Episode 176: Michael Harrigan – ViCAP, Highway Serial Killings Initiative (Part 1)

In this episode, retired agent Michael Harrigan reviews the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP), the largest repository of serial violent crime cases in the country, and the Highway Serial Killings Initiative. He was the unit’s chief and oversaw the development of the web database, which allows client law enforcement agencies direct access to conduct independent analysis. He also provides case studies of several serial murders, including those committed by Samuel Little who may be the most prolific serial killer in U.S. History.

Michael Harrigan served in the FBI for 22 years. He initially worked general criminal and terrorism cases in the Kansas City Division and was on the Attorney General’s Protection Detail and the Police Training Coordinator in the Washington Field Office (WFO).

Later in his career, Mike Harrigan was assigned as the Supervisory Senior Resident Agent in Farmington and Gallup offices of the Albuquerque Division where he conducted and supervised criminal investigations involving homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, missing persons and unidentified human remains and was responsible for all federal investigations on three Native American reservations.

After a few years, he accepted an assignment in Quantico, Virginia to be the Chief of the National Academy (NA) Program. The NA is the leading national law enforcement executive leadership institution, graduating over 1800 senior law enforcement officers from every state and more than 40 countries.

Before he retired in 2018, Harrigan was the Chief of the FBI Academy’s Firearms Training Program. He recently wrote a post on LinkedIn titled A Leadership Perspective of FBI Academy Firearms Training that is a must-read if you’re interested in applying for the FBI.

Currently, he is a subject matter expert for Eagle, a security and risk management service, for whom he provides consultation and expert testimony related to violent crime analysis, the use of force continuum, police procedures and policies, LEOSA and various issues related to policing Indian Country.

Special Agent (Retired)

Michael Harrigan

October 1996 – December 2018







“The detective stops the truck on the highway and starts talking to the truck driver, Mendenhall, and then he notices blood on the door of the truck.” Retired agent Michael Harrigan

The following are links to articles and videos featuring Mike Harrigan on the FBI website about the ViCAP, Highway Serial Killings Initiative, as well as news articles about serial killer Sam Little:

FBI Website – ViCAP Fighting Violent Crime for 25 Years

FBI – Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) Brochure

VIDEO – Interview with FBI Special Agent Michael Harrigan

GCN – 11/1/2018: A proven program, rebuilt from the ground up

Los Angeles Times – 4/5/2009: FBI makes a connection between long-haul truckers, serial killings

CNN – 6/7/2019:  Confessed serial killer Samuel Little now linked to 60 deaths of women

Washinton Post – 6/8/2019: Convicted murderer now linked to more than 60 deaths may be most prolific serial killer in U.S. history

To learn more, listen to these FBI Retired Case File Review episodes:

177: Michael Harrigan – ViCAP, Serial Killer Samuel Little, Listener Q & A (Part 2)

318: Lisa Bailey – Clay and Bones, FBI Forensic Artist

ViCAP Web is the largest repository of serial violent crime cases in the country. Learn more here.






The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) was created to improve access to information that would help solve missing and unidentified person cases. More info here.









Here’s a list of the listener questions addressed by Michael Harrigan during Part Two of the interview – Episode 177.

  1. How is your caseload determined and delegated?
  2. Have you ever caught a totally unsuspecting family off guard as to their loved one being murdered by a SK? That one’s tough.
  3. Victim count – which serial killer would (currently), in the US, be considered the most prolific. And if you know, do you suspect that the body count could grow or IS growing?
  4. Was this your assigned position or something you worked towards?
  5. Do you only work on active or viable cases if the killer is still living? What’s the oldest case (dated back) that comes to mind where you matched a victim to the killer?
  6. Have you noticed a specific region in the US with a disproportionate amount of SK’s?
  7. Do you believe if the Federal Govt. funded states for explicitly for the testing of the backlog of rape kits, that we would see a staggering increase of SK’s? Maybe preventing the next?
  8. How effective or accurate is the confirmation of a potential victim(s) after the killer is deceased? Do the victims become categorized as death suspected by or remain as an active file/investigation?
  9. Is it true that many police depts don’t fill out the ViCAP forms because they’re so lengthy?
  10. What can communities like ours do to help you out. What information is good to spread and what information isn’t?
  11. How much information do you need to start your tracking? What’s the absolute minimum amount of information?
  12. Will there ever be more public disclosure via technology & centralization of data – not only on ViCap, but on missing, murdered and unidentified remains? For example, I see 70 people on ViCap, but we have 2-5k forensic unknown DNA profiles in CODIS for SKs. There has to be more.
  13. Is it possible to determine how many SKs are currently active via ViCAP stats?


Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 300 episodes available on all popular podcast apps and YouTube.


  1. […] 176: Michael Harrigan – ViCAP, Highway Serial Killings Initiative (Part 1) […]

  2. Cindy F SpringerJanuary 17, 2023

    Hi Jerri,
    Thank you for these pod casts. I have a question, do you have anyone whose got updates on LISK? That whole story is so sad. Can you give me any idea where I can volunteer either for the FBI or some organization in law enforcement? I already work for the VA. Getting ready to retire & I don’t want to be sitting on my bum.
    Thank you for your help.

    1. Jerri WilliamsJanuary 17, 2023

      Congratulations on your upcoming retirement! I can’t think of any FBI volunteer opportunities, but please check with your local firld office. I’ll check to see if there’s a retired agent who assisted on the Lisk investigation.

  3. Reylyn CheckettsJuly 26, 2019

    Hi Jerri,
    I just listened to your latest episode with Michael Harrigan and found it so interesting as are ALL of your interviews. I listen to them over and over again.
    I was so intrigued with the ViCap program and wondered because of the massive amounts of information that needs to be entered into the system if they need people who are willing to enter data. I googled ViCap and found that it is attached to the FBI training. I’m 67 and I remember you saying that FBI agents have to retire at 57 so I know I’m too old to enter the FBI training. I’m just interested in entering data. Is there opportunity for that or has that ship sailed?
    You do such a good job with your podcast. You are very professional.
    Thank you,

    1. Jerri WilliamsJuly 26, 2019

      Thank you for listening! I also found the episode to be really interesting. Since I didn’t work violent crime matters during my career, I didn’t know a lot about ViCAP. Part two is also intriguing. Stay tuned!


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