Victim Characteristics and Pr

Until relatively recently, victims of serial and mass murderers were not viewed as a significant source of information about the perpetrator. However, with the emergence of “victimology”—that is, the study of crime victims – law enforcement and criminal profilers have realized the importance of victim characteristics in creating an accurate profile. Observable physical features, such as a victim’s age, race, and gender, are associated with characteristics of the serial or mass murderer. For example, most serial murderers choose victims of the same race. Unobservable details about the victim gathered through intense investigative techniques also can help criminal profilers learn a lot about the serial murderer. For instance, knowing the victim’s occupation, lifestyle, habits, and educational background can provide insight into the psyche of the serial murderer.

The characteristics of the victim not only are useful in creating a profile of the serial murderer, but they also help explain the way in which the murder was carried out. If the victims were sexually assaulted and mutilated, it indicates that the serial murderer is motivated by sexual fantasies of power and control. Careful investigative techniques and adequate processing of the evidence obtained from the victim’s body and the crime scene can provide useful information to profilers as they begin to develop a complete criminal profile of the serial murderer.

To prepare for this assignment:

  • Review the article “Serial Sexual Murderers and Prostitutes as Their Victims: Difficulty Profiling Perpetrators and Victim Vulnerability as Illustrated by the Green River Case.” Consider how the victims’ characteristics and details from the crime scenes in the Green River case helped in the creation of the profile.
  • Review the article “Serial Killers: Offender’s Relationship to the Victim and Selected Demographics.” Consider how different characteristics of victims, such as gender and race, provide specific information about serial murderers. Also, reflect on how victims’ characteristics may help in creating a profile of the serial or mass murderer.
  • Review Chapter 13 of your course text, Profiling Violent Crimes: An Investigative Tool. Focus on the victim populations targeted by Jack the Ripper. Pay attention to the victims’ characteristics, the manner in which they were murdered, and how their bodies were mutilated and disposed of. Also, consider what you would glean about Jack the Ripper based on this information.

The assignment (2-3 pages):

  • Identify the victim populations that Jack the Ripper targeted.
  • Explain what information you would glean about Jack the Ripper based on the characteristics of victim populations he targeted. Be specific.
  • Briefly describe the similarities among the crime scenes in terms of the way in which Jack the Ripper mutilated and disposed of the victims’ bodies.
  • Explain what information you would gather about Jack the Ripper based on the similarities in how he mutilated and disposed of the victims’ bodies. Be specific.

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