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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Motive, Method and Madness

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Old 12-03-2009, 05:58 AM
mklhawley mklhawley is offline
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So, if I have this correct, one should not say, "Suspect X cannot be a viable suspect because he does not fit well with the FBI profile of JTR". It should be, "Suspect X not only conforms to the physical evidence, he(she) fits well with the FBI profile of JTR". Am I close?

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Old 12-03-2009, 06:08 AM
Septic Blue
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Originally Posted by mklhawley View Post
So, if I have this correct, one should not say, "Suspect X cannot be a viable suspect because he does not fit well with the FBI profile of JTR". It should be, "Suspect X not only conforms to the physical evidence, he(she) fits well with the FBI profile of JTR". Am I close?
I'd say you are 'spot on'!

Profiling is not intended to be used in isolation!
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Old 12-03-2009, 02:17 PM
tnb tnb is offline
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I would agree with that mkl/ septicblue - we have so little to concentrate on in this case that we would be silly to reject anything. The profile, if you are using it, should be afforded the same status as witness descriptions, contemporary suspicions etc - ie. it can bolster your case but it cannot make a case on its own, nor can it destroy a candidacy on its own.

No one should build a case wholly around the profile anymore than they would around one witness description, as at this remove it represents little more than an educated guess.

The other problem is we know so little about most of the suspects in terms of personality, and so it is all too easy to read into that void any personality traits you want, thus making them fit the profile. Hence Cornwell's 'Jack the Ripper must have been a misogynist and a voyeur and lo and behold so was Walter Sickert'!
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Old 12-04-2009, 04:37 AM
mklhawley mklhawley is offline
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So, two critical elements for effective profiling of JTF are missing: First, we've lost historical context, and second, we do not truly know each suspect's personalities, aside from anectotal evidence. Let's just find some DNA evidence and be done with it.

Awesome correspondence!

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Old 08-20-2010, 03:38 AM
mklhawley mklhawley is offline
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Greetings all,

I wanted to revisit this thread because of its appropriateness to those rejecting the possibility of Francis Tumblety being JTR, specifically, due to him being a homosexual. It was a discussion with MrTwibbs and I on a Tumblety thread, but it seems to pertain to other possible suspects being rejected due to modern day criminal profiling. The argument against Tumblety being a possible JTR suspect because of his homosexuality actually fits into the practice of criminal profiling of serial killers, just as the FBI profile of JTR fitting into a sado-sexual category does. Recall the recent peer reviewed literature I posted on criminal profiling:

Two peer reviewed articles in Criminal Justice and Behavior demonstrate the limits to criminal profiling. The first one, Taking Stock in Criminal Profiling (Vol. 34, No. 4, 437-453 (2007)) states: The use of criminal profiling (CP) in criminal investigations has continued to increase despite scant empirical evidence that it is effective . Narrative review results suggest that the CP literature rests largely on commonsense justifications. Results from the 1st meta-analysis indicate that self-labeled profiler/experienced-investigator groups did not outperform comparison groups in predicting offenders' cognitive processes, physical attributes, offense behaviors, or social habits and history, although they were marginally better at predicting overall offender characteristics. Results of the 2nd meta-analysis indicate that self-labeled profilers were not significantly better at predicting offense behaviors, but outperformed comparison groups when predicting overall offender characteristics, cognitive processes, physical attributes, and social history and habits. Methodological shortcomings of the data and the implications of these findings for the practical utility of CP are discussed.

The second one, The Criminal Profiling Illusion, Whatís Behind the Smoke and Mirrors (Vol. 35, No. 10, 1257-1276 (2008)) states: There is a belief that criminal profilers can predict a criminal's characteristics from crime scene evidence. In this article, the authors argue that this belief may be an illusion and explain how people may have been misled into believing that criminal profiling (CP) works despite no sound theoretical grounding and no strong empirical support for this possibility. Potentially responsible for this illusory belief is the information that people acquire about CP, which is heavily influenced by anecdotes, repetition of the message that profiling works, the expert profiler label, and a disproportionate emphasis on correct predictions. Also potentially responsible are aspects of information processing such as reasoning errors, creating meaning out of ambiguous information, imitating good ideas, and inferring fact from fiction. The authors conclude that CP should not be used as an investigative tool because it lacks scientific support.

The practice of criminal profiling, including sexual preference, does not have a good track record. I do agree that it should be used but not to REJECT a potential suspect such as Tumblety, but only to include someone to a suspect list. Again, the purpose should be used to drum up some possible suspects, not to reject anyone.

Besides, here are examples of homosexual serial killers not targeting their sexual desires, i.e., having a sado-sexual motive. Colin Ireland was a hetersexual serial killer targeting homosexual men. Michael Swango, a homosexual serial killer AND a medical professional (as professed by Dr. Tumblety), killed both men and women. Belgium Marc Dutroux killed girls.

