37 | Character Sketches


63. What makes the subject angry?

Stupid people. Short fuse.

65. What days/dates are especially significant to the subject? (Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, death of family member, etc.)

Mother’s Day—The most important holiday.


When mother was moved from CA to CO due to nursing home requirement, [he] visited a lot and then got tired/bored and stopped going to see her much. Mom was a hobby and he got tired of it.

Cherrie Otto, December 2005

14. Did any family member have a great deal of influence in subject’s life?

Mother was very partial to her first child and son.

77. How does subject react to the loss (by death, separation, alienation, etc.) of people important to him/her?

He did not show any emotion after my sister was murdered.

79. What is truly important to the subject?

Getting what he wants.

Jean Brickell, December 2005

61. Does the subject hold any particular prejudices?

Did not like Catholics (wife was Catholic), black people.

65. What events seem to shake subject’s self-confidence?

When he couldn’t “win” a discussion.

Dick Brickell, December 2005

When interviewing [Duane] explain to him the case will not just “go away.” His life from this point forward will be miserable unless he deals with it now. He will always wonder when authorities will be knocking on his door or if he is being followed…. Remind him that [Betty] was on medications for bipolar disorder. She took things too seriously; specifically, Catholicism, Judaism and Stephanie’s abortion. Her demeanor changed during the marriage, which added stress to the whole family. The marriage was not a good marriage. [Minimize] that he is a cold-blooded killer. Describe the case as manslaughter instead…. Never let [him] believe he has any room to dispute the facts of the case or [doubt] that the case will continue forward with or without his input.

Progress Report by Investigator Bruce Isaacson 052306 (phone conference with BSU Criminal Profiling Unit)

Cold case cops Isaacson and Brandt knew one thing: Duane was an egocentric sociopath who hadn’t just gotten away with murder for thirty years; he’d gotten away with murder period. To break him, they had to get inside his head. For that they contacted the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit.

In November 2005, Special Agent Vanicelli of the FBI’s Denver office reviewed the file and recommended the Criminal Profiling Unit assist. In December Isaacson and Brandt had a phone consult with Quantico. They were given a list of investigatory loose ends to tie up and a 14-page document titled General Assesssment Questions. Give it to people who were close to Duane, the FBI said, but not anyone who might warn him. Tell them to answer as if it was 1973.

The FBI’s questionnaire began with Duane’s socioeconomic status and relationships with his siblings and parents. It moved to his appearance, habits, employment, education and interests. Did he embrace a structured belief system that influenced his behavior? What made him angry? Then, on a scale of one to five, respondents rated his personal characteristics—introvert vs. extrovert, self-centered vs. concerned for others, rigid vs. flexible, manipulative vs. straightforward. The questionnaire was given to Jean and Dick Brickell, Cherrie and me.

In May 2006, the cold case cops went to Vanicelli’s office for a final consult with two profilers from Quantico.

Interview Duane and his kids at the same time but separately, the FBI said. Don’t give them a chance to warn the others. Approach Barbara—Duane’s second wife—when she’s alone. Could they use a timeline? Isaacson asked. Don’t show him anything that isn’t 100% accurate because he’ll turn any error to his favor, they said. Make sure each interviewer is able to respond to all comments. There can be absolutely no “blank looks” or feeble responses to these people. What about the kids? Have grand jury subpoenas in hand and don’t be afraid to use them. Oh, one last thing about describing their mother’s death.

Don’t use the words homicide, murder or kill.

Is sympathy more effective than threats?

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