Mastermind: To Think Like a Killer (2024) s01e03 Episode Script

To Defend a Killer

Police are hunting a
mass murderer believed
to have killed as many
as 21 prostitutes.
Police have been trying to find
a man they call the
Green River Killer.
We knew that we, at that time, had
a serial murderer on our hands.
In the late '80s, there was
a new breed of serial killer.
It wasn't until last March
that investigators
began linking the cases
as the so-called
Happy Face Killer.
These were killers that
were more sophisticated.
They were contacting the media.
The man who calls
himself the BTK Killer
Letters claiming responsibility
were sent by a man who
referred to himself
by the initials BTK.
We were looking at
males and females
that might be
murdered, and children.
They're not killing
for the same reasons
that the early serial
killers that we studied were.
Behavioral Science, Ressler.
The word got out that
we were doing profiling.
We were just
besieged with cases.
Approximately 300-a-year profile
requests are coming in now.
They are coming in faster
than we really can manage it.
We were somewhat limited 'cause
we didn't have a lot of profilers.
A string of disappearances,
rapes, and murders
Cases weren't being looked at.
They were just being
put on a shelf.
It's so dangerous. I mean, these
are people that are killing.
We should be doing a better job.
In the late '80s,
one of the things
that the team realized
was that, to a degree, they had
built profiling for themselves.
Dr. Burgess wanted
to advance profiling
so that it could be this tool
that was really applicable
to law enforcement as a whole.
European attendees asking
for additional information
We wanted to train law
enforcement to use this tool.
We had to publish.
With Ann's input, I can see a
publication taking place here
that would be used within
law enforcement circles.
I hoped this research
would make a difference.
The obsessions, the fantasies.
I would not allow myself to
walk into even a potential trap.
I keep craving something
which is harder and harder.
The organized, disorganized
Two separate personality types.
Somebody wants
somebody bad enough,
it's nearly impossible
to prevent it.
To try to chunk down
that whole process
by studying the people
that are doing it.
The classification based on
what they did at the scene,
more likely to live alone, live
near the scene of the crime.
You're dealing with a guy who is
not your introverted, weird loner.
A good number of
these individuals are
in the bright, very
superior group.
All of that material
was published
in an academic book
called Sexual Homicide.
For me and for the
whole team, it was huge.
Huge breakthrough.
We're teaching in courses
all over the country,
information that has come
from our efforts thus far.
The program started
to really expand.
There are now 29 known victims
of the Green River Killer.
The local police turned
to a special FBI unit
for help with the case
FBI was notoriously
a one-way street.
We don't give you anything.
And then the Behavioral
Science Unit comes along,
and all of a sudden they're
not only gathering information,
but they're coming back to
you to help solve crimes.
We have used the
Behavioral Sciences Unit
that the FBI has established
at Quantico, Virginia.
It's really a teamwork,
but profiling has become
a key tool for law enforcement.
The information helped law
enforcement investigate
these crimes and catch killers.
Authorities arrested
59-year-old Dennis Rader
for BTK's eight murders.
The arrest of one
of the country's
most prolific serial killers.
Keith Jesperson says he wants
to make a full
confession for his crimes
as the so-called
Happy Face Killer.
Green River Killer
Gary Ridgway confessed
to killing 48 women.
I think there's
not any doubt, uh,
that there probably
would've been more.
So, good work by
all these agencies.
For the first time, we
had a profiler working
in almost every state,
and we were clearing more
cases than we ever had before.
Robert Ressler has made a career
out of tracking and apprehending
some of our nation's most
violent serial killers.
He was a consultant on the book
which was the basis for the
movie Silence of the Lambs.
What I wanted to ask you
about first was the movie.
- Did you like it?
- I thought it was a tremendous movie.
In the movie, Douglas was
played by actor Scott Glenn.
- Good morning.
- Morning, Mr. Crawford.
Douglas and Ressler were
quick to write their books,
and they were quick
to consult on TV shows
and to share their story
in whatever ways possible.
Really to do the job effectively,
you really have to
He inspired TV shows
It was interesting
talking with Ann
about why her story
had remained hidden.
She didn't really wanna take on
the sort of cultural mystique
like a bunch of the other
agents had wanted to.
