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Math Used in Hunt for Md. Sniper
AP via Yahoo ^ | Mon Oct 7, 4:10 PM ET | By JIM KRANE, AP Technology Writer

Posted on 10/07/2002 10:29:03 PM PDT by 11th_VA

Investigators are trying to zero in on the Washington-area sniper with a computerized technique known as geographic profiling.

Geographic profiling, pioneered more than a decade ago by former Vancouver Police detective Kim Rossmo, works on the theory that except for a small buffer zone around their homes, criminals tend to hunt victims in areas they are familiar with.

Investigators in the Maryland case have asked Rossmo to help out.

Geo-profilers triangulate the likely home of the killer by analyzing such locations as the sites of the attacks and places where bodies were dumped. With each killing, more clues are entered into the computer.

"The more killings you have, the better it works," said Andreas Olligschlaeger, president of TruNorth Data Systems, which makes crime analysis software. "It's an unfortunate fact. More people have to die to get a better chance of capturing the killer."

While doing doctoral research, Rossmo developed a mathematical algorithm that was used as the basis for geo-profiling software now sold by the Vancouver company Environmental Criminology Research Inc. Only a few police investigators around the world have been trained on the software, which relies heavily on a detective's intuition.

The software crunches location data and other clues to create a "jeopardy surface" — what looks like a color-coded topographical map that highlights the suspect's likeliest location.

Typically, if police believe a killer lives in a 10-square-mile area, Rossmo's tool can narrow that down to a few blocks.

Rossmo and the few geo-profilers now using his methods claim to have helped solve about half of the 450 cases they have studied.

Among those he has helped on were serial rape cases in Lafayette, La., and Mississuaga, Ontario, that were solved. Rossmo now heads research at the Police Foundation in Washington, D.C.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ontario police and federal law agencies in Germany, Britain, Australia use the Vancouver company's geo-profiling software, according to ECRI.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; US: District of Columbia; US: Maryland; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: sniper
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Like playing chess with a computer ?
1 posted on 10/07/2002 10:29:03 PM PDT by 11th_VA
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To: 11th_VA
Logic and instinct...not really anything new...the old pin on a map routine. But unlike ordinary criminals, these guys are "tactical"...Run the dogs through the U of MD campus.

Sac

2 posted on 10/07/2002 10:38:07 PM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: Sacajaweau
U of MD campus.

I hpoe its not on his list, but after hearing a profiler tonight, I fear it will be.

Can you train a dog to retain a specific scent? They had the dogs out today ...

3 posted on 10/07/2002 10:41:08 PM PDT by 11th_VA
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To: 11th_VA
I'd assume this program looks for commonalities among the areas where the crimes have been. Like if they all were heavy with Swedish businesses, the killer's home is assumed to probably not be in a Polish neighborhood. Also I'd bet the areas are now staked out with police noting license plates and looking up the home addresses to crunch into this program to get an idea of the general locale of those who frequent these areas.

However for these killings I wouldn't rule anything out, including the scenes of the crimes being deliberately selected at random on a map, and researched individually, to throw off traffic profiling like this.
4 posted on 10/07/2002 10:44:43 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: 11th_VA
I think the dogs could sniff out gun powder residue...but I'm only guessing.

I really don't know all the capabilities of these dogs but they sure are amazing.

Sac

5 posted on 10/07/2002 10:48:32 PM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: Sacajaweau
Well I guess it beats actually going out and finding the guy.
6 posted on 10/07/2002 10:50:55 PM PDT by Texasforever
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To: HiTech RedNeck
I don't think the traffic profiling is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of this and I think the vehicle is in the next parking lot away and the sniper himself is on foot for the actual scenarios.

If they use walkie talkies, the one in the vehicle could be giving directions as to what is arriving at the scene and which way the guy should walkout to avoid witnesses. The guy in the vehicle has several choices. If he gets trapped, the sniper just keeps walking. The vehicle is for lookout more than transportaion.

It's really several minutes until people get their senses about them and their concentration is on the victim.....Again the sniper just keeps walking....He might get a glance but he is doing what most are doing...getting away from there.

