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- The Early History of Criminal Profiling
- Blood Libel
- The Malleus Maleficarum
- The Spanish Inquisition
- North American Witch Trials
- A Modern History of Criminal Profiling
- Forensic Scientists
- Behavioral Scientists
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation
- The Academy of Behavioral Profiling
- The Goals of Criminal Profiling
- Methods of Criminal Profiling
- Diagnostic Evaluations
- Criminal Investigative Analysis
- Behavioral Evidence Analysis
Criminal profiling refers to inferring the traits of individuals responsible for committing criminal acts. Professionals involved in the practice of criminal profiling have historically included a wide array of investigators, behavioral scientists, criminologists, and forensic scientists. Profiling methods tend to be either inductive/nomothetic (e.g., statistical, experiential, and predictive) or deductive/idiographic (e.g., logical, rational, and concrete). When applied to unsolved cases, these methods have been used to help identify criminals, narrow suspect lists, assist with case linkage, develop leads, and design investigative strategies. As will be shown, some profiling methods also have a long-standing forensic tradition.
Criminal profiling has been referred to, among less common terms, as behavioral profiling, crime scene profiling, criminal personality profiling, offender profiling, psychological profiling, criminal investigative analysis (CIA), and, more recently, investigative psychology. Because of the variety of profilers, their respective methods, and their various levels of actual education on the subject, there remains a general lack of uniformity in the application of these terms across and within certain profiling communities. Consequently, some terms are used inconsistently and interchangeably. For our purposes, we will be using the general term criminal profiling.
The Early History of Criminal Profiling
One of the first documented uses of criminal profiling in an official context involves the demonization of Jews. The origins are found in a report made by the anti-Semite scholar Apion to the Roman Emperor Caligula in CE 38. Apion felt the Jews of Alexandria, where he had studied, had too many rights and privileges. Apion, documented in the writings of Flavius Josephus (Contra Apionem, circa CE 90s), falsely reported to Caligula that the Jews were often responsible for the ritual killing and eating of Greeks as part of Passover.
Blood libel, the false accusation of ritual killing, is an early and persistent form of criminal profiling because it involves a predetermined set of crime-related characteristics used to infer and consequently accuse a particular suspect pool – namely the Jews. The general fact pattern used included one or more or the following elements:
- A young Christian male goes missing.
- A Jewish community is nearby.
- The child goes missing on or just prior to Passover.
- The body may have injuries that appear to be the result of a ritual.
- The body may have lost a great deal of blood or may simply appear so.
Given this fact pattern, the inference is then drawn that the Jewish community has effected a ritual abduction, torture, and murder. This fear-based inference is often fanned by preexisting anti-Semitic beliefs. As the term implies, the accusations are libelous – intentionally false and inflammatory. The blood libel is therefore not just one of the first uses of profiling; it is one of the earliest documented forms of false reporting. In various forms, blood libel remains a feature of anti-Semitic rhetoric to this day.
The Malleus Maleficarum
One of the first published texts that offered explicit instruction on the subject and practice of profiling criminal behavior is the Malleus Maleficarum (The Witches’ Hammer). Two Dominican monks, Henry Kramer and James Sprenger, professors of theology from the Order of Friars Preachers, originally published this work around 1486. It was intended to provide rationales and guidelines for those involved with the Medieval Inquisition (namely the authors) to assist in the identification, prosecution, and punishment of witches.
According to the Malleus Maleficarum, witches and other criminals may be identified by specific circumstances, abilities, and characteristics as defined by the experiences of both its authors in concert with their interpretation of the Bible. Witches were described primarily as women who:
- have a spot, scar, or birthmark, sometimes on the genitals and sometimes invisible to the Inquisitor’s eye;
- live alone;
- keep pets (a demon in animal form known as a familiar)
- suffer the symptoms of mental illness (auditory or visual hallucinations, etc.);
- cultivate medicinal herbs;
- have no children.
The Malleus Maleficarum also explains that dead bodies will flow blood from their wounds when their murderer is near.
