Science, Intuition, and Hope: The Art of Personality Profiling by John Philpin
Serial Killers: Issues Explored Through the Green River Murders by Tomas Guillen Serial Killers is intended to fill a void in the serial killer literature. Little has been written about the plethora of challenging issues that permeate the serial killer cases or massive murder investigations. This book provides a collection of essays that focus on some of those rich issues. Taken as a whole, the essays take the perspective of the Green River Murders and the turbulent relationship of the many people it touched over two decades. Although the essays revolve around the Green River Murders, the issues identified and explored in the essays are relevant to any in-depth discussion of such controversial topics as murder investigations, justice, victimology, interrogation techniques, media coverage of crime, and grief. Serial Killers is written in a style that would appeal to true crime readers. CD-ROM includes video coverage of the confession.Essentials of Forensic Psychological Assessment
by Marc J. Ackerman Quickly acquire the knowledge and skills you need to administer, score, and interpret key assessment instruments used by forensic psychologists. An authoritative source of advice and guidance on how to administer, score, and interpret tests.
Dreams: Sexual Violence, Homicide and the Criminal Mind by Roy Hazelwood, Stephen G. Michaud Profiler
Roy Hazelwood reveals the twisted motives and thinking that
go into the most reprehensible crimes. He catalogs innovative
and effective techniques-investigative approaches he helped
pioneer at the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit that allow law
enforcement to construct psychological profiles of the offenders
who commit them. Hazelwood helped track down some of the most
violent criminals; in Dark Dreams: * A young woman disappears
from the store where she works. Her remains are found in a
field. * A teenager's body is found hanging in a storm sewer.
His clothes neatly folded and a stopwatch in his mouth. *
A married couple, with their toddler, pick up a female hitchhiker.
They kidnap her and hold her for 7 years keep her as a sexual
slave. The wife agreed to this inhuman arrangement in exchange
for a second child. Who was to blame? As gruesome as the crimes
are and as unsettling as the odds seem, Hazelwood proves that
the right amount of determination and logic can bring even
the most cunning and devious criminals to justice.
A widely-publicized personality profile in the Baton Rouge serial killer case suggested that police should expect their perp to be a white male. The man arrested and accused in the killings is black. In the Washington D.C. sniper case, profilers focused on a white male loner. The two men arrested there are black.
In both instances, investigators juggled numbers. They also accepted the myth that serial murder is an intra racial event. As a result of these and other miscues, recent news articles have questioned the efficacy of all criminal profiling.
No profile has ever caught a killer. The entertainment industry can disregard this fact; law enforcement agencies cannot. The disclaimers that once accompanied profiles and crime analyses are vanishing, replaced with an occasional acknowledgment that a report is based on probability. Juries may be instructed to decide what weight to assign this opinion testimony. Police officers are instructed in investigative protocols based on likelihood. Theories of a crime evolve and dictate investigative direction before the evidence is examined.
In 1957, the first modern criminal profiler in the United States developed a profile of George Metesky, New York City's Mad Bomber. Psychiatrist James Brussell described the bomber's personality, his habits and quirks, and included opinions about his living arrangements, physical stature, and taste in clothing. When police arrested Metesky at his home, they declared Brussell's work uncanny. Metesky was even wearing the double-breasted suit (jacket buttoned) Brussell predicted. The media referred to Brussel as "the Sherlock Holmes of the couch," and "a psychiatric seer."
Brussel dismissed the accolades. He said his work was a blend of "science, intuition, and hope." He was also the first to warn that what some called the magic of working backward from a crime scene to describe offender characteristics was no substitute for a thorough criminal investigation based on hard evidence.
In the 1970s, FBI agents at Quantico's Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) began applying and refining the techniques that Brussell had pioneered. The first FBI profilers identified the now familiar general descriptors of offender characteristics: organized, disorganized, and mixed type (the spree type came later). What had been an informal effort was formalized later in the decade as requests for assistance from law enforcement agencies throughout the country increased.
In 1984, the FBI established the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) within the BSU. Originally designed to deal with the increasing number of repeat killers, NCAVC housed the computerized Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP), and Investigative Support Services.
