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Authors: Pat Brown

The Profiler

BOOK: The Profiler







y recounting of the events that took place in each of these crime stories is based on my personal interviews with victims’ family members, friends, and others as well as discussions at times with law enforcement personnel, and, where possible, the review of available files. My findings should only be considered as my hypotheses of how the crimes were committed and who may have committed them based on all the information available to me, my educational background, and my experience in profiling. When I identify a specific person as a possible perpetrator, it is to say that I think police should take a second look (and in some cases, a first look) at that person. As I have always said, profiling can be a powerful investigatory tool, but I am not the prosecutor nor am I the jury. Profiling is not an exact science, and with imperfect information and the passage of time it is not possible to give you anything other than my hypothesis in each of these cases.


criminal profiling?

It’s a combination of analyzing the physical and behavioral evidence, reconstructing a crime from the beginning to the end, and coming up with the most scientific determination possible with the information available.

A lot of it is common sense—or at least it seems that way
the crime is solved. But coming up with the right answer requires more than instinct or good guessing; it requires examining the scene and the evidence scientifically, unemotionally, and without any biases.

It is a matter of applied logic that comes from a combination of innate skill, training and education, and years of practice. Learning never ends: learning from doing, learning from others, even learning from one’s own mistakes.

Becoming a criminal profiler is a process, not a moment in time. Study, experience, and practice allow a criminal profiler to grow into a Sherlock Holmes of the modern day, improving one’s skill, case by case, murder by murder. Whether one trains through the FBI, a police department, college, or on one’s own, the learning process is a journey. As time goes on, our skills are honed and we become criminal profilers of worth.

Before I take you behind the profiling curtain, I want to emphasize my support for the detectives working these difficult cases and
the struggle of law enforcement to get killers off the streets. What I present in this book represents the cases that came to me because they were unusually difficult to analyze or fell to an investigator with a lack of training or experience, or politics derailed the investigative efforts. The wonderful detectives who brought me in did so because they understood that sometimes an added expert can make the difference between a case being solved and a killer walking free. Many of the cases that I have been involved in are not included in this book because I signed an agreement with law enforcement not to disclose any information or because I felt inclusion would be damaging to the case.

I hope this book helps you understand the tough investigative issues detectives, profilers, and victims of crime face and that you will be encouraged to work together with your communities to fund and support all who fight to make our lives safer.


he only witness to the crime wasn’t talking.

By the time I spoke with the mother of the victim, the case had gone cold. A beautiful young woman had been murdered three years prior, strangled in her apartment where she lived alone with her African gray parrot. When the police arrived, the scene was tranquil—nothing in the apartment had been touched except the resident; she lay dead on the living room floor.

There were four possible suspects in the homicide: two men she was dating, an ex-husband who lived out of town, and someone as yet unidentified, perhaps a maintenance man or a fellow apartment dweller. The key to the identity of the killer was known only to the silent witness: the African gray parrot.

After the police released the crime scene, the heartbroken mother boxed up her dead daughter’s possessions and carried the boxes and the parrot to her home. She stored the boxes in the garage and put the cage with the parrot in her bedroom. As she drifted off to sleep, she was jolted to full consciousness when she heard a horrified voice crying out, “What are you doing here? What are you doing here? Awwgh!!” There was no one in the room with her but the parrot.

The mother told the story to the police, but her claim that the parrot was mimicking her daughter and the subsequent attack was met with skepticism. The mother insisted she was telling the truth,
that the parrot kept repeating the same thing over and over. No one believed her, and as the days went by, the parrot said the phrase less often, until he no longer remembered it.

It was an odd story, something one might think a Hollywood scriptwriter came up with. But it interested me, so I checked the veracity of the parrot with a bird expert. It turned out that African grays are adept at picking up words and sounds, especially older, more experienced parrots, as this African gray happened to be. Such a parrot also tends to repeat statements that are made with great emotion and sounds that are unusual. The expert concluded the victim’s parrot might well have repeated the last event that occurred in the young woman’s life.

