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Bees Help Detectives Catch Serial Killers

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the geographic-profiling dept.

Biotech 132

Hugh Pickens writes "The way bumblebees search for food could help detectives hunt down serial killers — because just as bees forage some distance away from their hives, so murderers avoid killing near their homes, says a University of London research team. The researchers' analysis describes how bees create a 'buffer zone' around their hive where they will not forage, to reduce the risk of predators and parasites locating the nest. This behavior pattern is similar to the geographic profile of criminals stalking their victims. 'Most murders happen close to the killer's home, but not in the area directly surrounding a criminal's house, where crimes are less likely to be committed because of the fear of getting caught by someone they know,' says Dr. Nigel Raine. Criminologists will fold this insight into their models using details about crime scenes, robbery locations, abandoned cars, even dead bodies, to hone the search for a suspect."

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dont shit where you eat (5, Funny)

timmarhy (659436) | about 6 years ago | (#24633351)

we've known this for a long time sherlock...

Bzzzzz Bzzzzz (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24633423)

I eat from where your mother shits - her butthole.

She prefers to top it with ranch dressing, but she also lets me, and only me, lick honey from it every now and then...for dessert, you see.

Her favorite fetish is having me, and only me, shove fistfuls of live honeybees up into her two bottom orifices. That causes primary pleasure from the initial fisting and secondary pleasure from all of the bee stings with the added bonus of having a toughened(albeit itchy) vagina to handle hard poundings.

I stand back while we speak as she bursts forth into rapturous jerking and twitching...man, the bitch loves it!

Re:Bzzzzz Bzzzzz (-1, Offtopic)

timmarhy (659436) | about 6 years ago | (#24633511)

so the best woman you pull is a fat old lady? great going stud.

You know the best way to deal with your mother? (1)

professional_troll (1178701) | about 6 years ago | (#24633709)

Cunt punt!

Re:Bzzzzz Bzzzzz (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24633747)

Fat old ladies are the best. Remember that, along with the newfound discovery that bees = serial killers.

Re:dont shit where you eat (1)

rhyder128k (1051042) | about 6 years ago | (#24634381)

If only the FBI had watched Silence of the Lambs, they would have known this in advance.

CLARICE
"Desperately random." What does he mean?

ARDELIA
Not random at all, maybe. Like there's some pattern here...?

[later...]

CLARICE (CONT'D)
Maybe he lives in this, this Belvedere, Ohio, too! Maybe he saw her
every day, and killed her sort of spontaneously. Maybe he just meant

Re:dont shit where you eat (2, Interesting)

Ron_Fitzgerald (1101005) | about 6 years ago | (#24634937)

What does he do? He covets. And what do we Covet? We covet what we see...

I do believe it is most likely first-time killers DO kill close to home because it is their buffer zone. Then they start to spread their wings.

Re:dont shit where you eat (2, Funny)

sgt_doom (655561) | about 6 years ago | (#24634831)

WOW!! Sort of like...instead of attacking or nuking nearby Canada....invade Iraq and maybe nuke Iran.......

Those darn serial killers!!!

No Hocus-pocus needed: The Black Guy Did It !! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24635283)

No Hocus-pocus needed: The Black Guy Did It !! Ain't it always the black guy ??

Re:No Hocus-pocus needed: The Black Guy Did It !! (1)

Fri13 (963421) | about 6 years ago | (#24635653)

It is always the steward! We need to call Matlock for help!

Re:dont shit where you eat (0, Offtopic)

dword (735428) | about 6 years ago | (#24635687)

Please mod parent down because of insulting sig.

Re:dont shit where you eat (2, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 6 years ago | (#24635809)

The problem with going public with this kind of information is also that the nastiest serial killers - they who plan their killings - actually takes notice and makes sure that their pattern is weird enough to mess up any logical conclusions from their pattern.

Of course - sooner or later they are probably making a mistake that leads to their downfall, but by creating a offbeat pattern they can lead investigators down several blind alleys.

