Media Profiling Experts: Selling Snake Oil and Hurting Investigations

WSPA ran a follow up piece Tuesday about the Sunset Park attack in Mauldin (now believed to be a hoax) that included an interview with supposed “profiler” Dr. Maurice Godwin. After listening to audio of the 911 call made by the supposed attacker (which can be found here) “Criminal Investigative Psychologist” and minor league CNN talking head Godwin created a profile of the criminal and theory of the crime which is stitched from whole cloth:

We spoke with a veteran Criminal Investigative Psychologist who analyzed that 911 call and says its very revealing.

Dr. Maurice Godwin told us, “The caller is between ages 15 to 19.“

He continued, “The call was made from inside a house—news could be heard in the background. And that wasn’t coming from the dispatch.“

Dr. Godwin was an expert profiler in the DC area sniper case, and correctly predicted the outcome of the recent Cherokee County serial killings.

He suggests more than one person could be involved, but the man who called is likely the attacker.

He also says the 911 call shows the attacker to be a young amateur—incriminating himself on the 911 call.

Dr. Godwin also says, a random attacker, doesn’t usually try to save his victims.

“The person that made that phone call was not just a concerned citizen.“

That last bit of  “profiling” is particularly laughable considering the fact that the very first thing the caller does in the audio is confess to attacking a girl. If this is profiling, then one is forced to wonder why we need experts since it apparently involves paraphrasing the confessions of criminals.

The “expert” Dr. Godwin was fooled by the somewhat effeminate voice on the audio. As it turns out the caller was a female, the “victim” herself. The Google cache version has the good doctor claiming that the assailant was male. The integrity-challenged Johnathan Carlson has been busy changing the post to match the facts as they come in. Odd behavior from a journalist, don’t you think?

Carlson ran this “profile” while claiming Godwin was an expert, which he is absolutely not. This is irresponsible journalism at its most basic and is clearly designed to cast doubt on the victim’s story using a person with no history of ever breaking a case. If Carlson correctly deduced the victim was lying, he should have spoken to police sources, not charlatans. What Carlson doesn’t tell you about Godwin is that there is no evidence anywhere that he has ever helped solve a crime. His only verifiable “work” on the D.C. Sniper case was appearing as a talking head on CNN and his “correct prediction” of the Cherokee County serial killer case consisted of putting forward that a spree killer with a penchant for shooting at people was probably going to get shot by police. Someone should inform the credulous Mr. Carlson that that wasn’t so much a prediction as a safe bet, the armchair detective equivalent of betting “Black” at the Roulette table.

Godwin is a man on a mission and that mission is to sell books that promote his profiling business.  He’s authored a book called Tracker: Hunting Down Serial Killers which is little more than a 220 page criticism of the F.B.I. for not hiring him on several high profile cases, and some chest thumping bravado about how he could have solved said cases quicker. In no part of the book does Godwin produce even a sliver of evidence that he was instrumental to the resolution of a crime, only that he could be instrumental to the resolution of any crime if only he was given the chance.

If this sounds to you like Godwin is an over ambitious armchair detective who has watched too many episodes of Criminal Minds then you’re in possession of deductive skill far beyond Godwin or Jonathan Carlson. But Godwin isn’t the only “profiler’ who has used the media’s obsession with the term to spread inanity. Pat Brown, author of Killing of Sport: Inside the Minds of Serial Killers, is the reigning queen of the amateur crime experts and her own special brand of hokum has also caused untold damage to the victims of crime and the cause of justice. Like Godwin, Brown also uses her book to sell her expertise and, more importantly, her profiling services.

I first became critical of Brown when she claimed that the teenage victim of a much publicized videotaped wilding attack had basically asked for it. Brown used her self-taught profiling “skills” to discern that the victim of a savage beating was deserving of the assault because she was a teen who drank beer and had family problems. Here are her own words:

I am going to be really politically incorrect today. I have been reading up on all the sympathy oozing everywhere on the Internet and in the media for the 16-year-old Victoria Lindsay, the girl who got her butt kicked by six of her friends. Yes, those girls were mean and nasty and deserved to get a jail term. But, for some reason – well, for a pretty good reason – I just don’t feel that sorry for Victoria.

Why? First of all, these were her friends – not strangers and not some bullies from school she had tried her best to avoid. Friends – as in these are the girls I hang out with and live with. Water seeks its own level and I wonder that Victoria – were another girl being targeted – wouldn’t have gone along with the group melee and thrown some punches herself.

Secondly, why were all these girls so ticked off at Victoria? It is said she talked smack on MySpace, saying some really vicious stuff and saying she was going to fight them. So, she flamed these girls publicly, possibly embarrassing them and humiliating them. Then she said she would fight them. Seems like they brought the fight to her and she turned out to be all bark and no bite; she didn’t even throw one punch. She wimped out, took the beating, and begged them to let her go. She wasn’t as tough as she tried to pretend to be.

But, regardless of her behaviors, because Victoria ended up the unhappy loser of this girl bashing, she is being made out to be a totally innocent lamb. I am guessing the trash talk she put on MySpace was just the tip of the iceberg for this girl’s past behaviors. Apparently, she isn’t living at home and her father states in an interview that she has had her share of problems. She clearly admits to her friends during the assault that she had been drunk (during one of the times the girls found whatever she did offensive) and said she had grown up since then.

Hey, this girl is barely sixteen. She has a problem with drinking and she isn’t living with her parents. Apparently, Victoria’s parents want to blame MySpace instead of their lack of parenting that surely contributed to Victoria ending up as a punching bag.

