Paul Holes (@PaulHoles) is a former investigator known for his contributions to solving the Golden State Killer case using advanced methods of identification with DNA and genealogy technology, and he is the author of Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases.
What We Discuss with Paul Holes:
- Why do some serial killers take breaks between their murder sprees or even quit killing altogether?
- Why does it seem like there were so many serial killers in the ’70s compared to today? How rare are they, really?
- What psychological toll does intimately working homicides and cold cases take on investigators?
- Why cases commonly go cold, what gets them flagged for reexamination, and how the passage of time can actually work in favor of solving them.
- What makes cold case investigators like Paul so good at noticing evidence and crime scene details others miss?
- And much more…
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More than a third of homicides committed in the US go unsolved. But sometimes new evidence or fresh insight into overlooked clues drag these cold cases out of storage where their secrets can be brought to light and solved, giving long-eluded closure to victims’ families and bringing dangerous, murderous criminals to justice.
On this episode, we’re joined by Paul Holes, a former investigator and author of Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases. Here, we learn how Paul helped solve the decades-cold Golden State Killer case by using advanced DNA identification technology, what the study of cold cases that span vast periods of time has taught us about the lifelong habits of serial killers, common reasons cases go cold and what gets them flagged for reexamination, and the personal toll this world of uncompromising brutality takes on the people like Paul who immerse themselves in it. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Jordan Harbinger Show receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you for your support!
This Episode Is Sponsored By:
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Miss our conversation with the American photographer who survived seven months under captivity by Al-Qaeda? Catch up with episode 217: Matthew Schrier | How to Survive in a Secret Syrian Terrorist Prison here!
Thanks, Paul Holes!
If you enjoyed this session with Paul Holes, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes and Robin Gaby Fisher | Amazon
- Paul Holes | Twitter
- Paul Holes | Instagram
- Robin Gaby Fisher | Twitter
- Stop In and Watch Us Clown Around… | Jumbo’s Clown Room
- Glen McCurley Strangled Carla Walker in 1974. Was She His Only Victim? | Texas Monthly
- Jaycee Dugard Kidnapping Story: 18-Year Captive Reflects on the Life She Lost | The Denver Post
- Convicted California Killer Now Charged in 1988 Killing of Missing 9-Year-Old Michaela Garecht | Action News Jax
- The Untold Story of How the Golden State Killer Was Found | Los Angeles Times
- Inside Gary Ridgway’s Horrific Murders as the Green River Killer | All That Is Interesting
- Dennis Rader (BTK): Wichita’s Infamous Serial Killer | A&E
- Do Serial Killers Just Stop? Yes, Sometimes | The New York Times
- Why Were There So Many Serial Killers Between 1970 and 2000 — And Where Did They Go? | Rolling Stone
- Ed Kemper, The Disturbing ‘Co-Ed Killer’ Of 1970s California | All That Is Interesting
- CrimeCon 2022: Wild Bill Huff Victim’s Kid Talks Cold Case Funds | Crime News
- Ted Bundy | Crime Museum
- The Riddle of Emmon Bodfish: An Enigmatic Man. A Mysterious Murder. by Paul Holes, Peter McDonnell, and Josh Sanburn, | Audible
- 12 Reasons We Love True Crime, According to the Experts | Mental Floss
- Columbo | Prime Video
- Genealogist Who Caught Golden State Killer Continues Solving Cold Cases | My Family DNA Test
- Find DNA Matches For Free | GEDmatch
- True Crime Podcast Stories & More | Small Town Dicks
- Home Security Systems | SimpliSafe
725: Paul Holes | Solving America’s Cold Cases
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:03] Paul Holes: The shoes that these girls had turns out, you know, my son, who was really young at the time, had the same shoes. And so when I'd come home and I'd see the shoes, the visions go back to seeing those at the scene. That impact, you know, this is where the homicide investigators, CSIs, death investigators, cold case investigators, what we're seeing doing the work, it doesn't stop as soon as we punch out. It's with us all the time.
[00:00:37] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with scientists and entrepreneurs, spies and psychologists, even the occasional former cult member, mafia enforcer, neuroscientist, or tech mogul. And each episode turns our guest's wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better thinker.
[00:01:02] If you're new to the show, or you want to tell your friends about it, our starter packs are a great place to do it. These are collections of our favorite episodes, organized by topic to help new listeners get a taste of everything that we do here on the show — topics like persuasion and influence, disinformation and cyber warfare, abnormal psychology, crime and cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or search for us in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:26] Okay, folks, no kids in the car for this one. Today's show is really something. I'm talking with Paul Holes who solves cold case homicides and chases serial killers. No joke, lots of graphic stuff in this one, but also just a freaking fascinating inside look at a complex character who does better at decoding a crime scene than he does decoding his own emotions in personal life. The murders and cases we'll discuss are gruesome nightmare fuel, absolutely, but the good news is that people like Paul are tirelessly chasing these psychopaths for years until they are behind bars. The book will make your skin crawl. The episode is eye-opening. I've really enjoyed it. I think you will as well, but again, for real, no young folks with this one, unless you want to be up at two o'clock in the morning telling them there's nobody outside the window.
[00:02:09] Now here we go with Paul Holes.
[00:02:15] I love that the book starts at Jumbo's Clown Room because I used to go there all the time, by the way.
[00:02:20] Paul Holes: Oh, wow.
[00:02:21] Jordan Harbinger: But I'm like, that's a weird thing to do. And then I'm always like, well, I know that because I used to go there all the time. So who's more weird, you or me? I don't know. For people that don't know Jumbo's Clown Room is, I guess, you'd just call it a dive bar, but it's like a Hollywood icon and it's not a strip club, it's got, what would you call it? Burlesque, but sort of like it's trashy but on purpose.
[00:02:43] Paul Holes: That's the way I would — I only was there that one time.
[00:02:46] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:02:46] Paul Holes: And I didn't know what I was getting into. We just walked into this bar and then there were the girls that were up on stage.
[00:02:52] Jordan Harbinger: Uh-huh.
[00:02:52] Paul Holes: And I just, you know, I really struggled that night for sure.
[00:02:55] Jordan Harbinger: I don't know why it's called the Clown Room. I've heard different versions of why. It's not a strip club. It's just sort of adjacent to that. And then they've got cheap drinks and a weird crowd full of, I guess, guys like me and guys like you.
[00:03:08] Paul Holes: And a lot of women in the audience as well.
[00:03:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yes. That's what I mean when it's not, it's not a strip club in terms of, there's no nudity, but also women can go there and they don't feel like they're in a place with a bunch of kind of creepy leery guys. It's just kind of a quirky hangout.
[00:03:25] The types of crimes you solve are straight out of horror movies. And I want to give the audience a little bit of a feel for this. And this is — I've said it in the intro, I'm sure, but I want to say this is a "no kids in the car" episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show. Tell me about Carla. The book starts with that and it's just one of many just horrifying nightmares.
[00:03:45] Paul Holes: Yeah. You know, I got involved with the Carla Walker case for a TV show. It was after I retired. She was a 17-year-old, just the sweetest little girl, really at 17, going out with her boyfriend for Valentine's day dance. And then sitting in the parking lot, some guy pulls her out of the car and pistol whips her boyfriend, Rodney. And Carla is last seen being dragged toward this guy's car. And then her body's found in a culvert just outside of Fort Worth. And her dress has been torn off. She's got numerous injuries. She's obviously been sexually assaulted and strangled.
[00:04:25] And I started working that case with Fort Worth PD and met the family and so connected to the brother, Jim. When I was talking to him, he was five years younger than Carla. So when he got old enough to drive a few years after she had been killed. He would drive out to her body was found and go and sit inside that culvert overnight, waiting for the killer to reappear. And you know, for me, it was like, well, that's what I would do.
[00:04:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:04:54] Paul Holes: You know, and here, 40 years later, this is 1974 case, 40-plus years later, he still was wanting an answer as to who killed his sister.
[00:05:05] Jordan Harbinger: Just thinking about a 16-year-old kid who was 12 when his sister was murdered spending, you know, when, when you're 16, you're driving around, you're going to going to the gas stations is exciting. You're picking up your friends, you're going out for some burgers. This poor guy's life is at that point, going to the scene of his sister's murder and just sitting there. That was as close as he could get to her as this horrible, disgusting place where she died a terrible death.
[00:05:29] You mentioned in the book, the mother would wake up every morning and touch the picture of her daughter. I mean, just as a parent, it's just so heartbreaking. And I can see why it would be a calling for someone to solve these because you're just thinking police have given up mostly it's a cold case and there's no new evidence and these people — everyone's forgotten about it, but them and you.
[00:05:47] Paul Holes: And imagine this, you know, what Jim told me is that he distinctly remembers, you know, after Carla's body was recovered from the crime scene and taken to the morgue, his parents had to go in to identify her.
