The investigation of a crime is like solving a puzzle with missing pieces (of which you are sure not all the pieces are there). To reconstruct a crime, a murder case for instance, several little puzzles must be solved. These puzzles, the forensic analyses, need to be put together in order to create an overall story of the crime scene. This than will lead to (but also will be influenced by) a crime scenario; a chronological description of how ( the manner), by who and why the crime has been committed. The crime scenario needs an actor, the offender, to be casted to fit in with that story. Offender profiling can be seen as the casting director, as it tries to describe the most likely character to have committed the crime based on the reconstruction. Profiling also has a part to play in writing the scenario of the crime based upon the reconstruction (Van der Kemp & Balk, 2009). As to avoid tunnel vision (and possible wrongful convictions) investigators are asked to produce and investigate alternative scenarios, but little is known what constitutes a good crime scenario and who is good at creating them. The offender profiling literature show little insight in this process. This paper will present a study on the creation of crime scenarios and the influence of fantasy to try to distinguish those better at creating crime stories from those that make less plausible ones. The results will be discussed in relation to the basic processes of offender profiling and criminal investigations.
17 Jun 2010
20th Conference of the European Association of Psychology and Law