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Geographic profiling expert

Geographic profiling expert working on case of missing women

IAN BAILEY

Canadian Press

Tuesday, May 18, 1999


VANCOUVER (CP) - A world-renowned expert in the police tool of geographic profiling says he’ll have to try some twists in his usual routines to crack the case of 21 missing women.

"We are trying to use whatever tools we can, bearing in mind that we don’t have a fundamental source of information - a crime scene," said Vancouver police Det. Insp. Kim Rossmo.

Rossmo, a 19-year veteran, has gained an international reputation for his advanced work in tracking suspects by computer calculations based on their crime scenes.

But in the case of the women missing from Vancouver’s tough downtown eastside since 1995, there are no crime scenes and no bodies.

"There’s some information, but not nearly as much as we would like to have," Rossmo said in an interview.

"That limits our options, but doesn’t mean we’re not going to try whatever options are available."

Using profiling to focus on a suspect’s home is one option, "but there are other geographic components that sometimes are helpful.

"I think we can contribute something of value."

The mysterious disappearances of the women, who worked as prostitutes, have sparked fears a serial killer may be at work in the tough neighbourhood which has been ravaged by drugs and crime.

Last week, more than 300 people held a memorial service for the missing women.

Family members lit a candle for each missing woman during the emotionally wrenching ceremony which ended with a march through city streets.

The city and province have agreed to put up a $100,000 reward for information that helps solve the mystery. Vancouver’s mayor has proposed paying a reward of up to $2 million in the case.

While earning a criminology doctorate at Simon Fraser University, Rossmo developed a program that allows a computer to predict the area where a criminal is likely to live based on where crimes are committed.

Rossmo has used the program successfully in investigations of murders, rapes, arsons, and robberies in North America and Europe.

The FBI, Scotland Yard and other police agencies have sought his advice and insights.

Rossmo said he has been involved in the investigation of the missing women for several months and said it is now a large priority for his division.

A meeting on the situation was held last week.

"There are some promising lines of inquiry that we brainstormed and came up with," he said, declining to provide further details.

Rossmo said there is no conclusive evidence that there is a single predator stalking the women, "but we have to consider that as a definite possibility."

Two detectives in the department’s Missing Persons unit are working full-time on the case, with help from a constable.

Rossmo said the challenge now is to sort through various possibilities.

Some of the women may have committed suicide or died in accidental circumstances in which their bodies would not be immediately found, he said.

But he noted that prostitutes face extreme risks in their work, which raises the possibility that some of the women may have been killed by one or more people.

"With this thing, there are so many variables," he said. "You have to consider all options simultaneously, not block yourself into one."


The Canadian Press, 1999

21 Vanished since 1995

 

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Updated: August 21, 2016