[00:05:59] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:06:00] Paul Holes: And he's telling me, I mean, the worst scream he's ever heard was his mom going in and seeing her daughter dead.
[00:06:07] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh. I read this book on a plane and I had to get tissues from the flight attendant. And I made up some nonsense about how, I don't know, the air was dry or something. I'm not that sensitive of a guy but you don't hold back on describing things in the book. And I think that makes the book really special because it's really easy — you know, when you watch something on television and there's a scene like this, they flash it by really quickly because they can't really show everything it's a little bit too much. And you just have to use your imagination. And in the book, you don't really have to use your imagination. And I think that does a service to the victims because they had to go through this and we're reading about it for an interview or, I don't want to say entertainment, but for education or edutainment. It's better this way because we really do get a picture of the monsters that you're hunting.
[00:06:55] Paul Holes: It was very purposeful because after I retired, I got some of those public notoriety in doing a lot in the true crime space. Part of what I really want to present to the viewers and the listeners is I and others come out of real crime. And what you see on TV or what you hear about in the podcast does not really replicate what real crime is. And it really has an impact, of course, what these victims suffered through their loved ones and what they've experienced. But also people like myself, the professionals that are working the job, what we see and what we are dealing with. And that's what eventually this book turned into. It was going to be a thesis on the Golden State Killer.
[00:07:41] But as I was working with my collaborator Robin and were going through my career and really the psychological and emotional trauma of working these cases started to come out during our collaboration. And that's what this book turned into. I'm describing the real crimes. Nothing is in there that is gratuitous. It's just frank. This is what happened to this victim.
[00:08:04] Jordan Harbinger: Some of the other cases in the book, and of course, we'll link to the book in the show notes, the girl who was kidnapped, enslaved for 18 years. I posed this question to myself when I heard that story. She was kidnapped, enslaved for 18 years, had kids with her attacker, lived in like a set of tarps and tents. And I thought to myself, would I want my kid to go through that? Or would I actually have preferred that they were murdered? Which is such a disgusting, horrible question to ask yourself. I couldn't really come up with the proper answer. I thought, do I want my child to be tortured like that? Or do I just, would I just rather they died at least quickly, somehow?
[00:08:38] Paul Holes: I saw it firsthand. We're talking the Jaycee Dugard case. And she was the one that when she was nine years old, was abducted out of the Tahoe area and then had been living in my backyard in my jurisdiction in Contra Costa County for, like you said, 19 years before she was found. But while I was out at that scene, the mother of Michaela Garecht, who is another young girl who was abducted out of the Hayward area in the South Bay, she shows up. And for her Jaycee Dugard, the fact that she was found alive is giving her hope that Michaela will be found alive. I'm sure. She's heard all the horror that Jaycee went through with Phil Garrido and Nancy Garrido. She probably still wants Michaela back alive.
[00:09:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:09:24] Paul Holes: You think about it. And it's like, well, what's the better thing to want for your child? But I think these parents of missing kids to this day, if they haven't been found, they're just tortured, hoping that their kids will be alive no matter what they have gone through.
[00:09:38] Jordan Harbinger: I kind of shook out that way, but it's still just so horrifying to think about. Of course, you want your kid back, but also just the horrific damage.
[00:09:45] I know you've said you're methodical in the investigation, but spiritually connected in some way with the victim and making peace with the victim. What do you mean by that? That's interesting. And I don't know — I've never heard that before.
[00:09:55] Paul Holes: That is just something that — you know when I walk into a space, whether it's an active scene and the victim's still there. I'm seeing, let's say this woman's body laying inside her house and the photos of her alive on the shelf above her body. And then just looking at the tragedy that's happened, a life that was taken, but going back to like the Carla Walker case, even when I go back to these cold case crime scene locations, you know I still felt Carla in that culvert. In fact, I was able to figure out exactly where her head would've been laying inside that culvert. And I reached down and I touched the ground right there, saying, "I got you. You know, we're going to get this one figured out."
[00:10:38] Jordan Harbinger: Your most famous case was, well, at least one of the most famous cases was the Golden State Killer. And we'll talk a little bit more about this later as well because I have so many questions about this. Tell us who he was because I was ordering an alarm system probably within the first few pages of that chapter.
[00:10:54] Paul Holes: You know, well, he started out committing fetish burglaries down in Visalia and became known as the Visalia Ransacker and this was 1974-1975 timeframe. And then after, I mean, he actually committed a homicide where he killed a father who was coming to rescue his daughter, who the Visalia Ransacker was pulling out of the house in the middle of the night. And the ransacker drops the daughter and shoots and kills Claude Snelling, the father. But then, the ransacker moves up to Sacramento.
[00:11:26] And this is where he becomes known as the East Area Rapist where he's breaking into houses in the middle of the night. First, 15 attacks are just with women or girls that are home alone, that he's binding up and sexually assaulting, always talking through clenched teeth, always wearing a ski mask. But the newspaper, an article comes out about this series and says, well, he never attacked when a man is present.
[00:11:48] So two cases later, he goes into a house where there's a couple asleep in their bed and he wakes them up, shines a flashlight in their eyes, blinding them. And he tells them, "Do what I say or I will kill you. I will spatter your brains all over the walls," what he would often say. And he would put a gun in the beam of the flashlight. So the couple knew he was armed. He would then throw bindings to the female, the wife, and make her tie up her husband or boyfriend face down on the bed. And then he would go hands-on with the female, tie her up, face down, and then go through the house and typically would come back with dishes or something similar and put those on the back of the man as an alarm system and would tell the man, "If I hear these, she's dead. I'll cut part of her off of, you know, and bring it. Or I'll kill everything in this house," if there's kids in the house. And then he would take the wife or the girlfriend out to the family room where he'd repeatedly sexually assault her. And this is what he would do. He would preferentially break into houses with men present.
[00:12:52] And so he ended up committing 50 of these attacks in Northern California, between 1976-1979, and just disappeared. And in 2001, what I thought was going to be my claim to fame on the case is using DNA technology. I linked him to an unsolved series of homicides down in Southern California, around the Los Angeles area. That was just known as the Original Nightstalker series. 10 people had been killed across six cases. Well, it turns out the Original Nightstalker was East Area Rapist. I started working that case in 1994, and I spent 24 years trying to find this offender because this was such a brazen brutal predator. He absolutely had to be caught.
[00:13:35] Jordan Harbinger: It's terrifying. When you say that it took, was it across three or four years and he had 50-plus victims more that's every couple of weeks, this isn't a guy who pops up once a year and then vanishes. This is a guy who's like every pay period, going back out and killing and murdering two people and brutalizing them and shattering their lives forever.
[00:13:55] Paul Holes: There'd be weeks where he'd attack four or five times. And then sometimes he'd go silent for a few weeks. We've got a few gaps in the East Area Rapist, the Northern California series, where we don't have any known attacks, but he was also committing a ton of burglaries. He was out prowling, probably every moment of free time he had.
[00:14:15] Jordan Harbinger: This is so terrifying. It's scary that people like this even exist. And before I dive into some of that, it is interesting to me that serial killers take breaks. I assume that all these guys were like the Golden State Killer where they just killed, killed, killed until they stopped somehow, but that's not really the case. I'm wondering why do these guys stop. You mentioned that they sometimes that they get distracted with something else. What is that?
[00:14:38] Paul Holes: It varies from offender to offender, but with some of the notorious cases that have been solved over the years such as Green River Killer and BTK, you know, Gary Ridgway and Dennis Rader, when they were interviewed, Gary Ridgway killed 48 women in two years up there in the Seattle area, very prolific offender and then he just stopped. And when he was interviewed, he said, "Well, I got married." You know, his life circumstances changed, whatever stressors he was under changed. Dennis Rader, who I think is the most similar to the Golden State Killer in terms of kind of the level of intelligence and sophistication and the types of crimes that he was committing, go breaking into houses, he said that he was a meticulous planner and he planned a crime. Expecting a lone female inside the house, and when he went in there, there was a man and he got into a fight with the man and he left after successfully attacking and killing. He left that location going, "I could have been hurt. I could have been killed. I could have been caught. I don't want any of that to happen." And he recognized he was getting older. And so that's why he said he stopped.
[00:15:42] Other series that I've worked, you know, some of these serial predators, whether they're rapists or killers, their life circumstances change. Sometimes they may have a compulsion that builds up in them and they may attack multiple times. And then the compulsion has quieted down for a period of time, for some reason, until it builds back up again. And even with Golden State Killer, he committed up over a hundred fetish burgs in Visalia in a year and a half. Then, he goes up to Northern California, Sacramento, and down into the Bay Area and he commits 50 attacks across three years. He's very prolific during that time. But when he becomes the Original Nightstalker and starts killing, he almost goes bi-annual where he attacks, he kills either a couple or a single female, and then there's a six-month gap. And then he does it again. It's almost like a refractory period after somebody's had sex. That compulsion probably died down in him after he got that, whatever psychological need he had from the homicide. And it took another six months before it built up again.
