We talk to a retired FBI profiler who has worked on some of the country’s most infamous criminal cases. This expert in criminal behavior has many insights to offer.
BIO: Mary Ellen O’Toole, Ph.D. has spent her career studying the criminal mind. One of the most senior profilers for the FBI until her retirement in 2009, Dr. O’Toole has helped capture, interview and understand some of the world’s most infamous criminals and worked on well-known cases including:
•Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer
•Derrick Todd Lee and Sean Vincent Gillis, both serial killers in Baton Rouge
•The Collar Bomb Case, a bank robbery and murder of a pizza delivery man
•Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber
•The Polly Klaas child abduction
•David Parker Ray, a serial sexual sadist
•The Red Lake School Shooting
•The Monster of Florence serial murder case
•The Zodiac serial murder case
•The bombing during the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, UT
•The mass murder in Florence, Montana in 2001
Dr. O’Toole also worked the Elizabeth Smart and Natalee Holloway disappearances, the Columbine shootings and many other high profile cases.
Her law enforcement career spanned 32 years, beginning in the San Francisco’s District Attorney’s Office when she was a Criminal Investigator. Dr. O’Toole worked as an FBI agent for 28 years, spending more than half of her Bureau career in the organization’s prestigious Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU)—the very unit that is the focus of the hit crime series “Criminal Minds.”
During her time in the unit, Dr. O’Toole developed an expertise in Criminal Investigative Analysis (CIA) as well as offender behavior. She has provided assistance to law enforcement and prosecutors on a wide range of violent and criminal behavior including serial and single homicides, sexual assaults, kidnappings, product tampering, school shootings, arsons and bombings and extortions. Dr. O’Toole is also a trained FBI hostage negotiator and has a unique expertise in the areas of targeted school violence, workplace violence and threat assessment.
Dr. O’Toole is recognized as the FBI’s leading expert in the area of “psychopathy.” Her work in psychopathy has put her on the forefront of mental health and law enforcement efforts to apply the concepts of this personality disorder to both violent and white collar offenders and their behavior and crime scenes. She lectures internationally on the application of the theory of psychopathy to real life situations. She continues to lecture at the FBI Academy on psychopathy and interviewing. She has served as adjunct faculty to the FBI’s Prestigious Leadership Development Institute (LDI) at the FBI Academy and also frequently lectures at the Smithsonian Institution about everything from Sherlock Holmes to personal safety. She is a Fellow with the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Feelings Betray Us: https://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Instincts-How-Feelings-Betray/dp/1594630836
Mary Ellen O’Toole is the editor-in-chief of Violence and Gender, “the first and only peer-reviewed journal focusing on the understanding, prediction, and prevention of acts of violence.” For more information about this publication, visit
Mary Ellen’s Website: http://maryellenotoole.com
Mary Ellen on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmaryellenotoole/
Mary Ellen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/maryellenotoole
Dangerous Instincts: The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/dangerous-instincts-fbi-profiler-explains-the-dangers-of-that-nice-neighbor/2011/10/17/gIQAkvNCDM_story.html
Learning How To Read People: http://www.theironjen.com/learning-how-to-read-people-dr-mary-ellen-otoole/
Psychopathy: FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin: https://leb.fbi.gov/2012/july/psychopathy-an-important-forensic-concept-for-the-21st-century
Orlando Shooter Profile: CCTV America: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhTjGAsUuzk
Why Are American Cops So Bad At Catching Killers?: https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/04/02/why-are-american-cops-so-bad-at-catching-killers#.PFh6oYRhF