Saturday, October 5, 2019

Forensic Psychology and Serial Murders Term Paper

Forensic Psychology and Serial Murders - Term Paper Example Whether it is fiction or truth, the serial killer has always found a place in modern society. Eventually serial killers are caught and it is often forensic evidence that puts them in prison. Once they are captured, they give the police who capture them important information to use into how to find others who commit these crimes. The purpose of this research is to examine the forensic psychology that may go into gaining a conviction of some of the most famous serial killers. The challenge is that this information is not always available and the researcher must examine what they can find and see how forensic psychology fits into it. In the cases of most of the famous serial killers, they did something that put the police on their trail. As an example, John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer had police come to their homes after someone escaped from their grasp. When the police entered their living quarters, they found evidence out in the open (though Gacy's was buried in his crawl space) tha t eventually led to their conviction. In this paper, I will examine some of the most famous serial killers: John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Stephanie Wernick, Jeffrey Dahmer and David Berkowitz. Each of these killers hunted other humans and they were subsequently hunted by the police, the FBI and forensic teams. Each was eventually found through something that they did, but forensic psychology had a hand in establishing their guilt and finally putting them in prison where they belonged. 1. Defining Forensic Psychology Although many people may think that forensic psychology is only about profiling criminals, there is more to it than profiling. In reality, forensic psychology blends several areas. It combines the civil and criminal sides of the justice system with the clinical and experimental aspect of psychology (Roesch, Zapf and Hart 3). Because of this blending, it has been difficult for experts to find an exact definition of this science. Instead, different organizations have created their own definitions. According to the American Board for Forensic Psychology, the definition for this science "is the application of the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system" (as qtd. in Roesch, Zapf and Hart 4). This is a very vague definition and there are none that are more specific. In this paper, this definition will be used. 1.1 The Beginnings of Defining Serial Killers The term serial killer is not as old as people may think. It was actually coined during the David Berkowitz ("Son of Sam") hunt by an FBI Agent, Robert K. Ressler, who was an expert on serial murders (Simon 252). According to the FBI there are only about 200-500 people who are committing serial murders and they kill approximately 3500 people a year (Simon 19). The most heinous seem to be the ones that most people hear about in the news. There are many categories of serial killers. Some kill for sexual pleasure, some are mentally ill, and others are considered psychopaths. To convict serial killers, forensic evidence must be used to attach information that the police have found to the individual charged with the crime. 2. The Common Characteristics of Serial Killers All serial killers have similarities especially when they are categorized into the type of serial killing they do. According to Forensic Psychiatrist Robert Simon, serial

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