Pete Klismet is well-known here at DCC. He wrote guest posts about preventing school shootings and psycho-linguistics and I reviewed two other books from him: FBI Diary Home Grown Terror and FBI Animal House. This one, Profiles of Evil, is the best.
The reason why I think that this is his best book is simple: you see how Pete evolves in time. Not just in his career decisions, in his personal life, etc. It is in his thinking and approach of cases. That is most fascinating.
The book covers a lot of territory and of course, you need to explore that for yourself. But here are some highlights.
Pete Klismet describes in this book the formation of the FBI that started with just twelve Secret Service Agents who formed the Bureau of Investigations (BOI). Their initial focus was prostitution. However, it soon expanded into the Federal Bureau of Investigations as we know it today. Contrary to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which has no law enforcement authority and is focused on intelligence collection abroad, the FBI is primarily a domestic agency.
The past few days I have been updating you on the murder trial for Michelle Marie Martinko who was murdered on Dec 20, 1979, in Cedar rapids, Iowa. Guess who worked there too? During the trial, it was mentioned that the Cedar rapids Police Department suffered from the flood that happened in the summer of 2008. It affected some evidence pieces. Pete Klismet describes exactly that flood in his book in Chapter two. The “Five hundred year flood” affected a huge part of Cedar Rapids. Klismet describes it as a “completely unexpected natural disaster of epic proportions” like Hurricane Katrina minus the death tools.
Behavioral Science Unit (BSU)
The BSU in Quantico, Virginia was formed as a reaction to the rise in sexual assaults and homicides in the 1970s. Pete Klismet describes how the psychological profiling program started. He was one of the first to attend the training schools. Law enforcement and criminology went through various stages. It started with Scotland Yard. Using clues and evidence, they focused on solving cases and convicting criminals. The second stage became the analysis of crime frequency, what caused crime in certain areas (and not or less in other areas), and how predictable was crime (slowly moving towards crime prevention). The third stage runs parallel to stages one and two: understanding the criminal mind.
Klismet describes in many instances how much effort it took to convince police officers that profiling was not about crystal balls and magic tea leaves. There was no instant answer and yes, all information would be send back to Quantico first for evaluation and official assessment. But when the report came back and was compared later on in these cases with the real killer, they were spot-on.
Throughout the book we follow of course the cases from Klismet’s career. However, we also learn about the cases that were part of his first two weeks in-service training. We meet Ed Gein, Harvey Glatman, John Linley Frazier, Herbert Mullin, and Edmund Kemper. He also explores the Atlanta Child Killings and Robert Hansen.
Some elements these men all had in common is that somehow they succeeded to instill immediate trust in people, to make them feel at ease, and they hid among us in plain sight. They were not crazy. They knew exactly what they are doing and why.
The way they execute their plans can differ per personality:
- organized (planning of before/during/after, comes prepared to the scene, carries the murder weapon with them, has checked escape routes, etc) or
- disorganized (more spontaneous, kills more on impulse, likely to use an item from the scene as murder weapon, less planning, may commit the murder while another crime was the first objective, etc).
The murderer spectrum
- mass killers: they murder four of more people at the same time, at the same place, without a period to cool off. This is one event.
- spree killers: the murders occur of a short period of time on several locations in geographical proximity. This is one event but stretched over an area without a cooling off period. The number of victims can differ without affecting the definition.
- serial killers: they murder three or more people over a period of time with a cooling off period in between those killings. The cooling off period can be days, weeks, even years. The urge to kill again comes when the power to relive is less strong. This time period differs per individual. All murders are separate events.
Pete described what he learned in profiling boot camp about rape. “Rape is not a sex crime so much as a crime of three things. First is power, which is directly connected with control. Second is anger. Third would be sadistic need. Sex is a secondary issues.” There are several types of rapists: power reassurance rapists, power assertive rapists, anger retaliatory rapists, anger excitation rapists, and opportunity rapists. Chapter 19 delves into this.
One of the best examples of profiling and how the case unfolds is the comparison of the murders of Johnny Gosch (14), Danny Joe Eberle (13) who both vanished during their morning paper routes, and Christopher Walden (12) who vanished while walking to school. You need to read the investigation notes and the profiling for yourself. You will see old school versus new school thinking, reluctance to wait for results, pressure to solve the case, and equally important, the inexperience of some of the police departments when they are suddenly faced with a complex murder case.
