Cover image for Special agent : my life on the front lines as a woman in the FBI
Title:
Special agent : my life on the front lines as a woman in the FBI
Author:
DeLong, Candice.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
xii, 303 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780786867073
Format :
Book

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Central Library HV7911.D443 A3 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Clarence Library HV7911.D443 A3 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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Summary

Summary

Candice DeLong has been called a real-life Clarice Starling and a female Donnie Brasco. She has been on the front lines of some of the FBIs most gripping and memorable cases, including being chosen as one of the three agents to carry out the manhunt for the Unabomber in Lincoln, Montana. She has tailed terrorists, gone undercover as a gangsters moll, and posed as the madam for a call-girl ring. Now for the first time she reveals the dangers and rewards of being a woman on the front lines of the worlds most powerful law enforcement agency. She traces the unusual career path that led her to crime fighting, and recounts the incredible obstacles she faced as a woman and as a fledgling agent. She takes readers step by step through the profiling process and shows how she helped solve a number of incredible cases. The story of her role as a lead investigator on the notorious Tylenol Murderer case is particularly compelling. Finally, she gives the true, insiders story behind the investigation that led to the arrest of the Unabomberincluding information that the media cant or wont reveal. A remarkable portrait of courage and grace under fire, Special Agent offers a missing chapter to the annals of law enforcement and a dramatic and often funny portrait of an extraordinary woman who has dedicated her heart and soul to the crusade against crime.Candice DeLongs Top Cases: 1. TYMURS-(Bureau acronym for Tylenol Murders)8 victims, 1982. 2. F.A.L.N. Terrorist Organization, 198184. 3. Melissa Ackerman kidnap/rape/murder, 1986Serial child killer Brian Dugan (Illinois). Brian Dugan was the most prolific serial killer Illinois had ever encountered. 4. The Burlington Rapist (Illinois serial rapist), 1984. 5. The Lecherous Landlord was the first and most significant Discrimination in Housing case in the history of the Chicago FBI. 6. Undercover work on UNABOM, including an afternoon with Ted Kaczynski on his arrest day, April 3, 1996.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Where the stories of women in unusual professions circulate, DeLong's memoir of her years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation is likely to have appeal. DeLong, a divorced single mom, was the 28-year-old head nurse in a maximum-security psychiatric ward at Northwestern University Hospital in Chicago when she shifted her career goals. During 20 years with the Bureau, she pursued rapists, terrorists, kidnappers, and serial killers; the Tylenol poisonings and the Unabomber case are among the high-profile cases she investigated. Among the first generation of women to serve as agents, DeLong experienced her share of sexism within the Bureau. When she retired in July 2000, she served as a head field profiler in an FBI branch office. (Her description of the profiling process will fascinate many readers.) --Mary Carroll


Publisher's Weekly Review

DeLong offers a lively account of a single mother's 20 years in America's most conservative federal law enforcement agency. She was a registered nurse, seasoned by work in locked psychiatric wards, when a romance with a veteran agent led her to apply to the FBI. Her initiation in 1980 at the Quantico training academy was a grueling process of "flush[ing] out the weak," at a time when the old guard and even many younger agents remained openly hostile to the notion of female agents. DeLong shrewdly addresses such gender issues, depicting how the first women agents forced a sea change to a more integrated FBI. She reminisces acidly about institutional sexism ("Somehow fathers who placed themselves in physical jeopardy were deemed valiant... while mothers were considered irresponsible"), and her work tracking sexual predators has left her highly aware of "the evil that men do." DeLong initially performed research and telephone work, notably on the 1982 Tylenol murders, and won the loyalty and friendship of forward-thinking male peers. She at last moved on to undercover work on major cases including long-term surveillance of a terrorist bombing cell, the Chicago-based FALN (members' sentences were recently commuted by President Clinton) and the Unabomber and provides gripping accounts of these events. She also became an early proponent of "profiling" a technique scorned early on by many cops until its worth was proved and it was made famous by agent John Douglas (Mindhunter, etc.). Primarily a personal memoir, with DeLong contemplating her transformations as a woman and mother, this is a valuable look at the procedures and rituals of a notoriously cloistered organization. DeLong also brings to her reminiscences a lightness and humor rarely associated with the "Feebies." (May) Forecast: A 10-city author tour and national radio satellite touro should capitalize on a national fascination with crime and the FBI. