Virtual Event: Ann Burgess
A Killer By Design:
and My Quest to Decipher the Criminal Mind
in conversation with STEVEN CONSTANTINE
January 18, 2022
7:00 PM ET
Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes ANN BURGESS—a leading forensic and psychiatric nurse and professor at the Boston College Connell School of Nursing—for a discussion of her memoir A Killer by Design: Murderers, Mindhunters, and My Quest to Decipher the Criminal Mind. She will be joined in conversation by her co-author STEVEN CONSTANTINE, assistant director of marketing and communications at the Connell School.
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While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $5 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of A Killer by Design on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
About A Killer by Design
Lurking beneath the progressive activism and sex positivity in the 1970-80s, a dark undercurrent of violence rippled across the American landscape. With reported cases of sexual assault and homicide on the rise, the FBI created a specialized team—the “Mindhunters” better known as the Behavioral Science Unit—to track down the country's most dangerous criminals. And yet narrowing down a seemingly infinite list of potential suspects seemed daunting at best and impossible at worst—until Dr. Ann Wolbert Burgess stepped on the scene.
In A Killer by Design, Burgess reveals how her pioneering research on sexual assault and trauma caught the attention of the FBI, and steered her right into the middle of a chilling serial murder investigation in Nebraska. Over the course of the next two decades, she helped the budding unit identify, interview, and track down dozens of notoriously violent offenders, including Ed Kemper ("The Co-Ed Killer"), Dennis Rader ("("BTK"), Henry Wallace ("The Taco Bell Strangler"), Jon Barry Simonis ("The Ski-Mask Rapist"), and many others. As one of the first women trailblazers within the FBI’s hallowed halls, Burgess knew many were expecting her to crack under pressure and recoil in horror—but she was determined to protect future victims at any cost. This book pulls us directly into the investigations as she experienced them, interweaving never-before-seen interview transcripts and crime scene drawings alongside her own vivid recollections to provide unprecedented insight into the minds of deranged criminals and the victims they left behind. Along the way, Burgess also paints a revealing portrait of a formidable institution on the brink of a seismic scientific and cultural reckoning—and the men forced to reconsider everything they thought they knew about crime.
Haunting, heartfelt, and deeply human, A Killer By Design forces us to confront the age-old question that has long plagued our criminal justice system: “What drives someone to kill, and how can we stop them?”
Praise for A Killer by Design
“Of all the colleagues I’ve worked with, Ann is one of the sharpest—and one of the toughest. Ann’s behind-the-scenes work had a profound impact on the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, since she taught us how to harness the chaos of serial killers’ minds and helped us decipher the undecipherable. I’d recommend that everyone read A Killer By Design; not only is it a great page-turner, but it’s about time Ann’s story was heard.” —John E. Douglas, former FBI criminal profiler and bestselling author of Mindhunter
“My career was shaped after reading the seminal text on sexual homicide co-authored by Dr. Ann Burgess—one of the original Mindhunters. Now, in A Killer By Design, Burgess shows how she helped refine the criminal profiling process, with an acute eye for detail and heartwarming compassion for the victims. This book has quickly become a permanent fixture on my bookshelf and is a must-read for anybody who wants to understand the history of exploring the predator's mind. Burgess is truly a hero in the fight against evil.” —Paul Holes, FBI Task Force Officer, retired cold case investigator, and co-host of Jensen and Holes: The Murder Squad
“I will never forget the first time I heard Ann Burgess speak about her work to a large audience at Penn. We all were mesmerized. Ann brought forensic nursing and her ground-breaking research on crime victims and trauma to the university. She completely upended how law enforcement thinks about victims of trauma and abuse, all while challenging long-held assumptions of American culture. Her story needs to be heard.” —Claire M. Fagin, Former Dean, Professor Emerita of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Interim President 1993-1994
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