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Has any serial killer case ever been solved by profiling?

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  • Has any serial killer case ever been solved by profiling?

    I mean really solved, like the profiling led directly and mainly to catching the killer.

    I dont beleive this is the case, but i think the Mad Bomber of NY comes closest?
    It would be interesting to hear peoples thoughts on this.
    "Is all that we see or seem
    but a dream within a dream?"

    -Edgar Allan Poe


    "...the man and the peaked cap he is said to have worn
    quite tallies with the descriptions I got of him."

    -Frederick G. Abberline

  • #2
    Criminal profiling has never solved a case, including the Mad Bomber. In response to an open letter from a newspaper asking him to give up, the Bomber wrote them giving details about his grievance against Con Edison, including the day he was injured on the job. A ConEd employee looked through workmen's compensation files, finding one for that date. That led to a search warrant, which found evidence that George Metesky was the Bomber and he confessed. The criminal profile had nothing to do with it.

    There are also claims that the psychological profile got massaged after Metesky was caught to fit him better.

    Comment


    • #3
      https://www.online-psychology-degree...nal-profiling/

      Here are 5 cases where criminal profiling has played a major role in catching a serial killer.

      Comment


      • #4
        I highly recommend "The Alienist" by Caleb Carr. An alienist in the nineteenth century referred to experts who studied varying mental pathologies. A killer is loose in the dark, fetid and dank streets of New York City. The year is 1896. Kreisler puts together a team to help track down a serial killer whose specialty the gruesome murder of young boys who spend their miserable lives as male prostitutes.

        The TV series is very good as well.

        c.d.

        Comment


        • #5
          Had a scan of that PhD thesis. Hope they can still withdraw the degree. Here are those proposed to be caught by profiling, with various allegations made usually by wikiwhatsit.

          George Metesky
          Fiver dealt with.

          Ted bundy
          Bundy was arrested by Utah Highway Patrol officer Bob Hayward in Granger (another Salt Lake City suburb). Hayward observed Bundy cruising a residential area in the pre-dawn hours, and fleeing at high speed after seeing the patrol car. However he could not be detained but was put under surveillance. The rest of the various blunders defy belief. But no profiling was needed. Unless of the form "suspect will likely cruise residential areas in the pre-dawn hours, and flee at high speed if a patrol car appears".

          Joseph Paul Franklin
          detained and questioned regarding a firearm that he was transporting in his car. Franklin fled from this interrogation, but authorities recovered sufficient evidence from the vehicle to point suspicions that potentially linked him to the sniper killings. His conspicuous racist tattoos, coupled with his habit of visiting blood banks, led investigators to issue a nationwide alert to blood banks. In October 1980, the tattoos drew the attention of a Florida blood bank worker, who contacted the FBI. Franklin was arrested in Lakeland

          Wayne Williams
          Williams first became a suspect in the Atlanta murders on the morning of May 22, 1981, when a police surveillance team, watching the James Jackson Parkway bridge spanning the Chattahoochee River (a site where several victims' bodies had been discovered), heard a "big loud splash", suggesting that something had been thrown from the bridge into the river below. The first automobile to exit the bridge after the splash, at roughly 2:50 a.m., belonged to Williams. When stopped and questioned, he told police that he was on his way to check on an address in a neighboring town ahead of an audition the following morning with a young singer named Cheryl Johnson. However, both the phone number he gave police and Cheryl Johnson turned out to be fictitious.

          Andrew Cunanan
          July 15, 1997 Noriega revealed: “Versace was shot around 9am, I got there 9.15. He was alive, they were keeping him alive... he died in hospital. “We created a dragnet. It was a frantic search. I believe we created a choke hold on the city so tight Cunanan felt extremely uncomfortable moving around and we locked him in. We were doing vehicle stops, checkpoints, working with the FBI. “I said to my guys from day one, I believe we’ve got him locked in. I don’t believe he’s going to get out.” He didn’t, of course – choosing to kill himself rather than face justice. Noriega and a SWAT team had traced him to a two-storey houseboat in northern Miami Beach. Police stormed the boat after a four-hour siege.
          However, according to wikipedia the sooth sayer:
          On July 23, 1997, Cunanan's body was found in a luxury houseboat in Miami Beach, after a caretaker reported hearing a gunshot to police. He had shot himself in the head with the Taurus pistol stolen from Trail; it was the same weapon he used to kill Madson, Reese, and Versace.

