6 - نمایش روی جادهکتاب: شکارچی ذهن / فصل 7
6 - نمایش روی جاده
- زمان مطالعه 59 دقیقه
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متن انگلیسی فصل
Taking the Show on the Road
Nine special agents were assigned to Behavioral Science when I joined the unit in June of 1977, all primarily involved in teaching. The main course offered to both FBI personnel and National Academy students was Applied Criminal Psychology. Howard Teten had originated it back in 1972, focusing on the issue with which detectives and other crime solvers are most concerned: motive. The idea was to try to give students an understanding of why violent criminals think and act as they do. Yet as popular and useful as this course was, it was based mainly on research and teaching from the academic discipline of psychology. Some of the material came from Teten’s own experience, and later that of the other instructors. But at that time, the only ones who could speak from the authority of organized, methodical, broadly conducted studies were the academics. And there was a dawning realization among many of us that these studies, and this professional perspective, had only limited applicability to the field of law enforcement and crime detection.
Other courses offered at the Academy included: Contemporary Police Problems, which dealt with labor-management issues, police unions, community relations, and associated topics; Sociology and Psychology, which mirrored the typical introductory college curriculum; and Sex Crimes, which often, unfortunately, was more entertaining than useful or informative. Depending on who was teaching Sex Crimes, it was taken with greater or lesser seriousness. One of the instructors set the tone with a dirty-old-man doll dressed in a raincoat. When you pushed down on the head, the raincoat flashed open and the penis popped up. They would also show hundreds of photographs of people with various types of what are now called paraphilias but were then generally known simply as perversions: transvestism, various fetishes, exhibitionism, and so on. These would often elicit an inappropriate laugh from the room. When you’re dealing with voyeurism or showing a man dressed in women’s clothing, you might be able to squeeze a few chuckles out of a particular photo. When you get into the extremes of sadomasochism or pedophilia, if you’re still laughing, then there’s something wrong with you or the instructor or both. It took several long years and a lot of sensitization before Roy Hazelwood and Ken Lanning came in and put the study of such topics as rape and the sexual exploitation of children on a serious and professional level. Hazelwood is retired now but still an active consultant, and Lanning will retire soon. These two guys remain among the leading law enforcement experts in the world in their respective fields.
But back in the “just the facts, ma’am” Hoover days, no one in any position of authority considered what became known as profiling to be a valid crime-solving tool. In fact, the very phrase behavioral science would have been considered an oxymoron and its proponents might as well have been advocating witchcraft or psychic visions. So anyone “dabbling” in it would have had to do so very informally with no records kept. When Teten and Mullany began offering personality profiles, it was all done verbally, nothing on paper. The first rule was always, “Don’t embarrass the Bureau,” and you never wanted to document something that could blow up in your—or your SAC’s—face.
Through Teten’s initiative and based on what he had learned from Dr. Brussel in New York, some informal consulting was provided to individual police officials who requested it, but there was no organized program nor any thought that this was a function the Behavioral Science Unit should perform. What normally happened was that a graduate of the NA course would call Teten or Mullany to talk about a case he was having trouble with.
One of the early ones came from a police officer in California desperate to solve the case of a woman who’d been murdered by multiple stab wounds. Other than the viciousness of the killing, nothing in particular stood out, and there wasn’t much to go on forensically. When the officer described the few facts he had, Teten advised him to start looking in the victim’s own neighborhood—for a slightly built, unattractive loner in his late teens who had killed the woman impulsively and was now wrestling with tremendous guilt and fear of being found out. When you go to his house and he comes to the door, Teten suggested, just stand there, stare right at him, and say, “You know why I’m here.” It shouldn’t be difficult to get a confession out of him.
Two days later, the officer called back and reported that they’d begun systematically knocking on doors in the neighborhood. When a kid fitting Teten’s “profile” answered at one house, before the cop could get out his rehearsed line, the young man blurted out, “Okay, you got me!”
While it probably seemed at the time that Teten was pulling rabbits out of a hat, there was a logic to the type of individual and situation he described. And over the years, we would make that logic more and more rigorous and make what he and Pat Mullany were dabbling with in their spare time an important weapon in the fight against violent crime.
As is often true with advances in a particular field, this one came about largely by serendipity. The serendipity in this case was that as a Behavioral Science Unit instructor, I really didn’t think I knew what I was doing and felt I needed a way to get more firsthand information.
By the time I got to Quantico, Mullany was just about to leave and Teten was the overall guru. So responsibility for breaking me in fell to the two guys closest to me in age and seniority—Dick Ault and Bob Ressler. Dick was about six years older than I was, and Bob, about eight. Both had done police work in the Army before joining the Bureau. Applied Criminal Psychology represented about forty hours of classroom instruction over the eleven weeks of the National Academy course. So the most efficient way of breaking in a new guy was with the “road schools,” where instructors from Quantico taught the same types of courses in highly compressed form to local police departments and academies throughout the United States. These were popular and there was usually a waiting list of requests for our services, mainly from chiefs and senior people who’d been through the full NA course. Going out with a seasoned instructor and watching him perform for two weeks was a quick way of picking up what it was you were supposed to be doing. So I started traveling with Bob.
