It is with profound sadness that we note the passing of retired FBI Special Agent Robert K. Ressler after a long and valiant struggle with an increasingly debilitating disease. Back in the 1970’s, when Bob and I were instructors assigned to the FBI Academy in Quantico, we decided we’d have a lot more impact in our discussions of violent and repeat offenders if we could verify what we were teaching through actually interviewing the “experts” – the violent offenders themselves. We became partners, and for a long time you didn’t hear my name around the Bureau without hearing Bob’s, and vice versa.
The story has been told many times now, including by Bob in his own books and by Mark and me in Mindhunter, about how Ressler and I took every opportunity we could during our traveling “road schools” to go into penitentiaries and conduct exhaustive interviews with violent serial offenders. Out of that effort came the first organized study of such individuals, the landmark Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives we co-authored with Dr. Ann Burgess, and ultimately the Crime Classification Manual, which the three of us produced along with Ann’s husband, Dr. Allen Burgess. It is now in its third edition. And out of that effort emerged the FBI’s criminal profiling program, of which I was the first operational agent, and VICAP, the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, of which Bob became the first manager. By the time he retired from the Bureau, his story was already the stuff of legend.
Bob’s contributions to the fields of behavioral profiling and criminal investigative analysis will be long remembered. He left the field in a far better and more advanced state than he found it. He was one of the pioneers. May his family find peace and grace in his many accomplishments and his lasting legacy.