look through cases where the criminals had been arrested. I listed how old [the perpetrators] were, whether they were male or female, their level of education. Did they come from broken families? Did they have school behavioral problems? I listed as many factors as I could come up with, and then I added them up to see which were the most common." In 1974, the FBI formed its Behavioral Science Unit to investigate serial rape and homicide cases. From 1976 to 1979, several FBI agents--most famously John Douglas and Robert Ressler--interviewed 36 serial murderers to develop theories and categories of different types of offenders. Most notably, they developed the idea of the "organized/disorganized dichotomy": Organized crimes are premeditated and carefully planned, so little evidence is found at the scene. Organized criminals, according to the classification scheme, are antisocial but know right from wrong, are not insane and show no remorse. Disorganized crimes, in contrast, are not planned, and criminals leave such evidence as fingerprints and blood. Disorganized criminals may be young, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or mentally ill. Over the past quarter-century, the Behavioral Science Unit has further developed the FBI's profiling process--including refining the organized/disorganized dichotomy into a continuum and developing other classification schemes. "The basic premise is that behavior reflects personality," explains retired FBI agent Gregg McCrary. In a homicide case, for example, FBI agents glean insight into personality through questions about the murderer's behavior at four crime phases:
Antecedent: What fantasy or plan, or both, did the murderer have in place before the act? What triggered the murderer to act some days and not others? Method and manner: What type of victim or victims did the murderer select? What was the method and manner of murder: shooting, stabbing, strangulation or something else? Body disposal: Did the murder and body disposal take place all at one scene, or multiple scenes? Postoffense behavior: Is the murderer trying to inject himself into the investigation by reacting to media reports or contacting investigators? A rape case is analyzed in much the same way, but with the additional information that comes from a living victim. Everything about the crime, from the sexual acts the rapist forces on the victim to the order in which they're performed, offers a clue about the perpetrator, McCrary says. Psychology's contributions Although the FBI approach has gained public attention, some psychologists have questioned its scientific solidity. Ressler, Douglas and the other FBI agents were not psychologists, and some psychologists who looked at their work found methodological flaws. Former FBI agent McCrary agrees that some of the FBI's early research was rough: "Early on it was just a bunch of us [FBI agents] basing our work on our investigative experience," he says, "and hopefully being right more than we were wrong." McCrary says he believes that they were right more than wrong, though, and emphasizes that FBI methods have improved since then. In the meantime,
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