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Kim Rossmo sheds light on 'stranger' criminality

The Canadian Press

June 28, 2005

REGINA -- A former Vancouver police officer who invented a crime-fighting tool called geographic profiling says that "stranger" crimes -- perpetrated by someone who doesn't know his victims -- are not easy to solve.

Kim Rossmo, a research professor at Texas State University, has been involved in several high-profile crime cases in Canada and the U.S.

His system was used in the probe into the snipers who terrorized Washington in 2002 and the murders committed in Ontario by Paul Bernardo.

He was also one of the first to suggest a serial killer was responsible for the disappearance of prostitutes from the Vancouver area. Robert Pickton now faces 27 charges of first-degree murder in that case.

Speaking to an audience at the University of Regina, Rossmo said that sometimes one can get the impression from Hollywood "whodunits" that solving a crime is a relatively easy matter.

But he noted that early on, Bernardo was just one of 3,200 suspects in the deaths of schoolgirls Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. And in the early 1980s, when the Yorkshire Ripper killed 13 women in northern England, police started out with a list of 268,000 names.

His method of geographic profiling can help pare down that kind of information overload, he said.

Often, a so-called random murder isn't so random if one considers how the offender hunted the victim or chose the location to commit the crime.

Using real cases, Rossmo showed his audience maps containing clusters of dots tracking crimes ranging from abductions to murders and rapes.

His computer then shifted to maps that superimpose colours over those dots, with the colour becoming more intense the closer to the cluster. Then Rossmo added the known offender's home or office, often in the red zone at the core of the crimes.

"The locations of crimes are very much a function of a criminal's non-criminal behaviour," he said.

 The Vancouver Province 2005

Geographic Profiler warned of serial killer targeting Vancouver women-Mar 18, 2002

Two former police officers join call for investigation-Mar 16, 2002

Vancouver Police kept quite on possible serial killer-June 21, 2001

 

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Updated: August 21, 2016