Criminal profiling: The forensics that links a crime scene behavior to a suspect

By Avril Eyewu-Edero

Between July and September 2019, there were over 9 bodies of young women found bound with a white handkerchief around their neck, hands, and legs in low budget hotels in Port Harcourt.

When the alleged killer was found, he confessed to killing at least 15 women. According to reports, the alleged serial killer stated that he had ‘an irresistible urge to kill”, saying he would drive around the street to scout for specific types of women, take them to the hotel, eat, turn up the volume of the television and use strips of clothes from the pillowcases to tie them before strangling them, then leave the hotel. This is the typical behavior of an organized criminal and a psychopath.

If you don’t know what you are searching for, it makes finding it almost impossible. Criminal profiling involves looking at the crime/incident scene evidence such as mode of crime commission, weapons used, etc and using that deduction to determine the type of individual who committed the crime.

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This helps to narrow down the suspect pool during the investigation, making the job of the investigator easier. The criminal profiler focuses on the psychological, behavioral and demographical profile of the likely suspect who has committed the crime.

A criminal profiler usually looks at the crime scene evidence, autopsy report, victim and likely pre and post crime behavior of the offender to find out what did the killer do to the victim during the crime event, how the killer gained access to the victim, any intention to cover up his/her tracks at the crime scene, what attracted the killer to the victim and what motive or fantasy propelled the killer to harm the victim in the particular manner, time and location.

There are three main types of offender categories that the criminal profiler would usually make deductions from Organized, disorganized and mixed offenders.

For the organized typology, the offender usually use a sophisticated approach with his/her victim, there is a high level of planning involved before the crime commission, the offender is usually intelligent, could be gainfully employed, involved in an active social relationship with relatives, spouse, religious places, maintain control to avoid being impulsive, usually prepare and rehearse before the crime, target specific types of the victim, usually use control measures to restraint victim, usually carries tools to use for the crime commission to the crime scene, takes care not to leave evidence behind, usually hide the corpse of the victim.

The organized typology usually live alone or with a relative, have lower than average intelligence, could be unemployed or work at menial jobs, often mentally ill, act impulsively and have little control over fantasy driven needs, attacks are often sudden violence, leaves the crime scene messy and chaotic, doesn’t plan their crime ahead, so would use any weapon or object found around to attack the victim, corpse of the victim usually left abandoned, little effort with leaving evidence at the crime scene, some have sexual contact after victim is killed

The mixed typology shows evidence of planning and sophistication but the assault on the victim may be frenzied and the crime scene may be left messy and sloppy.

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Criminal profiling assessment is carried out by evaluating the basic information of the offender such as race, age, sex, employment status and marital status. Then the psychological evaluation of their belongings such as possessions which may link an offender to a crime scene such as photos, crime scene trophy and specific interviewing strategies developed for particular offenders.

To conduct the profile, the investigator creates a profile in the absence of physical evidence and descriptors from the eyewitnesses or as supplementary evidence, then all that is known about an unknown suspect is collected including actions taken at the crime scene in addition to the descriptors to generate more information. For example in the case of the serial killing of prostitute, profilers would likely deduce that the killer is a person that patronize the red light district. All the information gathered would be used to make a calculated guess.

Criminal profiling helps the police investigators begin an investigation when the suspect is unknown. This way they can put out a BE ON THE LOOK OUT other for a likely suspect.

Criminal profiling is an interesting aspect of forensic investigation and can effectively help the Nigerian police force in the apprehension of suspects.


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