Publicity about the NCAVC spawned an entertainment sub-genre based on "mind hunters," profilers with near psychic abilities who view the world as a killer does. Support ed by cutting edge technology, these crime seers cut through the detritus of a plodding investigation and lead detectives to the killer's door. From James Brussel, to John Douglas, to Thomas Harris — the most infamous serial killer is no longer Ted Bundy, it is Hannibal Lecter.
One result of the fiction-driven profiler-as-supercop phenomenon is heightened expectation. The public and, to some extent, the police, expect the crime guru to duck under the yellow tape, undergo a mental metamorphosis, and gag out the perp’s name, address, and phone number. Some profilers, enamored of their Hollywood image, do little to dampen these expectations. These, of course, are the go-to experts whose names and numbers inhabit the Rolodex of every cable news talking head.
The scientizers are those who seek to label, quantify, and punch data into a PC. Whether they dart about in university laboratories, or linger after midnight at the psychology library, they have the slouch and vague stare of the true believer close on the heels of a unifying principle of violent behavior. What they do, they claim, is scientific, but do they know what that means? To qualify as a science, a body of knowledge must lend itself to systematic arrangement and exhibit the operation of general laws. While there are some generalizations that tend to apply from one set of killings to another, most are worthless as anything more than a referent by which to gauge new behavior samples. Cluttering your professional papers with graphs and footnotes does not make you a scientist.
In recent years, geographical profiling has entered the sleuthing lexicon. Practitioners of this slick, computerized field are fine-tuning their software, and educating us in their new jargon. The more "samples" (e.g., abduction points, crime scenes, body locations) available to the geographical profiler, we are told, the more readily they can wind their way to a killer’s home base.
At a minimum, the above approaches require a killer to meet the accepted definition of a serial killer: three kills separated temporally by "cooling off periods." This requires, of course, that law enforcement agencies overcome their inclination toward linkage blindness, and recognize patterns of behavior across jurisdictions. The inability or unwillingness of Baton Rouge authorities to make that leap resulted in a flurry of activity in the summer of 2002, when suspect killings had been occurring in the greater metropolitan area since at least 1992.
If profiles do not catch killers, what good are they? A profile generated from the facts of a crime can narrow the focus of an investigation. In the academic arena, the sayings (after translation) and doings of someone like Ted Bundy or Edmund Kemper or Antone Costa are informative. They have little to offer an assessment of tomorrow’s crime scene. Likewise, probabilities generated from historical data do little more than clutter the mind. That 75% of incarcerated serial killers claim to have been abused as children is about as meaningless a statistic as 99% of all heroin addicts having been breast-fed as infants. The evidence remaining at a crime scene, the victim’s background and habits, and an initial crime reconstruction are among the elements that allow a profiler to offer police investigative suggestions.
Humans leave physical and psychological traces of themselves wherever they go. A single predatory act committed by one stranger against another at a single location typically offers enough information to reconstruct the crime event, to identify some characteristics of the assailant, and to suggest avenues of investigation.
Twenty-three-year-old Stephanie Bennett was asleep in her ground-floor apartment on the night of May 20, 2002. Raleigh, North Carolina police theorize that an intruder popped the screen on Bennett’s bedroom window, entered the apartment, and sexually assaulted and strangled the young woman. With the exception of his DNA, Bennett’s killer left very little behind. The crime was planned. He had observed Bennett on prior occasions, and monitored her closely enough to be somewhat familiar with her habits. The assault was immediate and intense, and confined to a single room. When he left the scene, the killer took Bennett's 1995 compact JVC MXC-220 stereo system.
The autopsy report states the cause of death as ligature strangulation. It also notes wrist and ankle marks consistent with the use of restraints. Police believe the killer gagged Bennett with her underwear, restrained her, sexually assaulted her, and strangled her with a length of rope. He removed the rope and other restraints and took them with him when he left.
Police compared the crime scene DNA with two hundred of Bennett’s friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. They ran details of the crime through the VICAP system searching for other crimes similar to this one. There were sexual assaults, burglaries, and burglary attempts in the city, and there was another break-in attempt in Bennett’s apartment complex. A neighbor reported a peeping tom staring into Bennett’s apartment two weeks before the murder. Police have released a sketch of the man. These standard investigative techniques have produced leads but no arrest.
