Forensic Science Take-Home Exam II
Instructions: Type out your answers (single-space; normal font, size type 11 or 12) to the following questions. Questions should be answered in paragraph form. Be sure to answer, and address all specific questions. Answers should be focused and should address the question(s) being asked. Be sure not to be too brief or short; answer questions completely.
1. Explain why in some ways Jeffery Dahmer fit the typical profile of a seral killer, and in other ways how he did not fit the typical profile of a serial killer. Use a separate paragraph to make each point. You should include specific facts in making such points.
Jeffery Dahmer was a horrible man who did horrible things. In some ways some people may say he doesn’t fit the typical profile of a serial killer. He didn’t have the background of a serial killer. Dahmer grew up in a loving and caring family. In an interview of past classmates of his, they described Dahmer as a model student, very polite, respectful, attractive per se, and very intelligent. His father had a Ph.D. in chemistry and Dahmer even attended college for a semester before dropping out. When things were looking grim for Dahmer his father persuaded him into joining the army to get him back on the right path. All significant points that people would not describe as a serial killer.
There are also ways in which Dahmer did fit the stereotypical type of a serial killer. Dahmer’s father states that he was an awkward kid and suffered with social skills, he didn’t open up to anyone and didn’t have any close friends. Even though he had loving parents, Dahmer was in the mist of his parent’s divorce due to his mother’s sufferings of anxiety. As stated, he was also a very curious adolescent often bringing back road kill animals back to his house and dissecting them. During his adolescent years, he would not only fantasize about homosexual encounters but also killing men and dismembering their bodies. So, from an early age, Dahmer was already thinking about killing and mutilating bodies. Dahmer was also a an alcoholic and a necrophiliac. He had a psychological mindset of a serial killer receiving pleasure from strangling his victims. Dahmer would dismember and keep certain body parts of his victims for pleasure or experimental purposes and he even went to the extent in indulging in cannibalism.
2. Do you feel the “insanity plea” is fair or justified? How often is it used? What is the likely outcome of someone claiming “insanity”? Do you think the laws governing “legal insanity are likely to be challenged sometime in the near future? Why might the legal definitions of insanity be questioned or challenged?
Depending on the situation and the crime committed in my opinion the insanity plea is justified. The reasoning for that would be contingent on the appropriate information being provided. Information such as a previously being formally diagnosed with any mental health disorder, valid previous information on any mental illness synonymous to insanity. The insanity plea is seldom used and rarely is it ever successful. In the U.S. the insanity plea is used in less than one percent of the cases and only successful in less than 25% of the time used. If a person is successful in pleading and the court rules them insane then they will spend their incarceration time in a mental hospital rather than a prison. I definitely think the law governing the insanity plea will be challenged. The rules and criteria for the insanity plea stay relatively the same but slightly vary in different states. The legal definitions of insanity may be questioned in categorizing which mental disorder fits or attributes to insanity. One can argue that most can contribute to insanity. One can question the background or environment in which an insane person grew up. The defense team can also question the awareness of the wrongdoing of the perpetrator. With the world evolving every year passing by, new things arise good and bad. New mental health disorders can come into play. That can maybe skew the lines between insanity and incoherent.
3. Describe (a sort of compare and contrast) the history, profiles, and modus operandi of serial killers Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, David Berkowitz, Dennis Rader, Aileen Wuornos, and the Zodiac Killer. Give a brief overview of each killer including the information listed above. Also, include whether the FBI’s criminal profiling unit was used?
Ted Bundy was a notorious serial killer. He did not look like nor act like your average serial killer on the outside. He adopted and raised by his grandparents whom raised him. His grandfather would physically beat Bundy and his grandmother several times causing him to run away. Although he didn’t have the best childhood, he did have charm, he was bright, charismatic, very attractive, smooth talker and he was intelligent. He even enrolled in law school but dropped out. Bundy admitted to killing 30 women, but people think that there was way more. He was notorious because he killed more people in more states across the country. His method of killing would be to abduct women by using his charm to get close then physically and sexually abusing them before or after he would murder them. He took pride and felt pleasure in controlling women. He was captured and incarcerated twice, both times escaping jail and killing again. The FBI’s criminal profiling unit was used to try to find him. Once found he was given the death penalty my means of electric chair.
