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Linkage Analysis: Modus Operandi, Ritual, and Signature in Serial Sexual Crime

NCJ Number
Aggression and Violent Behavior Volume: 8 Issue: 6 Dated: November-December 2003 Pages: 587-598
Robert R. Hazelwood; Janet I. Warren
Date Published
November 2003
12 pages
This article examines a process of behavioral analysis that is called "linkage analysis," which is used in identifying sexual offenses that have been committed by the same offender.
Linkage analysis examines behavior related to the following three distinct components of a crime: the modus operandi (MO) or the "how to" of a crime; the "ritual" or fantasy-based behaviors for a particular type or series of sexual crimes; and the "signature" or distinctive combination of behaviors that suggest a series of crimes has been committed by the same person. The assessment procedures of linkage analysis involve obtaining detailed, varied, and multisource documentation; reviewing the documentation and identifying significant features of each crime individually across the series; classifying the significant features of the crimes as either MO and/or ritualistic constructs; comparing the combination of MO and ritualistic features across the crimes to determine whether a signature exists; and compiling a written analysis that details the conclusions derived from the available information. The findings of the process of linkage analysis can be useful in guiding investigations, and in some instances they can inform the decisionmaking of the courts. The application of linkage analysis in one case is described. 7 references