Sac

7 posted on 10/07/2002 11:01:00 PM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: Sacajaweau
In gunphobic suburban Washington, how does he get away with toting his rifle right out in the open without somebody noticing.
8 posted on 10/07/2002 11:09:58 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: 11th_VA
Entirely too much information is being released regarding this situation and the tactics being employed, resulting in the idiot wo is doing it allowing to protect himself from getting caught.
9 posted on 10/07/2002 11:10:45 PM PDT by RLK
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To: RLK
Wonder if it is a 'right wing extremist' surfing Free Republic RIGHT NOW.

PING to the murderer.
10 posted on 10/07/2002 11:13:32 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: Sacajaweau
Do you think the shooter is a student at U of MD?
11 posted on 10/07/2002 11:13:38 PM PDT by motexva
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To: RLK
PING to the murderer.
[Not you]
12 posted on 10/07/2002 11:14:05 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: HiTech RedNeck
We got into this on another thread... the size of the weapon etc.. We just think full size rifle but that is not necessarily the case according to the info some of the gentlemen were submitting....so we're possibly talking backpack which I'm told would not be unusual for the area.

Sac

13 posted on 10/07/2002 11:14:35 PM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: HiTech RedNeck
Wonder if it is a 'right wing extremist' surfing Free Republic RIGHT NOW.

------------------------------

He doesn't need to come here.I saw the press conference on the news,The authorities blabbed too much, giving the kook opportinity to adjust and adapt.

14 posted on 10/07/2002 11:17:07 PM PDT by RLK
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To: motexva
I'm told it is in the vicinity and I'm looking at the irregular times and associated it with a "student" schedule rather than a "working" schedule.

Sac

15 posted on 10/07/2002 11:17:29 PM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: Sacajaweau
More likely shooting from another parking lot, but not wandering around on foot in broad daylight with a rifle. jmo
16 posted on 10/07/2002 11:22:26 PM PDT by ET(end tyranny)
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To: RLK
Blabbing ain't all that bad sometimes...it might cause the guy to make a mistake. He "planned" to work around our response from the beginning.

Sac

17 posted on 10/07/2002 11:22:55 PM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: RLK
Well he (or she) is going to have to "adjust and adapt" to half a million pairs of eyes watching for sniper kooks. I wouldn't necessarily mind such a tradeoff. Hopefully it will raise everybody's vigilance, wherever they are.
18 posted on 10/07/2002 11:26:07 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: Sacajaweau
With the erratic times schedule, there is a good possiblity that the person isn't working/doesn't work at all.
19 posted on 10/07/2002 11:26:10 PM PDT by ET(end tyranny)
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To: Sacajaweau
How about an "unemployed but well financed by Saddam" schedule?
20 posted on 10/07/2002 11:26:55 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: HiTech RedNeck
How about an "unemployed but well financed by Saddam" schedule?

Hey! You read my mind! I was thinking financed by unknown sources.

21 posted on 10/07/2002 11:30:38 PM PDT by ET(end tyranny)
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To: Sacajaweau
Has anyone reported hearing gun shots. In some areas no one would notice another gunshot but I don't believe that is the case here.
22 posted on 10/07/2002 11:39:49 PM PDT by tubebender
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To: RLK
Entirely too much information is being released regarding this situation and the tactics being employed, resulting in the idiot wo is doing it allowing to protect himself from getting caught.

In a nutshell that is the problem of today's journalists. In their quest for viewers they press for more and more information. Sec. Rumsfield said the same thing in his briefing today. The media is irresponsible with information.

23 posted on 10/07/2002 11:50:58 PM PDT by Ruth A.
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To: Sacajaweau
Your idea sort of fits in with my idea that the shooter(s) are psychotic leftists, acting against the clientele of chain stores and gas station. A campus would be a logical refuge for such personalities.

The school shooting seems to disrupt this hypothesis, but a
journalist friend of mine in DC is trying to determine what the kid was wearing when he was shot, he heard a witness say that the kid was wearing clothes emblazoned with the logo of a prominent line of men's clothing, but he has been unable to confirm this. Anyone have any info on that topic?