There has been an argument that these cases are too dissimilar to Tumblety and the Whitechapel murders, but this can be applied to all serial killer cases. What all of these have in common, though, is the motive was something other than sado-sexual (the major motive for homosexual serial killers killing males). We donít really know what JTRís true motive was because we donít know who he was. Part two of Roger Palmer's article made it clear that Francis Tumblety was known for hating women PRIOR to Colonel Dunham's (Conover) interview, matching Chief Inspector Littlechild's comment that his hatred of women was "bitter to the extreme". Since Dunham's comments were not the source of Tumblety being considered a woman-hater and Scotland Yard had evidence to support this, then the logical conclusion is he hated women. In view of this, if Tumblety was JTR then his motive would be a category other than sado-sexual. It also means the homosexual argument is overcome by events.

In order to maintain a motive thread and not a Tumblety thread, any thoughts on the effectiveness of rejecting anyone on the JTR suspect list through criminal profiling?


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Old 08-20-2010, 05:43 PM
Scorpio Scorpio is offline
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Originally Posted by Ally View Post
I don't think anyone really puts much stock in profiling unless they happen to push a particular suspect that the "profile" matches. Most reasoned people have long since seen the inherent weakness in profiling and dismiss it along with other psychobabble. (or was that cycobabble? Sorry wrong thread...)
Nobody, including profilers, claims a system based on inductive generalisations is perfect. But the profiles on Wayne Williams, Carmine Calabro and Robert Hansen, conducted by experienced agents with sound, empirical data, were accurate. I dont know what is meant by " reasoned people ", but i am reasonable, and I think the JTR profile by the Douglas and Hazelwood would prove to be accurate also, in the main, and in some regards, alarmingly accurate. Its pointless rubbishing profiling because it does not sit cosily with your own pet theory.

Last edited by Scorpio : 08-20-2010 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:07 PM
MrTwibbs MrTwibbs is offline
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Originally Posted by mklhawley View Post
This is the FBI report on Jack the Ripper:

FBI report suggests Jack the Ripper: was a white male, 28-36 years of age; was of average intelligence, lucky not clever; was single, never married, and had difficulty in interacting with people in general and women in particular; was nocturnal and not accountable to anyone; blended in with his surroundings; had poor personal hygiene, and appeared disheveled; was personally inadequate with a low self image and diminished emotional responses; was a quiet loner, withdrawn and asocial; was of lower social class; lived or worked in Whitechapel, and committed the crimes close to home; had a menial job with little or no interaction with the public; was employed Monday to Friday, possibly as a butcher, mortician's helper, medical examiner's assistant, or hospital attendant (the proximity of London Hospital was noted in the profile); was the product of a broken home, and lacked consistent care and stable adult role models as a child; was raised by a dominant female figure who drank heavily, consorted with different men, and physically, possibly sexually, abused him; set fires and abused animals as a child; hated, feared, and was intimidated by women; internalized his anger; was mentally disturbed and sexually inadequate, with much generalized rage directed against women; desired power, control, and dominance; behaved erratically; engaged in sexually motivated attacks to neuter his victims; drank in local pubs prior to the murders; hunted nightly, and was observed walking all over Whitechapel during the early morning hours; did not have medical knowledge or surgical expertise; was probably interviewed by police at some point; did not write any of the “Jack the Ripper” letters, and would not have publicly challenged the police; and did not commit suicide after the murders stopped.

Some of these profiles (not all) certainly suggests 21st century eyes being out of context. I think tnb is onto something.


That's quite a profile from the FBI and it shares many characteristics from modern day serial killers. Lack of a stable parental guidance, setting fires, torturing animals, desired power as they have low self esteem.

On the subject of Colin ireland who coincidently lived just 2 miles from me, he came from a broken home, was subjected to rejected from his father, suffered isolation, feeling violated and betrayed and grew up with pornography at a young age, was abused, loved fire

The following is a quote from the trutv website

""I was sharing a room with two other boys. One of the boys would ridicule me because my parents could not afford to keep me there; he also poked fun at my accent. I decided on an extreme form of revenge and one day went into our room placed crunched up newspaper around his belongings then set fire to it. I then left the room and went down the stairs only to return to the door to listen to the crackle of the flames."

This interest in fire was apparently a recurrent one during his childhood, and continued into his adult life. In his early teens he had begun having

"A series of fire based nightmares that have plagued me as an adult. As I have said this is a recurring dream and was preceded by a less than healthy interest in fire as a child. I can remember reading on a number of occasions a book on the Fire Brigade, as it was then. This was at school and I can remember, though quite young, what equipment did what."

I remember reading a study done using 35 serial killers and they discovered they commit their first murder aged 28.5

All in all i'd say profiling is pretty accurate and all serial killers have plenty in common.
I may have a unique perspective on profiling because I have been profiled and they were quite accurate in their findings although in certain lesser crimes it is easy to change MO (as I know first hand) whereas murder takes a very specific kind of person and it needs to be done in their own way otherwise that uniqueness and feeling of accomplishment is lost.