[00:16:42] Jordan Harbinger: It's so weird that the guy got married and then decided to stop killing. I'm just imagining this guy on Tinder or match.com. And he is like, "Ha, I guess I have to make up a different hobby because my actual hobby is butchering families at night." Did his wife know or did she find out when he got arrested for a bunch of murders that she'd married a serial killer, who gave it up after their wedding?
[00:17:05] Paul Holes: Before talking to Joe DeAngelo, the Golden State Killer, there's still questions as to whether his wife had any knowledge of his cases and she's never fully cooperated with the investigation.
[00:17:17] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:17:18] Paul Holes: There are instances within the series in which when he's up in Northern California as a rapist that there may have been a second person waiting for him, either in a car or outside that he's handing some of the loot that he would take out of the house, whether that's a girlfriend, a wife, a partner, I don't know, and can't even say for sure, but considering how prolific Joe DeAngelo was as a Golden State Killer, he was gone from the house all the time. And so how does the wife not at least suspect something is up?
[00:17:52] Jordan Harbinger: Well, he was a cop too, right? So he could have said, "I have to work late," which makes sense if you're a cop. Do they have kids? Imagine you'd find out your parents were serial killers.
[00:18:01] Paul Holes: So, yes, Joe DeAngelo was a full-time law enforcement officer, both down in the city next to Visalia, where was committing the burglaries. He was an Exeter PD officer and actually promoted up to sergeant. And then, he went up to Auburn PD as an officer. Auburn is just north of Sacramento and for the entirety of the East Area Rapist phase, he was a full-time cop. And while he's not wearing the badge, he's out there raping women and committing all these burglaries.
[00:18:34] He did have kids. He had three daughters, but he didn't start having kids until 1981 when his oldest daughter was born. In fact, his wife was seven months pregnant at the time of a homicide, the Gregory Sanchez, Cheri Domingo, homicide in Goleta, Santa Barbara, when he kills that couple. And then he doesn't attack again for five years. And then his wife is pregnant, seven months pregnant with his second daughter when he commits his last known homicide, which is the bludgeoning death of Janelle Cruz in May of 1986. And then he has another daughter.
[00:19:08] So he ends up having three daughters. Think about this. He is a predator who is attacking women and teenage girls. I mean, he raped multiple 13-year-olds during the course of his series. And now, he's got little girls in his house. I saw the two younger daughters who are, one's an emergency room doctor and the other is a graduate student, very smart, beautiful young girls. And the night that DeAngelo was arrested, they're at Sacramento homicide out in the lobby and they're sobbing. They can't believe their father has been named as the Golden State Killer.
[00:19:45] Jordan Harbinger: I really feel bad for them finding out. I cannot even imagine what that's like.
[00:19:50] Paul Holes: This is something, in fact, I was just talking with the Sacramento DA Anne Marie Schubert, and the collateral damage that many people don't recognize that these offenders are doing to their families.
[00:20:01] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:20:01] Paul Holes: And these trolls online are giving these death threats to these girls and it's like, they have nothing to do with—
[00:20:08] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:20:08] Paul Holes: —what their father did. Their lives have been so altered just because of what he was doing. In fact, they were so hidden from his past because they were pretty much — when they were old enough to actually be aware of stuff. They didn't even know he had been a cop before.
[00:20:27] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, wow.
[00:20:28] Paul Holes: You know, the parents, Joe and Sharon had hidden a lot of information from the daughters about his past life.
[00:20:34] Jordan Harbinger: This guy was stone cold crazy like, look, yes, he's a rapist and a murderer and a crazy psycho predator that, but also it says after the Golden State Killer raped some of his victims, he would crouch in the corner and cry. This is legitimately weird as hell. This is a severely damaged individual who — what's with the crying, what's that all about?
[00:20:54] Paul Holes: I truly believe. And some of the victims, they said, he was sobbing. You know, it was like genuine. In fact, one victim, he was sobbing while he was raping her. And as he's crying, he's saying, "I hate you, Bonnie. I hate you, Bonnie," over and over. There is the psychological and emotional outpouring, that was happening with him after he completed the attack after the sexual assaults, all of a sudden that emotion, that crying would occur. And, you know, before we solved the case, it was like, well, is this real? Is it not? I believe it's real. And DeAngelo because of his intelligence and law enforcement training was doing a lot of verbal staging where he would say things to the victims, knowing they would tell the cops. And so he would say things opposite of who he really was like, "I'm a drug addict, or I was down in Bakersfield," et cetera.
[00:21:42] But it turns out that DeAngelo also does talk to himself. After we identified him, I saw it firsthand as he's sitting alone in the interview room and he starts mumbling to himself. And I also start to see him grimace, like he's about to cry. And I think this is just part of who he is and yes, you're right. I mean, it's just such a weird psychology. As the East Area Rapist, he was a very dominant presence in the house. He's a psychological sadist. He liked to put fear in the victims and he would really be aggressive towards the victims and to see him cower in the corner and cry after that whole dominant display, you know, it really is an interesting insight in terms of possibly an internal struggle that he was having with the types of crimes that he was committing.
[00:22:29] Jordan Harbinger: It's like the guy — and I'm not a supernatural believer or anything like that, but it's almost like this guy just has a demon inside of him that he can't control. And it's almost separate from his other personality in a way, somehow.
[00:22:42] Paul Holes: I actually do think with DeAngelo is that he really internally was fighting with the compulsion. I believe that eventually in 1986, he got on top of that compulsion and he stopped. He was now 41 years old in 1986. So he is getting older, but I do think he's somebody that really struggled with the cases he was doing and very different than BTK and Dennis Rader. You know, Dennis Rader is very proud of his cases and he identifies as the serial killer. I think Joe DeAngelo is ashamed of the cases that, you know, the attacks he did and the lives that he wrecked and was trying to bury it. To this day, he's never spoken about these cases. He is not seeking any type of public notoriety like BTK did. I think he really just wanted to move on and be the family man and be the doting grandfather. So, he's an interesting study. And until he's willing to sit down and talk and possibly even be psychologically evaluated with a good profiler, we don't know, we're guessing.
[00:23:49] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. What is BTK? I don't know. I'm not that familiar with these folks.
[00:23:53] Paul Holes: So BTK, Dennis Rader was a serial killer out of Wichita, Kansas back in the 1970s. I forget exactly what years he was active, but he was into bondage. And so he would break into houses in the middle of the night. He formally worked as like an alarm system installer. So he has—
[00:24:13] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man.
[00:24:13] Paul Holes: —skill sets on being able to get into houses. And he would bind his victims up and ultimately kill them. And he would also take photos of himself in between these cases where he would do like this auto erotic style bondage and have him bound hands, feet, you know, have like a female mask on in order to satisfy his sexual fantasies. And he corresponded with the police and named himself as bind, torture, kill, B-T-K.
[00:24:46] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Paul Holes. We'll be right back.
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[00:26:52] Jordan Harbinger: If you're wondering how I managed to book all these folks for the show, it's all about the network. And I'm telling you the network that I built around my business, personal life has been the most rewarding thing. I get to help tons of people. It's not schmoozy and gross. I'm teaching you some of the same skills I used to build and maintain that network over in our Six-Minute Networking course. And that course is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. It'll make you a better thinker. It's not schmoozy. You're not going to feel gross or look gross doing it. And many of the guests on the show subscribe and contribute to that course. So come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[00:27:24] Now back to Paul Holes.
[00:27:28] What's with the 1970s being the serial killer era? Is that just an illusion? But I feel like it, or has it just happened to overlap with some of the cold cases you're running? Because whenever I hear about something that is just insane, it's always like 1976 to 1989 or something like that?
[00:27:43] Paul Holes: Yeah, no, there was a definite spike in serial predator crime in the 1970s. And it kind of started in the '60s and different jurisdictions had different spikes, but my jurisdiction, the Bay Area, even down Los Angeles, 1970s were off the hook. And part of it was the ready victim pools that don't exist today. Think about Edmond Kemper, you know, the huge serial killer out of Santa Cruz. He was picking up female hitchhikers.
[00:28:14] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:28:14] Paul Holes: We don't see women hitchhiking much today.
[00:28:17] Jordan Harbinger: Because of guys like that.
[00:28:19] Paul Holes: Absolutely. And back in the '70s houses generally didn't have alarm systems. We didn't have video surveillance or anything. All the modern technology today that would make committing this type of crime hard, especially doing a series. And so you have these predators that basically, they would go to where it was easy for them to find these victims. And then, as let's say, hitchhikers are no longer available as houses got more secure, a lot of these predators ended up in, in my experience in the '90s, you know, that's where they're going after the sex workers on the street.
