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FBI agent makes sure
crime doesn't pay


Meghan Holohan

Most Wanted

It was 10:30 at night when a truck bomb—allegedly made with 5,000 pounds of explosives—detonated outside the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, tearing through the apartment complex, which housed U.S. military personnel. The bomb created a 35-foot-deep, 85-foot-wide crater.

Panicked soldiers and their families ran frantically throughout the building in a rushed evacuation and, even with the attempts to escape, there were still many casualties. Jackie DeCou (CAS ’86) had only been a member of the FBI’s evidence response team for a fraction of her FBI career when she joined a group that traveled to the Middle East to sift through the rubble that was once part of a military complex, rubble that was once home to many U.S. soldiers.

Jackie DeCou (Ric Evans photo)

It was 130 degrees in the desert, so they often worked at night. Sorting evidence from the desert was difficult. DeCou, like many of her colleagues, became sick. And the local law enforcement agents weren’t used to working with women. Although it seemed like an awful assignment, DeCou had no reservations volunteering. "Everything is an adventure. I take every opportunity to travel. I can’t remember turning down an assignment," DeCou says.

The explosion happened in 1996, only a year after DeCou had finished special-agent training. She had spent most of her career in the FBI, starting as a glassware washer in the serology lab. After washing lab equipment, gathering classified garbage, and analyzing evidence, she conducted DNA research at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Va. This experience helped her get into the Watergate Apartments. She helped search Monica Lewinsky’s apartment.

Clearly, DeCou has been involved in some major investigations. She helped in the recovery of bodies in Kosovo. And she aided in the investigation of three of the country’s most notorious spies, CIA agent Harold Nicholson, FBI agent Robert Hanssen, and retired Air Force Sergeant Brian Regan.

Her experience helped her become the evidence response team coordinator after a plane slammed into the Pentagon on September 11th. That was one of the last assignments DeCou worked on before transferring to Montana, a part of the country where she always hoped to settle. She had originally obtained a biology degree because she had hopes of working out West with wolves. Today, she is an agent in Glasgow, Mont., the only female agent in the state. The small town of 3,600 residents also is about 14 miles away from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. DeCou spends a lot of her time investigating sexual assault, domestic abuse, murder, and assault cases in the area.

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