Local News

Local Geographical Profiler Offers Perspective On D.C. Area Shootings

Posted October 17, 2002 6:06 a.m. EDT

— A local criminal expert may provide the clue to help catch the Washington, D.C., area sniper. He has studied serial killers like Ted Bundy and the Hillside Strangler. He also developed a profile of John Williams, who was convicted of murdering two women and attacking several others in Raleigh.

Dr. Maurice Godwin

is a professor of criminal justice at Methodist College. He is also an author who has written two books and studied the patterns of more than 100 serial killers.

"This is a spree killer, not a serial killer," Godwin said.

Godwin said he thinks two people are involved in the sniper killings in the D.C. area. He said the dominant killer is a white man between 26 years old and 34 years old. The pattern of the killings reinforce his wedge theory that the sniper or snipers commit their acts within a wedge-shaped area not far from home.

"Areas outside, they ignore because they are not familiar with them," Godwin said.

Godwin said he believes the one shooting to the west near Manassas, Va., was carried out to spread law enforcement out. He said he thinks since witnesses got a slightly better look at the shooter during the last attack, the killer or killers are taking a few days off to replot their strategy.

"I think you'll see an M.O. change, vehicle change and move into a different location," Godwin said.

Godwin said he thinks the King George area and Waldorf, Va., could be the next areas that are targeted.

"Now they want to hit somewhere remote. They've gone to the west, but not to the east, so I feel they are going to go to the east," he said.

Godwin has also zeroed in on where he believes the dominant killer lives. He said a lot of his research indicates killers live in the lower portion of the wedge, which would mean somewhere between Alexandria, Va., and Fredericksburg, Va.

Godwin believes the killer or killers are Internet-savvy, using computers to research and reinforce their beliefs. He thinks the dominant of the two may even have a "Timothy McVeigh" mentality, meaning militia beliefs.