She always had a
behind-the-curtain quality,
partly because of her own style
of being not particularly
Dr. Burgess has
been doing this work
with the BSU for
over a decade now,
and she's starting to rethink
how she can best
continue her pursuit
of being in service to victims.
Most of the agents that I
had worked with had retired.
I wanted to move on. I
was ready to move on.
It just seemed the
right thing to do.
Oh, the turkeys are here.
I've gotta feed 'em.
I felt it was the right time
but I didn't know what
I was gonna do next.
I had my own career,
certainly, in nursing,
so that was all going on.
As an academic, I had
to be into new areas,
write grants, get published.
She has expressed that
it felt a little like,
let me step back
take a breath,
examine my surroundings
and see in what other way
can I put this work to use.
One day, a defense
attorney called me
and asked me if I had
heard about this case
out of Los Angeles.
And I had not.
And so, he tells me to go
down to the local store
and pick up a copy
of People magazine.
And I said, "Oh,
this is now gonna be my
reading material on cases?"
I've heard of very few murders
that were more savage
than this one was.
No signs of a break-in
or a burglary.
Only the bodies of entertainment
executive Jose Menéndez
and his wife Kitty in
the family TV room.
Jose Menéndez was
shot five times,
a fatal wound through the back
of the head into the brain.
His wife Kitty was
Four separate shots
in the head and face,
six in her arms,
chest, hips, legs.
Their sons, Erik and Lyle,
said they found the bodies,
but new evidence ranging from
records of the family psychologist
to a movie script about a
rich kid who kills his parents
now indicates the
brothers did it.
They killed their
wealthy parents.
Lyle and Erik Menéndez
were arraigned yesterday
on charges they
murdered their parents
to inherit a $14 million estate.
It was a high-profile case,
and I had never done
a defense case before.
The prosecution saying this
was for money wasn't adding up.
There had to be something else,
so I agreed to go out,
at least to meet with them.
When I met with Erik,
that was the first time
that I was actually in
the room with a killer.
I'm looking at somebody that
killed his mother and his father.
He was likable.
I mean, we could talk
about sports and tennis
and, you know, everything
except the crime.
I needed to know
exactly what happened
and also to understand
why they did it.
I was wondering how he was gonna
be able to talk about it
and that's what I decided
to use the drawings,
because that would give
him something concrete
to be able to focus on.
He wouldn't have to be
looking directly at me
to talk about the situation.
We spent a whole
day on the drawings.
This is the very first one
that really gave me an inkling
of heart of the motive.
The father looking very large,
compared to this
little teeny Erik.
Erik wanted to go
away to college
and the father said,
"No, you're not going to.
"You're gonna come home.
I want you home during
the week to sleep here."
It gave me an idea of how
controlling the father was.
That was the start of
the week that escalated.
Something happened that
really set into motion
that they had no other choice
but to shotgun their parents.
Based on the father, a
very domineering person,
I felt there's some
abuse issue here.
It could have been
it could have been physical.
There are a lot of
these drawings that
the father and the son
are in Erik's bedroom,
which I thought was
a very unusual place.
I used that as a way to say,
"What are the other kinds of
things maybe that you could tell me
that went on in the bedroom?"
You could see how hard it
was for him to get it out.
I knew it then, this
was sexual abuse,
which in itself is very
difficult, but also was incest.
He was somewhat stoic
about it. It happened.
The two brothers
were very bonded,
very, very caring of each other.
Erik tells his older brother
about the sexual assault.
He told me Lyle
was abused early,
but the father had a
preference for young boys.
That's why Erik became
the next victim.
The mother didn't
protect her sons.
The abuse had now been exposed.
Lyle confronts the father.
The father was an executive
in the music industry.
An incest secret coming
out would have ruined Jose,
no question about it.
The father was threatening them.
You could just see
them talking about
how fearful they were then,
and they felt that the parents
were going to kill them.
They were frantic.
They felt it was imminent
that something was
gonna happen to them
so they had to act Sunday night.
They killed their parents.
Absolutely no matter what
the circumstances are,
that's still wrong,
but they certainly were abused.
I could sympathize with what
they had to put up with.
And so, I decided to
testify for the defense.
One of the things that people
always wonder about too is
how Ann could start
working for the defense
when she switched
over to trial cases.
Right off the bat, she was
challenged by fellow agents.
