Monday, May 17, 2010

Profile of 'The Profiler'

by Cathy Scott

The Profiler: My Life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths, by criminal profiler and WCI contributor Pat Brown, with co-author Bob Andelman, hits book shelves tomorrow (May 18).

Waiting for police to act on the 1990 murder of Anne Kelley, Pat Brown couldn't understand what was taking so long to bring the case to a close. Brown had long suspected a possible connection to the odd man who'd briefly rented a room in her home. At the time unfamiliar with the criminal investigative process, Brown believed the Kelley case was unusual. But as she began exploring unsolved murders in her area, she soon realized the case, unfortunately, was not all that rare.

For example, in Washington, D.C. alone, Brown learned  that the murders of more than 120 women remained unsolved. "Who killed Nia Owens, Dana Chisholm, and Ann Bourghesani?" Brown asks in her latest book, The Profiler.

Who, indeed?

Brown vowed to do something. It was a move that would define her ensuing career as a criminal profiler. "Dead women were turning up everywhere," she writes in The Profiler. "It's like when you're pregnant and suddenly you notice how many other women are pregnant." It was a seminal moment. While she might not have been able to bring the Kelley case to an immediate close, she could help investigators and families figure out who might have killed other women, plus help determine if any of those cases were related, suggesting a serial killer might be on the loose.

She printed photos of 15 murder victims -- all women -- from across the country. She laminated the photos and placed each above the word "unsolved," written in large letters. Next, she hung the photos in a booth she rented at an outdoor festival. Festival-goers were stunned at the display. They'd assumed cases they'd read about in newspapers and seen on TV news reports had been solved. "They never caught that killer either," one person commented, pointing to the photo of a woman in the display.

Eventually, Brown launched a nonprofit group and web site. She took every training course available and read some 400 books on the subject and subtopics. Then she began profiling criminals. When the D.C. sniper in 2002 shot at people and their vehicles, the news media found Brown through her site. The attention catapulted her into the public eye and onto the airwaves, and one mystery case led to another. Today, she travels across the country consulting, criminal profiling and commenting on cases.

The Profiler is the result of that work, looking at individual cases, the evidence and circumstances surrounding them, any similarities to other cases, as well as peculiarities of certain murders. With this book, which Brown calls purposeful, she not only wants to pass on what she's learned and details of the cases she's worked on; she's hoping to see national changes in use of profilers. Her concept would have police departments use criminal profilers as standard tools, either inside the departments or outside, for the homicides they investigate.

In addition, she wants to to see profilers involved early on in a homicide investigation, within the first 48 hours. "What I've learned over a decade and a half of profiling cases is that you cannot bring a criminal profiler in late in the game. The evidence is long gone.

"We have far too many unsolved crimes, we have too little justice, and we have too many killers on the streets repeating those crimes," says Brown, who also received a master's degree in criminal justice from Boston University in 2007. Her aim is for "criminal profilers to be trained, including police investigators. There are thousands and thousands of unsolved homicides across the country."

But with law enforcement funding tight, Brown is realistic and understands fulfillment of her goal will take time. Eventually, she believes, it will happen. "In the long run," Brown says, "It could help save a lot of lives."

The Profiler is available wherever books are sold. Or order it on


Dr. Richard Weinblatt said...

Excellent piece on how Criminal Profiler Pat Brown started and why she does what she does. As a former police chief who has investigated crimes, I have found her comments and approaches to be on target.

Dr. Richard Weinblatt

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