I spoke to the local investigator—either in person or on the phone—I would go over my notes and recall the case. Normally, the cops would take copious notes of their own on what I was telling them. On those rare occasions when a cop was in the same room with me, if he would just listen without writing anything down, I would quickly lose patience, tell him it was his case, not mine, and if he wanted our help, he’d better get his ass in gear and work as hard as I was.

I’d done enough of these that, like a doctor, I knew how long each “office visit” should take. By the time I’d reviewed the case, I knew whether or not I could help, so I wanted to focus on the crime-scene analysis and victimology right away. Why was this victim selected over all other potential victims? How was he or she murdered? From those two questions, you can begin to address the ultimate question: who?

Like Sherlock Holmes, I had quickly come to realize that the more ordinary and routine the crime, the less behavioral evidence there was to work with. I couldn’t be much help on street holdups. They’re too common, the behavior is too mundane, and therefore the suspect pool is enormous. Likewise, a single gunshot or stab wound presents a more difficult scenario than multiple wounds, an outdoor case is more challenging than an indoor one, a single high-risk victim such as a prostitute doesn’t give us as much information as a series.

The first thing I’d look at was the medical examiner’s report to learn the nature and type of wounds, the cause of death, whether there was any sexual assault, and if so, what kind. The quality of medical examiner work varied wildly throughout the thousands of police jurisdictions around the country. Some of them were real forensic pathologists and their work was first-rate. For example, when Dr. James Luke was medical examiner of Washington, D.C., we could always count on complete, detailed, and accurate protocols. Since his retirement from that job, Dr. Luke has been a valued consultant to my unit at Quantico. On the other hand, I saw situations in small towns down South where the coroner was the local funeral director. His idea of a postmortem exam would be to show up at the scene, kick the body, and say, “Yep, that boy’s sure dead.” After I’d gone through the body-related findings, I’d read the preliminary police report. When the first officer arrived, what did he see? From that point on, it’s possible the scene was altered, either by him or someone on the investigative team. It was important to me to be able to visualize the scene as closely as possible to how the offender left it. If it wasn’t the way it had been, I wanted to know that. For example, if there was a pillow on the victim’s face, who put it there? Was it there when the officer arrived? Did a family member who found the body do it for the sake of dignity? Or was there some other explanation? Finally, I’d look at the crime-scene photos and try to complete the picture in my mind.

Photographs weren’t always of the best quality, particularly back when most departments were still shooting in black and white. So I’d also ask for a schematic drawing of the crime scene with all directions and footprints noted. If detectives had something particular they wanted me to look at, I asked them to write it on the back of the photo, so I wouldn’t be influenced by someone else’s observation in my first pass-through. By the same token, if they had a particular suspect at the top of their list, I didn’t want to know, or I asked them to send it to me in a sealed envelope so I could be objective in my own analysis.

It was also important to try to figure out if anything had been taken from the victim or removed from the crime scene. Generally, it was clear if cash or valuables or prominent jewelry was taken, each of which would help point to the offender’s motive. Other items are not always so easy to track.

When an officer or detective would tell me that nothing was taken, I’d ask, “How do you know? Do you mean to tell me that if I took a bra or a single pair of panties from your wife’s or girlfriend’s drawer, you’d be able to tell? Because if so, you’re a sick puppy.” Something as subtle as a barrette or lock of hair could be missing, and that would be difficult to trace. The mere fact that nothing appeared to be missing was never a definitive finding in my mind. And when we’d eventually catch an offender and search his premises, we’d often find surprise souvenirs.

It was clear from early on that a lot of folks, both inside the Bureau and out, really didn’t understand what we were all about. This was brought home to me during a two-week homicide school Bob Ressler and I were teaching in New York in 1981. There were about a hundred detectives, mainly from NYPD but also from jurisdictions all over the New York metropolitan area.

One morning, before the class on profiling began, I’m at the front of the room setting up the large, three-quarter-inch Sony VCR we used in those days. This obviously overworked, clearly burnt-out detective with pale, bloodshot eyes wanders by me and says, “You’re into this profiling stuff, huh?”

“Yeah, that’s right,” I answer, turning to the boxy VCR. “In fact, this is the profiling machine right here.”

He looks at me skeptically, the way seasoned detectives do when dealing with a suspect, but he stays with me.

“Give me your hand,” I say. “I’ll show you how it works.”

Tentatively, he gives me his hand. On a three-quarter-inch VCR, the tape cassette slot is pretty large. I take his hand, put it in the tape slot, and turn some dials. Meanwhile, Ressler’s somewhere else in the room, preparing his material. He overhears me and is ready to come over, thinking I’m about to get punched out.