A lot of them said, "Why are you
standing up for the bad guys?"
John Douglas came
up to her and said,
"You're making
the wrong choice."
Agents always testify
for prosecution.
So when he heard I was
gonna be on defense
on the case that I was on,
I would say he was not happy.
The Menéndez case could
ruin her reputation.
People could say, "This woman
who was always for the good guys,
she's lost her way."
To me, it was important in
terms of getting the truth out
about trauma and abuse.
This colleague of
hers came up and said,
"You can't defend these boys.
"If you do, other boys
might start coming forward
and talking about their
sexual abuse, too."
And she was like, "Yeah,
that's the point."
This is the right thing to do.
A sensational murder trial
opened today in California.
The defendants: two brothers.
The victims: their parents.
Their defense: self-defense.
Legally, neither Lyle
nor Erik Menéndez
can be found innocent.
They admit they
killed their parents,
only their motives were
at issue in the trial.
Jurors will have to decide
whether they were motivated
by fear for their own
lives or by greed.
If convicted of
involuntary manslaughter,
they could go free
with time served.
If convicted of
first-degree murder,
it could mean the death penalty.
In the trial of people
versus Erik Menéndez.
The defense may call
its next witness.
Thank you, Your Honor. The
defense calls Dr. Ann Burgess.
You do solemnly swear that the
testimony will be the truth,
the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth,
- so help you God?
- I do.
Please take the stand
and state your name
I knew it was gonna
be an uphill battle.
This was not an easy case.
Ann Wolbert Burgess.
Before this, there had
been defenses built
around victims, abuse, and fear,
but it had only
been used with wives
who killed their husbands.
It had never been used with
a male victim in the past.
She knew that it
was a long shot.
After your 50 hours of the
interview with Erik Menéndez,
did you formulate an
opinion as to whether or not
he was sexually
molested as a child?
- Yes, I did.
- And what is that opinion?
And my opinion was that he was.
Literature suggests that
it is more difficult,
particularly for
an adolescent boy,
to admit a same-sex molestation.
Yes, it's much harder for
an adolescent male. Yes.
That seems to be related to the
mythology of male sexuality.
There is this belief that
males, regardless of age,
are supposed to
be able to manage
and to perhaps even enjoy
any type of sexual activity
and that they
should not complain.
Dealing with that last week
leading up to the shootings,
have you determined
critical factors
that contributed to the occurrence
of the shootings in this case?
Yes, I have.
Erik's father's insistence that
he continue to live at home,
which Erik understands to mean that
the sexual abuse would continue.
Erik's disclosure of his
sexual abuse to Lyle.
Lyle's confrontation
with the father,
prompting the father's threat
to protect the
secret at all costs.
The father always
said one of the things
that he could do is
just wipe out the family
and get a new one and
start all over again.
Now, by wipe out,
he wasn't talking about
killing them, was he?
Or was he?
Well, I don't think that,
uh, that was ever made clear.
Because the Menéndez trial has
been available live on Court TV,
millions of Americans
have watched it,
finding a live drama
every bit as riveting
as any soap opera.
Expert witness claims
the brothers were
so traumatized by
years of alleged abuse,
it actually changed the gray
matter inside their head.
That's not my favorite thing
to do, is to go into court,
because all they wanna
do is discredit you.
The cross-exam can
really be vicious.
Prosecutor Pam Bozanich implied
the brain change theory
was about as credible
as the research of
Dr. Frankenstein.
Dr. Burgess, could
you tell the jury
what suggestibility is?
Suggestibility is a concept
that says very young children
in the questioning by therapists
in some way conduct
their interview
so as to suggest to the
child, uh, a response.
Dr. Burgess, do you know
what psychobabble is?
Well, my reaction to that
was, um, she doesn't get it.
She's never gonna get it.
And I really felt that there
were bullets coming at me,
not only from the prosecutor,
but certainly in
the public arena.
That was hard.
There's no evidence that
supports the abuse excuse.
All they have are doctors
who listen to their story
and basically say,
"We believe them."
How was the jury
manipulated in this case?
It's vigilante defense.
I'm sympathetic with the
battered women's syndrome
in the real cases where
there's no option to leave,
but when it's extended to apply
to young, mobile, wealthy men
like the Menéndez brothers,
raises grave dangers to the
liberty of all Americans.
