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.