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WOO IN REVIEW: Criminal Profiling Contest PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alison Smith   

WOO IN REVIEW: Criminal Profiling Contest

After reviewing the television show Criminal Minds, I was surprised to discover how many people do not believe that criminal profiling has a value to criminal investigation better than, say, psychic detectives.

According to research conducted in the early 1990's, out of 192 cases where profilers had been called in as investigation support, only 88 were ever solved, and only 17% of that number were cases where criminal profiling was deemed a helpful element of the investigation.profiler1

It's important to remember, when examining that statistic, that criminal profilers aren't called in often, and only are when other investigation methods (such as forensics) have failed. The crimes investigated are hard to solve – harder than most.

There is also a misconception that profiles are intended to be used as evidence, or to directly lead to an arrest.

This isn't the case. Criminal profiling can be used, however, to eliminate suspects from a pool. And in order to review criminal profiling on the whole, I've designed a case of serial murder for you to participate in.

I am aware this doesn't prove whether profiling is or is not an effective tool. Much more study would have to be conducted for that. What I'm hoping to do is put you in the shoes of a profiler and find out if the possibility for an individual to help an investigation based on the type of person they believe must have committed a crime is possible.

And this is also a contest.

You, as a profiler, will be competing against all other participants for a signed copy of Conjuring by James Randi.

In order to enter, you must, in the comments, state which of the suspects you believe was responsible for the fictional crimes described below. Not only that, you must say why you believe they did it, and why you don't believe any of the other suspects did.

You must give your e-mail address within your submission, or you must simultaneously copy your submission to You cannot just send an e-mail. You MUST post your submission in the comments as well.

You must be willing to give your mailing address. Otherwise your prize cannot be sent to you should you win.

The first person with the correct answer and the correct reasons will be deemed the winner.

Keep in mind that the crimes described are graphic. If graphic violence doesn't suit you, you really might want to reconsider entering the contest.

Also, be aware that these crimes and these suspects are fictional. The elements of the crimes described have similarities to true crimes, but are not identical.

And, as with any good contest, there is a BONUS ROUND.

If you would like, with your submission for the culprit of the crimes described, you may also participate in the bonus round.

In addition to the perpetrator of the crime described, there are individuals that you, the profiler, speak to in the course of your investigation. You believe that it is possible these individuals have committed, or will commit, other crimes. Who are they, and what are the crimes that suit them? I'm not going to tell you how many individuals there are for the bonus round. You'll have to figure that out yourself.

The winner of the bonus round will receive a signed copy of James Randi's An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural.

Remember – these crimes are designed. They are the perfect conditions for a profiler. They are manufactured crimes, and manufactured suspects.

Now. Let the profiling begin.

The Crimes

The bodies of twelve women who disappeared between 2003 and 2008 have been discovered (at various times) in the Saline Valley area of Death Valley National Park in California. The women all went missing from Las Vegas, Nevada in accordance with the following time line.

October, 2003
August, 2004
March, 2005
September, 2006
January, 2007
April, 2007
October, 2007
February, 2008
May, 2008
July, 2008
November, 2008
December, 2008

All the women were abducted from off-Strip dance clubs. Cameras, when available, show each of them having a drink with a twenty-five to thirty-five year old male wearing a fedora. Particular features are obscured, but witness accounts say that the individual was white, had dark hair, and was attractive, charming, and well-dressed. Parking lot cameras show the male in the fedora helping the abducted females into a black Honda CR-V as though they were heavily inebriated.profiler2

The Victims

All the victims are between the ages of twenty-two and twenty-eight. All are white females. All were above-average intelligence with steady, well-paying jobs. All have blonde hair and blue eyes, and their hair is cut short. All were very attractive. All attended the clubs alone. The latest victim showed rohypnol in a toxicology screening, and it is assumed that all victims were given it in their drinks and that decomposition masked that fact.

Witnesses at the clubs say that the women seemed sober for most of their interaction with the man, which lasted for up to half an hour, and that only in the last ten minutes or so of conversation with him seemed to become incapacitated despite having fewer than four drinks during the course of the night. The women all drank high-end drinks, and one even convinced a man to buy her champagne, though she was off with someone else before she finished the first drink. The women and the man who is thought to be the perpetrator did not dance together at the club, but sat at a table and talked instead.

Witnesses say that the women were extremely social before meeting the man, and danced with quite a few people. They were flirtatious and charming, yet seemed like strong women who were getting more than they were giving.

The abductions all occurred between 10 PM and 2 AM.

All the victims were well-dressed at the time of their abductions, and their clothing was found neatly folded beside them at the dump site, and had no bloodstains. All the bodies still had on jewelry. All the bodies were found nude, all had been raped with a foreign object that was not found at the scene. All the victims were suffocated to death with what forensic analysts believe was a plastic bag though no bag was found at the grave sites. All the bodies were buried in shallow graves. All the victims had severe pre-mortem facial wounds that appear to have been inflicted with a hammer.

There are at least five more women who fit the victimology of this crime and went missing within the past year. Police are still searching missing persons records to see if there are more.

You, The Profiler

Police work has built a suspect pool, which has been narrowed because of witness constructed sketches of the perpetrator. All the following ten people own or have access to black Honda CR-Vs. All had the ability to commit the crimes. It is up to you to decide whose personality fits the crimes.

You are FBI Special Agent Blank, and you work for the Behavioral Analysis Unit as a criminal profiler. You have been called in to interview the ten people in the narrowed suspect pool. You do not solve crimes, and the profile you give will not be considered evidence. It will only further narrow the suspect pool, and give the police direction in their interviews. However, after interviewing the ten individuals and those close to them, you believe you know who did it. And you have reasons to back up your claims.

Read the list of ten people and their stories, then, in the comments, submit your answer along with the reasons you believe the individual you have chosen was responsible for the crimes.

1. Jeffrey Gacy – Jeffrey is a Las Vegas native, is twenty-six years old, and loves extreme sports. He rock climbs, paraglides, and has taken courses in survivalist camping. He owns an ATV, and often rides it in Death Valley. Jeffrey is not currently employed. He is the son of rich parents, and lives mostly off his trust fund (a fact that he doesn't mind proudly sharing). Jeffrey says he survives on Power Bars and Gatorade. He had a serious girlfriend for a while, but she caught him cheating and broke off the relationship. Now he just has a series of one-night stands, but doesn't mind because it frees up his time for travel and also frees him up for “special encounters” with bikini babes when he visits the beach to surf. Jeffrey went to school at the University of Texas at Austin, and majored in art history. He never graduated because in his third year he left school to pursue a more philosophical lifestyle. He tells you that murder isn't really the killing of another soul, but an attempt to absorb the power of the universe. Jeffrey's friends don't have a lot to say about him beyond superficial things, like that he enjoys listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival and often talks about his exercise regimen. When Jeffrey meets with you, he is wearing bike shorts and a muscle shirt and has a pedometer wrapped around his ankle and sunglasses perched on his head. A background check reveals that Jeffrey once had a complaint filed against him for domestic abuse. The complaint was filed by his ex-girlfriend, who Jeffrey says started the dispute after she caught him cheating. He claims that he shoved her, and she slipped and fell and broke her wrist. The complaint was never acted upon, and Jeffrey has no actual record. Jeffrey's parents say that he is a free spirit, and would never intentionally hurt anyone.

2. John Wayne Zodiac – John is thirty-five years old and works as a clown at Circus Circus hotel and casino. He is unmarried and does not have a steady girlfriend. When he meets you, he is wearing a black shirt, black jeans, and a Barry Manilow hat, which he insists he wears as a joke. Even though the topic of conversation is very serious, John can't help but make jokes often. He says he is never really off the job. John attended Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Clown College, and went on to tour with the circus for three years. He decided he wanted a more stable life, and moved to Vegas. He says that Circus Circus is a great place because it's one of the few remaining casinos that has a family-friendly theme. John admits to sometimes gambling too much (he loves blackjack), and is a recovering alcoholic. He has a record for driving while intoxicated. He says he has been alcohol-free for six years, but you contact Holly, his last girlfriend (from four years ago), and she claims that John continued to go on drinking binges until the end of their relationship. She worked as a cocktail waitress at Circus Circus, and claims that John would often go to off-strip clubs to avoid being seen by their acquaintances when he was drinking. Holly also says that John would claim that he was going camping in Death Valley, but would just as often go on binges in Pahrump, a nearby town, and also obtained the services of prostitutes while there (it is, it should be noted, legal for him to do so). John came from a single-parent household – his mother, a receptionist, struggled to support him while they were living in California. John and his mother have since lost contact, and according to her, John was always the picked-on child in school and never got over it, using his clown act as a way to compensate for his sadness. John has no record.profiler3

