The problem with profilers...

Discussion in 'West Memphis III' started by Ausgirl, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. Ausgirl

    Ausgirl Enough Is Enough!

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    While I really do respect and value the work of people like Douglas and Ressler when it comes to assisting in the process of catching killers, I'm finding quite a few problems with the majority of profiles offered in this case.

    1 -- the biggest problem of all.. profiles offered by profilers who already have a strong existing opinion on who the killers were (or were not), and the profiles exhibiting this bias.

    2 -- profilers hired not by LE to help identify an unknown killer, but by heavily biased legal teams, and those profiles reflecting the bias of said fee-paying teams.

    So what I'm after here is two things:

    A/ Your opinion on the various profiles offered, for good or bad.

    B/ Your own profile of a possible killer (and for the sake of the exercise, let's just TRY not to base those on a bias toward any one particular suspect? I'm asking what the -evidence- at the crime scene tells you.. ) which we should all, of course, take as layman's opinions rather than expert and thus graciously allow for the fact that not everyone has a degree in psych, let alone expertise in criminal behavior.

    Thus, all observations are very welcome. :)

    Anyway, here's John Douglas' profile:

    http://media.commercialappeal.com/media/static/Offender_profile.pdf

    Brent Turvey:

    http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/b_turvey_profile.html

    Pat Brown:

    http://womenincrimeink.blogspot.com.au/2010/03/dont-free-west-memphis-three.html

    If there's any other professional profiles out there that I've missed, please do link them!

    I'll give my own opinions etc, in another post below. :)
     
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  3. kyleb

    kyleb New Member

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    Dogulas and Turvey's profiles are scapegoat biased, while Brown's is biased by her familiarity with the evidence which proves the convicted guilty beyond any reasonable doubt.
     
  4. Ausgirl

    Ausgirl Enough Is Enough!

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    Starting with my opinion on the profiles, in brief..

    I think Douglas does the best job of remaining relatively neutral, out of the three linked. He offers reasoning for his conclusions, and I don't see a heavy bias toward one particular suspect. Douglas did walk the crime scene, and had access to all the documentation.

    I think Turvey needs a jolly good slap upside the head for presenting his profile as a 'profile' when in it he is not-very-subtly pointing directly at Mark Byers as a suspect. I feel this sullies the point of profiling. I approve of the sheer amount of detail in the information he offers up, however.

    I think Pat brown's "profile" is by and large a sketchily slapped together farce, as I've elaborated on the post linked below:

    [ame="http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9971502&postcount=44"]Websleuths Crime Sleuthing Community - View Single Post - Timeline of Events[/ame]

    I actually think there's a dozen posters here who could do a better job of it, albeit not 'professional'.
     
  5. kyleb

    kyleb New Member

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    Who else would you consider a suspect working from Douglas' profile and what had already been determined by prior investigation at that point, aside from Hobbs?
     
  6. Ausgirl

    Ausgirl Enough Is Enough!

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    I have too many things to more carefully consider and weigh before I superglue myself to a suspect theory -- and perhaps I never will.

    I am also not aware of every potential suspect in the case, as I am sure there are people who fit the profile and would make spectacular suspects, who were never identified or questioned by police.

    That said, Hobbs was actually not foremost in my mind after reading Douglas' profile, as I was not led by the nose toward that conclusion.

    I frowned at the 'animal' references, however, as I find that conclusion fairly questionable. Not ridiculous, mind you -- just not very convincing, at this point. Plus, it alludes to a suspect theory regarding Hobbs, and this disappoints me greatly IF Douglas presented the information for that purpose, and not merely to bolster his opinion that Satanic activity was not a factor.
     
  7. kyleb

    kyleb New Member

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    So who was foremost in your mind after reading Douglas' profile? I mean of course Byers fits the bill better than Hobbs, but Byers had a well established alibi long before Douglas came on the scene, so he doesn't rightly count.
     
  8. Ausgirl

    Ausgirl Enough Is Enough!

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    Actually - neither. And as I did not read the profile with the intention of gleaning points toward proving or disproving any particular suspect-based theory, I didn't end up with a particular suspect in mind.

    I did, however, gain cause to re-think a few things, particularly the potential for a single killer as opposed to a group, the possibility that the victims knew their killer/s extremely well, and that the killer may have lived in very close proximity to the crime scene.

