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Retired FBI special agent gives talk at Liberty

February 27, 2009 : Teresa Dunham

Starting out as a New York City school principal isn’t a shabby proving ground for a future FBI agent.

At least that was the case for retired FBI special agent Ed Sulzbach, who patrolled the school hallways before making his way to the streets as a trained FBI agent in 1972. He worked undercover with a notorious biker gang, followed foreign spies, posed as a hit man, performed psychological profiling and was awarded one of the FBI’s first medals of valor for saving a colleague’s life when a drug investigation turned into a shooting spree in the mid-1970s.

Liberty University welcomed Sulzbach as a guest speaker in the Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center on Thursday, Feb. 26. With 24 years of FBI experience under his belt, Sulzbach told students stories that were heroic and heartbreaking, mixed with some laughter.

“It’s a unique kind of family,” Sulzbach said of the FBI.

As he phrased it, most work environments have a “jerk quotient” — but the FBI’s quotient was very low. He recalled many wonderful memories with the Bureau, but he said being a psychological profiler was the most painful part of his experience.

“Some of those crime scenes live with me to these days. You become haunted by those ghosts,” he said.

Yet, he was comforted by the fact that he could help bring criminals who performed horrible acts such as pedophilia, rape and murder to justice. To do that, he had to seem like he sympathized with them.

“You become a bit of a thespian,” he said.

Nowadays, he said, FBI agents are working abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he doesn’t know what their duties fully entail. He still watches some FBI and crime shows on television — and the one he thinks is most accurate is “Criminal Minds.”


Sulzbach’s speech drew 108 students. It was hosted by Liberty University’s Criminal Justice Students Club and the Helms School of Government.