Cannibal in Oklahoma: Child Meets One of the Monsters Living Among Us
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Oklahoma residents were shocked when they learned a serial-killer-in-training was preparing for a rein of terror that would victimize them or their fellow citizens. Although law enforcement was able to apprehend the maniac before he achieved the designation of "serial killer," one young child suffered the horrors of meeting this bloodthirsty monster.
The remains of 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin were discovered by police officers in a plastic tub in her neighbor's closet, and investigators believe her murder was part of the killer's elaborate plan of cannibalism.
The brutalized child's body showed deep saw marks on her neck and was apparently hit several times with a wooden cutting board, Purcell police Chief David Tompkins said during a press conference. Police detectives removed meat tenderizer and barbecue skewers from his apartment, one floor down from where the girl lived with her father.
"Regarding a potential motive, this appears to have been part of a plan to kidnap a person, rape them, torture them, kill them, cut off their head, drain the body of blood, rape the corpse, eat the corpse, then dispose of the organs and bones," Chief Tompkins told reporters.
The vicious murderer, Kevin Ray Underwood, 26, was arrested Friday after police officers found the child's body within the closet of a bedroom in his apartment. The girl's unclothed body was inside a large plastic tub, along with a towel used to soak up blood, officials said.
Police would not say whether Underwood confessed to the slaying. The district attorney planned to file first-degree murder charges Monday and said he would seek the death penalty.
"This does not appear to be a spur-of-the-moment crime of opportunity but a well-thought-out, premeditated act with months of planning and preparation," McClain County District Attorney Tim Kuykendall said. The detectives also reportedly recovered evidence from the killer's apartment that Jamie Rose was only the beginning.
When writing my first book, "Crime Talk: Conversations with America's Top Crimefighters," I interviewed the first-ever FBI profiler in order to bring about at least a rudimentary understanding of these monsters who prey on the innocent and leave a trail of death in their wake. That profiler was former FBI agent Robert Ressler. Below is the chapter in which I interviewed Ressler about these remorseless monsters:
Retired FBI Special Agent Robert Ressler makes a living tracking down some of America's most vicious, brutal and frightening predators. In fact, Ressler is the man who coined the term "serial killer" while working in the Bureau's Behavioral Science Unit.
Bob Ressler is credited with creating the FBI's Criminal Profiling System, and is considered the foremost expert on the psychology of serial and mass murders. During his ongoing research, he interviewed over 100 of the most terrifying killers known to mankind. He developed "intimate" relationships with the likes of David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, and he's the only person to ever interview John Wayne Gacy on video.
Prior to joining the FBI, Ressler served for 10 years with the US Army's Criminal Investigations Division (CID), rising to the rank of colonel.
He holds both the bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees in criminology and lectures across the country, teaching homicide investigation to local police-agency detectives.
Ressler is the acknowledged true-life hero of the book and movie, Silence of the Lambs, and he served as an advisor to the story's author, Thomas Harris.
He's the author of the best-selling book, Whoever Fights Monsters, and he was honored with membership in the Mystery Writers of America even before sitting down to write a book. When faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem, experts on crime seek out Robert Ressler.
Kouri: Throughout your 20-year FBI career, you have seen a continual increase in the number of serial killers. You refer to this as a phenomenon of contemporary America. Can you explain why there has been such an upsurge in serial killings?
Ressler: Well, nobody knows for sure. Nobody really has all the answers. Anyone claiming to know the answer is not being realistic. The indicators are that over the past few decades there's been certainly a correlation of more violence -- not just serial murders, but all violent crime -- such as child offenses, rapes... you name it. And the indicators are that we are looking at an era of violence that is consistent with the breakdown of the American family. We're seeing a lot more single-parent families, a lot more dysfunctional families and broken families. Along with that we're seeing a kind of across the board desire to resist authority as a result of the sequence of the 1960s and '70s when more and more people were challenging government, and challenging our society, and more or less doing their own thing and not towing-the-line as young people did in the '30s, '40s and '50s. You have all these people in the '60s and '70s and on into the 1990s looking out for themselves.
People have become basically self-centered. Self-goals take the place of society's goals. People aren't committing themselves to anything except themselves. And this all has a wide range of behavioral results. But when you're talking about an individual who is sexually dysfunctional or morally dysfunctional and he thinks in terms of getting these same goals on an individual level, and he thinks in terms having sexual relationships that he feels are unattainable, he starts forcibly taking them. And, of course, your violent serial killer is a totally dysfunctional person who's just helping himself to whatever he wants without regard to the consequences.
Kouri: So you feel that these men are dysfunctional sexual beings. How does this translate into sexual murder?