Just to clear it up - I'm being completely serious. My friend in DC thought I was nuts too. The more he has dug about this story, the more he is convinced that there is some type of thread connecting these killings, and that it has something to do with what the victims were doing, or where they were when they were shot. Note that last week there were major anticapitalist riots in DC.

I also think the islamic terrorist scenario is attractive, but there's actually less going for that scenario than mine, IMHO. They don't call them Islamokazees for nothing - these perps seem to be taking great care that they NOT be caught. I think an al Queda type would pick a far more prominent, target rich environment, and go down shooting.

But the profile of the leftist terrorist is different - note the hippie bombers and bank robbers who have lammed it for decades to escape justice. And contrary to popular belief, hippy terrorists have no fear of guns (note ELF and Black Panthers.)

In any event, I think it's obvious by now that the killer or killer is highly sophisticated, and there is some plan at work here.
24 posted on 10/07/2002 11:57:40 PM PDT by motexva
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To: Ruth A.
I'm convinced the sniper got the idea to shoot a young student at school from our illustrious media, who kept sounding the drumbeats of fear parents were having about sending their children to school.
25 posted on 10/07/2002 11:59:52 PM PDT by demkicker
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To: 11th_VA
Good article. Thanks for posting it.
26 posted on 10/08/2002 12:00:23 AM PDT by OfByForThePeople
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To: motexva
NOWHERE, do I even imply that the snipers are either leftists or acting against the stores.

Sac

27 posted on 10/08/2002 12:05:25 AM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: Sacajaweau
No, but your idea of a student shooter would fit my "profile".

You seemed to have a pretty visceral reaction to my theory. In any event, the leftist radicals in this country, many of whom swarm around areas like College Park, MD, adhere to philosophies as twisted as any espoused by al Queda. Some of them go al Queda one better - not just Western humanity, but all humanity, is a menace that should be eradicated, a virus on the earth.

This case has a lot of similarities to one this summer - the pipe bombs in mailboxes throughout the SW. Seemingly unconnected, weird, random, the bomber working off some weird internal plan that wasn't immediately apparent. And then, they catch a politically motivated bomber who wanted to alert people to "environmental collapse" and drug legalization.
28 posted on 10/08/2002 12:20:01 AM PDT by motexva
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To: 11th_VA
This killer(s) has some "gimmick". He has devised something or a way to shoot that makes detection extremely difficult. This method must give him an extraordinary amount of confidence as evidenced by the brazen way he has committed these crimes.

What could the gimmick be? You figure that out and you'll know what to look for. The original description was for a white panel truck and if that was so, it seems likely that he(they) could've devised some hidden shooting stand within the truck, but would he continue to use this MO? It seems unlikely, it would be too easy to spot such a truck once the public was on the lookout and getaway would be much more difficult with its lumbering size.

This leads me to believe that he(they) has developed several different methods or variations on the theme of his gimmick or hidden shooting blind- like the ingenious Unabomber. Another idea I had was perhaps a remote controlled camera mounted somehow on a tripod mounted 5.56 mm weapon- hooked up somehow so the shooter could control the weapon by remote control and sight using the video camera via a remote monitor. If such a device were hidden within an ordinary car it might be fairly easy for someone to appear to be innocuosly "sitting behind the wheel" while he was actually lining someone up in his sights.

That's kind of out there- but he's obviously figured out some tricky method to carry this out that gives him a great degree of confidence in not being caught. Ideas anyone?

29 posted on 10/08/2002 12:58:57 AM PDT by Prodigal Son
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To: Sacajaweau
I don't think the traffic profiling is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of this and I think the vehicle is in the next parking lot away and the sniper himself is on foot for the actual scenarios.

I don't think that is the case at all. This pair (if it is a pair) needs mobility, and concealment.

It is too early in the cold season for a person to be moving around with an overcoat to conceal a long gun.

Then again are we even looking for a long gun? It could be a single shot bolt action handgun, in the Thompson Center Contender class.