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Former agent DeLong presents a fascinating narrative of her 20 years in the FBI. The head nurse of the maximum-security psychiatric unit at Northwestern University Hospital in Chicago before entering the FBI in 1980, she recounts the many difficulties she faced as one of the few female agents during the 1980s. She made inroads as the first woman member of the Chicago Point Terrorism Task Force (a coalition of FBI agents, secret service agents, and police officers from the Chicago Police Department's intelligence wing). DeLong has worked on many cases that readers will be familiar with (including the Chicago Tylenol-tampering mystery and the Unabomber case), although she says it's not the high-profile cases that made her job so satisfying but the everyday feeling that she was part of a "safety net." While some grisly details may disturb readers with weak stomachs, overall this is an engaging account of one woman's noted career. For all public libraries. Sarah Jent, Univ. of Louisville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One DARK EYES I was working as a nurse when I first got the notion of joining the FBI. Not your average bedside/medical surgical nurse but head nurse in a maximum-security psychiatric unit at University Hospital in Chicago. So I had to laugh when one of my instructors at Quantico, seeing me avert my eyes at the skull-sawing-open point of an autopsy movie, declared that I'd make a poor FBI agent. It was a pretty natural human reflex to look away, but to him it meant that I couldn't "handle stress" (code for being squeamish, like a girl).     I could have told him plenty about stress. I almost said, "You're an idiot," but luckily I didn't. As it was he wrote me up for being insolent, just for laughing.     On a maximum-security psych ward, you live under constant stress, with your antennae always up, ready to fly into action at the sound of a thump, a shout, or the drumming of running footsteps. When you have violent patients, you must be hyperattuned, ever watchful as their moods escalate, day by day, waiting for the inevitable explosion to come. I did a stretch like that for five years once, without a break, though today many hospitals require psych ward personnel to rotate off such units periodically for the sake of their own sanity. But back then, psychiatric nursing was what I believed I was born to do. * * * When I was young a close friend of mine suffered from a crippling depression, and I saw how devastating the demons of the mind can be. My idealism was ignited, and I resolved that when I got older I would help those living under the scourge of mental illness--in what capacity, I wasn't sure. Like most girls of the immediate postwar generation, I assumed that my options were limited.     My mother, Geraldine, worked in a bank until she met my father, Ken Rosing, a building contractor. He had first spotted her by the pool table at the Hasty Pudding Club, when he was a Harvard student and she was a USO volunteer. After a whirlwind two-month courtship they wed and, at the time of my father's death, had been devoted to each other for fifty-five years. They raised four children on a three-acre spread near Phoenix. I grew up on the back of a horse. Then, when I was fourteen, my family moved to San Francisco, trading the wide-open spaces for the confines of an apartment in Pacific Heights. But I loved the city, and being the only girl, I was lucky enough to get my own room. The boys had to share.     My oldest brother, Wayne, was an amateur astronomer and had a home telescope lab, where he taught me to grind mirrors. He would go on to become a computer engineer, helping to usher Apple into its boom years. But he continued to build telescopes, and now--professionally, as an avocation--he creates high-powered devices and installs them all over the world.     My brother Keith, two years younger than Wayne, introduced me to the Invisible Man and Invisible Woman, clear plastic models of the human body filled with brightly colored organs. We had a game, competing to see who could name all the different parts of anatomical systems the fastest--respiratory, digestive, endocrine, the bones of the skeleton. Keith would go on to become a doctor, one of the first physicians to be board certified in emergency medicine. Somewhere in our DNA there must be a gene promoting the love of risk and crisis.     I am two years younger than Keith, and two years after me, Glenn came along. He is the computer systems specialist for the Milwaukee FBI. He has been tremendously supportive, frequently calling during my training at Quantico to give me encouragement and to tell me how proud of me he was. We always shared as kids, and now as adults both working for the FBI, we have even more to talk about.     