Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Profiling JonBenét Ramsey's Murder


The first two stages of a criminal investigation are to determine whether or not a crime or crimes have been committed and if so, accurately determine what the crime(s) are. In this case, the initial appearance was that of a kidnapping for ransom, but there was a seismic shift a few hours into the investigation, when the victim's body was recovered in the house from which she had allegedly been abducted.

JonBenét Ramsey
JonBenét Ramsey

The process of criminal investigative analysis involves analyzing all of the physical and behavioral evidence, including all of the choices an offender makes before, during and after a crime. In a homicide, these choices include selecting a victim, choosing the method and manner of death, deciding what, if anything, to do with the body and whether or not to "stage" the crime. Staging occurs when an offender alters the crime and/or crime scene to obfuscate his involvement by presenting false motive(s) to mislead investigators. Of all of the choices that an offender makes, arguably some of the most important are choosing to do things that are otherwise unnecessary. Apparently unnecessary choices are as important to analyze as they are necessary to a particular offender, and thus may help distinguish him from other potential suspects.

Every meaningful crime analysis begins with victimology a study of the victim. The purpose of victimology is to accurately place an individual on a risk continuum from low to moderate to high, based on an analysis of the individual's lifestyle and the situational and contextual variables present at the time of the crime.