Date of Conferral
Stranger rape investigations are complex and present the challenge of identifying the unknown suspect. Criminal profiling is an investigative tool used in these difficult-to-solve cases, but there is a lack of knowledge on how detectives use profiling during their investigations and whether they are able to apply criminal profiling research in practice. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to gain a deeper understanding of the stranger rape investigative process from the perspective of experienced sex crime detectives. The conceptual framework for this study was the assumption of homology, modified from Owens, and behavior consistency originating from trait theorists. Research questions focused on the similarities identified from numerous interactions with stranger rapists, intuition, and the role intuition plays in the investigative process. Twelve retired law enforcement officials with extensive experience investigating sex crimes were recruited to participate using purposeful and respondent-driven sampling techniques. Their experiences were shared by completing an anonymous online questionnaire. The data were then coded with themes emerging that indicated that participants used patterns identified amongst stranger rapists and the use of those patterns in other investigations to assist with identifying a stranger rapist. Law enforcement personnel may be able to use the study findings, specifically about how detectives view profiling as a tool, to refine their investigations. The implications for positive social change are improvements to the investigative process to identify stranger rapists more efficiently. These improvements ultimately may provide justice for victims and remove violent offenders from the general population.