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Video: Housewife hunts serial killers and psychopaths

  1. Transcript of: Housewife hunts serial killers and psychopaths

    ANN CURRY, anchor: This morning, the story of how a housewife, the mother of three children,

    could become a criminal profile . Pat Brown in her latest book,

    "The Profiler: My Life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths," Pat Brown opens up about her case files. Thank you so much for joining us, Pat Brown . Good morning.

    Ms. PAT BROWN (Author, "The Profiler"): Good morning, Ann.

    CURRY: So tell us what happened, how this all worked. Because in 1990 here you are at home, you've got three kids, you're trying to make ends meet.

    Ms. BROWN: Right.

    CURRY: You know, you're a housewife.

    Ms. BROWN: Exactly.

    CURRY: How did this end up to be the beginning of the life you have now?

    Ms. BROWN: It wasn't the plan. I mean, I really had no clue that this was coming down the pike here. I had three children and I had a great life, I was a home-schooling mom and I did interpret at the hospital sign language, interpreting at nights, especially in the emergency room . And everything was going great, but I was in the profess of adopting my third child and they wouldn't let anybody live in my house who didn't have their fingerprints taken at the police station .

    CURRY: Mm.

    Ms. BROWN: And I used to have a lot of international students and they say -- well, you know -- and I 'm not -- I don't really think I'm going to do that. So I didn't have my rooms rented and that's how we made money for me to stay at home.

    CURRY: You had boarders.

    Ms. BROWN: I had boarders in the house. And it was -- always went well. And so one of my friends said, `Would you rent to this guy that I'm dating now? And I -- he just started working at my place of employment,' so I...

    CURRY: And what happened is something happened in your town.

    Ms. BROWN: Yeah. And he...

    CURRY: A young woman was...

    Ms. BROWN: ...he seemed like a nice guy and he was personable. And he did get fingerprinted and he came back clean. But four weeks later, a woman was jogging at dusk on the path near my house and she was brutally murdered...

    CURRY: Mm.

    Ms. BROWN: ...raped and murdered. And 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 walked that path from her house to my house.

    CURRY: How did you know that?

    Ms. BROWN: He told me. I actually asked him if he was on the path and he said, yes, he was. And he gave some bizarre explanation for why he left the path exactly at the point where this girl was murdered.

    CURRY: So what made you all of a sudden become suspicious?

    Ms. BROWN: Because he was really strange. I mean, within the four weeks he'd lived there I'm going, `There's something wrong with this guy.' He started telling us bizarre stories, he was lying all the time.

    CURRY: You gathered information.

    Ms. BROWN: Yeah.

    CURRY: Like what kind of information?

    Ms. BROWN: Well, eventually I got so concerned about this, I said, you know, I have to find if there's anything in his, you know, that's really kind of evidence, physical evidence. So when he went to work, I put on some gloves and I went into his room, which, by the way, was legal, some people say, `You can't do that.' Yes, you can legally when you rent in your own home. And I looked through everything in his room, I looked through his trash and I found that he'd thrown away his pants, brand-new pants, thrown away his shoes, brand-new -- threw away his shirt that was all shredded like the briar bushes got hold of it, you know, when he was there.

    CURRY: So you became suspicious and you went to the police.

    Ms. BROWN: Oh, very suspicious. And I went to the police with this information and I said, you know, `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.'

    CURRY: And this became for you kind of the launch point...

    Ms. BROWN: Yeah.

    CURRY: ...into this life where you have become a profiler of major cases. People bring you in...

    Ms. BROWN: Right. Right.

    CURRY: ..a lot of times the families themselves want someone to help them.

    Ms. BROWN: And I understand what's going on with these families because this is what happened to me. I really wasn't planning to do anything but -- `OK, here's the information. Bye . See you .' And then they didn't even bring the man in for an interview. And I thought how could -- how could you ignore this? So it took me six years and the case was reopened and the later investigator said, `How could they have ignored this?' I'm like, `Yeah, but it's been six years.' So when -- families are frustrated, I say to them, `Well, talk with the police department that you're working with, and if they're willing to have me come in, then I will come in.' And that's what I do, I go in...

    CURRY: So this is an -- this is an example of how you think the system is broken. I mean, you know...

    Ms. BROWN: Yeah.

    CURRY: ...you -- I know you talk about the BTK killer who sort of became notorious.

    Ms. BROWN: Thirty-one years later he was caught. But in-between the time that he started and the 31 years he was caught how many women died?

    CURRY: So what is the solution in terms of what you've seen, then, coming from where you've come to where you've gone now...

    Ms. BROWN: Yeah. Well...

    CURRY: ...what is going to fix the system?

    Ms. BROWN: Well, here's my idea; what I've found is that we have very, very dedicated detectives and police officers , absolutely they're working their butts off, they really are, but they have so many cases, they're overwhelmed, they don't get proper training a lot of times, they just go on the job and they're just kind of winging it until maybe they get a week here and a week there. So what happens is they don't have time to actually sit down, analyze these cases, do the crime scene analysis, profile them so that maybe they go in the right direction. So they're sort of guess-working it and just trying to get information and 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?

    CURRY: Mm.

    Ms. BROWN: So I'm trying to get profilers in in the first 24 to 48 hours or do the training for the detectives so I'm expanding training for detectives so they can do their own work. And what's what I hope, it'll just solve more cases and less people will get killed.

    CURRY: Pat Brown . On that note, Pat Brown on a mission.

    Ms. BROWN: I am.

TODAY contributor
updated 5/18/2010 1:36:17 PM ET 2010-05-18T17:36:17

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.

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.

Bizarre boarder
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.

The night of the murder, Brown’s friend had broken up with Williams. The boarder had been upset and came home along the same path the jogger had been on. He even told Brown of his route.

“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.

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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.”

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