There was a standard drill to the road schools. You’d leave home on Sunday, teach at one department or academy from Monday morning to Friday noon, then move on to the next school and do it all again. After a while, you started to feel like Shane or the Lone Ranger—riding into town, doing your bit to help the locals, then silently riding out again when your work was done. Sometimes I wanted to leave a silver bullet for them to remember us by.
Right from the beginning, I felt uncomfortable about what amounted to teaching from “hearsay.” Most of the instructors—myself prime among them—had no direct experience with the vast majority of the cases they taught. In that way, it was very much like a college course in criminology where, in most cases, the professor has never been out in the streets experiencing the kind of things he’s talking about. Much of the course had evolved into “war stories,” told originally by whoever the officers on the cases had been, then embellished over time until they had little relationship to the actual events. By the time I came on the scene, it had gotten to the point where an instructor would make a pronouncement about a particular case only to be contradicted in class by a student who had actually worked the case! The worst part of it was, the instructor wouldn’t always back down but would often insist he was right, even in the face of someone who’d been there. This kind of technique and attitude can go a long way toward making your class lose faith in everything else you say, whether they have any personal knowledge or not.
My other problem was that I had just turned thirty-two years of age and looked even younger. I was supposed to be teaching experienced cops, many of them ten and fifteen years older. How was I going to sound authoritative or teach them anything? Most of the firsthand experience I had in murder investigation had been under the wings of seasoned homicide cops in Detroit and Milwaukee, and here I was going to be telling people like them how to do their jobs. So I figured I’d better know my shit before I faced these guys, and whatever I didn’t know, I’d better learn in a hurry.
I wasn’t stupid about it. Before I would start a session I would ask if anyone in the class had any direct experience with any of the cases or criminals I planned on discussing that day. For example, if I was going to be discussing Charles Manson, the first thing I’d ask was, “Anyone here from LAPD? Anyone here work this case?” And if there happened to be someone, I’d ask him to give us all the details of the case. That way, I’d make sure I didn’t contradict anything that an actual participant would know to be true.
But still, even though you might be a thirty-two-year-old kid fresh out of a field office, when you taught at Quantico or came to teach from Quantico, you were presumed to speak with the authority of the FBI Academy and all of its impressive resources. Cops would constantly come up to me during breaks, or, during road schools, call my hotel room in the evenings, asking for pointers on active cases. “Hey, John, I’ve got this case that’s kind of similar to what you were talking about today. What do you think about this?” There was no letup. And I needed some authority for what I was doing; not authority from the Bureau, but personal authority.
Now there comes a point on the road—at least there did for me—when you realize there are only so many songs you can listen to, so many margaritas you can drink, so much time you can hang around the room staring at the television. That point came for me in a hotel cocktail lounge in California early in 1978. Bob Ressler and I were doing a school in Sacramento. The next day, driving away, I commented that most of these guys we’re teaching about are still around, and most of them are going to be on ice for the rest of their lives. Let’s see if we can talk to them; ask them why they did it, find out what it was like through their eyes. All we can do is try. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.
I’d long had a reputation as a blue flamer, and this didn’t do much to diminish it in Bob’s eyes. But he did agree to go along with my crazy idea. Bob’s motto has always been, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission,” and that certainly seemed to apply here. We knew if we asked for sanction from headquarters, we wouldn’t get it. Not only that, anything we tried to do from then on would be scrutinized. In any bureaucracy, you have to watch blue flamers carefully.
California has always had more than its share of weird and spectacular crimes, so that seemed like a good place to start. John Conway was a special agent assigned to the FBI resident agency in San Rafael, just north of San Francisco. He’d had Bob for a class at Quantico, had excellent relations with the California state penal system, and agreed to act as liaison and make the arrangements for us. We knew we needed to have someone we trusted, and who trusted us, because if this little project blew up in everyone’s face, there would be plenty of blame to go around.
The first felon we decided to go for was Ed Kemper, who at the time was serving out his multiple life sentences at the California State Medical Facility at Vacaville, about midway between San Francisco and Sacramento. We had been teaching his case at the National Academy without ever having had any personal contact, so he seemed like a good one to start with. Whether he would agree to see us or talk with us was an open question.
The facts of the case were well documented. Edmund Emil Kemper III was born on December 18, 1948, in Burbank, California. He grew up with two younger sisters in a dysfunctional family in which his mother, Clarnell, and father, Ed junior, fought constantly and eventually separated. After Ed displayed a range of “weird” behavior, including the dismemberment of two family cats and playing death-ritual games with his older sister, Susan, his mother packed him off to her estranged husband. When he ran away and went back to his mother, he was sent to live with his paternal grandparents on a remote California farm at the foothills of the Sierras. There, he was miserably bored and lonely, cut off from his family and the little comfort that the familiar surroundings of his own school afforded him. And there, one afternoon in August of 1963, the tall, hulking fourteen-year-old shot his grandmother, Maude, with a .22-caliber rifle, then stabbed her body repeatedly with a kitchen knife. She had insisted he stay and help her with the household chores rather than accompany his grandfather, whom he liked better, into the fields. Knowing Grandpa Ed would not find what he had just done acceptable behavior, when the old man returned home, Ed shot him, too, and left the body lying in the yard. When questioned by the police afterward, he shrugged and said, “I just wondered how it would feel to shoot Grandma.” The seeming motivelessness of the double murder got Ed a diagnosis of “personality trait disturbance, passive-aggressive type,” and a commitment to the Atascadero State Hospital for the criminally insane. He was let out in 1969 at age twenty-one, over the objection of state psychiatrists, and placed in the custody of his mother, who had left her third husband and was now working as a secretary at the newly opened University of California at Santa Cruz. By now, Ed Kemper was six foot nine and weighed in at around three hundred pounds.
