Former FBI Profiler Candice DeLong Explains Why It’s Never “Normal” When Women Kill


I was recently asked by a TV critic — who was preparing a review for the upcoming season nine of Deadly Women — if I had dreamed about becoming an expert on female killers when I was a little girl. I’ve been asked a lot of questions over the past nine years about the show, but that one was unique. I had not considered a career in the world of criminals, what little kid would? However, her question made me think, just exactly how did I become the “accidental profiler” of the baddest of the bad girls? And it was an accident.

Deadly Women's infamous glare returns on Friday, August 7

Deadly Women’s infamous glare returns on Friday, August 7

All I ever wanted to be was a psychiatric nurse, and I had spent almost a decade working with mentally ill and emotionally disturbed people when the FBI recruited me. I initially had no plans to specialize in the analysis of violent, interpersonal crime, I just wanted to catch bad guys (and girls too). I really didn’t care much about the why behind their criminal behavior, just chasing terrorists and bank robbers and putting hand cuffs of them was fun enough.

Related: Why Moms Kill: Investigation Discovery’s Candice DeLong On The 3 Most Common Motives

Years later, while assigned to the Chicago division, I was trained by the Behavioral Science Unit in the fledgling art and science of criminal profiling, that enlightened me to the very darkest side of human nature, including serial rape, serial murder, pedophilia and crimes against children, ritualistic murder, and sexual fetishes so powerful that the beholder had no problem kidnapping (and sometimes harming) an innocent person to live out their fantasy. I learned about the psychology, motivation, and especially the behavior behind all kinds of violent crimes, but almost nothing about female killers. I recall in one lecture back in 1984 when the instructor began the class with the proclamation “There is no such thing as a female serial killer!” I had no proof that he was wrong because I hadn’t studied the subject myself, but his statement did give me pause.

Deadly Women take no prisoners

Deadly Women take no prisoners

Fast forward twenty years to 2004 and the series premier of Deadly Women on the Discovery network. Now, after 8 seasons, all I can say is,

“It’s too bad the FBI didn’t have access to our incredible research team!”

If you’re an ardent Deadly Women fan then you know that throughout history there have been all kinds of female killers, including the serial kind that seemed so skillful in eluding the FBI.

Starting this Friday night you’ll see even more desperate, devious, and yes, deadly women on the season 9 premiere. It’s my job is to explain the behavior, psychology and the motivation of the women who’s stories we present.The reasons behind most murders are rarely simple and straightforward, especially when the killer is a girl or woman. When the headlines say “JEALOUS WOMAN KILLS LOVER’S WIFE,” you can be sure there’s more to it than that. If my ten years in clinical psychiatry and twenty years as an FBI agent taught me anything at all about killers, it’s that there’s always a back story. I think what makes Deadly Women so compelling is that we tell the whole story about seemingly normal women who became killers. Indeed, they were so normal that even their victims never saw them coming. So lock your doors, prepare the yummy bowl of popcorn, and above all, watch your back!

Watch a preview of the Deadly Women premiere:

  • Xavier Davis

    I missed it. Where was the explanation?

    • Frank Turturici

      Hidden somewhere in the plug for Season 9 of Deadly Women which starts this Friday (in case you missed it).

  • Lea Faletti

    ‘The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see. …–Churchhill

  • Rebecca Morris

    I love this show, all kinds of people out there with all kinds of issues, she explains their issues well. In a way its educational to know some symptoms in case you may run into them in a person one day 🙂

  • PlainOldTruth

    Have you seen “Index: Female Serial Killers” and “Female Serial Killers: Collections: Master List” ?

  • Tom

    I am the adult child of a now deceased clinical psychologist who spent his last 10 yrs of life working at arguably the roughest juvenile hall in the entire nation, Central Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles, located in the shadow of one of the busiest county hospitals in the nation, County U.S.C Hospital. As I was interested in abnormal psychology from an early age, he shared a fair amount of what went on there, with the identities of the players kept strictly confidential, of course. Dad was unfailingly decent, caring and ethical. He was also the only psychologist on the staff utterly immune to the wiles of the seductive females at the facility. Thus, he was assigned most all of them, along with his fair share of the hard case males. I think they shortened his life by seriously overworking him that last decade of life. Believe me, manipulative, narcissistic females are every bit as dangerous as the muscle-bound male predators in the yard of any prison in the country. One thing that makes them so dangerous is that you never see them coming. They’ve probably already identified you as a mark for their schemes before you know they are within spitting distance.

