Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Developing Profiling Theories

What if I were to have an opportunity to analyze the case of the missing woman, Christy Cornwell of Blairsville, Georgia? What would I look at as a profiler?

1. I would start with the phone call from the boyfriend. I would read his interview about what she said on that phone and how she said it. I would want to know if her voice always sounded like it was close to the phone or if it were distant (like she dropped the phone). I would want to know what else he heard. Other people talking? Sound of the vehicle? I would want to know why he didn't call 911 before he called Christy's mother.

2. I would want the boyfriend's alibi. Yes, the phone call supposedly came out of Atlanta. I would still want to prove he was there and HE made the phone call or received the phone call from Christy.

3. I would go to the site where she was allegedly abducted. Do I see signs of a struggle? (or do the photos show evidence of this?). Are there absolute signs of this like more than one set of footprints, car tire marks, etc? Or could Kristy have staged the crime and tossed some of her items there to make it look like an abduction.

4. I would want to check the site where the phone was found to see how long it would take to get there and why the phone would end up there. Are there signs of it being tossed? What kind of phone is it? Why did it go dead when the boyfriend said he was talking to Christy? If he heard her scream, "Don't take me", it should still have been in her hand. Why did it end up in the vehicle? Why wasn't it dropped where she was abducted? Why wouldn't the abductors have ripped it from her hand? Do we see other calls on the phone after the boyfriend's call? Is it a flip phone or a slide phone? What can we learn from it?

3. I would want to check the history of Christy, including her own victimology and personality profile, and that of her exes and her boyfriends. I would want to know all her friends and acquaintances and all the people she works with and has worked with (including those criminals she dealt with). I want to know Christy's habits especially her habit of walking at night and the routes she would have been seen on. If this wasn't her regular route, why not?

4. I would want to find any video of the roads she might have gone down after the fact. I would want to know any bus stations and motels near the area. I would want to verify any possible way Christy could have slipped away if it was a staged crime. I also want to know all possible routes for abductors and places they could hole up.

5. I would want to canvass the neighborhood for information and be sure to put out clear information to bring in tips on vehicles, possible suspects, and any strange behaviors observed.

6. The timeline of the crime is VERY important. When was Christy last seen and by whom? We must be sure no assumptions are being made. For example, let's say no one actually had seen her since 4 PM. Christy's boyfriend picks her up, they get in a fight, he kills her. He goes and hides her body, dumps a ripped shirt and one shoe on the road and then goes to his buddy. He gives his buddy the phone and tells him to wait for his call. He drives to Atlanta and then calls his buddy. They talk a few minutes and then he tells him to get in the car and drive two miles down from the dumped clothes and toss the phone. His buddy drives down the road and tells Christy's boyfriend, "Dumping the phone now!" Boyfriend then immediately calls Christy's mom to tell her that Christy has just been "taken." He has the perfect alibi.

Now, I am not saying the above scenario happened, but you can see how each piece of information must be checked and analyzed and connected with each other piece of information. This is how one does a crime reconstruction which leads to a profile. Then, we can eliminate any theory that cannot be true and find which theory is supported by the evidence. For example"

Christy's boyfriend has an alibi for the entire day in Atlanta. He was in an all-day meeting with ten people. BOYFRIEND IS NOT INVOLVED.

Christy's body is found and she has been strangled. CHRISTY DID NOT STAGE THE INCIDENT.

A video is found at a store with Christy being held hostage by some men with guns demanding money from convenience stores. SERIAL KILLERS ARE NOT INVOLVED.

A profile always depends on evidence. If new evidence comes in, the profile can change. Right now, I have so little information on this crime, I haven't a clue to what happened. If I were working with the police, I am sure this would be different. We will have to wait and see what evidence is given to the public next.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown


Cheri Griffiths said...

I've been wondering about the statement "Don't take me". Has that been reported accurately? Is that exactly what the bf heard or is it a general summation by him or the media of the various things he did hear?

If it's accurate quote it raises a flag for me since it seems like an odd thing to say. Or rather its not what would have been coming out of my mouth if it were me.

Something more along the lines of "Get your f'ing hands off me, you (insert more expletives here)", seems like a more natural response than "don't take me" to someone you're trying to get away from.

I expect LE has already looked at Kristi's finances and I wonder if they found anything in her banking records that might indicate whether or not she had a financial reason to stage her own abduction or point to a possible assailant.

Pat in Jersey said...

Something smells real bad here.

The "don't take me" plea is far fetched.. Who would say that? How about "leave me alone!" with lots of screaming and muffled voices..... ??

Calling the mother first is a definite red flag.. who does that? The phone would of slithered out of my sweaty hands if that were my loved one....

The boyfriend is a slick older dude saying "his heart was ripped out" when she went missing.. I don't buy it for a minute. The truth will tell.

Cheri Griffiths said...

I'd only caught bits and pieces of this case on the news, so this morning I'm going through all the articles I can find online to get a better idea of what's actually out there for information.

One thing I've seen is varying reports of what Davis said he heard. All say sounds of a struggle. Some say screams, some say cries for help, and some say both those things. It's several days before the "don't take me" statement starts turning up in articles. I think if he's telling the truth, Davis heard all those things and probably more that hasn't been released to the media.

It's been speculated that the "don't take me" statement was Kristi's way of letting Davis know the situation was real and she was being abducted. I don't buy that. If she had that much presence of mind why not give him more useful information? Number of perps, color/type of vehicle, distinguishing marks on the perp(s), a name if she knew who was taking her, etc. In general anything that would help LE find her.

I haven't got to the articles that give details about Davis calling Kristi's mom instead of LE but that raises a flag for me too. The early articles all say he called LE immediately and I am surprised that it appears it took the media 6 or 7 days to discover that he didn't.

As for Davis being "slick" from what I've read on the message boards he's some sort of preacher and it may be his experience with public speaking makes him seem too "polished" in his media interviews. I haven't decided what I think of him yet.

One thing I picked up on was that the articles I've read so far report that items belonging to Kristi found at the spot they think she was abducted showed signs of a struggle. What I haven't read so far is that there were signs of a struggle on the ground. Kristi's family says she has had firearms and self defense training. She apparently has some skills but I've read nothing so far about scuff marks in the dirt along the side of the road, damage to bushes/trees, trampled grass, etc. Seems like there would be something besides her belongings that showed signs of a struggle if she was fighting back.

Her phone being found 3 1/2 miles away is perplexing as well. Why wasn't it tossed immediately?

Cheri Griffiths said...

I have a question.

Why after all this time would LE, despite saying they need the public's help, not clarify/confirm things like the phone calls including time made or recieved and duration, Davis' claim that his cell phone proves he was in Atlanta, a polygraph clears him and proves what he claims to have heard is true, that there are witnesses that put him in Atlanta at the time of the abduction?

If they have cleared him as he has claimed, (for that matter, if they have cleared others like her ex-husbands) why isn't LE saying so by allowing the media to quote them or in an official statement?

I trust my instincts/feelings/hinky meter... whatever you want to call it and while the reason for those feelings, etc. are not always what I think they are initially the feelings themselves are always right on the money.

If he's in the clear why doesn't LE confirm it so people like me (and I don't think I'm alone) can attribute our feelings about him to some other thing (like he's an attention seeking creep using tragedy to promote himself) and get past him and spend more time on the other possibilities?