For two years he held odd jobs, cruised the streets and highways in his car, and made a practice of picking up young female hitchhikers. Santa Cruz and its environs seemed to be a magnet for beautiful California coeds, and Kemper had missed out on a lot in his teens. Though turned down for the Highway Patrol, he got a job with the State Highway Department.
On May 7, 1972, he picked up two roommates from Fresno State College, Mary Ann Pesce and Anita Luchessa. He drove them to a secluded area, stabbed both young women to death, then took their bodies home to his mother’s house where he took Polaroid photos, dissected them, and played with various organs. Then he packed up what was left in plastic bags, buried the bodies in the Santa Cruz mountains, and tossed the heads into the deep ravine beside the road.
On September 14, Kemper gave a ride to a fifteen-year-old high school girl, Aiko Koo, suffocated her, sexually assaulted her corpse, then brought it home for dissection. The next morning, when he had one of his periodic visits with state psychiatrists to monitor and evaluate his mental health, Koo’s head was lying in his car trunk. The interview went well, though, and the psychiatrists declared him no longer a threat to himself or others and recommended that his juvenile record be sealed. Kemper reveled in this brilliantly symbolic act. It demonstrated his contempt for the system and his superiority to it at the same time. He drove back to the mountains and buried the pieces of Koo’s body near Boulder Creek.
(At the time Kemper was active, Santa Cruz could boast the unenviable title of serial-murder capital of the world. Herbert Mullin, a bright, handsome, diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, was killing both men and women, he claimed, at the urging of voices directing him to help save the environment. On a similar theme, a twenty-four-year-old recluse car mechanic who lived in the woods outside of town—John Linley Frazier—had burned down a house and killed a family of six as a warning to those who would destroy nature. “Materialism must die or mankind must stop,” was the note left under the windshield wiper of the family’s Rolls-Royce. It seemed as if every week another outrage was taking place.) On January 9 of 1973, Kemper picked up Santa Cruz student Cindy Schall, forced her into his trunk at gunpoint, then shot her. As had become his custom, he carried her body back to his mother’s house, had sex with it in his bed, dissected it in the bathtub, then bagged the remains and flung them over the cliff into the ocean at Carmel. His innovation this time was to bury Schall’s head face-up in the backyard, looking toward his mother’s bedroom window, since she’d always wanted people “to look up to her.”
By now, Santa Cruz was gripped with terror of the “Coed Killer.” Young women were warned not to accept rides from strangers, particularly from people outside the supposedly safe confines of the university community. But Kemper’s mother worked for the college, and so he had a university sticker on his car.
Less than a month later, Kemper picked up Rosalind Thorpe and Alice Liu, both of whom he shot, then piled in the trunk. They received the same treatment as his previous victims when he got them home. He dumped their mutilated bodies in Eden Canyon, near San Francisco, where they were found a week later.
His compulsion to kill was escalating at an alarming rate, even to him. He considered shooting everyone on the block, but finally decided against it. He had a better idea—what he realized he’d been wanting to do all along. On Easter weekend, as his mother slept in her bed, Kemper went into her room and attacked her repeatedly with a claw hammer until she died. He then decapitated her and raped her headless corpse. As his final inspirational touch, he cut out her larynx and fed it down the garbage disposal. “It seemed appropriate,” he later told police, “as much as she’d bitched and screamed and yelled at me over so many years.” But when he turned on the switch, the disposal jammed and threw the bloody voice box back out at him. “Even when she was dead, she was still bitching at me. I couldn’t get her to shut up!”
He then called Sally Hallett, a friend of his mother’s, inviting her over for a “surprise” dinner. When she arrived, he clubbed and strangled her, cut off her head, and left the body in his own bed while he went to sleep in his mother’s bed. On Easter Sunday morning, he took off in his car, driving aimlessly eastward. He kept listening to the radio, expecting to have become a huge national celebrity. Yet there was nothing.
Outside of Pueblo, Colorado, dazed and exhausted from lack of sleep, disappointed that his grand gesture had not had more of an impact, he pulled over at a phone booth beside the road, called the Santa Cruz Police Department, and after repeated attempts to convince them he was telling the truth, confessed to the murders and his identity as the Coed Killer. He then waited patiently as local police were dispatched to pick him up.
Kemper was convicted on eight counts of first-degree murder. When asked what he considered to be the appropriate punishment, he replied, “Death by torture.”