Ressler: It translates into sexual murder because they are dysfunctional and they cannot function sexually within the constraints of a normal relationship. They have no relationships. They end up being people who are incapable of any type of relationship, and they end up stalking, seeking out, and discarding members of our society -- their victims.
Kouri: That kind of leads into my next question. How do you explain the fact that there has been only a couple female serial killers? Most of these murderers are white males in their 20s or 30s.
Ressler: I don't think anyone knows the complete answer. Anyone who professes to know is just fooling people.
Women? I'm asked that question constantly. Why don't women commit these types of homicides, as males do? And the answer is simple as the differences between male and female. Males are males and females are females.
Women have a totally different constitution than men -- chemically, biologically, and emotionally. You know, the whole thing in feminism right now is trying to make us believe that men and women are not different. That they're the same. That their capabilities and intelligence and everything else are the same. That we're all just one big entity. It's just not true. Males and females are distinctly different and there is a capability of males for [physical] aggression that women have never, never in history shared with males. Men have historically been hunters -- stalkers.
Women do not have a propensity for violent crime as men do and anyone who says they do has not really studied the problem.
Kouri: Do you have any estimates as to how many serial killers are out there today? I've heard several estimates and some seemed a bit outrageous.
Ressler: Well, the estimates out there today are really a matter of shooting in the dark. The FBI maintains the best recordkeeping system in the country and that, of course, is the yearly Uniform Crime Report, and the FBI maintains no system of tracking the number of serial killers in society. The UCR does not encompass that figure.
Now, I've heard hundreds. Behavioral scientists are giving a rough guess of about 50 based on the number of cases that they would deal with.
Kouri: You state in your book that serial killers were exposed to an enormous amount of abuse -- either physically, mentally, or both -- between the ages of eight and 12. Yet there are many people who have been abused as children who did not grow up to be psychopathic killers. What is the reason for a select few becoming serial killers?
Ressler: Well, I've researched it and researched it and, again, I just don't know for sure.
The dynamics that we have isolated are that the common threads that we recognize in serial killers are also consistent within people who are not serial killers. So again, it's a dysfunctional home life, growing up in a relationship in which they feel insecure and frightened, and not really sure what tomorrow may bring. These individuals grow up hating the world around them, and hating themselves and their families.
But what actually gets into the picture that makes some of these types homicidal? We just don't know what that element is.
Kouri: Who, in your professional opinion, was the most terrifying serial killer in US history?
Ressler: Oh, I think Ted Bundy was probably the most brutal. [Many claim it's] Jeffrey Dahmer, but he killed his victims first and got that out of the way and then sexually assaulted the corpses or cannibalized them. But the victims were dead and didn't feel the pain of that. Bundy, on the other hand, liked to keep his victims alive and torture and torment them for a period of time before actually killing them. So I think Bundy was probably the most diabolical and most vicious.
Kouri: Ted Bundy claimed that pornography had much to do with his behavior -- his criminal behavior. Do you put much stock in that or do you think he was just saying what people wanted to hear?
Ressler: He was saying what others wanted to hear. Bundy was a classic and tortuous liar and the interviewer who interviewed him [before he was executed] was a religious-oriented psychologist...
Kouri: ...James Dobson.
Ressler: Right. James Dobson. And Bundy figured this was something the guy wanted to hear and figured he'd provide him with something interesting. Bundy was such a pathetic liar and a devious person, there was just nowhere in his life for the truth.
Kouri: Throughout your book and in your many interviews, you show an unusual amount of respect and understanding of these murderers. Why do you feel they're worthy of your respect or admiration?
Ressler: Admiration is not quite the proper term. It's not a matter of admiration, it's a matter of availing these people to feel a certain amount of respect during the interview process, and that is necessary to establish a rapport that is going to last throughout the interview and gain the maximum amount of information. If there is any degree of admiration on my part it would for the fact that the killer is being candid and openly providing information as honestly as they can. But from the standpoint of their crimes and their behavior, I find them totally reprehensible. Again, for the period of the interview, any personal feelings I have against these individuals and their crimes I leave outside of the interview room; because to carry that kind of psychological baggage into the room with me would harm the rapport I have with these killers.
Kouri: You leave judgments outside because you're looking for their cooperation in conducting your research.
Ressler: Exactly. You can't be judgmental when you're doing research. If you go in there thinking, "Well, you've killed children, and I have children, and I hate you, and I think you should roast in hell," that's not going to work. In the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit, we had several individuals that would go into these interviews with that mind set and attitude, and some of the interviews turn into arguments. You know, the interviewer chastising and berating the subject, and that's just not a professional attitude.
