Towards the end of his career with the FBI, celebrated serial killer "whisperer" John E Douglas arrived home from work to discover his wife had cut her knee. Rather than rush to help tend the injury he was instinctively drawn to the spattered blood – analysing the angle at which it had splashed on the carpet for evidence of foul play. Everywhere he looked, he saw dark deeds and twisted minds.
Douglas’s groundbreaking work profiling and consulting some of the most notorious serial killers of the past 40 years is the inspiration for Netflix’s absorbing new true crime drama, Mindhunter (loosely adapted from Douglas’s 1995 book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit).
As fresh-faced new kid on the block at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia , the softly -spoken native of Brooklyn –renamed Holden Ford in the series – was instrumental in expanding our understanding of murderous psychopathy. He even coined the term "serial killer". It’s a compelling story – one that, in the hands of Mindhunter producer David Fincher, makes for grisly, gripping television.
But it is far from Douglas’s first time on screen. He was extensively consulted by Thomas Harris when the crime writer was researching Silence of the Lambs, prompting Harris to create the character Jack Crawford – head of the FBI behavioural science unite at Quantico and mentor to new profiler Clarice Starling (portrayed by Scott Glenn in the 1991 Jonathan Demme movie).
Mindhunters, Inc., was created by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker in 1995, after John retired from the FBI. The two met five years earlier when Mark, a prominent author and filmmaker, was writing and producing a documentary on John’s Investigative Support Unit and criminal profiling at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. By then, John was already a living legend in law enforcement.
As John contemplated retirement, he wanted to stay active in criminal justice, preserve the experience and knowledge he had pioneered for the Bureau, and tell his own story. He asked Mark to work with him, and in 1995 they published their first international bestseller, MINDHUNTER, which recounted the early days of the profiling program and Investigative Support Unit, and a number of John’s most important cases.
Since then, John and Mark have developed a Holmes and Watson working relationship as detective and reporter, analyst and interpreter, combining their skills and experience to form a dynamic team.
He has assisted police throughout the United States and around the world with profiles, investigative techniques and proactive strategies in hunting some of the most notorious and sadistic criminals of our time: the Trailside Killer in San Francisco, the Atlanta child murderer, the Tylenol poisoner, the man who hunted prostitutes for sport in the woods of Alaska, and Seattle’s Green River killer, the case that nearly ended his own life.
He developed the first psychological profile of the Unabomber, but found the FBI wary of his pioneering techniques. His aggressive plan of action was ignored.
He has confronted, interviewed, and studied dozens of serial killers and assassins for a landmark study — including Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, Richard Speck, John Wayne Gacy, “Son of Sam” David Berkowitz and James Earl Ray — to get inside their minds; to understand their motives, motivations and methods.
He is able to think as both predator and prey. He examines a crime scene and creates profiles of the perpetrators, describing their habits and predicting their next moves. Ultimately, when his work has helped snare the criminals, he can help build strategy for interrogating and prosecuting them.
He is former Special Agent John Douglas, a legendary figure in law enforcement and the model for Scott Glenn’s Agent Jack Crawford character in The Silence of the Lambs. He was also director Jonathan Demme’s original choice to play the role, but the Bureau wouldn’t allow it. As chief of the FBI’s Investigative Support Unit, the team that tackled the most baffling and senseless of unsolved violent crimes, Douglas is the man who ushered in a new age in behavioral science and criminal profiling.
In his national best sellers with Mark Olshaker, beginning with MINDHUNTER, Douglas takes a fascinating inside look at some of the most intriguing criminal cases of our time and helps us learn how to anticipate potential violent behavior before it’s too late. Drawing from his long and extraordinary career, Douglas takes us inside the struggle between his elite squad of investigators and a chilling rogues gallery of assailants, in a surreal chess match with life-and-death consequences.
Since his retirement from the FBI, he has remained active as an author, speaker and independent investigator. His work on the 1996 JonBenet Ramsey murder case in Boulder, Colorado, led to a completely different conclusion than the police, district attorney and FBI theory and added to the national controversy over the crime. He has conducted extensive prison interviews with violent predators for various law enforcement agencies and parole boards. Douglas was a key member of the defense team whose efforts led to the release of the West Memphis Three; he also conducted a complete analysis of the Meredith Kercher murder case in Perugia, Italy, concluding that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were completely innocent. As a result of his work in West Memphis, director Peter Jackson engaged him to consult on The Lovely Bones and advise actor Stanley Tucci on playing a sadistic predator. The Ramsey, West Memphis Three and Kercher-Knox cases are detailed in LAW & DISORDER, to be published February 2013 by Kensington Publishing Corp. Douglas is also prominently featured in Peter Jackson-Sony Classic Pictures documentary West of Memphis, released in theaters December 2012.