Last edited by MrTwibbs : 08-20-2010 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 08-21-2010, 06:35 AM
mklhawley mklhawley is offline
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Excellent points MrTwibbs.


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Old 08-25-2010, 04:47 PM
joelhall joelhall is offline
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Originally Posted by Stewart P Evans View Post
Profiling is totally overrated. Too many people making a name for themselves out of it.

As far as I'm concerned serial killer profiling is guesswork at best - at worst it is a totally inaccurate portrait of a suspect. Of course when they finally catch these people, they always find some type of 'evidence' as to why their profile was correct.

In essence, there's nothing scientific about this process. I shall stick my neck out and say from everything I've read in the last few years about profiling of killers, whether behavioural, psychological, or geographic, the vast majority is simply guessing and the rest is obvious stuff thrown in to pad it out. In short, you do not need an expert to tell you most of this.

Profiling is really the astrology of the criminology world - you can always find some evidence to fit in with it, but it only becomes apparent once you already know who did it, and even then it's only half right (see the quote '...they were marginally better at predicting offender characteristics. Hence why, just like the astrologer, they speak vaguely. Things such as 'physically abused' are often loosely attached to simply being smacked as a child when misbehaving - a far cry from having your head punched in. Even so, had the FBI caught this killer they would no doubt cite this as evidence for their profile.

All of the more 'specific' things in the FBI profile are nothing more than guesswork. The rest is simply obvious - white man, 28-36, borken home, shabby appearance, average intelligence, menial job, worked in Whitechapel, raised by a woman who drank, etc - in the East End of London in the 1880s. This could describe so many people it's not worth even thinking about. This isn't ground-breaking intellectual work, it's simply what we already know, without even having to think about it, based on the laws of probability.

If we were to suppose he was a psychologically damaged individual working in a mortuary, then why did no one at the mortuary notice anything amiss? Surely if he was disturbed he wouldn't be 'in control' of his actions, regardless?

The real downside of all of this is the profile they use dictates the motive. Therefore one assumes he (if it was one killer) was a sexual killer. It also makes other assumptions which have no real evidence, and most likely if the killer(s) was/were caught half the profile would be wrong. The motive should suggest the profile of course, but in practice this never happens as the motive is not really known. Obvious indications of a sexual killer are focus on the genitals (rather than simply a small part of the whole, such as beginning slicing a cadaver at the groin and upwards), secretions, rapes or molestation, etc. There is no real evidence that JTR was a sexual killer, it's simply a shaky conclusion based on some of the evidence. Others include a man suffering from syphillis, someone who had it in for hookers, a sadistic maniac, etc. All fit with how they were killed.

The vast majority of the more specific items on the profile - intimidated by women, internalised rage, neutering victims, desired power, are simply 'textbook' profiling ideas which are put forth for most serial killers of women. I dare say that most times they are completely wrong.

I don't claim to be a criminal profiler, but I dare say I go add to the profile, some of which is at odds with the FBI's efforts, and I'll even chuck in my reasoning for them for free - assuming a lone killer of course (which I still don't buy into):

Physically fit and strong (able to get the job done quickly with minimal fuss and leg it sharpish and also because of the sheer amount of physical activity required in the times), able to keep calm under pressure (this goes without saying during the height of the man-hunt - he had no qualms about going out while everyone was looking for him and bagging another one), quick-thinking (obviously), opportunistic but planned at least the main parts of the act of killing beforehand (wanted to get it done as quick as possible so planned it out, but picked the easiest victims he could, obviously opporunistic he didn't plan on taking away what he did, he simply grabbed whatever he could and legged it), able to disguise his anger (coppers all over the place, men out late at night - an enraged man running round with a knife draws attention), able to inspire confidence in strangers (so lead them into dark corners without so much as a peep), sober habits (being blotto certainly wouldn't help his chances of escape), took no interest in torturing animals but probably practiced at slicing necks (he didn't torture the victims, so why animals - if anything he killed like lightning), rehearsed his escape routes (as is apparent), knew the area exceptionally well (probably knew which back gardens leds where ect, so he could take alternative routes, wherever he was), had accomplices in the locale (the further you are from home the harder it is to escape on foot, especially on the double-event night), strong-willed (determined killer), didn't relish the crimes (let's face it he wasn't famous for hanging about too long)... the list could go on and on.

And what's more I don't think anyone here needed me to tell them the above, much less a psychologist or FBI expert.
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Old 08-25-2010, 05:37 PM
Abby Normal Abby Normal is offline
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Has Profiling ever led directly to the capture of a SK? I think this should be a fair measure of its effectiveness and usefulness in catching criminals. If the answer is no, and i think it is, then-well there you have it.
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