          HTH
          Dupin

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Astatine211 View Post
            https://www.online-psychology-degree...nal-profiling/

            Here are 5 cases where criminal profiling has played a major role in catching a serial killer.
            In none of those cases was criminal profiling essential.

            Profiling is a complete pseudoscience. Where profiling could be useful is to help sift through or prioritize leads in an investigation with limited resources.

            You’d have more luck finding cases in which profiling has hindered an investigation because people took it too seriously.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Dupin View Post
              Had a scan of that PhD thesis. Hope they can still withdraw the degree. Here are those proposed to be caught by profiling, with various allegations made usually by wikiwhatsit.

              George Metesky
              Fiver dealt with.

              Ted bundy
              Bundy was arrested by Utah Highway Patrol officer Bob Hayward in Granger (another Salt Lake City suburb). Hayward observed Bundy cruising a residential area in the pre-dawn hours, and fleeing at high speed after seeing the patrol car. However he could not be detained but was put under surveillance. The rest of the various blunders defy belief. But no profiling was needed. Unless of the form "suspect will likely cruise residential areas in the pre-dawn hours, and flee at high speed if a patrol car appears".

              Joseph Paul Franklin
              detained and questioned regarding a firearm that he was transporting in his car. Franklin fled from this interrogation, but authorities recovered sufficient evidence from the vehicle to point suspicions that potentially linked him to the sniper killings. His conspicuous racist tattoos, coupled with his habit of visiting blood banks, led investigators to issue a nationwide alert to blood banks. In October 1980, the tattoos drew the attention of a Florida blood bank worker, who contacted the FBI. Franklin was arrested in Lakeland

              Wayne Williams
              Williams first became a suspect in the Atlanta murders on the morning of May 22, 1981, when a police surveillance team, watching the James Jackson Parkway bridge spanning the Chattahoochee River (a site where several victims' bodies had been discovered), heard a "big loud splash", suggesting that something had been thrown from the bridge into the river below. The first automobile to exit the bridge after the splash, at roughly 2:50 a.m., belonged to Williams. When stopped and questioned, he told police that he was on his way to check on an address in a neighboring town ahead of an audition the following morning with a young singer named Cheryl Johnson. However, both the phone number he gave police and Cheryl Johnson turned out to be fictitious.

              Andrew Cunanan
              July 15, 1997 Noriega revealed: “Versace was shot around 9am, I got there 9.15. He was alive, they were keeping him alive... he died in hospital. “We created a dragnet. It was a frantic search. I believe we created a choke hold on the city so tight Cunanan felt extremely uncomfortable moving around and we locked him in. We were doing vehicle stops, checkpoints, working with the FBI. “I said to my guys from day one, I believe we’ve got him locked in. I don’t believe he’s going to get out.” He didn’t, of course – choosing to kill himself rather than face justice. Noriega and a SWAT team had traced him to a two-storey houseboat in northern Miami Beach. Police stormed the boat after a four-hour siege.
              However, according to wikipedia the sooth sayer:
              On July 23, 1997, Cunanan's body was found in a luxury houseboat in Miami Beach, after a caretaker reported hearing a gunshot to police. He had shot himself in the head with the Taurus pistol stolen from Trail; it was the same weapon he used to kill Madson, Reese, and Versace.

              HTH
              Dupin
              thanks Dupin, I agree completely. It’s frustrating that these sites put up stuff like this that is so easily shown to be false from just a cursory look at the relevant wiki page.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Kattrup View Post

                In none of those cases was criminal profiling essential.

                Profiling is a complete pseudoscience. Where profiling could be useful is to help sift through or prioritize leads in an investigation with limited resources.

