Week 4: Profiling and Victims
One of the most horrific nightmares that can haunt a person is the visualization of being a victim of a serial murderer. Most serial murderers kill numerous people before they are tracked down and apprehended. Although this trail of murderous rampage produces a considerable amount of fear in the public, it also provides criminal profilers with the opportunity to retrieve evidence from multiple crime scenes. Some of the most useful information to criminal profilers comes from the victim. Until relatively recently, however, the role of the victim in criminal profiling was overlooked, but now the victim is often at the center of criminal profiling. This week, you examine the vulnerability of victims of serial murderers. You also explore how characteristics of victims and information from crime scenes are used to create profiles.
Evaluate the vulnerability of victim populations of serial and mass murderers
Analyze the characteristics of victim populations and crime scene evidence as they relate to profiling serial and mass murderers
Identify and apply the characteristics of victim populations as they relate to profiling serial and mass murderers
Profiling Violent Crimes: An Investigative Tool
Chapter 13, “Jack the Ripper: A Case for Psychological Profiling”
Chapter 15, “The Victim in Criminal Profiling”
Discussion: Victim Vulnerability
Contrary to a popular belief that serial murderers secretly want to be apprehended, most go to great lengths to avoid detection. One way they try to evade identification and arrest is by choosing victims who are unlikely to ward off attacks and thus report incriminating information about them to law enforcement. In addition, serial murderers often victimize populations who are on the fringes of mainstream society. Victims from these populations are unlikely to generate as much police effort as victims from conventional society and are likely to be missing for a lengthy period before someone reports their disappearance. In contrast, the victims of mass murderers are chosen in a much more random fashion and can be considered as having been “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Using victims to profile murderers therefore is usually limited to serial, not mass, murderers.
To prepare for this Discussion:
Review Chapter 15 of your course text, Profiling Violent Crimes: An Investigative Tool. Reflect on victim characteristics, such as physical traits and marital status, frequently used in the profiling process. Consider how these characteristics would be useful in identifying populations vulnerable to serial or mass murder.
Review the article “Serial Killers: Offender’s Relationship to the Victim and Selected Demographics.” Pay attention to the relationships between serial murderers and victims.
Review the article “Serial Sexual Murderers and Prostitutes as Their Victims: Difficulty Profiling Perpetrators and Victim Vulnerability as Illustrated by the Green River Case.” Reflect on why prostitutes are frequent targets of serial murderers.
With these thoughts in mind:
Post a brief description of a population you think would be vulnerable to serial or mass murder and explain why. Be sure to include brief descriptions of the characteristics that make the population vulnerable. Be specific and use examples to support your explanation.
Note: Choose a population other than prostitutes. Include the name of the population you selected in the first line of your post. You will be asked to respond to a colleague who discussed a different population than the one that you did.
Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.
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