[00:28:53] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:28:53] Paul Holes: Because now they have victims that are just, you know, voluntarily getting into their car. And then as these stroll areas started to dry up because the technology came along and now escort services are online. Where do you think the predators are? They're now using online resources to lure and isolate these women or not necessarily just women, but—
[00:29:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:29:15] Paul Holes: —to get these victims. And so now you have predators that are technologically savvy enough and their goal is always to go hands-on. So they have to use the technology and use, you know, the circumstances in order to be able to somehow isolate that victim so they can carry out to their fantasies.
[00:29:34] Jordan Harbinger: How many serial killers are active in the United States at any given time? Is that something we can even figure out?
[00:29:39] Paul Holes: You know, that's so hard. I know, as I was researching things for the book, it's possibly up to a couple of thousand.
[00:29:46] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:29:47] Paul Holes: When you think about the truck drivers, online services, you know, a lot of these sex workers, they just go missing and nobody reports them missing. They just may have moved on to a different location or their bodies are found in a different state. This is not a phenomena from the past. It is still happening today. It's just different today than what it was back in the 1970s when DeAngelo was active.
[00:30:12] Jordan Harbinger: These folks, you expect them to be really creepy, but it seems like a lot of them are normal next-door-type folks, which makes it even worse, of course, because now you're thinking if they didn't know their dad was a serial killer, you certainly wouldn't know if the guy down the street who you don't talk to that much, but seems fine is also a serial killer, but lives in your neighborhood.
[00:30:30] Paul Holes: That's part of the scary aspect. I mean there are, you know, offenders that do look like the boogeyman. You know, I have one guy, I mean, he's a bonafide serial killer, this Wild Bill Huff. And if you saw a photo of him, you'd go, "Yeah, that guy's a serial killer." I mean he looks like a serial killer.
[00:30:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:30:47] Paul Holes: But a lot of these guys, I mean, most notably like a Ted Bundy, everybody talks about what a good-looking guy he was. He had a decent upbringing and he utilized his looks, his personality, his ability to charm to be able to lure and isolate his victims. He would be able to put them at ease because they would look at them and go, "He doesn't look like a bad guy. In fact, he seems like a really nice guy." So you do have offenders that could fool even the most — I mean they're fooling sex workers who are some of the best judges as to who's going to be a bad John or not, but that's the entire spectrum. It's just like any other part of society. These predators from a look standpoint, from a personality standpoint, the spectrum is wide.
[00:31:30] Jordan Harbinger: The murders in the scenes you've come to and witnessed must have taken a toll on you. You know, people executed in their homes after a burglary or something much, much worse as we've mentioned earlier. You know, what sort of effect have you seen just on yourself as a result of this?
[00:31:46] Paul Holes: One of the primary messages of my book that came out, unexpectedly came out, was the effects. After the Carla Walker case, you know, I'm out there shooting that. It's an unsolved case. I'm giving an update to Jim and his sister about what I was doing on the case, working with Fort Worth PD. And I'm kind of breaking down, crying on camera, just giving them an update. And I go out and sit in my Jeep outside of their house and I just start to sob, and I'm like, what the hell's going on with me? I've never had this type of reaction. And then as the book opens up, you know, here I am, I'm self-medicating with bourbon. I'm with a friend and we end up at Jumbo's and this girl is on stage. And I'm just looking at this girl, who's having to go around and collect all the ones that are being thrown up on stage. I'm seeing her going, "She's going to be a victim. She's going to be another body dumped on the side of the road."
[00:32:40] And that's just when I just cratered psychologically and ended up going into a therapist. I live out here in Colorado Springs and she deals with special forces guys and military guys. And she's hearing about what I've been dealing with for 30 years of my life. She goes, "Paul, every time you work, these types of cases, you know, you get a little nick and that one little nick may not seem bad in and of itself, but once you've got a lifetime of all these nicks, you're bleeding out." And that's really what I started to recognize. And I've seen that in other investigators, both active investigators and retired investigators, because we don't talk about, you know, what we're experiencing and how bad it is. We just shove it in. We got a job to do. And when we come home, you open the bottle up.
[00:33:26] Jordan Harbinger: Do the physical killers scare you less than emotional conflict or emotional issues do?
[00:33:33] Paul Holes: When you say physical killers, are you talking about—?
[00:33:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I'm wondering if the serial killers are what you fear the most or if you're actually more stressed out by, let's say, just regular emotional connection with other people in some way, because of the nicks.
[00:33:49] Paul Holes: Most certainly the way that I view the world has been impacted by the cases and my relationships have been impacted by the cases. I personally am not afraid that I'm going to fall victim to a serial predator.
[00:34:03] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:34:03] Paul Holes: But when my kids are younger, I'm not letting my kids go do anything—
[00:34:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:34:08] Paul Holes: —because I'm so scared that the child abductor is out there or the serial rapist is out there, the child molester. You get such concentrated exposure of this type of crime that you think it's happening. And fortunately, it is relatively rare but for those of us that are in the field, it's something that we do and think about day in and day out. And it taints our view of the world, for sure.
[00:34:31] Jordan Harbinger: For me, it would be so hard to still see the inherent goodness in people knowing firsthand the hideous violence that some of these same people are capable of potentially, even if it's a small amount.
[00:34:42] Paul Holes: That's that cynical aspect that can come out and it takes a lot for somebody to gain my trust, for sure.
[00:34:49] Jordan Harbinger: Do you ever picture, or did you ever picture one of your own kids laying there at these crime scenes? There was one where it was like a 12-year-old boy who was tied up to his dad and then they shot both of them, but they had shot the kid first, so the dad had to deal with it. I would always be putting myself in those situations, which is I could never do this job.
[00:35:07] Paul Holes: That is part of the hardest aspect is, you know, kind of rectifying seeing these tragedies and then having the visions of your own family, having something like that occur. And one of the worst situations for me on that front, and I do talk about it in the book, is where the father comes in and takes us two little girls hostage, and then ultimately kills these two little girls by shooting them in the head and then kills himself. And I'm in there. You know, when you see a little girl's brain and blood matter spattered on a baby bottle, you know, that's just not right.
[00:35:45] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:35:45] Paul Holes: And then the shoes that these girls had, turns out, you know, my son, who was really young at the time, had the same shoes. And so when I'd come home and I'd see the shoes, the visions go back to seeing those at the scene. That impact, you know, this is where the homicide investigators, CSIs, death investigators, cold case investigators, what we're seeing doing the work, it doesn't stop as soon as we punch out. It's with us all the time.
[00:36:17] Jordan Harbinger: I can imagine that would almost be a reason to distance oneself from a family as well. Like if I'm not as connected with them emotionally, maybe I won't think of them during the worst moments of my day, or maybe that vulnerable part of me will callus over a little bit. It's almost like a subconscious process to maybe protect yourself from this.
[00:36:34] Paul Holes: You know, actually I think that's a good thought. I've never actually had that particular thought occur to me. I have been emotionally distanced from it. I've been married twice. I've got two sets of kids and I'm not as involved as I should be at times. And you know, maybe it is a way to emotionally protect myself but, I don't know, I've done a lot of self-scrutiny. And as I've gotten older, I've become much more willing to accept that I've got my weaknesses. I have to think about what you just said because that is an interesting tidbit there.
[00:37:10] Jordan Harbinger: Hopefully, that's useful. It's for me, I'm not a therapist. So, you know, you might tell your therapist and she might go, "That's a bunch of garbage. Don't listen to podcasters psychoanalyzing you." But who knows? Hopefully, it's helpful in some way.
[00:37:22] Do any of the cases you've worked on give you nightmares to this day or have you processed all this?
[00:37:28] Paul Holes: Well, it's interesting. I don't have nightmares and I have very—
[00:37:32] Jordan Harbinger: You're lucky.
[00:37:33] Paul Holes: —graphic dreams.
[00:37:34] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, okay.
[00:37:34] Paul Holes: When I do have nightmares, it's something that's happened to my kids, right?
[00:37:38] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:37:38] Paul Holes: But it's not related to the cases, but I did have a recurring nightmare that was case related. It was this Emmon Bodfish case, a wealthy recluse that was bludgeoned to death inside his home, and the house was very weird, most bizarre case I ever had, medieval decor and everything else. Emmon was a third-order priestess in the Druid religion. And I had done a deep dive on the pagan religions to try to see if there was a reason there for motive, for this homicide, but I would have this dream of being inside Emmon's house and it's dark. And I find a trapdoor underneath this ornate Persian rug. And I open up the trapdoor and I put my head down, seeing stairs, go down to a basement. And as soon as I shine the flashlight, Emmon's crushed face with the maggots in it would just pop right in that staircase, like just waiting for me. And that'd be the moment that I would wake up and I would have that dream over and over again. And it wasn't so much like I felt like it was a nightmare, but obviously, it's not a normal dream to have.
[00:38:45] Jordan Harbinger: Definitely not normal. So this is a real case but, if I remember the book correctly, there was no trapdoor under the rug, he was just dead on the rug.