During Klismet’s first in-service training on profiling he was also introduced to the band-new Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP). The plan was to put into one enormous database all available information about unsolved sexual assaults on both children and adults. After that they’d do the same but with missing persons. How many were the victim of serial killers? How many were somewhere as an unidentified? And what about remains that had been dismembered to avoid detection? In Pete’s book, we read that at the time he wrote this in 2013, there were about 7000 unsolved cases every year. Cross-referencing was needed.
The traditional who, what, where, when, and how are important but if that still doesn’t solve the case, add why. Why this victim, why in this manner, why here, why murdered with that item? By brainstorming about these elements you further the investigation.
And adding the why element played out in the last case that Pete Klismet discusses in this book. It is a heart wrenching story of an older woman, rape-murdered, of six people falsely confessing, of brutal and suggestive interrogation techniques, repressed memories, and of not applying logic. Pete studied the file, made the profile, and was ignored.
Four years after Helen Loretta Jones Wilson was murdered, six people had confessed and were in jail. None of them rape-killed Helen. Amongst them, they spend decades behind bars. Between them, their wrongful conviction settlements totaled $28mio.
The rape-murder does eventually get solved. It isn’t a cold case however, it could have easily been. The case is known as the Beatrice Six.
From the Lincoln Journal Star: Helen Loretta Jones Wilson (July 13, 1916 – February 6, 1985) “was on her back, wearing a blue nightgown, stockings, a watch, a mother’s ring and her wedding band. A washcloth covered her face. Underneath it, an afghan was tied around her head so tightly it smashed her nose to the side.
Helen Wilson had been raped and suffocated, her hands bound. She had been discovered by her sister, who lived in the same apartment building. Her sister’s husband called 911.”
Her husband was Raymond Lathal Wilson (Jan 8, 1912 – Oct 23, 1966). In this series, you can read more about the family.
This case is most likely the one that will stick in Pete’s memory forever and yes, I probably could have added more information. However, I want you to read the railroading yourself. Find out if you can follow the investigators’ train of thought in coming up with more suspects than could have fitted in the apartment. See if you can find out what type of suspects we eventually had in court. And then, at the end, remember Helen Loretta Jones Wilson.
The book is very-well written, sets a good pace, the chapter lengths are good, and the font is eye-friendly. There is no index. I would have liked to see a list of all the cases covered in the book for further research possibilities.
I have covered a lot in this book review and despite that there is still so much more to read. That’s another reason why this is my favorite Klismet book: there’s much more to being an FBI agent than you think.
If you are interested in law enforcement or the work of an FBI agent, profiling, and reading how those profilers put together their findings and reports, this is your book. Highly recommended reading!
Peter Klismet served his country with two tours in Vietnam on submarines. Following military service, he earned a college degree, and then worked for the Ventura Police Department in Southern California. While there, he attended graduate school, earning two master’s degrees. He was offered and accepted an appointment as a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In a twenty-year career with the FBI, the author was highly-decorated, served with distinction in three field offices, and received many awards and recognition from the FBI.
Pete was selected to be one of the original ‘profilers’ for the FBI, perhaps the FBI’s most famed unit. Before his retirement, he was named the National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.
Following his retirement, he accepted a position as an Associate Professor and Department Chair of a college Criminal Justice program. Having now retired from academia, Pete and his wife Nancy live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Picture of Helen Wilson was uploaded to Find A Grave by S.M.S. Picture of the Wilsons’ grave by Robert Becker/Lincoln Journal Star. The Collage/Grid was made by me (AdS). Author picture used with permission.
Together with Dr. Clarissa Cole, Pete wrote a new textbook “Profiling Violent Crime, A Behavioral and Forensic Approach” (First Edition) that is available now. The book is a unique collaboration between a former FBI profiler and a senior forensic psychologist who supervises violence-risk assessments for Parole Board hearings.
I received a copy of the book “Profiles of Evil” from the author in exchange for an honest review. My other book reviews are here.