If you're in DC, and you happen to be a criminal psychologist, an F.B.I. agent, or the haunted survivor of an infamous serial mass murder who is obsessed with avenging the death of your teen friends, then you might just think about swinging by the Evil Minds Research Museum: a by-appointment research museum that hosts a collection or documents, art, and artifacts gathered by the Bureau's Behavioral Science Unit in their endless hunt for America's deadliest serial killers.
BSU head Greg Vecchi makes the pitch:
One of the most exciting research projects that we have, is we’ve have started what we have labeled the 'Evil Minds Research Museum.' And what this is, this is actually a research museum where we are collecting serial killer and other offender artifacts.
And so these artifacts are like paintings, John Wayne Gacey paintings. Paintings that he was the Killer Clown back in Chicago several decades back, who would kill men and boys, and he would dismember their bodies and put them under his floor board. Well, after he was caught, well, he turned out to be a so-called killer of the community [NB: this is a transcription error, Vecchi actually says 'pillar of the community'], and he would dress up as a clown and do gigs doing clown stuff for the kids. And so he would draw pictures or paint pictures of clowns, and he had clown paintings in the room where he dismembered the bodies. And he had clown paintings that he did after he got arrested and when he was basically on death row.
And so we got those paintings and we are studying those paintings. We want to look at the brush strokes. We want to look at what drives him, what changes, because the pictures are completely different. Before he was arrested, for instance, the clowns were Flippo the Clown, very happy clowns, very colorful; afterwards his paintings were very dark. It was basically a skeleton or a skull dressed up or painted up to be a clown.
We’ve have got thousands and thousands of pages of correspondence between a number of serial killers. Richard Ramirez, the night stalker. We’ve got Keith Hunter Jesperson, another famous serial killer, his complete manifesto of why he killed, written in his own handwriting. We have greeting cards, we have photos, we have serial killer art. But the museum itself, and here is where the value of it is, for the most part, almost all of the research of law enforcement is usually done interacting with the subject rather through an investigation, or, in what we do, more of a research-type of approach, where we would sit down with protocols and interview them like we do with the serial killers, or like we are doing with the hostage takers now. This is stuff that is taken out of their most personal possessions. Things that were not taken as law enforcement, but were taken on search warrants, or provided, maybe after they were executed, by their family. And so it gives a completely different perspective of their mindset—where they are coming from because this is correspondence to themselves, correspondence between them and their loved ones—their mother, their father—correspondence between them and other serial killers, and even correspondence between them and the many groupies that write to them and develop a relationship as a pen pal. And so this is a very exciting research, this research museum, where we are looking at their motivation and try to understand them from a perspective that, as far as we know, has never been undertaken.
But don't pack the kiddies in the station wagon just yet. You need to be a genuine researcher with the F.B.I.'s visiting scholars program to check out all the fun.
But fear not, you can visit vicariously through the pages of Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association (he said "annals"). They've got a downloadable PDF article on visiting the museum with plenty of photos. Enjoy.