If Lecter is also a criminal then why did the investigation team trust him in The Silence of the Lambs?

Why would a criminal give correct information about another criminal?

  • 3
    They gambled on him wanting the concessions they offered for the information, enough so that he told the truth. After all, they were moving him to a 'scenic island' and away from the warden who 'tortured him' with revivalist Christian TV shows. What they did not gamble on, was his intention to escape from custody when being transferred between the old and new (more scenic) jails. Jun 14, 2016 at 1:08
  • 6
    Why would a criminal give correct information? To gain privileges? To gain early release? To show off how clever he is? Lots of reasons.
    – iandotkelly
    Jun 14, 2016 at 3:21
  • Lecter was always very honest about his own crimes anyway. He's a cannibal, not a liar.
    – OrangeDog
    Jun 14, 2016 at 8:41

2 Answers 2


For the challenge it presented to Lecter.

Lecter used to consult for the FBI, and it's implied his services were largely au gratis, and often pro bono.

Whilst it's true that he often manipulated his proximity to the FBI for personal leverage, he seemed to genuinely enjoy the pursuit and capture of criminals.

Knowing this is something he may willingly participate in (coupled with the prospect of improved facilities and privileges), the only reason Lecter wouldn't help is to be spiteful, which would in turn only spite himself.

  • What is the difference between "au gratis" and "pro bono"?
    – sharur
    Sep 23, 2019 at 22:53
  • "Au Gratis" = No Charge/Fee/Expectation of reward, "Pro Bono"= in the public interest (to help) Sep 24, 2019 at 15:14

It helps to know that the book is inspired by real cases:

Thomas Harris was moved to write the novel that inspired the film after meeting FBI agent John E. Douglas, one of the godfathers of criminal profiling. While attending the lecture of the decorated special agent, Harris learned about three notorious serial killers: Ted Bundy, Gary M. Heidnik and Ed Gein.

Of particular interest is Ted Bundy:

And like Lecter, Bundy had an interesting relationship with a criminal investigator. His contact was Robert Keppel, a homicide detective who had achieved national attention as being one of the men who had helped track him down in the midst of his cross-country murdering spree. Keppel was serving as the chief consultant to the task force for the unsolved Green River Murders when he was contacted by Bundy from his Florida holding cell; Bundy offered to help form a profile to help catch the Green River Killer. While working with Bundy ultimately provided little help, Keppel was able to get him to confess to several more unsolved murders. Bundy was executed in 1989, while the Green River Killer -- Gary Ridgway -- was finally apprehended in 2001.

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