1st Edition

Serial Violence Analysis of Modus Operandi and Signature Characteristics of Killers

By Robert D. Keppel, William J. Birnes Copyright 2008
    252 Pages 40 Color & 150 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    Linking the murders of an alleged serial killer to successfully present a case in court involves a specific methodology that has been scrutinized by the judicial system but is largely absent in the current literature. Serial Violence: Analysis of Modus Operandi and Signature Characteristics of Killers fully explains the process of finding the nexus between one violent crime and another for the purpose of pursuing the same offender at trial.


    Examines real cases of some of the world’s most notorious serial killers


    Written by renowned experts, this book focuses on analyzing crimes of violence to unveil common characteristics that might prove useful in the identification, apprehension, and conviction of murderers. It begins by detailing the historical origins of modus operandi as an investigative tool. It examines murderous ritualistic behavior in a variety of cases, including William Heirens, Harvey Glatman, Morris Frampton, and Jack the Ripper. Later chapters discuss serial murders accompanied by burglary, torture, picquerism, sexual violence, sexual degradation, and a host of other behaviors.

    Includes color photographs of actual crime scenes

    Containing numerous color photos, this volume includes useful information for expert witnesses and portions of transcripts of original testimony. The scintillating detail and rigorous analysis presented in this volume enables those charged with solving these violent crimes to discern the types of modus operandi and ritualistic behaviors that can be linked to the same offender, helping law enforcement bring these dangerous offenders to justice.

    About the Authors

    Bob Keppel served on the King County homicide task force that investigated the infamous Ted Bundy and has been an expert witness on scores of serial killer signature profile cases across the United States. Along with coauthor William Birnes, Dr. Keppel worked on a United States Department of Justice grant to evaluate how local police homicide units use computer database technology to track serial killer and sexual offender cases by cross-referencing offender psychological signatures.


    The Components of Modus Operandi, Ritual, and Signature

    The Discovery of Signature: Harvey Glatman, the Lonely Hearts Killer, William Heirens—"Stop Me Before I Kill Again!"—and Morris Frampton

    The Jack the Ripper Murders: A Modus Operandi and Signature Analyses of the 1888–1891 Whitechapel Murders

    The Essence of Torture

    Signature Analysis Convicts The Right Man

    The Picquerism Signature

    A Sexual Assault Signature Lacking Primary Mechanisms

    The Ritual of Sexual Degradation through Posing of Victims

    What’s Important Is What’s Not There

    Signature Left in Kansas City

    Signature of an Arson-Rape-Murderer

    The Definitive Signature of a Rapist and Murderer

    Best Practices in Linking Cases




    Robert D. Keppel, William J. Birnes

    What a fantastic textbook — it builds upon the foundations of Keppel and Birnes' Signature Killers and incorporates so much more information and analysis in a much more academically appropriate package than a paperback book. As a former student and teaching assistant of Dr. Keppel's, I am overjoyed to see this book in print and think that it is an amazing resource for those who do not have the opportunity to take a class with Dr. K. ... I have already placed this book on my recommended reading list. ... To date, I have always brought my well-worn copies of Keppel and Birnes' Signature Killers and Geberth's Practical Homicide Investigations to each guest lecture and told the students if they are interested in these areas, they need to purchase these two books as essential resources. ... Again, this textbook is fantastic and is the best academic reference on this topic that I have seen to date.
    — Amanda L. Farrell, MA, MSc, Old Dominion University, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Norfolk, Virginia