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  1. Serial Killers
  2. Learning Objectives•Evaluate models of profiling •Discuss the relationship between profiling and behavioural analysis •Evaluate the myths and realities relating to serial killers •Critically compare and contrast the use of behavioural profiling in the USA and UK
  3. Offender Profiling: Definition (Daeid, 1997) • The term ‘offender profiling’ is a name given to a collection of various scientific and psychological theories and techniques which may be used in order to explore possible links between offender, victim and crime characteristics.
  4. Serial Killer: Definition • Kill at least three people over a period of time, with “cooling-off” periods between the murders, indicating premeditation of each killing. • incidents should be occurring in separate events, at different times • the time period between murders separates serial murder from mass murder
  5. Behavioural Analysis • Modus operandi • Signature behaviours • Offender typologies • Victim profiles
  6. Modus Operandi: Statistical Approach• Behavioural and other information found at the crime scene to infer an offender’s characteristics and psychological processes Taken from (Kocsis et al., 2002)
  7. Serial Sexual Killers – Examples of Signature Behaviours• When serial killers are identified, it is often because, in acting out their fantasies, they leave their characteristic signature on the victims' bodies or at the crime scene. • Examples: patterns of attack, forms of bondage and torture, post- mortem mutilation or dismemberment, and trophy-taking. • Serial sexual murderers: the selection, stalking, and capturing of their victims are essentially their version of foreplay, with the torture and killing culminating in the climax
  8. Sexual Serial Killers • A significant amount of serial killers perform post-mortem manipulation that can include cannibalism or sexual assault • Albert Fish made stew from at least one of his victims. • Jeffrey Dahmer cannibalized several of his victims, storing the remains in his freezer like cuts of meat from the deli. • Dahmer described the experience of eating his victims as sexually exhilarating
  9. Typology Example: Keppel and Walter (1999)
  10. Organized Killers (Ressler et al., 1986) • This perpetrator is above average in intelligence and considers himself superior to other people. • He takes great care with personal appearance, grooming, and belongings. • His crime is well thought out and carefully planned. • Crimes committed away from home area • Often carries a carefully prepared “torture kit” • He may follow and stalk this victim for hours or days, and he may take great pride in verbally manipulating his target into a position of vulnerability.
  11. Organized Killers (Ressler et al., 1986) • Takes trophies • Knows police procedures and often has worked or is working in law enforcement • He will appear a normal and regular guy
  12. Disorganised Killers • Average or below average intelligence • Loner and recluse • Underachiever • Low self-image • Considered weird or creepy by acquaintances • Voyeurism, exhibitionism • Does not plan crimes and leave a mess – impulsive and spontaneous killings – often blitz attacks and overkill
  13. Miller (2014) Victim Profiles • A frequent association appears between serial homicide and two other crimes: burglary and rape • The victims of serial murder are predominantly female, white, and young adults, although same-sex murders are not uncommon, and some serial killers target children. • The majority of crimes are intraracial in nature, although a few serial killers have targeted ethnic groups different from themselves. • Serial sexual homicides are twice as likely as other homicides to involve strangers
  14. UK versus USA: Differences in Profiling • US based more on experience • US classification method: organised/disorganised etc. Commonly referred to as ‘top down’ • US Typologies • Components of the crime scene determines specific characteristics of offenders eg intelligent, has car, sexually/ socially competent etc. • Subjectivity and intuition (Canter & Alison, 2000) • Typologies criticised for reliability and validity (Gregory, 2005) • Focus on details of the case at hand
  15. US Profiling Method • Assess the type of criminal behaviour with reference to who has committed similar acts previously • Analyse crime scene • Study background of victim • Establish motives of parties involved • Generation of characteristics of psychological make up of the offender
  16. UK versus USA: Differences in Profiling • UK statistical modelling – using specific characteristics of solved cases more accurate and scientific. • Details about offender/victim relationship; ethnic origin of the offender; age of the offender • Focus on global patterns and global trends (Alison et al., 2004) • Academic base therefore findings can be peer-reviewed and debated. • It depends on police records however, so not necessarily perfect
  17. UK Profiling Method • Example: CATCH’EM – Central Analytical Team Collating Homicide Expertise Management: information about all child murders in the UK for the last thirty years • Use these stats to infer • E.g. if the victim is male and under sixteen years old then in 83% of cases the offender is single. • If there has been sexual interference with the child’s body before the murder, in only 1-2% of the cases is the killer a parent or guardian • Similar patterns and groupings have been used for serial murder, rape, sexual assaults, and arson CLUSTER ANALYSIS
  18. • The most significant critique of this approach is whether nomothetic and often inductively gathered research findings can be applied to specific idiographic cases • Now an eclectic approach is used that maximizes the advantages from the three perspectives (Alison et al., 2004) • Differences exist between countries in the preferred amount of contribution from each (Alison et al., 2010) • The following information was obtained from the FBI Behavioural Analysis Online Resources ( ) Evaluating models of profiling
  19. Myth: Serial killers are all dysfunctional loners. • Bundy: married • Paul Bernardo: married • BTK Killer: married, 2 children • Green River Killer: married three times, still married when he was caught Myths and Realities
  20. • Charles Ng, a native of Hong Kong, China, killed numerous victims in Northern California, in concert with Robert Lake. • Derrick Todd Lee, an African- American, killed at least six women in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. • Rory Conde, a Colombian native, was responsible for six prostitute homicides in the Miami, Florida area. Myths and Realities Myth: Serial killers are all white males.
  21. • Anger, thrill, financial gain, and attention seeking • Paul Reid killed at least seven people during fast food restaurant robberies in Tennessee. After gaining control of the victims, he either stabbed or shot them. • Dr Harold Shipman: financial gain – thought to have killed 215 people – convicted of 15 Myths and Realities Myth: Serial killers are only motivated by sex.
  22. • There are events or circumstances in offenders’ lives that inhibit them from pursuing more victims. • BTK killer, Dennis Rader, murdered ten victims from 1974 to 1991. He did not kill any other victims prior to being captured in 2005. • Jeffrey Gorton killed his first victim in 1986 and his next victim in 1991. He did not kill another victim and was captured in 2002. Myth: Serial killers cannot stop killing. Myths and Realities
  23. • As a group, serial killers suffer from a variety of personality disorders, including psychopathy, anti-social personality, and others. Most, however, are not classified as insane under the law. • Like other populations, however, serial killers range in intelligence from borderline to above average levels. Myth: All Serial killers are insane or are evil geniuses. Myths and Realities
  24. Myth: Serial killers want to get caught. As serial killers continue to offend without being captured, they can become empowered, feeling they will never be identified. As the series continues, the killers may begin to take shortcuts when committing their crimes. This often causes the killers to take more chances, leading to identification by law enforcement. It is not that serial killers want to get caught; they feel that they can’t get caught. Myths and
  25. Tas k Using typology and dichotomy profiling choose a serial killer (real or fictional) and compose a profile