Criminal profiling pioneer Dr. Ann Wolbert Burgess charts her journey from groundbreaking researcher of sexual violence to one of the first women on the elite FBI team, conducting forensic interviews of high profile serial killers, testifying at trials, and revolutionizing police and prosecutorial procedures in the process, offering readers a look into the inner workings of the FBI.
A KILLER BY DESIGN:
How the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit Learned To Hunt Serial Killers and Understand Criminal Minds
by Ann Wolbert Burgess & Steven Constantine
Hachette US, 2022
“In the early 1970’s, sexual assault wasn’t talked about. It was viewed as indecent or attributed to the fringes of society, dismissed as a women’s issue — as if men weren’t even involved. But this perception showed a stark disconnect from reality and facts. At the time, forcible rape was one of four major violent crimes in the United States. It was a large-scale problem that was further compounded by a lack of treatment options available for managing the emotional and traumatic effects that victims of rape struggled with most. Hospitals only treated a victim’s physical trauma, law enforcement hadn’t yet developed standards for processing their cases, and academics largely avoided the topic as too controversial for studies or research. But ignoring the problem wasn’t a solution. It was complicity. It added to the stigma and misperceptions that allowed rapists a sense of impunity and kept victims powerless to speak out. It made it worse.”
This was the grim reality that Ann Burgess, then a doctoral graduate with a degree in psychiatric nursing, found when she decided to get involved in the study of rape and sexual assault, choosing a topic that few others saw as worth the trouble. But what she called the complete “absence of understanding” surrounding this urgent issue left her no choice. Fortunately, she connected with a medical sociologist, Lynda Lytle Holmstrom, with whom Ann created the first ever formalized study of rape from the victim’s perspective, and through countless interviews with rape survivors ultimately proved that rape is more about dominance and control than sex. The impact of this early work was groundbreaking. It led to the development of the first rape crisis centers, created new police standards, and resulted in an increase in rape trials with outcomes that favored the victim. It also captured the attention of the FBI Academy, leading Burgess to become one of the first female consultants hired by the agency.
The book will include fascinating true accounts of high-profile serial killers to offer readers an unprecedented look into the inner workings of the FBI, where she was a colleague of John Douglas of Mindhunter fame. And it will engage readers through a vivid narrative that combines authentic criminal profiling sessions, interviews with serial sexual killers, courtroom trials, and firsthand accounts of victims to show how the rape movement began, how far it’s come, where it stands today and how this work is one of the cornerstones of today’s #MeToo Movement.
Ann Wolbert Burgess, D.N.Sc., APRN, FAAN, is a widely recognized pioneer in the treatment of victims of rape, trauma and abuse. She has received numerous honors including The Living Legend Award from the American Academy of Nursing, the American Nurses’ Association Hildegard Peplau Award, and the Sigma Theta Tau International Audrey Hepburn Award. She is the namesake of the Ann Burgess Forensic Nursing Award, presented annually by The International Association of Forensic Nurses. She regularly appears as an expert witness to offer courtroom testimony for high-profile cases involving violent serial offenders, child abuse, and sexual crime. Her courtroom testimony has been described as “groundbreaking.” Ann is a professor at Boston College Connell School of Nursing where she teaches graduate courses in forensic nursing. Before that she held faculty appointments at the University of Pennsylvania and Boston University.