The First Murder Was Conducted by the United States First Profiled Serial Killer John F. Hickey

Five years before Jack the Ripper emerged on the streets of London, in 1883, the first murder was conducted by the United States first profiled serial killer John F. Hickey, dubbed the “Postcard Killer”. (citation needed) Hickey traveled along the East Coast of the United States for 28 years, raping and killing newsboys. Hickey would write and send letters and postcards after the murders to torment the parents of the children and the police. However, these letters and postcard eventually enabled detectives to build a profile of his behavioral patterns, characteristics, and physical attributes.

While Hickey’s first murder was conducted in 1883, his profile was not built until after that of Jack the Rippers.

Therefore, the case of Jack the Ripper is still credited with being the first crime that offender profiling was used as an investigative tool. Hickey was eventually finally caught in 1912, becoming the first case where an offender was caught with the help of an offender profile. The Postcard Killer was also the first profiled case in the United States.

During WWII the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), known today as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), approached two psychoanalysts, asking them to help predict the behaviors of Adolf Hitler. Approached by the OSS for his prior expolitoary survey of Hitler Dr. Henry Murray studied, and presented a 229 page report profiling Adolph Hitler. Murray hypothesized and speculated in order to create his profile.

However, Murray had encountered Hitler earlier in life, and had first-hand knowledge of what it Nazi Germany and Hitler as a dictator were like.

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Walter C. Langer was the other psychologist approached to provide a profile on Adolf Hitler. Langer’s brother, and head of research and analysis at the time, facilitated Langers involvement with the OSS. Langers approach was to conduct interviews with people who had a history with Hitler, and hired assistants to go to the New York Library ad do research. After completing the research, Langer pssed his study on to other psychoanalyists and had them create possible endings to the war. However, due to being rushed on time, Langer compiled the reports hastily, and sent off the first draft of his report to the OSS.

Langers report was published as a book, even though it was never intended to be. Publication of Langers report revealed many potential problems with psychologic profiles. Langer never heard back about the report, so it has been assumed that not much was derived from it. Langer and Murray were initially asked to collaborate their efforts on the profile, but eventually parted ways during the analysis. (Citation) However, their reports yielded similar results and are both looked upon with great value as they were the first profiles to predict war time behavior. Predicting war time behavior and analyzing terrorsits via psychoanalysis is a practice still used by the CIA today.

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The First Murder Was Conducted by the United States First Profiled Serial Killer John F. Hickey. (2021, Feb 10). Retrieved from

The First Murder Was Conducted by the United States First Profiled Serial Killer John F. Hickey
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