3. Charles Bundy – Charles is a thirty year old waiter who works at Peppermill, a twenty-four hour diner on the Strip. He is married, and his wife's name is Melinda. Melinda says that Charles often spends all day and all night reading, and that his favorite author is Voltaire. For their anniversary, which was last week, Charles and Melinda went on a nature walk in Death Valley. They had planned to go on a cruise, but could not afford it as Melinda recently discovered she is pregnant and the money is going instead to doctor visits and building a nursery in their small apartment. Charles is frank with you about his money issues. His parents were both schoolteachers, and he believes that the most important thing to a child is having a household full of love rather than possessions. He says that books are cheap, and that's enough for him. Charles and Melinda make a point of going out on the town separately from one another once every two weeks in order to keep their relationship fresh. Charles says that he has never had an impulse to cheat on Melinda, though you didn't ask. Charles' schoolteacher parents tell you that Charles had quite an imagination as a child, and was always reading above his level, sometimes to a worrying point – Charles read the works of Lovecraft at a young age, and his mother found it unsuitable but didn't want to stifle his learning. Charles says that thanks to his parents, he was allowed an imaginative life and now puts all his reading to work. He writes short stories in his spare time, and hopes to one day be published, though that hasn't happened yet. Charles is interested in the crimes you are questioning him about, and he tells you it could be great inspiration for a story. Charles never went to college, but has taken online courses in creative writing to broaden his skills. He has no record, and has few friends.

4. Jack Manson – Jack is a twenty-eight year old bouncer from the club LAX, located inside of the Luxor hotel and casino. He is married and has two children, but says that in order to do his job well, he has to pretend to be single at work. Jack's job includes finding the “party girls” in the crowd waiting to get into the club, and he says he is good at it. His wife is named Debbie, and she works in public relations at the Wynn. Their two children are four and two, and Jack shows you a family photo from his wallet. When he meets with you, Jack is dressed in a designer suit with the knot of his tie pulled out a bit. His hair is a mess, as though he has been up all night, and Jack says that he has. Jack says that he thanks God for two things – McDonald's and treadmills – because he couldn't survive without either. He laughs and adds that, of course, he also couldn't survive without his family. Jack went to UNLV and majored in political science, but says the major applies much more to regular life than politics. He says politics teaches you how to deal with people, and that's important in his job. In fact, despite being threatened occasionally by drunks, Jack has never been in a fight at work. He says that working for the FBI must also take a political mind, and asks you about employment opportunities there. He has taken the kids on picnics in Death Valley before, but says he doesn't know the area very well. He says that he doesn't want to take the kids beyond the touristy parts of the park because he has no sense of direction. Debbie says that Jack is a great father and a hard worker. He has been at the Luxor in some capacity for six years. She says that sometimes Jack will go out drinking with his buddies, but that for the most part he is a homebody. He likes to watch action movies, and hates the taste of beer, but will sometimes drink wine. He got a taste for fine wines on a trip they took together to Martha's Vineyard. Jack has no record.

5. William George Tylenol – William is a twenty-five year old pharmacy technician at CVS who is putting himself through school at UNLV. He says that it is very stressful balancing work and school, but hopes to get a degree soon. He is in the premed program. William is putting himself through school rather than depending upon his parents because, frankly, he does not know who his parents are. William was a foster kid, and the home he was placed in was full of other foster kids. He thinks that his foster mother was more interested in checks from the state than supporting him and the other children. William does not have a girlfriend because he doesn't have time, though he did recently go to the movies with a girl from one of his classes. He hopes that he'll have more time for relationships, but doesn't see it happening any time soon. William doesn't have many close friends, but you speak with Josh, his study buddy. Josh says that William is always on the verge of a breakdown, and it's true that when you meet William, he is looking a little harried. He is wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt that has holes in it. William says that he recently bought a set of relaxation CDs, but that they don't seem to work very well. You contact Kelly, the woman William went to the movies with, and she says that William was so worried about an upcoming paper during the movie that he barely watched it at all. Afterward, on the walk home, he realized he had forgotten about a quiz the next day in Biology and burst into tears. William ran into his dormitory without kissing Kelly, or even saying goodbye. William occasionally goes out to Death Valley to look at the stars when he is feeling particularly stressed and doesn't have any due dates coming. He says it puts things in perspective. William's professors call him a hardworking student, and say that he always seems lost even though he knows all the answers. William's boss from CVS says that William is never late and never calls in sick. William has no record.

6. Green River Ramirez – Green is a thirty-four year old stage magician who has a show at the Hilton Las Vegas hotel and casino. Green married his assistant, Elizabeth, last year. She is his third wife. Green moved to Las Vegas when he was seventeen years old to pursue a career in magic, and a magician who had a show on the Strip at the time helped him get his start. Green never attended college, and refuses to talk much about his parents, saying only that they were “your standard middle-class family.” The stagehands for Green's show tell you that Green has a crippling sense of self-doubt despite his success as a magician, and that Green often has sexual intercourse with his female fans. Elizabeth tells you that Green's transgressions are not a reflection on his view of their marriage, but on his self-image. When you tell Green about the crimes you are investigating, he marvels at how, outside of magic, disappearances can be such solid events. He says he could never be a policeman, because he would always be convinced that missing people would immediately reappear. Green occasionally drinks to excess, and tries to dodge people who recognize him despite wanting to be recognizable. According to Green's manager, the show at the Hilton is doing very well, and yet at times Green seems unsatisfied. When Green meets with you, he is wearing a tuxedo, having just finished his show for the night. When you ask him if he likes performing magic, he says that it isn't a real profession. Green sometimes rents a cabin in Death Valley during vacation season, as he had another childhood dream he never fulfilled – he wanted to be an explorer. Green says that on some level, his trips into Death Valley fulfill his desire for adventure. Green has one complaint of sexual harassment on his record.

7. Gerard Wuornos – Gerard is a twenty-six year old gas station attendant. He has a steady girlfriend, whose name is Jeanine, and they live together in a small apartment off the strip. Jeanine also works at the gas station, which is owned by Wuornos' father. Gerard has a good relationship with his father, and says he chose to work at the gas station as soon as he was old enough in order to stay close to his family. His mother suffers from leukemia, and Gerard often goes to visit her at the family home and reads her Little House on the Prairie books. Jeanine says that Gerard is the kindest man she has ever dated, and that he will often be waiting at home with takeout Chinese food when she gets off a long shift. Gerard and Jeanine have been dating for four years, and he hopes to propose to her as soon as he saves up for a nice enough ring. Gerard and Jeanine own a dog named Jolly, and Gerard often takes Jolly out to Death Valley so he can run around free. Since they live in an apartment, Gerard feels that the dog might suffer if not allowed to stretch his legs every once in a while. Gerard goes out alone every now and again to have a few beers, and when you meet him, he is wearing a Budweiser t-shirt and jeans. Gerard's father says that his son is a reliable employee, and that he never complains about the fact that he works in a gas station. Gerard likes to watch sports, and he and Jeanine host barbecues for their neighbors on a camping grill that they set up in the parking lot of the complex. When you tell him about the crimes, Gerard says things like this are the reason he watches sports and not the news. Gerard has no record.
8. Ted Schaefer – Ted is a twenty-nine year old blackjack dealer at Monte Carlo hotel and casino, and has been employed there for the past two years. Before that, he worked at four different casinos dealing various games since he turned twenty-one. He started at Caesar's, worked at Wynn briefly, then Mirage, then Hilton. His co-workers say that Ted is a good dealer, and is always very professional, though one ex-co-worker from his time working at Wynn remembers an incident where an affluent young woman yelled at him over a bad hand and he left the table without notifying his pit boss. Ted has a steady girlfriend named Linda, and he often surprises her at her job (she is a consultant for a legal firm) with gifts, including a pair of earrings from Tiffany's that she proudly shows off to you. Linda also says that Ted has brought her and her co-workers homemade meals, including a really delicious vichyssoise. Linda tells you that Ted never talks himself up – not about his cooking or his looks, even though he is very handsome. He doesn't seem to realize how great he is. He and Linda have taken trips to Death Valley and camped there, and Ted seems relaxed there and even more affectionate than usual. He says he finds the desert calming. Your talks with Ted reveal that he originally applied to school at Harvard, but wound up attending UNLV after he interviewed at Harvard and found the woman who interviewed him to be a “stuck-up snob.” His career at UNLV was short-lived, though. He found his classes (he was majoring in volcanology) to be boring, and wanted to spend more time with Linda. Ted seems professional, charismatic, and interested in the investigation. He has read up on psychology as a hobby, and wants to know what you think of the killer from a psychological standpoint. Ted comes from poor roots – his mother was a casino cocktail waitress, and his father drove a delivery truck. Ted has a sealed juvenile record, which he says was from a time when he stole a magazine from a convenience store. You have no way to check the story.

