They are what we fear most. Killers without conscience. Serial killers. Cruel, predatory creatures who take carnal delight in blood-spattering horror. Monsters. Real monsters. Denizens of a macabre, twisted reality where unspeakable acts against man and nature are embraced with worshipful awe. They lurk, undetected, behind friendly smiles and unassuming manners that belie their fiendish resolve.
Sadistic killers are the bogeymen of the '90s--television's villains in vogue. Their odious deeds, prime-time fodder sating America's prurient intrigue with the fringe of human depravity.
On the vanguard of this trend rides "Millennium," the popular Fox Network series delving weekly into the squirming realm of the criminally insane. Created by Chris Carter, the mastermind behind the phenomenally successful series "X-Files," "Millennium" follows the exploits of Frank Black, a uniquely gifted criminal profiler working for an enigmatic crime-fighting organization known as the Millennium Group.
Carter's inspiration for the series--and perhaps a big reason why the Friday-night thriller is venerated by discriminating detective story aficionados--has more than a little bit to do with distinguished SHSU alumnus Roy Hazelwood, a world-renowned criminal profiler and 18-year veteran of the FBI's famous Behavioral Science Unit.
Since 1994, Hazelwood has plied his craft with The Academy Group, a private consortium of retired FBI violent crime experts based in Manassas, Va. Like their television counterparts, Hazelwood and his peers battle evil forces besieging the world in the waning years of the second millennium. But unlike the fictional heroes, Academy consultants market their exclusive "forensic behavioral science services" at a rate which prices them well out of the range of most law enforcement agency budgets.
"The fees associated with our services...well, let's just say they are not $20-an-hour fees," Hazelwood mused during a June telephone interview from his Fredericksburg, Va. home. "We're not working for the federal government anymore."
Carter learned about the Academy Group while researching notorious FBI cases for "X-Files" story ideas. Tales of the group's early FBI escapades--now widely revered as law enforcement legend--actually sparked the idea for the "Millennium" series. To ensure that the show's fictional cops-and-killers portrayals didn't veer too far from reality, Carter hired Hazelwood and his partners as creative consultants.
"The most interesting aspect of the show is the realism of the crimes," Hazelwood said. "As far as its portrayal of murders, 'Millennium' is probably the most realistic crime show on TV. It depicts what really happens. In many episodes I've recognized details taken from actual cases I've worked on."
Hazelwood didn't just set out to become one of the world's leading experts on violent sex crimes, sexual sadism and other manifestations of aberrant human behavior. It just worked out that way.
"There is nothing in my life that has ever been planned," he said. "Absolutely nothing."
Hazelwood graduated from Sam Houston in 1960 with a degree in sociology. During his stay in Huntsville--through what he remembers as a somewhat reluctant engagement with the university's ROTC program--he also managed to earn a commission in the U.S. Army.
"I hated ROTC," he admitted. "But like my dad said, you can either give orders to peel potatoes, or you can peel potatoes."
It was the Army that pointed Hazelwood toward a crime-fighting career. He didn't want to join the infantry, "they got too dirty." Artillery officers "had ear problems," and engineers, well, he "never was much into bridge building." But the military police, "they looked good."
So began an 11-year stint as an MP, a period that allowed Hazelwood to hone crime-fighting skills while rising to the rank of major. He was discharged from the military in 1971 and soon joined the FBI as a special agent assigned to investigate crime on military bases. He was later transferred to New York where he ran herd on the Mafia; a real "film noir" type assignment that involved investigating organized crime activity through wire taps, hidden microphones, and unsavory informants.
By 1976, Hazelwood was reassigned to the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. where he lectured on sex crimes--a subject he had become well-versed in during his military investigations.
It was at the academy that the once reluctant ROTC cadet became a major operative on the FBI's highly revered Behavioral Science Unit. That group, made famous in the best-selling novel and Academy Award-winning thriller "Silence of the Lambs," comprised a Who's Who team of criminal investigators. They were the guys responsible for developing criminal profiling into an art form. Their real-life exploits have spawned countless stories--fiction and nonfiction--detailing some of the most intriguing murder investigations ever imagined or actually pursued.
"The right group of people came together at the right time, in the right location," Hazelwood recalled.
After 18 years of analyzing, hunting and often apprehending and convicting some of the nation's most nefarious mass-murderers, terrorists and all-around evil-doers, the behavioral science gang was closing in on retirement. That's when Roger Dupue, the unit chief, got the idea for The Academy Group--a private consulting firm offering a highly specialized service for agencies or companies experiencing...uh...behavior problems.
Today, four of the original FBI team members and a former Secret Service agent make up the core consulting team for The Academy Group. Collectively, their expertise encompasses a spectrum of crime-fighting disciplines ranging from forensic science and psychology to hostage negotiation and white collar crime.
While law enforcement agencies do occasionally contract with The Academy Group, the bulk of their customers are corporations; among them, some of the most recognized companies in the world. But the "Millennium" contract presented a special treat for these hard-core investigators; a light alternative to the more somber business as usual at their Manassas, Va. shop.
Last May, Hazelwood and two of his Academy associates, Dick Ault and Pete Smerick, flew out to Hollywood to meet with "Millennium" creator and producer Carter, the show's star, Lance Henriksen, and the writing teams from both "Millennium" and "The X-Files."
For the entire day, the Academy trio fielded questions about crime, criminals and investigative techniques.
"Some of the writers were presenting scenarios and asking if they were realistic," Hazelwood recalled. "They basically wanted to know about the way we worked cases."
Henriksen was very attentive throughout the day-long gathering, noted Hazelwood. The actor plays Frank Black, a former FBI agent with a unique and disturbing ability which can take him inside the mind of a killer. His gift is also his curse.
He wanted to know what investigators, confronted daily with the horrid aftermath of brutal crimes, do to relieve stress. The simple answer, "dark humor," was not something easily portrayed in the context of the series.
"I really appreciate what he had to say," Hazelwood said, recalling the actor's reaction. "I've got 45 minutes to present the victim's plight," Henriksen told him. "I'm afraid if I laugh or if I make jokes about it, that will take away from what happened to the victim."
Hazelwood admitted that no matter how often he was confronted with grisly crime scenes, the brutality always surprised him.
"There are three things you have to isolate your feelings about when you do this kind of work," he explained. "You have to isolate your personal feelings about the crime, about the victim and about the criminal. If you don't, you yourself become a victim."
He attributes his own emotional stability to the fact that he never considered his job to be his life.
"My life is what I do for fun, relaxation and enjoyment," he said. "My job is what I do to earn a living."
Additionally, and perhaps foremost, he is a man of conviction.
"It's not very popular these days, but one of the things I depend upon is my religious faith. I have my faith, I have my family and I have my pastimes. Those three things stand me in good stead."