Tuesday, June 4, 2013

3.3 Crime Evaluation: Signature

The offender signature refers to aspects of the offense that go beyond what is necessary to commit a crime and which are related to an offender's personality. It is what the offender does to realize himself. Signature encompasses the choices an offender makes and the acts  he performs and that establish the them of the crime. These acts are committed to satisfy psychological and emotional needs. Signature behaviors are important as they help investigators, not only to link cases, but also to reconstruct the criminal scenario (see next post), as the offender acts on the fantasy and the scenario that goes with it.

This concept, unlike the MO, is mostly considered being an intangible concept, but reveal the direction of the killer's singular fantasy. This fantasy gives a sense and purpose to his life. There is no specific rule, and usually does not change from one murder to the other in the same series.  This is a reason why signature is important as it is one if not the main element that enables investigators to link different crimes to the same perpetrator. But, similar to MO behavior, it is possible to notice a certain devolution in signature behaviors in some rare cases. This devolution is mostly due to a significant deterioration in the offender's mental state, an increased use of drugs/alcohol, or an offender's growing confidence in his ability between personality, psychopathy, and sexual fantasy (as is the case for sadistic psychopaths). In that case, the offender's fantasy may become confused and/or chaotic possibly because of the over refinement of his fantasy or his over use of the fantasy as a means to escape reality.

Attributing psychological motives to crime scene behavior is complicated by the fact that, unlike aspects of the personality, mental state is not static across time. Therefore, in some situations, signature behaviors would be more a reflection of an offender's psychological and mental state at the time of the offense rather than of an underlying personality structure or of enduring psychopathology. But mostly, signature behavior captures the distinctiveness of a particular offender's needs and can thus best be conceptualized as a reflection of the underlying personality, lifestyle, and developmental experiences of an offender.We all develop representations or templates in our mind and brain depicting the idealized lover and the idealized program of sexual and erotic activity that we project as an image or actually engage in. Criminal behaviors result when the human developmental process is derailed and a person is able to make pleasurable associations with violent or otherwise criminal activities. As an offender's fantasy behavior develops over time, so does the need to live out those fantasies. When acted out, the act itself fuels the fantasy in the mind of the offender and causes it to evolve.

The signature mirrors the offender's core fantasy. Its content demonstrates that perpetrators of sexual crimes fantasize both about general sexual and about offense focused themes.

There are two parts to the signature: the signature aspects (the emotional and psychological themes that the offender satisfies when committing an offense such as profit, anger/retaliation...) and the signature behaviors (acts committed by an offender that are not necessary to commit the crime but that suggest the psychological or emotional needs of that offender).

As much as staging was referring to MO behaviors (see 3.2 Crime Evaluation: MO), posing clearly is part of an offender's signature. Posing occurs when an offender positions the body in a specific way. By doing that he ritualizes the crime scene and expresses, consciously or not, a specific message. The victim then becomes an accessory used to convey his message. 
- This ritualization differs from body degradation that is mostly the result of a lack of control of the offender's anger.
- Posing can encompass the alteration of the body of the victim, a specific way the body is dumped (significant positioning) or the location where the body is dumped (significant street name, landmarks...)
- Posing implies that the offender's fantasy has matured for a long time
- If the posing is controlled, the offender is highly organized, and if the posing is not controlled, the offender is more likely disorganized
- In case of serial killer who poses his victims, it is highly likely that he works alone, without partner

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3.2.1 Crime Evaluation: Motive and Motivation - Holmes, Holmes, DeBurger Serial Killer Motivational Classification

(Excerpt from Peter Vronski's "Serial Killers: Method and Madness of Monsters")

Ronald Holmes, Stephan Holmes and James DeBurger grouped serial killers based on their motives. They determined four types with several subgroups:

1. The Visionary: they kils at the command of hallucinated external or internal voices or visions that they experience. Such individuals are almost always suffering from psychosis or other mental illness.
- they commit incomprehensible murders, leaving behind chaotic crime scenes
- they often leave behind an abundance of physical evidence, and their victim seem to fit no comprehensible pattern (the killer's mind is completely disconnected from reality)
- sometimes they are completely nonfunctional in society, living alone and having no contact with other people
- in other cases, the offenders have episodic breaks with reality during which they kill but otherwise appear harmless or at worst, eccentric to those around them
- they most genuinely suffer from mental illness and some are schizophrenic or psychotic
- they might grow up completely normal, in supportive family settings
- because mental illnesses such as schizophrenia often first manifest themselves in late adolescence or early adulthood, visionary killers are often young
- while they do little to disguise their identity and leave behind evidence, they are difficult to apprehend because there is no clear method or motive to their crimes. They operate on an agenda entirely synced to the incomprehensible madness within them
- they select their victims at random in a logic often indiscernible to an investigator
- they often kill close to home (because of their disturbed state of mind, they are unlikely to venture very far)
- they almost exclusively fall into the FBI disorganized category

