Prosecution lawyers in Colorado will argue that the man convicted of killing a federal judge during a courtroom escape in 2005 has a natural predisposition to take law enforcement by surprise. It’s already true that Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. had nine run-ins with the law between 1977 and 2002, as well as misdemeanor arrests in 2004, and that in the last decade, he and his family had all the money in the world. But this is a man who should have been carefully watched when he walked into a Pottstown, Pennsylvania, church, purchased a handgun and walked out hours later with it. This is a man who came to the city looking for a job. He spent a week looking for a job, identifying himself as “John Moore” with a photo of a Caucasian couple to fill the registry, and eventually checked himself into a shelter. When he tried to return to a job in a local McDonald’s to no avail, this is a man who didn’t seem to care much for labor.
What if he had shown up at the airport? What if he had called the FBI?
What if the FBI had followed him? What if they knew where he was? What if he had called the FBI?
Imagine a world in which the FBI was just one call away for the kind of life with which Matthew Guyton is eternally familiar.
Instead, many have lamented the demise of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, the lead investigative unit on more than 30,000 cases. It could have been good for the bureau and for citizens, but sadly, it’s only been in recent years that we have been able to justify that investment in the force, a devastating thing to concede.
This is a fight not about letting bad guys go free, but about protecting our lives and the world in which we live.
Reporting for The New York Times Magazine is by Jessica Bennett. Photo by Victoria Lui/Getty Images for W&D
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