Kids, this ex-FBI agent is on your side

Linda Krieg once carried a gun and chased bad guys; now she advocates for kids and serves on the County Board

Linda Krieg worked for the FBI for years fighting crime, including crimes against children who are often exploited through the internet. Photo by Sam Arendt
Mitch Maersch
Ozaukee Press Reporter

Linda Krieg of Cedarburg didn’t know that protecting children was one of her passions when she ran a talent department for a large ad agency in Manhattan.

But going to law school on a whim, spending 20 years as an FBI agent and a few more with a national children’s organization helped shape her retirement activities.

Krieg is president of the Saukville-based Lakeshore Regional Advocacy Center, which helps victims of child abuse, and Brookfield-based Lotus Legal Clinic, which provides pro bono legal services to survivors of sexual violence and trafficking.

One of the cases she worked on during her FBI career helped lead her to her retirement career.

In 1997, an 11-year-old boy was kidnapped in Indiana and brought to Chicago. There, he was given drugs and sexually assaulted by men who took photos. The boy was dropped back off in Indiana, and he gave authorities enough information to find the house, which was full of guns and drugs.

“When we got there, there was a guy hitting delete,” Krieg said. “As we now know, when you hit delete it doesn’t really go away.”

The computer had 1,600 images of child pornography, a term that wasn’t yet in society’s vernacular.

One of the suspects confessed and agreed to testify. He wanted to go to trial.

“I tell this story. It just stuck with me,” Krieg said. “I asked the profilers why he wanted to go to trial since he wouldn’t win.”

She was told she had to understand the mind of a sex offender. When the child and photos were presented in court, “he gets to relive the experience,” Krieg said.

The man got a 25-year sentence. It turns out he had AIDS, and Krieg had to tell the family.

“That was really devastating,” she said. She didn’t know if the boy was infected.

That case sparked Krieg’s interest in child protection, and in 2000 she became the FBI liaison to the National Center for Missing and Exploited  Children in Washington, D.C., where she met John Walsh, narrator of “America’s Most Wanted” TV show.

In 2003, Krieg was promoted to the Milwaukee FBI office as assistant special agent in charge. Through her contacts, she was given a tour of Air Force One in 2005 during a quick stop with President George W. Bush aboard.

She didn’t meet the president but said she was amazed by the plane. It has areas sectioned off for the press, dignitaries and a secured area. There was even a seat where President Ronald Reagan’s dog sat so he could watch everything that was happening.

She also toured Lambeau Field when the Green Bay Packers allowed the FBI to use one of its conference rooms for a meeting.

“I put my purse in Brett Favre’s locker,” she said.

In 2006, she was sent back to Washington, D.C. — the FBI wants agents to have a breadth of experience — where she led a 25-member team investigating employee misconduct in the 35,000-worker agency.

“Our mouths were zippered closed,” she said.

Most cases, she said, involved alcohol. None was allowed on the job, and Krieg said she didn’t drink at home in case she was unexpectedly called in.

“We used to joke around that the drinking age in the FBI was 57,” she said, adding the law calls for federal employees who carry a gun to retire at 57.

Krieg retired from the FBI in 2010 and became the chief operating officer of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, providing a resource for parents.

“We were like their lifeline to keep hope alive,” she said.

In 2015, Krieg retired and she and her husband moved to Cedarburg. They had fond memories of the city and its festivals when they lived in Milwaukee years earlier.

Krieg joined the Cedarburg Police and Fire Commission and was elected as an Ozaukee County Board supervisor and now sits on the Public Safety Committee.

Her FBI career included a stop in Nairobi, Kenya, to collect evidence in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing that killed more than 200 people and was linked to al-Qaeda. She was on a team that sifted through rubble for body and bomb parts.

Upon her return to Washington, D.C., at midnight, then-Attorney General Janet Reno met the team at the airport to thank each member, even though she was sick.

“What a classy lady,” Krieg said.

Joining the FBI, however, was never on Krieg’s radar.

She attended law school at Hofstra University in New York City with plans to become an entertainment lawyer. One month into school, she met an FBI recruiter. The bureau’s first director, J. Edgar Hoover, loved attorneys and accountants, Krieg said.

Krieg applied while in her third year of law school and was studying for the bar exam when she was told she got in.

“I was so excited. I was in my 20s. I was single,” she said, adding that carrying a gun and traveling the world was appealing.

Krieg was hired to look into fraud during the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s.

Krieg, who had never lived anywhere but New York, was sent to New Orleans to investigate fraud.

A few years later, she was transferred to Chicago, where her husband, a drug enforcement agent, was working. The Windy City, she said, is where she “really learned how to be an agent. It took at least five years.”

Krieg left bank fraud and investigated violent crime. She began working on cases of crimes against children in the mid-1990s, when the internet started to become popular.

“Not everybody had computers in their homes but a lot of child predators did,” she said.

Milwaukee, she said, has a higher number of children rescued than most big cities, and the bureau doesn’t know why.

“But we do know there is a serious problem here,” she said.

Large events that bring many people to a city trigger an increase in sex crimes.

This year’s Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, she said, “is going to be a problem. Traffickers will be there to sell their wares.”

Krieg handled the stress of her job and the grotesque details of crimes through physical fitness. She ran three miles every morning with her two huskies and continues to exercise to this day.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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