The Spanish Inquisition
The Spanish Inquisition was originally ordained by the Catholic Church to assist the Spanish government with the identification of conversos. These were primarily Muslims (Moors) and Jews (marranos) who had pretended to convert to Christianity but secretly continued to practice their former religion. To help true Catholics better inform on their heretical neighbors, criminal profiling was adopted as one of the tools of choice.
In 1487, Innocent VIII appointed Tomas de Torquemada, a Dominican priest and Queen Isabella’s confessor, to be the first Grand Inquisitor of Spain. Torquemada’s office established a profile of Jewish behavior to help Catholics inform on their neighbors based on a book written specifically for his office, titled Censure and Confutation of the Talmud. Adoption of this text by Torquemada rendered the Practices of Judaism itself (accurately described or not) an ad hoc profile to be used as behavioral evidence against the accused of ‘secret Judaizing.’
North American Witch Trials
In North America, during the late 1600s, the Puritans used profiling methods to detect and prosecute those whom they believed to be witches. This took place first in Boston, Massachusetts, with the prosecution of Goodwife Ann Glover for witchcraft. This effort was lead by Reverend Cotton Mather, Puritan minister of the Old North Church in Boston. He determined that the ‘washerwoman’ Ann Glover evidenced at least the following characteristics consistent with being witch – a profile he developed once she had been arrested and he was able to examine her: she was a ‘hag’; she was afflicted with the same symptoms as the children; she gave a blasphemous response when asked if she believed in God (she was Irish- Catholic, so any answer consistent with that faith would have been blasphemous to a Puritan reverend); she could not accurately recite the Lord’s Prayer; and the children, whose symptoms had subsided with her incarceration, became ill again when in the presence of one of Goody Glover’s female relatives. Rev. Mather also made certain that her body was examined for the witch’s mark.
At her trial, Ann Glover refused to speak in anything but her native Irish tongue. Subsequently, Rev. Mather conveniently interpreted her refusal to renounce the Catholic faith as a confession to witchcraft. She was shortly thereafter convicted and sentenced to death.
In 1689, Salem Village negotiated with and hired its new minister, Rev. Samuel Parris from Boston. The community eventually became unhappy with his ministerial abilities and stopped paying him on a regular basis. In October of 1691, the community failed to support a tax increase to pay for his salary and the firewood he would need to last through the winter. Worse, some vowed to drive him out of the community. As a consequence, Rev. Parris began preaching about a conspiracy in the Village – a conspiracy against the church and himself alike. He naturally attributed this to Satan taking hold of the community.
On 20 January 1692, 9-year-old Elizabeth Parris and 11-year-old Abigail Williams, her cousin and from the same home, began acting in a fashion quite similar to the Goodwin children in Boston only 4 years previously. Eventually, other young girls in Salem Village began acting similarly. With talk of witchcraft already in the air, Dr. William Griggs arrived in mid- February to examine all of the afflicted girls. Finding nothing physically wrong with them, he concluded that the cause was supernatural.
Before the Salem Witch Trials came to an end, 20 people had been executed (14 women and 6 men), at least five people had died in prison, and more than 150 had been jailed. Most of those executed were hanged, but one man was actually crushed beneath rocks. The evidence against the accused in each case included the conclusion that they fit a particular profile – that of a witch.
A Modern History of Criminal Profiling
Modern criminal profiling methods owe themselves to a diverse history, grounded in the study of crime and criminal behavior (criminology), the study of mental health and illness (psychology and psychiatry), and the examination and interpretation of physical evidence (the forensic sciences). In its many forms, it has always involved the inference of criminal characteristics for investigative and forensic purposes.
Integral to criminal profiling has been both understanding the origins of crime and classifying criminal behavior. This falls under the banner of criminology, which is the study of crime, criminals, and criminal behavior. Two types of criminologists have intersected criminal profiling theory more than the rest: those who study the physical characteristics of criminals in order to make inferences about criminal character, and those who are concerned with applied criminal investigation.
The renowned Italian physician Cesare Lombroso is generally thought to have been one of the first criminologists to attempt to formally classify criminals for statistical comparison. In 1876, Lombroso published his book, The Criminal Man. By comparing information about similar offenders, such as race, age, sex, physical characteristics, education, and geographic region, Lombroso reasoned, the origins and motivations of criminal behavior could be better understood and subsequently predicted.
