Serial Killers

Do we know enough to catch them?


As the trials get under way for the two men accused in the 10 Washington-area sniper deaths last October, questions are being raised about our understanding of serial killers, and how many there are. Most research has focused on those who kill for sexual gratification. Far less is known about “spree killers,” as some have described the Washington snipers. Since the 1970s, the FBI has touted its criminal-profiling method for finding serial killers. But critics say profiles have little science behind them and can lead investigators astray. Modern DNA technology holds out promise for linking serial killers to crime scenes — and even stopping killers before they strike again. But civil rights lawyers are challenging the widespread sharing of suspects' DNA by law enforcement agencies ...

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