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Identifying Serial Killers through profiling

    Criminal profiling provides investigators with a character "picture" or typology which can assist in a suspect's classification and hesitation. The profiling process assists the researcher by sinking the large number of suspects to a distinct set with restricted behavioral habits and personality distinctiveness. Violent or uncharacteristic crime scenes present a wide range of forensic substantiation. In profiling and apprehending a chronological criminal, the growing number of offenses by an unknown perpetrator increases the total amount of physical and psychological crime scene evidence. Profilers view a crime scene as a classroom where the unknown perpetrator teaches investigators about himself. Time and again, however, the serial offender plans each crime scene as he learns what behaviors and evidence to include or omit. It is the FBI’s profiling unit, part of its National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, advises law enforcement officers, most repeatedly local police investigators, in cases of unsolved serial and violent crimes. These crimes may consist of serial murders and rapes, individual homicides, child abductions, arsons, bombings, product tampering, and vicious or unusual crimes. Through using behavioral science research and computer models, profilers can often calculate the characteristics and behavior of an unidentified criminal suspect. For instance, a profiler may assume that the person who committed a murder is most likely between the ages of 25 and 35, lives within a few blocks of the fatality, likes to track and fish, and drives a sport utility vehicle.

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     The Federal Bureau of Investigation relies on criminal profiling to examine and resolve crimes. Criminal profiling, also identified as criminal investigative examination, involves in-depth analysis of every behavioral and psychological indicator left by an offender at the scene of the crime. These indicators, or psychopathology, result from the suspect's physical, sexual or even verbal interaction with the victim or victims. As the intricacy of the job, criminal profilers are highly trained and experienced in the field of law enforcement.
The idea that people with mental illness are dangerous has arisen for the reason that of a few striking cases that have captured the public imagination, such as John Hinckley (who attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan) and David Berkowitz (the “Son of Sam,” who was a serial killer in New York). Both Hinckley and Berkowitz did suffer from a severe mental illness, schizophrenia. However, the frequency of violent acts among people with schizophrenia is in fact less than that in the general population.

     There is a difference between being “mad” and being “bad.” Violent acts are much more frequently committed by people who are considered to be mentally competent—psychopathic serial killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy, for example. Such people have a chilling indifference to other human beings that enables them to behave in ways that are incomprehensibly cruel. They seem to lack the moral compass that most human beings possess.

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     A serial killer is someone who kills three or more people in three or more separate events, over a period of more than 30 days, as well as an "emotional cooling-off" period in between the homicides. The cooling-off period may last days, weeks, months, or even years. Many serial killers are psychopaths, considered to have a personality disorder and not psychosis, and thus appear to be quite normal and often even charming, a state of adaptation calls the "mask of sanity." There is sometimes a sexual element to the murders. The murders may have been completed/attempted in a similar fashion and the victims may have had something in common, example occupation, race, sex, etc.Many noted serial killers have had dysfunctional backgrounds. Frequently they were physically, sexually, or psychologically abused as children and there is often a correlation between their childhood abuse and their crimes.

     Because of the horrific nature of their crimes, their highly varied personalities and profiles, and their ability to evade

    detection and kill many victims before finally being captured and imprisoned, serial killers have always fascinated people

    and have been featured in many novels, movies, songs, comic books, true crime, video games, and other media. Serial killer memorabilia and serial killer lore is a subculture revolving around the legacies of various infamous and notorious serial killers. While memorabilia is generally confined to the paintings, writings, and poems of infamous killers, a market has expanded in recent years with serial killer encyclopedias, trading cards, and action figures. People have always been gripped by the dark side of human behavior, especially when it is cloaked in the light of normalcy. Serial killers are at the far end of the spectrum for human cruelty. Our minds follow an inescapable syllogism: "I am human.

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     Serial Killers are human. Nonetheless, the insight that evil involves acts of interpersonal harm opens the door to analysis of the psychological interaction between perpetrator and victim. The presence of empathy is key to determining an individual's capacity to maintain constructive, collaborative relationships with others. Empathy is not sentimentality. Empathy is the ability to put oneself in another's psychological shoes, to sense what the other person may be thinking and feeling. But empathy without compassion is not enough. Psychopaths (remorseless predators) are very skillful at divining what other people feel and think, but they do so in order to exploit them. They do not care one whit about other people, whom they regard as morsels to be voraciously consumed and the remnants discarded.