9. Richard Dahmer – Richard is a thirty-three year old manager of an off-strip Motel 6. He is a widower, and has not dated since his wife died five years ago in a car crash. Richard does not have any close friends, and his customers say that he is very polite, but a little lonely. He has a tendency to try and engage his customers in personal conversations when they do not feel it is necessary. Richard lives alone in a small apartment, and watches black and white musicals. He particularly likes ones starring Fred Astaire. When you meet him, Richard is wearing a polo shirt and khaki pants that look like they are a few years old. He says that he goes out to clubs sometimes, but that he doesn't know how to talk to women as well as he used to. Richard says that his wife was a very faithful churchgoer, and that the women he talks to in clubs aren't that type. Richard says that he understands why God would call His faithful home, but that he wishes his wife was still alive so he wouldn't be so lonely. When you tell him about the crimes you are investigating, Richard laments the loss of life. Sometimes Richard drives out to Death Valley so he can see the mountains and desert and stars and think of his wife looking down on him. He says she was the kindest person in the world. Richard's family lives, for the most part, in Arizona, and he doesn't see them very often outside of holidays. His parents are still married, and have been for forty years now, and he always feels a little envious of their happiness. Richard has no record.

10. Clifford Heirens – Clifford is a thirty five year old taxi driver for Executive Taxi in Las Vegas. He is married and has one child. Clifford's wife, Emily, is a stay-at-home mom. Clifford says he loves his job because it allows him to meet people from all over the place, and hear stories about all the places he hopes to travel. Emily and Clifford are living in Clifford's father's home (the father died eight years ago), and he inherited some money that they have been slowly adding to so they can travel. They did tap into the money last year to visit a resort in Florida. Their five year old son had a great time building sand castles, and Clifford doesn't care that he'll have to work a little harder to save. He plans to save everything he can and retire fast. Emily says that Clifford is upbeat all the time, and that sometimes it wears her out since she doesn't always feel that way. But his mood is infectious, and Emily often winds up smiling despite herself. Clifford never planned to go to college – it just wasn't something he wanted to do. He prefers to be mobile, and to have a job where he can engage in conversation all the time. When you tell Clifford about the crimes, he wonders if he ever had the perpetrator in his taxi and spoke to him. Clifford wonders what a killer would talk about in a taxi, and looks at you like you might know the answer. Clifford goes out to Death Valley sometimes when he gets tired of the conversations – which he says isn't often. He likes the solitude as a break from the Strip, but always wants to get back to the lights of Vegas. Clifford has no record other than a parking ticket from when he was working.

Comments (26)Add Comment
written by Adam, January 11, 2009
I believe the perpetrator is John Wayne Zodiac. He was an alcoholic who frequented strip clubs, and was probably just lying about not drinking. The other suspects who have criminal records: Jeffry Gacy - Although this seems like the obvious choice, I do not think he would be so forthcoming with his philosophy if he committed the murders. Green River Ramirez's sexual harassment charge is fitting with his lifestyle. Jack Manson could not be the killer as he would be noticed if he left his post to chat up the girls etc. The other suspects seem to have a very tenuous connection to the description, with little motive other than the fact that they visit Death Valley.
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written by srudloff, January 11, 2009
OK, let's give it a try.

The timeline suggests that the killer started his spree about 4 years ago and the frequency has escalated since. Something must have happened to start this.

The victimology is interesting, since it is always the same type of women: Successful, dominating, in their twenties, blond. The killer obviously bears a grudge against a woman that fits this profile, but he can't act on it.

The crime itself suggests the killer is very organised (folding the clothes, bringing tools with him and taking them away again), the crime is not necessarily sexually motivated (he rapes his victims with an object), it is not about money (he leaves the jewelry, and this may have additional meaning). Also, he smashes his victims' faces with a hammer, adding to the fantasy that he is doing this with a specific person in mind, not the victim.

From the ten suspects, I would opt for number 8 (Ted Schaefer) to be the most likely one. He has the looks and charms to get the victims talking to him. He is very organised and holds back his emotions. Still, something is burning inside him -- he has not done as well as he would have wanted, and makes women responsible for it. He didn't get to study at Harvard due to a female interviewer. He can not handle snubby female customers in his job as a dealer. His girlfriend is successful in her job, and his affection to her and his good deeds could actually be interpreted by Ted himself as being under the thumb. He also dropped uni "to spend more time with Linda". I would not be surprised if Linda fits the victimology. The age definitely fits. Linda also seems to be fond of jewelry (the Tiffany earrings), so either the victims remind Ted of Linda, or he got her the earrings to make her fitting his fantasy better (i.e. killing her in the desert, with the jewlery as sign of her snobbyness). Finally, reverting to the timeline: 4 years ago could have been either when Linda got her good job, and / or the time of the customer incident at Wynn. This could have made Ted "burst out" (vulcanology analogy, anyone?) for the first time. The pressure has build since, i.e. he has switched employers often, and the spree has escalated. When he is in the desert with Linda, he is calmer or more affectionate since here, he now feels in control of himself and his life. Oh, and I almost forgot one thing: Ted injects himself in the investigation and has looked into the psychology of serial killers.

So why not the others?

1. Too young (would have been 22 at first crime) and no real motive. There does not seem to be a consistent grudge against a particular kind of woman. He has money, knows where to get his sex, and would certainly rely on physical strength to overcome victims, but not drug them. He also does not seem that organised. His remark of murder may be an alarm signal, but nothing specific yet.

2. Drowns his sorrows in booze, would not be organised enough to pull these crimes off.

3. Does not seem like the type who could pull dominating women. Even if, he is more likely looking for a one-night stand (he seems guilty of cheating on his wife, or at least strongly phantasising about it) that trying to kill them. Also, no significant grudge or obvious stressor 4 years ago.

4. Would have issues to commit the crimes due to his work schedule. He is in a steady job for six years. His first child has been born four years ago, which could have been a stressor, but still he has got another one and really seems to enjoy family life. Motive? Also, if it is true what he says about his sense of direction, he would have issues driving around the desert in the middle of the night.

5. A nervous wreck. Young (would have been 21 at first crime), low self-esteem, absolutely not organised.

6. A womanizer, and not satisfied with his job, but no particular relation to these crimes.

7. Would not have left the jewelry (due to money issues), forensics would most certainly revealed some signs of the dog -- whether he had it with him during the crimes or not.

9. Lonely, and the death of his wife definitely is a major stressor, influencing his life since. Only if the the car accident was caused by a woman fitting the victimology I could see any relation to these crimes, but still I would think remembering his wife's faith would prevent him from thinking of murder.

10. No relation to the crimes her at all?

In terms of Bonus Round, I would look into No. 1 for potential violent crimes and into No. 6 for sexual harrassment. Nr. 5 could use / start using drugs.

Armchair profiler Sven, out.
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written by Son of Rea, January 11, 2009
Green River Ramirez did it.

Serial killers are often abused as children, or have some other major family problems. His refusal to speak in depth of his family indicates something was wrong.

Serial killers also have a poor self image, as does Ramirez.

Serial killers are often interested in mutilation or torture. A magician gets to "saw" women in half, stick swords in them, etc.

Ramirez's inability to see a murder or disappearance as a permanent event only aids him in his self-delusion so that he can justify killing.

Being that he frequently has sex with his female audience members, proves that he is capable of being charming to and comfortable around women, which the serial killer does consistently to his victims.

As a magician, slight of hand would aid him in slipping the date rape drug into a drink.

Finally, a bit of a stretch, but his lack of self-worth may stem from the belief that he is unattractive. By using a hammer on his victim's faces, he may be fulfilling a need to destroy the beauty in others.

Plus, his mother used to hit him in the face with a hammer when he was little smilies/wink.gif

For the bonus round, I would interview the parents of Ramirez and look into any possible child abuse just to support the case against Ramirez.

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written by Radwaste, January 11, 2009
None of these people committed the crime. They are all male. A woman resenting the social status of the victim, and possibly affected by a similar blonde earlier in life, committed the crimes.


As you all think about cases like these, realize one thing almost no one mentions when they speak of laws: no person may be prevented from a first offense by the law.
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written by ticktock, January 11, 2009
Jeff Gacy's love of extreme sports makes me think that he takes risks. The fact that he is a narcissist who lives off of his parents makes me think that he is irresponsible and perhaps a sociopath. He clearly lied about the domestic dispute and hurt his x-girlfriend. However, I believe that he is innocent because he seems to be comfortable around women, and such a person would not need to drug his victim. He is not the killer, but he sure could be some day.

