Science & Tech

Lifesaving Lessons: Larry Gene Bell

John Douglas

Lesson time 16:51 min

Some cases cut to John’s core—such as the abduction of Shari Faye Smith by Larry Gene Bell. As horrifying as this case was, it provided John an opportunity to develop concrete, lifesaving lessons for everyday life.

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Topics include: Case Study: Shari Faye Smith • Understanding Organized vs. Disorganized Criminals • Catching the Killler • Tools to Avoid Becoming a Victim


[TENSE MUSIC] - Some cases that you work will definitely get to you, particularly when it involves children and families. [PIANO MUSIC] I would take my daughters to ballet. They were each involved in dancing. And I remember going to a shopping center. And there'd be young girls dancing. I'm not looking at the dancers. I'm always curious of who is watching these young kids on stage and if I can pick up anything from the way they're looking. I'd reach a point with them that sometimes I would spot someone. And then I'd look at my daughters. And they said, we know, Dad. We see him over there. We know exactly who you're talking about. Yeah, we hear the statement sometimes, "every family's nightmare." And this particular case that I'm going to be discussing next is one that really did get to me. [DAUNTING MUSIC] We're now going to do a case of the victim Shari Faye Smith. And what we hope is that from this case, you'll learn how not to be a potential victim of a violent crime. [INQUISITIVE MUSIC] It was May 31, 1985. It was a Friday. Shari Faye Smith is going to be graduating from high school on Sunday. She has a beautiful voice. And she'll be singing the National Anthem at her graduation. So here is Friday. She's with her boyfriend. They stop off at a shopping center. And we believe at that shopping center is where some person, the unsub here, spots them. And they were probably kissing. In fact, we through the interview of the boy they were kissing there. They split up. She starts heading home. And she stops at her mailbox to check on the mail, something she does all the time. The house sits back about 100 yards from the mailbox. In the front room of the house, the father, Bob Smith, who we got to know very, very well in this case, is looking out the window. And he sees Shari. He leaves the room. He comes back. The car is still there. He then goes down to the mailbox. She's gone. He thought maybe she walked away or went into the woods for something. The mail is on the ground. The mailbox is open. The car is running. And the door is open. And on the front seat of the passenger side is her purse, is on that front seat. She is gone. What's the motive? No one knows at this particular time. And the local police get involved. The FBI gets involved as far as a local kidnapping case. And we're not contacted yet at Quantico. Shortly after the abduction of Shari Faye Smith, the kidnapper started calling the family, which was really a shock to us. And the reason for this is he's telling the family, have you received a letter yet? I sent you a letter. The letter in question is essentially a last will and testament the kidnapper had Shari write. She is basically saying goodbye. She's saying goodbye to her mommy, her daddy, her boyfriend, her brother, telling them I love you all. Please, Dad, don't be mad at me. I think she used a curse...

About the Instructor

Netflix’s “Mindhunter” was inspired by the FBI’s first criminal profiler, John Douglas. As chief of the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, he conducted groundbreaking interviews with notorious criminals such as Charles Manson and Ed Kemper, changing interrogative tactics forever. On MasterClass, he teaches you to use his methods in everyday life, unlocking your intuition to read people's motives.

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John Douglas

Legendary Special Agent John Douglas teaches how criminal profiling methods can help you predict people’s motives to benefit your everyday life.

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