Though John Conway had made advance arrangements with the prison officials, I decided it was best to request interviews with the prisoners “cold” when we got there. Even though that meant making the trip without the certainty of cooperation, it seemed the best idea. Nothing stays secret in a prison, and if word got out that a certain inmate had a relationship with, and was talking to, the FBI, he could be considered a snitch or worse. If we showed up unannounced, it would be clear to the prison population that we were investigating something or other and didn’t have any prior arrangement or deal. So I was somewhat surprised when Ed Kemper readily agreed to talk to us. Apparently, no one had asked him anything about his crimes for quite some time, and he was curious about what we were doing.
Going into a high-security penitentiary is a chilling experience, even for a federal law enforcement agent. The first thing you have to do is surrender your gun. Obviously, they don’t want any weapons available in the lockup areas. The second requirement is that you sign a waiver stating that you absolve the prison system of responsibility if you are taken hostage and understand that in such an eventuality, you will not be bargained for. Having an FBI agent as a hostage could be an enormous bargaining chip. Those formalities having been taken care of, Bob Ressler, John Conway, and I were ushered into a room with a table and chairs to await Ed Kemper’s arrival.
The first thing that struck me when they brought him in was how huge this guy was. I’d known that he was tall and had been considered a social outcast in school and in the neighborhood because of his size, but up close, he was enormous. He could easily have broken any of us in two. He had longish dark hair and a full mustache, and wore an open work shirt and white T-shirt that prominently displayed a massive gut.
It was also apparent before long that Kemper was a bright guy. Prison records listed his IQ as 145, and at times during the many hours we spent with him, Bob and I worried he was a lot brighter than we were. He’d had a long time to sit and think about his life and crimes, and once he understood that we had carefully researched his files and would know if he was bullshitting us, he opened up and talked about himself for hours.
His attitude was neither cocky and arrogant nor remorseful and contrite. Rather, he was cool and soft-spoken, analytical and somewhat removed. In fact, as the interview went on, it was often difficult to break in and ask a question. The only times he got weepy was in recalling his treatment at the hands of his mother.
Having taught Applied Criminal Psychology without necessarily knowing that everything I was saying was true, I was interested in the age-old question of whether criminals are born or made. Though there is still no definitive answer and may never be, listening to Kemper raised some fascinating questions.
There was no dispute that Ed’s parents had had a terrible marriage. He told us that, from early on, he had looked so much like his father that his mother had hated him. Then his size became an issue. By the time he was ten, he was already a giant for his age, and Clarnell worried that he would molest his sister, Susan. So she made him sleep in a windowless basement room near the furnace. Every night at bedtime, Clarnell would close the basement door on him, while she and Susan went to their rooms upstairs. This terrified him and made him totally resentful of the two women. It also coincided with his mother’s final breakup from Ed’s father. Because of his size, shy personality, and lack of a role model in the house to identify with, Ed had always been withdrawn and “different.” Once he was shut up like a prisoner in the basement and made to feel dirty and dangerous without having done anything wrong, his hostile and murderous thoughts began to blossom. It was then that he killed and mutilated the two family cats, one with his pocketknife and the other with a machete. We would later realize that this childhood trait of cruelty to small animals was the keystone of what came to be known as the “homicidal triad,” also including enuresis, or bed-wetting, beyond the normally appropriate age and fire-starting.
What was also sad and ironic was that at Santa Cruz, Ed’s mother was popular with both administrators and students. She was considered a sensitive, caring person you could go to if you had a problem or just needed to talk something out. Yet at home, she treated her timid son as if he were some kind of monster.
There’s no way you can ever date or marry any of these college coeds, was her apparent message. They’re all much better than you. Continually exposed to that attitude, Ed eventually decided to fulfill her expectations.
In her own way, it must be said, she did try to take care of him. When he expressed an interest in joining the California Highway Patrol, she endeavored to have his juvenile record expunged so the “stigma” of having murdered his grandparents wouldn’t hold him back in adult life.
This desire to work with the police was another interesting revelation, which was to come up over and over again in our serial killer studies. The three most common motives of serial rapists and murderers turn out to be domination, manipulation, and control. When you consider that most of these guys are angry, ineffectual losers who feel they’ve been given the shaft by life, and that most of them have experienced some sort of physical or emotional abuse, as Ed Kemper had, it isn’t surprising that one of their main fantasy occupations is police officer.
A policeman represents power and public respect. When called upon to do so, he is authorized to hurt bad people for the common good. In our research, we discovered that, while few police officers go bad and commit violent crimes, frequently serial offenders had failed in their efforts to join police departments and had taken jobs in related fields, such as security guard or night watchman. One of the things we began saying in some of our profiles was that the UNSUB would drive a policelike vehicle, say a Ford Crown Victoria or Chevrolet Caprice. Sometimes, as in the case of the Atlanta child murders, the subject had purchased a used and stripped police car.
