By: Cassidy Delamarter, University Communications and Marketing
A new true crime docuseries, “The Lesson Is Murder,” follows University of South Florida criminology Associate Professor Bryanna Fox and her five graduate students as they show the reality of how researchers analyze convicted murderers’ personality traits and motives to develop psychological profiles.
In addition to helping the next generation of criminologists better understand murderers, Fox, a former FBI agent, uses the psychological profiles to help law enforcement across the country prevent violent crime and solve cold cases.
In the exclusive docuseries available on Hulu, the USF students and Fox review the cases of three convicted murderers from around the nation, including serial killer Will Davis, a former nurse convicted of capital murder for killing four patients in Texas.
The goal is to uncover why killers kill and use that knowledge to help solve and prevent violent crime. It’s the same focus of the course Fox teaches at USF and of several studies she has published in academic journals. This expertise has resulted in countless national media interviews.
“This idea for this show was inspired by my 2018 forensic psychology class at USF,” Fox said. While teaching her students the fundamentals of psychological criminology, they applied what they learned to investigate a real cold case from local law enforcement.
“My students ended up breaking open that cold case and spoiler alert, something similar happens with a case in the first episode of this docuseries!”
Graduate student Xavier Burch, who is featured on the show, said the docuseries was a memorable way to further his work in the field.
“It was an experience that I am truly grateful to have and I hope to fight for truth and justice in the future for other cases,” Burch said.
With this show, Fox wants the true process of applied criminology to be documented.
“Criminology is not like what you see on ‘Criminal Minds’ – I wanted to do a show where I can show the actual process of how cases are solved: using research and science,” Fox said. “I also want the viewers to learn scientific and research-based information from this show, so they can identify red flags on their own and report suspicious activity to law enforcement.”
Fox hopes the show will continue with more students and cases to further build psychological profiles to solve crime.