Who discovered the serial killers? Serial killers have existed practically since civilization exists, this may sound drastic but it is so, the oldest documented cases date from the time of the Roman Empire, even though the popular belief is that this criminal behavior began with Jack the Ripper, It is true that no, they are much, much older. However, who realized what this type of criminal existed and what in reality they were more frequent than one might think, the answer is that in reality, it was 2 men who discovered that this type of criminal existed as such and they gave shape to the investigation, their names: John E. Douglas and Robert K. Ressler, both, of course, special agents of the FBI, specifically the Behavioral Sciences Unit.
And it is precisely about these two special agents that the new Netflix series “Mindhunter” is about, is not a biopic, at least not in the strict sense, it is not a series about their lives, but the series is based on the book «Mindhunter» written by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. At the end of the 70s these two special agents -Ressler and Douglas- realized that they had in front of them a new type of criminal, a criminal who murdered for no apparent reason, had no connection to the victims, and who also apparently chose them. Randomly, they decided to tour the prisons of the United States interviewing the most ruthless murderers in the country, something that initially provoked great opposition within the FBI and therefore had limited resources.
For 5 years they toured prisons to interview how many multiple murderers they could find, but they also interviewed psychologists, teachers, academics, and all those who could give them guidance on the subject, and it was no small thing, during these years they investigated the cases of Ted Bundy, Dennis L. Rader «BTK», Gary Ridgway «The Green River killer» and the murders of children in Atlanta. Besides, during their visits to the prisons, they interviewed and analyzed: David Berkowitz «The son of Sam», John Wayne Gacy «Pogo the killer clown», Charles Manson, Ed Kemper, and many more, being in total more than 30 murderers to the that they interviewed and analyzed.
These investigations yielded their fruits, enormous fruits, so much so that as a result of the work of Douglas and Ressler the term «serial killer» was coined, which would become immensely popular in the 90s (The creation of the term is usually attributed to Ressler, however, the film critic Siegfried Kracauer had already used it in 1961 in a criticism of the German film «M»), but this is the least of it, thanks to his efforts in 1984 the NCAVC (National Center for Analysis of Violent Crimes the acronyms correspond to the name in English) and a year later they achieved the creation of the VICAP (Violent Criminals Apprehension Program, the acronym corresponds to the name in English), in addition to that, of course, it opened the eyes to the criminal investigation about of this dangerous type of assassin, along with many more achievements.
The Ressler and Douglas investigation attempted to answer two questions, Are criminals born or made? And is there a method in the madness? In the beginning, they only had one thing clear, you cannot know madness if you are not willing to face -and interview- with madmen, you cannot light up the darkness if you are not willing to walk in the dark for a while.
Those who expect from «Mindhunter» a police series, with bullets flying and guys running while shooting, skidding on cars, and showing their license plate even at traffic lights will be very disappointed. Serial killers and of course understanding the subject a little better will end up in love with this great series, and if you doubt that this is the case, I will only tell you that David Fincher (Se7en, Zodiac, etc) directs four of the ten episodes of the series.
Thomas Harris was inspired by John E. Douglas to create the character of space agent Jack Crawford in his series of novels about Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
The creators of the series Criminal Minds also confessed that the characters of the «profilers» Jason Gideon and David Rossi were created based on John E. Douglas.
MINDHUNTER premiered on October 13 on Netflix