[00:38:53] Paul Holes: There was no trap door. He was just laying, had been laying there for five days in the heat, so very decomposed, a lot of fly and maggot activity. Just a bizarre case all the way around.
[00:39:04] Jordan Harbinger: That was a tough one to read. I had to take breaks from reading the book at times, and that was one of them because psychologically it's just a little hard. Again, I'm not a sensitive guy — and also if you're eating right now, pause, because I'm about to tell about an anecdote where I had to put down my airline snack mix because I couldn't even handle that. For real, pause it. It's like you'd said something along the lines of, "The dead man's face just twitched. Oh no, it didn't. Those were just maggots feasting on his face. I needed to get samples of the larva and eggs. The flies had laid inside him because it can help me determine the time of his death. So I rolled up my sleeves and knelt down," and y'all know where this is going. I understand that you had a nightmare about that. I can't even see how you would ever forget something like that. The smell and everything, getting that out of your head seems impossible.
[00:39:52] Paul Holes: This is just one case in which—
[00:39:53] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:39:54] Paul Holes: I'm dealing with maggots, I'm dealing with decomposed bodies. That's just part of death, right? It's part of any homicide investigation. If it's not a fresh case, you're going to be dealing with the decaying process, the insect activity. You have to be able to deal with that and you have to recognize its evidentiary value and just suck it up and collect it, no matter how gross it may be.
[00:40:17] Jordan Harbinger: At this particular point, for that detail, I was at an airport Chili's and they just set down this steaming bowl of chili, which is, you know, like red with like meat in it. And I'm like, I'm going to listen to something else for five minutes and sort of get a clean slate because the maggot face twitch was not going to be, it's not chill.
[00:40:41] Paul Holes: You will never look at a bowl of chili the same way again.
[00:40:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That was one of those where I just thought, okay, I'm not going to be able to eat this. Not that airport chili is not good anyway, no matter what, but there's certainly ways to make it worse. and that would've been one of them.
[00:40:58] It's very unsettling thinking about people this evil, especially guys like the Golden State Killer and just breathing the same air as the rest of us. And I think your work is so important because you're actually removing these people from society by catching them, even if they're dormant, that could be temporary. I mean, even though the Golden State Killer was 74, who knows what he was thinking, like maybe, "I don't care if I get caught I'm old, I'm going to do one more." You know, who knows? We just don't know with these guys.
[00:41:24] Paul Holes: Well, we don't know, like with DeAngelo, I mean, he was very physically capable of committing more crimes and is a very dangerous man. Even when these guys go dormant, they do sometimes, you know, start to re-offend and the goal is to try to prevent further victimization. So as a cold case investigator, even though the case is 30 years old, it's like, no, you know, this is still a public safety issue. We need to remove this offender from society, identify him, and get him so he cannot hurt anybody else.
[00:41:57] But also kind of on the flip side is that these offenders have taken people's lives. They've traumatized so many people, and now they're just out there living their life, a life they don't deserve. DeAngelo was going fishing with his buddies. You know, he had a whole other career after he got out of law enforcement. He did not deserve to have that life considering what he did.
[00:42:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I agree. I had that thought too. It's just the colossal unfairness of an eighth-grade girl getting raped and/or murdered in her room. Her father, blaming himself for that, for the rest of his life. Maybe the parents' marriage doesn't make it because of all that. And then this guy's like, well, he's not even thinking about it anymore, probably, right? He's just moving on. He's eating dinner with his wife and kids like nothing ever happened. And this other family, every single day is missing their child who is taken away in a completely random and unfair act so that this guy could scratch a psychological itch. It's just so profoundly unfair.
[00:42:57] Paul Holes: No, there is that, but he's thinking about the cases. These offenders do go back and revisit those cases in their head. You know, that just helps with their fantasy. So not only has he destroyed that family's life, that horrible crime is something that he is getting sexual satisfaction from—
[00:43:18] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh, it's crazy.
[00:43:19] Paul Holes: —until he dies. Yeah. So you think about it, it's just like, no, you know? And that's where you get to where like Dennis Rader, BTK, nobody's allowed to go talk to him. They do not want him to get any type of thrill. You know, that somebody comes in with photos of one of his former cases or one of his former victims, or to even just talks to him about the case that he's just going to enjoy himself—
[00:43:41] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:43:42] Paul Holes: —during that process. So these guys, they, they commit these horrific crimes and then they continue to enjoy what they did during those crimes for the rest of their lives.
[00:43:51] Jordan Harbinger: I don't really understand. And this is nothing personal, of course, because you are in the true crime scene and your work is very helpful to a lot of people. But when I think of these true crime podcasts, so this is one of the first true crime books I've ever read, I'm like, why are people listening to this stuff every single day? I can't handle it. I guess a lot of people are really interested in this stuff. It is interesting. It is fascinating, but it's a little piece of my innocence, sounds like an exaggeration, a little piece of my innocence died after I finished this book. And I mean that as a compliment because the book is great, but I don't know if I would read like a bunch more books in the genre.
[00:44:24] Paul Holes: It is interesting, you know, the true crime genre. And I had no idea when I was active, but it is a very popular genre.
[00:44:31] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:44:32] Paul Holes: But it always has been.
[00:44:34] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:44:34] Paul Holes: It really is. You know, people hearing about real cases and real crime. It's like the ultimate human drama.
[00:44:40] Jordan Harbinger: It is.
[00:44:41] Paul Holes: You go back eons, you know, there's always been true crime, the true detective magazines, for example.
[00:44:47] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:44:47] Paul Holes: You know, kind of getting back to about how these guys continue to live forever with the thoughts of what they did. One of the things that DeAngelo would do when he had sexually assaulted the woman, she'd be out there on the family room floor as he had turned the TV on. And then drape a towel over the TV, so he could get that glow in the middle of the night, in that room while he's sexually assaulting her. When I walked into DeAngelo's room, after he was arrested, he had a towel draped over his computer monitor.
[00:45:17] Jordan Harbinger: Oh wow.
[00:45:17] Paul Holes: He basically was still setting up that environment so he could relive his fantasies of the cases, the attacks that he had been committing as the East Area Rapist.
[00:45:28] Jordan Harbinger: When you saw that, nobody else would probably even notice that, but then when you saw that you must have been like, "Aha, that's exactly what's happening here," because of course, if I see that, I think, oh, he was drying out his towel and he needed a surface to put it on. But you knew specifically that means like, you know, he's trying to recreate the scene, he's probably sitting in there and going to town. And it makes you wonder, did he do that every single night? Or was it just occasional? I mean, it seems like this is a thing that obviously was so compelling for him that he committed a bunch of these and risked his life doing so. So it's obviously kind of a central part of his existence.
[00:46:01] Paul Holes: It absolutely is. You know, these offenders may stop physically attacking, but they live, you know, they have an act of fantasy life, and that fantasy life is fed by the crimes that they had previously committed.
[00:46:13] Jordan Harbinger: When it comes to cold cases, I've heard you say, "Don't rely on what was done in the past. Always revisit the evidence." What does that mean? And why do that?
[00:46:22] Paul Holes: That's absolutely critical. And that's something that I just learned from experience. And I see this being done all the time, it's when an investigator or even a forensic scientist revisits a case, they'll look at the case and go, "Oh, this work has already been done." And what I have found is that evidence often is missed, wasn't processed very thoroughly. There's always more work that can be done. And of course, today we have newer technologies that could pull out information that couldn't have even been conceivable by the people working the case back in the 1980s, 1970s, et cetera.
[00:46:59] And I do a lot of consulting with law enforcement on cold cases. I need to know what all has been done. And there are times when they say, "Well, we've done all the DNA we can, and we just did it three years ago." I'm like, "Well, okay, you have and let's revisit that." I don't care if it was just done three years ago, there's still more work that can be done.
[00:47:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You have to hit reset and go back. And I would imagine, yeah, for an older case in the seventies, they might say, "Oh, well, we matched the blood type and it was somebody else," and it's well, okay, but did you match the — there's a fingernail here or there's dirt underneath this person or skin cells that you couldn't have even found or something else? And I would imagine you find things like that occasionally—
[00:47:38] Paul Holes: Yeah.
[00:47:38] Jordan Harbinger: —in the evidence.
[00:47:39] Paul Holes: Absolutely. You know, there are cases where they just didn't collect the evidence back in the day. And obviously, you can't resurrect that type of case, but if they did a decent job of collecting the evidence and the evidence has been preserved, there's always something more that can be done. You have to be persistent. You just keep going back and revisit the case over and over again. There needs to be better communication between the investigators and the forensic scientists as well.
[00:48:06] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:48:06] Paul Holes: Because oftentimes the scientists are just given an item of evidence instead of find blood and they don't know the circumstances of the case to help guide how they're going to process the evidence item. The scientists may have all the expertise in the world if they had more information to actually find probative DNA that may not be blood, but maybe there's something else there that could solve the case.
