NASHVILLE, Tenn. - To catch a criminal, sometimes law enforcement has to think like a criminal, according to a retired FBI profiler.
Dan Hodges spent years tracking bad guys such as the "Wooded Rapist," a man suspected of committing 13 rapes in Davidson, Williamson and Wilson counties. It is a 14-year-old case local police said they've solved with the arrest of Robert Jason Burdick.
On paper, the so-called "Wooded Rapist" is a textbook example of a serial offender, down to the rainy nights he'd pick to strike.
"But a downpour of rain, you're going to be alone. And it could soften your footprints, coming out of the woods. And the scent trail would be more difficult if the cops got called right away," Hodges said.
Hodges was handed a decade ago. He helped investigators develop a face with the case that police identified said was Burdick.
Hodges labeled Burdick an organized offender.
"He brought his own weapon with him," he said. "He brought his own restraints with him. In other words, he had what we call a rape kit."
Hodges said a disorganized rapist "would break in the house and get a butcher knife out of the cabinet, or find a lamp chord to tie somebody up with."
Hodges speculates Burdick's alleged victims were probably stalked and seen as easy prey.
"None of these (attacks) were spontaneous," Hodges said. "He had planned it."
"The common denominator is they're in an area backed up to woods," Hodges said about where the women lived or were assaulted. "They can be easily spotted."
Hodges, who made a career out of studying longtime criminal, said a good profiled relies on a good police investigation.
He helped map out the modus operandi of Paul Dennis Reid, a convicted serial killer now on Tennessee's death row.
Getting inside the mind of a criminal is very formulaic, he said.
According to statements from people who know Burdick, he didn't fit the mold of a typical suspected serial rapist.
Or does he?
"Most of the times, they come out to be the boy next door. I mean you interview the neighbors, they say, 'I can't believe this guy. I mean, he's the nicest guy. Always spoke to me, played with my kids,'" Hodges said.
Police have linked Burdick to six rapes or attempted rapes since 1994.
Hodges said investigators have done their work. Now he's eager to see prosecutors do theirs.
Hodges said crimes such as rape often start with something small such as window peeping then perpetrator becomes more brazen.
The guns, officers reportedly retrieved from Burdick's house, were to overpower the women he was allegedly preying upon not to defend himself against police, Hodges said.
If detectives link Burdick to rapes in other states, the FBI will likely reenter the investigation.