This is however not limited to serial killers, but also other kinds of crime. Organized crime are all to aware already of methods used by law enforcement. They know that they are being watched so they run decoys etc.

Re:dont shit where you eat (2, Funny)

DarkOx (621550) | about 6 years ago | (#24635897)

True but unless you are dealing with the really really insane murder tends to be a crime of passion. You are generally not all that passionate about people you dont know. The majority of murder victims do have a relationship to the killer.

Just because you know something about the pattern of where the real nut jobs select their victims does not mean you have control over where yours is. So the information is not helpful to most would be killers. The real wack jobs who could use the information are pretty hard to catch anyway and probably already knew this, if only in an intuative way. Its still ture any way you don't want kill someone to close to you because someone who knows you might figure it out. You proably can't kill someone to far out side your buffer zone becuase of travel time, you are going to need better alibi to explain longer absenses. Its much harder to wack someone, clean up all the evidence, and be at the office the next morning if you have to drive an hour each way to do it on top of that. I have never tried but sitting here I can't think of any quick ways to dispose of a body that wont have it found pretty fast. You need to burry it deep, burn it completely, or sink it and make sure it stays sunk for a good long time otherwise modern technology / dogs are going to find it and its going to still contain enough evidence to lead back to the killer.

Two ways? (5, Interesting)

JohnnyKlunk (568221) | about 6 years ago | (#24633357)

If read and understood by a sane serial killer (assuming these things exist). Could they then pattern their kills around a location other than where they live? Hence leading police to profile the wrong location based upon these kind of patterns?

Re:Two ways? (5, Interesting)

lukas84 (912874) | about 6 years ago | (#24633373)

Yes, of course.

If you kill a random person at a random location, with the only value that influences your choice of victim being the chance of getting away with it, the chances of getting away with it, if properly executed, are almost 100%.

But that's not how it works in the real world - most murders happen for a reason, even those be insane or sane serial killers.

Re:Two ways? (5, Funny)

drmofe (523606) | about 6 years ago | (#24633551)

Yes. 1. Find a known serial killer. 2. Commit crimes around their home. 3. ??? 4. Profit.

Re:Two ways? (4, Funny)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | about 6 years ago | (#24633653)

slight flaw, known serial killers' homes are generaly maximum security prison.

Re:Two ways? (3, Insightful)

D-Cypell (446534) | about 6 years ago | (#24634551)

Or political buildings

Re:Two ways? (1)

Fri13 (963421) | about 6 years ago | (#24635681)

But it's easy to commit murders around prison, because no one is watching outside of prison, only in the prison....

That was reason in one situation in -90 when prisoners partners braked in to prison and freed their friend. It was much harder to brake out... but very easy to get in, because who would like to brake in a prison?

Re:Two ways? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24633575)

Uh, this whole thing seems to be based on a vast overestimation of the number of victims serial killers actually have. We are not living in a TV show, I mean, this list goes back to the 18th century: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_serial_killers_by_number_of_victims [wikipedia.org]

I suppose it might be useful for solving some historical crimes.

Re:Two ways? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24633745)

I would always guess, they make their first kill close to home, if not _in_ their home.

Re:Two ways? (3, Informative)

will_die (586523) | about 6 years ago | (#24633787)

First off this behavior is also used by thieves, murderers, arsonists, basically any type of serial criminal activities, and was used is solving poisoning back in the 80s.
The basis around most of this geographic profiling is that people put a bubble around the places they live or work so they are not to close while at the same time they don't want to be so far away that they don't feel safe or unfamiliar with the area or they don't have an explanation of why they are in that area.
So yea someone could setup another base but you then increase the chance that you will be seen as unfamiliar in that area or if you don't know the area a good chance there is a chance you will make a mistake and the fear of making that mistake is what causes people to create that original bubble in the first place.
There are a few pieces of software that are already being used by police and the I recently read an article where they are using this software in Afghanistan and Iraq to figure out possible locations of bomb building and enemy safe houses.

