Developing an accurate profile of a serial or mass murderer is a tricky task. Although some characteristics are common to many serial murderers—for example, the majority of serial murderers are men—other characteristics, such as the motivation to kill, vary considerably. Therefore, it becomes impossible to describe all the characteristics of a serial murderer accurately without some type of guiding framework. The guiding framework and key profiling technique criminal profilers use is known as a typology. Typologies aid in the construction of a criminal profile by illustrating the categories or types of serial murderers. These same typologies often are applied to mass murderers as well. All serial and mass murderers who fall into one particular category share a range of characteristics such as personality traits and social skills. Serial and mass murderers can be classified into typologies based on evidence gathered at the crime scenes, such as the weapon used to murder the victim or whether the body was moved. After a criminal profiler successfully categorizes a serial or mass murderer, the profiler can describe other characteristics of the offender, such as age and employment status. Typologies also help in the construction of a psychological profile of serial and mass murderers.
To prepare for this assignment:
- Review the article “Criminal Profiling from Crime Scene Analysis.” Consider how the stages of the criminal-profile-generating process relate to the classification of a serial killer into a particular typology.
- Review the section titled “Motivations and Types of Serial Murder: The Symposium Model” in the article entitled “Serial Murder: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives for Investigators.” Reflect on how the FBI uses information about the motivation to murder when constructing a murderer’s profile.
- Review Chapter 5 of your course text, Profiling Violent Crimes: An Investigative Tool. Pay attention to the characteristics, such as personality traits, that separate disorganized asocial serial murderers from organized nonsocial serial murderers. This chapter discusses these typologies as they relate to all types of violent criminals. For this class, however, you can apply these typologies to serial and mass murderers.
- Review Chapter 7 of your course text, Profiling Violent Crimes: An Investigative Tool. Focus on the differences between visionary, mission, hedonistic, and power/control serial murderers to understand the behavior of various types of murderers. Also, pay attention to the crime scene elements that help in the evaluation and creation of an accurate profile of a serial murderer.
- Review the interactive media titled Criminal Profiling—Crime Scene Analysis. Focus on the six core steps of the criminal-profile-generating process. Consider the key similarities between the crimes and crime scenes in the interactive media.
- With these similarities in mind, identify the typologies (disorganized or organized; visionary, mission, hedonistic, or power/control) you would use to describe the murderer.
- Based on the typologies you identified, consider specific characteristics you would include in a profile of the murderer.
The assignment (2-3 pages):
- Briefly describe the key similarities between the crimes and crime scenes in the interactive media.
- Based on the similarities you described, explain whether you would use the disorganized asocial offender or the organized nonsocial offender typology to describe the murderer and why.
- Explain whether you would use the visionary, mission, hedonistic, or power/control murderer typology to describe the murderer and why.
- Explain how the typologies you used to describe the murderer can help you construct a profile. In your explanation, briefly describe some of the characteristics you would include in the profile and explain why you would include each.