Specific Instances of FBI Intervention
BAU assists with Virginia Tech shooting investigation
FBI National Press Release (April 20, 2007):
“The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) provides assistance to law enforcement agencies across the country and around the world through investigative analysis. This work involves reviewing and assessing the facts of a criminal act, interpreting offender behavior, and interaction with victims. Their work attempts to shed light into the how and why of the crime, the extent and level of pre-planning involved, and the future implications such as whether or not it inspires copycats. The BAU conducts detailed analysis of crimes which can be used to assist investigators. They can offer investigative suggestions, interview strategies, search warrant assistance, and expert testimony.
Prevention at some level occurs regularly throughout the country as local law enforcement and school administrators address and attempt to mitigate a variety of threats. The BAU may be contacted for an assessment of the level of threat posed by a situation emanating from within the student population or outside the school. BAU assists in evaluating the nature and seriousness of the threats as well as the development of an appropriate response.
In the past, behavioral analysis has been provided to investigators following incidents such as Columbine, Red Lake, Minn., Elmira, NY, and most recently, Virginia Tech.”
Timeline of Terror (from FBI’s “A Byte Out of History: The Beltway Snipers, Part 1”)
October 2: Man killed while crossing a parking lot in Wheaton, Maryland
October 3: Five more murders, four in Maryland and one in D.C.
October 4: Woman wounded while loading her van at Spotsylvania Mall
October 7: 13-year-old-boy wounded at a school in Bowie, Maryland
October 9: Man murdered near Manassas, Virginia, while pumping gas
October 11: Man shot dead near Fredericksburg, Virginia, while pumping gas
October 14: FBI analyst Linda Franklin killed near Falls Church, Virginia
October 19: Man wounded outside a steakhouse in Ashland, Virginia
October 22: A bus driver, the final victim, killed in Aspen Hill, Maryland
October 24: Muhammad and Malvo arrested in Maryland
FBI assisted by supplying about 400 agents and a toll-free tip line. After a call from one of the snipers, FBI fingerprint analysts were able to match fingerprints left at the scene of a previous crime in Maryland to Malvo. Malvo had been arrested previously in Washington State and that arrest record named Muhammad.
Theodore Kaczynski, better known as the Unabomber, mailed or hand delivered a series of bombs over the course of 17 years. In 1979, the FBI began a task force to analyze clues, including forensic examinations of recovered bomb components and studying the lives of the victims in minute detail.
In 1995, the Unabomber sent a 35,000 word essay to the FBI explaining his motives and views on modern society. After publishing the document in The Washington Post and The New York Times, David Kaczynski, Theodore’s brother, came forward. After linguistic analysis of other letters and documents provided by his brother, the Unabomber was identified.
On April 3, 1996, the FBI arrested Theodore Kaczynski in his cabin near Lincoln, Montana.
The Zodiac Killer continues to baffle FBI agencies
The Zodiac Killer murdered five people and critically wounded two others in Northern California between December 1968 and October 1969. An individual who identified himself with the moniker claimed to be the murderer and frequently corresponded with newspapers in California, in some cases submitting enciphered messages with his letters that may contain some evidence of his identity.
The FBI did not have jurisdiction in the murder cases and did not directly investigate, but was enlisted by local law enforcement to perform forensic examinations—analysis of the codes, handwriting, and latent fingerprints—of the letters, envelopes, and cryptograms.
The case remains unsolved.
Douglas, J. & Olshaker, M. (2001). The cases that haunt us. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2007). A byte out of history: The beltway snipers. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2007/october/snipers_102207
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2010). Famous case criminals. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/famous-cases/famous_cases_criminals
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2008). FBI 100: The unabomber. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2008/april/unabomber_042408
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2007). FBI national press release. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbis-behavioral-analysis-unit-assists-in-the-virginia-tech-shooting-investigation/
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2008). The FBI: A centennial history, 1908-2008. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/fbihistorybook.htm
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2007). The Zodiac Killer. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2007/march/zodiac_030207/
Ressler, R. K., Burgess, A. W., & Douglas, J. E. (1995). Sexual homicide: Patterns and motives. New York: Simon and Schuster.