Lombroso studied 383 Italian prisoners. His evolutionary and anthropological theories about the origins of criminal behavior suggested that, based on his research, there were three major types of criminals:
- Born criminals: These were degenerate, primitive offenders who were lower evolutionary reversions in terms of their physical characteristics.
- Insane criminals: These were offenders who suffered from mental or physical illnesses and deficiencies.
- Criminaloids: These were a large general class of offenders without specific characteristics. They were not afflicted by recognizable mental defects, but their mental and emotional makeup predisposed them to criminal behavior under certain circumstances. This classification has been compared to the diagnosis of psychopathic personality disorder that came later from the psychiatric community.
According to Lombroso’s theory of criminal anthropology, there are 18 physical characteristics indicative of a born criminal, providing at least 5 or more are present. These include features such as defects and deviations of head, ear, or eye size and shape; asymmetry of the face; abnormal dentition; long arms; and extra toes or fingers. Basically, anything that looks abnormal or irregular. Lombroso’s theory is evolutionary in nature, suggesting that criminals represented a reversion to a more atavistic (apelike) human state. Noncriminals, of course, were thought to be more evolved and therefore less apelike. Lombroso felt that, based on his research, he could recognize those physical features that he had correlated with criminality. Many criminologists since Lombroso have made similar attempts to classify and predict criminality based on intelligence, race, heredity, poverty, and other biological or environmental factors.
The Austrian Jurist Hans Gross was more comprehensive in his understanding and application of criminal profiling to investigative matters. In 1893, Dr. Gross finished writing his seminal work, Handbuch fur Untersuchungsrichter, als System der Kriminalistik (aka Criminal Investigation: A Practical Textbook for Magistrates, Police Officers, and Lawyers). This was a landmark publication in which Dr. Gross proclaimed the virtues of science against intuition and superstition. Arguably a founding father of modern criminal profiling, Dr. Gross wrote about the importance of carefully studying offender behavior. In Criminal Investigation, for example, he offers various methods for profiling the behavior of murderers, arsonists, thieves, counterfeiters, and females falsely reporting rape, to mention just a few. In his other well-known work, Criminal Psychology, he shows the same underlying propensity toward the necessity of criminal profiling, writing:
Is it not known that every deed is an outcome of the total character of the doer? Is it not considered that deed and character are correlative concepts, and that the character by means of which the deed is to be established cannot be inferred from the deed alone?
His publications outline a systematic approach to physical evidence examination, crime reconstruction, psychological assessment, and criminal profiling that remains relevant to criminal profiling even to this day.
The practice of criminal profiling by forensic scientists has a long history. The first documented instance occurred more than 100 years ago. During the Whitechapel (aka Jack the Ripper) murders in Great Britain in 1888, Dr. George B. Phillips, the divisional police surgeon (the equivalent of a forensic pathologist), engaged in a rather direct method of inferring criminal characteristics. He observed wound patterns and from these inferred offender knowledge and skill. For example, Dr. Phillips noted that injuries to one of the Whitechapel victims, Annie Chapman, indicated what he felt was evidence of professional skill and knowledge in their execution. In particular, he was referring to the postmortem removal of some of Annie Chapman’s organs and what he felt was the cleanliness and preciseness of the incisions involved.
Further, as Dr. Wynne E. Baxter, coroner for the South Eastern District of Middlesex, stated to Dr. Phillips during a coroner’s inquest into the death of Annie Chapman: “The object of the inquiry is not only to ascertain the cause of death, but the means by which it occurred. Any mutilation which took place afterwards may suggest the character of the man who did it.” Behavior, they understood, was evidence suggestive of personality characteristics. This approach generally agrees with the work of Dr. Gross mentioned previously, providing that from the deed the doer may be known.
The tradition of forensic pathologists offering similar profiling opinions and insights continues to this day. However, they are not the only forensic scientists to do so.