Consider, rifle cartridge, long range capability, concealable, single shot.

This shooter, is not disciplined, or if a team, the shooter of the last two victims is not that good, or is not comitted.

Next shooting is a kill, they won't wait to get it done, news hour (4:30) ET Tuesday, possibly earlier, probably in a semi-suburban area, High-way close with multiple inter changes near by. Not in Maryland, possibly Penn. or W Virginia. my bet would be Penn.

30 posted on 10/08/2002 1:19:38 AM PDT by snodog
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To: Prodigal Son
See # 30, Thompson Center Contender, single shot, no brass, long range, rifle cartidge...etc.

Just a thought.

31 posted on 10/08/2002 1:30:21 AM PDT by snodog
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Comment #32 Removed by Moderator

To: Sacajaweau
I'm told it is in the vicinity and I'm looking at the irregular times and associated it with a "student" schedule rather than a "working" schedule.

Speaking of irregular schedules, my first thought after the Thursday morning shootings was that the guy worked the night shift somewhere. The first man was shot Wednesday evening at 6, then nothing all night long until early Thursday morning when the others were shot. And I do think he works in Montgomery County since that's where all of the killings initially took place. Just my 2 cents.

33 posted on 10/08/2002 4:21:58 AM PDT by rabidralph
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To: 11th_VA
Typically, if police believe a killer lives in a 10-square-mile area, Rossmo's tool can narrow that down to a few blocks.

I like it. Then bring in the National Guard, seal off the area and go house-to-house.

34 posted on 10/08/2002 4:27:19 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
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To: Aquinasfan
Excellent suggestion.
35 posted on 10/08/2002 4:40:21 AM PDT by buffyt
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To: Sacajaweau; motexva; HiTech RedNeck
criminals tend to hunt victims in areas they are familiar with

You can become familiar with a large neighborhood by #1. living there for a few years, #2. working there for a few years, or #3. traveling through the area frequently.

If Sacajaweau qualifies under #1, motexva qualifies under (and is on vacation) #2 and HiTech RedNeck qualifies under (works nights one month, days the next)#3 then consider this.

Sacajaweau retired and moves 20 miles away, meets motexva his new next door neighbor who is friends with HiTech RedNeck. motexva and HiTech RedNeck have been discussing something like this killing plan for a few months when they meet Sacajaweau who owns a .223 and an illegal silencer. He was fed up with his old neighborhood because of _ _ _ _ _ and is wanting revenge. Sacajaweau is the shooter, motexva and HiTech RedNeck are his intelligence agents and target area selectors. Each one of them feels very comfortable with their knowledge of a particular area.

So now we have three different adjoining areas that they feel quite comfortable about and select these areas to do the killings in. As a team they go and perform murderous attacks but none of them live anywhere close to the area, 20 miles not being close.

I don't see how this geographic profiling plan will do a bit of good, but the fact that the police now have a plan should keep the locals from carrying guns and disobeying the laws. I think this is the kind of situation that will be solved when the locals sit down and think, "yes, I should have told the police what I saw even though I don't want to become involved with them."

However, our society has become one where we can have a neighbor live next door for a decade and we are never invited into their home or we never invite them over for a barbecue during the summer. Basically the family or individual next door are strangers to us. We don't know where they work, what religion they are, even what political party they belong to. By all appearances they are good people, we just don't know a darn thing about them, whether they are good, bad, sick minded or terrorists. All we know is what they show us and we don't have reason to investigate any further, do we? It's not like the old days anymore, that's for sure.

36 posted on 10/08/2002 4:42:47 AM PDT by B4Ranch
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To: HiTech RedNeck
Wonder if it is a 'right wing extremist' surfing Free Republic RIGHT NOW.

I disagree.
These shootings are crimes against unknown individuals. I haven't seen much of anything in common between the victims. This is the method of the left (communists, Isalms, environmentalists, government agents).
They are targeting the general population to generate maximum fear. This is how they operate in Africa today.
The shootings do not fit the Christian Identity, Aryan Nation types, who direct their wrath towards government buildings, banks and LEO's.

