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An Introduction to Crime Scene Reconstruction for the Criminal Profiler

by Daryl W. Clemens

This article originally appeared in the MAFS newsletter, 27(2), April 1998.


Crime Scene Reconstruction- The use of scientific methods, physical evidence, deductive reasoning and their interrelationships to gain explicit knowledge of the series of events that surround the commission of a crime.
-Association for Crime Scene Reconstruction, The Scene, 4(1), Jan 1997, p. 2.

Criminal Profiling- The application of psychological theory to the analysis and reconstruction of the forensic evidence that relates to an offender’s crime scenes, victims and behaviors.
– Turvey, B., “CP101: An Introduction to Criminal Profiling”, Online Course,
http://www.corpus-delicti.com, May 1997.

While both of these activities may appear to be similar and are in fact related, it is important to note that they are not the same. The difference between the two is most easily understood by looking at which questions about the crime they attempt to answer.1,2,3,4 Crime Scene Reconstruction looks at the physical evidence and attempts to determine “What happened?” and “How did it happen?”.5,6 Criminal Profiling looks at the physical evidence and the reconstruction and attempts to determine “Why may this have happened?” and “What does that tell us about Who may have done it?”.7 It is important to keep in mind that only those directly involved in the crime know for sure what happened and why, and they may be unable or unwilling to say. 8,9

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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


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

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