Brown’s “profiling” here seems less like it came from someone skilled in criminology, psychology, and detective work and more like the revenge fantasy of a bitter middle aged adolescent who still harbors a grudge against the girl who called her a slut in high school. If she were simply an obscure blogger this wouldn’t matter, but Brown is routinely put forward by the media as an expert which she clearly is not. In no situation was that more apparent than when she profiled the Ft. Hood shooter, Maj. Nadal Hasan:

That’s some profiling isn’t it? Nadal Hasan, a man who was recently promoted to Major in the U.S. Army, was “unsuccessful” and a psychopath. And all those contacts with Jihadist clerics? Not important. The fact that the Yemeni cleric Hasan was also meeting face to face with the Christmas pantybomber is just a coincidence I’m sure. In her zeal to push her Psych 101 vision of criminality Brown ended up exposing herself as a fraud whose opinions on the inner workings of the criminal mind are no less vapid than her moral judgments about the teenage victims of violence whose pain she enjoys reveling in so much. When confronted with early evidence that her initial opinions were wrong, Brown simply doubled down on her blog and has yet to retract her half-baked theory that Hasan was some overgrown member of the trenchcoat mafia.

Again, if Brown simply spent her time in constant conflict with the In Cold Blog staff, as she is apt to do when not propagandizing for Al-Qaeda, this wouldn’t matter. But the media has drunk deep of Madame Brown’s snake oil cure all, sold to them as a purgative for all those unpleasant facts journalists run into like Jihadism being a phenomenon that has nothing at all to do with us and everything to do with Wahhabism and the trans-nationalist imperialism of militant Islam. After a few swallows of Brown’s world peace tonic we can all forget those pesky facts like Al-Qaeda’s call for Jihad against the Dalai Lama because after all, those people are just unsuccessful “psychopaths” and we can rest easy knowing that once we dispense enough sunshine and rainbows America and Muslims everywhere will walk off hand in hand into a multicultural sunset.

Brown, like Godwin, plies her trade by preying on the human desire to understand (and thus avoid) what is essentially incomprehensible; the human capacity for savagery, hatred, and depravity. In other words, evil. Like a modern day Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger Brown and Godwin appear when we are at our most vulnerable peddling their cut rate Malleus Malefucarums to a society hungry to rid itse;f of the evil that infects us all. Like the witch hunters of old, Brown, Godwin and their ilk only spread ignorance to a population too eager to accept the artificial authority of self-appointed experts.

I don’t know why Johnathan Carlson thought it necessary to bring in a “criminal profiler” on this assault case. But what I know for a fact is that these “experts” use a credulous media to promote their quackery, just as Godwin has even now updated his site with a link to the story as evidence of his being recognized as an expert. I know that Carlson is using WSPA to give credibility to a man with no proven track record. I know that this snake oil does nothing to help solve the crime but it does hurt the investigations and decent people should be disgusted by the media and their so-called experts.

In a final twist of Rod Sterling-esque irony, just as I was finishing this essay it was announced that the victim, a 16-year-old female, made the whole thing up. She even faked the 911 call. It was a 16-year-old girl that Dr. Maurice Godwin “profiled” as a  man aged 15-19. When someone first tipped me to Carlson’s story I was told Godwin said the assailant was White, but with Carlson scrubbing the story to make himself look less gullible I can’t verify that as true.

Imagine if the police had let Godwin in on this investigation rather than relying on the good old fashioned police work they used to get to the truth. How much manpower and money would have been wasted chasing this phantom assailant?

If Godwin’s “profiling” skills can be fooled by a teen who lowered her voice, why would anyone believe he could have solved actual crimes like the D.C. Sniper case?


6 Responses to “Media Profiling Experts: Selling Snake Oil and Hurting Investigations”

  1. “Profiler” Pat Brown Erases Post Claiming Falcon Lake Murder Didn’t Happen : Greenville Dragnet on October 23rd, 2010 10:35 am

    [...] Unfortunately, I was tipped to this outrage after she already deleted the post so I’m not sure just how disgusting her behavior was. Given her history of blaming the victims of violent crime for their own victimization I’m sure it was quite the show. In the past Brown used her incredible profiling “skills” to claim that the Ft. Hood massacre was not related to Jihadism at all and anyone claiming otherwise was a bigot. She is one of a stable of media profilers selling their snake oil to a gullible public, and doing irreparable harm in the process. [...]

  2. Help Find Phylicia Barnes : Greenville Dragnet on January 18th, 2011 9:03 am

    [...] – was dealing from there. Nancy Grace says she found no evidence of that but Grace thinks Pat Brown is a profiling genius so I’m still [...]

  3. Pat Brown- Profiler? | Madeleine - Writing the Wrongs on August 5th, 2011 3:13 pm
  4. M McKinney on September 2nd, 2012 2:22 pm

    This case was presented to Dr. Godwin as a crime and nothing less. To claim in advance that Dr. Godwin should have known the victim faked the crime is a bit of a stretch. Furthermore, most of the information that Dr. Godwin said in his phone interview with the journalist was never put in the story. Dr. Godwin indeed did have reservations about the incident but writing that in the news about a case that at the time was considered a violent crime would have been bad journalism. This author seems to have a selected memory because Dr. Godwin accurately profiled the John Williams, Jr., serial murder case in 1997, the Dru Sjodin murder, and the Michelle Bullard murder plus he has assisted in the discovery of missed and ignored evidence made by police detectives in a number of wrong conviction cases.

  5. Rob Taylor on September 2nd, 2012 5:58 pm

    A real “profiler” wouldn’t be influenced by sloppy journalism, correct? And would be able to ascertain that the voice on the phone was a female?

  6. Madeleine-Writing the Wrongs » Blog Archive » Pat Brown- Profiler? on December 22nd, 2012 5:33 pm

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