Re:Two ways? (2, Insightful)

ComputerGeek01 (1182793) | about 6 years ago | (#24634481)

I would say no. To be a serial killer it implies that you murder more then one person, generally have the same Modus Operandi and some times your victims carry similar traits or are the same in some way. I would think if you kill around your home a pattern would emerge in a very tight area and police would catch on. The only thing you would accomplish is having them profile you as someone who kills spontaneously and has little or no self control, which would be the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish.

In short it is still safer to kill away from your home, the police still would have to figure out which direction your coming from and as the article says there is a far lower chance of you being recognized. Not that I've put too much thought into this or anything :-P

By the same token.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24633383)

Wouldn't it throw police off your track if you did commit a crime in your street?

Re:By the same token.. (5, Interesting)

Cillian (1003268) | about 6 years ago | (#24633451)

That's the problem with psycological theories and profiling. As soon as the subject knows the model, they probably stop following it.

Re:By the same token.. (4, Insightful)

that IT girl (864406) | about 6 years ago | (#24633969)

Actually, it's pretty interesting how they don't. It's like they can't help but follow it. A subconscious thing. Doesn't make logical sense to me, but their minds don't work like the rest of ours so it's hard to understand why they behave the way they do.

Re:By the same token.. (1)

Narpak (961733) | about 6 years ago | (#24634187)

The behavior of most people doesn't make logical sense to me. But then their minds don't work like mine.

Subconscious impulses affect the behavior of everyone, whether they accept it or not.

Re:By the same token.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24634903)

How would you know?

Re:By the same token.. (1)

budgenator (254554) | about 6 years ago | (#24634357)

Seems to me that there are two kinds of serial criminals, first the more common instinctual that has a profile behavior pattern and is locked into acting it out psychologically. This one is the easier to catch because the behavior eventually becomes predictable. The second one is rarer and is either going to change the MO at apparently random times after using it for a time or is completely erratic and unpredictable. The second kind is usually either not caught or caught through serendipity.

As do Nation States (2, Insightful)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about 6 years ago | (#24633385)

doing their serial killing far away, bombing countries half the world away. While just imposing embargoes on those next door, to reduce the risk to the hive. You don't need Bee theory, forensics or the CSI team to figure out who is doing the killing though.

Re:As do Nation States (0, Offtopic)

timmarhy (659436) | about 6 years ago | (#24633479)

that sounds like terrorist talk to me....

Re:As do Nation States (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24633581)

doing their serial killing far away, bombing countries half the world away. While just imposing embargoes on those next door, to reduce the risk to the hive. You don't need Bee theory, forensics or the CSI team to figure out who is doing the killing though.

Riiight. So please explain Russia invading Georgia, China invading Tibet, Indonesia invading East Timor.

Look, if you want to pick on the USA, please go ahead. There are many good & bad things about US foreign policy. But meaningless new-age psychobabble doesn't accomplish anything except making you look like an anti-American kook.

Re:As do Nation States (1)

howardd21 (1001567) | about 6 years ago | (#24633607)

Mod parent up. And let's not forget Iraq invading Kuwait, Israel invading Lebanon, and a half a dozen "neighbors stopping into Israel for a friendly attempt to take over".

Re:As do Nation States (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24633797)

Your argument was that this is happening in other places/contries and the poster just thru in a name at random. And then you talk about 'phychobabble' and you thru in the 'new-age'. How did you come to that conclusion that it was new-age - please explain.

Re:As do Nation States (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24634163)

Your argument was that this is happening in other places/contries and the poster just thru in a name at random. And then you talk about 'phychobabble' and you thru in the 'new-age'. How did you come to that conclusion that it was new-age - please explain.

The point is he is trying to extend an explanation of the behavior of serial killers to that of countries, and uses that for a cheap shot on the USA.

If you want to pick on the USA, at least pick on the USA for something that is actually true, since this serial killer explanation makes no sense when applied to countries, and I give a few examples to show that it makes no sense.

And if you read lefty socialist blogs, you will see lots of meaningless new-age psychobabble that sounds a lot like this tripe.

