| During his
twenty-five year career with
the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, a name he later changed to The
Science Unit (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995). John Douglas became the
expert on criminal personality profiling and the pioneer of modern
investigative analysis. Through his research with serial criminal’s,
learned how criminals think and what makes them do the things that they
do, and why. Douglas can determine many personal traits and habits of
offender just by examining the crime scene; it’s evidence and
(Douglas & Olshaker, 1995).
Childhood and Family Life
John Edward Douglas was the son of Jack
Douglas, a printer with the Brooklyn Eagle. Douglas was born near
the border of Queens, in Brooklyn, NY. At the age of eight Douglas’s
was concerned with the rising crime rate, so he moved him and his one
his sister Arlene who was four years older, to Hempstead, NY, where his
father became president of the Long Island Typographical Union (Douglas
& Olshaker, 1995).
As a child at Ludlum Elementary In
NY, Douglas was no academic standout, receiving mostly C’s and B’s
& Olshaker, 1995). As a young child, John was interested in
so much so, that he spent three summers in a dairy farm in Upstate New
York in the Cornell Farm Cadet Program sponsored by the University’s
School, in hopes of one day becoming a veterinarian himself (Douglas
John Douglas attended Hempstead High
School where he was a pitcher for the baseball team and a defensive
for the football team (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995). As a member of
1962 Hempstead High School football team, his team won the Thorpe
While attending high school at Hempstead, Douglas developed a knack for
telling stories. For example, as a freshman, Douglas was assigned a
to read for an oral book report for his class. Douglas was to lazy to
the novel so when it was his turn to give his report in front of the
he made up the title of a phony book, made up a phony author, and
to tell a story about a group of campers (Douglas & Olshaker,
In the middle of the story Douglas began laughing hysterically and
to the teacher that he made it up. The teacher and students were so
by his story that the teacher asked him to finish his story; he
an A (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995).
Young Adult/College Years
At the age of eight-teen, Douglas
a job as a bouncer in a bar in Hempstead named the Gaslight East
& Olshaker, 1995). Shortly thereafter he obtained another job
at a surf club in Long Beach. In the fall of 1963, Douglas began his
voyage, and college career at Montana State. As a student at Montana
he joined the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon. Douglas’s first brush with
the law came when he and one of his fraternity brothers had taken out
girls who they had met. While on there dates with these girls, Douglas
and his frat brother stopped at a bar, where Douglas went into to buy a
six-pack of beer. As the story goes, the Bartender asked to see
ID, so Douglas shows him a phony Selective Service card. The Bartender
looks at the ID very carefully, and after making some smart comments
him being from Brooklyn, sells him the six-pack. As Douglas and his
leave the bar and drive down the road, he hears a police siren.
a cop pulls them over and tells them to get out of the car. The cop
searching them, and eventually takes all four back to the police
where they tell Douglas that as soon as they tell the police if the
back at the bar did not ask for their ID’s that they will go back,
they have had problems with him in the past. Douglas informs the
that where he comes from people do not rat out other people.
Douglas and his friends were released, having to pay a fine of $40
and probation (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995).
During his sophomore year, while attending
a rodeo show with two other guys from back East, and one friend from
State, driving a 62’ Studabaker, with beer in the car, Douglas ran into
trouble once again with the law (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995). With
friend from Boston at the wheel and heavy snow, they ran a stop sign on
their way back from the rodeo. There was a cop right at the stop sign.
But instead of stopping, the driver took off with the cop chasing right
behind them. They drove through residential neighborhoods with the cop
chasing them, throwing beer cans out of the window. All of the sudden
car spins out, everyone gets out and runs. Douglas ends up in an alley,
where he finds an empty pick-up truck to hide in. While hiding in the
Douglas begins to sweat as the window’s fog up, the whole time worrying
that the police will find him. Eventually Douglas and his friends from
back home get away, but his friend from Montana State got caught and
his guts to the cops. Douglas got slapped with a $40 fine for
of alcohol and probation, and that was pretty much the end of his
at Montana State. By this time Douglas had a straight D average,
afterwards in 1965, Douglas left Montana State and returned home where
he was Life Guard for the summer of 1965 (Douglas & Olshaker,
For a short while, Douglas got a job running a health club at the
Inn in Patchogue, NY.