It'd break me.
My dad had been molesting me.
"You see, my father raped me."
I never believed any
of the other tears.
I think what you're seeing here
is a, uh, couple of spoiled brats.
Can you tell the court who
did murder your parents?
Our other two brothers,
Danny Menéndez and
Jose Menéndez Jr.
Lyle and Erik Menéndez
have told horrific
stories of parental abuse,
which makes them either
victims or calculating liars.
The public had wanted to
see the Menéndez brothers
as cold-blooded killers,
but in spite of
the media pushback,
Dr. Burgess coming
into the courtroom
and talking about abuse
had cracked something open.
And just as she's done
throughout her entire career,
the narrative around
trauma started to shift.
It's a real interesting trial,
and I, I want them
to be acquitted.
If they were convicted, I'd like to see
what, what their side of the story is.
I got a lot of support
from other victims,
people who never had talked
about anything before.
And so, it certainly
gave this segment
of our population a voice
that I-I felt good about.
You may find Erik and Lyle
Menéndez to be manipulative.
You may decide that
they are credible
and that their story
strikes a sympathetic chord.
You can reach your own
verdict about them.
The court did receive
a note this morning
from the jury.
It states, uh, "We regret
to inform the court"
"that we are unable to come
to a unanimous decision
on any of the three counts."
We got a hung jury,
which I was pleased with.
We had at least put enough
doubt into the jury.
I believe that they were
raised in an abusive household.
I don't believe Jose and Kitty
were planning on killing
them that night at all,
but I do believe Lyle
and Erik believed that.
And that's the difference.
Her testimony had a huge
impact on the Menéndez case.
Going into it, the media
basically dismissed any chance
that these brothers
had of being acquitted.
But the case wasn't over.
The second trial,
I didn't testify
because the judge would not
allow any experts on abuse.
Well, I-I was shocked.
It has been hell.
Our whole theory of the defense,
which was a theory of self-defense,
imperfect self-defense,
he refused to instruct on it.
The jury hadn't been allowed to
hear the full truth of this story.
The impact was huge.
Yesterday, a Los Angeles jury
found the brothers guilty
of first-degree murder
for killing their parents.
Life without parole.
I felt sad for them.
And I still feel that life
without the opportunity
for parole is wrong.
This isn't something
they were gonna do again.
They're not serial killers.
What we did it was awful,
um, and I wish I could go back.
We will spend the rest
of our life in prison,
but if I'm not if I'm not
if we're not put
in the same prison,
uh, there's a good probability
I will never see him again.
And and that, uh
that I
Some things that you cannot take
and there's some things
that you can endure.
with everything taken
away, it would be the last,
you know, it's the last
thing you can take.
I think that when you take away
any type of hope from someone,
I feel that's wrong.
We heard the word
"Menéndez" more
than we heard other cases.
I found it interesting
that my mom was working
on such a public case.
There's always been a bit of
her that does wanna stay private
and keep to her
uh, keep to herself.
But this was a situation
where she saw things
in a different light
than everybody else.
Dr. Burgess wasn't interested
in being this
spokesperson for her work.
Working trial
cases changed that.
Her big takeaway with the Menéndez
case was that she could get people
to think differently
about sexual trauma,
to change how people were
thinking about victims.
Ann Burgess is a professor
of psychiatric nursing
at the University
of Pennsylvania.
She realized if
she really wanted
to be an advocate for victims,
she had to step
out of the shadows.
When we talk with
battered women,
one of the things that we
notice is that it depends
on the type of violence.
Become more of a
public personality
and use that as a platform to
leverage her work, her voice,
and to leverage
victims' voices as well.
I felt I had the opportunity
to influence a system.
I felt that that
was so important,
so no matter what I had to
put up with, it was worth it.
I decided I was
going to accept cases
where I felt that I
can make a difference.
I flew to Boston to
meet with Dr. Burgess.
I didn't know a whole
lot about her
and at the time, no
one was listening.
No one wanted to know
about America's Dad.
There was no bringing
down Bill Cosby.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Bill Cosby.
Dentists tell you not
to pick your teeth,
then you sit in their chair.
You know, Jell-O
Pudding Pops is a winner
- with all the soapbox racers I know.
- It is?
- Yeah, sure.
- Few minor adjustments.