Re:As do Nation States (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24633989)

Sun Tzu ~600bc said: "In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good".
Parent poster does not mention invading to occupy and annex to Nation State which requires a very different long term military tactic (preservation of infrastructure). Parent poster points to destruction (serial killing) of nation states by others. Not to discount that annexing usually involves ethnic cleansing but that would then be a "domestic" occupation issue.

Re:As do Nation States (1)

budgenator (254554) | about 6 years ago | (#24634537)

Those were actions because buffer-zone was invaded by a percieved threat; those countries threatened their neighbor because of the relatively greater freedom or differing religion or philosophy. One way to make a serial criminal crazy is to determine his exclusion zone, and move a real or imaginary rival into activity there.

Re:As do Nation States (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24635275)

The explanation is simple.

They have not destroyed the native population of the invaded lands. Always leads to trouble.

The americans did a much better job. By totally wiping out it's native population and it's culture they have achieved domestic peace.

Re:As do Nation States (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24635321)

Got to love how the US seems to think a pre-emptive strike on a country unable to launch an attack is fine whereas Russia reacting to Georgia invading its territory is a return to the Cold War.

Most people in Europe aren't fooled by Bush trying to make a failed invasion by Georgia look like empire-building by Russia; I'm amazed that people in the US are so blinkered.

Re:As do Nation States (1)

dword (735428) | about 6 years ago | (#24635745)

You don't need Bee theory, forensics or the CSI team to figure out who is doing the killing

Yes, you do. That theory about the bubble makes a lot of sense, but when it comes down to practice and real numbers, you do need the Bee theory and the forensics and the CSI team to figure out where the next kill would be or where the killer lives. You'd probably say "around there" but that's not good enough for the police nor to the people living in that area who know there's a serial killer "around there." We need to study the details of this behavior in order to increase the precision of our predictions.
What you just said, is that you don't need school to teach you how to read because all you do is open the book and look at it.

RFID (1, Insightful)

niceone (992278) | about 6 years ago | (#24633413)

TFA mentions that they are also tracking the bees by glueing RFID tags to their backs. I wonder if any politicians reading this might start thinking of a more direct way to use this work to catch criminals...

Re:RFID (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24633737)

yes, but as the news has been pounding in our head every single day of the Olympics, at least our domestic surveillance isn't as bad as China's... AND I'M PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN, WHERE AT LEAST I KNOW I'M FREE

Bees don't help detectives (4, Insightful)

Bromskloss (750445) | about 6 years ago | (#24633429)

The insight that killers don't kill too close to their homes help detectives. It has nothing to do with bees, really. Bees just happen to behave in the same way.

Re:Bees don't help detectives (2, Informative)

Bromskloss (750445) | about 6 years ago | (#24633435)

And it's not biotech as someone tagged the story! Scheesh!

Re:Bees don't help detectives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24633915)

And it's not biotech as someone tagged the story! Scheesh!

This was a temporary fix. Will be replaced as soon as the new tag beetech becomes established.

Most killers do kill close to home (1)

Nymz (905908) | about 6 years ago | (#24633721)

The article uses the word murderers, which do in fact kill near their 'home turf', and by and large kill people they know, per known statistics. Though being a serial killer really isn't a crime itself, it's just a subtype of murderer that performs multiple instances.

Though, the fact that this subject matter is of high interest to selling movies, tv shows, and newspapers, then the real insight might be that a reporter is exaggerating this 'killer' relationship in order to gain readership to what many may consider a boring bee study.

Re:Bees don't help detectives (4, Funny)

OriginalArlen (726444) | about 6 years ago | (#24633741)

The buzz I've heard is that they're setting up a sting operation. Using a honey-pot.

Thanks, mine's the white boilersuit with the veil and hat on the next peg.

Re:Bees don't help detectives (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 6 years ago | (#24634277)

Thanks, mine's the white boilersuit with the veil and hat on the next peg.

The Register's thattaway, son, and we don't have any of them thar fancy Paris icons and smileys either!