Compared to my brothers, I was an underachiever, a late bloomer. I enrolled in a three-year nursing program right out of high school, then got married when I was nineteen. Six years later, my only son, Seth, was born. I had met my husband, then living in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, when he was spending a summer visiting his family in California. He was standing at a gas pump, filling his car, when I tried to roll, literally, into the station. My car had run out of gas--on an incline luckily, so I could push it myself most of the way--and had lurched to a halt on the street right by the station. I told him my predicament, asking him to help me roll it the rest of the way to the pumps. He let out a beautiful laugh--he had such a fine alto tenor voice that he had trained to sing opera--and I fell in love.     Moving to Champaign-Urbana with my new groom, I enrolled at the university to get a bachelor of science degree in nursing. Out of curiosity I took a criminology course, not realizing that its "highlights" would include regular presentations of slides featuring violent deaths. Half the campus, it seemed, would turn out for these freak shows, to shiver and laugh at the grisly images. That made me sick. There was one terrible picture that I can still see in my mind--the headless torso of a coed, dressed in a plaid skirt, sweater set, and saddle shoes. The class tried to guess whether we were looking at a homicide, a suicide, or a misadventure. Almost no one got the correct answer--it was a suicide. A psych patient out of the hospital on a pass, she had thrown herself under the shrieking blade of a sawmill. "Aha!" everybody laughed, as I sat paralyzed with horror. I was studying to be a psych nurse but now thought seriously about abandoning my lifelong ambition. I was certain I could never stand it if I lost a patient that way.     Here I am, thirty years later, having spent my career steeped in gore, untimely death, and human suffering. Gruesome crime scene photos have been my stock in trade. * * * But I stuck with psych nursing. Surprisingly, I had been the only student in my class of thirty, back at the small nursing college, who was at all inspired by the psychiatric specialization. Many of the others thought the psych rotation was "stupid," a "waste of time," not "real" nursing at all. Others were terrified that they'd be walking into a snakepit, where they'd risk being injured or killed. It's true that in the late 1940s and early 1950s, all too many state hospitals resembled the institution in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest . But this was 1970 and we were doing our training in a much more humane setting, the small locked psych ward of a general hospital, under an instructor so revered that the staff called her Dr. Nurse.     For my first day of clinical practice I dressed carefully, I still remember, in a plaid suit and a gold sweater--psych nurses wear street clothes instead of whites, so the patients feel more like clients than incarcerees--eager to make a good impression on the patient assigned to be my very own. He was nowhere to be found, however, so I wound up disappointedly sitting in the dayroom, where a kindly man around my father's age approached me. We made small talk and he confided that he had entered the hospital because he needed a "safe environment" in which to "deal with some things." I felt so proud--already a patient was feeling comfortable enough to open up to me.     I was determined to continue to draw him out, so I went along when the man suggested that I come to his room, where there was something he wanted to retrieve. He kicked the door shut, and as he fumbled in the closet, I settled onto the bedside chair. "You're not like the others," he said, "I like talking to you."     I allowed myself a small private smile of pride.     "I like talking to you because you are interested in me and what I have to say, not just in telling me to do something."     "Telling you to do something ...," I echoed, as we had been taught. Reflecting a patient's thoughts so he could hear them out loud was supposed to help him develop new insights.     "Yeah, always telling me what to do, wanting things ..." He moved away from the closet, pacing back and forth in front of the door as his agitation built. "Always clawing at me. Nothing is ever good enough ..."     Great , I thought, he's emotionally engaged . I was oblivious to the fact that I was effectively trapped in the room. I then popped the classic therapeutic question, "How does that make you feel?"     "Feel? I feel like they're always watching. They'll never leave me alone. They're always wanting something, I can feel their eyes--"     "Whose eyes?" I interrupted.     "My wife's, of course! She's always pushing me, pushing--she can never be happy ... I don't want to hurt them, I love them, my son and my little girl ..."     By now he was crying and shaking, and just then, the door opened. Dr. Nurse said firmly, "Candy, I need to see you at the nursing station."     "Don't go," the man begged, clutching desperately at my hands. I tried to reassure him: "We can help you here, don't worry, things will get better for you ...," as Dr. Nurse gently tugged me away.     In the hall she asked, "Do you know why that man's in here?"     "Well, he seemed like a paranoiac," I began, warming to my role as junior diagnostician.     "You might say that," Dr. Nurse replied. "Paranoid enough to think his family was trying to kill him, so he killed them first. While they were sleeping, he bludgeoned his son and his three-year-old baby girl with a golf club, and then he stabbed his wife to death. He is what's known as a `family annihilator.'"     Sadly he was just the first of many family annihilators I would encounter in my years on maximum-security wards and, later on, as a field profiler for the FBI.     The encounter didn't scare me. More than anything, it fueled my commitment to the work I was convinced was my calling. I resolved that day that to come to understand how such terrifying delusions could grip the mind and what happened in that horrific moment before such savage impulses were unleashed. Barely out of my teens, I was fired with passion, determined to help other sufferers--so many of the homicidally insane patients I came to know were the products of profound physical and mental brutality--before they reached the point of murder. Thirty years later, through the art/science of profiling, I'm still grappling with the same mysteries, though from a different point of view--with an eye to saving potential future victims of violence.     But I wasn't so naive as to miss learning some important lessons from my mistake: That was the last time I ever got myself cornered alone in a room with a patient; and I now knew better than to press a psychotic person to "get in touch with his feelings." A patient in such a state needs to be watched and reassured that the voices in his head or feelings that are overwhelming him aren't real, until medication can bring him some relief. "Insights" fan the flames of terrifying delusions, but I've even seen psychotherapists badger patients to express feelings that the lucid parts of their minds are struggling to contain--and for good reason. I used to call that the "these hands" syndrome--a hubristic belief, flying in the face of patients' needs and cues, not to mention plain common sense, in one's own ability to effect healing. I finished my studies and became a registered nurse (RN) specializing in psychiatry. My patients ran the gamut from the troubled, people who needed a brief stint in the hospital to get over some emotional speed bump in life, to those afflicted with anorexia nervosa, manic and chronic depression, and schizophrenia with full-blown auditory and visual hallucinations. Few of them were homicidal, of course--the majority of the "criminally" ill on the wards were garden-variety mentally disordered sex offenders. Nor was the strangest patient I ever saw a killer. Rather, she was a tiny, plump, elderly woman with a sweet round face, clear blue eyes, and snow-white hair tied up in a soft bun. In her cotton floral print housedress, she looked like Norman Rockwell's idea of the perfect granny.     In fact she was a great-grandmother, an octogenarian living with her middle-aged daughter and son-in-law, who one day, all of a sudden, got combative, throwing glasses of water and spitting at anyone who crossed her path. Her shocked family called their family physician, who advised them to take her to the emergency room, thinking that perhaps she had hit her head or was having some kind of bizarre seizure. That was easier said than done. No one could quell her ferocity long enough to get her into the car. So they called the paramedics, and eventually it took three trained men to wrestle the 100-pound woman into the ambulance. In the ER, fighting like a demon, she had to be clapped into four-way leather restraints to protect the staff.     When exhaustive testing yielded no physical key to her condition, she was admitted to the psych ward, where she began to wreak havoc. Not because of her wild flailing--we were used to that--but because of the roars coming out of her mouth. She was bellowing the most vividly obscene, almost kaleidoscopically inventive vulgarities any of us had ever heard. When I first met her, she greeted me with a vehement burst: "Eat shit, you ugly pussy-eater slut, fuck you, you cocksucker bitch whore"--that was just the warm-up--followed by a beatific smile. Then she spat at me, with her daughter standing by, mortified. I was choking, trying not to laugh.     Nothing I studied at St. Joseph's College of Nursing ever prepared me for this!     