Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Clairemont Killer

Linkage Analysis

FBI profiler John Douglas
FBI profiler John Douglas

FBI profiler John Douglas, then the chief of the Behavioral Sciences Unit, was asked to assist with providing proof with evidence and psychology that the six cases were related. He wrote about his involvement in Journey into Darkness, in a section about the difference between an offender's method of operation and his signature. Douglas says that Former Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty, with whom he'd worked on another case, had recommended him to the San Diego police. Special Agent Larry Ankrom, also in the unit, had geographical jurisdiction, so they entered the case together.

Special Agent Larry Ankrom
Special Agent Larry Ankrom

At this time, there had been only three murders the ones at the Buena Vista Gardens apartment complex. The profilers viewed these crimes as high risk for the offender, since they were perpetrated during the middle of the day when other residents could have spotted him. Thus, they expected that he was familiar with the apartment complex and perhaps lived there. He knew how to go about entering apartments and slipping out without being seen (although with the Holly Tarr murder he'd misjudged and had been accosted while still in the apartment), so he might have a record for breaking and entering. They expected to learn that other woman had been approached or accosted in this same area, prior to the start of the murders.

From what the profilers had learned from interviewing offenders around the country, they expected that this first murder, performed in an area familiar to the offender, probably occurred as the result of a stressful incident in his life. Whatever it was, it would have triggered a desire to punish someone a woman. His victim would be a stand-in for the person he really wanted to punish. He'd probably hold women accountable for whatever annoyed him, and he would be abusive with his wife or girlfriend as well. He probably gave the items taken from the victims to his wife or girlfriend, secretly delighting in the fact that he'd picked them off a person he'd killed. Doing this would inspire an added sense of control. He might also live in a dependent relationship with a woman, which would make him angry, and he'd have a spotty employment history and issues with authority.

Douglas and Ankrom told the task force that they should publicize the list of traits, along with the probability that the offender's behavior would have changed somewhat since the first murder, evident in activities such as greater substance abuse or secrecy. People who knew him might recognize his involvement from behavioral clues and his absence during the times of the murders, and provide helpful information. Since he'd been spotted at this apartment complex, Douglas suggested he'd move on and find victims elsewhere.


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