Re:Bees don't help detectives (1)

vidarh (309115) | about 6 years ago | (#24633743)

RTFA. The article makes the point that the researches hope that future research on the behavior of bees can be used to improve on crime solving techniques. That's why bees are relevant.

Re:Bees don't help detectives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24633803)

The insight that killers don't kill too close to their homes help detectives. It has nothing to do with bees, really. Bees just happen to beehive in the same way.

There. Fixed that for you. ;)

Re:Bees don't help detectives (1)

jslarve (1193417) | about 6 years ago | (#24634757)

Best said by Navin Johnson (from "The Jerk") while being shot at by a deranged gunman : "He hates these cans!"

wow, from the department of the obvious... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24633443)

crims don't do it on their home patch... as too many people know them... I live in a dodgy estate... lots of people with heavy form here... but it's safe for me as they do all their crime where any potential witnesses aren't likely to know them. The only worries I have are from the inexperienced petty types desperate to get money for their next fix... and they'll only be able to do me the once... cos my friends will pay them a visit...

We come in peace. We mean you no harm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24633813)

Your method of communicating is unfamiliar to me. What country are you from? What is your native tongue?

Easy way to handle that (3, Interesting)

Hektor_Troy (262592) | about 6 years ago | (#24633453)

Use one program to select the town of your victim at random.
Find a written phonebook from the area and pick a page at random using ten sided dice.
And use the same dice to pick a person at random from that page.

Now you have your victim - it could be you (start over), your neighbour, your boss - doesn't matter all that much.

Next you pick a method of execution at random as well.

If you have no modus operandi, they can't really catch you. See Richard Kuklinski [wikipedia.org]

But learn from his mistakes - if you're using a freezer to keep the time of death obscured, thaw them before you dump them.

Re:Easy way to handle that (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | about 6 years ago | (#24633519)

If you have no modus operandi, they can't really catch you. See Richard Kuklinski

Not really - in fact, from the article you link to [emph mine]:

Richard "The Iceman" Kuklinski was a convicted murderer and notorious contract killer.

Re:Easy way to handle that (1)

Hektor_Troy (262592) | about 6 years ago | (#24633647)

And if you read a bit further down, you'll notice that one of the reasons they knew they were dealing with something suspect in one of his cases, was because they found a FROZEN body in the middle of summer. That was his modus operandi.

Re:Easy way to handle that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24634569)

And if you read a bit further down, you'll notice that one of the reasons they knew they were dealing with something suspect in one of his cases, was because they found a FROZEN body in the middle of summer.

Yes, because clearly a dead body is not suspicious enough!

Re:Easy way to handle that (1)

Hektor_Troy (262592) | about 6 years ago | (#24634759)

Actually it's not.

One of the documentaries explained how he had killed a guy in a motel and simply stashed him under the bed. He had been killed with an overdose of something, and it took three or four days before the guy had been found - AFTER the room had be rented out to more than one other guest.

That was ruled an accidental death until he pointed out that 'hey, that was me'.

Re:Easy way to handle that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24634037)

Use one program to select the town of your victim at random.
Find a written phonebook from the area and pick a page at random using ten sided dice.
And use the same dice to pick a person at random from that page.

Ten-side dice? Screw that. Just open the book and pick someone.

Like this... *opens phonebook* *runs finger down the page*

Johnson, Navin R... Sounds like a typical bastard.

Re:Easy way to handle that (3, Funny)

Hektor_Troy (262592) | about 6 years ago | (#24634319)

But that way you always end up with someone in the middle of the phonebook.

"Look at this - everyone in these unsolved cases have last names starting with L, M and N. Think he's using a phonebook?"

To the killer they catch... (4, Funny)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 6 years ago | (#24633457)

...it would really sting knowing that they were caught because of a bee.

DAMN IT. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24633471)

I was honestly hoping they discovered a way to manipulate bees to hunt down serial killers and "catch" them.

oh well, back to my plans for the beezooka.