But the guy just says, “So what’s my profile?”

I say, “Why don’t you wait for the class. You’ll see how it works.”

Fortunately for me, the guy must have figured out during class what was going on as I explained the profiling process and used the VCR for its real purpose: to demonstrate! And he wasn’t waiting for me at the end. But the point of this story is that I’ve always wished it were that easy to come up with a usable profile. Not only can you not stick a hand (or any other body part) in a machine and come up with a profile, for years computer experts have been working with law enforcement officials to develop programs that would replicate the logical processes we go through. So far, they haven’t come up with much.

The fact of the matter is, profiling and crime-scene analysis is a lot more than simply inputting data and crunching it through. To be a good profiler, you have to be able to evaluate a wide range of evidence and data. But you also have to be able to walk in the shoes of both the offender and the victim.

You have to be able to re-create the crime scene in your head. you need to know as much as you can about the victim so that you can imagine how she might have reacted. You have to be able to put yourself in her place as the attacker threatens her with a gun or a knife, a rock, his fists, or whatever. You have to be able to feel her fear as he approaches her. You have to be able to feel her pain as he rapes her or beats her or cuts her. You have to try to imagine what she was going through when he tortured her for his sexual gratification. You have to understand what it’s like to scream in terror and agony, realizing that it won’t help, that it won’t get him to stop. You have to know what it was like. And that is a heavy burden to have to carry, especially when the victim is a child or elderly.

When the director and cast of The Silence of the Lambs came to Quantico to prepare for filming, I brought Scott Glenn, who played Jack Crawford—the special agent some say was based on me—into my office. Glenn was a pretty liberal guy who had strong feelings on rehabilitation, redemption, and the fundamental goodness of people. I showed him some of the gruesome crime-scene photos we worked with every day. I let him experience recordings made by killers while they were torturing their victims. I made him listen to one of two teenage girls in Los Angeles being tortured to death in the back of a van by two thrill-seeking killers who had recently been let out of prison.

Glenn wept as his listened to the tapes. He said to me, “I had no idea there were people out there who could do anything like this.” An intelligent, compassionate father with two girls of his own, Glenn said that after seeing and hearing what he did in my office, he could no longer oppose the death penalty: “The experience in Quantico changed my mind about that for all time.”

But just as difficult, I have to put myself in the position of the attacker, to think as he thinks, to plan along with him, to understand and feel his gratification in this one moment out of his life in which his pent-up fantasies come true and he is finally in control, completely able to manipulate and dominate another human being. I have to walk in that killer’s shoes, too.

The two men torturing and killing the teenage girls in the van were named Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris. They even had a nickname for their van: Murder Mac. They met while serving time at the California Men’s Colony at San Luis Obispo. Bittaker was serving time for assault with a deadly weapon. Norris was a convicted rapist. When they discovered their mutual interest in dominating and hurting young women, they realized they were soul mates. And when they were both paroled in 1979, they got together in a Los Angeles motel and laid plans to kidnap, rape, torture, and kill one girl of appropriate age for each teen year, thirteen through nineteen. They had already successfully carried out their plans against five girls when one managed to escape from them after her rape and go to the police.

Norris, the less dominant of the two, eventually caved in to police examination, confessed, and in exchange for immunity from the death sentence, agreed to finger the even more sadistic and aggressive Bittaker. He led police to the various body sites. One, already skeletonized from the California sun, had an ice pick still protruding from the ear.

What is notable about this case, aside from the heartrending tragedy of these promising lives snuffed out and the utter depravity of torturing young girls, in Norris’s words, “for fun,” is the different behavioral dynamic when two offenders are involved in the same crime. Generally, what we see is one more dominant and one more compliant partner, and often one more organized and one less organized. Serial killers are inadequate types to begin with, and the ones who need partners to carry out their work are the most inadequate of all.

As horrible as their crimes were (and Lawrence Bittaker is among the most loathsome and repugnant individuals I have ever come across), they are not, unfortunately, unique.