Even more common is the “police buff.” One of the things Ed Kemper told us was that he would frequent bars and restaurants known to be police hangouts and strike up conversations. This made him feel like an insider, gave him the vicarious thrill of a policeman’s power. But also, once the Coed Killer was on the rampage, he had a direct line into the progress of the investigation, allowing him to anticipate their next move. In fact, when Kemper called from Colorado at the end of his long, bloody mission, he had a difficult time convincing the Santa Cruz cops that this wasn’t all some drunken joke, that the Coed Killer was really their friend Ed. Now, because of what we’ve learned, we routinely consider the likelihood that a subject will attempt to insinuate himself into the investigation. Years later, working the Arthur Shawcross prostitute murders in Rochester, New York, my colleague Gregg McCrary correctly predicted that the killer would turn out to be someone that many of the police knew well, who hung around their hangouts, and who enthusiastically pumped them for information.
I was extremely interested in Kemper’s methodology. That he was getting away with these crimes repeatedly in the same general geographical area meant that he was doing something “right”; that he was analyzing what he was doing and learning to perfect his technique. Keep in mind that for most of these guys, the hunting and killing is the most important thing in their lives, their main “job,” so they’re thinking about it all the time. Ed Kemper got so good at what he did that when he was stopped one time for a broken taillight while he had two bodies in his trunk, the officer reported how polite he was and let him off with a warning. Rather than being terrified of discovery and arrest, this was part of the thrill to Kemper. He dispassionately told us that had the officer looked in his trunk, he was prepared to kill him. Another time, he talked his way past a university security guard with two women dying of gunshot wounds in the car. Both were wrapped in blankets up to their necks, one next to him in the front seat, the other in the back. Kemper calmly and somewhat embarrassedly explained that the girls were drunk and he was taking them home. The last part of the statement was true. And on one occasion, he picked up a woman hitchhiking with her young teenaged son, planning to kill them both. But as he drove away, he saw out of his rearview mirror that the woman’s companion had written down his license-plate number. So he rationally drove the mother and son to where they were going and dropped them off.
As bright as he was, Kemper had actually administered psychological tests in prison, so he knew all the buzzwords and could give you an analysis of his behavior in analytical psychiatric detail. Everything about the crimes was part of the challenge, part of the game, even figuring out how to get the victims into the car without being suspicious. He told us that when he stopped his car for a pretty girl, he’d ask her where she was going, then glance at his watch as if trying to decide if he had enough time. Thinking that she was dealing with a busy man who had other more important priorities than stopping for hitchhikers would immediately put her at ease and erase any hesitations. Aside from giving us a look into a killer’s modus operandi, this type of information would start suggesting something important: the normal common-sense assumptions, verbal cues, body language, and so on that we use to size up other people and make instant judgments about them often don’t apply to sociopaths. With Ed Kemper, for instance, stopping for a pretty hitchhiker was his most important priority, and he had thought long, hard, and analytically about how best to accomplish his objective; much longer, harder, and more analytically than a young woman encountering him casually would have done from her perspective.
Manipulation. Domination. Control. These are the three watchwords of violent serial offenders. Everything they do and think about is directed toward assisting them in filling their otherwise inadequate lives.
Probably the most crucial single factor in the development of a serial rapist or killer is the role of fantasy. And I mean this in its broadest sense. Ed Kemper’s fantasies developed early, and they all involved the relationship between sex and death. The game he made his sister play with him involved binding him to a chair as if he were in the gas chamber. His sexual fantasies involving others ended with the partner’s death and dismemberment. Because of his feelings of inadequacy, Kemper didn’t feel comfortable with normal boy-girl relationships. He didn’t think any girl would have him. So in his own mind, he compensated. He had to completely possess his imagined partner, and that meant ultimately possessing her life.
“Alive, they were distant, not sharing with me,” he explained in a confession introduced in court. “I was trying to establish a relationship. When they were being killed, there wasn’t anything going on in my mind except that they were going to be mine.”
With most sexually based killers, it is a several-step escalation from the fantasy to the reality, often fueled by pornography, morbid experimentation on animals, and cruelty to peers. This last trait can be seen by the subject as “getting back” at them for bad treatment. In Kemper’s case, he felt shunned and tormented by the other children because of his size and personality. And he told us that before he dismembered the two family cats, he had stolen one of his sister’s dolls and cut off its head and hands, practicing what he was planning for living beings.
On another level, Kemper’s overriding fantasy was to rid himself of his domineering, abusive mother, and everything he did as a killer can be analyzed in that context. Please don’t get me wrong; this in no way excuses what he did. Everything in my background and experience tells me that people are responsible for what they do. But in my opinion, Ed Kemper is an example of someone not born a serial killer but manufactured as one. Would he have had the same murderous fantasies had he had a more stable and nurturing home life? Who knows? But would he have acted on them in the same fashion had he not had this incredible rage against the dominant female personality in his life? I don’t think so—because the entire progress of Kemper’s career as a killer can be seen as an attempt to get back at dear old Mom. When he finally worked himself up to that final act, the drama was played out.
