What actually goes into building a criminal profile? What information needs to be gathered from a crime, or crimes, in order to build the most accurate and helpful profile possible? Are the most accurate profiles built from serial crimes because there are more distinguishable behavioral patterns? It would make sense if that were the case, but not necessarily, although investigators do admit that separate crimes committed by seemingly the same individual can and do give them more information than a single crime. Having said that, a plethora of information about the suspect(s) can be gathered from just one crime scene by someone with a trained eye.
Information gathered from a crime scene that can be used to create a criminal profile includes: the time and day the crime occurred, the location, the type of crime, as well as the type of weapon used and the way it was used. Investigators also note the sex, age and race of the victim(s), which can in turn help them determine the sex, age and race of a potential suspect. If there are multiple crimes with the same type of victim, this information can help investigators determine if the suspect(s) had a possible grudge against that certain population. If any kind of sexual act took place during the crime(s), this can lead profilers to look at suspects with a background as a sex offender or as a possible motive in the crime. Profilers also pay attention to trace evidence left at the scene, whether a crime scene appears to be staged, and whether or not “tokens” of the crime were taken by the suspect(s), all of which can tell them how sophisticated or experienced the suspect(s) may be, as well as their possible level of education and background demographics.
The more information that is gathered from a crime scene, the more accurately criminal profilers can create a profile, which in turn can make it easier to make sure they “get the right person” who actually committed the crime(s).