I'd go see that movie... (3, Funny)

Nymz (905908) | about 6 years ago | (#24633649)

...because it sounds more original that the typical movie formula:

1) Get a paper map of the city
2) Mark the location of each crime scene
3) Draw lines connecting the dots
4) Search for serial killer in the center of the inverted pentagram

Re:I'd go see that movie... (2, Funny)

Kingrames (858416) | about 6 years ago | (#24635607)

Dude you just gave me a great idea for a CSI episode.

Re:DAMN IT. (1)

laejoh (648921) | about 6 years ago | (#24634487)

That 'way [bestuff.com] ' has been discovered, by Homer J. Simpson! It's the dogs with bees in their mouth that do the hunting and when they "catch" they will bark and shoot bees!

numb3rs anyone (1)

zeridon (846747) | about 6 years ago | (#24633483)

Wonder on what the numb3rs tv series is based. If i am not wrong the first 2 series did exactly that. Finding the pattern is not allways so hard. You just have to atribute everything to the right killer (freak, nerd).

Re:numb3rs anyone (1)

OtakuPersona (1306113) | about 6 years ago | (#24633693)

I was thinking exactly the same thing. The whole "calculating thehot zone" method of catching the criminal was a main plot point of the pilot episode.

Not new (1)

BradHAWK (1346147) | about 6 years ago | (#24633507)

The idea inspired by the bees is certainly not new (not to say that studying the bees won't add useful information).

I vaguely (it was so long ago - maybe 10 years) recall either a public radio program or a magazine article about a man who wrote a book about the same idea, based on lions' hunting habits - forming a ring around their home area, and there were some examples of actual criminals located with the help of this pattern.

Then I heard an old time radio program, "The Whistler", episode "X Marks A Murderer", originally aired 1945, Aug 20. A character noted that it is possible to calculate a killer's living area because the killer heads out in different directions but excludes the area near his own home.

Probably viral marketing... (1)

Skazz11 (1035412) | about 6 years ago | (#24633573)

This is just a way of marketing Bee Movie 2.

Colony collapse (1, Insightful)

moteyalpha (1228680) | about 6 years ago | (#24633589)

If they discover why colony collapse happens, then they could cause colony collapse disorder among serial killers. The concept seems very old as it has been stated. These principles would apply to all situations and to consider another application, how to identify the source of lobbyists that poison information wells. It would seem that they would have to go to great lengths to conceal their -hive- and would constantly move it to obfuscate matters further. All tools can be applied to help and hinder, the root cause still remains which is the conflict itself.

Re:Colony collapse (1)

that IT girl (864406) | about 6 years ago | (#24633911)

It is indeed an old concept. I've been watching Law & Order for years and they've used that premise several times. And if it's been aired on a show like that, you can bet it's been in the police's knowledge database for even longer.

Re:Colony collapse (1)

Maelwryth (982896) | about 6 years ago | (#24634079)

I wasn't aware that serial killers formed colonies?

Then, I wasn't aware that Bumblebees did either (although they are pretty small, and they break up over winter while the queen buries herself, and I am buggered if I would call it a colony, but there it is in bold print on the Sex for vegetables [quicksilver.net.nz] website.).

Re:Colony collapse (1)

moteyalpha (1228680) | about 6 years ago | (#24634253)

I wasn't aware that serial killers formed colonies?

Okay it was a very weak joke. But I have thought about this and it seems that Hannibal Lecter was the most insightful saying "you should look at what they covet". I guess like protecting any asset, whether it is network security, data , military bases, or people, the easiest way is to protect it at the target and prevent it at the origin. The path between seems as it would be virtually infinite in possible convolutions.

Detective work (3, Funny)

jovius (974690) | about 6 years ago | (#24633637)

Is this what they call a sting operation?

Re:Detective work (1)

Maelwryth (982896) | about 6 years ago | (#24634015)

"Is this what they call a sting operation?"

No, but it does lead to Flight of the Bumblebee!

Narrowing the field... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24633701)

By analyzing the area a serial killer strikes, you can draw some conclusions on his/her preferences and why they chose a particular location.

Cross-referencing this with locations of similar characteristics, within a defined radius, provides areas that would be considered as having a high probability of future use.

