Behavioural analysis can help answer the ‘why’ in B.C. murders: expert

VANCOUVER — A criminal profiler says investigators should find clues about why two men might have killed three people in northern British Columbia and whether there was a leader and a follower.

Jim Van Allen, a former manager of the Ontario Provincial Police criminal profiling unit who has studied 835 homicides, said evidence can determine what happened in most cases. But it can be harder to determine motive, and that’s where behavioural analysts come in.

“The evidence is going to take them so far. It’s going to tell them who did what to whom, at what time and how. But it’s probably not going to answer the big question on everybody’s mind: ‘Why?’ ” he said.

“That’s one of those behavioural issues that has to be interpreted to some degree from people’s conduct, their behaviour during the crime, what was done to the victims” and other factors.

The RCMP has said its behavioural analysis unit is assisting investigators in the case of Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, who were found dead from self-inflicted gunshot wounds in the northern Manitoba wilderness last week.

The fugitives were suspects in the July killings of Leonard Dyck, a University of British Columbia botany lecturer, and Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese.

Once Mounties have completed a review of the case over the next few weeks, they’ve said they will provide families with an update, then release it publicly.

Van Allen said analysts in the case are likely reviewing crime scene evidence, interviewing friends and family of the suspects and looking over other material, including online posts by the men before their deaths.

It’s not an exact science but behavioural analysis has been used to create profiles of unknown suspects and to develop strategies for interviewing witnesses, he said.

“A behavioural interpretation will never have the certainty of a fingerprint comparison or ballistics comparison. That’s the nature of human behaviour.”

Van Allen has no knowledge about the McLeod and Schmegelsky case beyond what’s been made public. But in general, he said, police can learn many details about behaviour from a crime scene.

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