Dr. Paul L. Kirk (1902–70), a professor of biochemistry and later forensic science at the University of California at Berkeley, is regarded by many as the father of modern forensic science. In 1953, subsequent to his work on the Manhattan Project during World War II, Dr. Kirk published the first edition of his seminal forensic textbook, Crime Investigation, a treatise on criminal investigation, crime reconstruction, and forensic examination that endures to this day as a foundational industry standard with few equals.
Dr. Kirk viewed criminal profiling as the natural outcome of physical evidence examination, and a vital aid to the investigative process. He explained that an examination of the physical evidence could allow forensic scientists to infer not only the clothing that an offender was wearing when they committed the crime but other physical characteristics as well (e.g., hair color, stature, and strength). He also argued that it was, in some cases, possible to infer the offender’s occupation or background from the criminal choices made and the skill that was evident.
Subsequent to the published works of Dr. Paul Kirk, modern forensic science texts continue to acknowledge the important role that physical evidence examination and crime reconstruction can play in criminal profiling, suspect development, and suspect exclusion.
Psychiatry is the branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. A forensic psychiatrist (historically referred to as an alienist) is a psychiatrist who specializes in the legal aspects of mental illness. The psychiatrist is trained to elicit information specific to mental disorders through face-to-face clinical interviews, a thorough examination of individual history, and the use of tested and validated personality measures. Historically, psychiatrists have infrequently applied their expertise to investigative matters, but they regularly apply it to legal (aka forensic) questions.
One of the earliest documented cases of forensic psychiatry intersecting with criminal profiling is that of Mendel Beilis, arrested in 1911 by the Kiev Secret Police for the ritual murder of a Christian boy. Mr. Beilis was jailed for 2 years while prosecutors built their case, all the while concealing exculpatory evidence. Criminal profiling was used at his trial in the form of expert testimony from Dr. Ivan Sikorsky, a forensic psychiatrist and professor at Kiev University. Dr. Sikorsky opined on the issue of Beilis’ motive, stating that it was racial revenge. He based this forensic opinion on his comparison of the case facts to other similar cases. It fit what he believed to be a profile of ritual Christian murder. The jury was unconvinced, and Mr. Beilis was ultimately acquitted in 1913.
In the United States, the work of Dr. James A. Brussel of New York is considered by many to have advanced the cause of criminal profiling significantly. Dr. Brussel’s method included the diagnosis of an unknown offender’s mental disorders from behaviors evident at the crime scene. He would infer the characteristics of an unknown offender, in part, by comparing the criminal behavior to his own experiences with the behavior of patients who shared similar disorders. Dr. Brussel also subscribed to the opinion that certain mental illnesses were associated with certain physical builds, not unlike the theories of criminologists a century before. As a result, an unknown offender’s likely physical characteristics were included in Dr. Brussel’s profiles of unsolved cases.
During the 1940s and 1950s, a ‘Mad Bomber’ terrorized the city of New York. He set off at least 37 bombs in train stations and theaters all over the city. Dr. Brussel was asked to analyze the case and he did so, though no written profile was provided. On 25 December 1956, the New York Times carried a story containing some of Dr. Brussel’s predictions about the bomber (e.g., male; knowledge of metalworking, pipefitting, and electricity; had suffered some grave injustice by Con Ed, which had rendered him chronically ill; self-centered; middle-aged; possibly a virgin; Catholic; suffered from paranoia). It did not contain a prediction about wearing a double-breasted suit, though he is alleged to have told investigators that their suspect would be arrested wearing one.
When the police finally identified and arrested George Metesky for the bombings in 1957, Dr. Brussel’s profile was determined to be generally but not completely accurate. Contrary to popular belief, Metesky was arrested wearing faded pajamas, not a double-breasted suit. He was, however, single and living with his two unmarried sisters. He was also allowed to change before being taken into custody, and that is when he put on the infamous double-breasted suit – a very common manner of dress at the time.
