Dr. James A. Brussel’s Contribution to Criminology

Dr. James A Brussel is credited with one of the first instances that criminal profiling lead to the arrest of an individual for a highly publicized crime.

A series of bombings took place in New York City between 1940 and 1956, and it put the citizens and police on edge. The bombs were placed in public areas such as phone booths and even Radio City Music Hall, creating a sense of terror and fear. A local psychologist named James A Brussel was asked by police to assist them in trying to pin down just who was committing these horrendous crimes. Brussel had long studied various crime and criminal profiles and had an extensive background in other criminal profiling cases. He was also New York State’s assistant commissioner of mental health and hygiene.

When Dr. Brussel did a complete profile based on the specifics of the crime, he came to several different analytical conclusions. First, the suspect was most likely middle-aged, overweight, and probably not married. It was possible that he lived with a relative, maybe a brother or sister. The offender probably had skills in engineering or mechanics and may have come from Connecticut or surrounding areas. According to Brussel, he noted that the bomber had a particular grudge against Consolidated Edison, which was New York’s main power company at the time. All of this information led police to a man named George Metesky, who was a former employee of Con Ed. In 1957, Metesky was arrested and surprisingly confessed at once to the bombings. Ironically, Dr. Brussel noted that the bomber would be dressed nicely and neatly. When George Metesky was arrested, he changed into a neat, clean, double-breasted suit.

While criminal profiling can be a tricky science, it still requires an understanding of the human mind and what causes people to commit a certain crime. Some people believed that Brussel’s input towards finding the New York City bomber was just chance and luck, while others believed he had a true understanding of how to pinpoint criminals. The field of criminal profiling has grown significantly, and today psychologists, criminal analysts, police, and others in law enforcement use criminal profiling in order to find serial and very serious criminals and keep citizens safe.

For more information about Dr. James A. Brussel and criminal profiling, please refer to the following websites:

  • George Metesky – About the infamous bomber and how Brussel played a role in his arrest.
  • History of Criminal Profiling – A brief background and history of the field of criminal profiling.
  • Approaches to Criminal Profiling – This article explains the various approaches and techniques that can be used in criminal profiling.
  • Finding a Serial Killer – A paper that explains how using criminal profiling can help find serial killers and other serious criminals.
  • Forensic Psychology – Another term for criminal profiling is forensic psychology. Here is some more information about the field.
  • Careers – There are many careers in the field of criminal profiling and psychology; this references some of the most common jobs that can be found.
  • How to be a Profiler – Information about how you can become a criminal profiler.
  • Offender Profiling – More information about criminal profiling, what it can accomplish, and what is required.
  • Resources – An article that also provides helpful resources to learn more about criminal profiling.
  • FBI Profiling – Information from the FBI about how profiling can help to find serial killers and other serious criminals.
  • Evaluating a Profile – An example of a serial killer, and an analysis of their profile and how it helped to find him.
  • Debate – Some wonder if criminal profiling is a legitimate way to find criminals; this article discusses the debate.
  • Academy of Behavioral Profiling – This organization is dedicated to discovering criminals and cracking cases through education and science.
  • Behavioral Evidence – Explains how psychology and behavior can help law enforcement find and arrest serious criminals.
  • The Future of Criminal Profiling – This article discusses how the field is expanding, how it is used, and what the future holds.

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