History of Serial Killer Profiling

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Throughout history, profiling criminal defendants has been a controversial topic since profiling has been around. Experts on both sides of the spectrum have been commenting on the issue at hand: whether profiling works. But, learning the history of profiling gives a clearer picture of how reliable and unique this method is compared to other time periods. Throughout this paper, you will see profiling being used throughout history starting with Jack the Ripper and ending when the FBI took profiling to a whole new level and how profiling compares to the topics we are discussing in this course.

The first example of profiling came from the Jack the Ripper case back in 1888. Jack the Ripper was an infamous serial killer who raped, killed, and mutilated five women in England. He is notorious still because he was the first documented serial killer in existence. Still his identity is unknown but a profile was made when he was killing to help authorities catch him. (Stevens, Evens 20). According to a surgeon, named Thomas Bond, who worked with the London police created a profile claiming Jack the Ripper was, thought was a middle-aged man, leading a solitary life, and had knowledge of medicine because he knew anatomy of people. (Evens, Stevens 34). Also, Bond mentioned, a sexual nature of the murders coupled with elements of rage. (Evens, Stevens 35). He looked at crime scene photos of the latest mutilated murder victim and post mortem notes from the coroner to put together this profile. (Evens, Stevens 45). How the victim was murdered is definitely important for your profile because that shows the killer’s emotions, knowledge, and sets a pattern for you to look for. Using this method in a time period where police were not really efficient in investigative methods is impressive. In this particular example, the profile did not work. Jack the Ripper was never caught, and to this day, no one has scientific proof of Jack the Ripper’s identity. Another example is George Metesky, the New York Bomber.

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The elusive bomber that swept New York in the 50’s setting over 32 homemade explosives around the city injuring fifteen. (Unmasking the Mad Bomber, 2017). After a stretch period of time he started writing ominous notes to the local newspapers. Therefore, the police hired a psychologist to try to get inside the criminal mind. This psychologist they hired was named James Brussel. He hypothesized that the bomber could possibly have a mental illness when he was studying the behaviors of the bomber. Specifically, he thought, [Bomber] was a textbook paranoid schizophrenic, he later explained, may believe other people are controlling them or plotting against them (Unmasking the Mad Bomber 2017). This is just the first part of the puzzle of the bomber. By using this illness, he pieced together different characteristics of this bomber starting from paranoia, being a lone wolf, him feeling superior to everyone else which would leave him unable to hold down a job (2017). Eventually he put together a profile about this bomber which helped authorities identify and capture the bomber. The profile included: unmarried, self-educated, foreign, older, and paranoid (Criminal Profiling: The Reality Behind the Myth, 2004). His name was George Maetesky and the seventeen-year manhunt ended. Dr. Brussels was a pioneer for connecting psychology and criminal investigation by using crime scene photos and behavioral patterns to profile to identify criminals. By showing the Jack the Ripper case and the bomber case, I have shown that profiling has been appearing in pieces of history since before we documented it.

Twenty years after the bomber case, the FBI incorporated profiling in their investigative service. Two FBI agents named Howard Teten and Robert Ressler used profiling to recapture the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. But, Teten was always interested with mixing psychology methods and criminal methods together. He even convinced the FBI to teach these blended methods to upcoming different police academies throughout the country. One police academy in particular had students use his techniques to catch their suspect. With all the popularity growing around this method, he partnered with FBI special agent Patrick Mullany, who has a master’s degree in psychology. These two used their expertise to profile and solve cases. According to the FBI page, Teten would outline the facts of a case, and Mullany would show how aspects of the criminal’s personality were revealed in the crime scene. (Serial Killers: Part 2: The Birth of Behavioral Analysis in the FBI 2013). They were given money from all of their research efforts and helped created VICAP. The first project manager Pierce Brooks is a retired police officer who thought developing a system that would connect cases with similar weapons being used, type of trauma, crime scene specifics, vehicle descriptions, and other characteristics from all over the country (VICAP: Fighting Violent Crime for 25 Years, 2010). It is designed to use keywords given from you to find cases meeting that criteria. So, if you are looking for a suspect that cuts a ‘W’ in the victim’s forehead, VICAP will look for other cases like this. Because their teachings became massively popular, Teten and Mullany brought in more people to work with them to start the beginning of the BAU. (Serio, 5:20). Today, the FBI and other police departments use profiling as another weapon in identifying and capturing dangerous criminals all around the country.

The facts of profiling are accurate in a class like this because the story of profiling shows the evolution in the police force and how they think. In particular Module one is about the history of homicide and the police. Back in the 1880’s, police never thought about using a technique like this. The profile that would narrow the search of Jack the Ripper was done from a doctor instead of the police force. The police were never efficient in investigating killers to be exact. In the Victorian era, the police were never respected. The citizens thought that they were above crime so they lived under the impression that they were better than crime. The crime statistics at that time were distorted related to citizens not reporting theft to the cops. (Crimes and the Victorians, 2011). Another reason the facts are related to the course is the profiling itself. No other technique comes close to this method throughout time. In this course, we learned how homicides were conducted and why given the certain time period being studied.

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