2. The Mission-Oriented: they come to believe that it is their mission to rid the community of certain types of people (children, prostitutes, old people or members of a specific race or minority)
- they feel compelled to kill a certain type of victims whom they believe is worthy of death. Often, the choice of victims is influenced by the killer's past experience(s) or current beliefs that lead him to conclude that a certain type of people is "undesirable"
- they are highly organized: often intelligent and white collar or professional workers
- they are compulsively seeking out and stalking their victim type and killing them quickly
- they usually do not commit sexual offenses, but there are exceptions, particularly in the murder of prostitutes
- they are often stable, gainfully employed, long term residents of the geographical territory in which they kill
- they usually refrain from posing or mutilating the corpse
- the body is frequently found at the location of the murder, as they have minimum contact with their victims because they are uncomfortable relating to the object of their hate
- they sometimes team up into groups and can be arguably also classified as "cult killers" when they do

3. The Hedonistic: this category includes killers who murder for financial gain (comfort killers), those who gain pleasure from mutilating or having sex with corpses, drinking their blood or cannibalizing them (lust killers) and those who enjoy the actual act of killing (thrill killers). For comfort and lust killers, murder is only a means to an end and in itself is less important that the acts accompanying or following the killing. For the thrill killer, the desire to kill is central to the motive.

3.1 The Hedonistic Comfort Killers
- they kill for profit or for gain (thus for comfort)
- they were highly prevalent in previous centuries: pirates, bandits, baby farmers, black widows, bluebeards, landlady killers, innkeeper murderers, medical cadaver harvesters...
- these types of crimes continue to occur in rural areas or in economically depressed urban communities, where victims are often transients and are not missed
- victims are frequently known to the killer (husband, wife, business partner, friend, or employer-employee). They are carefully chosen for the profit their death will yield, their murders are planned and their bodies carefully disposed of
- there is a division between geocentric killers who lure their victims to their place of residence or business and nomadic killers who seek out the victim
- victims are often killed quickly, and any mutilation of the corpse has to do with disposal as opposed to psychopathology

3.2 The Hedonistic Lust Killers
- they often have an ideal victim type in mind with fetishistic elements
- they often need intimate skin to skin contact in their killing, and use a knife or strangulation to murder
- necrophilia is a very frequent aspect of lust killer homicides
- they are mostly highly organized, having gone through years of the process of transforming and rehearsing their often bizarre fantasies into reality
- they are often aware that their victim choice is visible to police and may choose to travel to various jurisdictions in both their hunt for and disposal of victims
- because sometimes these killers consume certain body parts or focus on them, dismembered victims might be spread over different locations
- they usually choose different dumping grounds for each victim

3.3 The Hedonistic Thrill Killers
- they specifically derive sadistic pleasure from the process of killing - not the actual killing but the acts leading up to it
- to enjoy the act, they need to keep the victim immobilized and alive and aware of what is happening to them
- they often kill in elaborate ritualized methods and sometimes take a respite and revive the victims who lose consciousness before continuing their torture
- these sadistically  driven killers derive pleasure from the pain and suffering their victims go through as they die
- once the victim is dead, they almost immediately lose interest
- postmortem mutilation and necrophiliac acts are not a frequent characteristic of this kind of murder
- they often involve 3 distinct crime scenes (where the victim is captured, a highly controlled environment where the victim is tortured and killed, and finally a site where the victim is quickly dumped)
- they are often attractive, intelligent, and have charismatic psychopathic personalities, relying on their charm to seduce and lure victims to their deaths
- they are highly controlled and controlling, carefully selecting and stalking their desired victim type
- the body is often disposed of so as to deliberately lead investigators away from the killing scene

4. The Power/Control Oriented: they are the most common of all serial killers, for whom the fundamental pleasure of their crime lies in the power and control they exert over their victims. They enjoy torturing their prey and find it sexually arousing, and murder is often the most satisfying and final expression of their power and control over their victims.
- they are highly organized and closely related to sadistic thrill killers, with the difference that causing pain and suffering is not the primary motive of their offense
- dominating and controlling the victim is the primary motive (but they may use pain as a method of control and torture as a token of it)
- the actual pleasure of controlling the victim may begin before the victim even realizes it as the serial killer manipulates and seduces the victim
- they are often charming, charismatic, and intelligent, gradually taking control over their victim before springing a physical capture
- they often pick a certain "type of victims, but fetishistic elements are less important. The murder is often the ultimate expression of the serial killer's control over his victim - but unlike the thrill killer, the power/control killer does not necessarily lose interest once the victim is dead
- control often continues into death with the offender keeping the corpses near him, sometimes in his home or in some safe place where they can be revisited
- sometimes various post mortem sexual acts, mutilations and necrophilia can occur

3.2 Crime Evaluation: Motive and Motivation

To start with, let's clarify the meaning of the words:
- a motive is made of the emotional, psychological and material needs that impel and are satisfied by behavior
- the intent is the specific aim that guides behavior

