Indeed, she had had an excellent career. Turner was among the first tide of women admitted to the ranks of the FBI. She’d worked on serial killer cases, she had expertise in crimes against children and interviewing sex offenders. She had even once been loaned to law enforcement in Canada to work as a profiler in a notorious child killer case.
But Jane Turner was a whistleblower. Not once, but twice she had reported on colleagues who had seriously failed in their duty. In one case, young lives were at risk. In both cases, the reputation and integrity of the FBI and its agents were on the line.
“It destroyed me to lose the job that meant so much to me,” says Turner.“All along the way, I thought what all whistleblowers think. I thought the truth will rescue me. I thought I would get a call from somebody in charge, and they would say ‘oh good and faithful servant,’ thank you for making the bureau a better place.
“But it doesn’t happen,” says Turner.
In the 1990s, Turner was assigned to Minot, North Dakota, where the FBI has responsibility for, among other things, policing nearby Indian reservations.
Aware of Agent Turner’s background, a local emergency doctor asked her to take another look at the case of a boy from Turtle Mountain who arrived at the hospital with severe anal tearing before Agent Turner came to Minot.
The injuries were so horrific that the doctor said the event had “traumatized” her staff.
“The FBI in Minot had investigated and put the boy’s injuries down to a car accident,” says Turner.
“The usual role of an FBI agent is not interviewing children or pursuing sexual offenders,” says Turner. “The FBI does terrorism, or bank robberies, but not sexual assaults. Rather than deal with these cases, the agent assigned had determined the injuries were the result of a car accident so they didn’t have to work the case,” says Turner.
“But it was very clear to me the boy had been sexually assaulted,” she says. “I re-opened the case and got it back on track. The perpetrator turned out to be the father. Then I brought this to the attention of our management in Minneapolis. I also told them this was not the only case where children had been sexually assaulted and the cases dismissed as accidents. It was not something they wanted to hear.
“I took my work very seriously. I loved being an agent,” she recalls. “I spoke nationally to other agents about how to handle crimes against children and I thought if I don’t speak up, who will?” says Turner.
In response, the FBI brass moved Turner out of Minot and questioned her mental health.
“It was pretty ugly,” she says. “They questioned my fitness for duty, sent me to Chicago for psychological testing and tried to fire me. But I fought. It was day after day of mortal combat and then came the Tiffany globe incident.”
Post 9-11, agent Turner was working one of the biggest crime scenes in US history. She was assigned to the World Trade Center investigation. One day, Turner noticed a billiard ball-sized crystal globe on her supervisor’s desk.
It was a very expensive Tiffany globe the agent had gathered as a “souvenir” from Ground Zero. Appalled that an agent had removed evidence from the scene of a mass murder, Agent Turner informed her superiors. The revelation was a national embarrassment for the FBI.
No one was impressed and no one came to rescue Jane Turner for telling the truth about FBI souvenir hunters at the World Trade Center.
“People are not very appreciative of people that snitch,” says Turner. “It is probably one of the toughest things you are ever going to do because of this animosity that people feel toward people they consider ‘rats, finks’ and all kind of other nasty names.
“It takes a particular type of person to be a whistleblower,” she adds. “You have no real support, not monetarily or psychologically. But without the canaries in the coal mine, the truth may not get told.”
Jane Turner is closely connected to the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) and is grateful to its executive director Stephen Kohn. The NWC has become a critically important organization pursuing truth and providing research and support to the cause.
With the help of the NWC, Turner managed to get the FBI to pay her legal fees.
She does some consulting now but testifying in court is out of the question because on cross examination she would be confronted with questions about why she was fired from the FBI.
“The FBI doesn’t forget and it doesn’t forgive,” says Turner. “They’ve destroyed any hope I might have had about working in law enforcement again. The only thing that sustained me was knowing I stayed true to my own moral compass.”