Southwest Baptist University
December 13, 2011
Criminal profiling is a process by which investigators attempt to solve a crime through careful analyzing of data and patterns. It can be found in numerous places throughout history, from the Roman Catholic Church to World War II to the present day. It officially began in the Behavioral Science Unit; Howard Teten, Pat Mullany, Robert Ressler, and John Douglas are four of the most well-known individuals associated with profiling. Numerous serial killers have been caught by using this process and it is suspected that the identity of Jack the Ripper would be known today had this technique been used in that time. There are six stages to developing a criminal profile: profiling inputs, decision process models, crime assessment, criminal profile, investigation, and apprehension. The study done by Douglas and three others provides a great glimpse into the meticulous and complex process. It is the hopes of many that the process of criminal profiling can continue to be modified and improved, and that the fact of its validity will be recognized.
The Origin and Art of FBI Profiling
In the 1970’s, serial killer Ted Bundy terrorized the western United States. One of the most prolific serial killers in this country’s history, Bundy admitted to murdering in excess of 30 women across seven states and the actual number of victims could be much higher. But Ted did not wake up one morning and randomly decide to commit such heinous crimes as rape, murder, and necrophilia. The traits that led him to do this developed over time. During his college years, he had a relationship and fell in love with a fellow student; it appears that the growing obsession changed him for the worst (Montaldo, n.d.). Her name was Stephanie. She came from a wealthy family, was very ambitious, and had long, straight, brown hair which she parted in the middle. Should it be considered a coincidence that many of his victims also had hair very similar to his first love? It is suggested that the hurt Bundy felt when the relationship ended led him to seek out potential victims with this particular characteristic. To the average police officer on the street, this pattern may often be overlooked, but the specialized and highly-trained profiler can catch this trend at first glance.
The roots of criminal profiling can be traced as far back as the Middle Ages, when inquisitors of the Roman Catholic Church sought to persecute heretics (Morris, 2007). Despite this event, the potential of profiling was not realized until the 19th century, and then fully discovered in the 20th century. The mystery of Jack the Ripper, who killed prostitutes in England in the 1880’s, is perhaps the most notorious of all cold cases in history. To this day, the killer’s identity is still unknown, but had police followed the carefully articulated notes of Dr. Thomas Bond, they might have been able to bring the murderer to justice. Dr. Bond, who assisted in the autopsy of one of the Ripper’s victims, noticed a correlation with the other women. He wrote that the murders were of a sexually deviant nature, an aspect of the condition Satyriasis, and that the killer undoubtedly had a hatred for women (Ramsland, 2011). The extreme mutilation that took place made this clear. The doctor attempted to recreate the murder and find a pattern in the offender’s behavior; he paid close attention to the misogyny and fury which drove the killer (Morris, 2007). By doing this, he concluded that Jack the Ripper, whoever they may be, was most likely the person one would least suspect. He would be humble and harmless in appearance, probably middle-aged, and would don a cape. Bond said that the Ripper was more than likely a mentally unstable individual; his neighbors would be able to assume he was not in a right state of mind. He also noted that, against...