This was another characteristic we were to see over and over again. Seldom would the subject direct his anger at the focus of his resentment. Though Kemper told us he used to tiptoe into his mother’s room at night with a hammer and fantasize bringing it down through her skull, it took him at least six killings before he could actually get up the nerve to face what he really wanted to do. And we’ve seen many other variations on this displacement theme. For example, a common trait is to take some “trophy” item from the victim after the murder, such as a ring or necklace. The killer would then give that item to his wife or girlfriend, even if that woman was the “source” of his anger or hostility. Typically, he would say he had purchased the jewelry or else found it. Then, seeing her wear it, he both relives the excitement and stimulation of the kill and mentally reasserts domination and control, knowing he could have done to his own partner what he did to his unfortunate victim.
Eventually, in our analysis, we would begin to break down the components of a crime into such elements as pre- and postoffense behavior. Kemper had mutilated each of his victims, which at first suggested to us a sexual sadist. But the mutilation was all postmortem, or after the victim’s death, rather than while she was alive, thus not inflicting punishment and causing suffering. After listening to Kemper for several hours, it became clear that the dismemberment was more fetishistic than sadistic and had more to do with the possession part of the fantasy.
Equally significant, I thought, was his handling and disposal of the corpses. The early victims had been carefully buried far from his mother’s home. The later ones, including his mother and her friend, had virtually been left out in the open. That, combined with his extensive driving around town with bodies and body parts in the car, seemed to me to be taunting the community he felt had taunted and rejected him.
We ended up doing several lengthy interviews with Kemper over the years, each one informative, each one harrowing in its detail. Here was a man who had coldly butchered intelligent young women in the prime of their lives. Yet I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that I liked Ed. He was friendly, open, sensitive, and had a good sense of humor. As much as you can say such a thing in this setting, I enjoyed being around him. I don’t want him out walking the streets, and in his most lucid moments, neither does he. But my personal feelings about him then, which I still hold, do point up an important consideration for anyone dealing with repeat violent offenders. Many of these guys are quite charming, highly articulate, and glib.
How could this man do such a terrible thing? There must be some mistake or some extenuating circumstances. That’s what you’re going to say to yourself if you talk to some of them; you cannot get the full sense of the enormity of their crimes. And that’s why psychiatrists and judges and parole officers are fooled so often, a subject we’ll get into in more detail later on.
But for now: if you want to understand the artist, look at his work. That’s what I always tell my people. You can’t claim to understand or appreciate Picasso without studying his paintings. The successful serial killers plan their work as carefully as a painter plans a canvas. They consider what they do their “art,” and they keep refining it as they go along. So part of my evaluation of someone like Ed Kemper comes from meeting him and interacting with him on a personal basis. The rest comes from studying and understanding his work.
The prison visits became a regular practice whenever Bob Ressler or I were on a road school and could get the time and cooperation. Wherever I found myself, I’d find out what prison or penitentiary was nearby and who of interest was “in residence.”
Once we’d been doing this for a while, we refined our techniques. Generally, we were tied up four and a half days a week, so I tried to do some of the interviews on evenings and weekends. Evenings could be difficult because most prisons take a head count after dinner and no one is allowed into the cellblock after that. But after a while, you start to understand the prison regimens and adapt to them. I found that an FBI badge could get you into most penitentiaries and a meeting with the warden, so I began showing up unannounced, which often worked out best. The more of these interviews I did, the more confident I began to feel about what I was teaching and telling these veteran cops. I finally felt that my instruction was achieving some reality base, that it wasn’t just recycled war stories from those who had actually been there.
It wasn’t necessarily that the interviewees were providing profound insight into their crimes and psyches. Very few had that, even someone as bright as Kemper. Much of what they told us parroted their trial testimony or self-serving statements they’d made many times before. Everything had to be interpreted through hard work and extensive review on our part. What the interviews were doing, though, was letting us see the way the offender’s mind worked, getting a feel for them, allowing us to start walking in their shoes.
In the early weeks and months of our informal research program, we managed to interview more than half a dozen killers and would-be killers. These included George Wallace’s would-be assassin, Arthur Bremmer (Baltimore Penitentiary), Sarah Jane Moore and Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, both of whom had tried to kill President Ford (Alderson, West Virginia), and Fromme’s guru, Charles Manson, at San Quentin, just up the bay from San Francisco and the rotting hulk of Alcatraz.
Everybody in law enforcement was interested in Manson. It had been ten years since the grisly Tate and LaBianca murders in Los Angeles, and Manson remained the most famous and feared convict in the world. The case was regularly taught at Quantico, and while the facts were clear, I didn’t feel we had any real insight into what made this guy tick. I had no idea what we could expect to get from him, but I thought that anyone who had so successfully manipulated others to do his will would be an important subject. Bob Ressler and I met with him in a small conference area off the main cellblock at San Quentin. It had wire-reinforced glass windows on three sides, the kind of room set aside for inmates and their lawyers.
My first impression of Manson was just about diametrically opposite from what I had of Ed Kemper. He had wild, alert eyes and an unsettling, kinetic quality to the way he moved. He was much smaller and slighter than I’d imagined; no more than five two or five three. How did this weak-looking little guy exert such influence over his notorious “family”?
