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Depraved Minds: How FBI profilers use serial killers to track their own kind

Inside the mind of a serial killer
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Posted at 10:33 PM, Feb 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-15 22:33:12-05

TAMPA, Fla. — To catch a killer, you have to think like a killer: that is one way of looking at how profilers identity and track down known serial killers and those who are just getting started.

Following the 30-year-anniversary of Ted Bundy’s execution in a Florida prison, an ABC News 20/20 special, and a recent Netflix documentary on Bundy, there is a renewed interest in the decades old case.

“The average homicide offender is slightly psychopathic but not nearly as a psychopath as somebody who is a serial killer,” Bryanna Fox said. Fox is a former FBI special agent and worked in The Behavioral Research and Instruction Unit that specialized in profiling serial killers.

“It’s gone from a very clinical type of profiling to today, we are doing much more statistical and scientific profiling,” Fox said. “We are collecting data from police departments; analyzing it and seeing if we can make statistical links between the types of crimes that are committed, and the traits of people that commit those crimes.”

During Bundy’s cross-country murder spree from Washington state to Florida, he was able to kill 30 women.

“The big thing about Bundy is he ushered in the era of the serial killer,” Fox said. “He was one of the 36 serial killers, mass murderers and rapists the FBI had talked to in order to try and gain insight on to what makes somebody commit these types of crimes.”

Fox said they learned a lot from Bundy and other serial killers in the 1970s and 1980s. The insight into how they kill is the basis for catching killers today.

“You’ll now know I’m looking for someone who is more organized, premeditated, socialized, fits in well with people or the opposite profile; someone who is chaotic, spontaneous, impulsive.”

Bundy was executed on Jan. 24, 1989. He didn’t admit to the killings until days before he was scheduled to for death.