It seems a little bizarre, but the FBI has in fact developed a museum dedicated to the research of serial killers. Dubbed the “Evil Minds Research Museum,” it focuses on the private artwork, writings, correspondence, and other personal artifacts of serial killers. Located at the FBI training site in Quantico, VA, the museum is in the basement of the Behavior Science Unit (BSU) and is not open to the public. Only scholars and researchers will be allowed to view the materials to analyze and provide insight to the FBI into what makes a serial killer.
Greg Vecchi, Ph.D., chief of the FBI’s BSU states, “We’re looking at serial killers and serial killer artifacts. This is not to glamorize these killers, but to understand them. Our research is all about what we like to say, crawling into the minds of the bad guys.” See a short video about the museum here.
In other words, the vision of the museum is to assist in preventing future victimization through understanding the meaning behind offender behavior. It is not meant as a public spectacle to disrespect the victims, and their families, of these killers.
The museum started after a private collector, (a “serial killer groupie“), contacted Dr. Vecchi stating that he had been studying serial killers for over 25 years, and wanted to donate a valuable collection of artwork, etc. to the BSU for further analysis.
The museum currently has paintings by John Wayne Gacy, sketches by Richard Ramirez (the Night Stalker), greeting cards from Lawrence “Pliers” Bittaker, and artwork by Keith Jesperson. In addition, the museum contains artwork, poetry, and personal correspondence from dozens of other serial killers including greeting cards and letters to family members.
Scholars, art experts, handwriting experts, etc. will be allowed access to the artifacts in order to analyze brush strokes, handwriting and more to gain insight into how serial killers think. That information will be added to what the FBI already knows about the offender from previous interviews, arrest files and court documents to create a clearer picture of the mind of a serial killer.
Their private artwork and correspondence is expected to reveal a side of their thoughts that police were not necessarily privy to during their investigations:
“The materials provide unique insights into the killers’ motivations, personalities, and the meaning behind their behavior simply because when corresponding with friends, family, and themselves, there was no apparent reason to put forth a certain socially desirable image; whereas, in their interactions with the police and other authorities, the killers were more likely to feel compelled to present a certain image and demeanor.” (Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association)
A fascinating, yet creepy, undertaking, I hope this research provides information that will be used to protect the public and create a more accurate understanding of what makes these people tick…