One answer came right away when he climbed onto the back of a chair positioned at the head of the table so he could look down on us as he talked. In the extensive background preparation I’d done for the interview, I’d read that he used to sit on top of a large boulder in the desert sand when he’d addressed his disciples, enhancing his physical stature for his sermons on the mount. He made it clear to us from the outset that despite the celebrated trial and voluminous news coverage, he didn’t understand why he was in jail. After all, he hadn’t killed anyone. Rather, he considered himself a societal scapegoat—the innocent symbol of America’s dark side. The swastika he had carved into his forehead during the trial was faded but still visible. He was still in contact with his women followers in other prisons through cooperative third parties.
In one sense at least, he was very much like Ed Kemper and so many of the other men we talked to in that he had had a terrible childhood and upbringing; if those two terms can be used at all to describe Manson’s background.
Charles Milles Manson was born in Cincinnati in 1934, the illegitimate son of a sixteen-year-old prostitute named Kathleen Maddox. His surname was merely a guess on Kathleen’s part as to which of her lovers was the father. She was in and out of prison, pawning Charlie off on a religious aunt and sadistic uncle who called him a sissy, dressed him in girl’s clothing for his first day of school, and challenged him to “act like a man.” By the time he was ten, he was living on the streets, except for his terms in various group homes and reform schools. He lasted four days at Father Flanagan’s Boys Town.
His young adult life was marked by a series of robberies, forgeries, pimpings, assaults, and incarcerations at increasingly tougher institutions. The FBI had investigated him under the Dyer Act for the interstate transport of stolen cars. He was paroled from his latest imprisonment in 1967, just in time for the “Summer of Love.” He made his way to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, the West Coast magnet for flower power and sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Looking primarily for a free ride, Manson quickly became a charismatic guru to the turned-on dropout generation still in their teens and twenties. He played the guitar and spoke in elliptical verities to disillusioned kids. Soon he was living for free, with all the sex and illicit stimulants he wanted. A nomadic “Family” of followers of both sexes gathered around him, sometimes numbering as many as fifty. As one of his services to the community, Charlie would preach his vision of the coming apocalypse and race war, which would leave the Family triumphant and him in control. His text was “Helter Skelter” from the Beatles’ White Album.
On the night of August 9, 1969, four Manson Family members, led by Charles “Tex” Watson, broke into the secluded home of director Roman Polanski and his movie star wife, Sharon Tate, at 10050 Cielo Drive in Beverly Hills. Polanski was away on business, but Tate and four guests—Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring, Voytek Frykowski, and Steven Parent—were viciously slaughtered in a depraved orgy that included slogans scrawled on the walls and victims’ bodies with their own blood. Sharon Tate was nearly nine months pregnant.
Two days later, at Manson’s apparent instigation, six Family members killed and mutilated businessman Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in their home in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles. Manson himself didn’t participate, but came in the house afterward for the mayhem that followed. The subsequent arrest for prostitution of Susan Atkins, who had participated in both murders, and an arson involving a piece of highway equipment, ultimately led back to the Family and perhaps the most celebrated trials in California history, at least until the O. J. Simpson extravaganza. In two separate proceedings, Manson and several of his followers were sentenced to death for the Tate and LaBianca murders and a number of others traced to them, including the killing and mutilation of Donald “Shorty” Shea, a movie stuntman and Family hanger-on who was suspected of squealing to the police. When the state’s capital-punishment laws were overturned, the sentences were reduced to life imprisonment.
Charlie Manson was not your routine serial killer. In fact, it was in dispute whether he’d actually murdered anyone with his own hands. Yet his bad background was beyond question, and so were the horrors his followers had committed at his instigation and in his name. I wanted to know how someone sets out to become this satanic messiah. We had to sit through hours of cheap philosophizing and ramblings, but as we pressed him for specifics and tried to cut through the bullshit, an image began to emerge.
Charlie hadn’t set out to be the dark guru. His goal was fame and fortune. He wanted to be a drummer and play for a famous rock band like the Beach Boys. He had been forced to live by his wits his entire life and so had become extremely adept at sizing up the people he met and quickly determining what they could do for him. He would have been excellent in my unit assessing an individual’s psychological strengths and weaknesses and strategizing how to get to a killer we were hunting.
When he arrived in San Francisco after his parole, he saw vast hordes of confused, naive, idealistic kids who looked up to him for his life experience and the seeming wisdom he spouted. Many of them, particularly the young girls, had had problems with their fathers and could relate to Charlie’s past, and he was astute enough to be able to pick them out. He became a paternal figure, one who could fill their empty lives with sex and the enlightenment of drugs. You can’t be in the same room with Charlie Manson and not be affected by his eyes—deep and penetrating, wild and hypnotic. He knew what his eyes could do and what effect they could have. He told us he had spent his early life getting the shit beaten out of him, and with his small stature, there was no way he could win a physical confrontation. So he compensated by invoking the force of his personality.
What he preached made perfect sense: pollution is destroying the environment, racial prejudice is ugly and destructive, love is right and hate is wrong. But once he had these lost souls in his sway, he instituted a highly structured delusional system that left him in complete control of their minds and bodies. He used sleep deprivation, sex, food control, and drugs to gain complete dominance, like a prisoner-of-war situation. Everything was black-and-white and only Charlie knew the truth. He’d strum his guitar and repeat his simple mantra over and over again: only Charlie could redeem the sick and rotting society.