In the tradition of Dr. Brussel and similar professionals that followed, forensic psychiatrists, forensic psychologists, and other behavioral scientists are commonly thought to be associated with criminal profiling. In reality, despite endless film and television depictions, few forensic behavioral scientists are involved with the investigation of unknown offenders. Rather, clinicians most commonly provide mental health assessments for known offenders already in custody.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation
During the 1960s, an American police enforcement officer named Howard Teten began to develop his own approach to criminal profiling while working for the San Leandro Police Department in California. Teten studied under Dr. Paul Kirk, the internationally renowned criminalist, Dr. Breyfocal, the San Francisco medical examiner, and Dr. Douglas Kelly, a psychiatrist noted for his work in the Nuremberg war trials. These were his instructors in the School of Criminology, at the University of California, Berkeley, during the late 1950s. He also sought out and spent hours discussing cases with Dr. James Brussels, to develop his appreciation of the mental health perspective.
Later in his career, as a special agent (SA) for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Teten initiated a criminal profiling program. He taught criminal-profiling techniques as an investigative aid, to be used in conjunction with other investigative tools. His first profiling course was called applied criminology, taught to the FBI National Academy in 1970. Later that same year, SA Teten rendered his first actual profile as an FBI agent in Amarillo, Texas. SA Teten also teamed with SA Pat Mullany, then assigned to the New York Division of the FBI, to teach abnormal psychology as it applies to criminal profiling.
In 1972, the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) was formed. SAs Teten and Mullany were assigned to it and other agents were added. Made world famous by sensational true crime memoirs from retired BSU profilers such as John Douglas and Robert Ressler in the early to mid-1990s, the BSU has undergone numerous changes with respect to personnel, structure, and function over the years.
At the turn of this past century, a significant shift occurred among the profilers at the FBI, manifesting a rift between internal cultures and agendas. Traditionally, the BSU had maintained what was referred to internally as a ‘three-legged stool’ model: conducting research; providing education and training within the law enforcement community; and providing case consultations to support the efforts of police investigations. However, the model began to change when Stephen Band, a Ph.D. in counseling psychology, took over the unit in 1998. Under his administration, the cultural rift in the BSU between those who consulted on cases and those who performed teaching and research worsened. The two groups ultimately separated: one aligned with law enforcement investigators as the newly formed Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), and the other comprised Ph.D. educated behavioral scientists (BSU).
The BAU was created in 2000 as part of the BSU, intended to be subordinate to Dr. Band. The BAU consults on law enforcement cases, and the BSU conducts research and provides training. However, the BAU eventually removed itself physically from the FBI Academy in Quantico and began working from an off-site office location. This made real supervision impossible and rendered the BAU essentially autonomous. Dr. Band subsequently resigned as director of the BSU in 2005. The state of FBI profiling is currently unclear, as many of its major practitioners have retired into private practice.
The Academy of Behavioral Profiling
Today’s profiling community is made up of professionals and nonprofessionals from a variety of backgrounds. At the professional forefront is the Academy of Behavioral Profiling (ABP), founded in March 1999. The ABP is the first international, independent, multidisciplinary professional organization for those who practice or who are studying profiling. It has a student member section; an affiliate member section for the interested, nonprofiling professional; and four full member sections (behavioral, criminology, investigative, and forensic).
The ABP has developed firm practice standards and ethical guidelines, which the membership agrees to follow under penalty of various levels of sanction. More recently, it has developed and deployed the Profiling General Knowledge Exam for those seeking to become full members. The goal of the organization is to provide structure and support for those diverse professionals actively involved in profiling work, as well as to allow members to advance within that structure based solely on their knowledge and the quality of their work.
Regardless of who is involved and regardless of the professional outlook, criminal profiling still is not typically a career in itself – although there are individuals who have made it so. Rather, it is a multidisciplinary skill that is nurtured and developed once one has become proficient in other requisite disciplines.
The Goals of Criminal Profiling
The goals of criminal profiling depend on the context. The two most common contexts are investigative and forensic. Investigative contexts are those that exist before a suspect has been identified. These include consultations or examinations for law enforcement or other investigators seeking to establish the facts of a case and identify suspects. Forensic contexts are those involving a defendant that is being tried in civil or criminal court. These include consultations or examinations for civil and criminal attorneys.
