How Aussie FBI-trained ‘Mindhunter’ caught a rapist
Exclusive: She is one of only a handful of Australians to have worked at the FBI's Behaviour Analysis Unit, made famous by cult movie The Silence of the Lambs and TV crime shows like Mind Hunter and Criminal Minds) at the bureau's Quantico academy.
Australia's own "Mindhunter" Kris Illingsworth has now revealed details of the hunt for the Wee Waa rapist story in the next instalment of the successful Police Tape podcast series - Blue Sirens.
It was the answers to a carefully-worded questionnaire that gave the rapist away.
The man who committed the violent crime on a 91-year-old woman revealed his own guilt without even realising it. He had been outsmarted by her.
As an FBI-trained profiler, Ms Illingsworth crafted the behavioural questionnaire that was given to every man undergoing a DNA swab in the tiny cotton town in northern New South Wales.
It was one of the first mass DNA screenings in Australia and they were swabbing more than 500 men.
It was hoped the questionnaire would reveal the rapist faster than the time needed to process so many DNA swabs.
"It was designed to bring out the answers of the person who committed the crime. So the idea being that the vast majority of people will answer the questionnaire in a certain way but the offender would answer it differently," she said.
Police investigators kept the pressure on. Every day they asked Ms Illingsworth "if she had found the rapist yet?".
After pouring over the answers of more than 330 men, she remembers seeing one that stopped her in her tracks.
She said it was a "wow" moment. She was looking at two questions answered by the rapist completely differently to everyone else.
"I said this guy - it's him."
HEAR THE LATEST BLUE SIRENS PODCAST HERE
The Blue Sirens podcast series talks to five policewomen around the country including detectives who worked on Melbourne's gangland murders, the top cop dubbed the gang buster for smashing her way through the nation's network of outlaw motor cycle gangs, Australia's first female bomb technician and a Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner.
Ms Illingsworth said in the Wee Waa case, the rapist was so nervous about the whole police hunt and the procedures, he walked into a police station and confessed.
Ms Illingsworth is a former Detective Sergeant in the NSW Police Force who has worked on some of the state's most notorious cases, including the "Granny" murders on Sydney's north shore and Ivan Milat's backpacker killing spree, now works as an independent criminal behavioural analyst and investigator.
Ms Illingsworth said profilers are there to help when detectives have run out of leads.
It can be hours and hours on end of studying the minute detail of a crime scene hat has fuelled her insights into cases such as the Sydney Granny Killer, the Snowtown murders and the Norfolk Island killing of Janelle Patton.
MORE PODCASTS FROM BLUE SIRENS
"You only get called to the cases that they can't solve or that are particularly hard for some
reason," she says.
"You never get the easy cases … which I like."
She trained at the FBI Academy featured in Silence of the Lambs, but when it comes to depicting the work of criminal profilers, Kris Illingsworth says TV's Mind Hunter does it best - though real life is still nowhere near as glamorous.
Read more and listen to the podcast at truecrimeaustralia.com.au