M. William Phelps dares to tread where few others will: into the mind of a killer.
Phelps stars in “Dark Minds” on Investigation Discovery, a real- life “Silence of the Lambs” where he and profiler John Kelly revisit unsolved homicides believed to be the work of serial killers. On their side is an incarcerated murderer.
In 1996 Phelp’s sister- in- law was murdered while five months pregnant, and the case remains unsolved. He was a writer, but not about crime then. It soon become a focal point for his work, as he could see the ripple effect of murder. His brother subsequently died too.
“Does it drive me? I don’t think so, but it’s there. I can relate to families,” he told TVRage.com.
Phelps has known Kelly for seven years or so. Phelps has written 23 books, mostly about female murders. Kelly is an expert on serial killers, so Phelps has asked him about various aspects. “He’s a mentor to me,” Phelps said, adding Kelly is a father figure. Phelps added they have a lot in common besides work.
When Kelly was telling him about a serial killer that was consulting him, Phelps said at that moment he started to create the show, which Kelly said would “never get on the air.”
Phelps said he and Raven “found each other.” Kelly suggested years ago that Phelps needed to develop his own serial killer. So Phelps wrote to several serial killers, and answered letters from some who contacted him because of the show. He said it was “destiny.”
Phelps has worked for Beyond Television Productions for 10 years now. When he had the show idea he had worked with them for a year on “Deadly Women” as an expert on the mind of the female murderer. He said they liked his TV work, and he developed a relationship with them. They pitched the show, and struck a deal with ID for him.
Phelps has no experience in law enforcement. “I ran from the law,” he said. He said he was a troublemaker as a kid, though he didn’t do anything felonious.
Phelps has his theories on the Original Night Stalker, profiled on episode one. He believes he is now in Europe, where he was originally from. He had written a poem he sent to law enforcement officials, which Phelps said contained phrases that makes Phelps believe he was European. He also thinks the Night Stalker could have been in the Coast Guard. Every victim attacked was near a Coast Guard station. He also adds that he’s definitely not in the California area, as he’d still be offending if he was.
Phelps is currently finishing a book about Sheila Davalloo. Last March he released “Never See Them Again,” “Jane Doe No More: My 15-Year Fight to Reclaim My Identity- A True Story of Survival, Hope and Redemption” in September, and also “Kiss of the She Devil” and “Bad Girls” recently. “I’ve always got many irons in the fire,” he said.
Phelps said this season viewers can look forward to hearing for the first time from a serial killer what it is like to take a life. Raven talks about personal experiences like dumping bodies, stalking victims, taking life and playing God. Phelps said Raven also talks about the last breath leaving the victim as they expire. He said Raven loved killing, and that the act was one of the sweetest moments for him. Phelps said it’s terrifying to hear these things, but that the insight Raven can give can help get to the bottom of the killer’s mind.
Much like baseball and football announcers are often former players and coaches because they are experts, Phelps said in this case they use killers for their insights.
Phelps’ books are available on Amazon.com. “Dark Minds” returns Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 10 p.m. ET on Investigation Discovery.