Investigative goals include the following:
- Evaluating the nature and value of available forensic and behavioral evidence in a particular crime or series of related crimes;
- Reducing the viable suspect pool;
- Prioritizing the investigation into remaining suspects;
- Linkage of potentially related crimes by identifying crime scene indicators and behavior patterns (i.e., modus operandi and signature);
- Assessment of the potential for escalation of nuisance criminal behavior to more serious or more violent crimes (i.e., harassment, stalking, voyeurism);
- Providing investigatively relevant leads and strategies;
- Helping keep the overall investigation on track by offering fresh and unbiased insights;
- Developing communication, interview, or interrogation strategies for dealing with suspects.
Forensic goals include the following:
- Evaluating the nature and value of forensic and behavioral evidence to a particular crime or series of related crimes;
- Developing insight into offender motive and intent before, during, and after the commission of a crime (i.e., levels of planning, evidence of remorse, precautionary acts, etc.);
- Linkage of potentially related crimes by identifying similarities in crime scene indicators and behavior patterns (e.g., victimology, modus operandi, and signature).
It is generally agreed that profiling alone should not be used to implicate a particular individual for a particular crime, given the known limits of behavioral evidence. Rather, a criminal profiler should serve to educate investigators, attorneys, judges, and juries regarding the state of the behavioral evidence, what it means, and what it does not. Depending on the legal jurisdiction, a criminal profiler is likely to be limited with respect to their actual admissible testimony. In some cases, such as those involving FBI methodology, courtroom testimony from profilers has been excluded entirely due to an absence of reliability.
Methods of Criminal Profiling
There are essentially three primary methods of criminal profiling in wide practice today: diagnostic evaluations (DEs), CIA, and behavioral evidence analysis (BEA).
The DE and CIA methods may be described as inductive and nomothetic. This means that they involve abstract predictions about possible and unverified offender characteristics using group studies of similar crimes (or experience) to suggest an average offender type. Nomothetic profiles do not represent an actual offender who exists in the real world. They represent varying levels of theory and possibility.
BEA is more deductive and idiographic. This means that it requires establishing and examining the features of a specific case to form a concrete assessment regarding the characteristics of the offender responsible. It is based on the study of the case at hand, and seeks to establish actual behavioral evidence of offender characteristics as opposed to those that are merely likely or possible.
The term diagnostic evaluation does not refer to or represent a single profiling method or unified approach. It is instead a generic description of the services offered by medical and mental health professionals who rely on clinical experience when giving profiling opinions about offender behavior, crime scenes, or victims. Without a clear and identifiable process, profiles based on DEs are heavily idiosyncratic, relying to a large degree on the specific background of the clinical profiler. The clinician’s education, training, and experience dictate the approach taken at a given point in time, with the profile being an outgrowth of their understanding of criminals and criminal behavior, flavored with his or her own take on personality and mental illness. DEs are done on an as-needed basis, usually as one part of a broad range of services being offered.
Two dangers presented by DE are role confusion and relevance. First, a clinician’s profiling process should not revolve around, or focus on, treatment issues. That is, mental health professionals should not confuse their role as investigative advisors with their role as mental health diagnosticians. Second, those conducting DEs seldom have experience in law enforcement, criminal investigations, or related areas. As a consequence, DE profiles can lack investigative relevance and utility.
Criminal Investigative Analysis
The FBI has developed the most commonly known method of criminal profiling. However, FBI profilers currently refer to themselves as criminal investigative analysts and their profiling method as CIA. CIA is defined by FBI practitioners as an investigative process that identifies the major personality and behavioral characteristics of the offender based on crime behavior.
The CIA method arose primarily from the FBI’s Criminal Profiling Project, a study of 36 incarcerated offenders and their 118 respective victims conducted between 1979 and 1983. This study resulted in the FBI’s organized/disorganized offender typology, still in wide use today. An organized crime scene is one with evidence of planning, where the victim is a targeted stranger, the crime scene reflects overall control, there are restraints used, and aggressive acts occur before death. This is used to suggest that the offender is organized with the crime scene being a reflection of the personality of an offender, meaning the offender will have average-to-above-average intelligence, will be socially competent, will prefer skilled work, will have a high birth order, will have a controlled mood during the crime, and may also use alcohol with the crime. Conversely, a disorganized crime scene shows spontaneity, where the victim or location is known, the crime scene is random and sloppy, there is sudden violence, minimal restraints are used, and there are sexual acts after death. This is used to suggest the personality of the offender, with a disorganized offender having below average intelligence, being socially inadequate, having a low birth order, having an anxious mood during the crime, and using minimal amounts of alcohol. Despite these discrete classifications, it is generally held that no offender will fit neatly into either category, with most offenders being somewhere between the two: these offenders are called ‘mixed.’
