FBI Profile – Disorganized Criminals

Sean Mactire’s book,  Malicious Intent: A Writer’s Guide to How Murderers, Robbers, Rapists, and Other Criminal Think, contains useful information for writers to create believable antagonists. The FBI has classified violent criminals into two main types: organized and disorganized. Today I’ll cover the personal characteristics of disorganized violent offenders and their behavior after the crime.

The disorganized offenders characteristics include:

  • Having a low to average intelligence (IQ 80-100)
  • Being an unskilled worker (maybe  a school dropout)
  • Being socially immature
  • Having had a rough childhood with a father whose work history was unstable
  • Having suffered abuse in childhood
  • Being anxious during the crime
  • Using drugs or alcohol minimally
  • Living alone
  • Living and/or working near crimes
  • Paying little to no attention to news media
  • Being dominated by significant behavioral change
  • Being a nocturnal person
  • Having poor personal hygiene
  • Having secret hiding places
  • Not usually dating

The disorganized criminal’s behavior after the crime may include:

  • Returning to the scene of the crime
  • Attending the victim’s funeral
  • Clipping the obituary
  • Turning to religion
  • Keeping a diary and/or collecting news clippings
  • Changing residence
  • Undergoing a personality change

The disorganized criminal:

  • Acts spontaneously
  • Targets people he or she knows
  • Depersonalizes the victim
  • Keeps conversation with victim to a minimum
  • Creates a chaotic crime scene
  • Attacks victim with sudden violence
  • Does not use restraints
  • May have sex with corpse
  • Leaves weapon
  • Leaves a variety of evidence

You can see the vast differences between the organized and disorganized criminal (compare to last post, if you’ve forgotten the organized criminal’s characteristics). The disorganized criminal is more likely to get caught, as he’s not careful about what kind of evidence he leaves behind, and he feels compelled to revisit the scene of the crime. He’s also more likely to possess evidence for the District Attorney once he’s been caught. He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer. However, he’s got to be smart enough to get away with it for a while so your book doesn’t end half way through chapter three. That’s where you as the writer must be clever. Your perp has the means, motive, and opportunity, but so do three or four other characters. The fun part for the reader is sifting through all the clues you offer and trying to figure out who the real bad guy is. Keep this in mind when crafting your disorganized killer. He may have acted out of rage when he killed his sister with a hammer, but he definitely doesn’t want to get caught.

Sean Mactire put a profile of Jack the Ripper at the end of chapter 3. Purchase the book (or check the local library) if you’re interested in seeing what the FBI came up with for that infamous killer. For my next couple of posts, I’m going to skip chapter 4 and move into chapter 5, The Serial Killer. 

-Sonja
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2 thoughts on “FBI Profile – Disorganized Criminals

  1. As a huge fan of Criminal Minds, I love this stuff 🙂 And it’s great that you included such concise tips on how to adapt this sort of ‘villain’ for writing!

  2. Pingback: Top 10 Posts for 2013 (and a contest) | For What It's Worth

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