Like Bittaker and Norris, James Russell Odom and James Clayton Lawson Jr. met in prison. It was the mid-1970s and they were both doing time for rape at Atascadero State Mental Hospital in California. Looking back at their records, I would consider Russell Odom a psychopath and Clay Lawson more of a schizophrenic. While at Atascadero, Clay evocatively described to Russell his plans for what he would like to do when he was let out. This included capturing women, cutting off their breasts, removing their ovaries, and sticking knives into their vaginas. He said he was inspired by Charles Manson and his followers. Lawson made it clear that sexual intercourse was not part of his plan. He did not consider this part of “doing his thing.” Odom, on the other hand, considered intercourse very much his thing and, as soon as he was released, drove his 1974 powder-blue Volkswagen Beetle cross-country to Columbia, South Carolina, where Lawson was working as a pipe fitter and living with his parents after parole. (VW Beetles, as I’ve noted, seemed to be the car of choice for serial killers—as well as FBI agents without savings—at that time.) Odom thought that with their related but separate interests, they could make a good team and each do his own thing.

Within a few days of Odom’s arrival, the two of them go out looking for a victim in the 1974 Ford Comet belonging to Lawson’s father. They stop at a 7-Eleven on U.S. Highway 1 and spot a young woman they like working behind the counter. But too many people are around, so they leave and go to a porno movie.

I think it’s important to underscore here that when they realized they couldn’t stage a successful abduction without being resisted or at least witnessed, they left without having committed their intended crime. Both men were mentally ill, and in Lawson’s case, a pretty good argument could be made for criminal insanity. Yet when circumstances did not favor the success of their crime, they refrained from committing it. They were not under such a compulsion that they were compelled to act. So I will say it again for the record: in my opinion and based on my experience, the mere presence of a mental disorder does not let an offender off the hook. Unless he is completely delusional and does not comprehend his actions in the real world, he chooses whether or not to hurt someone else. And the truly bonkers ones are easy to catch. Serial killers are not.

The next night after their first hunt, Odom and Lawson go to a drive-in movie theater. When the show is over, sometime after midnight, they drive back to the 7-Eleven. They go in and buy a few small items—a chocolate milk, a bag of peanuts, a pickle. This time, they’re the only ones in the store, so they abduct the young female store clerk with Odom’s .22-caliber handgun. Lawson has a .32 pistol in his pocket. When the police arrive later on, after being called by a customer who notices the store is unattended, they find that the cash register has not been touched, the woman’s pocketbook is behind the counter, and nothing of value has been taken.

The two men drive to a secluded spot. Odom orders her to undress completely, then rapes her in the backseat of the car. Meanwhile, Lawson is standing outside by the driver’s door, telling Odom to hurry up and give him his turn. After about five minutes, Odom ejaculates, buckles his pants, and gets out of the car so Lawson can take his place.

Odom walks away from the car, he says, to throw up. Lawson later claims that Odom told him, “We had to get rid of her,” even though Lawson had elicited a promise from her that she wouldn’t tell if they let her go. At any rate, about five minutes later, Odom hears the woman scream from the car and yell, “Oh, my throat!” When he returns, Lawson has cut her throat and is mutilating her naked body with a knife he’d bought from the 7-Eleven the previous night.

The next day, as the two of them are in Odom’s VW, getting rid of the victim’s clothing that they had wrapped into two bundles, Lawson tells him he had tried to cannibalize the woman’s sexual organs after the attack, but it had made him sick.

The horribly mutilated body was discovered in plain view, and the killers were arrested within a few days of the murder. Russell Odom, scared for his life, readily admitted the rape but denied he had taken part in the murder.

In his statement to police, Clay Lawson made it clear he had had no intercourse with the victim: “I did not rape the girl. I only wanted to destroy her.” This is a guy who chewed chalk in the courtroom during his trial.

They were tried separately. Odom received life plus forty years for rape, unlawful weapon possession, and accessory before and after the fact to murder. Lawson was convicted of first-degree murder and was electrocuted on May 18, 1976.

Like Bittaker and Norris, this case is characterized by a mixed presentation of behavior—and therefore behavioral evidence—because of the participation of two distinct personalities. The bodily mutilation is a sign of a disorganized personality type, while the finding of semen in the victim’s vagina strongly points to an organized personality. We taught the Odom and Lawson case at Quantico, and it was in the back of my mind when I got a call from Chief John Reeder of the Logan Township, Pennsylvania, Police Department. It was early in my career as a profiler. Reeder was a National Academy graduate, and through Special Agent Dale Frye of the FBI’s resident agency in Johnstown, he and Blair County district attorney Oliver E. Mattas Jr. asked for help in solving the rape, murder, and mutilation of a young woman named Betty Jane Shade.