(BTW, I do not consider any of these groups to be 'right-wing extremists'. Their solutions to government are all socialistic and involve government control over the people.)

37 posted on 10/08/2002 5:06:47 AM PDT by CWRWinger
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To: buffyt
I saw some true-crime show where this method was used to find a serial-rapist. The crimes were committed over a comparably sized area. The technique boiled the "likely" area down to several blocks and the perpetrator's home was right in the middle.
38 posted on 10/08/2002 5:09:17 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
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To: 11th_VA
For the moment it appears that the consistent characteristics of these shootings are that they all took place outdoors; the sniper(s) parked in a nearby public parking lot (no drive-by shooting), and the locations were all within a block of main thoroughfares that would lead the I-95 and the Beltway.

So it appears that the perp(s) have a reasonably good knowledge of local geography, including vehicle routes ... suggesting, among other things, that even if the white truck was stolen, the perp has his own vehicle and lots of experience driving it around the DC area, rather than mostly relying on public transit or an unchanging daily commute.

39 posted on 10/08/2002 6:11:45 AM PDT by DonQ
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To: buffyt
House to House?? What about that little thing called the Constitution?
40 posted on 10/08/2002 10:26:30 AM PDT by Lord Marshal
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To: B4Ranch
I believe it's possible to identify some of these factors you identified with the profile. Look at the timing. This guy's a morning person. On Thursday and Monday he was up with his rifle in the field and claimed his first victom by 7:41 am, and 8:09 am respectively. Look at shootings 2,3,4 and 5 in order. He probably came from the North West, hit the man on the mower at 7:41. He turned north killed the man at the gas station 30 minutes later, went a little further north to the post office, and though he was being real cleaver when he turned south, doubled back, and struck south of main through fair an hour and a half later. The shooting the furthers SOUTH took place at 2:30, perhaps increased travel time? Is there any construction or perhaps a traffic accident on that day?

And the boy at the middle school, further east, and later in the morning...

He's disicplined. Detail oriented. And will be tough to catch.
41 posted on 10/08/2002 10:52:35 AM PDT by Lord Marshal
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To: Sacajaweau
It's a updated version of the pin-on-the-map. One can automate things like drawing hours-of-travel isotimes (my newly coined word) taking into account terrain, highways, roads, etc.

42 posted on 10/08/2002 11:10:13 AM PDT by Doctor Stochastic
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To: Lord Marshal
This bears repeating "He's disicplined. Detail oriented. And will be tough to catch.
43 posted on 10/08/2002 2:30:34 PM PDT by B4Ranch
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To: Sacajaweau; 11th_VA
Why, what's being said about the UMD campus?
44 posted on 10/08/2002 2:32:24 PM PDT by maxwell
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To: 11th_VA
Sounds like hocus-pocus to me. They should try using acoustic sensors to quickly determine the shot locations and then zoom in with a recon satellite.
45 posted on 10/08/2002 2:42:33 PM PDT by Theophilus
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To: Theophilus
Yea. right. And what are the odd of a recon satalite being in it's very narrow window over the target???
46 posted on 10/08/2002 4:04:24 PM PDT by Lord Marshal
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To: B4Ranch
He was fed up with his old neighborhood because of _ _ _ _ _ and is wanting revenge.

Not sure how a snipe-or-two-a-day in random areas could achieve "revenge" for anything except for a majorly twisted mind. Especially a kid in the doorway of a school.

47 posted on 10/08/2002 6:14:05 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: Prodigal Son
I think his gimmick is the truck. Apparently the enclosed part is long enough for him to have a good prone shooting position and he is able to shoot through a partially-open door. It might even be a one-man operation.
48 posted on 10/08/2002 7:17:32 PM PDT by OldEagle
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To: HiTech RedNeck
How about a cab driver?
49 posted on 10/08/2002 7:22:30 PM PDT by Thumper1960
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To: Lord Marshal
Not sure, but I am sure that we have a lot more than one sat. Check this out:


50 posted on 10/08/2002 8:39:20 PM PDT by Theophilus
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