On December 13, 1983, at the age of 38, John
fell into a coma.
While in Seattle, on business, the right side of John’s brain ruptured
and hemorrhaged, causing Douglas to acquire a temperature of 107, a
rate of 220, and to fall into a coma.
When Douglas joined the Air Force in 1966,
he was sent to Amarillo,
Texas for basic training. Douglas was third in his flight school
& Olshaker, 1995). While in the Air Force Douglas held a variety of
positions, one of which was a Clerk Typist at Cannon Air Force Base in
New Mexico (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995). At first, he was told that
was well qualified for radio-intercept school, but when he applied
was no room, so he was made a clerk typist. Douglas was very
while in the Air Force. He represented them in such sports as tennis,
and badminton. He did such a good job they put him in charge of
base golf course. Next, he moved into women’s ceramics because, while
at the bases golf pro shop, the Base Commander asked Douglas what
of golf ball he should use for a particular golf tournament, when he
not know, the Base Commander was furious and moved him into women’s
(Douglas & Olshaker, 1995).
While in the Air Force, Douglas
to help handicapped children with their recreational programs (Douglas
& Olshaker, 1995). This event was what triggered his interest in
He married Pam Modicain in June of 1970,
shortly after; they honeymooned in the Pocono’s.
During his stint with the United States
Air Force, Douglas became eligible for Operation Bootstrap. This was
the government paid 75% of his education costs to go to school at
and on weekends, which he did at Eastern New Mexico University in
(Douglas & Olshaker, 1995). Also, while in the Air Force
with crippled children, Douglas was unaware that members of the Eastern
New Mexico University psychology department were observing him much of
the time. They were so impressed with him that they offered him a
scholarship in special education (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995). Even
he had been thinking about Industrial Psychology, he loved working with
the kids and thought that this might be good idea. So, he submitted the
university’s offer to the base civilian-run personnel board, but after
consideration, they decided that the Air Force did not need anyone with
a degree in special education (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995). In 1969,
he was discharged from the Air Force, whereupon he began his master’s
in industrial psychology, while living in a $7 dollar a week,
basement apartment in Clovis, New Mexico (Douglas & Olshaker,
In the fall of 1970, Douglas met a man
named Frank Harris at a health club he had joined. Unknown to Douglas
the time, Harris was a FBI agent. After getting to know Douglas, Frank
offered Douglas a job with the FBI, and that is how the famous profiler
got his start in the FBI, Douglas eventually accepted (Douglas &
1995). In the mean time, Douglas worked for an unnamed company, dealing
with such issued as personnel matters, employee assistance, and stress
management (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995). On November 1, 1970, Douglas
was offered a probationary appointment with the FBI with an initial
of $10, 869 dollars a year (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995). On December
14, 1970 he received a telegram that instructed him to report to room
in the old post office building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington,
at 9:00 a.m. to begin 14 weeks of training in the FBI (Douglas &
Throughout his professional career,
John Douglas has written or coauthored more than one-hundred
texts and research papers, including the following books for the
-The Anatomy of Motive
- Broken Wings
- Journey into Darkness
- Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives
- Psyches of Killers, Rapists, and Stalkers, and Their Victims and
Tells How to Fight Back
- Mind Hunter
- Crime Classification Manual
- Guide to Careers in the FBI
- The Cases that Haunt Us
In 1971, after completion
of his FBI program,
Douglas was sent to Detroit where he was assigned to the Reactive
Unit (Douglas & Olshaker,1995). When he took his exam at the
he scored a 99%. He actually scored 100%, but Mr. J. Edgar Hoover said
that no one was perfect, so his score was changed. (Douglas &
1995). Douglas worked with the Unlawful Flight to Avoid Persecution
which tracked down Army deserters (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995).
transferred to the Milwaukee field office on Jackson Street. After
in Milwaukee, he began the pursuit of his master’s degree at the
of Wisconsin in educational psychology (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995).