The facts presented to me were these:

About a year earlier, on May 29, 1979, this twenty-two-year-old woman was walking home from her baby-sitting job at about 10:15 p.m. Four days later, a man who stated he was out on a nature walk stumbled upon her badly mutilated but well-preserved body in an illegal garbage dump site on top of Wopsonock Mountain, near Altoona. Her long blond hair had been cut off and was hanging on a nearby tree. County coroner Charles R. Burkey told the local newspaper it was the “most gruesome” death he had ever seen. He found that Betty Jane Shade had been sexually assaulted, her jaw fractured, her eyes blackened, the body with numerous stab wounds. The cause of death was a severe blow to the head, and postmortem mutilation included numerous stab wounds, the removal of both breasts, and an incision from the victim’s vagina to rectum.

Although the partially undigested contents of her stomach indicated she had been killed soon after she disappeared, her body was too well preserved to have been at the dump site for four days. There was no larvae infestation or trauma from animals that one would normally expect. The police had also been investigating complaints of illegal dumping at the mountainous site, so they would have found the body themselves had it been there earlier.

I reviewed all of the case materials Reeder sent me and came up with a profile, which I related during a lengthy telephone conference. During this conference, I tried to educate the police about the principles of profiling and the kinds of things we look for. I thought they should be looking for a white male, aged seventeen to twenty-five, though I noted that if he lived way the hell out in the sticks, he could be older because his social development would be slower. He would be thin or wiry, a loner, not exactly a whiz kid in high school, introverted, probably into pornography. The childhood background would be classic—a dysfunctional, broken family with an absent father and a domineering, overly protective mother. She might have given him the impression that all women are bad except for her. The UNSUB would therefore fear women and not be able to deal with them, which was why he had to render her unconscious or powerless so quickly.

He knew her very well. That was clear from the severe facial trauma. He had a tremendous amount of anger and sought to depersonalize her, through the face, breast, and genital mutilation. The removal of the hair said something else to me. While this could also be thought of as an attempt at depersonalization, I knew from victimology that Shade was a neat, meticulous individual and was proud of her well-groomed, well-cared-for hair. So the cutting off of the hair was an insult, a degrading gesture. And this also hinted at someone who knew her very well. Yet there was no sign of sadistic abuse or torture before death as there had been with Bittaker and Norris. This was not someone who derived his sexual satisfaction from inflicting pain.

I told the police not to look for the “used-car salesman type down the street with the outgoing personality.” If this guy was employed at all, it would be menial; a janitorial or blue-collar job. Anyone who would leave the body at that sort of dump site had to have a menial job or something that involved dirt or grime. The time of the abduction, the missing breasts, the obvious moving of the body, and the revisiting the final dump site, all told me he’d be mainly nocturnal. I expected him to visit the cemetery, maybe go to the funeral, to twist things around in his mind until he was convinced he had had a “normal” relationship with Betty Jane. For that reason, I thought a polygraph would be virtually useless even after they had a suspect. The chances were strong he would live somewhere between her home and where she was seen leaving work at her baby-sitting job.

Though they didn’t have anything solid enough for an arrest, the police told me they had two suspects they considered strong. One was her live-in boyfriend and self-described fiancé, Charles F. Soult Jr., known as Butch. He would certainly have to be strongly considered. But the police were very high on the other one: the man who found the body and whose story didn’t quite add up. He was a machinist for the railroad, out on disability. He said he’d been out on a nature walk but had found the body at an obvious trash dump. An elderly man out walking his dog said he had seen this individual urinating at the scene. He was dressed inappropriately for a long hike, and though it had been raining, he was completely dry. He lived within four blocks of Betty Jane Shade’s house, and had tried unsuccessfully to pick her up on several occasions. He was nervous in his encounters with the police and said he had been afraid to report the body because he didn’t want to be blamed for the crime. This is a typical excuse by a subject who comes forward proactively to inject himself into the investigation and tries to deflect suspicion from himself. He was a beer drinker and heavy smoker, certainly strong enough to kill and dispose of the body himself. He had a history of antisocial behavior. On the night of the murder, he and his wife claimed to be home watching television by themselves, which provided them with no solid alibi. I told the police that someone like this would contact an attorney and be uncooperative from then on. That was exactly what had happened with him, they reported. He’d gotten a lawyer and refused a polygraph.

All of this sounded pretty promising. But what bothered me most was that he was married with two children and living with his wife. This wouldn’t have been his style. If a married guy had done the murder, he would have a lot of sadistic rage toward women. He would draw out the killing, abuse her more before death, but not mutilate her afterward. He was also thirty, which struck me as being on the high side.