The basic dynamics of leadership and group authority that Manson described for us we were to see repeated over the years in subsequent tragedies of similar dimension. The power over and understanding of inadequate people that Manson possessed would be revisited by the Reverend Jim Jones and the mass murder- suicide of his flock in Guyana, then again by David Koresh at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, to name but two. And despite the glaring differences among these three men, what links them together is striking. Insight we got from talking to Manson and his followers contributed to our understanding of Koresh and his actions and other cults.
At the heart of it, the issue with Manson wasn’t this messianic vision but simple control. The “helter-skelter” preaching was a way to maintain the mind control. But as Manson came to realize, unless you can exert this control over your flock twenty-four hours a day, you risk losing it. David Koresh realized this and holed up his devotees in a rural fortress where they couldn’t leave or be away from his influence.
After listening to Manson, I believe that he did not plan or intend the murders of Sharon Tate and her friends; that, in fact, he lost control of the situation and his followers. The choice of the site and victims was apparently arbitrary. One of the Manson girls had been there and thought there was money around. Tex Watson, the good-looking, all-American honor student from Texas, sought to rise in the hierarchy and rival Charlie for influence and authority. Zoned out like the others on LSD and having bought into the leader’s new tomorrow, Watson was the primary killer and led the mission to the Tate-Polanski house and encouraged the others to the ultimate depravities.
Then, when these inadequate nobodies came back and told Charlie what they had done, that helter-skelter had begun, he couldn’t very well back down and tell them they had taken him too seriously. That would have destroyed his power and authority. So he had to do them one better, as if he had intended the crime and its aftermath, leading them to the LaBianca home to do it again. But significantly, when I asked Manson why he hadn’t gone in and participated in the killings, he explained, as if we were dense, that he was on parole at the time and couldn’t risk his freedom by violating that.
So I believe from the background information and the interviews we did with Manson that while he made his followers into what he needed, they, in turn, made him into what they needed and forced him to fulfill it.
Every couple of years, Manson comes up for parole and has been turned down every time. His crimes were too publicized and too brutal for the parole board to take a chance on him. I don’t want him let out, either. But if he were released at some point, knowing what I do about him, I wouldn’t expect him to be a serious violent threat like a lot of these guys are. I think he’d go off into the desert and live out there, or else try to cash in on his celebrity for money. But I wouldn’t expect him to kill. The biggest threat would be from the misguided losers who would gravitate to him and proclaim him their god and leader.
By the time Ressler and I had done ten or twelve prison interviews, it was clear to any reasonably intelligent observer that we were onto something. For the first time, we were able to correlate what was going on in an offender’s mind with the evidence he left at a crime scene.
In 1979, we’d received about fifty requests for profiles, which the instructors tried to handle between their teaching responsibilities. By the next year, the caseload had doubled and would double again the next. By then, I had pretty much been relieved of teaching and was the only one in the unit devoting full time to operational work. I would still give presentations to National Academy and agent classes as my schedule allowed, but unlike the others, for me teaching had now become a sideline. I did virtually all the homicide cases that came into the unit and whichever rape cases Roy Hazelwood was too busy to handle.
What had been an informal service without official sanction was developing into a small institution. I took on the newly created title of “criminal-personality profiling program manager” and started working with the field offices to coordinate the submission of cases by local police departments.
At one point, I was in the hospital for a week or so. My old football and boxing injuries had messed up my nose, which had made breathing progressively more difficult, and I was in getting my twisted septum straightened out. I remember lying there hardly able to see and having one of the other agents come in and drop twenty case files on my bed.
We were learning more and more with each new prison encounter, but there had to be a way to organize the informal research into a systematized, usable framework. And that step forward came through Roy Hazelwood, with whom I was collaborating on an article about lust murder for the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. Roy had done some research with Dr. Ann Burgess, a professor of psychiatric mental-health nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and associate director of nursing research for the Boston Department of Health and Hospitals. Burgess was a prolific author and already widely known as one of the nation’s leading authorities on rape and its psychological consequences.
Roy brought her to the Behavioral Science Unit, introduced her to Bob and me, and described what we were doing. She was impressed and told us she thought we had an opportunity to do research of a kind that had never been done before in this field. She thought we could contribute toward understanding criminal behavior in the same way DSM—the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—had toward the understanding and organization of types of mental illness.
We agreed to work together, with Ann pursuing and eventually obtaining a $400,000 grant from the government-sponsored National Institute of Justice. The goal was to exhaustively interview thirty-six to forty incarcerated felons and see what kinds of conclusions we could draw. With our input, Ann developed a fifty-seven-page instrument to be filled out for each interview. Bob would administer the grant and be the liaison with NIJ, and he and I, with help from agents in the field, would go back into the prisons and face the subjects. We would describe the methodology of each crime and crime scene, and study and document the pre- and postoffense behavior, Ann would crunch the numbers, and we’d write up our results. We expected the project to take about three or four years.
And in that time, criminal-investigative analysis came into the modern age.