“Mindhunting” in Practice: Multidisciplinary Collaborations in Offender-Focused Investigations

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75 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 11, 2023

Annie Harrison
Annie Harrison
Detective, Ingham County Sheriff’s Office
Joseph Merritt
Joseph E. Merritt
Detective, Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Investigator
Blackman-Leoni Township Department of Public Safety
Karen Holt
Karen Holt, PhD
Assistant Professor

The investigation of cold case sexual assaults presents unique challenges to law enforcement. While victims are centered in these investigations, shifting the focus to those who commit these crimes is an under-utilized yet effective approach. This offender-focused model, most notably employed by the original Behavioral Science Unit at the FBI, has generated considerable empirical knowledge in the areas of sexual assault motivation, dynamics, and method. We present an offender-focused model which applies both the expertise of law enforcement and the knowledge and practice of academics. We discuss the history of offender-focused investigation and explain how we formed a collaborative relationship to review cases. We argue that maintaining the focus on the offender can provide innovative approaches to interviewing and investigation. 


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Explore the history of offender-focused collaborative relationships between sexual assault investigators and researchers. 
  • Evaluate the utility of an offender-focused model of cold case sexual assault investigation. 
  • Describe how a collaborative approach to offender-focused cold case sexual assault investigation may improve case outcomes.

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