aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Inside the mind of a serial offender

Richard Helms, a forensic psychologist, spoke at the Writers Police Academy about profiling the serial offender.

One interesting head game he played when interviewing a serial offender (he specialized in serial sex offenders, but they act similar to serial killers) was to come in with a clipboard holding an inch of paper. But only the top 10 pages had writing on them. Occasionally, he would flip through it while making "Hm" noises, so the offender would think he already had his life story.

He felt that being a forensic psychologist was very much like being an insurance actuary. Only instead of assessing whether someone was at high, medium, or low risk for dying, it was for offending.

One scary thought: “The people we have to study are the people who have been caught.”

Some of the things he looked at:
- the offense
- the crime scene
- time and date
- manner of attacks
- weapons used
- motive
- trademarks or peculiarities
- clothing
- vehicles used
- victim - family, police records, profession, economic circumstances, associates.
- reports - other criminal profile reports, autopsy report, responding officer’s documentation.

“A single offender is capable of multiple motives, even during a single offense. The reason he killed the first time may not be the reason he kills this time.”

“When we think we have all the answers, we might collect only the evidence that fits.”

“Every serial offender I have evaluated has had OCD.”

Cycle of offending
0. Not offending
1. trigger event
2. emotional response (anger, anxiety, fear)
3. emotion intensifies
4. displacement of anger: fantasies of retribution
5. selection of victim (almost never the source of trigger event)
6. make a plan of assault
decision to offend (last chance to back out)
9. feeling of relief
10. reality returns (I could get in trouble/I did something bad)
11. make a plan to not reoffend (I’ll never ever ever do that that again!)

Suggested for further reading: The Anatomy of Motive : The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Explores the Key to Understanding and Catching Violent Criminals, and Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit

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