John Zodiac is a good candidate for the killer, but I don't think he is one. The hat, black clothes, and joking imply that he has something to hide. The killer is likely someone who has issues with women, and John broke up with his girlfriend around the time the murders began. The fact that he has a poor relationship with his mother also proves this point. John is the only one who specifically frequents the types of strip clubs where the murders happened. However, it seems to me that his crime is more likely theft, since he gambles and comes from a poor background. He uses the Manilow hat to pretend to be a member of Manilow's crew.

Jack Manson in happily married, so I don't think he is the killer.

William Tylenol is too busy to do the crimes. He is also too sloppy.

Green didn't do it because he is comfortable around women and adventurous.

Gerard is too sloppy and too nice.

Ted is too confident around women and too handsome to have done it. I believe the killer is single. Being rejected at Harvard seems to be a motive to kill intelligent women, but not a very strong one. The earrings are a red herring.

Richard is the killer. His wife died a few years before the killing causing him to be depressed and lonely. He watches Fred Astaire movies, which may encourage him to wear a fedora to recreate the classic look. He has a hard time talking to women, which means that he needs to drug them. He is religious enough to mention god, and I believe he is killing these women because he feels they are evil and that god is calling them home. He is jealous that his wife had to die, and these immoral women didn't. Richard has no family, and as such, probably doesn't have an alibi. He rapes them with an object because he is impotent and actual rape would violate his code.

Clifford seems too nice and to confident with his wife and family to do the crime.
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written by weirdloser, January 11, 2009
I must strongly object to this post.
You wrote: "Criminal profiling can be used, however, to eliminate suspects from a pool."
Yes it can. It eliminated the DC snipers as suspects and delayed their apprehension. Multiple profilers asserted the shooter was a white loner DC native in a white van. The real culprits wear a pair of African American out-of-towners in a Chevy Caprice. The cops believed the profilers over an eyewitness who described a dark-skinned sniper.
Please don't promote this stuff. It's not much better than woo.
Prosecutors use these guys as expert witnesses. (!)
Not cool.
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It's Ted...
written by mscotthokie, January 11, 2009
It would be a better match if Ted had some other issues in evidence with women, but we get a little glimpse into his psyche as the narrative describes his inability to deal professionally with an insult from an affluent women. His intellectual self image is over developed, though he is very intelligent. He clearly has a problem with formal demands on his intellect. Apparently his entry to Harvard was abruptly self-terminated in an encounter with an intellectual capable women, or, to his account "a snob". This indicates some palpable resentment for women. Though a handsome man, he finds it necessary to supplement his connection to the women in his life with symbols of extravagance, Tiffany earrings and vichyssoise. His employment is consistent, but spotty, moving from job to job while doing essentially the same thing for the same money. That suggests some discomfort with his work environment over time, or an effort to change his personal patterns to better deal with emotional issues he faces. All references point to him as professional in the execution of his duties at dealing which is reflection of some fastidiousness in his personality and would account for way in which each victims clothing was treated. His chosen type of work also indicates that he is socially capable of interacting with people. His employment history is somewhat correlated to the murders. His socioeconomic beginnings correlate somewhat with the general white male serial killer profile. His interest in psychology is somewhat relevant in the same way some serial killers are interested in police work or positions of authority. The explanation of his sealed juvenile record is plausible, but it seems that the petty theft of a magazine doesn't rank as a deed that would make it through the court system to a permanent record in the first place.

Ted feels in control in the desert and spends time there with his girlfriend who relates in increase in affection while they camp. This only indicates that it a comfortable and familiar environment for him. His victims are archetypes for whom he has great rage. He projects this rage through beatings to the face as if to destroy some aspect of the victims control over him. His subsequent treatment indicates his attempts at control. Though the crime looks sexual, it is more about ultimate control of some over riding insult or stress that has occurred to him in his life.
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And the killer is... (drum roll)
written by zaphod, January 11, 2009
Let's begin with the evidence provided of the crimes. They begin a little more than 4 years ago with the frequency of each killing escalating from 11 months between the first two down to a month between the last two. So there was more than likely a trigger 4 years ago that set off the first killing, and it is more than likely an ongoing situation rather than an isolated event: the killing quelled whatever stress was present, but like a drug, his murdering became less and less effective in removing that stress leading him to kill more often.

The victims were white, young, educated, independant women that represented a certain type of upper-class that the killer resented. The fact that the killer was able to engage in conversation with them indicates that he was at least college educated, socially confident, personable and more than likely sexually non-threatening in his behaviour. He is probably from a working-class family but works at a job that allows for a lot of interaction with upper-class. The killer is very organized and is not a drinker, preferring to remain in control, both of himself and others.

Okay, let's see who is the best fit: (love the mish-mash if serial killer names, by the way)

1. Jeffrey Gacy - NO, too young for one, too disorganized and impulsive for another. Also, though technically a native, he has no real lasting ties to the area as far as employment and need not limit his activities to the area.

2. John Wayne Zodiac - NO, since he goes to bars and clubs for sex and drinking. I would think the killer uses the clubs exclusively for his victim selection. This would almost be like pooping where you eat, as it were. Also, too disorganized with the drinking.

3. Charles Bundy - NO, wouldn't have left the jewelry. Although he is well organized and claims he doesn't value material possesions, I would think given his situation, he would've held onto the jewelry as a backup financial plan.

4. Jack Manson - NO, although a close match. He has a number of skills the killer does, namely social confidence around women, college educated and not a heavy drinker, nothing in his description either qualifies him as predisposed to murder or disqualifies him. Failing any real triggers or stresses, I see nothing here.

5. William George Tylenol - NO, far too socially akward. He has stresses and issues to be sure, but none of the skills to carry thru on the crimes here. Also too young.

6. Green River Ramirez - NO, too much drinking. Also seems to lack enough self-confidence to attempt such a prolonged criminal activity.

7. Gerard Wuornos - NO, also too young, but mostly the dog. The dog is an unstable element and would be considered something not in total control by the killer. Also, taking the dog to Death Valley runs the risk of the dog discovering the bodies. Far too risky.

8. Ted Shaefer - YES! He has the college education and the social confidence to be able to engage the victims, is from lower class parents, works at a job that affords interaction with the upper-class. Seems to have issues with the victimology in his background, the "stuck-up snob" that interviewed him at Harvard as well as the woman whom he walked away from at his job at the Wynn. I would guess that his girlfriend also fits the victimology, although I doubt she always did. Another big red flag is the change in behaviour when at Death Valley, showing more affection and being more relaxed which is how the killer would feel when at his "trophy room". Throw in his probable history of violence (I seriously doubt that a juvenile record for shoplifting would be kept sealed for over a decade, but I'm no lawyer) and you have the best fit of the bunch.

9. Richard Dahmer - NO, the death of his wife did occur around the time of the trigger, but it was an isolated incident, not an ongoing one. Also, he lacks the social confidence to engage the victims and also envisions his wife watching over him. By all accounts, serial murder would not be something he imagines she would approve of.

10. Clifford Heirens - NO, mainly due to his ambitions for early retirement mean he would have not only taken the jewelry from the victims, but also would not have been off work during peak Taxi-driving hours of 10 and 2.

So, there you have it: Ted Schaefer is my pick for the serial killer.
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Not better than woo
written by stifenlaso, January 11, 2009
Like weirdloser, I strongly object to this post. In spite of popular belief, profiling is not much better than guessing; and most "profilers" use outdated and very shaky versions of trait theories -which we now know are wrong. In you'll find a profound and comprehensive discussion of this issues. Here's the conclusion of that paper:

The notion that particular configurations of demographic features can be predicted from an assessment of particular configurations of specific behaviors occurring in short-term, highly traumatic situations seems an overly ambitious and unlikely possibility. Thus, until such inferential processes can be reliably verified, such claims should be treated with great caution in investigations and should be entirely excluded from consideration in court.

Besides not being in any way "scientific", I can't see why is this subject included in the SWIFT blog, which deals with skepticism and pseudoscience. Profiling (at least in the way it's currently done most of the time) is very likely as pseudoscientific as astrology.
Please stop promoting this stuff.
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My entry in the contest
written by adimosh, January 11, 2009
I will have to split my entry into two or more, since the site states that it is "too long".

This is Special Agent Wannabe Blank, commencing the profiling of the 10 possible suspects presented by the California Police, as follows:

Upon analyzing the details of the crimes, the common significant details of each victim are:
- young (all below 2smilies/cool.gif, but of legal age in any state (none was reported as being under 21)
- blonde hair, blue eyes
- hair cut short
- attended club(s) alone
- rich / had no obvious money problems, well-dressed, with jewelry
- raped with foreign object(s)
- abducted between 10 and 2

Upon analyzing the timeline of the abductions / murders, it is clear that the murderer has gone on a spree, as his impulse towards committing these crimes has virtually exploded during the past two years (and 2008 in particular).