Her problem, of course, was not really funny. The poor woman's verbal assaults went on around the clock, for days. She never even slept. Every few seconds a barrage of obscenities would spew from her mouth, like an eruption of Old Faithful. The profanities might come in sentences or in an alphabetical list, or sometimes just in a torrent like one long, screamed curse. We had to confine the patient to her room so that her howls wouldn't disturb the others and for her own protection, lest some already agitated patient be provoked enough by her imprecations to attack. It was hard enough for us to withstand her abuse. She was under twenty-four-hour observation, which meant that staff members had to take turns being shut in with her and subjected to her hour-upon-hour litany of vulgarities. We would draw straws to pick each shift's sacrificial lamb. When we were finally able to get her sedated enough to sleep (a little-by-little process that took a few days), a blessed calm descended on the ward, as if a twister had just passed through it.     Then, just as suddenly as it began, the storm passed. After a few days of heavy sedation, when she slept most of the time, she started to have lucid moments, and by the end of that week she had stopped swearing altogether. Ten hellish days after being admitted to the hospital, she went home, completely restored to her old sweet self, with no memory of the episode whatsoever.     What had happened to this poor woman? No one ever found out. She had no detectable brain tumor, no evidence of neurological or mental illness of any kind, no identifiable stressor in her life that might have precipitated some kind of psychotic break--nothing. There is a disorder, Tourette's syndrome, that is known to produce bouts of uncontrollable cursing, but not for days on end without letup; and it doesn't just pop up unheralded by other symptoms and then vanish. The woman's daughter told us that she had never in her life heard her mother utter so much as the word "darn." The mysteries of the human brain continue to confound us. Who will ever know which crossed wires or misfiring circuits turned a kindly old lady into the inexhaustible smutmouth I called the Cursing Granny? I wish all of my cases had such happy endings. But in the various hospitals where I worked, most psych patients had more serious afflictions, some resulting in homicide or suicide. One who still haunts me was a young man named Bobby, who killed his mother. He had been admitted to the locked psych unit for observation, pending a hearing to decide whether or not he was mentally fit to stand trial.     Such patients can be very challenging for the nursing staff. Most of us were mothers, after all, and Bobby didn't seem particularly (even reassuringly) "crazy." On the surface he seemed like a son any of us might have--a baby-faced, quiet, reserved and even shy young man. Most of the female staff was scared of him and avoided contact whenever possible, but while I retained a healthy dose of fear myself, my heart went out to him. I also wanted to understand what could drive someone to kill the one person in the world on whom he is most dependent for love, care, and support.     I knew that Bobby's mother was not a totally "innocent" victim. She abused Bobby physically, emotionally, and even sexually from the time that he could crawl. But no one deserved the kind of death she suffered; and the vast majority of abused children do not become murderers (instead, too often, they go on to perpetuate the cycle of abuse with their own children). What differentiates those who do?     I tried to reach out to Bobby by playing games with him: Gin Rummy, Crazy Eights, and Go Fish. Psych nurses have to be well versed in card games, for they can be neutral ground on which to interact with a patient, a way to connect. Then too, when patients are lucid, they get terribly bored on the wards. For weeks Bobby said nothing of substance either to me or to his psychiatrist. Then one day we had a breakthrough, and he offered me an explanation of his violent act: "I couldn't help it. She made me do it. She needed to leave me be but she never would. I couldn't take it anymore. It just happened, but I don't remember anything about it. She still loves me, I'm sure ..."     Many killers blame the victims of the murders they commit, and it's not uncommon for them to deny any recollection of such a horrific event in their lives. (For violent offenders of a different kind, the ones I would come across later, as a profiler, reliving their actions was an integral part of the crime.) What unnerved me as much as anything Bobby said was his delivery. He spoke in a monotone, with no voice inflections, and with no display of emotion at all--as matter-of-factly as if he were ordering pancakes for breakfast.     That was as close as anyone got to Bobby. He remained beyond reach, through numerous sessions with his psychiatrist and with me, continuing to maintain: "She made me do it, but I don't remember."     Finally he stopped talking about it altogether. I think he was afraid to speak of it anymore, half-believing that if he didn't, he could convince himself that it never happened or make it magically go away. He was found "sane" by the court panel, meaning that he knew what he did was wrong at the time that he did it. He was tried for the murder of his mother and found guilty--juries tend to be afraid of defendants who have killed their parents, whatever the reason--and was sentenced to a stint in a "psychiatric" prison. Since he was a juvenile at the time of the crime, the state would hold him only until he reached twenty-one. At that time, he would be released, presumably cured.     