That said, determining the motivation behind a crime provides several advantages to a criminal investigation:
- it reduces the suspect pool
- it helps linking unsolved cases
- it can provide circumstantial bearing on the offender's identity
- it can provide bearing on the offender's state of mind
- it can provide bearing on whether a crime has actually occurred

If the motivation underlying a crime is obvious and classic:
- money: the crime is committed just to depossess a victim from his or her valuables and/or money
- personal:  could be crimes committed out of compassion (euthanasia) or for revenge or other personal reason
- passion: jealousy, marital fights that go wrong
- accident: self defense, negligence or inattention

If there are no obvious or classic motivation explaining a crime, it is highly likely that the motivation is at least partly narcissistic/sexual
- the sexual aspect is not necessarily obvious (no sexual act performed) or can be overpowered on the crime scene by a narcissistic component.
- the killer's intent can be expressed as much in a rape than in the power and control he uses on the victims
          * The sexual dimension is given by the evidence of acts with a strong sexual connotation: naked body,
             rape, humiliation, degradation through posing, obscene messages, fetishist objects on the crime
          * The more the crime scene seems to be ritualized, the more the offender's fantasy is elaborate and the
             more the narcissistic dimension is important

Also, a motivation can be underlying another and thus you have to look for:
- conscious motivations: these are motivations that the offender is aware of and that seem to be what lead them, at least on the surface, to commit the crime (for example greed, sexual pulsion)
- unconscious motivations: these are motivations that the offender is not aware of but very often are the ones that are giving a "sense" to their actions (need for control, power, domination)

In general, the more the motives are obvious, the more the victim is familiar to the offender. The same applies if the offender depersonalizes the victim during the crime (even more if the offender destroys or hides the victim's face). But be careful as this not always apply to every crime scene where the victim is disfigured: it can also mean that the offender chose this victim as a substitute to the real person he wants to attack.

The more the crime scene shows sexual, narcissistic or violent aspects, the more likely it is or will become serial, as the killer is only able to express his sexuality or emotions through violent behaviors.

Monday, June 3, 2013

3.1 Crime Evaluation: Modus Operandi

(based partly on "Criminal Profiling: International Theory, Research and Practice" written by Richard N. Kocsis)

Modus Operandi, or MO, refers to those behaviors committed during an offense that serve to ensure its completion while also protecting the perpetrator's identity and facilitating escaping following the offense. MO accounts for how an offender commits his crimes. It is what the offender does and has to do to commit his crimes. The criminal's MO follows a certain number of principles:
- It is believed to be dynamic in nature, wherein learned behaviors develop and evolve as the perpetrator gains expertise in his offending career. But it is possible that some facts appear repeatedly in the chronology of the crimes, especially during the crime. Some variation might still occur though at one point in time as they are inherent to the criminal's evolution.
- Some events in the offender's life might bring him to change his scenario (death, breakup, loss of employment, wedding, birth...). But sometimes, the offender might also change his MO on purpose to avoid detection. The most sadist offenders enjoy doing that to play cat and mouse with the media and the police and keep an upper hand on them.
- As highlighted by Geberth, an offender's MO may devolve, with a perpetrator becoming less competent and/or skillful overtime. Such decompensation often coincides with a deteriorating mental state, increased use of drugs/alcohol, or an offender's growing confidence in their ability to avoid apprehension.
- Moreover, the influence of extraneous variables (witnesses, victim resistance), means that the criminal activity does not always go to plan, resulting in the need for improvisation or offender retreat.
- Sexual fantasy plays an important role in the development and maintenance of MO behavior, as it provides a stage on which the perpetrator can rehearse and plan anticipated offenses. Also, after the commission of a crime, sexual fantasy provides a means by which to reenact specific aspects of an offense, with a view to correcting any perceived flaws, thereby refining the offense script. But sexual fantasy can contribute to the understanding of a devolving MO: as an offender's fantasy becomes more complex, the successful completion of an offense becomes more difficult too.
- The core sexual fantasy shapes various aspects of an offender's MO including the context of the offense, victim selection, method of approach, grooming processes, control and organizing the type of resources needed to complete the offense. This is why it is essential to divide the MO analysis in 3 parts:
          * before the offense: this is the planning and preparation stage.
          * during the offense: from the moment he comes in contact with the victim to the moment before 
             disposing the body.
          * after the offense: when he disposes the body and after until he starts preparing the next attack.

The MO represents the killers' habits, techniques and other peculiarities of behavior. Sometimes, it is somewhat consistent, but often it grows and changes over time as the offender becomes more skillful, or according to his plan (the Zodiac was using a gun when attacking couples in medium to high risk environments, and was also using a knife when he had more time with them). If the offender is geographically mobile, his MO can change in accordance to the changes in his social and lifestyle environment. The MO also shows the choices an offender makes and the acts he further commits to further accomplish the crime.

There are basically 3 methods of approach used by serial killers:
- Surprise attack: the offender is lying in wait for a moment of vulnerability and attacks when the victim does not expect it.
- Con approach: the offender uses deception or subterfuge to gain the victim's trust.
- Blitz approach/attack: the offender delivers an immediate application of overpowering force. The offender's intent here is to deprive the victim of any reaction time and give the offender immediate control of the situation.