Given that serial killers maintain a certain pattern, as they are driven by the need to satisfy their cravings/compulsions, it can become possible to predict with some degree of accuracy where to deploy officers that would provide the highest chance of discovering the offender.

I, for one, (1)

PakProtector (115173) | about 6 years ago | (#24633723)

I, for one, welcome our Hymenoptera overlords, and should like to inform them that as one with a knowledge of both Latin and Ancient Greek, I could prove invaluable to them in tracking down the ancient lost nectar mines.

One major flaw... (1)

pla (258480) | about 6 years ago | (#24633733)

I see two major flaws with applying this behavior to crime...

First, bees live in an essentially homogenous environment - They generally travel less than a mile, and have a more-or-less equal chance of finding something yummy in any direction from the hive. Most humans tend to live in population clusters (aka "cities"), with those preferring (or needing) solitude (ie, serial killers) tending toward the outskirts of the cities. Thus, their "hunting ground" would have a strong bias toward the city, with little correlation between where they live and where they kill.

Second, humans don't blindly follow instinct. They have the capacity to very carefully consider what the distribution of bodies says about them (with some of the most famous serial killers using that very distribution to send their message). They even have the capacity, knowing that the police will look for geographical patterns, to "frame" other people by carefully leaving bodies in the right places.


It sounds great to say that if a killer randomly goes out once a week, at least five miles from home, then kills the first convenient target, that you can pinpoint where he originates from. In practice, I don't see that as even remotely plausible.

Sane serial killer and SSD ;) (1)

Ellimist2 (1346165) | about 6 years ago | (#24633751)

How about a sane serial killer distributing their murders after reading this article? I can already imagine this article making it to the top at the SSK(Slashdot for Serial Killers) with more than a thousand comments(assuming we have that many serial killers) thanking kdawson for this insight into their psychology.

The killers home? (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | about 6 years ago | (#24633763)

If you know where the killer's house is in order to draw this donut around it, why not just go there and arrest them? If you're arguing that the killing is in a donut, there are an infinite number of donuts that a killing could belong to, so I don't see how that helps you find the killer's house if you have any less than 3-4 body(ies) in different location(s) that are actually arranged in a donut around a central location.

Re:The killers home? (2, Funny)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 6 years ago | (#24634373)

If you know where the killer's house is in order to draw this donut around it, why not just go there and arrest them? If you're arguing that the killing is in a donut, there are an infinite number of donuts that a killing could belong to, so I don't see how that helps you find the killer's house if you have any less than 3-4 body(ies) in different location(s) that are actually arranged in a donut around a central location.

Mmm..... donuts.

OMG!!!!! Homer Simpson is our serial killer!

Waste of public money (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24633963)

What a great idea, spend a bunch of public money researching something that constitutes 0.000001% of all crime.

It's just like numb3rs !

Attention Slashdotters (4, Informative)

jabithew (1340853) | about 6 years ago | (#24634025)

"University of London" is a loose federation and should be treated as such, not all colleges are equal. This story should have been reported as originating from Queen Mary's College, University of London.

UL contains world-class institutions such as UCL, Kings and LSE, but it also contains places like Heythrop College, essentially a seminary in all but name.

This is exactly the issue that made my alma mater leave last year. When evaluating the quality of research, "University of London" is not a useful label.

Re:Attention Slashdotters (1)

jabithew (1340853) | about 6 years ago | (#24634033)

(Which is not to say that Mary's is bad, it's rather good, but the story should have reported as from Queen Mary's, not from UL)

Wasn't there a Numb3rs episode about this theory? (1)

h4xor ch1x (1160849) | about 6 years ago | (#24634071)

I seem to remember the 'serial killers don't kill near their homes' thing being part of the plot in a Numb3rs episode a couple years back, but it wasn't in terms of bees. Granted, TV isn't an accurate representation of real life, but I don't think the writers came up with the idea entirely on their own.

Someone has to say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24634189)

Was this research based regular bees or the Mexican Killer Bees?