If the parrot was credible, then the suspect was most likely the ex-husband. The victim would not have been surprised or alarmed to see either of the men she was dating nor would she have reacted so dramatically to seeing a resident or worker from the building. Only the ex-husband would have elicited such a response.

It was too late for the parrot to testify. The killer would never see the inside of a courtroom. I was starting to realize, early on in my career as a profiler, that unlike television crime dramas that give us all a feeling of satisfaction by the end of the show, in real life, justice is a rare commodity. Something needs to be done to change this reality and part of that “something” is criminal profiling.


o one had ever been murdered in my town.

The community’s first house—
house—was built in the 1700s on rolling Maryland farmland. Many interesting things happened here over the centuries, but the town had never experienced a violent homicide.

Anne Kelley, a brilliant government intern from the Midwest, would have the unfortunate honor of being the first.

of town until Sunday. When I returned that morning, I was at home for only a few minutes when the horrific news reached me. The phone rang and it was my best friend, Terry, who lived just a couple blocks away.

“Did you hear?” she asked, incredulously, dismay in her voice.

“Hear what?” When I had taken the turn onto Sixtieth Street, nothing seemed out of place. There were no fire trucks or ambulances on the street. The town appeared serene. The only activity was a slight breeze, which hardly affected the oppressiveness of the heat on that early sultry summer day, the third of June.

“A young woman was found murdered in the stream by the softball field.”


“Oh, it’s just awful. One of the men playing softball in the league game this morning chased a ball across the path into the water and found a woman’s naked body floating right at the edge.”

I felt sick. My first thought was that it might be someone I knew, an area resident, a friend, or the mother of one of the local children.

I took a deep breath. “Do they know who she is?”

“No, not yet. I heard she was young, maybe in her late teens or twenties. They found her clothes and a Walkman; it seems she was jogging. The police figure she was killed yesterday, probably at dusk, because no one saw her there during the daylight. She doesn’t seem to be a town resident.”

It was a tiny relief to hope she was not someone I knew.

I hung up the phone with a nagging, uneasy feeling that I was somehow more connected to this situation than I should be. For a minute, I placated myself with the idea that it was just the shock of hearing about such a tragedy that made me feel this way. Or maybe it was the fact that this gruesome murder happened right at the ball field where I spent so many happy hours cheering on my son and his baseball team. But it wasn’t that kind of feeling; it was something more eerie. Something was not quite right in the house; a malignant spirit was residing with us now, and it wasn’t the ghost previous residents claimed they had seen on the third-floor landing. I made lunch for my kids and tried to distract myself. The children ate their sandwiches and went out to play. As I put the dishes in the sink, our latest boarder, Walt Williams, came down the stairs from his room into the kitchen. The feeling of anxiety increased.

Walt. It has something to do with Walt

would dig out the picture of Walt Williams that I had once shown to the police and stare at it. It was the photo I took on a church trip to Six Flags in the suburbs of Maryland just outside of Washington, D.C. The snapshot was dated May 13, 1990. Walt, a twenty-four-year-old African American, was dressed in blue-checked shorts and a white, short-sleeved T-shirt. He was holding the hand
of an adoring, giggly prepubescent girl who looked to have a crush on him. He was grinning smugly, looking away from the girl, his chin up in the air. He seemed either arrogant or goofy, depending on how you read the picture, with his boyish face and slight pudginess.

My children were in the picture, too, which made me cringe a bit; my eight-year-old daughter, Jennifer, with her frizzed-out, flyaway hair, courtesy of the gene blend of her blond mother and Jamaican father, and my son, David, age six, who looks rather Hispanic, causing Latinos to state matter-of-factly, “Oh, your husband is from Mexico!”

Walt, our new renter of one week, made the trip to the amusement park rather reluctantly. Although he expressed initial enthusiasm when asked to help chaperone the church teens, that morning when my husband, Tony, and I were ready to depart, he made himself scarce. He had not come down for breakfast nor had I seen him in the hallway.

“Walt?” I called up to his room above the kitchen. “Are you coming?”

“Oh.” I heard a muffled voice through the door. “I was sleeping.”

I was not one to let people who had made a commitment off that easily.

“Well, hurry up. We leave in ten minutes. We’re waiting on you.”

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