Criminal Profiling: Part 1 History and Method
Where Profiling Works Best
Profiles work best when the offender displays obvious psychopathology, such as sadistic torture, postmortem mutilation, or pedophilia. Some killers leave a signaturea behavioral manifestation of an individualizing personality quirk, such as positioning the corpse for humiliating exposure, postmortem biting, or tying ligatures with a complicated knot. This helps to link crime scenes and may point toward other types of behaviors to look for.
The best profilers have gained their knowledge from experience with criminals and have developed an intuitive sense about certain types of crime. Their knowledge base is developed from both physical and nonphysical evidence. Generally, profilers employ psychological theories that provide ways to detect mental deficiency such as delusions, spot imprints from hostility, recognize criminal thought patterns, and predict the right character defects. They also need to know about actuarial data such as the age range into which offenders generally fall and how important an unstable family history is to criminality. Much of that information came from actual cases, such as the following.