[00:48:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I can see them sweeping away all the hairs. "There's not a whole lot of blood here. Sorry guys," right? I can imagine.
[00:48:37] Paul Holes: Yeah. Even though, I'm kind of chuckling at that, no, that's unfortunately, in this day and age, that's where it's kind of going because the scientists are getting so specialized in the particular disciplines. That they really don't have the expertise to recognize other types of evidence that might be present. And so they overlook it or if it is trace evidence, they don't even know how to collect it. All they know is how to clip out a blood stain if they're a DNA analyst or a serologist.
[00:49:06] Jordan Harbinger: You seem to find these tiny clues that lead to big breaks. And some are particularly impressive. One example here was, I want to say the victim had a tiny tear in her sock or some article of clothing. And I think your deductive reasoning said, "Hey, maybe that ripped when she kicked the killer, and therefore, maybe there's DNA on her foot." And then you turned out to be right about that. And that was the evidence needed to find the killer and convict the killer. How do you train yourself to find these virtually invisible little clues? No one's going to notice that kind of thing, a little tear in a sock. I have socks. They have tears in them and it's not because of a fight it's because I don't care. I have old socks.
[00:49:43] Paul Holes: Well, this is just part of really paying attention. And part of my background is I've worked as a forensic scientist. I've worked as a CSI. I've studied the behavioral stuff. I've worked investigatively, so I do bring a lot of skill sets to the table that a lot of people don't necessarily have in their background.
[00:50:02] So when I'm out at the crime scene and I'm seeing a woman who, she battled for her life, and I could see this combat between the offender and this woman go throughout that entire room based on the blood patterns and the state of the furniture. And it was obvious that this offender struggled physically to get to this woman under control. And that's part of the assessment as I was going, okay, this is an ongoing fight. This is not a very robust male. If this was a big strapping, huge guy, he would've been able to get his hands on her and just contain her. But because I could see that in a crime scene reconstruction aspect and the ongoing fight.
[00:50:42] That's where that sock the hole in the sock becomes a little bit more important going well, if she's able to fight this much, it's possible. She's kicking at him. Does she kick him in the mouth? Does she kick him in, you know—? Is there DNA transferred? And I remember talking to the criminalist that processed her body and saying, "Hey, make sure you swab the bottom of her feet," just because I thought that was a possibility. And that turned out, that's where the offender's DNA was found.
[00:51:09] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Paul Holes. We'll be right back.
[00:51:14] This episode is sponsored in part by Zelle. This weekend, we played an amazing escape room up in San Francisco. Oh, so satisfying. We've done over 200 escape rooms, because we are big ass nerds and palace escape room is at the top of our list of best escape rooms played. It's one of our favorite things to do, but it can add up escape rooms can be pretty pricey like 50 to 60 bucks per person on the high end. I mean so worth it, but Jen's always planning and booking the rooms and our friends use Zelle to chip in for their share. It makes it really easy and really fast when anyone sends you money or if you need to get paid back, always ask for Zelle. With Zelle, the money goes straight into your bank account and it works even if the sender banks somewhere else different than you here in the United States. What's great is you don't have to download yet another app because it's probably already in your banking app. It's in over 1600 different banking apps. Always double-check that the center has your correct US mobile number or email address. So the money goes to the right place, straight into your bank account. Look for Zelle in your banking app today.
[00:52:07] This episode is sponsored in part by The Daily Boost podcast. The Daily Boost is a daily motivation and coaching podcast that gives you practical, tactical, and real-world advice that you can use right away to get what you want in life. Hosted by my friend, Scott Smith, The Daily Boost is unlike any other personal development show. It's upbeat. It's fun. It's a bit in your face, real honest. And most importantly, a lot of you have written in and said that you love this show, how effective it is. Topics include increasing work productivity, how to communicate better, stopping burnout. There's a lot in here. It's actually very short. A few people told me that you all listen in the shower. So I guess this is a shower podcast, but I think a lot of people start their day with motivational stuff. And if you're one of those people, I would say The Daily Boost is a good addition to your rotation here. The Daily Boost goal is to give you what you need to reach your goals and of course, the motivation to keep going until you get it. So just search for it. Listen to it. Follow The Daily Boost podcast, wherever you get your podcasts.
[00:53:00] Thank you so much for listening to and supporting the show. I really do appreciate that. I get to have these conversations and share them with you. I apologize. This one is less uplifting than some of our episodes, but freaking interesting, right? God, this guy's so interesting. To learn more and get discounts to all the sponsors, they're all in one place. jordanharbinger.com/deals is where you can find it. That page is searchable. You can also search for any sponsor using the search box on the website as well. So please consider supporting those who support this show.
[00:53:28] Now for the rest of my conversation with Paul Holes.
[00:53:33] When you say DNA, is it like skin cells or blood from his nose or snot? I mean, how do you or do you not know? It's just DNA.
[00:53:40] Paul Holes: Back in the day, we would try to source the DNA. Did it come from saliva? Is it vaginal? Is it blood? Is it semen? And we still do that to a point, but oftentimes with saliva, contact DNA, whether it be, you know, just skin cells, that's not being looked at as closely. Now, it's just, I'm going to swab the surface and see — is there DNA there? And then if there is whose DNA is it?
[00:54:06] Jordan Harbinger: Right. And then, there's got to be more evidence other than that, because if I walked into their house to set up their computer a few days before my DNA could easily be on someone's sock, because I drool when I install computers and she stepped in it. I don't know. Right? But you just use that to find the initial suspect, and then you can maybe what you know when you know what you're looking for, there's more evidence to be found.
[00:54:26] Paul Holes: You never take any physical evidence as standalone, even DNA. DNA's very powerful. I mean, you can identify who the offender is, but then you have to investigate the circumstances of the case and make the case. And that DNA's critical. Why is that DNA there? Is there other innocent explanations for that DNA to be there? But then, there's other aspects, circumstantial aspects, of the case or other physical evidence that also needs to be done. And too many people think, "Well, I've got DNA and I'm good." Well, as you brought up, is there a chance that that DNA is just spurious and it has nothing to do with the case whatsoever? And that does happen.
[00:55:06] Jordan Harbinger: What is your process like at a crime scene? Do you try to recreate or visualize how the crime itself was committed? Because that seems really hard and there must be thousands of possible variations of what could happen.
[00:55:17] Paul Holes: You know, of course, it is dependent upon what is present at the crime scene. Seeing what was done to the victim, what kinds of injuries the victim had, whether there's blunt force injuries or there's incisive wounds, et cetera. And if there is blood patterns present, whose blood is it, what kind of patterns are present? You get to where — if I see a certain blood pattern, let's say a spatter pattern on a wall, that's like sort of a strobe light going off. If I'm just sitting in a dark room and there's a crime occurring and I can't see anything and all of a sudden the strobe light flashes and I see the offender hit the victim. Oh, now, I get a piece of the crime, but then it goes dark again until I'm looking at the other pattern across the room. And it's a smear. Now, there's another strobe light that's just gone on. There's a bloody hand, maybe has wiped across that wall.
[00:56:06] So by getting those little snippets of information, that helps to start to build the events that occurred. And there's sometimes enough information to sequence the activities to say, "The offender and the victim are here and this is the initial stages of violence." And then as the case, you know, progresses and more violence is inflicted. I can see movement throughout a room, for example. But you can never completely reconstruct a hundred percent of everything that happens in a scene.
[00:56:37] Jordan Harbinger: It reminds me of — I'm sure you've seen a million of these movies. Remember Columbo? Where he is like, "So you walked in and you pulled the paper off with your left hand," and he keeps coming back for more until the person's annoyed and he cracks basically. But it sounds a little bit like these are, I mean, some of the clues are just so strikingly small, like the sock thing, I wonder, is there any danger to maybe like falling in love with one particular version of events and maybe tricking yourself into missing something. Like you're so sure it must have happened this way, that you stopped looking for evidence that it actually happened a different way.
[00:57:09] Paul Holes: That really is part of the biggest fear is over-interpreting. Part of my background is as a scientist, as a forensic scientist. And so the training for that is always to be conservative with the interpretation of the evidence. And so that training for me extends into when I get into let's say crime scene reconstruction. So I'm always erring on the side of being conservative and recognizing that there are variables present that I can't account for. There's variations to how the crime occurred but I also have to, if I'm going to be informed to use the crime scene to inform me as to, well, how am I going to proceed with the investigation, I have to come up with theories that I think are most likely. And then when I find information, whether it be forensic testing or witnesses or other circumstances that come in that tell me, well, my theory's not valid anymore.
[00:58:08] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:58:08] Paul Holes: You know, now, I have to step back and reassess. And I've had that happen over and over and, and over again. Doing something like I do in terms of the crime scene reconstruction, looking at the final moments between the offender and the victim, and trying to figure out what I can learn from that. It's critical to my process as the cold case investigator, but it's also something that I have to always reset when I recognize, oh, maybe I did interpret this part of the scene wrong or this blood pattern wrong.
