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The Real FBI Agents Who Inspired Netflix’s ‘Mindhunter’

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If you have watched an episode of Mindhunter, then you’re aware of how it captivates audiences by providing a less-dramatized observation of serial killers. FBI agents study these criminals’ damaged psyches, and viewers can’t get enough. But you might be surprised that the fictional agents were real people.

Inside The Action

It’s not easy to catch a criminal. That’s what the Netflix original series, Mindhunter, is trying to show you. FBI agents get inside the minds of various serial killers to catch them in the act. They study their damaged psyches and develop an understanding of modern-day serial-killer profiling. The show is a favorite for fans of crime dramas, but viewers probably don’t know it’s based off true stories.

Netflix

Based On A True Story

Like most television shows and movies, Mindhunter is based on the true crime book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. Douglas was an actual FBI profiler who worked with serial killers, and he inspired the character agent Holden Ford in the Netflix series. While many films and shows portray serial killers as highly intelligent, Douglas and his agent partner, Robert Ressler, proved otherwise.

Netflix via All That’s Interesting

Let’s Talk Face-to-Face

As the series shows, the agents interviewed serial killers face-to-face. The agents soon developed “curious relationships” with many serial killers, including Ted Bundy (notorious for murdering young women and girls in the 1970s), and Jeffrey Dahmer (nicknamed the Milwaukee Monster for raping and murdering 17 men and boys over nearly 20 years). These interviews would be intimidating for ordinary people, but it was part of the job for the agents.

Netflix via Maxim.com

Coining “Serial Killer”

Douglas and Ressler didn’t just inspire a hit television show; they also coined the term “serial killer.” The men co-wrote the FBI’s book on criminology, where they discussed the patterns they noticed. Many serial killers have parallels between how they chose their victims and carried out their homicides. But if you watch Mindhunter, the show only suggests Holden (based on Douglas) is responsible for coining the term.

Fanpage.it

They Worked On High-Publicity Cases, Too

Douglas praises the show for capturing his true personality—quiet, inquisitive, and straightforward. But he wasn’t afraid to work on high-publicity cases, including when the Ramsey family hired him to present a defense after child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey’s famous murder. Hopefully, the Netflix series will continue to highlight Douglas and Ressler’s careers in its second season.

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