John Wayne Gacy like Bundy was also accused and charged with double-digit murders. Gacy admitted to 27 murders but police think it could be more. Just like Bundy, Gacy was also described as a sweet, charming businessman who also grew up in an abusive household. He was known in their town as a very pollical man. His father would verbally and physically abuse and beat Gacy for being too feminine. Gacy just like Bundy had a problem with trying control people. In contrast to Bundy, Gacy had a different range of targets and methods of killing. Gacy targeted younger boys and he did so by dressing up as a clown to get close to them and physically and sexually abusing them before killing. The FBI’s criminal profiling unit was used to try to find him. Once found he was given the death penalty my means of lethal injection.
David Berkowitz had similarities to Bundy by also being adopted and targeting women. Killing six and injuring Similar to Bundy and Gacy, Berkowitz was also intelligent enrolling college and even in the army. He however was a very socially awkward person around people. He didn’t have the same charm as Bundy or Gacy, and the thing he was fascinated with was fire. Berkowitz set about 1,500 fires in NYC. He referred himself as the son of Sam. His methods of killing differed from Bundy’s or Gacys’. Berkowitz killed his victims by shooting them with a collection of firearms he had. He would send the police letters he would write giving them clues to the murders. He was also satanic, believing his old roommate’s dog’s barking was the devil telling him to kill. A massive FBI criminal profiling unit called operation omega was used to try to find him. Once found he was given life in prison.
Dennis Roder was a serial killer who killed 10 people by means of binding them, torturing them, and killing them with a knife. Roder shared similarities with Ted Bundy. They both attended college and dropped out. Roder just like Berkowitz had a nickname for himself known as the BTK killer. Roder just like Berkowitz served time in the military in the air force. His methods of killing began by stalking his prey. Roder just like Berkowitz also wrote and sent letters to the police giving them clues about who he was and the murders. He was found on a trace of a floppy disk that came back to him. The FBI’s criminal profiling unit was used to try to find him. Once found he was sentenced to 10 consecutive life sentences in prison.
Aileen Wuornos is different from everyone because she is a female serial killer convided of killing seven men. She has a similar background to Bundy, Berkowitz and Gacy being adopted and raised by an adoptive father who didn’t like her. She was kicked out of her house when she was young y her adopted father due to her sexual activity and problems. She became sexually active from a very young age and resorted to prostitution and hitchhiking to make her way across the us and to sustain her. She had similarities to Berkowitz being a loner herself. Her methods of killing were to seduce men into participating in sexual activities with her and then robbing, shooting, and killing them. Stealing their cars and dumping their bodies. She was caught and identified through a pawn store receipt of stolen items. The FBI’s criminal profiling unit was used to try to find her. Once found he was given the death penalty my means of lethal injection.
The Zodiac killer is an unknown person. He was never caught and there are only suspicions of who could have been the zodiac killer. This unknown person shared similarities with Roder and Berkowitz referring to themselves as nicknames. This person referred to himself as the zodiac killer. The zodiac killer killed 37 people by shooting them and synonymous to Roder and Berkowitz the zodiac killer also sent letters to the police. The letters sent to the police were sent in means of code. For some letters the police had to decipher the letter written in code. There are only suspects that could be named but there is no confirmation of who the killer actually was. The FBI’s criminal profiling unit was used to try to find him. They used anything DNA matching of saliva found to fingerprint matching, handwriting matching, rough outline sketches, and eyewitness lines ups. None of the suspected suspects weren’t condemned due to the fact that not a single suspect matched up with all the clues. All of the suspects had a little bit of information that matched the finding of the case but not a single suspect matched all the information.