CIA is ideally comprised of a number of steps or stages in which information about the crime is gathered and determinations are made about its relevance and meaning: (1) evaluation of the criminal act itself; (2) comprehensive evaluation of the specifics of the crime scene(s); (3) comprehensive analysis of the victim; (4) evaluation of preliminary police reports; (5) evaluation of the medical examiner’s autopsy protocol; (6) development of profile with critical offender characteristics; (7) investigative suggestions predicated on the construction of the profile. This kind of analysis requires advanced investigative, forensic, and behavioral education to effect competently. However, most FBI profilers are investigators and not forensic scientists, or even behavioral scientists which has limited their ability to validate or advance their methodology, or to testify about their conclusions in court.
Apart from a lack of scientific advancement and development of CIA theory and methodology since its inception, another limiting factor is an overall lack of efficacy. According to Howard Teten, in an FBI study of 192 cases in which profiling was performed, 88 cases were solved. Of those 88 cases, the profile was determined to have helped with the identification of the suspect only 17% of the time. Subsequently, FBI profiles are admonished to come with a disclaimer that limits use to investigative efforts, delineating the uncertainty of findings.
Behavioral Evidence Analysis
BEA is a comprehensive ideo-deductive method of crime scene analysis and criminal profiling formally developed in 1998. It involves the examination and interpretation of physical evidence, forensic victimology, and crime scene analysis. For the purposes of criminal profiling, the results of these individual examinations can be analyzed for behavioral patterns and clusters that suggest offender characteristics of investigative or forensic relevance. Conclusions in a BEA profile are ultimately based on critical thinking, the scientific method, and analytical logic.
Forensic analysis is the first step in BEA, and refers to the examination, testing, and interpretation of any and all available physical evidence. A thorough forensic analysis must be performed on the physical evidence to help reconstruct the behavioral evidence in a case before a BEA profile can be attempted. Without this behavior, there can be no profile.
The next step is a forensic victimology, the scientific study of violent crime victims for the purposes of addressing investigative and forensic questions. It involves outlining the victim’s exposure to harm based on his or her lifestyle and circumstances, the events leading up to any injury, and the precise nature of any harm or loss suffered. Establishing victim characteristics and their choices can lead to inferences about offender fantasy, motive, modus operandi, knowledge, and skill.
Crime scene analysis is the analytical process of interpreting the specific features of a crime and related crime scenes. Potential crime scene characteristics that must be established or at least considered to include, among many others, method of approach, method of attack, method of control, location type, nature and sequence of sexual acts, materials used, evidence of skill or planning, any verbal activity, precautionary acts, contradictory acts, modus operandi, signature behavior, and the amount of time spent in the commission of the crime. Crime scene characteristics are interpreted from an integrated examination of the established behavioral evidence and victimology. Because they depend on physical evidence, and complete evidence is not always available, not all crime scene characteristics may be established in every case. This can limit any subsequent findings, and in some cases may even prevent meaningful profiling efforts.
The results of the forensic analysis, forensic victimology, and crime scene analysis are examined for behavioral patterns and clusters that suggest offender characteristics of investigative or forensic relevance. These are presented in written format with the basis for each offender characteristic found clearly outlined with supporting evidence and argumentation. When insufficient evidence exists to form opinions about the characteristics of the offender responsible, specific suggestions are provided to outline further investigative action that must be taken.
Successful use of BEA methodology requires significant education and training in the forensic and behavioral sciences, as well as a great deal of time spent examining the case at hand prior to rendering conclusions. It is, also, only as reliable as the information that is being relied upon.
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