Profiling


Lucas occasionally protests that he isn’t a profiler. However, we should discuss the point of a profile before we get into the psychology of why Lucas and Ace don’t think much of profilers. The point of a profile is to narrow down suspects, not catch killers. A profile is an educated guess based on the understanding of killers. Sometimes, a profile is so accurate it’s scary, but sometimes they are so wrong, they completely miss the mark and it’s also scary. I think I mentioned yesterday; that John Douglas’s profile of BTK was so different from Dennis Rader that if it had been used to exclude suspects Rader would have been excluded.

However, Robert Ressler wrote a profile for the Vampire Killer of Sacramento that was so accurate all that needed to be done was Richard Trenton Chase’s name put on the top of it. Ressler even predicted that the killer would be unable to drive a car (therefore walking to the murder scenes) and would be exceptionally skinny.

But Ressler is not the reason Lucas protests he isn’t a profiler. That honor lies with John Douglas. Now, every profiler has misses (Ressler had a famous miss in the mid-1980s that lead him to start interviewing captured serial killers and rapists so profilers could learn more about the criminal brain and therefore make better profiles). Douglas has a strange record for his profiles. It would be Ressler that would eventually bring Douglas, a young profiler into the interviews and making him somewhat famous. unfortunately, Douglas doesn’t learn from his mistakes and he doesn’t seem to learn in general.

BTK is just one of Douglas’s profiles that was way off. And after Rader was captured Douglas hinted in an interview that the lab had done something incorrectly because Rader couldn’t be BTK – I call this the “DNA is wrong, my profile is right” tantrum. (And this is why I don’t watch Mindhunters, well that and I can’t imagine Robert Ressler and Roy Hazelwood are well portrayed given that they are not on speaking terms with Douglas anymore).

Anyway, this hit or miss and questionable profiling tactics is why Robert Ressler was the first person to wonder aloud if Wayne Williams was actually the Atlanta Child Killer. For the record, I consider Robert Ressler the father of the modern profile and modern profiling not John Douglas, although Douglas has taken credit for it many times. But this post isn’t meant to be a bash fest on Douglas (he just makes it easy). It is just impossible to talk about profiling and not mention John Douglas and Robert Ressler and not all of Douglas’s profiles were way off. He did good work on the Green River murders and Aileen Wuornos case.

The point is, a profile can be a helpful tool, but it’s just a tool. Robert Ressler once said a profile is only as good as the suspects the police have in a case.

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