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Chasing the Dragon

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Chasing the Dragon

The Academy Group, Inc. (AGI) was founded by Dr. Roger L. Depue, former Chief of the FBI's famed Behavioral Science Unit at the FBI National Academy, Quantico, Virginia.

AGI's staff of former career law enforcement professionals use their combined 300 years of experience to assist Fortune 500 corporations, public institutions, individuals and law enforcement agencies in solving many types of cases.

AGI is the model for the "Millennium Group" in Chris Carter's television show "Millennium".

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Roger L. Depue, Ph.D.

President & Founder

[Former FBI (21 years) Supervisory Special Agent, Chief of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit (Pioneer), FBI Academy. Administrator of the FBI's National Center for Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC)]

In June of 1974, I was assigned to the FBI Academy at the FBI Behavioral Science Unit. So that's where my career began as far as the Behavioral Science Unit is concerned. I worked there as an agent, instructor and researcher until about 1979. In 1980, I was promoted I was promoted to the Chief of Behavioral Sciences and worked there until my retirement in 1989. I said, "I don't see anything that's like this in the private sector. I don't see anything for private security or industrial security officers. I don't see anything for law firms." Now, they have this thing called forensic psychology, but we're not talking about that. We became very proficient at looking at crime scenes and interpreting them and drawing out of them personality characteristics and descriptive characteristics of the killer.

Robert L. Hazelwood, M.S.:

The Academy Group is actually a group of retired FBI and other law enforcement agents from a variety of agencies. And basically we're a forensic behavioral science unit.

Michael R. Napier, B.S.E.

[Former FBI (27 yrs) Supervisory Special Agent, field office program manager and violent crime assessor with the FBI's NCAVC.]

One of the things that is unique about the Academy Group is that we came from a research perspective based on how law enforcement can use the product. There is a law enforcement culture, a way of thinking and way of doing things. And so we've adapted that material to the corporate world.

Peter A. Smerick, M.Ed.:

For a while, in the Behavioral Science Unit, I was the program manager of the threat assessment Statement Analysis Unit. And at the same time, I taught the other guys how to analyze statements from a forensic-stylistic point of view.

Larry E. McCann:

[Former Virginia State Police (26 yrs) Senior Special Agent. Founder of the Virginia State Police Behavioral Sciences section of the Violent Crime Investigative Unit. Graduate FBI Police Fellowship Program.]

Letters that come into corporations, telephone calls, emails that come in. So we look at the threats to determine is it a threat, what is the nature of the threat, what are we going to do about this, how can we help the corporation deal with this situation, and number four, hey, who wrote this, who composed this? Who is inside the corporation or outside the corporation that is so angry that they would do such a thing.

Peter A. Smerick

[Former FBI (24 yrs) Supervisory Special Agent for the FBI's National Centre for Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC). FBI laboratory examiner of questioned documents and photographic evidence; FBI Academy Forensic Science Instructor.]

So that was, to a certain extent, my specialty. But in reality, when you were assigned to the Investigator Support Unit as a profiler, you were not specialized at that time in any one area exclusively. You had the responsibility of doing it all.

Richard L. Ault, Jr. Ph.D.

[Former FBI (24 yrs) Supervisory Special Agent, former Deputy Chief of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit, FBI Academy.]

In the unit, I was always the cleanup man. I always handled a broad variety of cases. But my avocation, my real love, was in the mind games that go with what I call indirect assessment in foreign counterintelligence cases and back then, of course, in the domestic and international terrorist cases.

Robert L. Hazelwood

[Former FBI (22 yrs) Supervisory Special Agent, FBI's Academy Behavioral Science Unit, FBI Academy. Nationally recognized violent crime expert.]

I work a variety of types of cases but my specialty, if you would call it that, would be sexual violence. I've done a lot of research on sexual violence, interviewing offenders, talking to victims and testifying in court.

Michael R. Napier:

My particular area of expertise is in the area of sexual violence, and my area of specialization is interviewing and interrogating suspects, but also interviewing witnesses and victims.

R. Stephen Mardigian:

[Former FBI (31 yrs) Supervisory Special Agent, regional field office program manager, violent crime assessor and administrator with the FBI's NCAVC.]

I work with corporations dealing with workplace violence issues, behavioral problems in the workplace, termination or separation strategies when someone has to be released for cause. I also continue to work with local law enforcement in a program we call C-Cap, the Cold Case Analysis Program, where we still help local law enforcement deal with unsolved cases.

Martin Rehburg

Vice President & COO

If there is an enquiry or a problem, the access is that you can't just pick up a phone and get one guy, because you need to screen it out and figure out exactly what the need is and what needs to be done. We've harnessed the very best in this industry I think, in terms of what we're able to accomplish. They're the who's who of law enforcement. These are the guys.

Robert L. Hazelwood:

By the way, just for your information, my wife is the one who named the Academy Group. We had debated for a number of meetings what to call ourselves. My wife said to me one day, "What's the big debate. You're all from the FBI Academy, why don't you just call yourselves the Academy Group?" And I brought that up at the meeting. Everyone thought that was a very good idea. The Red Dragon is our logo. It comes from Thomas Harris' first book about the Behavioral Science Unit called The Red Dragon, which was recently made into a film.

