Although typologies are widely used to create accurate profiles of violent offenders, especially serial and mass murderers, they usually do not lead to the immediate apprehension of a murderer. In fact in some cases, the use of typologies can lead to inaccurate profiles that can impede the identification and apprehension of a murderer. For example, many profilers incorrectly identified the D.C. Snipers as white males. Only after they were apprehended was it obvious that the vast majority of criminal profilers were wrong. The number of innocent lives that could have been saved had the race of the D.C. Snipers been correctly identified is unknown. Despite limitations, typologies are extremely useful to criminal profilers in attempting to create profiles of serial and mass murderers. Without typologies, profilers would be “shooting in the dark” when trying to identify the characteristics of murderers.
To prepare for this Discussion:
- Reflect on the typologies you used in your Application this week.
- Review Scientific American’s “5 Myths about Serial Killers and Why They Persist [Excerpt]”
- Review the article “Serial Murder in America: Case Studies of Seven Offenders.” Reflect on the key limitations and criticisms of profiling serial murderers.
- Review Chapter 7 of your course text, Profiling Violent Crimes: An Investigative Tool. Pay attention to the strengths and the shortcomings associated with profiling serial murderers.
- Based on what you learned about profiling this week, identify at least one strength and one limitation of profiling to detect and apprehend serial and mass murderers.