The journey from stay-at-home mom to celebrated criminal profiler was both accidental and direct for Pat Brown. Today, she hunts cold-blooded serial killers with the same gusto she once applied to raising her three kids.
“I had no clue that this was coming down the pike. I had three children, and I had a great life. I was a home-schooling mom,” Brown told TODAY’s Ann Curry Tuesday in New York, where she was promoting her newest book, “The Profiler: My Life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths.”
It all started for Brown in 1990 with a gruesome murder and a bizarre boarder. The two, Brown remains convinced to this day, were not unrelated.
At the time, Brown and her husband had a son and a daughter, and were in the process of adopting another son.
- What Is Sled Hockey? Paralympic Star Taylor Lipsett Explains
- Richie Sambora on Ex Heather Locklear: 'She's Still Hot!'
- 'Yellow King Theory': Watch the Web's Funniest True Detective Parodies
- Teenage Matthew McConaughey 'Was Always the Cutest Guy'
- Which Oscars Star Took Home the Best Dressed Trophy This Week?
To make ends meet and allow Brown to be a stay-at-home mom, the family took in boarders. But when they went into the adoption process, everyone who stayed in the house had to be fingerprinted by local police in Maryland, where they lived. Brown said that a reluctance to be fingerprinted inspired the foreign-born college students who usually rented the rooms to move out.
A friend who knew Brown needed the rent money offered a solution. A man who had just started work at her company needed a place to stay. It would also help the friend, since she was dating the man.
“He seemed like a nice guy, personable,” Brown said of the man she identifies as Walt Williams.
But over the next four weeks, the man became increasingly strange. “I’m going, ‘There’s something wrong with this guy.’ He started telling us bizarre stories. He was lying all the time,” Brown said.
And then the nude body of a government intern who had gone jogging along a wooded path was found dead in a stream. The woman had been raped before being savagely murdered.
“This man had just been at the other end of the path and my friend had just broken up with him and he was very upset, and he had walked that path from her house to my house,” Brown said.
Brown was convinced her boarder was evil and suspected he was the murderer. She waited until he went to work and then went through his room.
She found that he’d thrown a new pair of pants and a pair of shoes in the trash. She also found a shirt that was cut and torn, as if someone had worn it through briars and brambles of the sort found along the path where the jogger was killed.
Where’s the evidence?
“I went to the police with this information, and I said, ‘I’m not saying he did this. I’m just saying he moved into town four weeks ago. He was walking that path. He has very bizarre behavior and here’s the information,’ ” Brown told Curry.
Video: Pat Brown: Teens’ killer is a psychopath And the police did nothing. Although they had no suspects, they didn’t question Williams or check any of the evidence Brown had gathered.
“It took me six years and the case was reopened, and another investigator looked at it and said, ‘How could they have ignored this?’ ” Brown said.
Although Williams would be named a suspect, he was never prosecuted. The problem, Brown said, is common in cases she revisits. Frequently, years have passed since the crimes, and even if she is able to construct a description of the likely killer, there is no evidence left to link anyone to the crime.
As a result, she said, even when she identifies a suspect, there frequently is no conviction.
Anatomies of murders
There is no licensing required to be a criminal profiler, nor are there qualifications for the job. Basically, you’re a profiler if you say you are.
In Brown’s case, she hung out her shingle and then got a master’s degree in criminal justice. She has developed her own five-course certificate program on profiling, in which she teaches others how to build a picture of a killer that can help police and detectives solve crimes.
It’s not a skill taught in police academies, she told Curry.
Video: Profiler: Letters reveal Casey Anthony’s twisted mind “What I have found is we have very, very dedicated detectives and police officers absolutely working their butts off,” Brown said. “But they have so many cases, they’re overwhelmed. They don’t get proper training much of the time. They don’t have time to actually sit down and analyze these cases, do the crime-scene analysis, profile them, so that maybe they go in the right direction. Then the case doesn’t get solved. Then they bring me in five years later, and I profile it and they go, ‘Wow, we didn’t see that, but now, where’s the evidence?’ ”
Brown wants to not only teach investigators how to develop profiles of killers, but also to get profilers involved in tough cases as a first resort rather than a last one.
“I’m trying to get profilers in the first 24 to 48 hours or do the training for the detectives so they can do their own work,” she said. “That’s what I hope for, to solve more cases, and less people will get killed.”
© 2013 NBCNews.com Reprints