Precautionary acts are behaviors that an offender commits before, during and after an offense that are consciously intended to confuse, tamper or defeat investigative or forensic efforts for the purposes of concealing the offender's identity, connection to the crime, or the crime itself. These may include:
- clothing/disguise
- alteration of the voice
- blindfolds
- time of day
- location selection
- victim selection
- use of gloves
- use of condoms
- use of fire
- collecting victim's identity card
- disposing of the victim's clothing

MO also includes departure strategies, that is to say how an offender chooses to leave behind living victims after an attack is concluded gives insight into the motive and intent of the offender's offense behavior.

Finally, some aspects of the disposal/dump sites. How the offender chooses to leave behind deceased victims in the disposal site also gives insight into the motive and intent of the individual offense behavior (whether or not, where, when and whom an offender intended for the victim's body to be found).
- Convenience aspects refer to a disposal site that an offender chooses by virtue of the fact that it is available or less difficult than any other location.
- Remorse aspects refer to a disposal site where there is evidence that the offender felt some regret over the victim's death. This can be seen in behaviors that attempt to "undo" the homicide, including washing the blood off a victim, dressing a victim in clean clothes, and placing the victim in a natural state such as sleeping, sitting in a chair, or in the seat of a vehicle.
- Preselected aspects refer to a disposal site that an offender chooses before actually committing the offense.
- Precautionary aspects refer to a disposal site where an offender has gone to some effort to destroy evidence or otherwise hamper the investigative effort. This can be done in form of mutilating the body to prevent identification, disposing of it in water to wash away evidence, disposing of it in a remote or hard to reach location or burying it very deep to forestall/prevent its recovery.
- Staged aspects refer to a disposal site that an offender has contrived so as to purposefully mislead the investigation.
- Arranged aspects refer to a disposal site where an offender has arranged the body and the items within the crime scene in such manner as to serve ritual or fantasy purposes.

Staging is part of the MO. The offender voluntarily modifies the crime scene to mislead the investigation.
- Staging belongs completely to the criminal scenario. The offender has to include it into his preparation to commit the crime. For example when a murder is changed to look like a suicide or a theft that went wrong.
- It is the key of murders inside the family: the closer the killer is to the victim, the more he will try to mislead the investigation and the suspicions.
- The main question is to know if there are personal elements in the crime: the victim was found in her home, manual strangulation, blunt force trauma in the face, body hidden on the crime scene (to avoid the body to be discovered by a child living in the house), a witness testifying that the robber did not neutralize the biggest threat first, traces left that could point to a sexual crime but no sexual act was committed (pull up the bra or pull down the panties), rolled the body to make sure it is protected...
- Staging enables to get to know the killers personality more in details, by telling what the killer does not want to do or who he does not want to be. His motivations are often one of the two following:
          * he wants to manipulate the investigators (then he is rather organized, someone close)
          * he wants to lead them in a different direction (rather disorganized, loner who was just passing by)

However, posing is part of the signature: the offender poses the body and thus ritualizes the crime scene. (see signature)

2.5 Criminological Classifications: Serial Killer Classification

This is a fundamental distinction as every criminal profile is based on it. At this point of your profiling, the best is to make a list of all the elements showing that the criminal is organized, and those showing any level of disorganization.

Profile Characteristics of Organized and Disorganized Serial Killers
IQ above average, ranging between 105 and 120
IQ below average, ranging between 80 and 95
Socially adequate
Socially inadequate
Skilled work
Unskilled work or unemployed
Lives with a partner or dates frequently
Lives alone, usually does not date
Sexually competent
Sexually incompetent
Commits sexual and/or violent acts ante mortem
Commits sexual and/or violent acts post mortem
Stable father figure
Absent or unstable father
Family physical abuse, harsh
Family emotional abuse, inconsistent
Geographically/occupationally mobile
Lives and/or works near the crime scene
Follows the news and media
Minimal interest in news and media
May be college educated
Usually a high school drop out
Good hygiene
Poor hygiene
Victim is usually unknown and he targets and stalks  them according to personal criteria
Victim is known or at least seen before
Targets more victims of opportunity
If many victims, they tend to have commonalities
If many victims, there is no commonality
Diurnal (daytime) habits
Nocturnal (nighttime) habits
Drives a neat and nice car
Drives a clunky car or pickup truck if he owns a car
Needs to return to crime scene to see what police have done
Needs to return to crime scene for reliving memories
Usually contacts the police to play games
May contact victim’s family to play games
plans his murders and escape carefully Often attacks victims spontaneously (opportunity)
Multiple crime scene
Unique crime scene
Might make the victims disappear so special attention must be given to missing victims with similar profile
Body usually left on the crime scene
May dismember the body
Kills at one site, considers mission over
Attacks using seduction into restrains. He gains control over them at the crime scene
Attacks in a blitz pattern
Keeps personal, holds a conversation
Depersonalized victim to thing or it
Leaves a controlled crime scene
Leaves chaotic crime scene
Brings his own weapon, even his torture kit
The weapon is taken from the crime scene
Leaves little physical evidence
Leaves physical evidence

