The history of criminal profiling goes back to the first profiling study of Jack the Ripper in the 1880s. But I don’t think mentioning the history of profiling is enough to understand it. Therefore, in my article I will talk about the conditions that led to the emergence of profiling and leave the research of history to our esteemed readers. So I intend to give you readers a better insight into profiling.
Criminal profiling is a tool used to illuminate crimes which the perpetrator is unknown. But it is not wrong if we say that the concept of “serial crime” has a separate significance in the appearance of profiling. Actions today referred to as “serial kills/rapes/arson” have a different meaning than the same crime being committed repeatedly by the same perpetrator. For example, Sawney Bean and his family, who lived in a cave in the 1600s and ate more than a thousand people, are not called serial murders.  According to this definition, a hit man who committed murder for money may not be described as a serial killer.
Although the term “serial” can be used for multiple crimes, let’s continue with the murder example. The biggest thing that distinguishes a serial murder from a series of murders committed by the same perpetrator is that the killer is committed for psychological satisfaction. So unlike a hit man, motivation is not caused by external factors, but by internal impulses. You can see our article on the psychological processes of serial killers: https://cyberstruggle.org/serial-killers-7-psychological-phases-and-cyber-world/
Psychological factors that have a major role in the commitment of serial killings also make it difficult to solve such crimes. That’s because the killer apparently committed these murders for no reason. On the other hand, the motifs that can only be associated with the psychological characteristics of the perpetrator makes the case inextricably hard to solve. Serial killers, like drug addicts, who experience withdrawal crises, perform rituals on their victims to satisfy their addiction. I’m guessing that when there’s no systematic work on serial killers, criminologists had a hard time making sense of these behaviors.
Profiling is based on an assumption called the A-C equation; “In serial crimes, the behavior of the perpetrator when committing the crime is mainly due to the characteristics of the perpetrator.” And based on this, it tries to make an opinion about the characteristics of the perpetrator. The main objectives of criminal profiling works are as follows;
- Associating unsolved crimes committed by the same perpetrator but insufficient evidence.
- Acceleration of investigation by narrowing the circle of potential criminals.
- Estimation of the next step of the perpetrator.
- The psychological profile of the perpetrator in order to create the correct interrogation strategy.
- Advice on what to focus on in the investigation.
Different Approaches in Profiling
As with every discipline, there are different approaches to criminal profiling. Before we move on to processes and methods, I’d like to talk about two different trends that dominate this area.
This approach, also called FBI profiling, is fundamentally similar to traditional detective methods. Process begins with an investigator examining the scene and the victim then carrying out ideas about how the incident occurred, interaction of the perpetrator with the victim, the perpetrator’s behavior at the scene and the possible intention of the perpetrator. Then he interprets them relying on his past experience and produce a perpetrator profile. As you can see this approach is highly subjective, and the extent to which it will work depends entirely on the experience of the police conducting the investigation. Therefore, this approach is criticized by the surrounding circles for not using scientific methods and is called “hand procedure, art”. Although its benefit is so controversial, some academic studies claim that this approach is more successful in certain situations, as we will talk later in the article.
This approach, which is set out with positivist thinking, takes advantage of entirely scientific methods when profiling. The main focus of this approach is to produce generalizations and theories to classify criminals and to be used in profiling studies. They benefit from many different disciplines, mainly psychology, medicine and statistics.
We can divide the actions (Actions) that a serial offender can perform at the scene into three different classes;
- Typical ones: typical things seen in most of the same kind of crimes.
- Modus Operandi: The way he performs the crime. It consists of actions performed due to its operational benefit. For example: to knock the victim out before kidnapping, tie him with a pig tie, etc.
- Signature: Actions that do not serve the purpose, performed solely for the purpose of emotional satisfaction. For example: torturing the victim before killing, taking parts of the victims he killed, etc.
The behaviors that will allow us to identify the perpetrator are M.O. and signature behaviors. From this context, we can summarize the profiling process in five steps.
The first thing a profiler will do is examine the case and compare it with similar crimes in the past, and put together what might have been committed by the same perpetrator. In doing so, profiler can benefit information about the victim’s history and life, forensic findings, location and time of the crime, eyewitness statements, and even aerial photographs of the crime scene
The profiler, who now has a series of cases, dismisses the kind of behavior that we just refer to as “typical” at this stage. The rest are the peculiarities of each case. The profiler now begins to look for behavioral patterns, common points in them. Then he has to decide which of these behavioral patterns are M.O., and which are signature behavior.