    Things I questioned were JD's opinion that the killer was not a teenager, and the issue of the animal bites, as well as JD's intentions in including these things.

    However, I did not feel co-erced into acceptance of a bias toward any particular suspect, so that was a bonus, given the rest of what's on offer.
     
  9. Compassionate Reader

    Compassionate Reader New Member

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    When I read three profiles that are so different, it makes me think that maybe "profiling" isn't much of a science! That being said, I agree that Douglas' profile is the most professional of the three. The other two are just trash! As to what suspect the Douglas profile indicates, Hobbs is (of course) at the top of my list. However, Jacoby should not be left out nor should James Kenny Martin.
     
  10. Ausgirl

    Ausgirl Enough Is Enough!

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    ^ I actually had some thoughts on Martin after reading Douglas, CR, regarding the 'close proximity' and 'knew the victims' part. As well as the fact that a single killer more than likely had to have had an element of trust..

    Martin was regularly visiting a woman nearby who knew the boys.

    The woman was the ex wife of a police officer - somebody a child might trust when it comes to safe choice of company (no matter how wrong they might be..)

    Both the woman and Martin had previous contact with at least one of the boys, and all of the boys probably knew the woman. I do suspect there was more contact/knowledge than was admitted to.

    Martin was experienced and predatory pedophile, who knew damn well how to groom kids and get what he wanted.

    Martin inserted himself into the investigation - and in a way that gave him obvious gratification in reliving past crimes.

    The one factor that hasn't got me going BING BING BING is that evidence of sexual penetration isn't obvious.

    This is not to say I believe conclusively that sex wasn't a possible motive - it's possible anal assault wasn't the choice of sexual assualt that day, and all relevant fluids were washed away in the stream - which might well have been the point of putting the bodies in there.

    I find the bindings DO look sexualised to me. There's many ways of binding a child to prevent escape - one that splays buttocks and exposes genitals is a most interesting choice.

    I don't wish to argue Martin's validity as a suspect here, just saying that he does fit several points of the profile, as well as being a skeezy pedo convicted and labelled as "violent".

    I am hm'ing about Hollingsworth. Need to read more on that one, I think. Jacoby too!

    ETA: On profiling .. I do believe that in a purer form, it has the potential to be of great use to LE, as it has done in many instances. But these? Bleh. I hate that suspect-bias happens at all. Does nothing toward credibility of the science OR the profiler. Makes me sad. :(
     
  11. reedus23

    reedus23 New Member

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    First, in my very humble opinion as I'm just some poster on a message board, of the three links provided, there is only one true profile that was done.

    Again, IMHO, Turvey came off to me as a wannabe. To be fair, I did not just now re-read it, so these thoughts are based off my reading from some time back but that's how little he impressed me. Maybe it was his youth or lack of experience but he seemed to spout the concepts without understanding what underlies the concept. The result is he could be right on some things without understanding why he was right and just as often could be wrong.

    Personally, I don't consider what Pat Brown did a profile. Unless I missed it, she wrote a blog or an article or whatever you want to call it. It might have contained elements of an actual profile, but that is a whole lot different than being asked to do an "expert" profile. I only give what she wrote the same weight I'd give an article by a journalist for the commercial appeal or maybe the more fair comparison is the documentaries. I'll read it, I'll find it interesting or not and then I'll consider it for what it is.

    Douglas, by far, is the most credentialed. His profile reflects that as well. I too thought he relied to heavily on the issue of animal predation. I have little doubt that animal predation occurred but I also think, at times, it may have been overplayed. I don't think the question is whether all of the injuries seen are the result of animal predation, but I think for his purposes the genital mutilation is of importance to know. Overall, I thought he did a pretty good job of taking the suspect bias out of it and I find myself saying yes, I would agree with that, when I read his profile more than anything else I've read.

    Full disclosure that my own thoughts may be biased - While I've never met him or directly worked with him, I have worked with others who worked with him while at the FBI and now do similar work and have attended seminars they've put on. I have always found the work to be done professionally and objectively and if it doesn't help our position they don't hesitate to say as much.