Soult looked like a stronger choice to me. He fit virtually all of the profile elements. His parents had separated when he was young. His mother was a domineering woman, overly involved in her son’s life. At twenty-six, he was inept with women. He told police he had had just two sexual encounters in his life, both with an older woman who made fun of him because he couldn’t get it up. He said he and Betty Jane were very much in love and engaged to be married, though she dated and had sexual relationships with other men. I felt sure that if she were still alive, she’d tell a completely different story. At her funeral, he said he wanted to dig up the coffin and climb in there with her. And when interviewed by the police, he had cried incessantly over the loss of Betty Jane.

Butch Soult and his brother, Mike, worked as trash haulers, the police said.

“Jesus, this sounds pretty good,” I replied.

They had access to the dump site, reason to know about it and go there, and a means of transporting the body.

But as much as I liked Butch as a suspect, two things bothered me. First, as I’d expected, he was kind of a little twerp who wasn’t much bigger than Shade. I didn’t think he was capable of moving the body or arranging it into the froglike position with the legs spread and bent at the knees in which it was found. Second, semen was found in the victim’s vagina, indicative of a traditional rape. I would not have been surprised to find semen on the body, in her underpants or other clothing, but not this. Like David Berkowitz, this guy would be a masturbator, but not a rapist. He had to get his sexual satisfaction indirectly. It didn’t add up.

This was a mixed organized-disorganized presentation, in many ways similar to the murder of Francine Elveson in New York, with the same early blitz attack, facial disfigurement, and genital mutilation. Whereas Elveson’s nipples had been cut off, Shade’s entire breasts had been removed.

But in the New York case, the larger Carmine Calabro had carried the tiny victim a couple of floors up and left her. And the ejaculation had all been masturbatory.

Keeping the lessons from Odom and Lawson in mind, I thought there was only one logical possibility. I believed it was likely Butch Soult had met Betty Jane on the street after she left her job, they got into an argument, he beat her up and probably rendered her unconscious, then transported her to a secluded location. I also believed he could have struck the blow that killed her, cut off her hair, mutilated her body, and kept the breasts as souvenirs. But between the time she was first attacked and the time she was killed, she had been raped, and I didn’t think a disorganized, sexually inadequate, mother-dominated young man such as Soult was capable of that. And I didn’t think he had moved the body by himself.

Butch’s brother, Mike, was the logical second suspect. He came from the same background and had the same job. He had spent some time in a mental institution, and had a record of violence, behavior problems, and poor anger control. The main difference was he was married, though their mother was so domineering in his life as well. The night Betty Jane Shade was abducted, Mike’s wife had been in the hospital having a baby. Her pregnancy was a major stressor, plus it had deprived him of a sexual release. It made perfect sense that after the attack, the panicked Butch had called his brother, who had raped the young woman while Butch looked on, then, after the murder, had helped him dispose of the body.

I told the police an indirect, nonthreatening approach would be best. Unfortunately, they had already interviewed Butch several times and polygraphed him. As I knew it would, the exam showed no deceit on his part, but inappropriate emotional reactions. I thought the best approach now would be to focus on Mike, hammering home that all he did was have sex with Shade and help dispose of her body, but that if he didn’t cooperate at this point, he would be in as much hot water as his brother.

This tactic paid off. Both brothers—and their sister, Cathy Wiesinger, who claimed to be Betty Jane’s best friend—were arrested. Cathy, according to Mike, had been in on the body disposal as well.

So what happened? I believe Butch had been trying to have sex with this sexually attractive, sexually experienced woman, but couldn’t. His resentment built up until it didn’t take much to set him off. After he attacked Shade, he panicked and called in his brother. But his anger built even further when Mike could have sex with her and he couldn’t. His anger continued, and four days later he mutilated the body, giving him “the final word.” One of the victim’s breasts was recovered. Mike told police that Butch kept the other one, which didn’t surprise me. Wherever he hid it, it was never found.

Charles “Butch” Soult was convicted of first-degree murder and Mike, following a plea arrangement, was sent to a mental institution. Chief Reeder commented publicly that we were directly instrumental in developing the investigation and obtaining statements from the perpetrators. We, in turn, were fortunate to have a local partner like him who had been trained in our methods and understood the collaborative process between police and Quantico.

Because of this cooperation, we were able to take out a killer and his accomplice before they had a chance to kill again. Chief Reeder and his men and women went back to the business of keeping the peace in Logan Township, Pennsylvania. And I went back to my 150-odd other active cases, hoping I’d learned something that would help me in at least one of them to walk in the shoes of both perpetrator and victim.

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