In this step, the profiler tries to get to know the perpetrator by taking advantage of the distinctive features of the event. This is the stage in which the perpetrator is profiled about physical characteristics, profession, lifestyle, psychological condition. In addition, the profiler gives advice on where to focus on the investigation, how to approach the perpetrator and how to get a confession. If you have not read it yet, please read the section “KILLER CHANGES ACCORDING TO PROFILERS” in the article of Mrs. Atasoy.  (Translated version is below)
In the garden, imagine a two-story house. No strain on the doors. A staircase against the open window on the second floor. Where the ladder reaches, there is a bedroom. The light’s on. No mess. The body of a naked young man on the bed. His guts are spilled out. A knife on the carpet, near the open window. In the kitchen downstairs, there are other knives that carry the same brand as this knife. Now let’s assume a police officer entered this place with the FBI’s profiling training. He will immediately say that the killer is not “tidy,” but “messy.” Because he didn’t commit the murder according to a premeditated plan, didn’t bring the weapon from the outside, didn’t take it away and left it at home. In the FBI classification, a messy killer has low intelligence and training, he didn’t threaten his victim before, but he killed him because he had the opportunity. If a person who has undergone Professor David Canter’s “investigative psychology” training, the way he assesses what he sees is going to be different. He will have a scale based on hundreds of preliminary solved murders, and our expert will put the killer in one of the five classes on this scale, based on the characteristics of the crime scene. For example, “staircase to the window, so the victim and the killer don’t know each other.” A forensic profiler like Brent Turvey, who has been educated in forensic sciences, is going to calculate how much the feet of the staircase against the window should be buried in the ground as a result of a man weighing 60 to 70 pounds climbing it. If the depth of the pit is lesser than his calculations, he will think that the killer entered through the street door, put the ladder to the window to deceive the police, so he will conclude that the killer and the victim knew each other. That’s what criminal profiling is like. It is an area that has attracted hundreds of enthusiasts over the years and even offers certification programs over the Internet. It made many novel authors, screenwriters and directors rich, but in real life, the number of serial killers caught based only on profiling does not exceed the fingers of one hand. – Prof. Dr. Sevil Atasoy
At this stage, the profiler makes estimates about the location of the perpetrator, based on the time and place where the cases occurred. This stage is also called geospatial profiling.
Finally, the profiler tries to predict the next step of the perpetrator. Searching for answers to questions such as; “Who could be the next victim?” “When and how will the perpetrator approach his victim?”.
Although there are different approaches to profiling, the reasoning methods behind them all are common. Therefore, I think it is necessary to examine them as well.
Inductive Reasoning is a kind of reasoning that goes from special to general proposition. Its use in profiling is the creation of generalizations about criminals as a result of the study of individual cases. The scale used by a profiler who has been trained in “investigative psychology” mentioned in the article of Mrs. Atasoy was obtained by this method. The “FBI classification” mentioned in the same example is another example of generalizations obtained by this way. There are two types of inductive reasoning; formal and incomplete induction. Inherently the majority of criminal classifications were obtained by using incomplete induction.
It’s a kind of reasoning that goes from general to special proposition. Its use in profiling is the application of defined generalizations to specific cases. Let’s continue from the same example, according to the FBI classification, a disorganized killer has low intelligence and training. The murder in the sample is also considered to be scattered, so the perpetrator of this murder must have a low level of intelligence and education.
It is important to note about this type of reasoning that generalizations obtained by incomplete inductions are not true for every situation, although it is based on solid foundations. The person who profiled should also consider the possibility that the generalizations he utilized when using this method will not be correct, and he must think about alternative possibilities if generalizations comes out to be incorrect.
Abductive (Hypothetical) Reasoning
In this type of reasoning, there are some possibilities with cause-effect relationships established based on premise propositions. We can say that this is basically trying to guess “What’s going on?”. Those conclusions in the article of Mrs. Atasoy; “staircase to the window – > so the victim and the killer don’t know each other” and “didn’t bring the gun from the outside – > a scattered killer” are examples of this kind of reasoning. If you pay attention, the premise proposition in both examples is based on a number of assumptions. We see it is assumed that the killer climbed the stairs into the house and took the gun from the house. The profiler should test the assumptions he’s based on when he comes to a judgment if he can. For example, in the same scenario, one of the profilers measured the depth of the pit, and then discovered that the ladder was put there to deceive the police, is a good example of a test of assumptions. Even after the assumptions have been tested, the judgments may not be correct. Therefore, other possible alternatives should be considered.
The main criticism to criminal profiling is that profiling is not a science because it is anecdotal and its methods cannot be subjected to experiments. In addition, studies have been carried out from time to time to measure to what level the profiling is successful, especially psychological profiling. Among these studies, especially those conducted by the FBI have been criticized many times with allegations that the experiments were not conducted properly and the results were inflated in favor of the FBI.
Interesting results from separate “consumer satisfaction” surveys conducted by the FBI and the Dutch police. According to this study, profiling experts are successful in adding a new perspective to the case and giving advice to guide the investigation in the right direction (72.2%). However, they seem to have failed to produce the perpetrator profile (17%) and locate the perpetrator (20.4%) which are the actual goals of profiling.
A study conducted in 1990, constituted a group of 28 people, consisted of profiling specialists, police with profiling experience, police without profiling experience, clinical psychologists and university students. The group is asked to profile the perpetrator in two seperate cases of rape and murder. Then these profiles are compared with the properties of the actual perpetrator in an aim to measure effectiveness of these methods. An interesting conclusion is that profiling professionals are considerably more successful in sexual offense crimes. However, police without profiling experience have been found to be more successful than profiling experts in homicide cases. 
This article, which I’m trying to give you a perspective on criminal profiling, may at best be a very small summary of the discipline of profiling. In the process of cyber struggle which is filled with unknown perpetrators and uncertainties, it is necessary to take advantage of the tools of this unique discipline and learn from the challenges it faces. Therefore, in the next article of the series, I will talk about how to correlate the parameters of criminal profiling and cyber struggle, the implementation of profiling in cyber security, and the challenges that we may face.