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John Douglas lives somewhere in the Northern Virginia area, but he doesn’t like to state exactly where: There are a lot of people who would like to talk to the author and former FBI serial-killer profiler. “I got a call last night from Australia,” Douglas offers. “There is a serial killer in Perth. The subject is picking up women as they leave pubs. The last anyone sees of them they are hailing a taxicab.” There have been three victims to date, and although so far only one has been found murdered, “we assume the other two have been murdered as well. The father of one of the victims called me.” He’s hoping that she’s still alive, but “the probability is that she’s been murdered.”

Interviewing Douglas takes persistence. His publisher required a letter from a Washington City Paper editor stating that I was writing a story about Douglas before I could be given his phone number. I’d never had this particular request before, and when I asked why such measures were necessary, the woman on the phone said, “We get a lot of crazies trying to reach him.” “Like the serial killers?” I asked. “Yep. They try to contact him all the time.” My editor generously added a line to his letter stating that to the best of his knowledge I was not a serial killer.

The man who was, according to the jacket of his 1995 book Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, “the model for Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs” does need some respite from the gruesome things he deals with day to day, which he seeks in a tranquil home life. The precise whereabouts of Douglas’ domicile may be vague, but the father of three does allow, “I live in a nice community near a river.” But Douglas laughs when he mentions that he’s “probably driven [my family] crazy over the years, doing the work that I do. I go out with them to a shopping center, and I point out potential problems.”

His newest book, Journey Into Darkness, finds Douglas profiling pedophiles. The work includes a number of things parents can do to educate their children about crime and lists ways for them to keep their kids safe. Douglas adds, “There is also a heavy emphasis on victims, whether children or women, and how the justice system treats offenders. I think they treat them way too well.”—Karyn-Siobhan Robinson