The modus operandi shows that the criminal is not necessarily well-organized, but very concerned and burdened. The way the murders are committed, as resulting from the details, is this:
1. The suspect enters the club, pretending to be a single outgoing male, "looking for a bit of fun"
2. The suspect sets eyes on victim and uses his physical appearance and charm to lure her into a conversation and a drink
3. After a while, unknown to the victim, he slips rohypnol into her drink and makes sure that nothing looks suspicious (possibly doing this while still engaged in conversation with enough topics to touch), as the victim consumes the drink without any sign of worry
4. After rohypnol starts taking effect and before full black-out of the victim, he takes her out and into his car, driving her off
5. Victim is stripped naked, sexual intercourse takes place with the suspect using a foreign object rather than his own sexual organ
6. Victim's face is smashed with a hammer
7. Suspect puts a plastic bag on victim's face and suffocates her to death
8. Suspect takes dead body and belongings and buries them according to Police description
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Part 2
written by adimosh, January 11, 2009
Out of this, the following profile comes up:
- the suspect is not a known or public person; one could say that he is a "nobody", his face does not stand up in the crowd, and there are not many people that see his actual face; furthermore, the suspect goes to an even greater length covering his appearance by wearing the fedora, and makes sure that his license plates are not seen by the camera through means unknown (the situation doesn't mention that, even though this would probably be the first thing Police would be after smilies/smiley.gif ). By all means, the suspect is unknown to the public and intends to stay that way
- the suspect is deeply disturbed by either something that has happened or by something that still happens (perhaps his standing, social status, family situation, etc.), resulting in his serial killer behavior; the crimes seem to indicate that he is in need of recognition as a person and not as by his job or standing, which seems to be by all means dissatisfying to him
- since none of the wives / girlfriends / women that have ever had contact with the man have been mentioned as fitting the victimology in any way, it is therefore left that we presume the victim pattern is rather a symbol than an actual person responsible for misery in the suspect's life; it is more a desire of the suspect, rather than revenge; the symbol that therefore emerges is the courageous, up-start, independent, charming and good-looking female, the (if you'd pardon my expression) "get-it-all girl", that, although typically looked on as "that girl", refuses to abide by the standards and is a rebel (the cut hair and the going alone to clubs points to that)
- the suspect did not commit the crimes at the burial scene, and it goes without saying that he did not commit them at the abduction scene; rather, he committed them in a place he feels safe, in a place that he can be certain that nothing will interfere with his deeds; it therefore goes without saying that the object used to rape the victims and the plastic bag, as well as any other accessories used during this time will only be found with the victim
- the motive behind abduction does not seem to be murder, but rather a desire, a fantasy. The suspect ends up in a fit of rage against his victim for not conforming to his desires; he then ends up "punishing" her through death, but, before that, does one last desperate effort to get her "type" out of his mind, smashing her face and destroying her appearance
- his excessive care with the victim's jewelry and clothes indicates that he is not after these women themselves, but after the type, and is deeply ashamed of and concerned about what he is doing (which is indicated by the smashing of the face); it would not be surprising, though, if the suspect was on medication, had sleep disorders or was a drunkard
- the suspect feels powerless in the face of these women, despite his personal charm and physical appearance
- the suspect's feelings towards his ideal are so strong, that he does not dare rape them himself, probably feeling "unworthy"
- the suspect is the kind of person who would strike the investigators as odd for owning an SUV (the Honda CR-V)
- there is a strong feeling that the suspect is older than his victims, and has been so even with his first victim
- the suspect is not outgoing and his financial status isn't one of the happiest (the bottle of champagne is a clear indicator)

The following objective facts also come up:
- the suspect must be going to the Park often, and must be accustomed to the place
- the suspect must also have the financial possibility (or the recognized bad habit) of going to the Park often
- the suspect can be either strong, or weak, since even if he were strong enough to ruffle the victim inside his car, he couldn't risk doing that in a crowded, public place with cameras watching on him; physical strength is not necessarily a factor to eliminate suspects
- the killings and body dumpings weren't done overnight; the perpetrator would need quite some spare time at his disposal, and would need to be a person that nobody wonders about or notices if he goes missing fin the evening, to only reappear the next day or even later than that; possible, he was single
- the modus operandi indicates that the deeds could have been done by one man alone, an accomplice not being necessary
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Part 3
written by adimosh, January 11, 2009
Now comes the analysis of the suspects. I have taken the liberty of shuffling them around.

First, I analyze the suspects that I wish to clearly take off the list.

1. Jeffrey does in no way fit the profile of the suspect. Although he is probably the one with the most financial resources and could easily be on the business of body dispatch, he seems by all means a "free spirit", and therefore not bound by any obscure ideals. In fact, he does not seem to have any ideals at all. The fact that he is caught cheating by his girlfriend and that he does prefer one-night-stands indicates that he is not seeking the ideal person and does not have it in mind. The only one light abuse situation with his girlfriend indicates that the anger was momentary, genuine and spontaneous, otherwise we would find many numerous acccounts of either visibly repressed anger or fits of violence. He also does not seem the person who would hide, having no reason to do so. Also, he appears to have been very young when the first abduction/murder occurred. I therefore take Suspect 1 off the list.

4. Mr. Manson, at first, seems like a likely suspect. However, there is a problem with him: he's a bouncer at a hot club, and the faces of such are rarely forgotten. He clearly would have a hard time initiating conversation with just about anybody in a club of LV because of that, risking recognition on any attempt. Another big issue with this character is that, since he would be working at the time the abductions took place, he could not have the possibility to leave his place. Although he is forced to lie and hide his actual standing, clearly if he were the perpetrator, he would have thought of a better way of making himself invisible than wearing a fedora. His background indicates that he is an intelligent man, and this, combined with his job, takes him immediately off the list of suspects. At this point, we are left with 8 suspects.

7. I'm taking Gerard off the list of suspects from the start. His background shows no signs of desires to be (himself or in the company of) upper-class people. He appears to be the typical lower-class worker. No higher education has been mentioned in his profile. He would also have a hard time with the timing, due to his job and since both he and his wife are working at the same place. In case he would be the killer, surely the police would have found signs of the dog, or, if not, there would have been complaints or the neighbours would have noticed suspicious behavoir related to hte dog. Also, his familial status would make it very difficult for him to commit the crimes without anyone noticing. Also, he would not risk taking the dog to the Park to "run free" and possibly pinpoint the location of one of the graves (which would not be too difficult, since the graves were shallow). 7 suspects remaining for now.

10. Mr. Heirens, in order to be the killer, would have to be a fantastic actor and a magician so good, that he would do the abduction and killing deeds without his wife and boss ever noticing that the SUV was gone or that he was away for extended periods of time (necessary, in my opinion, to commit the crimes). Also, the frequent killings in the last year would surely have raised suspicion to his stay-at-home wife. Higher education and wisdom did not appear to be on the list of priorities for this man, and it would be unusual that an ideal so high in his victims would come to him. I'm taking him off the list, and there are 6 remaining suspects for now.
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Part 4
written by adimosh, January 11, 2009
That would be the clear take-offs. Let us now see the suspects that cannot be so easily taken off the list:

6. Green River Ramirez is definitely an interesting character. I'm certain that most would have indicated him as the most likely suspect, however, it is, in my opinion, impossible for him to be the killer. Although he has that self-doubt that is indicated in the first part of this analysis, although he is a drunkard, although he tries to hide from people despite his will to be recognized, there are some problems with him that put him off the list: one, he is married. He would have to not look suspicious to his wife(s) when doing the killings and dumping the bodies. Although he does rent a cabin in the Park, the abductions and killings have not only been in the vacational season, and my thoughts on the matter would be that he would have a really hard time justifying his going out to the Park so often. Two: he is a performing magician at the Hilton, and quite successful according to the testimony of his manager. His face is clearly difficult to miss in the croud, and he would also have to account for his whereabouts during these longer trips to dump the bodies. Three: his name suggests a Hispanic origin. Although passing as white would definitely be possible, certainly someone would have noticed until now that the killer had certain Hispanic traits. His public extra-marital affairs are also a tip-off that he is not the killer.

