FIGHTERS OF SERIAL KILLERS
Even if criminal “hunters” exist ever since crime exists, the real progresses in investigation began only after the second half of the 1800. The renown Italian anthropologist and psychiatric Cesare Lombroso studied physiognomic through which he tried to find scientific correspondences between some somatic types of the human body and the attitude to commit crimes. But real huge progresses were made only in these last decades, since when unfortunately serial murderers have heavily increased and it has been necessary to constitute real and proper task forces in almost every country of the world. But the continuous increase of serial murderers was not the only thing who contributed to the progresses of investigation. A huge credit goes to technology that more and more often and in a determinant way helped to solve crimes that in the past centuries wouldn't ever had a guilty. Nowadays data processing, large data banks and futuristic technologies for the gathering and the analysis of every kind of proof have given to police forces an enormous amount of information. In this session, for obvious reasons of space, we will only describe the Italian police and of course FBI, the first and always at the van in the investigation field. We will also give large space to the “forensic detectives”, an army of scientists which we will never suspect to find on a crime scene.
F.B.I (FEDERAL BUREAU of INVESTIGATION)
Funded in 1908 during Roosvelt presidency to rule legal matters of a Country based on federalism. The aim was to control every kind of exchange, from the commercial one to the legal businesses between the different states, each with its own legislation. Same demand came out for justice, so the first 34 agents had to face all those illegal cases that were taking place between two or more states, in which it was impossible to establish which national law and penal right should prevail. It is evident that FBI takes care of dozens of sectors, from terrorism to smuggling, from drug and weapons traffic etc.. So in this session, rather than the FBI, we will talk of one of its units born on purpose to oppose serial crimes: the Behavioural Science Unit (BSU). To BSU is bound the birth of “profiling”, the science that studies the criminal behaviour and determines, starting from the proves left on a crime scene, which type of criminal could have done it. The name itself (so called Unità di scienze comportamentali in Italian) shows that the direction towards which the crime experts move is the one of the forensic psychopathology and psychiatry: the more a crime scene represents the pathology of the murderer, the more a psychological profile will be precise. Since special agents John Douglas and Robert Ressler began this adventure in the new vision of crime, hundreds of cases have been solved thanks to their profiles; many times they got incredibly near to the real psychological profile of the guilty. To this unit is also bound the concept of organised and disorganised serial killer “see also types of serial killer). Douglas and Ressler started from the already arrested serial killers. A pool of psychiatrics and special agents deeply interviewed them regarding their past, their childhood, the drive that moved them to kill, the reason why a certain type of victim was chosen and so on. The first behavioural “pictures” of the various serial killers came out from the later analysis of these interviews. With the introduction of the computer science the work of FBI and BSU made a great jump forward. Finally huge amounts of crime information could fit into data banks: the kind of weapon used, the position of the corpse (stretched, hanging, with the face covered), the place of finding (a wood, at the side of a road, etc..), the types of injures (bruise, particular bites, mutilations). This meant that it is was now possible to find a link between murderers committed very far away one from each other or after many years. VICAP (Violent Criminal Apprehension Program) was born.
As per the FBI, we will not consider the Police Department in its totality, but only the division related to the argument of this site, the serial crimes. The Italian structure that takes care of these cases is the so called “Unità Analisi Crimini Violenti” (UACV). It is composed of approximately 1500 police forensic scientists, divided into 4 divisions, each with a specific task. The UACV is part of the first division, session 2, of the police forensic department (session are 4 in total) and in her turn it is subdivided into 4 further sectors:
Crime scene exam
Crime scene analysis
Analysis of the information
These 4 divisions help mostly to solve violent crimes, serial murderers, cases of rape referable to a unique subject, sexual murderers and apparently non motivated murderers. To do this they use futuristic computer systems, such as the Italian S.A.S.C. (Sistema Analisi Scena del Crimine) which links and gives information related to all inserted cases but, differently from the VICAP of FBI, this can contain images for which an immediate compare is possible. Besides S.A.S.C. the police forensic department uses a huge quantity of data available on S.C.I.P.S. (Sistema Centrale Informativo Polizia Scientifica) which allows to exchange evidences and information between the four divisions of the police forensic department itself. For example, through this data bank it is possible to check the A.F.I.S. (Automatic Fingerprint Identification System) to trace fingerprints, task of the second division of the police forensic department.
