Science & Tech

Predicting Criminal Behavior: The Anchorage Killer

John Douglas

Lesson time 12:28 min

In the case of Robert Hansen, we learn that he hunted his victims for sport in the Alaskan wilderness. John uses his interviews with Hansen to present the building blocks of criminal profiling, which can be summed up in three words: behavior reflects personality.

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Topics include: The Building Blocks of Criminal Profiling • Case Study: The Anchorage Killer • Profiling the Anchorage Killer • Getting a Confession • Profiling the Trailside Killer


[MUSIC PLAYING] DETECTIVE: When I say behavior reflects personality, it encompasses us in our everyday lives. Whether you're shopping in a shopping center, the behavior of the clerk that's checking you out, the person you may be dating, your husband. If you are reflecting a certain personality to me, if I was dealing with you and I see it long enough and I see it repetitive, I'll be able to predict your behavior eventually because you have fallen into a particular pattern. [MUSIC PLAYING] In this chapter, we explore the personality and behavior of a seemingly wholesome bakery owner who let his hidden dark side run wild. [MUSIC PLAYING] In my line of work, the crime is a reflection on that individual. What is unique and what is the behavior in this particular case? Is there something there that I may be able to now decipher and come up with an analysis or profile that will lead to who this unsub really is? I rely obviously heavily on information. The most important one is victimology. Who is this victim? Why is this person this victim? I have to know everything and everything about her or him. Is this victim a victim of opportunity? Was the victim in the wrong place at the wrong time? If it's an indoor case, it's different than an outdoor case. More of the indoor cases, oftentimes it's more personal. Someone may have intimate knowledge about this victim who you find in a house versus the victim who's found out in the field or along of a highway. Once you go from victimology, I just want to know, how did you-- police get involved in the case? Why did you get involved? What did you do? I don't want to know anything about any of your suspects in the case at all. I also want to see who conducted the forensic testing, the results of forensic testing. Did you get any evidence or not? And if you did get evidence, what kind of evidence did you collect? And what did you discern or your lab people discern from that evidence that you can pass on-- on to me. We then shift to demographics. We want to know the area where the crime took place or if the body was moved to a particular secondary area. Say, an abduction here and a homicide here. So we have to know, what's going on? What types of crimes are going around there? From that, my case, I would take it to a quiet, isolated area and start going through the material. And depending on the complexity of the case, I could probably have a pretty good idea before the day-- the day is out for the direction that that department should go in. [MUSIC PLAYING] The Anchorage case was interesting because police already had a good lead suspect, but were lacking evidence for a search warrant. The hope was that an FBI profile would bolster the case when they brought it up before a judge. We received a case from Alaska that they had a case involving a young sex worker who was abducted off the streets, taken to an individual's house where she was s...

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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