What do you get when you mix a series of horrific, unsolved homicides, an experienced FBI criminal profiler, an incarcerated and opinionated serial killer, with a tireless investigative journalist (who just so happens to be an expert on crime and serial killers)? Dark Minds season 3, on Investigation Discovery, hosted by author and show's creator, M. William Phelps. Literally airing an "eye-opening" 2-hour season premier, April 2 at 8 (EST), Dark Minds will showcase admitted serial killer, Israel Keyes, 34. He had served his country and received an honorable discharge from the Army. Living with his girlfriend and 10-year old daughter in Alaska, his calculated crimes were the last thing anyone would have expected from the "nice" man who worked as a general contractor. Dark Minds special two-hour season premier identifies possible new victims of Keyes, previously off the FBI radar. Prior to taking his own life in an Alaskan jail cell in 2012, psychopathic Keyes toyed with agents as they questioned him about his trail of burglary, arson, rape, and murder over an eleven year period, across as many as ten states.
Examiner.com had the opportunity to interview M. William Phelps, Dark Minds host and show's creator. Asking him why general interest in serial killers is so high, he explained it's due to the fact that serial murder is so rare and random, it's only natural for people to want to know more about why they kill, to get a better understanding of who they are. With the goal of bringing answers to the families of crime victims, Phelps wants to get the public involved, to reinvigorate crimes that have gone cold, because the families deserve answers. He said,
"I want victims' families to have a voice in the world of true crime. They deserve justice. They deserve to be heard. All a cold case needs, sometimes, is to pick it up and publicize it - the public will do the rest."
Knowing cases progress as time passes, Phelps told me people think differently, time changing their perspective, as indicated in his Crime Feed article from March 10, 2014, called Cold Cases - Make The Call!
Phelps lost his pregnant sister-in-law, Diana Ferris, to a savage Connecticut murder in 1996, which remains unsolved to this day. Some years after, his brother's passing left Phelps' niece and nephew without parents altogether. Phelps told me that, although her killing doesn't fuel his drive to hunt murderers, it does "allow him a special, unique insight into victims' families, and the ripple effect one murder has within a family unit". Never relinquishing his quest, Phelps continues the hunt for Diana's killer, while teaching us about them, as in his Crime Feed article from March 2, 2014, called M. William Phelps On The Real World Of Serial Killers.
Having to wait for Dark Minds season 3 has been hard for many folks, including myself. In addition to his recent investigative work on Keyes, which according to the Associated Press, lasted well over a year, the best-selling author, told me he writes about 4-5 hours per day, everyday, mostly about true crime, because it's "therapeutic" for him. Being in the "business" of hunting serial killers can be tough, and Phelps' research can be grueling. Having corresponded with killers his entire career, he approaches them with the intent on gathering information, as a researcher, to gain insight into the mind of killers. Phelps told me that serial killing has changed so much over the past 30 years, that tired, "old" investigative methods have to be revised, in order to keep up with them. He elaborated, saying,
"The archetype of the poster child serial killer is no more. There's no perfect model for the serial killer. Exploring the mind of a contemporary serial killer is the only way to truly get at the nature behind one type of beast".
Season 3, Dark Minds again uses a brutal serial killer, known only as "Raven", to help Phelps get into the minds of the murderers responsible for the cold-cases he investigates. When asked how Raven was chosen for the series, due to contractual agreements with the network and safety reasons in general for numerous people, Phelps would not elaborate. However, because of hundreds of investigative hours Phelps spent with Raven, Dark Minds will again be able to use his unique perspective as the "go-to" this season. Phelps said of Raven,
"He trusts me. I'm able to step beyond the horror that he's done, get over myself and how much I loathe him and his crimes, and study the psychopath's brain. Raven and I are breaking new type of ground within this type of research. He's brutally honest. That alone is insight into the mind of the serial murderer that no one else can get".
Imagining it hard for Phelps to hardly be able to relax, he was asked how he finds mental peace. For the most part, the husband and father said he's been successful in separating his work from his personal life, only occasionally falling into traps. Keeping fit, eating healthy, and working out are a necessity for him. The big thing though, he stays involved in local youth sports and community activities, feeding the hungry in his area.
True to his writing heart, Phelps said his readers are a huge part of what keeps him grounded and focused, having become a major part in his personal therapy. Tapping into goodness, Phelps attends Catholic mass 3-4 times per week, which helps him stay in that positive light, helping with the "ugliness" of what he does. He continued, "especially when it gets really dark - as it sometimes can".
Discovering this self-described gourmet cook actually makes time to clear his mind was refreshing. Spending time with family and helping his community is something I find an attractive quality. The tireless effort Phelps puts in to his research truly shows in Dark Minds. His compassion and drive to bring answers to families of crime victims is refreshing, and should be one that is shared by everyone, universally. Phelps ended our interview, saying,
"If you keep death in front of you, it changes how you live".
Tune in Tuesday, April 2 at 8 pm (EST) on Investigation Discovery for the special two-hour Dark Minds season premier. According to Examiner.com's Diana Price, who also interviewed Phelps, this season has a lot to look forward to. Not only do they claim to know who committed a particular crime in Idaho, but they look into the Long Island serial killer case, digging up what they consider could be new information on the perpetrator(s).
Visit M. William Phelps for a description of his work, or pick up one of his many true crime books available for purchase. Dark Minds will air on Investigation Discovery, Wednesday nights at 9 pm (EST).