How many of you tune to the TV show Criminal Minds? This fast paced show provides an insight into the world of profiling. How they whip up an uncannily accurate profile so quickly, provide breakthroughs in the case that the slow, thick and moronic local cops simply cannot do. Then the ultimate solving of the case. Great!
The reality is much, much slower, the case is solved by the local cops, and the BAU do not take active part in the hunt, they are only in an advisory role. There are so many factors to be taken into consideration; the autopsy report, the crime scene, the geography of the scene, evidence at the crime scene, etc, etc. All different details need to be taken into consideration, and I also believe a lot of common sense comes into it. All this takes time, and as top men like John Douglas, Robert Ressler, Roy Hazelwood and Marl Safarik have pointed out, these profiles are only another tool in the detectives bag. They are not proof of anything. An example being that of The Green River Killer. Douglas provided a profile and it perfectly fitted a man who was at first, the prime suspect. This man was Melvyn Foster, a taxi driver, who seemed to put himself right into the investigation, an action that a number of killers seem unable to resist. Many years later, DNA revealed the killer to be a truck sprayer called Gary Ridgway, who pleaded guilty to forty eight murders.