Bill Cosby has
entertained millions
around the world while serving
as an inspiration to all.
I had seen his TV shows.
I mean, everybody
knew Bill Cosby.
I was a nobody, and
he was a somebody.
People are gonna believe him.
They're not going to believe
the sexual assault victim.
Being believed
really will determine
how the survivor
will ultimately heal.
I don't know whether this is true.
You don't know whether this is true.
It's difficult to decide.
Do we even give a voice
to allegations like this?
Cosby's attorney called
the case "nonsense"
and labeled his accuser,
Andrea Constand, a con artist.
District attorney has decided
not to charge Mr. Cosby
and says he finds insufficient
credible evidence.
Mr. Cosby looks forward to
moving on with his life.
A victim that comes
forward to report,
only 1% to 2% are
gonna see justice.
The criminal case was denied,
so a civil case was the only
shot at justice that I had.
All the odds were
stacked up against me,
and that's ultimately how
I came to meet Dr. Burgess.
"He said she said" are
very difficult cases.
I was glad I-I was called on it.
We didn't have any rape
kit or forensic evidence,
so in that respect,
it just was her word.
We were up against
a lot of skepticism.
It was very important
to get the details.
She had a job to do.
It was to try to pull
things from my memory.
Explain in your own
words what happened.
I was the director of
basketball operations
at Temple University.
I knew who Bill Cosby was.
I knew he was a pretty
important man on campus.
I didn't have a reason to
be scared of Bill Cosby.
After having a friendship
with him for almost 18 months,
he invited me over to his home
to talk about making
a career change.
He was like, "You seem
really stressed about that."
And I said, "Yeah, you know, I
probably haven't slept a whole lot."
He just randomly got up, excused
himself from the table
and he came down the stairs,
and he had three small
blue pills in his hand.
And he said, "Take these.
They'll help take the edge off."
After about a half an hour,
I started to see two Bill
Cosbys across the table from me.
And he said, "Well, you
probably just need to lay down.
You just need to have a sleep."
Those were the last
words that I remember.
She couldn't remember
anything more.
This was not gonna be easy.
We have a lot of missing
pieces, so I have to think,
"Is that anything
that we can recover?"
Those are the kinds of questions
that you try to get into
and have her remember
as much as she could.
Even though you can't remember,
doesn't mean that
it doesn't register.
You have to move to a different
part of understanding memory
because it does
register, you know?
It does register, even
if you're unconscious.
The body keeps score.
I remember passing
out, waking up.
I could feel that he
had unzipped my pants.
I was completely paralyzed
and was not able to scream.
It was the most horrifying
thing in the world.
I had seen this technique used
before, especially with children.
They would give them drugs
'cause then they could always
say, "Well, you-you dreamt it.
This didn't really happen."
I give tests to document
the trauma that she had
and back it up with some
kind of scientific evidence.
What were you like
before this happened?
How often does this
come into your mind?
Do you have any anxiety?
Are you snappy? More irritated?
How is your sleep?
She thought, "Well, I'll get over
this," but then it got worse and worse.
Couldn't stay at the job.
She had to go back and
live with her parents.
She broke up with her partner.
I felt that she had, by
this time, chronic PTSD.
Getting asked 300 questions
about the way you're sleeping,
eating, living, loving,
I was able to understand
what that one night
had done to me.
The fact that I was
hearing myself actually say
what happened to me
and acknowledge that
I survived a trauma,
that was really critical.
She believed me.
I don't think there's
any financial amount
that a person can walk away from
to just automatically
make everything better.
I was just happy
that I could move on
because I really
did wanna move on.
I really did wanna
put it behind me.
This case, certainly for me,
was one way to kind of go
back to where we had started.
We're now talking almost 30
years from when Lynda Holmstrom
and I started our rape study.
When she started doing her work,
there wasn't a culture of
wanting to hold men accountable
for their wrongdoings
against women.
This girl is not
the rape victim,
but according to the judge, the
way she's dressed illustrates
another reason that
boys rape girls.
There had been a lot
of changes for women.
Rape crisis center,
women in the workplace.
There was a cultural shift.
But we knew it wasn't enough.
Sometimes you think you
haven't made any progress,
but that's why it's
important to keep fighting.
Time's up! Time's up!
Time's up! Time's up!