[00:58:44] Jordan Harbinger: It's dangerous, right? Because the more experience you get in a field, the more easily you can delude yourself into thinking that your first instinct is right or your first assessment is accurate and maybe you're connecting dots that aren't actually there. But then, of course, along with that experience comes the awareness of that bias that you constantly need to check yourself. You're almost in a battle with yourself. Like, "Oh, I know what happened here. Wait a minute. Do I really know what happened here? Yeah, I know what happened here. Well, let me just — I better test these assumptions." It just seems like you'd be doing that over and over.
[00:59:12] Paul Holes: I would say you like for me, I was much more in my youth when I was less experienced, much more going to get set into a particular theory as this must be the theory.
[00:59:23] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:59:23] Paul Holes: This is how it happened. And as I've gotten the experience, I'm much better at interpreting the crime scene evidence, but I'm also much more aware that there's so much I can't interpret or there's so many variables that what I think is going on. I could be wrong and I have to reassess it, the next day or the next month or whatever I need to.
[00:59:48] Jordan Harbinger: So this might sound a little ridiculous, but do you ever think that if you keep putting yourself inside the heads of these monsters, even just to get through the course of your job, that you might leave a part of yourself there, or bring a piece of their psyche with you after you leave? And again, I don't mean that in a supernatural way. I just mean putting yourself in the mind of these sickest and most evil people in such an intimate way during a horrific act that they're committing and doing that day in and day out, like that might cause a little psychological damage to an otherwise healthy mind.
[01:00:21] Paul Holes: That can be part of the most difficult aspect of really trying to understand who the offender is, is getting into his brain and what is he actually experiencing as he's attacking the victim. And for me, it becomes very informative in terms of, I'm starting to understand what he's doing. There's a level of fantasy. Maybe he's a sexual sadist and he's using the knife to do knife play on the victim's face or on her body where it would really be a problem if I started finding that I was liking that experience.
[01:01:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:01:01] Paul Holes: And I never like that experience. It really just for me, shows how evil these offenders are because what they are doing is just so brutal. How they could even get any satisfaction, any pleasure for what they do? I can't grasp it. All I know is I can at least, I have to, I have to at least try to experience what the offender's experiencing to help interpret what's going on in the case and find evidence and what the motive of the offender is, et cetera.
[01:01:31] Jordan Harbinger: Funnily enough, you ended up using, was it 23andMe or ancestry.com or are those the same company now? I don't even know to find the Golden State Killer. These DNA databases — I remember when this happened a while ago, it was kind of this uproar, because people thought, "Wait a minute. I spit into that stupid little test tube. Now, they're going to be tracking me everywhere," or you finding it. And I'm thinking, okay, relaxed, they're finding serial killers. Like what are you so worried about? I get the privacy concern. I'm sort of being flippant with it, but at the same time, I don't know. I kind of understand why people want a DNA database. Not that I'm necessarily for that. You know, save your emails for another topic of outrage here, but it makes a little bit of sense that you would at least try that avenue. How did that work? Did you find somebody related to him using DNA or how did this happen?
[01:02:20] Paul Holes: This genealogy tool was something that was being employed by these genealogists to help adoptees find their biological parents.
[01:02:30] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:02:31] Paul Holes: And I ended up working with a genealogist by the name of Barbara Ray Venter. And the way the tool works, we didn't use Ancestry or 23andMe, if we had it, would've been a lot easier because those are very sizable databases, but we ended up using Family Tree DNA and GEDmatch, which is a public DNA database that people just put their own genealogy DNA profiles up into that they've had tested at Ancestry or 23andMe et cetera.
[01:03:01] But the way the tool works is the Golden State Killer's DNA profile, it's very different than the law enforcement type profile. So we had to have a genealogy lab tested, give us that type of profile, loaded up into like GEDmatch. And then GEDmatch gives a ranked list of people in the database that share a percentage of their DNA with the person I'm looking for, the Golden State Killer. At this point, it's just now genealogy 101, take people, distant relatives. We've had third cousins to the Golden State Killer, build their family tree, using public source information until we find a common ancestor between some of these people in the database. And theoretically, this common ancestor is also an ancestor of the Golden State Killer.
[01:03:51] So now it's a matter of identifying all descendants of that common ancestor until you get into the generation in which your offender was born. And we were confident that Golden State Killer was born between 1940 and 1960. And we strong California connection, you know, in terms of geography in the 1970s. At that point, it's just investigations 101 and then we ultimately landed on DeAngelo. And now it's going and get a direct sample from him and use traditional law enforcement DNA testing to show, yes, he matches the Golden State Killer DNA evidence that was left at the crime scenes back in the 1970s and 1980s.
[01:04:31] Jordan Harbinger: How did you get the sample? Because if you go up and you say, "Hey man, we need a DNA sample," he's got to know the jig is up at that point. Oh, this could only be one thing.
[01:04:39] Paul Holes: Yeah, well, that was, in fact, the last thing I did in my career before I retired was I drove up and parked in front of his house. And I didn't know he was the Golden State Killer, but because of the genealogy process and some circumstantial aspects, he had become what I would consider a prime suspect. And I debated, should I just go knock on his door and ask for his DNA? And it was like, I've been here before. I had so many prime suspects that I had eliminated with DNA and it was like, well, what's the chance that he's the Golden State Killer? I'll just go introduce myself and say, "Hey, you know, just give a DNA sample. You don't have to worry about anybody—"
[01:05:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:05:16] Paul Holes: "—knocking on your door again. We'll eliminate you."
[01:05:18] Jordan Harbinger: Oh God.
[01:05:18] Paul Holes: But then, I thought about it and it was like, "No, I don't know enough." And I drove away. And then the next day, I'm turning in my badge and gun, but we were close. We knew we were close. And then shortly after that, after I retired, he was put under surveillance. He would go to Hobby Lobby. He liked to build these remote-controlled airplanes. And so he was going to Hobby Lobby. And while he was in the store, an undercover agent goes up and swabs his car door handle. And that gets tested. And it's a mixture, as you would imagine with the car door handle, but it had 21 markers that were consistent with the Golden State Killer's DNA profile.
[01:06:01] So no question, he's the Golden State Killer once we got that initial sample, but because it was a mixture, the DA wanted a pure sample. What we call single source from DeAngelo, but it still needed to be what we call the surreptitious collection. So a few days later, he pushes his garbage can out onto the street, out into the public domain where now it's considered abandoned property. And I won't go into detail on how Sacramento collected that trash can because they utilize this technique. But to this day, they're still using this technique. They don't want people to know but they got trash out of the trash can. And inside the trash was, they got 12 items, but turns out only one item had DNA. It was a piece of tissue and it was 100 percent match to the Golden State Killer.
[01:06:48] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. How did it feel to finally put this guy away? It's got to be so satisfying. Like, "I got you, you bastard." It's just got to feel, I'm watching my language here, it's got to feel so good you ID him and you're like, "I'm taking this piece of sh*t off the streets, finally."
[01:07:04] Paul Holes: There was so much work to be done even after he had been identified.
[01:07:08] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:07:08] Paul Holes: My life blew up, you know, I was retired. The media really glommed onto me. So I was running all over the place, doing news shows and other documentary shows on the Golden State Killer. And it really took a couple of months when I finally had some downtime and I still have this. I had a photo of DeAngelo where he's been arrested. He's sitting in the interview room and he's handcuffed to the table in the interview room and he's just hunched forward and obviously dejected. And I had my bourbon out.
[01:07:39] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:07:39] Paul Holes: That was that point in time where I just was like, I got you.
[01:07:42] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:07:43] Paul Holes: Took a couple of months to get there, but that was really the moment when I was finally after 24 years, "I got you," and that was a good feeling.
[01:07:51] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, man, you'd said some of the survivors and victims would call you years later. You know, before you'd caught him, call you late at night. Maybe they're drunk, convinced that they're still being stalked. I mean, they're just scarred for life in some of the worst ways imaginable and you can't repair the damage, but you bandage the wound a little bit, I would think.
[01:08:11] Paul Holes: You hear the term closure bantered about a lot.
[01:08:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:08:14] Paul Holes: And you never give them closure. Basically, as an investigator, I gave them an answer. For some of them, their lives settled a bit, knowing that the guy that had attacked them, 40 years prior will never be able to come after them again. Some of them were retraumatized. They were having now to relive the attack, you know, because some of these victims didn't want to think about that. It was such a horrific time in their life and now they have to think about it, right?
[01:08:42] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:08:42] Paul Holes: So it really varied, but it became apparent. You know, I sat in and listened to the victim impact statements. You know, once he had admitted, he basically pled guilty and had admitted to other crimes that he couldn't be charged with. And now, the victims had an opportunity to confront him and to watch one victim after another have to talk about the impact that whether he had sexually assaulted them himself or he had killed one of their loved ones and the ongoing impact to their life, to this day.