Together with former FBI Special Agent Robert K. Ressler and Dr. Ann Burgess, Douglas conducted a landmark study of predators, published in book form as SEXUAL HOMICIDE: Patterns and Motives, and CRIME CLASSIFICATION MANUAL, currently in its second edition with a third edition in preparation, and used by law enforcement professionals throughout the world. He and Olshaker wrote the opening chapter for the first-of-its-kind textbook, FORENSIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE, recently revised for the second edition. MINDHUNTER is currently under option for an HBO pilot with director David Fincher.
Mark Olshaker is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, New York Times best-selling non-fiction author and critically acclaimed novelist. In his research, writing and consulting, he has worked closely with many of the nation’s leading experts in the fields of law enforcement and criminal justice, public health, disease prevention, intelligence, bio-defense and pandemic planning, and is adept at translating complex issues of science, medicine and law for the general public.
The books he has written with John Douglas, beginning with MINDHUNTER, have sold millions of copies, been translated into many languages and, along with his Emmy-nominated film, Mind of a Serial Killer, for the PBS series NOVA, made Olshaker a sought-after speaker and consultant on criminal justice and victims’ rights issues.
He and Douglas cowrote the lead chapter for the textbook FORENSIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE, published in 2001 by Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, recently revised for the second edition.His and Douglas’s next book, LAW & DISORDER, concerning failures of the criminal justice system, will be published in 2013. Their newest program for NOVA, Who Killed Lindbergh’s Baby?, was also broadcast in 2013.
Olshaker is the author of the highly praised novels EINSTEIN’S BRAIN, UNNATURAL CAUSES, BLOOD RACE, THE EDGE and BROKEN WINGS. The San Diego Union praised EINSTEIN’S BRAIN as “Fantastic! Here is high adventure. . . a well-told novel which keeps the reader in a state of excitement.” Kirkus Reviews described UNNATURAL CAUSES as a ”First-class thriller,” with a story that “grips like a racing high fever.” Publishers Weekly called THE EDGE “fiendishly disturbing” and “a darkly imagined thriller marked by brisk action and a mind-bending denouement.” John Barkham called it “one of the most exciting of the year as well as one of the most ingenious.”
Olshaker also has extensive experience with the other field of life-and-death detective work: medical mystery. His research with the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRID) led to his novel UNNATURAL CAUSES and nonfiction book VIRUS HUNTER (with C.J. Peters, M.D., then CDC Chief of Special Pathogens) and the PBS programs What’s Killing the Children?Bioterror: Dealing With a New Reality,Avoiding Armageddon and Anatomy of a Pandemic, as well as an expertise in public health information and medical crisis management. The New York Times placed VIRUS HUNTER on its Noteworthy and Recommended lists and The New England Journal of Medicine compared it to Paul de Kruif’s celebrated Microbe Hunters, declaring that the book “is not merely the exhilarating tale of three decades of scientific research. It is also an outspoken, comprehensive analysis of the political and human issues that front-line scientists fighting outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever deal with daily.”
Olshaker is a consultant to the U.S. Justice Department Office for Victims of Crime and has served as a consultant to the National Library of Medicine.
He began his career at the Washington Bureau of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and has written for The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsday, The Washington Times, New Times and Washingtonian. In addition to his work on criminal justice and public health, he has written and produced documentary films across a wide variety of subjects, including history, architecture, science, medicine and drama. He wrote, produced and directed Discovering Hamlet, a behind-the-scenes look at the mounting of an innovative production of Hamlet, perhaps the greatest literary murder mystery of all time. It featured Sir Derek Jacobi and Sir Kenneth Branagh.
Olshaker’s biography appears in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World. He is President of the Norman Mailer Society, past Chairman of the Cosmos Club Foundation and serves on the boards of the Shakespeare Guild of America and the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation.