James Mitchell "Mike" DeBardeleben, Jr., a.k.a. "The Mall Passer", was a convicted forger and rapist who was also suspected in several murders.


DeBardeleben was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, but had to move around frequently during his childhood since his father was in the U.S. Navy. He lived in Texas, Kentucky and Germany. At the age of 16, he physically assaulted his mother Mary Lou. In a short time, he was then arrested for several serious crimes, including theft, sodomy, kidnapping, and attempted murder. When he was 17, he was also arrested for reckless driving and was expelled from high school. He joined the Air Force, but he was court-martialed as soon as the next year for a few violations for which he served two months in prison and received a $155 fine. Just a month after finishing his sentence, he was court-martialed yet again. This time, he was dishonorably discharged and moved back in with his family in Texas. He tried enrolling in high school again, but was expelled after only two months.

Soon afterwards, he married a woman named Linda Weir, but separated from her after only three weeks. He also conceived a daughter with another woman, but she was stillborn. At the age of 19, he received five years' probation for armed robbery and a series of car thefts. He later married another woman, Charlotte Grey, and had two children with her, the second of which was given up for adoption. They married three months after she became pregnant the first time, but divorced after roughly a year, not long after the suicide of DeBardeleben's younger brother. In the summer of 1961, he went to two different universities in Texas even though he didn't have a high school diploma. The next year, his probation was revoked and he was sent to prison. After being released, he spent some time living with his parents. DeBardeleben's first suspected sexual offense was in 1966 when he was arrested for the kidnapping, assault, and rape of a young girl, but the charges were eventually dropped.

Crimes, Incarceration, and Death

DeBardeleben's third wife, Wanda, was an accomplice in one of his abductions and extortion plans on at least one occasion. She became pregnant with his child twice; the first was miscarried when he pushed her down a flight of stairs. When she gave birth to his daughter, Lindsey, they had already divorced. DeBardeleben's fourth wife, Caryn, who was 12 years younger than him when they married, also assisted him in his criminal schemes. They divorced in 1976. In 1978, after spending some time at a halfway house for counterfeiting, DeBardeleben moved to Arlington, Virginia, where he got a job as a barber. In September, he committed his first known sexual assault, abducting a 19-year-old nursing student, Lucy Alexander, and raping her repeatedly. She was released the next day in Delaware. In the summer of 1979, he met his last wife, Barbara Abbott, who left him after a year and a half. At this time, DeBardeleben was heavily engaged in counterfeiting money. Because he used a lot of it at suburban malls, using fake $20 bills to buy cheap items and getting real change back, the Secret Service nicknamed him "the Mall Passer". The fake bills were used in several states, including Ohio, Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma and Milwaukee.

In 1980, he pulled over a woman while posing as a cop, intending to abduct and rape her, but she fought back and escaped. On May 25, 1983, DeBardeleben was arrested for counterfeiting. When the Secret Service searched a storage facility rented in his name looking for his printing press, they found evidence for several violent crimes they had no idea DeBardeleben was responsible for, such as handcuffs, dildos, bloody panties, lubricant and hundreds of photos of women, most of them sexually explicit, and several audio recordings of women being tortured. In 1988, he was sentenced to 375 years in prison for his counterfeiting; the authorities felt they could not get convictions on the sex crimes because of a lack of evidence. He was confined in maximum security for his entire prison sentence. DeBardeleben was also a prime suspect for two murders; that of a realtor in 1982 and that of one of two men he held for ransom in 1983, but wasn't convicted of them. He remained in prison until his death from pneumonia in 2011.

Modus Operandi

During DeBardeleben's known sexual assaults, he would approach his victims using posing as a police officer. When he had them under control, he would rape them repeatedly and brutally, usually with objects since he couldn't maintain an erection. He had a habit of making his victims call him "Daddy" during the assaults and would sometimes record the acts.


DeBardeleben has been described as fitting the pathology of a so-called anger-excitation rapist, the kind of rapist who derives pleasure from the suffering of his victims. Their goals are to dominate and control their victims. He was also profiled as having a weak father and domineering mother. He would have a record of committing previous offenses, which include voyeurism and burglary, and adjustment problems in both school and the military. He had an extreme difficulty with females and believes that his victims desire what he does to them. His fantasies were influenced by sadomasochistic pornography. If he was married, he would have degraded his wife and experimented sexually with her. He was cagey and intelligent, knowledgeable about law enforcement, and may have stalked his victims to relive the experience.

Known Victims

  • Unspecified locations:
    • Unspecified date in 1956: Mary Lou Edwards DeBardeleben, 47-48 (his mother; assaulted only)
    • April 1971: Terry McDonald (suspected)
    • Unspecified date in 1975: Phillipa Voliner (pistol-whipped only)
    • September 4-5, 1978: Lucy Alexander, 19 (abducted, raped, and sodomized repeatedly; was released)
  • 1979:
    • February 4, Fayetteville, North Carolina: Elizabeth Mason, 31 (pistol-whipped, bound, strangled to the point of unconsciousness, and left for dead)
    • June 1, unspecified location in Maryland: Laurie Jensen, 20 (raped and sodomized repeatedly only; was released)
    • October 10, unspecified location in New Jersey: Unnamed Italian-American woman (assaulted only)
  • 1980:
    • November 1, unspecified location: Dianne Overton, 25 (attempted to abduct; she escaped)
    • November 12, unspecified location: Maria Santini, 27 (robbed and abducted, but not raped; was released)
  • April 27, 1982, Bossier City, Louisiana: Jean McPhaul (suspected; strangled with a ligature and fatally stabbed twice in the heart)
  • April 13, 1983, Greece, New York: David Starr and Joe Rapini (suspected; abducted both)
    • David Starr
    • Joe Rapini (held for ransom and shot)

On Criminal Minds

DeBardeleben has only been mentioned rather fleetingly, in Zoe's Reprise by Rossi, who is reading from the foreword of his book Deviance: The Secret Desires of Sadistic Serial Killers.



  1. Sources don't specify exactly for what crimes DeBardeleben was convicted, but he was a suspect in several murders. Though he is usually only described as a serial rapist, several murders have been attributed to him