I smell a news puff piece... (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 6 years ago | (#24634259)

Brave bees help track down a serial killer! Find out more about these adorable heroic bees in the news at 11 o'clock tonight!

Geoprofiling? (2, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | about 6 years ago | (#24634287)

Re:Geoprofiling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24635785)

Wow, Geoprofiling: Misdadigers pakken met een landkaart!
That sounds so cool. Now, if I could only figure out what that means in English...

Statistical analysis? (1)

thewils (463314) | about 6 years ago | (#24634505)

It would be nice (especially for the subsequent 99) for the police to catch a murderer after the first one, not wait for 100 or so and then run a analysis on the distribution.

Re:Statistical analysis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24635497)

That's dumb.

Wait a second (1)

Joebert (946227) | about 6 years ago | (#24634535)

So uh, anyone seen Muhammad Ali lately ?

He's been kinda quiet, a little too quiet.

Frasier (1)

DFENS619 (1008187) | about 6 years ago | (#24634679)

This is a epidemic case of fraud at it's greatest. Dr. Nigel Rain has no credentials in this field, he is a psychologist. Sorry, couldn't help myself... let the mod down begin.

Nothing new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24634849)

As one of Neil Gaiman's serial killer characters pointed out in The Doll's House series of the Sandman, "We don't shit where we eat."

Offender lists. (1)

wfstanle (1188751) | about 6 years ago | (#24634859)

If this is true that they don't murder in the area near to where they live, doesn't this run counter to the basic idea behind offender lists? Maybe the people living in the immediate area near where an offender is living are aware of the situation. However if this study is true, then they people not in the surrounding area are the ones at risk. The entire idea of offender lists is filled with flaws.

I didn't captain obvious was on the force (1)

billcopc (196330) | about 6 years ago | (#24634895)

Goddamned idiot cops again.. bees ?

So they plot the crime scenes on a map, extrapolate a circle once they have enough data points (which means they've been sucking their thumbs for a while), then go to the center of the circle and hope to find some wacko with weapons and whatever other evidence they've so carefully planted to save face.

Who needs solid investigative skills and eyewitnesses when ZOOLOGY can achieve the same success rate with none of the hard work ?

I want to like law enforcement, I really do! But before they can start catching serial killers and other heinous criminals, they need to narrow the definition of "crime" back down to something manageable. How can you expect to have a secure territory when all your cruisers are out handing random fines and pestering teenagers ? To solve a problem, one requires focus and attention!

Re:I didn't captain obvious was on the force (1)

DI Rebus (1342829) | about 6 years ago | (#24634961)

For fun, go to your high school reunion. Try to remember all of the students with personality disorders and notice how they all became policemen or joined the army. G.E.D + Authoritarian streak - Imagination = Career in Law Enforcement. I remember hearing an interview with an animal rights activist in the UK. You know, the sort of person who protests developments because they might hurt badgers. Well, the police sent a notice to one that they wanted to talk to her and they didn't know she was titled. (Some minor royal.) She didn't let on to her status during the interview but was amazed to see that these were very rigid men, with no imagination and very strong authoritarian streaks. No kidding, honey.

Re:I didn't captain obvious was on the force (1)

Torvaun (1040898) | about 6 years ago | (#24635373)

At least at my school, a fair number of them became engineers.

Next time, on Bee Cop (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24635059)

A swarm of bees helps cops catch a serial killer. By stinging him.

You have it backwards! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24635325)

Look, you are all missing the point. This type of profiling has been used for awhile now to catch serial killers. THE POINT OF THE ARTICLE is that the same profiling technique is now being used to understand the behavior of bees. Everyone here (including whoever titled the article) seems to think that that it has gone the other way around, that studying bees gave us clues to the behavior of serial killers, which is incorrect. This should be obvious by even listening to the first few seconds of the video.

Another note, I saw this article when it was reported, and I was a bit dismayed to see the ticker at the bottom of the screen recount the article making the same mistake. It's quite sad when people do not understand science, especially when they are the ones reporting on it.

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