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Mastermind: To Think Like a Killer

MovieWeb’s Greg Archer spoke with the brilliant and deeply influential Dr. Ann Burgess, who is often considered the pioneer of serial-killer profiling in the modern era and who loosely inspired the Netflix series, Manhunter. She is the subject of a new three-part docuseries about her work hunting down and getting into the heads of notorious criminals. Mastermind: To Think Like a Killer premieres on Hulu July 11, 2024.


From award-winning executive producers Dakota and Elle Fanning, showrunner Dani Sloane, and director Abby Fuller, comes Mastermind: To Think Like a Killer, a fascinating new perspective on the woman whose crime hunting innovations changed history. To stop serial killers, psychiatric nurse and professor Dr. Ann Burgess must first learn to think like one. With unprecedented access to the mastermind behind the development of modern serial-killer profiling, the series tells Burgess’ tenacious story and her compassion for victims which puts her at the center of solving America’s most infamous true-crime cases.

From the widely known Ed Kemper and Ted Bundy to lesser-known cases like the Ski Mask Rapist, Burgess investigates and studies the victims and damaged psyches of their attackers, putting two halves of the same story together to catch a killer. Largely an unsung heroine until now, Dr. Burgess impacted not only the FBI, she also radically championed the plight of women in America.

Mastermind: To Think Like a Killer is directed by Abby Fuller and produced for Hulu by Campfire Studios in association with Lewellen Pictures. Ross M. Dinerstein, Elle Fanning, Dakota Fanning, Rebecca Halpern, Lesley Chilcott, Dani Sloane, Rebecca Evans and Abby Fuller are executive producers. Co-executive producers are Ross Girard and Mark McCune. Dr. Ann Burgess is a consulting producer.

Ann Wolbert Burgess, D.N.Sc., APRN, FAAN, is an internationally recognized pioneer in the assessment and treatment of victims of trauma and abuse, and author of A Killer by Design: Murderers, Mindhunters, and My Quest to Decipher the Criminal Mind. She has received numerous honors including the Sigma Theta Tau International Audrey Hepburn Award, the American Nurses’ Association Hildegard Peplau Award, and the Sigma Theta Tau International Episteme Laureate Award. Her courtroom testimony has been described as “groundbreaking,” and she has been called a “nursing pathfinder.”

Her research with victims began when she co-founded, with Boston College sociologist Lynda Lytle Holmstrom, one of the first hospital-based crisis counseling programs at Boston City Hospital. She then worked with FBI Academy special agents to study serial offenders, and the links between child abuse, juvenile delinquency, and subsequent perpetration. Her work with Boston College nursing colleague Carol Hartman led to the study of very young victims and the impact of trauma on their growth and development, their families and communities. Her work continues in the study of elder abuse in nursing homes, cyberstalking, and Internet sex crimes. She teaches courses in Victimology, Forensic Science, Forensic Mental Health, Case Studies in Forensics and Forensic Science Lab.

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