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FBI Profiler John Douglas Recounts South Carolina Murder Investigation in “When a Killer Calls”

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Iconic FBI criminal profiler John Douglas has come face to face with some of the most terrifying and notorious killers in America: Charles Manson, “Son of Sam Killer” David Berkowitz, and “BTK Strangler” Dennis Rader. Now, in When a Killer Calls (on sale February 1st), Douglas recounts one of the most haunting investigations of his storied career and shares – for the first time – how he caught a sadist child murderer before he was able to kill again. 

On May 31, 1985, two days before her high school graduation, Shari Smith was abducted from the driveway of her family home in South Carolina. Based on the crime scene and the abductor’s repeated and taunting calls to the family, law enforcement quickly realized they were dealing with a sophisticated and highly dangerous criminal.

The abduction rocked her quiet town, triggering a massive manhunt and bringing in the FBI, which enlisted profiler John Douglas. A few days later, a phone call told the family where they could find Shari’s body.

Then nine-year-old Debra May Helmick was kidnapped from her yard, confirming the harsh realization that Smith’s murder was no random act. A serial killer was evolving, and the only way to stop him would be to use the study of criminal behavior to anticipate his next move. Douglas devised a risky and emotionally fraught strategy to use Shari’s lookalike older sister Dawn as bait to draw out the unknown subject. Dawn and her parents courageously agreed.

As Shari’s family took incredible personal risks to lure her killer from the shadows, Douglas and the FBI pushed criminal profiling to its limits, culminating in one of his most dramatic and effective confrontations with a remorseless killer.

In addition to being the founding father of criminal profiling and an instructor who has taught law enforcement agencies around the country, Douglas was also the inspiration for characters in Silence of the Lambs, Criminal Minds, and Mindhunter. He has interviewed many of America’s most notorious murderers and is a true authority on serial killers. 

You can purchase the book here.

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