                You’d have more luck finding cases in which profiling has hindered an investigation because people took it too seriously.
                The official FBI profile for both the Green River killer and BTK strangler was that they would both be single with unstable job histories, and that they would be unable to ever stop killing.

                Both of these profiles were completely wrong in almost every aspect and hindered both investigations.

                Just goes to show how DNA is the key.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by c.d. View Post
                  I highly recommend "The Alienist" by Caleb Carr. An alienist in the nineteenth century referred to experts who studied varying mental pathologies. A killer is loose in the dark, fetid and dank streets of New York City. The year is 1896. Kreisler puts together a team to help track down a serial killer whose specialty the gruesome murder of young boys who spend their miserable lives as male prostitutes.

                  The TV series is very good as well.

                  c.d.
                  yes excellent book! im surprised they never made it into a movie.
                  "Is all that we see or seem
                  but a dream within a dream?"

                  -Edgar Allan Poe


                  "...the man and the peaked cap he is said to have worn
                  quite tallies with the descriptions I got of him."

                  -Frederick G. Abberline

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Kattrup View Post

                    In none of those cases was criminal profiling essential.

                    Profiling is a complete pseudoscience. Where profiling could be useful is to help sift through or prioritize leads in an investigation with limited resources.

                    You’d have more luck finding cases in which profiling has hindered an investigation because people took it too seriously.
                    completely agree kattrup
                    having lived through the beltway sniper nightmare and how bad they jacked up that profile
                    "Is all that we see or seem
                    but a dream within a dream?"

                    -Edgar Allan Poe


                    "...the man and the peaked cap he is said to have worn
                    quite tallies with the descriptions I got of him."

                    -Frederick G. Abberline

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by c.d. View Post
                      I highly recommend "The Alienist" by Caleb Carr. An alienist in the nineteenth century referred to experts who studied varying mental pathologies. A killer is loose in the dark, fetid and dank streets of New York City. The year is 1896. Kreisler puts together a team to help track down a serial killer whose specialty the gruesome murder of young boys who spend their miserable lives as male prostitutes.

                      The TV series is very good as well.

                      c.d.
                      Excellent book but I haven’t seen the series. I seem to recall his follow up book being good too but it’s been quite a while since I read them. Just checked Wiki the second book was Angel Of Darkness. Carr has also written a Sherlock Holmes novel which I don’t have but have been meaning to buy.

                      Just ordered it for less than 3.
                      Last edited by Herlock Sholmes; 05-06-2021, 10:37 PM.
                      Regards

                      Herlock



                      “All conspiracy theories are the product of the subconscious attempt of an ignorant yet creative mind to counteract the fear of the unknown with the tales of fantasy.” Abhijit Naskar.

                      “Conspiracy theorists, she knew, were paranoid by definition, and usually with good reason - they were indeed being watched, largely because they were standing on an upturned bucket, haranguing the sheeple with their wingnut delusions.” Mick Herron.

                      ”The most confused you will ever get is when you try to convince your heart and spirit of something your mind knows is a lie.” Shannon L. Alder.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Behavioural Criminal profiling, where the idea is to try and get an idea of the offender's personality and so forth, is hyped a lot in movies and such. As a plot device it's very good entertainment. In the real world, it's generally very understudied with regards to effectiveness and/or accuracy. There's a lot of "confirmation bias", where profiles that turn out to fit reasonably well get emphasized by those who "like it", and by those skeptical of it, the emphasis is on that that fit really badly. What we don't know, but would need to know, is the entire set of data and outcomes.

                        The underlying theoretical idea is that personality determines/influences behaviour, and if so, then inferences about personality can be made based upon what behaviours are evident. While that's a good starting point hypothesis as it is theoretically motivated, which just means one can make predictions about what should happen in the data, testing its validity is what's missing in this area, and not likely to be done anytime soon because those who produce the profiles only want the success stories "out there". Testing its validity is when we compare the predicted outcomes with the actually observed outcomes. And if personality can be inferred from observed crime scene behaviours, then the prediction is that profiles will do better than chance guessing. And that is testable, but hasn't really been done properly.

