Vancouver profiler hunts sniper

Says killer likely from northern Washington

Nicholas Read
The Vancouver Sun

Tuesday, October 8, 2002

Former Vancouver police geographic profiler Kim Rossmo has completed a geographic profile of the sniper shooting people in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Mr. Rossmo's claim came the same day a 13-year-old boy was shot outside his school in Bowie, Maryland, a few kilometres away from where an unidentified assailant has killed six people in the past five days.

Mr. Rossmo, director of research with the Police Foundation of Washington, D.C., wouldn't say what his profile contains.

He also wouldn't talk about yesterday's shooting.

But, in an interview from Washington, he did say that on average his profiles can determine -- within a range of five per cent of the area where the crimes have been committed -- exactly where the offender lives.

"In other words, if the crimes cover an area of 10 square miles, we can determine where the offender lives within .5 square miles," he said.

On Sunday, Mr. Rossmo told reporters the killer is likely from Washington's northern suburbs. Five of the six shootings occurred there, all within a few kilometres of each other.

His profile includes a colour map of where he believes the offender lives, and he said that depending on the size of the area under investigation and the number of incidents, he can pinpoint an offender's address to within a few blocks.

He refused to comment further, but said "generally, offenders operate in their comfort zone, but they don't want to operate too close to home because of reasons of anonymity."

However, Mr. Rossmo said the Washington killings present a unique situation.

"This is not a sexual murderer or someone shooting up a post office or a school. There doesn't seem to be any similarity in the victimology, but geographically we think the crimes are not random. We think there's a pattern there."

Mr. Rossmo was the first police officer in Canada to receive a doctorate in criminology after he developed his geographic profiling system at Simon Fraser.

In 1995, he helped set up the world's first geographic profiling unit within the Vancouver Police Department, and in 1998 was the first member of the department to suggest a serial killer might be involved in the disappearance of sex-trade workers from the downtown eastside.

The department ignored his advice, and in 2000, announced that it did not intend to renew his contract. That prompted him to sue for wrongful dismissal.

The Vancouver Sun

Courtesy of the Ottawa Citizen



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