     Serial killers are specifically motivated by a variety of psychological urges, primarily power and sexual compulsion. They often have feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness, sometimes owing to humiliation and abuse in childhood and/or the pressures of poverty and low socioeconomic status in adulthood, and their crimes compensate for this and provide a sense of potency and often revenge, by giving them a feeling of power, both at the time of the actual killing and afterwards. The knowledge that their actions terrify entire communities and often baffle police adds to this sense of power. This motivational aspect separates them from contract killers and other multiple murderers who are motivated by profit. For example, in Scotland during the 1820s, William Burke and William Hare murdered people in what became known as the "Case of the Body Snatchers." They would not count as serial killers by most criminologists' definitions, however, because their motive was primarily economic. The element of fantasy in a serial killer's development is extremely important. They often begin fantasizing about murder during or even before adolescence. Their fantasy lives are very rich and they daydream compulsively about domination, submission, and murder, usually with very specific elements to the fantasy that will eventually be apparent in their real crimes. Others enjoy reading stories or seeing photographs in magazines of sadism featuring rape, torture and murder. In some cases, these traits are not present.

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     Forensic science is the appliance of science to law. It is supported on the idea that there is no such thing as a spotless contact between two substances, i.e. every contact leaves a mark which can be traced. Forensic biologists gather biological samples, for instance blood, hair, semen, saliva, teeth, bone, tissue. Blood is a affluent resource of proof not only to work out how the crime was committed (for instance by tracing blood spray), but also for blood type and DNA analysis. Hairs offer a good resource of proof that can be scrutinized microscopically as well as being a resource of DNA proof. DNA fingerprinting is frequently the prime source of evidence, and the DNA ‘fingerprints’ from the crime sample can be contrasted to the national DNA record. A forensic biologist collects data from the crime scene, carries out biological screening and sampling, carries out DNA testing on samples and presents the proof in court. Biotechnologists work with a team, providing an significant element of the proof for a ‘case’.( Volokh, Eugene (2005))

     The compilation of scientific evidence necessitates an organized data collection approach that can be documented, replicated and offered in a way that is able to be examined. There are a variety of approaches for assembling and examining scientific proof that offer triangulation (evidence). Humans hold an assortment of uniqueness that permit for differentiation among samples. The properties of soil and fibres can be used to obtain evidence for forensic science. Science analytical skills: Explanation of consequences is an instrument that forensic scientists use to resolve a crime.

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     Employing innovative technology to keep ahead of the criminal is the key to successful 21st century crime-fighting, The most severe and extensive organized crime necessitates the police, Government and security services to be making the most effectual use of technology long before the criminals are.( Volokh, Eugene (2005))

     Prepared criminals are using state-of-the-art means to escape the law and commit severe crimes such as drug running, people trafficking, deception and terrorism. And at a local plane, criminals are using new technology to commit the same old crimes in new ways. Advancements in biotechnology, nanotechnology, and the extensive use of computers all create law enforcement threats and opportunities. Previously, governments have lingered and reacted to new technology. The government is recognizing the upcoming challenges to get ahead of the game, tackling high-tech crime and credit card scam, for instance, with special units to stay in front of the criminals. ( Tobey, Daniel L (2003))

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     Major technological advancements which are now fundamental tools in the struggle against crime are the national fingerprint and DNA databases with DNA profiles on the record about to hit the two million mark. These tools are assisting police identify the criminals, make earlier arrests and get more secure convictions. They are also playing a significant part in resolving old crimes.

     Within the psychological-psychiatric perspective, it has been psychiatry, and primarily psychoanalysis, that has made the most inroads into criminology.  Psychiatry is the older profession, going back to the earliest days of medicine in dealing with the problems of mental disease.  Psychoanalysis emerged out of psychiatry with the work of Sigmund Freud.  Psychology, particularly that branch of it with the most relevance for criminology, abnormal psychology, has come into its own during the twentieth century. What they all have in common is the idea that the causes of criminal behavior originate in the personality. Personality is defined as the complex set of emotional and behavioral attributes that tend to remain relatively constant as the individual moves from situation to situation.

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     The central concept of psychoanalysis, and the one that Freud first put forth, is the unconscious.  The concept had been around before Freud, but he was the one that made the most out of it, arguing that traumatic experiences in early childhood left their mark on the individual despite the fact that the individual was not aware of these experiences.  The idea of unconscious determination of behavior flew headfirst against the idea of free will, and was quickly jumped on by positivistic criminology. The next most important idea is conflict, and Freud postulated the existence of a three-part personality (an idea going back to Plato) consisting of id, ego, and superego which operated in constant conflict with one another (primarily between the id and superego) producing the basic problem of guilt which required the use of one or more defense mechanisms.  The idea of personality conflict as a cause of crime became quite popular among both scientists and the general public.

