Essay on Robert Ressler Coined the Term Serial Killer

Essay on Robert Ressler Coined the Term Serial Killer
📌Category: Behavior, Crime, Government, Law enforcement, Psychology
📌Words: 887
📌Pages: 4
📌Published: 28 April 2021

For my topic discussion, I chose to do Robert Ressler. I chose this as no one has ever done a paper about him in this class so, I wanted to be the first one to tackle it. Not many know of Robert Ressler, not even I did before I did my research. When it comes to mapping the minds of murderers, Robert Ressler is most quite possibly one of the most important people

Robert Ressler was born in Chicago and became fascinated with the act of murder and how a person can take the life of another. When he was 9 years old, the famous “Lipstick Killer” was at large. The murder and case was dubbed “Lipstick” due to a message scrawled at one of the crime scenes with lipstick. Robert and his friends made their little detective group that was designed to catch the culprit. William Herirens was 17 years old and confessed to each crime, even though today there are doubts as to if he did it or not. For Ressler, this was a major stepping stone for his lifelong intrigue into the minds of serial killers. There were many questions in his head as to why the cereal killers did these things. Was it an irresistible urge they couldn’t control, or do they choose to kill willingly?

Robert went to Michigan State University and got a Bachelor of Science degree in 1962 and a Master of Science degree in 1968. After that, he joined the US Army as a military investigator so he could learn how to catch criminals. During this time, he served as a Criminal Investigation Supervisor and a Military Police Operations and Intelligence Supervisor. Of course, due to his service, he was awarded countless medals and awards. After leaving the Army, he joined the FBI in 1970. He was determined to combine psychology with criminal cases in an attempt to understand the mind of killers. He believed if we knew as to why the killer did the things they did, we would have a better understanding of the murders and the people who commit them, but most importantly, how to catch them. 

When he joined the FBI, psychology wasn’t a popular topic or a solution to problems, especially in the criminal field. Evidence is what mattered to them at the time, not theories and possibilities. Despite the unpopular decision, he continued forward calling his methods “Criminal Profiling.” There was one question that he always asked himself, “What is this force that takes a hold of a person and pushes them over the edge?” At the time Robert Ressler was in the FBI, William Webster was the head of the FBI. He sat down and listened to Ressler’s ideas and believed his ideas were worth investing in. 

In 1978, Ressler set up the program and built a team with what is called the Behavioural Science Unit today. They began to apply things to criminal cases that have never been applied before, like psychological theory, victimology, and crime scene analysis. They used these to generate a profile for what the person might do or who is responsible for the murders. This new method of catching criminals was catching on to police officers and criminal investigators. Without even realizing what the methods were, they read up on it and realized they were using profiling techniques for years without even knowing. In 1985, with the support of Robert Ressler, the ViCAP( Violent Criminal Apprehension Program) was developed. This program would collect information on crimes across the country and connect them between other crimes and criminals to be made. 

Now that we know the basic history of Robert Ressler, what did he do in his life besides create a method for catching criminals that we still use today? He was involved in some of the most famous serial killer cases today, including, but not limited to John Wayne Gacy (The Killer Clown), Ted Bundy (The Lady Killer), and Jeffrey Dahmer. These cases had killers with unnatural motives and Robert Ressler became fascinated with these cases, helping wherever he could whenever he could. 

When the case of John Wayne Gacy broke out in Ressler’s hometown, he thought it was the perfect opportunity to test his psychological profiling theories. John Gacy was responsible for at least 33 young men. He would lure these men back to his home then strangle them to death. He buried 26 of the bodies under his house, 3 in his garden, and his final victims were hypothesized to have been dumped in a river. This is one of the most unusual cases that Ressler has ever done as he developed curious relationships with John. John ended up giving Ressler a self-portrait of him as a clown and on the back, there was an inscription that read “Dear Bob Ressler, you cannot hope to enjoy the harvest without first laboring in the fields. Best wishes and good luck. Sincerely, John Wayne Gacy, June 1988.” When Ressler read this, he asked the killer what he meant which created the famous quote that John said, “Well, Mr. Ressler, you're the criminal profiler. You're the FBI. You figure it out.”

Robert Ressler is one of the most important people when it comes to understanding the minds of murders and why they do what they do. If we understand the minds of murderers, we can safely identify a lot about their personality, age, what they believe in, and their motives behind the killing. Before Ressler brought up to look at these crimes with a psychological perspective, it was very hard to find these criminals before anything drastic happened. Without Robert Ressler’s help, the world wouldn’t understand the minds of serial killers and how looking at them from a psychological perspective can benefit us. 

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