If the elements that you find are in equal parts between organized and disorganized, you are in presence of a mixed serial killer. Many scenarios are possible here:
- there might be more than one killer: in case of a killer duo, there is generally one who is dominant and organized and the other is submissive and disorganized.
- victim resistance or some other unexpected event might bring an organized killer to lose control and leash out, becoming completely disorganized.
- age and experience might contribute to a killer becoming more and more organized in time.
- the killer might be organized before the crime and unorganized after, or reversed.

Friday, May 31, 2013

2.4 Criminological Classifications: Criminal Escalation

Criminal escalation for a serial killer is when the crimes increase in intensity or in magnitude. 

The profiler should analyze the killer's propensity to escalate:

- his criminal career: some serial rapists might escalate to murder during their career, either by accident (a victim fights back an the killer discovers the pleasure that the killing brings) or by choice (the French serial Killer Michel Fourniret started killing after one of his rape victims reported him to the police and he got arrested, and wanted to make sure not to get caught again). At the same time, no serial killer wakes up one day and start killing people just like this. There is always a history that leads them to killing people, and for most of the time, the killings are the end result of a life of crime. So it is important to determine what possible criminal career the serial killer went through even before starting killing. For example, some can start by breaking and entering homes to steal people's valuables, and realizing one night that there is a woman living alone in the house and sleeping in the bedroom, can rape her. That could lead to an escalation in his crimes as he would target the houses of women who live alone and the real intention would shift from theft to rape. Later he could strangle one of his victims as she tried to fight back, but realizes how much he enjoyed the power the strangulation gave him. So a serial killer who breaks into houses, steals valuables, rapes and strangles women could have an extensive criminal record with traces of breaking and entering, theft, even maybe rape or sexual molestation themed arrests.

- his series of crimes: usually, the time between the first and the second killing is longer than between the following killings. And if the serial killer is not in control, killing is for them like drug abuse: the more they use the drug, the less the effect of the drug will last, the sooner they will need a new fix. In other words, the serial will have a shorter cooling off period every time he will kill, as the pleasure and the reminiscence of the pleasure will pass by quicker and the need to kill again will appear sooner. But some serial killers (highly organized, mature and sophisticated) can keep their urges in check and stop killing for longer periods for various reasons, such as the police being close to catch them, personal events and changes in their personal lives... This was the case for BTK who could stop killing for several years in a row. 

- the intensity of each crime: this refers to the crime escalation during a specific crime. For example if the killer wants to take time and enjoy torturing but the victim does not react the way he is expecting, he might get angry, lose control, and end up leaching out his anger on his victim. This is traditionally called an overkill, meaning that the killer will use more blunt force and savagery than is necessary to kill his victims. At the same time, a serial killer can just enjoy strangling his victims for the beginning, but then as the killings go by, and his maturity and confidence is growing, he might start to spend more time torturing the victims before killing them.

It is also important to figure out the stages of the development of a serial killer, and see if he is evolving or devolving:
- an evolving serial killer is usually organized and demonstrates more maturity and more confidence with each killing. He shows an ability to learn from his experience and modify his MO to get more satisfaction from his killings. It can also describe a change in the fantasy of the serial killer. When I say change, I don't mean that he would have or develop a totally different fantasy, but rather that the more his kills or tortures, would refine his fantasy or make it more complex (a sadistic killer could first start with buying an isolated place where he could torture his victims without being disturbed, and later create and build his own torture chamber, matching his specific needs).
- a devolving serial killer is at the contrary in most cases unorganized and is totally controlled by his fantasy and his impulses. His crimes would become more and more erratic, without real purpose and usually loses complete control over reality and his own actions. The need for a victim would me more and more urgent and some might even go on a real killing spree.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

2.3 Criminological Classifications: Victim Exposure Analysis

This phase of building a profile gives important information on how the killer committed his crime. It is the amount of exposure to harmful elements experienced by the victim. The victim exposure is basically calculated based on age, gender, physical stature, resistance capability, job, lifestyle, situation of the victim in the daily life (if the victims lives a life of habits or lives spontaneously), and the mindset of the victim at the time of the offense.

Von Henting gave a list of categories of people that have a higher risk of victim exposure,by the simple fact of belonging to their category: the young (children and infants), the women, the old, the mentally defective or deranged, the immigrants, the minorities, the "dull-normal" (simple minded people), the depressed, the acquisitive (greedy people looking for quick gain), the wanton (promiscuous people), the lonesome and heartbroken, the tormentors (abusive parents).