While in Milwaukee Douglas made the SWAT team and was assigned as a
of which most of his time was spent on bank robberies (Douglas &
1995). While assigned to SWAT, he was recommended for a two-week
negotiation course at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, where he
tutelage by Howard Teten and Pat Mullany (Douglas & Olshaker,
Upon completion of the hostage negotiation course at Quantico, Douglas
trained bank tellers on what to look for and what to do in panic
and how to properly handle exploding money packs (Douglas &
Then in 1976, he
left Milwaukee for his
temporary duty assignment as a counselor for the 107th National Academy
Session at Quantico, VA. While there, Douglas graduated from the 107th
Session of the National Academy on December 16, 1976 (Douglas &
1995). As a counselor, Douglas was responsible for one section of
B-consisting of 15 men (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995). In 1978 he
joined the Behavioral Science Unit, which involved primarily teaching.
He taught Applied Psychology, which focused on the issue with which
and other crime solvers are most concerned with, motive (Douglas &
Olshaker, 1995). In the 1980’s Douglas taught hostage negotiation at
FBI Academy in Quantico, VA (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995).
John Douglas has conducted hundreds
of interviews with some of the world’s most notorious serial offenders,
- Charles Manson, and three members of the Manson clan.
- Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of Robert F. Kennedy.
- John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer that killed 33 people.
- David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam”.
- James Earl Ray, assassin of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- Ted Bundy
- Unsuccessful assassins of Gerald Ford and George Wallace (Douglas
& Olshaker, 1995).
In addition, Douglas’s profiles aided
in numerous arrests of serial offenders, some of which include:
- Wayne Williams, the .22 caliber killer.
- Carlton Gary, the stalking strangler.
- Robert Hanson, the Anchorage Alaska baker who would kidnap,
hunt, then kill local prostitutes.
These are just a few of the cases that John Douglas
aided in throughout his twenty-five year career as a profiler with the
Behavioral Science Unit, which he later renamed the Investigative
Unit (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995).
Contributions to Psychology
Douglas and his colleagues outlined
in an article that explained the goals of a serial offender in the
1980 issue of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. They are as follows:
- What leads a person to become a sexual offender and what are the
early warning signals?
- What serves to encourage or to inhibit the commission of his offense?
- What types of responses or coping strategies, by an intended victim
are successful with what type of sexual offender in avoiding
- What are the implications for his dangerousness, prognosis,
and mode of treatment (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995)?
Also, Douglas discovered the following:
- Serial killers are always male.
- Most serial offenders are police buffs.
- That the most crucial factor in the development of a serial killer
is the role of fantasy.
- For most sexually based killers, it is a several step escalation
from the fantasy to the reality, often fueled by pornography, morbid
on animals, and cruelty to peers.
- Most serial killers take souvenirs from their victims and give them
to the women in their lives as a sign of dominance and a way of being
to relive the experience.
- Serial killers kill repeatedly with some emotional cycling or
period between crimes.
- Most killers are inadequate types; as a result they have speech
- Body mutilation is a sign of a disorganized personality type.
- Discovered children are abducted for 1 of 3 reasons:
(1) Taken by kidnappers for profit
(2) By child molesters for sexual gratification
(3) People who want a child of their own (Douglas &
In conclusion, I would like to say that
no one has done as much as John Douglas in the field of profiling.
his twenty-five year career he has interviewed over 100 serial
published, and coauthored numerous books and research articles
to the psychology and law. Through his uncanny profiling ability, he
aided in the apprehension of numerous dangerous serial offenders.