[The first film made from the book was Michael Mann's Manhunter, in 1986.]

Forensic Behavioral Science

Michael R. Napier:

Behavioral science refers to the methodical research into and understanding of behavior.

Richard L. Ault:

What we do, the analysis is not based on magic, it's based on observation of human behavior.

Larry E. McCann:

Everything you do in your life is a reflection of who you are. So if you've left physical evidence at a crime scene, you've also left a reflection there of who you are.

Michael R. Napier:

Behavior comes from thought, which takes us into the mind of the criminal. The thought always precedes the deed. You'll look at a crime that looks totally spontaneous and it's not. The person who did it has had those thoughts many, many times before, sometimes developed very elaborately in fantasy.

Roger L. Depue:

The fantasy is very important. Many times in a crime scene, you can see the fantasy. Many times these people with intense fantasies would draw victimizations – a woman hanging, and things like that. You go into the prisons and you do that search where you're looking for contraband, and you'll find all kinds of drawings where the fantasy is still alive, and they're remembering, and they're drawing these pictures. I've coined a term called "leakage", which basically says that your fantasy will leak out of you. If I'm around you long enough and we have conversations, I will be able to see the things that you feel intensely about because that's what drives us, that's what's important.

Profiling

Larry E. McCann:

Criminal investigative analysis, psychological profiling, criminal profiling, whatever you want to call it, it's not magic.

Peter A. Smerick:

It's an analysis of the facts of a case, so it's fact-driven, number one.

Michael R. Napier:

But then it's also getting inside the mind of the offender because he controls all the scenarios, he determines when he is going to strike and who he's going to select as a victim, what he's going to do. And when you look at a crime scene you can almost sometimes know the words that he spoke to the victim and see the interplay, the resulting behavior on her part, and then the mixing of their behaviors.

Peter A. Smerick:

Profiling is not a science. It's more of an art form, as far as I'm concerned.

Roger L. Depue:

It's basically a step-by-step process and we use these words to discuss it. First of all, what exists? What is the crime scene? That's the question of what. What do you have to examine? What is there? Now you have not only the crime scene itself and all the crime scene photographs, but you have the autopsy report and the autopsy photographs, the pathologist's opinion. You have the toxicology reports, all the forensic examinations and reports. You have the interviews of the witnesses and all of that kind of thing. And from there you move to, how did this crime scene come to be this way? What we're talking about here is the reconstruction – looking at the crime scene and working backwards and working forwards, and saying this is how the perpetrator arrived at the scene. This is where the confrontation took place, this is how the fight ensued. This is how he took her down. This is how he dragged her into the living room. This is how he finally killed her. This is where the sexual assault took place. This is what he did with the weapon. This is how he left and if you have an aerial photograph you might be able to say where he came from and where he went to. After you do what and how, then you're ready to start talking about motive. You start saying, why did he do it, what was his motive, what was his fantasy. So you begin to see emotions and you begin to be able to say, he stabbed her 40 times, this is overkill. We see rage, we see other kinds of things. If we want to extrapolate that onto a person, though, we might say, here's a person who has trouble in his daily life, controlling his emotions. If he gets very angry, he may lose it from time to time. That's valuable if you can go into a community and say those kinds of things. From why, you then move to who. Then you begin to paint the picture of the person. You say, this is what I've looked at, this is how I reconstruct it, this is the motive and the fantasy, this is why he did what he did. That means he is this kind of person. So then you begin to draw that. And then I like to add one more thing, and that's where. Where is he? So you might be able to say some things then about where he's likely to be. Did he walk to the scene or did he drive to the scene? Did he show familiarity with the area? Did he study the victim, was it a targeted victim or was it a victim of opportunity?

R. Stephen Mardigian:

The objective, of course, is to help narrow the focus of the police's effort into a smaller suspect population in the hopes to identify the offender quicker.

Peter A. Smerick:

But understand that even as profilers we have been wrong. Because we have, in fact, misinterpreted the information that we're seeing at that crime scene.

Larry E. McCann:

No, we're not psychic. Some of the guys have crystal balls I see on their desks but in a joking manner they are displayed.

Pretenders

Richard L. Ault:

Profiling has a lot of imitators. A lot of what I would call cheap imitations.

Robert L. Hazelwood:

Well, we spend a lot of time training and gathering experience and conducting research through out interviews in order to be prepared as criminal profilers. But you have a lot of people who spend a day or two on a course or have read all the articles and say, "Well, I can do that. That's no big deal."

Richard L. Ault:

There are some out there who have even written books that are just based on a very shallow level of experience.

R. Stephen Mardigian:

Unfortunately, they misrepresent what this process really is.

Peter A. Smerick:

Profiling can not be learned by reading the books. It can not be learned by taking college courses or courses over the internet. From my own biased perspective, the only way you can learn how to "profile" a case is by becoming an investigator.