The types of exposure are:
- Low exposure: concerns an individual whose personal, professional and social life does not normally expose him or her to a possibility of suffering harm or loss. (ex: male fitness trainer who has a rich social life and is never alone and lives with a roommate)
- Medium exposure: concerns an individual whose personal, professional and social life can expose him or her to a possibility of suffering harm or loss. (ex: a woman who is cautious but open and tends to trust people easily)
- High exposure: concerns an individual whose personal, professional and social life continuously exposes him or her to the danger of suffering harm or loss (ex: a women who works at night and has to walk home alone, a home where she also live alone, or a prostitute)
- Lifestyle exposure: is the amount of exposure to harmful elements experienced by the victim and resulting from the victim's usual environment and personal traits (gays are usually high exposure victims because of the promiscuity of their way of life and how easily they engage in sexual relationships with total strangers picked up in a bar or a club)
- Situational exposure: is the amount of exposure to harmful elements experienced by the victim and resulting from the environment and traits at the time of the victimization (can be a victim alone in the woods, or depressive, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol)

Situational exposure refers to the environment but also the victim's state of mind or perception of reality at the time of the victimization. So you also have to research if emotional elements that could have increased the risk of exposure of the victim:
- private: such as depression
- sentimental: a dispute or a break-up
- professional: loss of employment
The killer can seem to prey on low exposure victims who, because in a state of stress or trauma at the time of the offense, become medium or high risk victims. He would then not be highly organized and sophisticated, but simply organized and opportunistic

In this section, we also need to talk about the risk taken by the killer. The offender exposure analysis refers to the amount of exposure to discovery, identification or apprehension experienced by the offender.
- MO exposure is the degree to which an offender's MO exposes him to discovery, identification or apprehension. The more skill, planning and precautionary acts evidenced by an offender, the lower the offender may perceive his or her own risk to be caught or identified. Low MO exposure applies to offenders who evidence a high amount of skills, planning and precautionary acts before, during and after a crime. High MO exposure applies to offenders who evidence a low amount of skills, planning and precautionary acts before, during and after a crime.
- Offender situational exposure is the amount of exposure to discovery, identification or apprehension experienced by the offender resulting from personal traits and environment at the time of the attack.

Offender behavior according to victim exposure level and environment exposure level

High victim exposure
Medium victim exposure
Low victim exposure
High environment exposure
The killer does not take risks. He is highly unorganized, impulsive, immature and necrophiliac tendencies (opportunistic killing). Can be organized if he tortures the victim on the spot.
Killer is able to easily start a conversation. But he quickly switches to a blitz attack considering the very isolated place.
Very organized and sadistic killer. Takes pleasure in chatting with, raping and torturing a victim that is capable to fight back, even bound.
But he can be unorganized*, or even necrophiliac.
Medium environment exposure
The killer knows the environment. Globally unorganized (the victim profile is prevalent). The attack is reduced to a blitz attack.
The killer starts to have a certain maturity, a self confidence that would classify him as an average organized killer.
Sadistic and rather uninhibited killer. Hunts for victims in familiar places where he might be seen. But once he made contact with the victim he would attract her to a remote area to carry the attack.
Low environment exposure
Mixed killer. Organized because knows very well the environment and can approach his victim with confidence. Unorganized as he will use a blitz attack.
Organized killer but not very intelligent or not very well integrated socially. He is neither sophisticated nor sadistic.
The killer takes the highest risk. Organized individual, often mature, uninhibited and sadistic (the crime is very well planned). Probably stressed but thinks he is untouchable.**

* after a blitz attack. He probably suffers from a minor disability that discourages him to make conversation with his victim (speech problem, ugliness, inferiority complex...)
** he feels the need to be excited to act while keeping his nerves. Here the seduction phase is very important and almost always transports the victim to a high exposure environment.

2.2 Criminological Classifications: Space and Time of Serial Killings

These elements will give a definite insight on the questions of where and when of a series of crime, and will help revealing patterns or habits of the killer.

Studying the space factor consists in determining the following from the crime scene:
- Start with the environment in general: the country, the city, the neighborhood... Go from the more general to the more precise. It could be important to find out if the victims were taken from the same spot (or same type of spot) like for instance Jack the Ripper who was only preying in the Whitechapel district (known for its low level of morality and its high crime rates enabling the killer to go almost undetected). Also if the killer is killing only when it's raining and the crimes take place in a very dry area where rain is rare (rainy nights might have a meaning for the killer)...
- The most important is to determine how many crime scenes there are: the place of the first encounter, the place where contact is made, the abduction site, the place where the victim is kept, the place where the victim is killed, the place where the body is dumped. The more crime scenes there are, the more likely is it that the killer is organized, prepared and intelligent. The less crime scenes, the more likely you will have to deal with an unorganized killer who attacks opportunistic victims during an impulsive act.
- Also determine the risk level represented by the environment: the woods represent generally low risk levels to a killer whereas abducting victims in a crowded public place is highly risky, and will give elements on how prepared and organized a killer might be.
- Pay particular attention to the points of contact (the precise location where the offender first approached or acquired the victim). List all the points of contact and determine what was the primary scene (location where the offender spend the majority of his time and where the most evidence was deposited), the secondary scene (location where some of the victim/offender interaction occurred, but not the majority of it), the intermediate scene (any crime scene between the primary scene and the disposal site), and the dump site/disposal site (where the body is found)

