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FBI Expert Offers Mental Profile of 'Spree Killer'

November 11, 1995|AARON CURTISS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

John Douglas has never met Glen Rogers, but he knows the type: Rogers is no serial killer, but his actions suggest the mind of a "spree killer"--an angry man ignoring the moral line between right and wrong.

Although each such killer is different in some ways, Douglas said, they also share characteristics and habits. Male. White. A drifter. Seldom kills outside his own race. Kills without motive. Smart, but a low achiever.

As the former head of the FBI's Investigative Support Unit, Douglas spent 25 years tracking, interviewing and cataloguing the most maniacal killers of all time. Douglas, who retired in June, developed many of the techniques investigators use to track serial killers and has written psychological profiles of nearly every multiple murderer since Jack the Ripper.

Rogers' alleged behavior differs from that of such well-known serial killers as Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer in that the killings he is accused of appear to be the result of impromptu bursts of rage, almost drunken afterthoughts to a night of revelry, Douglas said. Serial killers, by contrast, are more methodical.

Three of the victims Rogers is suspected of killing were stabbed. A fourth was strangled.

"We don't usually have these kinds of sprees where there is no cooling-off period," said Douglas, author of "Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit." He said Rogers likely had killed in the past, a remark that dovetails eerily with Rogers' own reported boast that the September slaying of a Santa Monica woman was his eighth.

Based on news reports of the crimes, Douglas said, Rogers probably picks up his women victims with no conscious thought of killing them. Yet after a night of heavy drinking, he may explode over some slight, real or imagined.

Then he strikes. Douglas said that spree killers who stab or strangle their victims enjoy the act of killing because these methods require considerable effort and close contact.

"This is a more impulsive type," Douglas said.

The unplanned, unpredictable rage, Douglas said, would explain why Rogers uses his real name when checking into motels or introducing himself to his victims. But once the crime is committed, Douglas said, Rogers apparently attempts to cover his tracks.

In three cases, bodies were left in bathtubs--a classic ploy that Douglas said obliterates trace evidence. By leaving a body in a tub of water, he said, bits of hair can be washed away and the saturation of tissue makes it difficult for investigators to take fingerprints. In one slaying, the body was set afire.

But as news of the killings hits the media, Douglas said, Rogers may begin to panic and rely more on alcohol, which in turn could lead to sloppy mistakes. He said Rogers, described by acquaintances as a sharp dresser with a neat beard, may become more disheveled.

His flight may be toward someplace where he feels safe--a hometown, the home of a relative or possibly a community where he got away with crimes in the past.

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