Robert L. Hazelwood:

For example, during the sniper shootings, they called us over 150 times, "they" being the media throughout the United States. We refused to comment on the sniper shootings. Why? Because we felt, we told the media "We will talk to you if you get permission from the investigative agency in charge." And of course, they can't do that. Because we feel we could harm the investigation, we may harm the survivors, by something we say. We may alert the bad people to what might be helpful information to them. So we declined.

Michael R. Napier:

You will find there's people who are willing to put their name on the TV screen, claim to be a profiler and put out all kinds of insights about these people, will never have had access to any crime scene that they're talking about. They will never have had access to law enforcement personnel. They will never have seen an autopsy. They will never have seen any of the physical or laboratory evidence. And so basically, they're firing blanks.

Robert L. Hazelwood:

If the networks declare a person to be a profiler, they're a profiler. Simple as that.

Evil

Richard L. Ault:

I have a certain basic belief in the depravity of mankind, and I've never been disappointed.

R. Stephen Mardigian:

When you deal with the nature of the problems that we deal with and the violence that we've seen, there is no question that evil exists in society. It never ceases to amaze me the things that a man can do to his fellow man.

Michael R. Napier:

There are some people who are best described as evil. They are evil in the sense that their core being is dead. They have no appreciation for the agony and suffering that they cause people to go through. Their deviant thinking, their deviant planning, their deviant behaviors, is just not adequately addressed through any other terms other than they are evil.

Larry E. McCann:

I believe that there are some people out here that are just no-good, rotten SOBs, and that's the bottom line.

Robert L. Hazelwood:

I don't think we've ever really been able to explain it to everybody's satisfaction. And I'll be honest with you, I don't think we ever will be able. In fact, there is a forensic research project under way in an attempt to quantify evil for the courts.

Peter A. Smerick:

As far as pure evil goes, you have to look at guys like any of the serial killers who are operating out there, individuals who are willing to snuff out the life of another individual, to put their hands around the throat of a young girl and see the life go out of their eyes. To me, that's pure evil. That's pure evil.

This Job Can Hurt You

Roger L. Depue:

I don't think anybody could say that the job doesn't affect them, that it doesn't change them. It does, in fact, change you. It does make you much more careful, much more of a pain in the ass to your children.

Peter A. Smerick:

When you get into the profiling unit, you're now seeing the worst of the worst. And when you're trying to walk inside the shoes of both the victim and the offender, to understand why something went down, you have a tendency of becoming a little more paranoid. And you have a tendency of wanting the circle the wagons around your family. And the one thing that was hardest for me is having a teenaged daughter and knowing that there were so many different types of predators out there.

Roger L. Depue:

You get angry in church when a little girl comes out of the pew and go down and you know she's going to the bathroom and she's going alone. You know, you just get angry and you watch her. You watch other people and see if they're looking at her. So it does in fact change your life, no doubt about it.

Larry E. McCann:

The way I deal with this kind of thing is I draw a very bright line between work and home.

Robert L. Hazelwood:

My life consists of religious beliefs and family and grandkids and neighbors and schools and friends. This is my job, and so I try to keep those two things separate. I think that's very, very important.

Roger L. Depue:

I've always enjoyed exercise and working out, running, to clear your mind. That kind of thing has been good for me.

Michael R. Napier:

When you delve into violence and see the human toll, sometimes the human carnage, of what one person does to another, if you are going to survive intact, not only physically but psychologically, it's necessary to find a way to compartmentalize what you're immersed in. It's like walking in toxic waste. You better not have hip waders, but you'd better have shoulder waders so that toxic waste doesn't eat into you, or it will eat you alive, literally.

Peter A. Smerick:

On one hand, you're supposed to walk in the shoes of the offender. On the other hand, you're supposed to maintain your objectivity. Maybe it's because of being in Vietnam, I don't know, I mean, I've certainly seen my share of death and mayhem in my life. Perhaps I've grown a shell where I'm able to do this type of work, and yet not have it get to the point where it has destroyed me.

Roger L. Depue:

When I was chief of the Behavioral Science Unit, I used to say to my agents, "You want to do some research at home?" It violated the Bureau rules, I could have been in trouble. You're supposed to come in and sign in every morning. These people … I had some creative geniuses. If they wanted to spend a couple of days at home, do it, because when they come back they're recharged. In this kind of work, you need to have all your energies focused. I always used to say to someone when they came to work for us, and I still do now – I just interviewed a young woman – I used to say, "This job can hurt you. You're going to see things that you've probably never seen before, and it can hurt you."

Rewards

R. Stephen Mardigian:

Our objective is to identify the criminal and remove them from society and make society better. And when we're successful at that, that's where the satisfaction comes back to you. It works both ways, not only catching the bad guy – but I was fortunate to be involved in a case where we actually were able to help have a man released from jail because he wasn't involved in a series of homicides. The truth is what we look for, and when you find that mistakes have been made and you're in a position to help be involved in correcting that, it's a real accomplishment.

Larry E. McCann:

There are so many nice people in the world and the number of nice people in the world, the number of wholesome people in the world, far outweigh the number of slimeballs. So I'm not particularly worried. I'm not foolhardy, but yet I'm not particularly worried about the bad guys, so to speak, because there are so many good guys out here.

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