    Regarding profilers in general, I find the work they do can be invaluable, when used properly. While I think it can be an extremely useful investigative tool, I think they can provide an even greater benefit to LE when determining how to handle a situation once a suspect has been identified. Advice on how to approach or how to word questions posed to suspects can be as useful. Having said all of that, I too am not sure how much of a "science" it is. I know it has become more generally accepted for Courts to allow them to testify as expert witnesses, but I'm just not sure I'm comfortable with that.

    It is a true shame that the WMPD did not follow through with their request to the FBI at the very outset. True shame.
     
  12. kyleb

    kyleb New Member

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    Well I certainly agree with you on those points, but hope you might consider the details of this Report of the Kaufman Commission on Proceedings Involving Guy Paul Morin regarding a grave miscarriage of justice in Canada in which Douglas played a key role. There's a lot of interesting information in that report, the statement that "the wisdom of not conducting a profile once a suspect has been identified is obvious" being perhaps the most notable as it's a lesson Douglas clearly didn't apply to this case, though of course neither did Brown nor Turvey.
     
  13. reedus23

    reedus23 New Member

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    Interesting read. First and foremost, I didn't see any criticism Douglas or of his profile. It appears there was criticism of how the profile was subsequently used and modified by LE. Morin tunnel vision appears to have been the problem (I say appear because I've read nothing more about the case to know if Morin was ultimately innocent of the crime) and the profile was only used to the extent it pointed towards Morin and otherwise ignored. Apparently WMPD isn't the only LE agency to suffer from tunnel vision.

    As for profiling in general, though, I think everyone would agree, it's preferable it is done before a suspect is in mind. And if one is in mind, to provide the "raw data" to the profiler in a way that is not suggestive of a suspect.
     
  14. kyleb

    kyleb New Member

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    Do you see nothing wrong with what is described here?:

     
  15. reedus23

    reedus23 New Member

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    I believe LE is permitted to do those things whether I have a problem with them doing it or not.

    ETA - Obviously, the problem arises when they push it too far and induce false confessions.
     
  16. kyleb

    kyleb New Member

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    So do you have no issue with such tactics as long as you consider whatever confessions obtained from them to be true?
     
  17. gheckso

    gheckso New Member

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    Did you not read Reedus's last post?
     
  18. kyleb

    kyleb New Member

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    Of course I did. Did you read the Report of the Kaufman Commission on Proceedings Involving Guy Paul Morin which Reedus and I are discussing? If so, I'm curious know if you see any problems in how Douglas's tactics affected that case.
     
  19. Cappuccino

    Cappuccino Active Member

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    I don't set much store by profiling. It can be a useful tool I suppose, but when the profile leads the investigation it can lead to miscarriages of justice. Kyle posted one example, the Guy Paul Morin case, and an even more notorious example is the Wimbledon Common Murder.

    Profiles should be seen the same as luminol tests and sniffer dogs - they can give useful pointers about where to look, but should never be used as stand alone evidence with which to arrest or eliminate a suspect. MOO, etc.
     
  20. kyleb

    kyleb New Member

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    Profiles aren't evidence at all, they're guesses. They're often very accurate guesses when made by people with vast understanding of criminal behavior, but guesses aren't rightly ever evidence regardless of how well educated they are.
     
  21. Ausgirl

    Ausgirl Enough Is Enough!

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    And they were never -intended- to be evidence.

    Profiles, as I understand it, are meant to help narrow down the search for a viable suspect (particularly in cases where time is of the essence), as well as to help flush suspects out by manipulating the media and interviews in appropriate ways for the most likely type of individual, in the hope of a solid lead.

    They weren't meant to be used as a template to which all suspects MUST fit precisely, and they certainly were NOT supposed to be evidence of guilt.

    At least, that's my understanding of how it is, and how it should be.

    If LEO's are using profiles incorrectly, this is not the fault of the profiler. It's down to LE being trained in proper use of profiles -- or not.


    I've decided to have a layman's jab at guessing what sort of person committed these murders.. it'll have to wait for crazybusy week to be over, though.

    I intend to come at it with NO suspect in mind, and with no agenda, no theory to prove or disprove. Just what the facts suggest to me. I feel this ought to be made very clear from the get go, as nitpicking and supposition is horribly common in this section of the forum.
     

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