Studying serial killers is frightening because it’s not just a hypothetical exercise — they are real. They are the ultimate bogeymen, the monsters of your worst nightmares, ready to kill, mutilate, and destroy the innocent. They come from all walks of life, religions, and political orientations, and they may be the smiling, courteous stranger standing in front of you in the checkout line of your local grocery store.

“Behavior reflects personality. The best indicator of future violence is past violence. To understand the ‘artist,’ you must study his ‘art.’ The crime must be evaluated in its totality. There is no substitute for experience, and if you want to understand the criminal mind, you must go directly to the source and learn to decipher what he tells you. And, above all: Why + How = Who,” according to John E. Douglas, Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit.

In this series, we’ll be exploring the science of profiling, characteristics of serial killers, and how you can improve your skills to better recognize predators living among us.

What Is Criminal Profiling?

“Profiling is the reverse engineering of a crime or a series of crimes. We look at the behavior exhibited, and we work backward to the type of person and the type of personality who committed that crime, because every offender picks a particular victim at a particular time, at a particular place, in a particular manner, for a particular purpose. Those choices that he makes reveal things, unwittingly, about himself: what his desires are, what his capabilities are,

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