A serial killer's offing prostitutes on Long Island. Police know he's smart. Very smart. Smart enough to beat them at their own sophisticated game. But what else do they know? An increasing amount about the inside of his head.
Piecing together scraps of evidence and the precedent of past likeminded murderers, serial killer experts are assembling a psychological profile of the guy. The New York Times reports that the mystery killer:
"Is most likely a white male in his mid-20s to mid-40s. He is married or has a girlfriend. He is well educated and well spoken. He is financially secure, has a job and owns an expensive car or truck. He may have sought treatment at a hospital for poison ivy infection. As part of his job or interests, he has access to, or a stockpile of, burlap sacks."
That covers a lot of people, sans the burlap sack stockpile. And, as the Times notes, there are three million people on Long Island - the killer's turf. So singling him out will be... tricky.
The burlap sack does represent an intriguing divergence form the guy's approach so far - experts note it's a remarkably uninformed way of body disposal, as burlap, an uncommon material today, is a lot easier to trace than bags made from other materials. This apparently deliberate slipup (incongruous with the rest of his highly adept knowhow), point to a "ritualistic" killer, while the fact that he's called his victims' teen sisters points to a "psychosexual" impetus - the guy gets off on murder. He's in it for the sadistic, creative thrill, rather than having some motive.
This kind of profiling isn't exactly a smoking gun, but will help narrow down the pool - and as psychologists get a better sense of what's making the killer tick, police get a better chance of stopping him from killing again. [NYT]