Just two months after Netflix released season two of its critically beloved true crime series, Mindhunter, the man behind the whole phenomenon came to Houston to discuss his groundbreaking work.
Retired FBI agent John Douglas wrote the book on criminal profiling—literally: the Netflix series is based on Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit, the 1995 title Douglas co-authored with Mark Olshaker. Crime Stoppers of Houston secured Douglas as the highly anticipated keynote speaker at this year's gala, and he took the stage earlier this month to recount his incredible experiences studying and interacting with the country's most gruesome murderers.
Before an enraptured audience of 370 people in the downtown Hyatt Regency Hotel's Imperial Ballroom, Douglas spoke of life inside the prison, psychology of his correspondence with killers, and the needs of victims—all relevant to the public safety mission at Crime Stoppers, which helped solve 520 cases—including 17 murders—last year.
Douglas capped off the evening that raised $433,000 for the cause. The crowd included community advocates, victims of crime, law enforcement, and elected officials from across the Greater Houston Area. "Leading Women for Public Safety" Donae Chramosta, Maha Khan, and Jerri Duddleston Moore co-chaired this year's event, while Brigitte Kalai and Sippi Khurana served as honorary chairs.
KPRC 2 News anchor Dominique Sachse emceed the program, and guests also heard from local media icon Dave Ward, who offered opening remarks and led a moment of silence in memory of fallen Harris County Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal.
Crime Stoppers CEO Rania Mankarious opted to discuss the state of criminal behavior in Harris County rather than the usual crime statistics, lamenting the escalation and rate in which violent offenders are released back into the community. The event also showed a message of support from Ivanka Trump, who lauded Crime Stoppers for its unique approach to addressing human trafficking. The appearance, although televised, drummed up some level of controversy, prompting organizers to reiterate the event is non-partisan.
"Crime Stoppers of Houston has been at the forefront of keeping communities safe. It's an issue that affects the quality of life of everyone equally and one that we must come together to address in a non-partisan, non-politician way," Mankarious said in a statement. "We are thankful for our relationships that run deep in the city, county, and state and the model we are becoming for the nation when it comes to community-driven public safety."
Gala co-chair Chramosta took to Facebook the day after the event. "It has been suggested it would have been better received to have introduced the video in this manner: We did not seek out Ivanka Trump nor did we pay her. We were introduced to her by very influential women who share our mission, a few of whom are very liberal, yet see the value of working together to end trafficking," she wrote. "It doesn’t matter your political affiliation, no one wants their daughter or son trafficked. We hope you will agree to stand together as a community to create this movement to end trafficking with Crime Stoppers of Houston."
That night, Chramosta and co-chairs Khan and Duddleston Moore also delivered remarks on-stage, joined by Chramosta's daughter, Bella, who is Crime Stoppers' newest youth ambassador. Bella spoke of the impact on crime and school threats in her own life, and the quartet then led the "paddles up" portion of the program.
Guests also bid on silent auction items and, for $100 a ticket, entered the gala raffle whose winners were randomly selected the following week: Dave Wood and Jan Bartholomew won a 2019 Jeep Renegade donated by River Oaks Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, and Andrea Hellyer earned the coveted Hermes Birkin bag donated by Chramosta's store, The Vintage Contessa & Times Past.