[01:09:15] One woman who was sexually assaulted, her husband had been bound up in bed, she gave her impact statement. I happened to be out in the court lobby when she walked out with her family and she literally collapsed after doing that. And you go, this is not a time for celebration. We got him. He's put away for life, but it's not changing the trauma that these victims are experiencing.
[01:09:39] Both Anne Marie Schubert, the Sacramento DA, who led her office in the prosecution, and I, we gave each other a hug. I was like, "Oh my god, we are in-person seeing the devastation that Joseph DeAngelo did to so many families for so long."
[01:09:55] Jordan Harbinger: One of the only things that makes me feel a slight sense of relief when it comes to these depraved serial killers, is that there are people like you in the world, tirelessly hunting them down. So, yes, it's not a time for celebration, but it's still a very heroic effort. And I don't use the term lightly to spend decades going after some of these people, to allow justice to run its course here. And you know, from this conversation, I realized you basically sacrificed a lot of yourself in order to keep the public safe.
[01:10:24] Paul Holes: I sacrificed my relationships, you know, my family time.
[01:10:28] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:10:29] Paul Holes: I sacrificed my mental health in many ways. And I'm just in a fortunate position that I succeeded in this pursuit. There's so many other professionals out there that have done great work. They've solved cases. They've gotten bad guys off the street and they don't get any recognition. They're leading their life. And in part of my goal moving forward is to help these other professionals to have, if they want, you know, to get that public attention. So other people can see that, yes, there's a lot of these professionals doing great work but they're all traumatized. I will tell you that. Every single one of these individuals that are working these types of cases, you know, they're struggling.
[01:11:14] I interviewed Sheriff Reichert from Green River killer. He was one of the investigators on Green River Killer. And I saw him choked up when he's recounting what he was having to do in that case. And it was like, I recognize that trauma. One of my friends, Dave Grice, from Small Town Dicks, who was a child abuse investigator for 10 years, read my prologue to my book where I'm talking, Carla Walker and Jumbo's. And he texted me and he goes, "Oh, I so relate. That hit hard." That was validation for me, you know? Because I was so scared to be so open about myself in this book. But when I get somebody like Dave, who's seen horrific things himself and he's relating to it. I was like, okay, you know, there's going to be people who read this book that are going to be helped just by the mere fact that I'm putting out there that what they've experienced, it does have an impact on them as people. And that other people out there will soon recognize the heroic work that they've done as well.
[01:12:16] Jordan Harbinger: Well, thank you so much for your time today and for taking down some of the worst monsters alive, really. I think on behalf of the entire audience here, we owe you a debt of gratitude because the only reason I was able to make it through this book was I knew that you had already gotten the Golden State Killer. It's the Bay Area. I live in San Jose. This is like literally hitting close to home. And I texted my wife and I was like, don't Google this case or this guy, but also I'm ordering some stuff for our alarm system because I'm like make sure we have every window and every door alarmed and locked up because, for some reason, the Bay Area just had some of the worst, I don't know. Or if it just happened to be your beat. And that's why it was focused on in the book. But I thought, holy cow, some of our fellow townspeople really have — what's in the water here? You know, what's going on?
[01:13:01] Paul Holes: I didn't realize you lived in San Jose.
[01:13:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:13:03] Paul Holes: But yes, the Bay Area, just historically, has had kind of the worst of the worst types of crimes that happened. And of course, when we go back into the 1970s, all throughout the Bay Areas, when we had tremendous spike in serial predator crimes, and I always am a proponent, you know, get your house secure, always.
[01:13:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Again, thank you for your time. This is a really interesting conversation. I really appreciate it.
[01:13:27] Paul Holes: Well, Jordan, thank you so much for having me on.
[01:13:31] Jordan Harbinger: I've got some thoughts on this episode, but before I get into that, here's what you should check out next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:13:37] Matthew Schrier: Boom, this silver Jeep Cherokee just cuts across from the oncoming lane and forces us to a stop. The doors popped open and they got out. The guy in the front seat, who's cloaked head to toe in black. He had an AK in his hand. Dude in the back seat, just this punk face guy, sweater with a chrome pistol in his hand, they jumped out and I knew exactly what was going on. And I was just like in shock. Dude in the black came over, opened the cab door, takes me out, leads me up to the Cherokee, puts me in the back seat. He gets in after me. I looked at him. He reaches up, he pulls the ski cap I was wearing. It's cold in Syria in December. This is New Year's Eve. He pulls it over my eyes and leans me forward and presses the barrel of the rifle to my head. And we took off a couple of seconds later.
[01:14:19] I still didn't know who had me. So, you know, the way to figure out who has me was I asked for a cigarette because like pretty much everyone in the Free Syrian Army smokes and anyone in a gang will smoke. And when they told me I can't smoke, that's when I knew I was in really deep trouble with the Al-Nusra Front, which is Al-Qaeda. And they bring me up the hall into the boiler room. And that's where they torture people. There's kids everywhere. There's a guy hanging from a pipe by handcuffs.
[01:14:44] They sit me down with my knees bent up to my chin and they force a car tire around your knees and they take an iron rod and they slide it over the tire but under your knees in the crook and that locks it into place. And then they flip you over on your stomach. So you're cuffed and your feet are in the air and you can't move them and they take this thick cable and that's what they use. They start wailing on the bottoms of your feet. Let me tell you something. It freaking hurts. And I got 115. That was the beginning of our punishment.
[01:15:25] Well, what are you out of your mind? We're trying to escape from a terrorist prison here. We have more to worry about to get our arms in between a rock and a hard place for 127 hours. He's like, "Well, I never saw that movie," and I was just like, "Ahhh!"
[01:15:38] Jordan Harbinger: To hear about how Matthew survived captivity and escaped being held hostage by Al-Qaeda in Syria, check out episode 217 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:15:49] Wow. Well, I told you, I love this conversation. What a good dude and how unfortunately cliche is that, that he sort of lost his first family because of his job taking priority. I mean, my man is straight out of a detective movie/novel. He told me off air decoding cases is more or less second nature, but decoding his own emotions is like playing chess with missing pieces, which says it all right there.
[01:16:13] Also, folks, more than a third of homicides in the United States go unsolved. Think about that. 33 percent more than that go unsolved. So someone just gets away with it and possibly does it again. Thank goodness for people like Paul and the police, of course, chasing these monsters down. Like I said the book is so interesting, also a little traumatizing.
[01:16:32] We upgraded our locks and alarms. When I got to chapter three, I was on a plane, I had free texting. I was hitting up Jen, like, "Get this and that and upgrade this and get a panic button." Amazon delivered it before I even finished the book, we got those the same day. By the way, simplisafe.com/jordan if you want to both support the show and protect yourself from serial killers, simplisafe. com/jordan. They're not a sponsor, but they might as well be. SimpliSafe, keeping serial killers out of your home since 2014.
[01:17:00] Also as a parent, the pain these families go through is just heartbreaking. It's unbearable even to read about. There's a girl who was kidnapped and murdered because she took a ride from someone she knew after her father was late picking her up. And then the killer calls and taunts the family saying their daughter is dead and he's the one who killed her. I mean, just how as a father, do you not then blame yourself for this for every single day for the rest of your life? It would just ruin me. It's so upsetting even thinking about this happening to somebody else. Sorrow is forever, folks. It's just woven into the fabric of your life for the entire family. And that type of profound pain is simply impossible to overstate.
[01:17:37] So thanks again to Paul for joining us. Really it takes almost a selfless person in many ways to do this, even though I see it as almost a compulsion on his own part, but thank goodness guys like that are on the right side and putting these monsters in prison where they belong. I hope you all enjoyed this one. How weird is it to use that word about this episode, folks? Well, I'll see you all at Jumbo's Clown Room.
[01:17:58] Links to all things Paul Holes will be in the website in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com. If you liked the guest and you found this interview valuable, do what other considerate and supportive listeners do, which is support one of our sponsors. Take a moment right now and go to jordanharbinger.com/deals. Or if you want to get the book, go to jordanharbinger.com/books, and pick up a copy of the book using our website links. I know memories are like goldfish. Take a moment and give ourselves the gift of knowledge now and the gift of nightmares in the case of this book. Also, it helps support the show. Transcripts in the show notes. Videos are up on YouTube. Advertisers, deals, and discount codes, all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. I've said it once, but I'll say it again. Please consider supporting those who support this show. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram or connect with me on LinkedIn.
[01:18:44] And remember, I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using software systems and tiny habits over at our Six-Minute Networking course. That course is free right now over at jordanharbinger.com/course. I'm teaching you how to dig the well before you get thirsty. And hey, many of the guests on the show, they subscribe and contribute their own little techniques to the course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[01:19:06] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know some true crime buffs, they're going to be super into this. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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