Roy Exum: FBI To Study ‘Lickers’

Sunday, April 26, 2015 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

About 25 years ago there was a terrifying movie called “The Silence of the Lambs.” It was so good it won the Academy Awards in all five categories – Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Adapted Screenplay. Further, Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster were brilliant, but do you remember the third “star?” Scott Glenn played a character named “Jack Crawford,” the brilliant head of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit.

Believe it or not, there really is a “Jack Crawford.” His real name is John Douglas. He is now retired from the bureau but in a detailed interview published earlier this week in the Powell, Wyo., newspaper, the masterful criminal profiler talked about the extensive research the FBI has done on the ways criminal minds think.

Douglas has done extensive interviews with people like Charles Manson, David “Son of Sam” Horowitz, Ted Bundy and Seattle’s Green River killer, Gary Ridgway, who pleaded guilty to 49 murders.

He worked the Tylenol case, the Unabomber, and his biography, “Mind Hunter” is a classic.

Here is part of what he told Powell Tribune reporter Ilene Olson, and pay particular attention to the last three paragraphs of this excerpt:

* * *

“I conducted the research, not from a rehabilitation perspective, but from an investigative perspective,” he said. “It was considered innovative, but to me, it was basic. If you want to learn about violent crime, talk to the experts: the criminals perpetrating rapes, arsons and serial homicides.

“Once I got into this stuff, I started teaching the students...If someone was in the class who worked the investigation, I would be able to say, ‘I interviewed him, and this is what I learned.’ It became a very popular class.”

It didn’t take long to see roots and patterns of behavior emerging from his research, Douglas said.

“Most of the people we interviewed came from some type of a dysfunctional family,” such as a passive or absent father, domineering mother and physical and/or psychological abuse.

However, not all people who experienced those traumas went on to become violent criminals, he said.

Douglas said his research indicated a direct correlation between animal cruelty and human violence. “Not just curious, doing it once, but where they find sadistic pleasure from torturing,” he said.

Cruelty to animals was one of three factors he identified in what he termed “the homicidal triangle,” which he said can predict violent tendencies. The other two are bedwetting as a child, beyond the normal age, and setting fires.

“Of the three, that (animal cruelty) is the one that really stands out; it’s really a good predictor,” he said.

All of Douglas’ research helped him develop a method of criminal profiling, which, in turn, ultimately enabled him to list likely characteristics of the perpetrator after visiting or viewing photos of violent crime scenes, helping aim investigations more effectively.

* * *

The quite-pointed reason I bring up “animal abuse” is quite obvious -- Tennessee is a hotbed for it with the “Big Lickers” in Shelbyville both well-known and nationally recognized today for soring animals. “Big Lick” horses are now being banned from certain shows. It appears two “Lickers” will go to trial this summer that could put them in jail and public contempt has never been as high. Yet horse soring is very prevalent and the “Big Lickers” will do almost anything to preserve it.

The reason I mentioned the FBI and show its research arm is because there is suddenly a new interest in people who would purposely rub caustic chemicals on a horse’s forelegs or drive nails into a horse’s front hooves. That is why the Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently in the process of making animal abuse a Group A felony. This is the last year it will be listed among “All Other Offenses.” In February of 2016, abuse of a Tennessee Walking Horse, or dogs and cats, will rank right up there with homicide, car bombing, and arson, among others.

Say, did you know Jeffery Dahmer, the serial killer who raped, killed and dismembered 17 men between 1978 and 1991, loved to torture animals? By abusing animals, Dahmer learned how to preserve the skeletons of people he killed. After the FBI helped catch him, he was declared sane and was sent to prison with 16 life sentences. There, he was soon beaten to death with an iron bar.

Madeline Bernstein, a former New York prosecutor who heads the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Los Angeles, said the bureau’s involvement will change the whole landscape of animal abuse. “It will help get better sentences, sway juries and make for better plea bargains,” she explained.

Animal advocates say the Michael Vick dog-fighting bust in 2007 triggered public awareness to animal abuse. The graphic video of Tennessee Hall of Fame trainer Jackie McConnell clubbing a defenseless Walking Horse brought far-better notoriety. The undercover tape has been seen all around the world since it first appeared on ABC News show, Nightline. McConnell was sentenced in a Chattanooga federal court but did no jail time. Since then, horse abuse has become a felony in the state of Tennessee.

With the FBI making it a top tier felony, some believe the cheaters in the seedy “Big Lick” portion of the horse industry may someday sleep in the same prison unit at Leavenworth that housed Vick in his two-year confinement. Many ‘sound horse’ organizations (where horses are clean) hope that is exactly what will happen and that the Tennessee Walking Horse breed will finally outlive the sadistic torture that has done insufferable damage to the horse, the people, and the state of Tennessee.

royexum@aol.com


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