On June 9, 2003 Raleigh investigators released Bennett’s autopsy report, and three "behavioral characteristics" they believe the killer exhibits:
For the time being, Bennett’s murder must be considered a stand-alone case, but there is enough crime scene information to draw some inferences and suggest some avenues of inquiry from even this minimal information. Bennett’s killer is probably local, in his twenties, a voyeur who, prior to killing Bennett, had escalated at least to entering homes, whose sexual fantasies and interests require a helpless female object, and to whom control, the exercise of power, and inflicting suffering are essential.
He may or may not have an adult arrest record, but police are aware of him and may have questioned him. His day-to-day interactions with women are awkward at best: when he does not control the female, he perceives her as a threat to the way he views himself. For him to be denied what he wishes is infuriating and unacceptable.
Oh, and the compact stereo? It is more than a memento or souvenir to him. He still has it and listens to it.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Raleigh Police at (919) 890-3951.
John Philpin is the author of "Dreams in the Key of Blue" (Bantam).
More articles by John Philpin:
Recipes for Sturgeon: Scott Peterson's Trial by Media
The Baton Rouge Serial Murders - 5 Part Series
Kari & Associates
Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2006
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach A forensic exploration of postmortem bodies.For 2000 years, cadavers have been involved in science. They've tested France's first guillotines, ridden the NASA Space Shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. For every surgical procedure, from heart transplants to gender reassignment surgery, cadavers have been there, making history. In this fascinating, ennobling account, Roach visits cadavers over the centuries from the anatomy labs and human-sourced pharmacies of medieval and 19th-century Europe to a human decay research facility in Tennessee, to a plastic surgery practice lab, to a Scandinavian funeral directors' conference on human composting. There are chapters on cannibalism, dumplings filled with human remains from a Chinese crematorium, 13 b/bw illustrations.
Criminology: Current Theoretical Debates
Lethal Shadow: The Chilling True-Crime Story of a Sadistic Sex Slayer by Stephen G. Michaud Profiles James Mitchell De Bardeleban, from his initial arrest as a counterfeiter to the discovery that he was also a sadistic kidnapper, torturer, and sex murderer responsible for a 20 year reign of terror.The Vengeful Heart and Other Stories A true crime case-book Stephen G. Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth Distills a dozen true murder tales into a single chilling volume. The book provides an inside look at the motives, passions and terror wrought by the country's most brutal killers.
The Handbook of Forensic Psychology by Allen K. Hess (Editor), Irving B. Weiner Authored by leading scholars and practitioners, this completely revised edition of the best-selling text and reference work covers every component of this rapidly-expanding field, including polygraph ("lie detection") testing and forensic uses of hypnosis.
Criminal Profiling: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis by Brent E. Turvey, Diana Tamlyn, W. Jerry Chisum A forensic scientist with a background in history and psychology, Turvey introduces the deductive profiling method he developed from existing profiling methods, psychological theory, and the forensic sciences.
Signature Killers by Robert D. Keppel, William J. Birnes Signature Killers is indispensable for understanding serial killers. Compelling insights into the murderer, whose key characteristic is he kills multiple people, and leaves a signature behind at every crime scene. Keppel's been involved in more than 2,000 murder investigations, 50 high-profile serial cases. The topics he covers include "the essence of torture," "the anger-retaliation signature," "the piquerism signature," "the psychological imprint of a sadist," "the retaliation-to-excitation continuum," and why Jeffrey Dahmer is "the black hole at the end of the continuum."
Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives by Robert K. Ressler, John E. Douglas, Ann Wolbert Burgess, Horace J. Heafner Who are the men committing the rising number of serial homicides in the US -- and why do they kill? The increase in violent crimes over the past decade created an urgent need for better information about these men: their crime scene patterns, violent acts, and their motivations for committing these murders. This represents the data, findings, and implications of a long-term FBI -sponsored study of serial sex killers. Specially trained FBI agents examined 36 convicted, incarcerated sexual murderers to build information which reveals serial sexual killer in both quantitative and qualitative detail. Data was obtained from official psychiatric and criminal records, court transcripts, and prison reports, as well as interviews with offenders. Featured is the FBI's Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP) and sample of an actual VICAP Crime Analysis Report Form.