4. Several experts testified during Jeffery Dahmer’s trial, including both psychologists and psychiatrists. Explain briefly the testimonies given in court and the court’s final decision regarding the “sanity” of Jeffery Dahmer. You do not necessarily need to mention all testimony given in court concerning the sanity of Jeffery Dahmer, just a basic overview- highlighting the main, or major statements. Include specific statements from those testifying on such matters and feel free to quote the actual statements given.
Jeffrey Dahmer pleaded guilty but insane. Dahmer was trialed in Wisconsin where there is no death penalty. Dahmer had two choices, if the jury were to find him sane, he would spend the rest of his life in prison and if they were to find him insane, he would be imprisoned in a mental facility. Many testimonies were giving at the trial characterizing Dahmer’s sanity. Gerald Boyle was Dahmer’s attorney stated that Dahmer believed his mindset over his criminal actions were at par to the devil. George Palermo a psychiatrist who testified in the Dahmer case said, “Jeffrey Dahmer could best be described as an organized, non-social, lust murderer.” Palermo provided a key testimony in the trial when he highlighted Dahmer “very sick person″ but ″is not legally insane.” The reason why he thought Dahmer was sane and not insane was because of the actions Dahmer took in the killings. Palermo believed Dahmer mutilated the bodies of the victims after they were already dead not when they were still alive. Dahmer’s defense team argued that the necrophiliac compulsions and the urges to kill to satisfy his obsession caused an uncontrollable urge. Judith Becker a psychologist from Arizona on Dahmer’s defense team pleaded he ″has a mental disease and that’s what drives his crime”. Becker also led the belief that Dahmer was sane and did have control of his actions. She brought up the fact that Dahmer released two victims because Dahmer “was not as attracted … as he thought he would be.” and “ He also freed a young man because he had to go to work.” Showing how only a sane person who has control of their actions and their minds could think so clearly. These are actions of a sane person knowing and filtering out his killings. A psychiatrist from Chicago Dr. Carl Wahlstrom characterized Dahmer as “cunning” and his stories were a manipulative bunch of lies.” Displaying how Dahmer was very intelligent and knew how to avoid and get the law off his back. The court’s final decision declared Dahmer as sane and guilty of 15 murders. Dahmer was sentenced to 15 life terms in prison.
5. Using an online search to find some relevant information, describe neuroimaging and how it’s being used in forensics, especially as it relates to the courtroom. Include any specific examples that you might find. Please include your sources/papers/articles!
Neuroimaging isn’t a new technology that recently just got discovered. It’s technology that has been around for a while now but now it is starting to get incorporated into law. In relation to the law, forensic psychologists, lawyers, and judges are just some of the people who are bringing neuroimaging to the courtroom. The use of neuroscience in the courtroom is referred to as neurolaw. The use of neuroimaging is a helpful tool used to help either condemn or defend the prosecutor. Neuroimaging comes into play as a source of evidence on the psychology aspect. Neuroimaging is used in law to show any unnatural or abnormal activity in the brain that may have been the cause of the actions of the crime. Some neuroimaging techniques used in the courtroom consist of the following: FMRI, CT scan, MRI, and Brain Electrical Oscillations Signature (BEOS). Unlike the lie detector test, which is inadmissible in court, the use of an FMRI can be used to tell if a person is lying due to the brain activity seen in the prefrontal cortex. An example of a famous trial that neuroimaging played a role in the courtroom was the 1981 trial of John Hinckley, Jr over the assassination of our 40th president, Ronald Regan. In the courtroom, a CT scan of the perpetrator’s brain was taken in defense to show how he had brain deterioration in certain regions of his brain leading to crime committed. Although neuroimaging is useful in supplying valuable stronghold evidence neuro-ethics also comes into play. The solo use of neuroimaging can’t be used to seal the deal and condemn criminals in court because of the relatively new techniques. Regarding neuro-ethics, it is difficult to determine human understanding without the use of other variables that could correlate with the actions of the crime. So, while neuroimaging is helpful in the courtroom, it alone is not the sole reason to condemn without the understanding of additional evidence. In conclusion, in relation to forensics, the use of neuroimaging is used in a variety of ways in the courtroom such as; mental health status, ability to take the stand, brain deteriorating, intent, and decision making.