8. I will not be surprised if nearly everyone pointed towards Ted Schaeffer. Basically, "suspect" is written all over his face. He has had encounters with "snobbish" women, he was kicked out of the University because of a woman, he seeks professional high-class women, as shown by his relationship to a law consultant and his self-told desire to be more with her, he certainly seems to disregard himself, he feels "relaxed" in the Park and "more affectionate than usual". However, I will take him off the list as well. First, he is not single; his going out would look suspicious. Even more suspicious would be him going to clubs at night, though he is clearly an introvert AND, most importantly, having a girlfriend that would be home at that time. It is not specified what are his working times as a dealer, but if they are during day-time, he would look suspicious to his wife and friends, and if they were during evening or night times, well, the conclusion goes without saying. He does not appear to be the pathological introvert, and it is nearly impossible for him to not notice that he and his efforts are appreciated by those around him, therefore making him unfit for the profile. Also, wouldn't it be a clear tip-off if the earrings he gave to his girlfriend?

So, we are left with three people: No. 5, no. 9 and no. 2. Since these suspects are somewhat similar, I am forced to analyze them together.

First of all: none of the three suspects have wives or stable relationships. We therefore eliminate the possibility of them being suspected by spouses or girlfriends.
Second of all: all three of them seem to have something on their mind. Tylenol seems too stressed out with his University, Dahmer is still sorrow after the loss of his wife, and Zodiac "can't get out of character", though it is highly unusual to make jokes on the topic of serial killers, even though he is, in fact, a clown.
Third: All three share the apparent poverty in which they live.
Four: all of them go to the Park basically alone.
Five: None of them seem to care about their personal appearance.
Six: None of them hold relationship with parents.
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Part 5
written by adimosh, January 11, 2009
Tylenol (no. 5) seems a likely candidate, because he has access to rohypnol (please do correct me if I'm wrong, but last I read, the drug wasn't approved, and could not be marketed freely). His constant state of loss of self is also an alarm signal. However, it is unusual that he would have the time or the financial possibility to commit the crimes. Also, his locational and logistical possibilities are so limited, that it doesn't take a profiler to realize that he isn't very likely to be able to commit the murders (let alone so many of them). Also, it should be noted that the logistical challenges imply that the killer has to have some sort of "safe spot" in the Park, in case anything unforeseen arises.

Now, this leads us to Richard Dahmer (no. 9). His Fred AStaire liking tips off the fedora. His wife's death would be an apparent trigger. There is a very subtle hint that he goes to the Park at night (wishing to see the stars). He wasn't too young when the abductions started. But all the suspicions kind of end up here. He does not fit the profile because there seems to be nothing connecting him to this typology of women that are being targeted. There is nothing to indicate why he would prefer this type of women, or why. Rather, Richard looks more like a sad person that is slowly building up from the dust of his prematurely-ended marriage (your wife dying while you're 28 is certainly a tragedy). I had to ask myself: why would such a person start to commit crimes?

And if that hasn't convinced you, there's another problem with Richard: His wife dies "5 years ago", that placing her dead in 2004. Since the first victim was abducted in 2003, this means that his wife would have to still be alive while he committed the first murder. Strange as it is, there is absolutely no indication that he had any reason or desire to commit anything wrong in the first place.

And therefore, ladies and gentlemen of the Investigation Squad, we are left with just one suspect: Number 2, John Wayne Zodiac (please pardon me, but I couldn't help laughing when I saw his name). Now it may be deliberate on behalf of the people organizing this contest that he was given such a "sounding" name, but clearly he has absolutely nothing in common with it. He's not a John Wayne, and he's clearly not mystic.

Let me describe him, as I see him:
He is 35, older than any of the victims when he would have started the murders. He's unmarried, not in any stable relationship, he's a drunkard, he tries to push himself forward as a family guy, although it is obvious that he could never be one. He rents a cabin in the Park, he frequently visits clubs. He comes about as a man without many inhibitions, and seems to be a good talker (I have seen myself how far a funny personality can get you). He was always picked on, and therefore has built a sense of self-vengeance and the desire to excel. Not only that his face would be easily forgotten, but his face ISN'T THERE AT ALL: he is the only one of the suspects whose face clearly isn't public and can be easily hidden (he's a clown). Everything about him screams of frustration for not being something more than a mere clown, a figure that he uses in order to dissipate his sadness and inner wrath. Does it not look odd to anyone that a good-looking person would become a clown and therefore hide his personal appearance?

In my opinion, he is the only one that has any remote chance of fitting the profile. Also, his habits could not make anyone suspicious as to what he was doing in the Park at night, he is the only one who would not raise suspicion when going into clubs, he appears to be free-enough of inhibitions to be able to convince women to sit for a chat. Frequenting prostitutes, he could have access to rohypnol through unlawful sources. His logistical and timing possibilities also give him enough of a timeframe to commit the murders.

I strongly believe that it is John Wayne Zodiac, suspect no. 2, is the author of the murders based on the above line of logic.

This is Special Agent Wannabe Blank, thank you for your time.

Sorry I had to make such a mess out of the response.
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My "Solution"
written by GusGus, January 11, 2009

After reading all the excellent analyses above, I can only come to the conclusion that profiling is woo-woo. All the evaluations make sense, but they point to different suspects. Is this the point you were trying to make?
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written by redwench, January 11, 2009
The victims are all intelligent, dominant, outgoing, educated, and relatively secure, both financially and emotionally. The killer would then have to appear to be very similar.

What do the bodies say about the killer? The folded clothing indicates a very precise, if not compulsive, individual. The jewelry indicates that money is not an issue for the killer, as does the SUV and his clothing. Raping with a foreign object would indicate that the crime is not really sexual, but a matter of domination. The facial injuries and consistent appearance (short blonde hair, caucasian, blue eyes) probably mean that the victims are proxies for the person who the killer wants revenge on.

The killer is well dressed, with a dramatic flair as evidenced by the fedora. That combined with the vehicle would imply either someone with reasonable assets, or the ability to borrow them. The victims engaging him in conversation for extended periods, and drinking with him, indicate he is eloquent and charming. He is likely in an unsatisfying relationship, or none at all. Probably unsatisfied with life in general, or he would not be engaging in homicidal behavior. He is a night owl, and at his best during the hours of the crimes. The known crimes occurred over the last 5 years, so the initiating incident must predate that. He dehumanizes women, does not see them as equals.

Who matches the description most closely?
1. Too unstable, certainly not the fedora and alcohol type. Seems to be fairly satisfied with his current life. Day person. Not the suave, charming type.

2. Too uncontrolled, gambling and alcohol addictions. Known female associations do not match the victims, ie. successful socially and financially

3. No money, appears to be satisfied with his personal life, loving family background.

4. A good possibility. Well dressed, social, likes fine alcohol. Good self control. However, he has a good relationship with his wife/family, and stays home much of the time.

5. No money, a nervous wreck.

6. Excellent possibility. Charming, financially successful, eloquent, controlled, precise by profession. Expert in misdirection and probably a good actor. Married several times, and apparently uses women sexually. Current wife is "inferior" to him (former assistant). Off stage, has self esteem issues. Unsatisfied personally and professionally. Night owl. The sexual harassment complaint indicates his dehumanizing of women (power, not sex is usually behind harassment. It would be odd for someone with a "normal middle class" family to refuse to discuss them.

7. No money. Stable, loving family. Healthy relationship with women. Considerate, and a casual dresser.

8. Doesn't seem to have an issue with women in general, too unfocused and undisciplined to commit the crimes.

9. To all appearances, a fairly normal individual. He is emotionally needy, not out for revenge.

10. Emotionally secure, with no money. Appears to be a happy guy with a stable history. Gregarious, but not smooth.

overall, Green River Ramirez appears to fit the bill the best. Although he has a hispanic and/or native american name, there is nothing about the description to indicate what his appearance is.
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written by badger3k, January 11, 2009
Using the woo-based "profiling" in the way described - to eliminate people from he pool of suspects - sounds more like normal police procedures and not the typical profiling we hear about. I'm actually surprised that people don't think much of profiling, since we see so much favorable press in tv. Even such normally good shows like Bones gives good press to profiling. Unfortunately, as you said, it rarely works as advertised. What you seem to be doing with this test is a simple exercise of knowing people and their habits. Is this a new definition of profiling?

