The FBI’s use of psychological profiling, referred to as behaviour analysis by agents, has both supporters and non-supporters. Despite opinions to the contrary, the FBI’s attempt at ‘delving into the criminal’s mind’ has proven to be successful in helping to catch several notorious killers, including:
- Ted Bundy
One of the most infamous serial killers in the United States, Ted Bundy spent many years mutilating and murdering young women before he was captured in February 1978. At the beginning of the year, two investigators from the FBI created a profile of the perpetrator. He was then added to the country’s top ten most wanted list. The details they used to assess him were based on his abducting and killing methods, known movements and psychology. They further went on to analyse his victim selection and killing pattern. The investigators speculated that the killer would frequent venues, such as campuses, discos and clubs, where there would be the young, beautiful women he targeted. The psychological profile they produced eventually led to Bundy’s capture.
- Andrew Cunanan
During the late 1990s, Cunanan went on a killing spree which ended in the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace. The killer was motivated by the desire to live a luxurious life, and his high level of intelligence initially made it difficult for authorities to stay on his trail. Cunanan abruptly began to murder his male associates, starting a killing spree which lasted three months. The FBI used his personality traits and killing characteristics to pursue him over long distances. The pressure eventually caused Cunanan to commit suicide eight days after his final murder.
- Joseph Paul Franklin
A typical example of what the FBI refer to as escalation, Joseph Franklin began a seemingly random killing spree. His victims had only one common factor, they were not white. Franklin suffered through an abusive childhood, and began to display the violent tendencies of a white supremacist in his youth. Although he joined groups with similar ideas, he believed that their hatred should be displayed more violently. His first attack took place in 1976, and continued escalating for several years. He began to drift across the country, robbing banks and randomly selecting his victims. His high level of mobility made it hard for the FBI to predict his next move but, with the help of criminal profiling, Franklin was finally captured in 1980.
- Edmund Kemper
At 6’9” and weighing over 300 lbs, as well as having a genius IQ of 136, Edmund Kemper proved exceptionally difficult for authorities to capture. He committed his first murders at the age of 15, killing his grandparents, and was institutionalised. In his early 20s, Kemper managed to convince his psychologists that he was no longer a threat to society, and was released into his mother’s care. After murdering six college women, Kemper became known as the ‘Co-Ed Killer.’ His final murders were those of his mother and her friend. The FBI determined the killer had been rejected by women at a young age, and suffered childhood abuse from his mother. After his arrest agents conducted many interviews with Kemper, as they believed his superior intelligence would help give them more insight into the mind of a killer.