An ex-criminal profiler who used cutting-edge mapping technology to help catch a notorious US serial killer has been invited to advise Australian law enforcers on how the technology could breathe new life into thousands of the nation's unsolved crimes.
Now a law enforcement expert with global Geographic Information System (GIS) giant Esri, Mike King was part of the investigative team that captured notorious truck-driving serial killer Robert Ben Rhoades, who was later convicted of four murders and suspected of committing up to 300 others.
Mr King said advanced GIS technology was instrumental in identifying the killer, whose anonymity and constant movement made him extremely difficult to link to his crimes.
“Rhoades’ mobility meant his victims were found hundreds of miles apart and sometimes dumped on the other side of the country from where the trucker first picked them up,” Mr King said.
“Often, investigators concentrate on the ‘usual suspects’ within a jurisdiction where the crime occurs.
“With the ease of mobility in today’s world, prudent enforcers must look beyond local boarders for offenders who match the peculiarities of the crimes they are handling.
“Geography is essential in better understanding the probabilities amongst the possibilities.
“In the case of Rhoades, we used advanced GIS technology to map the his driving patterns and pit stops, as well as the locations of the victim’s bodies and information from missing persons reports.
“By mapping all the data related to the cases, we could determine Rhoades’ whereabouts at the time of murders, understand how far he was capable of travelling in a given period of time and ascertain which crimes he was a suspect in.
“GIS technology provides insight into an offender’s behaviour and provides valuable circumstantial evidence which assists in arrests and convictions.
“This methodology has been helpful in countless other cold cases and murders being solved in the United States and throughout the rest of the world.”
Mr King has a distinguished 28 year history in law enforcement, including a Chief of Staff post in the Utah Attorney General’s Office and stints at Harvard University.
He has also appeared on US and international news and talk shows and is renowned as solving the ‘oldest and coldest case in history’: the assassination of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1340 BC.
In September Mr King will deliver a keynote address at the Ozri 2012 geospatial conference in Sydney.
Mr King said while in Australia, he will be advising how GIS technology could help the nation’s local law enforcers crack unsolved crimes.
“GIS technology should be an integral component of every police department’s investigative tool-kit and could certainly help solve cases in Australia, particularly those involving missing persons,” Mr King said.
“The technology brings more clarity to crime-solving because it enables analysts to draw links between the geography of crimes, killers and victims, and link it with information on behaviour patterns and historical data.
“While GIS technology is already employed by many of the world’s leading law enforcement agencies – such as New York and Los Angeles Police Departments – it’s use in solving cases is still relatively new to Forces in Australia.”
Hosted by Esri Australia, the market leader in Australia’s $2.1 billion spatial industry, Ozri 2012 is the largest GIS conference in the Asia Pacific.
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