Feb 7 – Feb 13, 2011 Edition Sex Criminal DeBardeleben Dies, Book Chronicles His Crimes

James Mitchell “Mike” DeBardeleben, 68, the lone wolf counterfeiter and serial sex criminal captured by the U.S. Secret Service after one of the largest investigations in the agency’s history, died January 26 of pneumonia at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina.

DeBardeleben, whose extraordinary criminal career is chronicled in author Stephen G. Michaud’s chilling Beyond Cruel, passed approximately $165,000 worth of his homemade twenties in some 65 cities across more than 40 states before the Secret Service finally trapped him in a Tennessee Mall. But evidence uncovered in the subsequent search of his property suggested that the “Mall Passer,” as he was known to Treasury agents, was in fact responsible for an incredible range of offenses from murder to drug trafficking, kidnap, bank robberies and a wide variety of confidence games. Among the items found in his two mini-storage bays were women’s bloody clothing, guns and knives, photographs, tape-recorded torture sessions and the suspect’s own voluminous writings on his needs and desires.

“DeBardeleben,” said FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood, was “the best-documented sexual sadist since the Marquis de Sade,” and one of America’s most dangerous criminals.

As Michaud explains in Beyond Cruel, the Secret Service ordinarily would have been interested only in pursuing counterfeiting charges against DeBardeleben. But in a unique decision, the agency formed agents Michael Stephens, Dennis Foos and Greg Mertz into a task force to match the massive evidence with unsolved criminal cases across the country. As a result of their investigations, DeBardeleben was indicted 11 times – twice for murder – convicted in six cases and sentenced to 375 years in prison.