For the challenge, I'd go with number eight. He studied vulcanology, so he has to have a hammer. Seriously, how about some more information that we might have as detectives. What were the individuals doing at the times of the disappearances. Do they have alibis? Do any of them have or have access to a vehicle similar to the one reported? How about the important information, rather than this mental masturbation effort?
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Elementary my dear Watson!
written by MAZZ, January 11, 2009
Let's start with who didn't dun it:
Jeff G.: I've gotta rule out Jeff because he seems to be a very carefree person. This attitude would result in him not holding any particular grudges (especially against women since his interactions with women are purely pleasurable). Also, he would not be organized well enough to commit the crimes and maintain the level of neatness.
John W.Z.: John strikes me more as a possible pedophile (I think I've just entered the bonus round!) or possibly homosexual. He appears to love to be around children, in fact he bases his career choices on the establishments being "Family Friendly." The alcoholism shows problems with control and the fact that his ex knows all about his excursions shows he's not good at hiding things.
Charles B.: The fact that Charles appears to be an intelligent guy who hasn't had the opportunity to express it in life would lead to him being frustrated. However he appears to have found ways to make the best of his life. He's taking college classes online, he seems to have a happy home life, he indulges his mind with reading classical literature and he and his wife have an arrangement to keep their marriage "fresh". Besides the fact that he has no triggers to cause him to murder (so violently at that) he has made his situation work for him.
Jack M.: Jack Jack Jack. I want so badly for Jack to be the killer! He's outgoing, flirtatious, attractive, well dressed (besides the hair which may be a trademark, hence the hat!). I thought initially that the birth of his first child coinciding with the start of the murders, with the escalation around the time of the birth of his second was enough of a motive. However, Jack isn't the killer. He appears the like the fact that he has never been in a fight (even after being threatened) which makes me believe he isn't violent. Also, despite the fact that he's attracted to strong, successful women i.e.: his wife. He doesn't show any aggression toward women. P.S. Jack may have a double life, possibly a second girlfriend but not serial killing.
Will G.T.: William is much too frenzied and worried to have committed the murders. Yes, he comes from the damaged childhood, and yes, he may possibly have access to rohypnol. However, he doesn't have the confidence needed to approach the women, talk with them for half an hour while secretly drugging them. He'd freak out. If he did somehow manage to get through that part he would bury them much deeper in the hopes that they would not be found.
Green R.R.: Green is outgoing and very lucky with the ladies. However it is one thing for women to approach you after you have just had a successful performance onstage, and a totally different thing to go to bars and approach women. Green is not confident and an alcoholic. That would lead to very erratic behavior. Nothing like what we see with our killer.
Gerard W.: Gerard is a family man. He appears to be very focused on family. He's a bit of an underachiever but not a murderer. He goes and reads to his sick mother! Works with his father and his wife. His dress is not that of the killer. He may have a drinking issue which could cause problems if he's trying to keep his composure in a club. He's also uninformed and uninterested in news, even news possibly related to the serial killer.
Rich D.: Rich is a very lonely man. He's also very awkward as evidenced by the conversations with motel patrons. That would be a problem since our killer is charming and personable with women. He may have some aversion to women that frequent clubs but I think that would lead him to avoid the women, not kill them.
Cliff H.: Cliff is a hard worker, happy and family oriented. All he wants is to work for his pay and get home to his family. Cliff has no reason to commit the murders and does not exhibit any violent tendencies.
Ted S.: Ted's the KILLER! Ted is very short tempered as shown by his storming off the job due to 1 customer. That customer, and the admissions lady from Harvard, both fit the description of the victims. His girlfriend also seems to fit the description of the victims. He appears to be unconfident which may lead him to believe he is undeserving of the women. This is what causes him to lavish the gifts and surprise extravagant meals on his girlfriend. It is also smash the women's faces with the hammer. He is from a lower-class family which makes him hate wealthy people. He's interested in psychology (as a hobby), which may include criminal psychology, leading him to believe he will get away with the crimes forever (leading to the increased frequency of killings.) Throw in the sealed history, possibly containing violence (against animals anybody?) and you have the makings of a serial killer!

John may be accused, and possibly convicted of pedophilia later.
Will may commit a violent crime later, possibly even murder or rape.
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written by nelson650, January 11, 2009
They telling me a T did it. Tom, Tim, Tad-do any of these mean anything? I'm seeing an uncle with a pain in the chest area, maybe a cough? Anything making sense? I will remotr veiw this and get back to you after my appearance on Montel.....
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It was Tylenol!
written by, January 11, 2009
I think William George Tylenol is the killer.

He is intelligent, antisocial and is unable to act upon his sexual needs. He always feels like he is not worthy of whatever little accomplishments he gets (such as kissing a girl on the first date, acing a test, etc.)

He says he doesn't have a relationship because he doesn't have time, but this is clearly a lie.

His work is methodical and gives him access to drugs. He also seems to be rather compulsive about his actions, as he is NEVER late and NEVER calls in sick, as if going to work was a ritual he could not break.

He looks stressed because he probably can't sleep at night. The Rohypnol could possibly not even be stolen, it could have been prescribed to him for his insomnia. But he knows what is keeping him up at night - the anger towards his foster mom, and the many women out there who are just like her. And he knows precisely how to get rid of this stress - by killing them. All of them. Which is why, just past his bedtime (10pm), he leaves the house and finds the women at the clubs.

He predates on women that pretend to give attention/affection to males, only to use them as means of obtaining money/perks. This reflects his foster mother's attitude, which he despised. She was probably close to the victims' age and appearance.

He smashes their faces so he can picture hers, instead, as he rapes the victims. He uses an object because he is impotent - either because of an erectile disfunction or because he, even at this moment of domination, cannot stand up to women.

He is also a premed student and knows that the Rohypnol would be hard to detect due to decomposition.
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Oh no, not Tylenol ! Anyone but Tylenol ! :)
written by adimosh, January 11, 2009
I'd have to say, the answer about Tylenol being the killer is surely interesting.

I stand by my opinion that he couldn't have been the killer, though. It's logistically challenging for someone to do the killings, and a person who, I quote, "is never late and never calls in sick" would have a really hard time doing everything properly in the allocated time. Also, he does not look like the kind of person who could entertain a person such as the victims for one hour in a club.

I wonder... hasn't Mr. Randi somehow chipped in a bit in this contest? Since Ramirez is a magician and stuff... Hasn't he played a little bit of "How would I have to be if I were a serial killer?" I'm just curious on that.
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written by asmith, January 11, 2009
I can't remember who asked what questions, and I've already pored over the answers, so I'll just respond to what I remember without saying who I'm talking to, and we can pretend I'm talking to a wall.

Yes, actually conducting interviews of suspects is police work, not BAU work. The actual procedure needed to be summarized in order to allow this exercise to be a contest. In the contest, participants are both local police and BAU agents.

This is why - the BAU deals, for the most part, with unknown perpetrators. That means they analyze crime scenes, the mode of death (if it is homicide they are investigating), the victims chosen. They interview victims if there are survivors. They then build a profile from the ground up.

That was not a feasible way to conduct a contest.

Instead, participants both created and utilized the profiles.

No, Mr. Randi was not a part of designing the contest. The first and last (and middle, where applicable) names were all taken from real life serial killers. "Ramirez" was chosen for Richard Leyva Ramirez, also known as 'The Night Stalker.'

All other questions will be addressed at the close of the contest.
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written by rightbrain, January 12, 2009
Hmm, I suspect this exercise is intended to show that profiling doesn't work, but it's fun, so here goes.

Supposedly, all of these suspects had the opportunity to commit these crimes (and make the drive to Death Valley and back, which is what, maybe 2 to 3 hours each way), so I'll take that as a given.

First, the suspects I ruled out:

1. Jeffrey Gacy. He's amoral, but seems to have plenty of outlets for his need to take risks: extreme sports, serial sex. His comment about murder being an attempt to absorb the power of the universe is unsettling, but also a little obvious (and woo) if he's the killer.

3. Charles Bundy. Intelligent but too introverted-the blond party girls aren't likely to care much about Voltaire. He also focuses his imagination on writing.

4. Jack Manson. He's good at identifying party girls (good victims). His remark about politics suggests he may be good at manipulating people. But the killer has anger issues-he's beating these women in the face with a hammer-and it's noted that even as a bouncer dealing with unruly drunks, Jack has never engaged in a fight. Most serial killers can't control their anger that well. And it seems unlikely he would take his young children to the place where he buried his victims.

5. William George Tylenol. He's got the messed up background, but he's likely way too emotional to pull off crimes like these.

7. Gerard Wuornos. He seems to have solid relationships. Plus, he has a dog-and probably would have left a dog hair or two (at least) on the victims' bodies or clothing. He also shows little interest in the crimes.

9. Richard Dahmer. He doesn't have the social skills. As both his customers and he point out, he's not very good at talking to people, especially women.

10. Clifford Heirens. He has a mobile lifestyle, but nothing else at all in his background suggests that he would be a killer. He's apparently quite happy with his life.