    I’ve spent literally years studying, not just reading, every major book on serial crimes written on the subject, including treatises on the criminal mind by Stanton Samenow and others, forensic psychology, forensic pathology (by Michael Baden M.D., Dr, Henry Lee, Cyril Wecht, M.D., etc.) and I appreciate Candice DeLong’s commentaries. If she has written a book on profiling, it is one that I missed. One of my favorite female authors is Katherine Ramsland, Ph.d. Her books are very readable and well-researched. One very useful title for anyone interested in these cases is The Anatomy of Motive, to which I believe several profilers from the early days of the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Unit contributed.

    So far as the statement alluded to in the preceding copy, i.e. that there were/are no female serial killers, that has never been true. The correct statement would have been: female serial killers are not, and never have been, as (tragically) commonplace as male serial killers in this, or any other country, for that matter. For some reason, the good ‘ol U.S. of A seems to grow bumper crops of these serial predators, much more than any other country, by far. As a whole, the vast bulk of killings, legitimate (as in war) and criminal/pathological will always be performed by men. But as ‘Deadly Women’ amply demonstrates: get sloppy watching your back around the wrong woman and you are likely to end up with a knife sticking out of it. And, so far as I am concerned, the man dumb enough to kill for, or at the behest of ANY woman, with the exception of legitimate defensive purposes, deserves the worst possible thing that can happen to him. I rest my case.

  • Gary Polodna

    How do I bring to the program “Deadly Women” a new case that you may not know about yet? It is about a mother, daughter combo that murdered their husband/father son/brother, and tried to kill the other daughter/sister, by anti freeze poisoning. The case is currently being tried in Springfield Mo. The daughter has already been convicted, and the mother is currently awaiting trial. The mother’s name is Diane Saudte. It would make a nice story for the show.

  • Tom

    With regard to motives and mechanisms driving killers, be they male or female, I recall years back when I was studying John Douglas’ Anatomy of Motive, and at the same time studying structure and function of the brain, I found it interesting that there is a phenomena known in psychiatry as ‘amygdalar hijacking’ where the nuclei in the amygdala, a walnut shaped structure in the limbic system, the emotive part of the brain, specifically the nuclei responsible for the rage response, in the absence of well-developed connections between the amygdala and the pre-frontal cortex which attenuates the rage response via the application of sound reasoning, often in response to stressors, particularly the interpersonal kind results in bursts of uncontrolled rage, and its sometimes unfortunate consequences. The absence of well-developed connections between the limbic system structures and the pre-frontal cortex, as I understand it, can be the result of extremely poor nutrition as a child, a child that has not been held in its mothers arms, rocked and talked to, such as a child who is just placed in a playpen and left to sit, rarely interacting with it caregivers, day in and day out, or just plain ‘failure to thrive’ which is a wasting condition often seen in infants in abusive or just plain over-crowded orphanages. And these children, assuming they live past their impoverished and/or neglected, abusive childhoods and adolescences and grow to adulthood, often become killers.

  • Tom

    I have been on the receiving end of betrayal a couple of times, yet I find it hard to discard my trusting nature. And I was on the cusp of giving ‘relationships’ another go, however, since I started watching the ‘Deadly Women’ show I have decided to tread veeery slowly and veeery carefully when venturing into the dating scene again. The show really does give one pause!

  • Rodrigo Rosa

    … Interesting site!
    I found it after looking for the icon Candice Delong.
    In my country, Brazil: there is a program where she ‘acts’ (DEADLY WOMEN). She is a great listener.
    Unfortunately, in my country there are not several laws like there? in USA. Well, crimes happen in all places: even in the safest ones.
    I was reading her biography and I discovered she is in the 60´s… I thought she would be in the 50´s! And looks like WONDER WOMAN. She performers like one.
    And I hope these crimes are solved.

  • lisa

    one of my favorite shows. can’t wait!