The time factor encompasses the moment and the length of the criminal scenario. You have to know how long the killer took to approach the victim (from the moment he chose the victim, he stalked the victim, to the moment he made first contact), to kill the victim, and how much time he spent with his dead victim before disposing of the body. The longer the killer spent time with his victim, the more the analysis of the crime scenes will be informative.
If the crimes are committed during the day, especially during working hours, the killer has free time during the day (unemployed, stay at home, works in shift, works part time, studies, holidays, retired...). He then might be unorganized and might be a loner.
If the crimes are committed in the night time, especially on week ends, he might not have free time during the day (regular job, family life, white collar job...). Rather organized and socially integrated.
If the crimes are committed with disregard to the time of day or night, the killer might have a job but with modular working hours (part time job, shifts, unemployment...)

Don't forget to check on the climate, lunar cycles, astrology, the date of the crimes and anything that could be of a symbolic meaning when working on the time factor.

2.1 Criminological Classifications : Types of Murderers

Before you even start building a profile it is important to define what type of offender you will have to deal with as it will determine what approach to the crime you will have to use. This classification is important as you will not build the same profile if you have to work on a mass murder, a single homicide, or a series.

- If there is one single victim, in a single event, in a single environment you have to work on a single homicide

- If there are two victims, in a single event, in a single environment you have it is a double homicide

- If there are three victims, in a single event, in a single environment you have it is a triple homicide

- If four or more victims are killed in a single event, in a single environment, you have to deal with a mass murderer: generally a white male who had to deal with such a high level of pressure in his life that he cannot cope with it anymore and snaps into a murderous rampage. He usually kills impulsively a group of people (can be specific group or totally random) with rare violence as he is completely lost control of his actions. This behavior often precedes his own suicide or a confrontation with law enforcement (suicide by cop). Be aware that this individual is very dangerous and will take down as many people as he can (victims, hostages, policemen)

- If two or more homicides are committed in a unique event but in two or more different places, the individual is called a spree killer. He is usually only half in control of his actions. He could be to certain lengths compared to a mobile mass murderer, but with a lesser tendency to commit suicide.

- If three (or two depending on the definition) are perpetrated during three (or two) separate events and in three (or two) different locations, you will have to deal with a serial killer. The way to really make the difference with the last two types is that usually serial killers have a cooling off period (a period of time where they don't kill). 

But these typologies are not fixed at all, and you have to be very careful not to be too strict about them. As an example, we can take the case of a single homicide: it is not because you work on a single homicide that you are not facing a serial killer. Indeed, there might be elements on the crime scene (ritualization of the scene, high level of ante-mortem mutilation, dominance of sexual activity on the scene... the major element to determine on a single homicide scene is if the murderer enjoyed or showed signs of pride in his acts) might indicate that the individual who committed the crime might do it again in the future. It is now a fact for the FBI that a murderer does not necessarily need to have killed three times to be labelled a serial killer.

Also, a murderer can be classified in several categories, either in a single event, or from one crime to the other. The best example is Ted Bundy who was a classical serial killer throughout his life until he got caught. Being in prison and escaping triggered something in him that made him become a mass murderer when attacking a sorority while on the run. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hi everybody

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1.2 Elements of Criminal Profiling: Victimology

In general, there are four undeniable principles that you have to keep in mind before you even tackle the profile of the victim(s)

- there is always a reason why someone becomes a victim: it sounds harsh, even for some judgmental, but it is a reality. Here the point is not to say that if someone gets raped, it is because the person deserved it. THAT IS UNTRUE ! The idea behind this statement is that however absurd or twisted the reason can be, there IS a reason why the offender chose to victimize the person. Even in a case of total opportunity victim, the victim still had a reason to be where and when the offender chose to commit his crime, and even might have triggered (consciously or unconsciously) the offense. Therefore there is no such thing as just sheer bad luck in the victimization process.

- the victim has to be seen and studied while keeping in mind we deal with real people: of course that means first and foremost that even when a victim has succumbed to the offense, you have to treat everyone involved (the victim, the family, the friends and colleagues) with reverence and respect. But it also signifies that we all live multiple lives: a professional and public life that we show to the world, a private life that we share with our family and friends, a sexual life. Thus, when you study the victim's life, don't just take what family and friends tell you, try to dig deeper. You might discover that the married woman was having affairs or a that a respectful director and perfect husband and father was living a double life, or that the idealized son was hiding to everyone that he was gay, and so on... all these elements are vital as the victim can lead a public life that can be seen as very low risk of victimization (see the post on victim exposure analysis 2.3), whereas the secret life they lead can be one with a high risk of victimization (for example gay life is often seen as promiscuous with a high number of sexual encounters with total strangers).

