Thursday, May 20, 2010

Meyer Kruglik, M.D.--Psychiatrist Who Developed Profile Leading to Identifiication of Serial Killer Richard Speck

Famed Chicago forensic psychiatrist, Meyer Krugelik, M.D. who developed the profile that Chicago police used to snare serial killer Richard Speck, has died at age 95.  This is from Joan Giangrasse Kate's Chicago Tribune obit:

"After eight student nurses were brutally tortured and murdered in a dormitory near South Chicago Community Hospital in Chicago on July 14, 1966, detectives turned to Dr. Meyer Kruglik, a leader in forensic psychiatry, to develop a psychological and physical profile of the unknown killer. With the help of Dr. Kruglik, the chief of psychiatry at Stateville, the Illinois state penitentiary near Joliet, Chicago police arrested Richard Speck, an Illinois-born drifter who was raised in Texas and had committed a series of smaller crimes. Speck later was convicted of the murders.

'He was one of the first people called when the news of the murders hit,' said his daughter, Sally Bauer, who was in her teens at the time. Dr. Kruglik provided occasional counseling to Speck, who was sent to Stateville and died there in 1991. Over the years, he also maintained a thriving practice on Michigan Avenue, where his patients included people from all walks of life.
'He was a very probing individual — both professionally and personally,' recalled his daughter, with a soft laugh. 'When I was young, my boyfriends would beg me to be ready on time. Otherwise they'd sit with my dad and be interrogated!'

Dr. Kruglik, 95, a former longtime resident of Evanston and Chicago who provided expert testimony on countless criminal cases, died Sunday, May 9, at his home at Classic Residence by Hyatt at the Glen in Glenview from complications related to a brain infection.

Dr. Kruglik retired from his practice and as chief of psychiatry at Stateville in 1994 at age 80.

'He never wrote his professional memoir, in part because of doctor-patient privilege,' his daughter said. 'But I think it had more to do with not wanting to look back — at the horrific crime committed by Speck or any of the others he'd worked on.'

The son of Russian immigrants, Dr. Kruglik was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. Instead of pursuing plumbing or carpentry as his father wanted, he took pre-med classes at Buffalo's Canisius College after graduating at age 16 from Hutchinson Tech, a rigorous Buffalo high school. In 1934, Dr. Kruglik moved to Chicago and attended the University of Illinois Medical School, living with the family of his father's distant cousin, Harry Ginsburg. He fell in love with Harry's daughter Gertrude, and the two wed after he graduated medical school in 1938. They were married for 71 years until Gertrude's death in 2009.

While serving on a Zuni Indian reservation in New Mexico, Dr. Kruglik was drafted by the Army after Pearl Harbor and worked for the psychiatry service at the Veterans Administration hospital in Chillicothe, Ohio, until 1945. He then returned to Chicago to teach psychiatry at Chicago Medical School for two years, before embarking on a 47-year career at Stateville, where he started by conducting interviews with prisoners in their cells. 'He was once taken hostage by an inmate, but was released unharmed,' his daughter said. 'That night he got home very, very late.'

n his retirement, Dr. Kruglik gained a reputation at the Classic Residence as a memoir and sonnet writer, singer, and playwright of works performed by residents."
Imagine, a psychiatrist unwilling to exploit a famous connection for gain and fame.  Nowadays, so-called "doctors," like Drs. Phil and Drew who come to mind, use their television programs to expose celebrity secrets and humiliations for syndicated ratings.  The prototype being the blood-sucker, Eugene Landy a psychotherapist who exploited Beach Boy Brian Wilson destroying a decade or more of Wilson's creative life.

On the pyschological profiling aspect, I'm sure Dr. Kruglik was able to help the Chicago police re-focus their thinking about suspects in the famous murders and that this ultimately helped in the capture of Richard Speck, but you should bear in mind that "confirmation bias" is at work in what is now known as "criminal profiling."  That is, you only hear about the successful guesses of "criminal profilers" while the great majority of such efforts are off the mark by miles according to empirical assessment of the practices which are in wide use by law enforcement.  At the same time, forensic psychiatry and psychology is an interesting subject that we should explore at some point in the not too distant future.

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