Now on to the three possibles:

2. John Wayne Zodiac. At first I ruled him out because he struck me as too disorganized, with his gambling, drinking. But there is one huge red flag-his girlfriend broke up with him four years ago (and the relationship may have started going downhill before that, about the time the first murder was committed), and he has not had a relationship since. He is also familiar with the off-strip clubs. He and his mother have lost contact-there's obviously some problem with that relationship. As a clown, he would most likely own a fedora. However, he has a clear history of dealing with stress by drinking, gambling and going to prostitutes. Seems likely that he would simply repeat that pattern. And there is no evidence in his past suggesting he has any particular problem with women.

6. Green River Ramirez. Not wanting to talk about his family is a red flag-that and his low self-esteem hint at possible abuse. Many would find his profession very interesting, so he would have no trouble picking up women. His remarks on disappearances suggest he could have a bit of a problem distinguishing the line between reality and fantasy. The scenes are also staged; the women's clothing is neatly folded. But this guy is a performer and would be running a big risk that someone would recognize him, fedora or no fedora. If he were kidnapping women, he’d probably do it more discreetly. The other problem is that he works with his wife (assuming she's still his assistant). Grabbing a quickie with a female fan is one thing. Getting off from work, saying "Seeya later, honey," picking up a woman, killing her and driving 5 hours roundtrip is another.

8. Ted Schaefer. He's my choice because of who the victims are: sociable, confident, attractive, and unlikely to flirt with just anybody. Ted is described as handsome, charismatic and good to women. He actually sounds too good to be true, which means he's either gay or a psychopath. :-) A man who gives his girlfriend Tiffany jewelry and makes vichysoisse probably dresses well and knows how to impress the ladies. He would be able to easily attract these women and quickly gain their trust. The fact that he mentions the "stuck up" woman at Harvard after several years is telling. Another stuck up woman probably cost him his job at Wynn--it would be useful to know when that incident occurred...maybe about five years ago? He has also been in trouble with the law, if only as a teenager.

Mostly I chose him because his profile is similar to that of Ted Bundy. The crimes are similar as well. Bundy beat, then strangled, nearly all of his victims, and often raped them with objects. He was handsome, educated, charismatic, well-liked, and had a steady girlfriend. His victims were similar to each other in age and looks.

Of course, every serial killer is different, especially the fictional ones, but what the heck, similarity to Ted Bundy is as good a rationale as any.
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Provisionally, Ted Shaefer is the killer...
written by James R, January 12, 2009
(Due to length, I'll have to split this into two halves.)

We are told that "these crimes are designed. They are the perfect conditions for a profiler." Under perfect conditions the obvious has to be correct.

The victims were 22-28 year-old women who were attractive, well dressed, of above-average intelligence, well employed, social, strong-willed and independent. They were apparently willing to sit down and talk to the offender for up to half an hour, despite not being short of other opportunities to meet and dance with interesting people. The offender must have been able to hold his own in a conversation with an intelligent and attractive woman, indicating that he is likely to be intelligent, educated and attractive himself. Most probably, the offender would have been of a similar age to his victims at the time of the crimes, and of the same race. Obviously, he must have been able to abduct the women between 10 pm and 2 am. He must also have had enough money to be able to buy good clothes and to afford drinks such as champagne.

The offender's modus operandi suggests that he planned his crimes well in advance, bringing along necessary tools (e.g. drugs for the drinks, the hammer, the plastic bag and a shovel used to dig the grave). The drugging of the women suggests that the offender could not necessary rely on brute strength during the abductions.

The crimes obviously followed a predetermined plan - attracting a victim, drugging her, abducting her, driving her to a safe location (for the killer), stripping her, humiliating her and physically hurting her (rape), building to a frenzy of attack with the hammer and finally suffocating her with the bag, followed by burial. It is not totally clear what the major satisfaction was for the killer. Perhaps it was in the humiliation or induced fear of the victim, or perhaps it lay in the final act of suffocation.

The killer clearly likes a routine and a plan. His crimes show a kind of regret or at least respect for the victim after the fact, as evidenced by the burials. The compulsive neatness of the folded clothes (with no blood) might show either respect, or just a fastidious kind of orderliness. Perhaps the killer is impotent, or maybe the rapes are just another form of humiliation of his victims.

The extreme anger shown by the killer, and particularly the viciousness of his attacks show that the killer has major issues with women. Since all of the victims were strong, successful women, the killer himself is probably resentful of such women and may well have had negative experiences with such women in his past. He may be submissive to such women in his "normal" life, or he may be open about his resentment.

Out of the 10 suspects, number 8 (Ted Shaefer) is my prime suspect. He is 29 now and would have been around 24 at the time of the first crime. We are not given precise dates, but his experience with the affluent young woman at the Wynn could well have occurred at around the time of the first killing, and may even have been a trigger for the start of his killing spree. We know Ted has had some issues with women, including his rejection at Harvard by the woman he called a "stuck-up snob".

As is common with serial killers, Ted is an under-achiever, holding a series of relatively low-status jobs that he may consider below his intellectual ability. His girlfriend appears to be higher-status than him, and he is perhaps over-attentive to her. He may well be intelligent, but he dropped out of his university course. He is charismatic. He seems like a planner who pays attention to detail (e.g. see his cooking). His interest in the investigation is typical of serial killers, and he has a criminal record as a juvenile (we don't know what for).
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written by James R, January 12, 2009
As for the other suspects:

Gacy is probably a little too young, but more importantly he is too physically strong. He would not have needed to drug his victims in order to abduct them.

Zodiac's alcoholism and gambling show that he lacks self-control, whereas the killer is most likely a very organised and controlling person.

Bundy attacts attention, but doesn't quite fit the profile. He may be an under-achiever, but he doesn't seem unhappy with his position in life. He apparently had a normal childhood, with a mother who did not stifle him.

Manson, being a bouncer, may not have had the opportunity to abduct the victims at the given times. He is also most likely fit and muscled and would therefore not need to drug victims. He is not meticulously presented and he does not seem to be an under-achiever.

Tylenol is the youngest of the suspects - probably too young. He lacks the self-confidence necessary to commit these crimes.

Ramirez appears to have some issues with women - he has been married 3 times and a complaint of sexual harassment has been filed against him. He never went to college, and seems unsatisfied with his job as a magician. His drinking to excess and intercourse with fans suggest that he may not be the meticulous planner that the killer is. We don't know about Ramirez's upbringing. He does match my profile in some ways, but Ted is a better match.

Wuornos seems like an individual with a balanced family life. He is kind to his pets, his family and his neighbours. He is not a snappy dresser and does not have much money. He is uneducated.

Dahmer lacks the social skills to engage intelligent, attractive women. His upbringing and marriage show no signs that would suggest that he would turn to violence.

Heirens is happy in his job and in his life. He is uneducated and never wanted to go to college.

In a real investigation, of course, a lot more information would be available. There may well be important information that we do no have that would rule any of these suspects in or out. A conclusion based on a profile must necessarily be tentative and always subject to revision in the light of new information.


From the information given, there's no real reason to suspect anybody of crimes other than what is suggested explicitly by the information given.

Gacy may be prone to possible domestic abuse, but it's a long shot.
Zodiac may be picked up for drunk and disorderly conduct at some point.
Ramirez might conceivably be charged with sexual harassment, or possibly rape.
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My solution
written by rosie, January 12, 2009
1. Jeffrey Gacy - No (not yet)
A typical rich kook with woo-ful ideas who would certainly hurt anyone he felt like hurting and considers murder to be just another fun activity, but at present is too busy having a good time to invest any effort into it. This type could easily turn into a serial murder if somebody crossed him: he would be ruthless and vicious but probably not all that cautious.

2. John Wayne Zodiac - No
A sad drunk who is probably not organized enough for these murders. Could get suicidal.

3. Charles Bundy - No
A basically positive guy with a love of reading. Not a criminal type.

4. Jack Manson - No
Sounds like the type to sleep around, probably not averse to violence, but not this type of killing.

5. William George Tylenol - No
Neurotic, should see a shrink.

6. Green River Ramirez - Borderline possible
The only candidate who would have found it easy to drug the drinks. Talking about people vanishing and reappearing seems quirky, but it seems unlikely he would "vanish" somebody and then smash their face in.

7. Gerard Wuornos - No
Sounds like a nice guy.

8. Ted Schaefer - Highly probable
The only candidate who has specific problems with uppity women, which must be the reason for the victims being violated and disfigured. A customer getting annoyed over a bad deal ought to have amused him, but he was too overcome to continue functioning normally. Did this event predate the first murder? Did his interview at Harvard?

9. Richard Dahmer - No
No reason to doubt his genuine grief. Not religious enough to be a kook.

10. Clifford Heirens - No
Sounds like a nice guy.


Gacy could be capable of anything, up to and including murder.
Zodiac could get violent if he doesn’t get suicidal first.
Manson and Ramirez are both likely to committ sexual harassment or rape.
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