Every crime casts a unique shadow that may be interpreted to lead the police to the criminal responsible. This book looks at offender profiling that helps the police to identify and track individual criminals by the nature of their crime.
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David Canter, Professor of Psychology at the University of Liverpool, England, is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and a chartered Forensic Psychologist. Dr. Canter is the winner of the Golden Dagger Award for Crime nonfiction and the Anthony Award for Best True Crime.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
A BETTER NET
In July 1980 the body of an eight-year-old girl was found by the roadside in Staffordshire, 164 miles from where she had been abducted. For eleven years a coordinated search by six police forces was unable to find the man who had killed her. During that time two more young girls were murdered by the same man, and at least two others were abducted by him, escaping alive. Investigators were stumped-as they often are, and admitted little hope of ever catching him, until a suspicious neighbor tipped police.
The search for the child's murderer highlights the problem of finding a criminal when there is no known connection between him and his victim. Though modern police forces can fill rooms with details of possible suspects, they are faced with the enormous task of finding the one deadly needle in their haystack of paper.
Is there an alternative to waiting for a criminal to make a mistake? Can huge resources and fast computers avoid the need for the killer to "reveal his hand", as in the 1980 case, when the killer doubled back unaware that he had been noticed? Must investigators hope for "good luck", for an alert neighbour who happens to be in his garden at the right time? Must detectives rely on glimpses caught by witnesses, known modus operandi of convicted villains and house-to-house trawls to snag possible suspects?
Despite the use of a specially-dedicated, vast computer system containing details of thousands of suspects, a solitary, middle-aged man, named Robert Black, who had first been convicted of assaults on children a quarter of a century earlier at the age of sixteen, completely eluded police inves-tigators as the serial murderer. Until his fortuitous capture in September 1991, countrywide searches had failed even to include his name as one of the 185,000 people whose details had been amassed.
Senior police officers leading the investigation privately admitted that they were likely to catch him only if he "showed his hand" again. This euphemism proved accurate. A village shopkeeper, working in his garden on a hot summer's day, saw a six-year-old girl being forced into a van. He called the police who stopped the van when it returned through the village. The girl's father was the police officer who opened the van doors to find his terror-stricken daughter inside, bound in a sleeping bag, almost suffocated.
Subsequent inquiries led to Black's arrest and conviction for the murder of three young girls as well as the abduction of a fourth.
It is now possible to bring all this intensive activity and high technology into sharper focus by studying the way a criminal embraces the crime, and how he chooses to commit it.
A criminal indicates something about himself from the way he acts; something that will help sift the possible sus-pects or even point to places where a likely suspect may be found
To implement new ways of focusing police inves-tigations, we must find the answer to a fundamental question: specifically what does a criminal reveal about himself by the way he commits a crime?
A criminal may divulge what shoes he wore from his footprints. His blood type can be determined from any body fluids left at the scene. But he leaves more at the crime scene than these material traces. He also leaves psychological traces, telltale patterns of behavior that indicate the sort of person he is. These traces are more ambiguous and subtle than those examined by the biologist or physicist. They cannot be taken into a laboratory and dissected under a microscope. They are more like shadows, undoubtedly connected to the criminal who cast them, but they flicker and change, and their origins may not always be obvious. Yet, if they can be interpreted, criminals' shadows can indicate where investigators should look and what sort of person they should look for.
Changes in the law, and the growing pressures on police forces around the world mean that they are increasingly in need of such help. The lone detective, so popular in fiction, has given way to organized teams that require systematic guidance. Senior police officers are seizing applied scientific psychology as a way out of this impasse.
Enormous strides have been made in analyzing material clues, while the interpretation of psychological shadows has made only a few faltering first steps. This book is an account of my involvement, as a psychologist, in a number of police investigations in which I took some of those steps.
Pioneers in Profiling
In trying to interpret criminals' shadows, I follow many other footsteps. People throughout the ages have expressed views about how to identify a criminal in a crowd. Shakespeare, for example, has Julius Caesar making what later proves to be an accurate prediction.
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights.
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.
The idea that thoughtful, lean and hungry-looking men were potential criminals, or that certain physiognomy or physique are typical of murderers or thieves is steeped in generalized, untested notions about characteristics that are typical of many different types of people. Similar stereotypes exist today in racial prejudice that assumes certain actions are typical of people with a particular skin color. The blossoming of biology, medicine and psychology in the last century challenged such superficial views that a person's appearance could be correlated in any way with expected behaviors. In particular, medicine had shown that madness and evil could be seen as illnesses, rather than the result of witchcraft and demon-possession.
After Daniel M'Naghten was acquitted of murder "by reason of insanity" in 1843, physicians became more in-volved in the legal process, especially in determining whether the accused suffered from "mental illness" produced by brain dysfunction.
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1995. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110006383947
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1995. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0006383947
Book Description Harpercollins, 1995. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0006383947