     When caught and tried in a court of law in the United States, some serial killers will plead not guilty by reason of insanity. In most US jurisdictions, the legal definition of insanity is still generally based upon the classic common law "right or wrong" test delineated by an English court in the 1843 M'Naghten case. The M'Naghten rule, as it is generally known in the legal profession, hinges upon whether the defendant knows the difference between right and wrong at the time of the offense. With some serial killers, extensive premeditation, combined with lack of any obvious delusions or hallucinations that would hinder the defendant's ability to elude detection after committing multiple murders, make this defense extremely difficult and almost uniformly unsuccessful in achieving a not guilty verdict. However, it does allow the defense to introduce evidence about the killer's background that would normally be deemed inadmissible (for example, a history of having been abused as a child), in hopes that some sympathy from the jury will spare the client a death sentence. Many experts have claimed that once serial killers start they cannot (or only rarely) stop. Recently this view has been called into question as new serial killers are caught through methods that were previously unavailable, such as DNA testing. Some argue that those who are unable to control their homicidal impulses are more easily caught and thus over represented in the statistics.

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There have been conflicting reports as to the extent of serial murder. The FBI claimed in the 1980s that at any particular time there were roughly 35 active serial killers in the United States, meaning that the serial killers in question have committed their first murders but have not yet been apprehended for their crime or stopped by other means (e.g., suicide, a physical inability to commit their crimes, imprisonment for a different offense, or a natural death).

     Investigative Criminal Profiling is an arrangement of four skills, which are: assessment, forensic examination, emotional assessment and the application of cultural anthropology. Thus far, the common procedure has been to send in crime scene and autopsy information and limited details concerning the crime and the victim to a profiler who then sends back a report. The development pretty much stops at this point. The investigators add it to their pile of data using whatever they feel has some merit. Often the profile serves no purpose at all. Blurred descriptions that do not narrow down the suspect pool, descriptions that are useful but are misunderstood by the investigator on the case, useful information but no practical integration of the facts into the investigative process and worst of all, profiles that are completely wrong or ludicrous. The fact that there is no literature providing profiling to be of any measurable benefit to the investigative process is disturbing. Personal successes are touted-in books written by profilers for the mass market unfamiliar with the actual investigative procedure.

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     Profilers be supposed to be called in to work as a member of a team; they must neither be considered outsiders to the analytical procedure nor should they be well thought-out dependable in their profile examination. All investigating and profiling is an enduring, tentative process that must be evaluated and reevaluated, checked and double checked, so that no questionable stone is left unturned and no viable avenue is left unexplored. Investigative Criminal Profiling is an extremely useful addition to any serial sexual homicide investigation if it is included with the proper attitude and accepting.

     There is sufficient study to recommend that crime scene profiling may have reasonable uniformity and strength to be obliging for a number of purposes. The literature suggests that the concept of behavioral traits and consistency across situations is adequate if measured in broad contexts. Some anti-social behavior especially if used on underlying psychopathology may have a high degree of consistency. Within the narrow category of sexual offenders and murderers some theoretically reasonable and reliable distinctions can be made. Crime scenes can be categorized with some degree of reliability and have been found to correlate with some offender characteristics. Those trained in profiling have been found to produce longer more detailed reports possibly with increased accuracy and field agencies have been generally positive in their feedback. At the same time, all of the supporting data seem somewhat tentative and much of the research is in-house and done on the same common core of offenders. Inaccurate profiles often seem to be ignored or forgotten. Even though all profilers caution that profiling is an art and that mistakes can be made the occasional dramatic success tends to encourage pushing the envelope to new applications. One problem that is foreseen is that there is not very much realistic training that can be offered. They can teach the basics but they can't control how or to what extent they will be used. There is moreover an additional concept about the beliefs behind the profile given. If the profiler doesn't truly believe what the evidence seems to show, they may withhold information or important profile items that could potential lead to an arrest. Criminal profiling can either help solve a case or maybe even prevent a case from being solved because everyone is on the wrong track. Their needs to be more training and practice done to insure that the information given is valid. It is observed that a lot of FBI profiles are generalizations about what is known of serial killers and are not helpful for narrowing suspect list. nevertheless they will keep working on it.

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Volokh, Eugene (2005), Crime-facilitating speech, Stanford Law Review

Tobey, Daniel L (2003), What's really wrong with genetic enhancement: a second look at your posthuman future, Yale Journal of Law & Technology

Mirsky, A.E.. 1968. "The Discovery Of DNA." Scientific American 218(6):78-88.

Ressler, Robert K. and Schachtman, Thomas. Whoever Fights Monsters. St. Martins Mass Market Paper, (1994). ISBN 0-312-95044-6

Schechter, Harold and Everitt, David. The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers. Pocket Books, (1996). ISBN 0-671-53791-1

Vronsky, Peter. Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters. The Berkley Publishing Group, (2004). ISBN 0-425-19640-2

Wilson, Colin. A Plague Of Murder. Robinson Publishing, Ltd., (1995). ISBN 1-85487-249-4

Elliott Leyton. Hunting Humans: The Rise of the Modern Multiple Murderer (1986) McClelland and Stewart ISBN 0-7710-5025-9

Holmes, Ronald. Holmes, Stephen. "Murder in America". Sage Publishing ISBN 0-7619-2092-7

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