But would he be cured? Radical change is possible, of course, and patients who want it badly and get decent treatment can recover. But those who are sentenced to psychiatric hospitals by the courts, forced into treatment because their demons have pushed them to brutal murders--never mind the true predators who kidnap, sadistically rape and torture, as well as kill--I don't think so.     In 1973 a man by the name of Edmund Kemper placed a call from a pay phone in Pueblo, Colorado, to the Santa Cruz, California, police to announce: "You guys must be looking for me." As it turns out, they were looking for him. They wanted to tell him the sad news of his mother's death. She and a friend had been savagely murdered in her home on Easter Sunday, the week before. But before the officer could extend his condolences, Kemper countered with some news of his own: He had beaten his mother to death with a hammer, decapitated her, and raped the corpse; then invited the friend over for dinner to decapitate her too. As if to ensure that he would have the final word, he excised his mother's larynx and shoved it down the garbage disposal, which ejected it, to his frustration: "Even when she was dead, she was still bitching at me!"     These were not crimes of passion but well-planned murders capping off a yearlong killing spree. Nor was this Kemper's first brush with the law. At the age of fourteen, he had shot his grandparents in cold blood, stabbing his grandmother's body with a kitchen knife, for good measure, to punish his mother, who was off on her honeymoon with her second husband.     He was sent to the Atascadero State Hospital for the criminally insane in California, where he was a model patient, though some therapists recognized his calm exterior for the façade it was. Nonetheless, when he turned twenty-one, he was released. Was he "cured"? By his own admission, "I appeared serene on the outside, but I was raging on the inside."     He had returned to live with his mother, who had mercilessly emotionally abused him his entire life. It was only a couple of years before he kicked off a new murderous rampage by stabbing two coeds, who were roommates, to death, suffocating a third, and then shooting three more. Each time, before disposing of the remains he brought the victim's body to his mother's house for dissection; and he buried one young woman's head in the backyard, facing his mother's room, because she expected everyone "to look up to her." Finally he recognized that it was intense hatred of his mother that was driving him to kill. As he later told a reporter, "Because of the way she raises her son, six young women are dead."     So he butchered her, along with her friend, and when the police were exasperatingly slow to come after him, turned himself in. Thank God! He was found guilty on eight counts of first-degree murder, becoming the only twice-convicted serial killer in California history.     These events occurred while I was a young psychiatric nurse, and being acutely conscious of the dilemma hospitals face when violent patients come up for release, I followed them in the media very closely. I still recall a newsclip that chilled me then and rather graphically illustrates the limitations of psychiatric prognostications. It said, in essence, that during his year of killing six young women, Kemper was required to appear before a board of psychiatrists and psychologists who would determine whether or not the record of his previous crime, of killing his grandparents when he was fourteen, should be sealed. Kemper wanted to become a police officer someday, and if he were to achieve that status, the record of his double homicide would have to be sealed. (Personally, I cannot believe that this request was even given consideration.) After interviewing him for a few hours, the board of five learned men decided that his murder record should be sealed because he was now "reformed." They decided that his unfortunate past should not haunt his bright future, insofar as he had been "cured" and was in no way a danger to society. In fact, they said, his motorcycle was more of a danger to society than he was.     While Kemper sat before this board answering the good doctors' questions, the headless torso of a young coed whom he had recently murdered was stashed in the trunk of his car in the parking lot. So much for predicting human behavior.     How likely is it that the methods of psychological evaluation have vastly improved in the twenty years since Edmund Kemper bamboozled his examiners? Not very likely at all, judging by my case files at the FBI. (Continues...) Excerpted from SPECIAL AGENT by Candice DeLong and Elisa Petrini. Copyright © 2001 by Candice DeLong and Elisa Petrini. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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