Time's up! Time's
up! Time's up!
Dr. Burgess' work are
those early ripples
that led to the Me Too Movement.
The story doesn't center
around Dr. Burgess,
but she's a huge
part of that story.
Hey hey, ho ho
I'm just glad that
she's been able to see
some of the fruits of her labor.
This is what Dr. Burgess
had been fighting for all along.
Finally, the culture was
ready to believe victims.
Me too.
- Me too!
- Me too!
Women who had been traumatized
and victimized years before
were starting to come forward.
- It happened to me too.
- Me too.
It happened to me too.
Their stories
flooded social media
and painted a picture
of just how many people
endure sexual abuse and
harassment every day.
The Me Too Movement gave
women an opportunity
to be in control, to be
able to say, "This
We-We aren't gonna
put up with this."
I was really so
proud of the women
for coming forward
and demanding justice.
It was amazing.
And then, because of
the Me Too Movement,
there's one more part
to the Cosby case.
A flood of
allegations from women
who say they were sexually
assaulted by Cosby.
I couldn't believe
it. He had drugged me.
Waking up in a bed
with Mr. Cosby, naked.
Mr. Cosby is charged with
aggravated indecent assault.
When Me Too happened,
that's what it took.
Mr. Cosby, did you
drug that woman?
I never expected that I
would get an opportunity
to face my abuser in court.
Thirteen years after an
alleged sexual assault,
Andrea Constand walked
into a packed courtroom
to publicly tell her story.
She went in there and did
a beautiful job testifying.
There has been a verdict.
The comedian, now 80, has been
found guilty on all counts.
It was a miracle
to see the justice system
working for survivors.
The culture had really changed.
In, um, 1970, I don't think
you'd get a conviction
against Bill Cosby.
Andrea's case was very
important in being able
to identify a high-profile
person and get justice.
There's a handful of people
who played a big part
in my "surviving"
and Dr. Burgess is
one of those people.
I'm trying to think
of how it all started.
I can remember vividly in, uh
on the serial killer study,
which was generally
The stuff that my mom's
done is so helpful
that we'd love to see
the work continue.
I think she'd be more than happy
if someone would
pick up the torch.
First couple topics are
ones that are most prominent
in their manifestos.
I'm working with
my granddaughter
to study the manifestos
of mass shooters.
Machine learning can find
associations between words
and patterns and phrases.
We can't get her enough data.
She says, "Send me
data." She loves that.
That might be something that,
that would be of interest.
I believe that there is
a parallel universe somewhere
where Dr. Burgess was never
invited to speak at the FBI,
and it is a scary world.
Profiling, victimology,
behavioral psychology,
she had this really
formative role
in all these different realms,
and it really shifted
how the FBI functioned
as an organization.
Where other people
just saw craziness,
she saw early on that
there were patterns.
She said, "We've got
significant data."
All of a sudden, that
turns into something
that we can make sense of it.
There was no blueprint, and
she created the blueprint.
We would like to look at the
cases that have been profiled
to see whether, you know
She's had to overcome
the prejudice
that male agents had,
but she was always
gonna have the last word
on criminal behavior
because she knew more
than anybody in the room.
The impact of
victimization on the family
and the community so that
Making things
better for victims,
for survivors going
through the legal system.
And she's spent her whole career
breaking the barriers down.
Simonis, without
hesitation, pleaded guilty
to all charges against him.
John Joubert was
arrested tonight
by the task force.
The FBI is charging
28-year-old Brian Dugan
with the kidnap and murder
of Melissa Ackerman.
It is time for
people to recognize
there is not an aspect of
modern criminal psychology
that has not been
significantly impacted
by Dr. Burgess' work
and it does matter
that people know that.
A lot. I don't know.
Oh, over a dozen. Yeah.
To give you an idea
of what we're trying
to do on campus from
academic nursing.
There were a lot of native women
that were, um, murdered in
- A lot. Oh, yes.
- Yeah.
We-We have a database
now of over 3,000 people.
It's a little bit different
because we are hearing
from an actual person
who has lost someone
and who it is an unsolved case.
Where are we at with our data?
'Cause we do need to
talk about drafting
or at least getting the
outline for a paper.
There's always some
more work to do.
No time to celebrate.
No. Keep going.
Previous Episode