Profiling: an invaluable tool for catching criminals and killers. Profiling is a relatively new approach to crime solving, put in place by forensic psychiatrists. Criminal profiling is the process by which a practitioner analyses information from a crime scene in order to create physical and psychological profile of the perpetrator. All information from a crime scene is a reflection of the criminal’s behavior. And this behavior can create a surprisingly accurate picture of the offender. (Forensic FAQ p. 2)
Forensic science has been in practice for centuries; the first textbook on forensic science was printed in China during the 1200’s; in the early 1800’s, a technique was developed the first test to identify arsenic in the blood stream; the early 1900’s lead to the development of using fingerprinting to identify victims and suspects. While these discoveries where important in criminal investigation, they were only the beginning. Only recently has forensic science significantly refined its techniques and accuracy. Today scientists can locate, identify and trace the tiniest of particles, and identify victims and suspects, beyond a reasonable doubt through DNA analysis. This evolution in forensic science is a prosecutor’s dream; while a defense attorney’s nightmare. Forensic science has made great strides.
Offender profiling has been a new tool to criminal investigation. In pierces deep into the mind of the offender and provides non-traditional method of catching criminals. Not all crimes will call for the use of criminal profiling. Crimes of violent and serial in nature will be profiled. Crimes that will be profiled include: serial murder and rape, ritualistic crimes and child molestation and abduction. Profiling does not take the place of conventional police work, but it will significantly assist an existing investigation.
Profiling is a valuable tool for police work because it can help narrow the search for an offender, lower the potential number of victims, allow for better interrogation methods when a suspect is in custody and lastly the profiler can act as an expert witness and help jurors understand motives of the offender.
Profiling tries to determine specific characteristics about an offender: lifestyle, personal habits, occupation, gender, size, marital status, remorse or guilt, aggressiveness, skill level and education and so on. The goal is to identify and predict. Before a forensic profile can be created, a full forensic investigation of the crime must be performed. During the forensic investigation, several facts are observed: location of the crime, a public street or the victim’s house, condition the crime scene was left, whether it was neat or torn apart, body position and post or pre rigor mortis, force of entry or unlocked doors, the weather, temperature of surroundings, this could be the temperature of a cup of coffee or bowl of ice cream, patterns of blood and footprints. Physical evidence is then collected and preserved: blood, semen, weapons, fibers, hairs, fingerprints and footprints are also taken.
Second, the characteristics of the crime scene are looked at. Photographs of the victim and scene are taken to determine how the crime was carried out. Investigators look at the type of weapons used, if gloves were worn, the level of intelligence that was need to perform the specific crime. In assessing the crime, police try to determine if the crime was planned or unplanned and if was carried out due to anger or perhaps reaction to stress. These characteristics are derived from the forensic reports. Characteristics from each individual crime and similar crimes are compiled and similarities are reviewed.
Thirdly, victimology is used. Victimology is the study and analysis of victim characteristics. Specifics about a victim such as appearance, age, race, social status, profession, drug use, routines and people last in contact with the victim can give potential answers to questions from investigators. Questions such as: why this victim was chosen? Each question that is answered about the victim, can answer a question about the suspect. Victimology is essential because it can lead law enforcement agencies to identify a signature of the offender. Signature is basically repeated identifying markers that are used in a crime: same type of weapon, same type of restraints, same types of locations, same types of victims and so forth. Victimology is an approach used to obtain insight into the criminal mind. Determining the interaction that transpired between victim and offender is another important element of