CARABINIERI (Ra.C.I.S.) (militia maintained by the government for police duties)
This special militia, as per the Police, has an own structure dedicated to the forensic investigations: the Raggruppamento Carabinieri Investigazioni Scientifiche (Ra.C.I.S.), also well known as R.I.S. They intervene as a support of the many requests of investigations and analysis done by the Army and Police forces. In the most severe cases they intervene directly on place for the survey of the crime scene and to produce evidences. R.I.S. is composed of 4 departments located in Parma (covering the North of Italy), Rome (covering Central Italy), Messina (south of Italy and Sicily) and Cagliari (covering Sardinia). Each one of these departments is subdivided in various sections whose fields of investigation are:
ballistics section: archives everything related to weapons for both the analysis and the huge data bank that provides information on weapons, cartridges and cartridge cases;
biology section: analyses the biological samples such as blood, DNA and every other type of biological material;
chemical, explosives and flammables section: the tasks of this section are many and vary from the analysis of drugs, toxic substances, medicines and poisons to the study of fire primers and explosives;
fingerprints and photography section: this section takes care of the dactyloscopy analysis (fingerprints), the study of imprint moulds and the photography laboratory;
phonic and graphic section: takes care of wire trappings and of the analysis and sampling of the audio tracks with the filtering of hided sounds. The graphic section analyses the manuscripts, identifies the types of writing machines or printers used;
telematics section: takes care of the crimes and evidences on data carriers such as digital memories and of information and communication systems such as microspies, computers, mobile phones, internet.
More and more often investigation authorities resort to science to have a precise path or simply to confirm suspects and hypothesis. There are various sciences that can indispensable to solve a case; it is possible to say that no science is excluded at the beginning from the participation to a case. Due to the vastness of the forensic applications of the various sciences, in this section we will only describe the most used by police departments for surveys.
When the analysis of a body doesn't give enough answers, the study of the insects found on or near a corpse can help to establish both the time of death with a mistake margin of only 24 hours even various days later and the place, in case the corpse was moved. Since death various teams of insects colonize the corpse following fixed schemes. There are 4 categories: necrophagous (insects that eat the corpse, necrophiliacs (predators of necrophagous), omnivourous (insects that eat any kind of tissue) and opportunistic (insects that refuge into the corpse). The extreme precision of the cycles with whom these insects appear on the corpse transformed the forensic entomology into a science accepted as evidences in courts.
Although considered a younger discipline, also this science have received full approval from tribunals and botanical surveys are admitted as evidences in courts. Further to insects, also the study of the spores, the pollens and the plants that can be found on a corpse can say a lot about how, when and where a person has been killed. If, for example, some diatoms are found we are for sure in front of a case of drowning.
Corpses, mostly those abandoned outside, together with plants and insects, are also subject to aggressions from bigger animals. This type of aggression is totally accidental, there is no rigorous sequence as per insects. But it is important to establish if certain bites or mutilations happened after death, how much time after and mostly if caused by an animal or the weapon of the murderer.
In USA they are know as “Bones detectives”, while in Italy their popularity is only increasing now due to books as those of wrote by Patricia Cornwell. They are the forensic anthropologists. These scientists intervene in case the state of decomposition of corpse is so advanced that it is impossible to make a normal autopsy. With only few pieces of bones, these scientists can tell us the sex, race, the probable build and height of the dead and with a good approximation also the age. If the rests are quite complete, a forensic anthropologist can also find traces of hits or causes of death such as sign of fire-arms.
From teeth it is possible to find the name of a corpse. Teeth are extremely resistant to decomposition and to damages deriving from heat, time, water etc.. Teeth, having many possibilities of shape, dimension and position of each tooth, constitute a kind of three-dimensional print that characterise each individual, with an improbable possibility to commit mistakes. It is also possible to find the approximate age and the lifestyle of a corpse. It is not rare for this science to find evidences against suspects, rather than identifying a corpse. Frequently many serial killers, in fact, leave deep bites on their victims. This has happened in the case of Ted Bundy. Due to his particular teeth he was linked by various odontologists to a crime in which he had bitten his victim.