Monthly Archives: January 2013

Violent Crime Scene Analysis: Modus Operandi, Signature, and Staging

By John E. Douglas, Ed.D. Special Agent
Chief of the Investigative Support Unit FBI Academy

and

Corinne Munn
Served as Honors Intern FBI Academy

This Article Originally Appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, February 1992.

Most crime scenes tell a story. And like most stories, crime scenes have
characters, a plot, a beginning, a middle, and hopefully, a conclusion. However,
in contrast to authors who lead their readers to a predetermined ending,
the final disposition of a crime scene depends on the investigators assigned
to the case. The investigators’ abilities to analyze the crime scene and
to determine the who, what, how, and why govern how the crime scene story
unfolds.

To ensure a satisfactory ending, that is, the apprehension and prosecution
of the violent crime offender, investigators must realize that the outcome
depends on their insight into the dynamics of human behavior. Speech patterns,
writing styles, verbal and nonverbal gestures, and other traits and patterns
give shape to human behavior. These individual characteristics work in concert
to cause each person to act, react, function, or perform in a unique and
specific way. This individualistic behavior usually remains consistent,
regardless of the activity being performed. Continue reading

The Criminal Sexual Sadist

By Robert R. Hazelwood, M.S.
Special Agent
National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime
FBI Academy
Quantico, Virginia

and

Park Elliott Dietz, M.D.,
Forensic Psychiatrist Newport Beach, California
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry
and Biobehavioral Sciences
University of California at Los Angeles

and

Janet Warren, D.S.W.
Assistant Professor
Institute of Law Psychiatry and Public Policy
University
of Virginia Charlottesville, Virginia

This Article Originally Appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin,
February 1992.

Any investigator who has taken a statement from a tortured victim or who
has worked the crime scene of a sexually sadistic homicide will never forget
the experience. Human cruelty reveals itself in many kinds of offenses, but
seldom more starkly than in the crimes of sexual sadists.

This article describes the more commonly encountered actions of sexual sadists
and differentiates sexual sadism from other cruel acts. It also describes
the common characteristics of sexually sadistic crimes and offers investigators
suggestions that they should follow when confronted with the crimes of the
sexually sadistic offender. Continue reading

Case Study: Conviction Through Enhanced Fingerprint Identification

This article originally appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, December 1992.

In March 1990, an unknown assailant sexually molested and fatally stabbed a young woman. At the crime scene, an investigator discovered few leads. The only evidence was a pillowcase, found adjacent to the victim’s body, that exhibited several bloodstains. One stain showed some faint fingerprint ridge detail, barely visible even to the trained eye. Continue reading

Successful Interviewing

By James R. Ryals, Commander

Long Beach, California, Police Department

This article originally appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, March 1991.

Interviewing is one form of communication used extensively by law enforcement. Whether used to screen applicants, to elicit information from a witness to a crime, or to obtain a confession, a good interview can have a significant impact on the organization. However, if conducted improperly, the interview may be rendered worthless or can result in serious negative consequences for all involved.

There are certain guidelines to follow when conducting an interview. By adhering to the following basic rules, the interviewer can reduce many of the problems that might arise because of a faulty interview. Continue reading

Why Suspects Confess

By David D. Tousignant, M.A.

Inspector Lowell, Massachusetts, Police Department

This article originally appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, March 1991.

Many criminal cases, even when investigated by the most experienced and best qualified investigators, are ultimately solved by an admission or confession from the person responsible for committing the crime. Often times, investigators are able to secure only a minimal amount of evidence, be it physical or circumstantial, that points directly to a suspect, and in many instances,this evidence is not considered strong enough by prosecutors to obtain a conviction. In such cases, the interrogation of the suspects and their subsequent confessions are of prime importance.

This article addresses the question of why suspects speak freely to investigators, and ultimately, sign full confessions. The physical and psychological aspects of confession and how they relate to successful interrogations of suspects are also discussed, as is the “breakthrough,” the point in the interrogation when suspects make an admission, no matter how minuscule, that begins the process of obtaining a full confession. Continue reading

Child Abuse: Munchausen’s Syndrome By Proxy

By Kathryn A. Hanon

Investigator Orlando, Florida, Police Department

This article originally appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, December 1991.

The range of investigations for modern day law enforcement officers is unparalleled in the history of criminology. Investigators must use innovative techniques in order to solve today’s more sophisticated, bizarre criminal acts.

For example, cases of an obscure form of child abuse–Munchhausen’s┬áSyndrome by Proxy (MSBP)-are being seen more and more frequently. MSBP is a form of child abuse that involves long-term physical abuse, usually by a parent.

However, in order to conduct MSBP investigations effectively, it is necessary to understand the complexity of the disorder and the unorthodox investigative procedures that may be necessary to prosecute the case successfully. This article discusses the disorder and how officers should approach the investigation of this crime. Continue reading

Serological Evidence in Sexual Assault Investigations

By Robert R.J. Grispino, M.A.
Special Agent Serology Unit, Laboratory Division FBI Headquarters

This Article Originally Appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, October 1990.

NOTE: The following article presents a purely scientific approach to sexual assault evidence collection. The scientific step-by-step procedures that are explained here should always be accompanied by supportive treatment of the victim. It should also be noted that the investigating officer will be responsible for both overseeing the execution of the medical procedures described and managing the collection of the physical evidence.

Police officers throughout the United States routinely handle and oversee sexual assault investigations. Yet, these officers rarely receive training on the proper methods to be used for sexual assault evidence collection and preservation. As a result, valuable physical evidence may either be overlooked or inadvertently allowed to deteriorate biologically. This article establishes proper evidence collection and preservation protocol in sexual assault matters and demonstrates how modern forensic serology can aid in the eventual successful prosecution of the assailant. Continue reading

The Criminal Behavior of the Serial Rapist

By Robert R. Hazelwood, M.S.
Special Agent Behavioral Science Instruction/Research Unit Quantico, VA
and
Janet Warren, D.S.W.
Institute of Psychiatry and Law University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA

This Article Originally Appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, February 1990.

From 1984 to 1986, FBI Special Agents assigned to the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) interviewed 41 men who were responsible for raping 837 victims. Previous issues of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin provided an introduction to this research1 and the characteristics of the rapists and their victims.2 This article, however, describes the behavior of these serial rapists during and following the commission of their sexual assaults. The information presented is applicable only to the men interviewed; it is not intended to be generalized to all men who rape.

Premeditation

The majority of the sexual attacks (55-61%) committed by these men were premeditated across their first, middle, and last rapes, while fewer rapists reported their crimes as being impulsive (15-22%) or opportunistic (22-24%).Although no comparable data on serial rape are available, it is probable that the premeditation involved in these crimes is particularly characteristic of these serial rapists. It is also probable that this premeditation is reflective of their preferential interest in this type of crime and largely accounts for their ability to avoid detection. Continue reading