- in his book "Criminal Profiling", Brent E. Turvey recommends to avoid deification (idealizing the victim as innocent and virtuous)or vilification (tendency to view or cast certain victim population as worthless or disposable by their nature) of the victim.
* deification has the capacity to
=> cause an incomplete victimology
=> provide coverage for the false reporter
=> remove good suspects from the suspect pool
=> provide coverage for suspects who are family and household members
* vilification can result in uncritical acceptance of evidence that supports that supports this image and blindness to evidence that does not. The main categories of people often vilified are
=> homeless/mentally ill
=> homosexuals
=> minority populations
=> prostitutes
=> drug dealers/addicts
=> teen runaways
=> individuals with particular religious beliefs

- the last principle is that victimology is fundamental when building an offender profile as very often, for each specific victim profile corresponds a specific offender profile.

The main goals of victimology are:
- to determine the possible links between the victim and the offender and the context of the victim/offender relationship
- to establish the origins of the victimization or why the victim was chosen or targeted
- to define and narrow the suspect pool

It is important to determine the mobile of the crime
- if the mobile is obvious (money, revenge, passion), you should focus more on the direct environment of the victim like relationships, family, friends, enemies, colleagues...
- if the mobile is not obvious the focus should be on a larger circle (people the victim crossed pass with, childhood friends...)

The victimology research should be as wide as possible, and should include
- physical condition
- clothes
- personality
- passions
- fears
- life style
- family relationships
- social behavior
- possible history
- profession
- reputation
- private life and environment

General victimology guidelines:
- Weston and Wells provide a checklist
* did the victim know the perpetrator?
* does the victim suspect any person? Why?
* has the victim a history of crime?
* did the victim have a weapon?
* has the victim an aggressive personality?
* has the victim been the subject of any field (police) reports?
- National Institute of Justice
* determine the victim's hard character (race, weight, height, hair color, eye color...)
* determine the victim's occupation or place of work, and shift schedule
* compile the victim's criminal history
* compile a list of he victim's daily routines, habits and activities
* compile a list of victim friends with contact information, and interview each of them
* compile the victim's medical history
* compile the victim's psychological history
* compile a list of victim's medication (compare with victim's toxicology)
* compile victim's financial, educational, residence history
* spend time, when possible, with the victim's personal items, in their personal environment. Examine any available photo albums, diaries or journals. Find out who they seemed they were, what they wanted everyone to perceive, and how they seem to feel about their life in general.
* compile all available information regarding the victim's mobile phone, computer and internet
* create a timeline of the victim's last known activities (using witness statements and physical evidence)
* travel the last known route taken by the victim in whatever manner the victim used. Try to see that route from the victim's perspective and then from the potential perspective of the offender. Keep the perspectives separate.
* look the security video cameras along the victim's route

Victim selection is the process by which an offender intentionally chooses or targets a victim. Each offender has particular selection criteria that satisfy his or her needs. The major factors that can influence this decision making process include:
- availability: many serial killers target prostitutes not only because they are easy targets (are ready to follow mostly anyone offering money), but also because you can find them everywhere (on the streets, internet, in almost every city)
- location: the Zodiac Killer, at least at the beginning of his rampage, was targeting couples in very specific locations where couples liked to elope for a romantic moment
- vulnerability: angels of death (nurses) prey on sick or dying victims, or women with the Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy (who prey on their own children, making them sick just to get the attention and show how well they take care of their children)
- relationships: Black widows and blue beards who get married for wealth and get rid of their new husband or wife to inherit the money
- symbolic criteria: Ted Bundy had a preference for women who would remind him of his former girlfriend
- fantasy criteria: Jeffrey Dahmer would only target men he wanted to date
If we can understand how and why  a serial offender selects a particular victim, then we may also be able to establish the relational links between the victim and the offender. Additionally, if we come to understand the offender's overall strategy for the selection of the victim, then we have a better chance of predicting the type of victim the offender may select in the future:
- was the victim opportunistic or targeted?
- if the victim was targeted, what appears to be the offender's selection criterion? (location, physical characteristic, occupation, activity, vulnerability...)
- if the victim appears to have been targeted, what presurveillance behaviors would be required by the offender, given the activity of the victim?
- if the victim could not have been targeted, then did the offender have to step outside of his or her daily, non-criminal routine to acquire his victim, or was the offender likely trolling for a potential victim?
- if the offender was not actively trolling and the victim could not have been preselected or presurveyed, the the offender likely acquired the victim during his or her family routine. This suggests that a reconstruction of the victim's lifestyle, habits and routines may give direct insight into the lifestyle, habits and routines of the offender.

Finally, it is important to try to determine if the victim presented some kind of resistance to the offender, as it could explain an escalation from rape to rape and murder for example, or why a victim survived or escaped... and can give insight into the offender's fantasy and psyche:
- victim compliance: the victim acquiesces to an offender's demand readily and without hesitation
- passive resistance: the victim defies an offender by non aggressive means
- verbal resistance: the victim defies an offender with words
- physical resistance: the victim defies an offender with physical force