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On Found, a Kidnapper Helps Find Missing People — Has That Ever Happened in Real Life?

Criminals lending a helping hand to the authorities — whether on purpose or unintentionally — has actually occurred before.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

To understand the way a  criminal psychopath thinks, pick the brain of another one. That’s a key plot point in the eerie new NBC drama Found, airing Tuesdays at 10/9c.

How to Watch

Watch Found on NBC and Peacock.

The series revolves around crisis management specialist Gabi Mosely (Shanola Hampton), who was kidnapped and escaped her captor when she was 16.

Twenty years later, she’s pulled off the ultimate reversal and revenge: She has made her abductor, Hugh "Sir" Evans (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), her prisoner. He’s chained up in her basement for a very good reason.

She uses him as a resource as she and her specialized team search for people who go missing, as Sir has creepy but invaluable insights into the minds of kidnappers and stalkers. Nonetheless, Gabi reminds him that “it’s not a partnership!”

Have criminals ever helped law enforcement before? 

It’s a strange arrangement, sure. It recalls The Silence of the Lambs, in which FBI agent Clarice Starling picks the brain of serial killer Hannibal Lecter to help catch another murderer, Buffalo Bill.

Sir appears with his arms crossed looking away.

That 1991 movie plot actually echoed real-life events. In August 1982, the bodies of six young women — all sex workers — were found around the city of Seattle. The Green River Killer, as he was called, was just getting started. He avoided capture for 20 years and killed at least 49 women.

RELATED: Mark-Paul Gosselaar Is a Devoted Family Man — Learn More About His Life at Home

DNA technology proved key to the eventual 2001 capture of Gary Ridgway, but convicted serial killer Ted Bundy also played a part. Police consulted Bundy, who was behind bars in Florida, and he shared that the killer’s dumping grounds were likely proximate to his home. He also suggested that the detectives stake out fresh burial sites, biography.com reported.

A similar story arose concering Colombo crime family hitman Gregory Scarpa, who eluded prison for four decades before finally pleading guilty to three murders and racketing.

In November 1994, five months after his death at age 66, The New York Times reported that “guile and ruthlessness earned him the underworld nicknames of Hannibal’ for his tactics and the grim reaper for his violence.”

But Scarpa was also an FBI mole for nearly 20 years. During that time, which stretched back to the early 1979s, he was “betraying Mafia secrets and his own boss,” according to The New York Times report.

Why did he become an informant? One motive that has been floated is leverage and leniency if he faced a long prison sentence.

Gabi Mosely and Sir standing in a room face to face talking to each other.

It was his insurance policy,” an official said in the news account.

Sometimes criminals help investigators unintentionally. That was the case with Lonnie David Franklin Jr., whose L.A. murder spree began in 1985 and didn’t end for two decades. He ultimately killed nine women and a teenage girl. He was called the Grim Sleeper because he took a time out from homicide during 1988 to 2002.

But as California authorities searched for Franklin Jr., they got unplanned assistance from his son, Christopher. During his incarceration, Christopher’s DNA sample was taken. The LAPD ran a familial DNA search, and the son’s DNA helped lead them to the 2010 arrest of his father.

For more drama and surprises, watch Found, airing Tuesdays at 10/9c on NBC.