Kouri: Right. Like in the John Reid method of interrogation, you downplay the seriousness of the criminal act in order to get the desired information or confession.
Ressler: Exactly. Any FBI or police interrogator or interviewer certainly must be trained properly and understand you don't go into the interrogation or interview process with some preconceived bias against the person you're dealing with. You remain neutral. You must leave personal feelings outside the interview room. Of course, the important thing is that you pick up these feelings when you leave the interview -- not to do that would cause you to sympathize and even become a bleeding-heart and an advocate of these people, and feeling sorry for them and their ugly lives.
Kouri: When you worked as an advisor to the Milwaukee serial killer's attorney, you were amazed to find that Jeffrey Dahmer was gentle, candid, cooperative, and polite. At the same time, you realized that you had encountered a frightening new generation of serial killer. How is Dahmer different from the murderers who grew up in a decade past?
Ressler: When I wrote that in my book, maybe people wondered what I meant -- that Dahmer was such an easy going likable person. It comes out loud and clear when you meet him: This guy is non-threatening, he's intelligent, he appears well, he's soft-spoken, he's quiet. So everything I've said about him comes out loud and clear. And this all backs up the fact that I had a really good interview with the guy. My assessment of him is right on the money. He's a unique killer.
Kouri: Do you think most killers are intelligent -- underachievers maybe -- but basically intelligent?
Ressler: Yeah, certainly. I think intelligence factors are always high with these individuals. It's part of their makeup. They're smart enough to know better, but they still commit some pretty awful crimes.
Kouri: You've stressed that there are two homicidal types: the mass murderers, who wipe out a lot of people at once; and the serial killers, who murder a string of strangers for no apparent reason, with a "cooling off" period between each crime. Other than that fact, how do they differ?
Ressler: They are as different as the day is long. One thing that the classification by the FBI of violent offenders shows is the difference; one thing people fail to understand is there is no single type of serial or mass murderer. There are many, many categories and subcategories. The FBI's classification system lists five categories of homicide, but working with my colleagues at the FBI Academy, we came up with some 43 different classifications of homicide, which are listed in the book, The Crime Classification Manual.
The 43 categories of homicide shows there are clearly, distinctly different categories and subcategories of serial and mass murderers and other types, as well. It is overly simplistic to classify all homicides in five categories.
Kouri: Can you just briefly describe -- and I know that's difficult -- how your criminal profiling system works?
Ressler: You're right, it is a lengthy process. Whoever Fights Monsters has several chapters devoted to criminal profiling. The FBI's Criminal Classification Manual is devoted to that subject as well.
In a nutshell, criminal profiling is simply having enough information through research and experience about crime patterns and crime trends to look at a crime scene and analyze that crime scene from a behavioral standpoint. From there you do a form of crime analysis that is not usually undertaken by a conventional police officer without a behavioral approach.
Kouri: Do you feel small police departments are capable of investigating serial killings? If not, how can they gain that capability?
Ressler: I don't think small departments are capable of such investigations, because one of the main dynamics of understanding a serial or multiple crime is experience in the same type of situation. The rules of investigation change drastically when you get a person committing multiple offenses, and the small police department with one homicide is approaching it as a single case, when in fact it may be part of a series. Even in major-city police departments, a detective in an entire career -- even in New York, LA, or Chicago -- may never or maybe only once will be involved in a case where there's serial-type activity going down. So it becomes a matter of deferring to someone who can at least assess your case based on direct knowledge of other similar cases, and who can direct you to the most resources possible to help you. That's really what the FBI developed in their National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime. It's a resource center. The FBI may not have all the answers for police detectives, but they know where to go for those answers.
Kouri: In your experience, did you find local law enforcement hesitant to call the FBI and say, "Hey listen, we need your help on a case?" Did you find that a lot or did you receive many calls for assistance?
Ressler: It's usually the individual investigator who takes a chance and makes a call to the FBI, but department-wise, yeah sure. I was in law enforcement before I was in the FBI. I served in the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (CID) for 10 years and I know for a fact that the FBI has a long history of scooping up the cases of local police and then running to the press and that sort of thing. It's something that they've done in the past and they'll never shake it down unless they show a better "face." Some agents are fair with their local counterparts, while others scoop up the credit. That's sometimes hard to stomach for a local cop: He puts a lot of work into a case only to have the FBI takeover and then go to the media. That kind of thing caused much resentment, some places it's very strong, some places it's not. The fact is the FBI has no real jurisdiction in local homicides and cannot investigate these things on their own. The way they enter a case is through a request by a local police agency or member of the department.
You know something, I've even had the FBI scoop me on a couple of cases...and then I joined the FBI.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.