                        I mean really, any time there's a murder, first thing anyone can do is the following "profile":
                        The offender is most likely male and has a close connection to the victim (spouse, family member, work association). And that's going to work pretty well right there. But the police have known that for as long as there have been police. But that's just the "chance" level of performance, it's not based upon any crime scene information (other than the fact there has been a murder of course). If 90% of murderers are males with a close association with the victim, then for a profile to be effective, it has to do better than simply using that above profile every time, which will be correct 90% of the time, but 10% of the time it will be wrong. That simply reflects the underlying distribution, though, not the ability of the profile to "extract information" to improve on that.

                        There's a need to collate all of the profiles that have been produced and compare them to the outcomes. Only then can one determine if they are better than chance levels on even some aspects of what they make. It's a huge study, as one also has to compile information about offenders in general, those for whom profiles have and have not been done.

                        Personally, I rather suspect the outcome of a proper study into the accuracy of behavioural profiles would end up indicating they are, at the very best, only slightly better than chance performance on some character traits, and they are probably no better than chance on most. Where they get it badly wrong will be the cases where the offenders do not fit the general population as a whole, and the profiles are biased to guess based upon the population tendency (not based upon extracting information from the crime scene behaviours per se).

                        I won't go on about this, but as I can't quite help myself, this is where geographical profiling differs from behavioural profiling. What geographical profiling is doing is working out the population "chance rate", it's not about identifying an individual. It's prioritizing areas just like the above standard mock profile prioritizes people. Sure, 90% of murderers will be male and have a close association with the victim, so it makes sense to start with those people, but it doesn't mean the offender "has to be" one of those people, only that more often than not they are. Geographical profiling is about telling one where to start looking, as more offenders will be found to have ties in that area (just like more will be found in the males with close ties to the victim); so "more often than not" the offender will be associated with a given area. The benefits are that the data (crime locations) and the analysis (mathematical calculations) are not as subjective, so given the same set of data and using the same analysis approach, means the profile should not differ depending upon who the profiler is. When geographical profiles are presented as being something beyond that (as if they are evidential information specific to a given case), then that is to overstate what they do. So, they are useful to the same extent it is useful to know that most offenders will have close ties to the victim, but like that sort of information, they are best used as information about general trends and should not be viewed as evidence for or against anyone. That requires real evidence specific to the case and a given suspect. The Beltway Snipers, for example, had information that suggested the offenders were mobile and not anchored to a particular location, and therefore should have signaled that they were not likely to be "like the others". Other types of offenders, such as long haul truckers who deposit victims along a stretch of road, are also not going to be anchored to a given location on the highway, so there's no point in doing a geographical profile in such a case. A series of events all on the same day (a spree killer), are similar problems because the offender is not starting each "journey" from an anchor point, they are on the move, so the location of each offense is the starting point of the journey to the next offense in the spree. In the JtR case, pending on your view of Stride as a JtR victim, it becomes questionable about whether or not one should include Eddowes's location for that reason (if you view Stride as a JtR victim, then the double event is a spree, and there's good reasons to argue that only the first event should be entered in an anchor point analysis). In this case, however, the resulting outputs tend to highlight similar areas whether or not Eddowes is included, but that need not be the case.

                        - Jeff

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Kattrup View Post

                          In none of those cases was criminal profiling essential.

                          Profiling is a complete pseudoscience. Where profiling could be useful is to help sift through or prioritize leads in an investigation with limited resources.

                          You’d have more luck finding cases in which profiling has hindered an investigation because people took it too seriously.
                          Eg: The Yorkshire Ripper & Wearside Jack.
                          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Sutcliffe
                          ---------------------------------------------------
                          JtR3D.com JtR 3D Blog
                          ---------------------------------------------------
                          HHAP

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Astatine211 View Post
                            https://www.online-psychology-degree...nal-profiling/

                            Here are 5 cases where criminal profiling has played a major role in catching a serial killer.
                            Profiling narrowed the search through people who were already on a Person of Interest or Suspect list for those crimes. If they are not prior offenders, a profile will not identify someone not already suspected, from within the general public records.
                            Michael Richards

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