Retired FBI Agent Jim Fitzgerald recently visited Lancaster University on a special mission: to deliver a thought-provoking, fascinating and captivating talk on offender profiling and linguistic analysis as part of a world-wide tour. My verdict: mission accomplished!
Jim first joined the FBI in 1987 and retired in 2007. He was successfully involved in a number of notable cases such as the Unabomber and the D.C Sniper. Not to mention, he was the first person ever to provide expert testimony in the US federal courts through textual analysis. Clever guy, right?
During the first half of the talk, Jim took us on a journey through his career on a case-by-case basis. He provided images of some of the evidence he had used to help distinguish an offender profile. Interestingly, a couple of the images were of forged suicide letters used in an attempt to mask homicides.
Having wowed his audience with this important FBI evidence, Jim spent the second half of the talk exploring a variety of offender profiling theories. He provided example suicide letters for the audience to then apply the profiling theories to. Trying to create my own offender profile made me feel as though I was an Investigating Officer in an episode of CSI!
Having been to a few of these events myself, I would strongly recommend that you attend as many talks by academics, politicians and other visiting speakers as you can at Lancaster. Lancaster University organises several different talks every term for law and criminology students, each with a different focus. Not only do they allow for you to develop your knowledge on topics perhaps not covered by the syllabus, they provide an opportunity for you to listen to how another person’s intelligence, determination and hard work allowed for them to be successful in their careers (not to mention, some of these talks provide free catering – and who wouldn’t say yes to free food?).