Catching a Criminal: Psychological Profiling

When a killer is on the loose, experts typically create a psychological profile (also known as offender profiling) that highlights certain features that a criminal may exhibit. The details of their murders, especially if they are a serial killer reveals a great deal. From the profile, a detective can narrow down the approximate age, background and habits. This can help track down the murderer based on a portrait of the criminal that has been developed from the information of the crime scene(s).

There are basically three main goals associated with criminal profiling. Firstly, law enforcement wishes to get a social and psychological assessment of an offender. Next, they want to gain insight on the psychological evaluation of belongings found in the possession of an offender. Lastly, criminal profiling can help establish a strategy that can prove beneficial during the interviewing process. In modern times, profiling an offender is linked with investigative science. In conjunction with the study of clues and study of the crimes, the psyche of the criminal is a rather significant part of an investigation.

Profilers will analyze the nature of an offense and the manner in which it was committed to identify a perpetrator in a crime. Elements of a criminal’s personality influences the choices they make before, during, and after a crime is committed. Profilers will use this information in combination with other relevant details and physical evidence. They will start to compare the characteristics of known personality types and mental abnormalities to create a working description of the kind of offender they should be zeroing in on.

The mental, emotional and personality factors associated with a suspect can shed light on who is capable of committing a certain crime. For example, a psychiatrist with a background in exploring the criminal mind was able to predict the age range and sexual psychopathy of serial murderer Ted Bundy. He also assessed that he possessed intellect that was greater than the average man.
An in-depth psychological profiling was conducted on the Green River Killer, who turned out to be Gary Leon Ridgway. Before Ridgway was caught, an investigator that worked for the FBI created a 12-page profile on the possible killer. Some of the key points made in the report included that the killer was most likely a white male who had a dysfunctional relationship with women. The killer was probably organized because he tried to hide the bodies while appearing to have spent some time at the river. He was a cunning fellow because he used rocks to weigh down the victims in the water as a method of hiding the bodies. He was highly mobile with access to a vehicle. He was definitely going to kill again, and just like other serial killers , he was would probably contact the police with a desire to help in the investigations.

The profile that was created for Ridgway included characteristics that did not apply to him. The profiler suggested that the killer was an outdoorsman and was incapable of being close to other people. However, Ridgway was not the outdoorsy type despite visiting Green River with one of his wives on occasion. He also had a very close relationship with his last wife, which meant that he was capable of getting close to another.