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 A Ripperoo Article 
This article originally appeared in Ripperoo, the flagship magazine of the Australian Cloak and Dagger Club. For more information, view our Ripperoo page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperoo for permission to reprint this article.
A Summarized History of Forensic Science!
By Leanne Perry.

No crime is more frightening than serial murder. Not only are these crimes most brutal and sickening, but the serial killer usually targets a particular type of person, (I.e. children, prostitutes, women, elderly women, young boys, male hustlers, hitchhikers), then selects his victims at random from this category, so none of us are safe, really, because we all belong to one or more particular group. How long has mankind put up with this heartache? Probably for as long as the race has existed. Below we take a closer look at the terms ‘Serial Killer’, ‘Forensic Medicine or Science’ and follow the progress of ‘detection’ through to modern times:

The term ‘Serial Killer’ was invented in the early 1980s, by American F.B.I. Agent Robert Ressler. He was describing a killer who killed repeatedly and obsessively, on separate occasions. Those who kill many victims all at one time, come under the term: ‘Mass Murderer’. It was noted by Lesser and his colleagues that a ‘Serial Killer’ chooses his particular victims at random, and the most common motive is sexual, but it’s not necessarily always the case. Serial Killers are usually white, heterosexual males, of above average intelligence, aged in their 20s or 30s. They were probably once commonly considered attractive by those around them, and most were bed-wetters, animal torturers and/or from violent households as children. After their crimes, many enjoy cannibalism, necrophilia and/or take away body parts as ‘trophies’. The percentage of Male Serial Killers far out-weighs that of Female ones.

An examination of known Serial Killers, reveals that:
Peter Sutcliffe, (‘The Yorkshire Ripper’),
Ted Bundy, (‘The Campus Killer’),
Albert DeSalvo, (‘The Boston Strangler’),
Norman John Collins, (‘The Ypsilanti Killer’),
and others were all considered nice, decent, honest and handsome men, by family members and those who knew them best.


Prehistoric rock carvings and an early human painting of a hand with ridge patterns, show evidence of the use of fingerprints. Few records of serial killings from mere centuries ago, still exist today. Examination of the earliest records, tells us that crime detection depended largely on finding a link between the crime and the criminal, (I.e. A clear motive). Looking back at the oldest recorded incident, Gilles de Rais, a French nobleman, fought alongside Joan of Arc at Orleans and killed hundreds of children in the 15th century. He was a satanist and alchemist who, in addition to killing and molesting children for his own pleasure, used their blood in an attempt to turn lead into gold. He was strangled to death and burned by the church after a trial. In ancient Rome Locusta the Poisoner killed five or six people, for profit and some for her own enjoyment. She killed and molested children for her own pleasure, then used their blood in an attempt to turn lead into gold. She was strangled and burned by the church after a trial in 69 A.D.

In the 18th and early 19th century, the usual motive for any crime was robbery. Over a twenty year period, beginning in 1830, Frenchwoman Helene Jegado, poisoned around 60 people, then was executed in 1852. In 1862, Frenchman Martin Dumollard was found guilty of murdering 6 girls, so was sentenced to death. In 1871, Frenchman Eusebius Pieydagnelle stabbed 6 young women. In 1858, Englishman Sir William Hershel began using fingerprints on native contracts. In 1877, American Thomas Taylor, suggested that markings from the tips of a persons fingers could be used for identification in criminal cases. In 1880, Scotsman Henry Faulds used fingerprints to eliminate an innocent suspect.

In 1888, while the Whitechapel murderer was in full swing, Sir Francis Gaton was merely making observations of fingerprints as a means of identification and didn’t publish his book on the topic, until 1892. In that same year, Argentinean police researcher Juan Vucetich developed a fingerprint classification system that was used in Latin America. The system came into use in Europe and North America in 1896, developed by Sir Edward Richard Henry.

In 1901, Dr. Paul Uhlenhuth developed a method of testing blood stains, to determine if they were human. Fingerprinting was introduced to Scotland Yard in 1902.

In the 1960s the ‘serial’ type of killings became known amoungst the American police as ‘Stranger-to-Stranger’ murders. This type increased in occurrence in the U.S., from 6% of all crimes, to 18% by the mid-1970s. At that time, there was more than 4000 cases per year.

In 1978, the Yorkshire Ripper case taught detectives a valuable lesson. If Peter Sutcliffe’s details, (his shoes size, blood type, etc.), had have been stored on a computer, he probably would have been questioned furt-her, sooner, saving a few lives. It would have also told detectives working on the case, that he’d been interviewed before. The Surrey Police began investigating the next Serial Killer case, with the use of the computer print-out of the names of 4900 sex offenders. On this list was a man named John Duffy, who’d been charged with loitering near railway stations. A study of this loiterer’s ‘mental map’, (of committing crimes near railway lines), led to the development of ‘Psychological Profiling’ techniques in the 1980s.

It was soon discovered that Serial Killers were likely to have experienced environmental problems, (dysfunctional family relations, aggressive parents, etc.), and/or behavioural traits, (bedwetting beyond age 12, violence, Arson, etc). Moors murderer Ian Brady, threw cats from windows. Ed Kemper cut the family cat into pieces with his boyscouts knife.

In 1984, Sir Alec Jefferies developed the first DNA profiling test. He published his findings in 1985. (‘DNA’ stands for: DeoxyriboNucleic Acid, which is the stuff that living genes are made up of. ‘DNA profiling’, is identifying people by visual representations of regions of their genes. It can determine whether or not a suspect has similar DNA characteristics, to evidence found at the scene of a crime. With the exception of identical twins, the DNA of each individual is unique to him or her.)

In 1986, ‘DNA Profiling’ was first used to identify Colin Pitchfork as the murderer of two girls in England. In 1987, ‘DNA Profiling’ was introduced to the U.S.A., to convict Tommy Lee Andrews of a series of sexual assaults.

Today’s advancement in computers has greatly simplified tasks that were once considered very complicated. In 1999 Dr. Lawrence Farwell developed the technique of ‘Farwell Brain Fingerprinting’, a new computer-based method of identifying criminals by measuring brain-wave responses to viewing relevant pictures.

Three-dimensional laser scanners, will soon replace microscopes. As technology advances into the future, forensic sciences like: pathology, toxicology, anthropology and odontology will follow.


* ‘What Makes A Serial Killer?’

* ‘Forensic Clues To Murder’
- Brian Marriner.

* The Giant Book of World Famous Murders’
- Colin Damon & Rowan Wilson.

* ‘The Serial Killers’
- Colin Wilson & Donald Seaman.

* ‘The History of Forensic Science’

* ‘Brain Fingerprinting'

Related pages:
  Leanne Perry
       Dissertations: Did Jack the Ripper Use Chloroform? 
       Dissertations: Spring-Heeled Jack: Fiction Based on Fact 
       Dissertations: Step-by-Step Pattern of a Serial Killer 
       Dissertations: Terror in Whitechapel! 
       Dissertations: The Hitler Diaries 
       Ripper Media: Catch Me When You Can