Phases of Profiling
According to Gregg O. McCrary, the basic premise is that behavior reflects personality. In a homicide case, for example, FBI profilers try to collect the personality of the offender through questions about his or her behavior at four phases:
- Antecedent: What fantasy or plan, or both, did the murderer have in place before the act? What triggered the murderer to act some days and not others?
- Method and manner: What type of victim or victims did the murderer select? What was the method and manner of murder: shooting, stabbing, strangulation or something else?
- Body disposal: Did the murder and body disposal take place all at one scene, or multiple scenes?
- Post-offense behavior: Is the murderer trying to inject himself into the investigation by reacting to media reports or contacting investigators?
A sexual crime is analyzed in much the same way (bearing in mind that homicide is sometimes a sexual crime), with the additional information that comes from a living victim. Professor David Canter is the pioneer of scientific offender profiling, developing the discipline of Investigative Psychology as a response to his dissatisfaction with the scientific bases for this activity. The IAIP of which Canter is President now seeks to set professional guidelines for practice and research in this area.
Another phase of criminal profiling (crime scene investigation) is case linkage. According to Brent E. Turvey, case linkage or linking analysis refers to the process of determining whether or not there are discrete connections between two or more previously unrelated cases through crime scene analysis. It involves establishing and comparing the physical evidence, victimology, crime scene characteristics, modus operandi (MO)-organized or disorganized typologies-, and signature behaviors between each of the cases under review. It has two purposes:
- To assist law enforcement with the application of its finite resources by helping to establish where to apply investigative efforts and
- To assist the court in determining whether or not there is sufficient behavioral evidence to suggest a common scheme or plan in order to address forensic issues, such as whether similar crimes may be tried together or whether other crimes may be brought in as evidence.
With respect to behavioral evidence, case linkage efforts have most typically hinged on two concepts:
FBI Method of Profiling
- The process this approach uses to determine offender characteristics involves, first, an assimilation phase where all information available in regard to the crime scene, victim, and witnesses is examined. This may include photographs of the crime scene, autopsy reports, victim profiles, police reports, and witness statements.
- The next phase, the "classification stage", involves integrating the information collected into a framework which essentially classifies the murderer as "organized" or "disorganized". Organized murderers are thought to have advanced social skills, plan their crimes, display control over the victim using social skills, leave little forensic evidence or clues, and often engage in sexual acts with the victim before the murder. In contrast, the disorganized offender is described as impulsive, with few social skills, such that his/her murders are opportunistic and crime scenes suggest frenzied, haphazard behavior and a lack of planning or attempts to avoid detection. They might engage in sexual acts after the murder, because they lack knowledge of normal sexual behavior.
- Following the classification stage profilers attempt to reconstruct the behavioral sequence of the crime, in particular, attempting to reconstruct the offender's modus operandi or method of committing the crime.
- Profilers also examine closely the offender's “signature” which is identifiable from the crime scene and is more idiosyncratic than the modus operandi—the signature is what the offender does to satisfy his psychological needs in committing the crime.
- From further consideration of the modus operandi, the offender's signature at the crime scene, and also an inspection for the presence of any staging of the crime, the profiler moves on to generate a profile. This profile may contain detailed information regarding the offender's demographic characteristics, family characteristics, military background, education, personality characteristics, and it may also suggest appropriate interview techniques.