Bjelajac, Ž., & Filipović, A. (2022). Modus of killer profiling in nordic crime series, International Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 10(1), 117-125.


Modus of Killer Profiling in Nordic Crime Series

Željko Bjelajac1*orcid, Aleksandar Filipović2orcid

1Faculty of Law for Commerce and Judiciary, University Business Academy in Novi Sad, e-mail:
2Faculty of Economics and Engineering Management, University Business Academy in Novi Sad, e-mail:


Review Article

Received: February, 15.2022.
Revised: March, 15.2022.
Accepted: April, 04.2022.


doi: 10.23947/2334-8496-2022-10-1-117-125



Abstract: Criminal investigators, scientists, mental health experts, and the media have always studied serial killings. Since Jack the Ripper in the late 1800s, and even today, attempts have been made to understand the complex issues surrounding the investigation of serial murders and the motives for these horrific acts. The topics of serial killings are attracting too much attention from the media, academia, and the general public. Nordic crime series make a special contribution to identifying and analyzing many issues related to serial killings including common myths, definitions, typologies, pathology and causality, media role, prosecution issues, organization of investigations, and especially through the affirmation of forensic psychology and criminal profiling. We believe that scientific papers dealing with this topic can be useful in generating an effective response in identifying, investigating, and reaching verdicts, and strengthening the collective ability to understand, respond and act preventively to prevent these violent and serious crimes.
Keywords: killers, crime investigators, crime series, profiling.


“There are certain clues at a crime scene which by their very nature do not lend themselves to being collected or examined. How’s one collect love, rage, hatred, fear…? These are things that we’re trained to look for.”

-James Reese-

Smart people have always dealt with indicators of human mental and character traits. Criminals were studied individually, as patients, their physical characteristics were recorded, sensitivity and intelligence, habits, language, customs were studied, which significantly contributed to the perception of an individual case of criminal behavior. In 1841, Hubert Lauvergne published the work “Convicts: Seen from a Physiological, Moral and Intellectual Perspective, Observed in the Toulon Prison” (Les forçats: Considéré sous le rapport physiologique, morale et intellectuel, obsevés au bagne de Toulon Paperback – December 3, 2002 - French Edition). Italian criminologist, phrenologist, physician, anthropologist, one of the founders of the anthropological school of criminology, called by many “the father of criminology and / or the father of a born criminal”, created an anthropological theory of the delinquent. He presented it in his famous work “The Criminal Man” (L’uomo deliquente, 1876), which would later become a theory of the born criminal. Within the framework of anthropological theory, Lombroso performed a typology of criminals, on (Lombroso, 1876):

Lombroso’s theory enjoyed great popularity at a time when it appeared in both scientific and secular public opinion. The research encouraged the establishment of an important discipline for criminology, forensic psychology, and thus drew the attention of science and practice to the perpetrator as a subject to influences, which is why it is necessary to study him in order to determine the causes that influenced his formation and orientation in direction of criminal activity.
Today, experts are trying to establish a pattern for detecting serial killers, following some early warning signs that need to be addressed. Growing up in dysfunctional families and having a difficult childhood are perhaps the prevailing similarities between convicted serial killers. Although there is still no simple thread of coincidence, it is surprising that serial killers mostly have a higher IQ, which is a significant problem in solving real-life crimes, much more than in, say, the specific Nordic crime series we are watching.
Why do we list Nordic crime series here? These are series with a characteristic original atmosphere that have gained popularity around the world, putting in the background the leading, typical American detective series. Unlike other crime series, which include stereotypical stories “good guys against bad guys”, where fights and car chases dominate, in Scandinavian crime series we can follow dramatic investigations, intriguing social topics, social and emotional consequences of brutal crimes, as well as the impact politics and the media to justice. Above all, they affirm forensic psychology, which, among other things, deals with the motivation to commit criminal acts, and the psychological characteristics of the perpetrator and the victim.

Early signs of detection of the killer

It has been researched for decades what turns a man into a murderer. Research goes so far as to study the brains of the cruelest psychopaths and murderers with the help of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Scientists are trying to determine how their brain differs from the brain of a normal person. However, most eminent scientists are of the opinion that the decisive factor influencing a person to become a murderer is, in fact, psychological trauma with a background of childhood violence.
Statistics show that 20 percent of prisoners are psychopaths, who commit an average of four serious crimes by the age of 40, and 80 percent of prisoners become criminals again three years after their release. It is believed that the share of psychopaths in the human population is up to one percent, but the number of violent killers among them is much higher (Sputnik Srbija, 2021). There is no doubt that serial killers often have good mental abilities, but they are completely deprived of emotional connections with people. They often suffer from narcissistic personality disorder, they manipulate other people very well. They are prone to sadism and kill because they like it, and after that they are deprived of feelings of guilt and remorse.
Enough serial killers have a history of arson, preteen bedwetting, and torturing small animals that the traits are considered signs that someone might be a serial killer. This trio, known as the Macdonald triad, is not without controversy. Some argue these traits are more likely an indicator of neglect or abuse than of future serial killing. At the same time, abuse and neglect are in and of themselves said to be indicators of serial killing. Many of them are so pleased with their crimes that they can’t help but tell others. Some even get caught because they told the wrong person! And then, when in jail, some killers are known to take credit for crimes that weren’t even their own just to heighten their reputation (Kharakh 2018). Some of the common features relate to:

- Emotional manipulation - many serial killers are superficially charming, trying to show enough understanding for human emotions in order to get closer to potential victims.
- Fantasies - they grow up dreaming of killing.
- Asociality - they show a lack of care for others so serious that it is pathological.
- Poor impulse control - many remember how serial killers had powerful outbursts of rage in their lives.
- History of abuse - not everyone has survived the abuse of a serial killer, but many serial killers have survived the abuse.
- Voyeurism - It makes sense that serial killers spent a lot of time watching others from afar, probably fantasizing about murders.

The criminal profiling process is defined by the FBI as a technique used to identify the perpetrator of a violent crime by identifying the personality and behavioral characteristics of the offender based upon an analysis of the crime committed. The process generally involves (1) evaluation of the criminal act itself, (2) comprehensive evaluation of the specifics of the crime scene(s), (3) comprehensive analysis of the victim, and (4) evaluation of preliminary police reports. Additional steps are (5) evaluation of the medical examiner’s autopsy protocol, (6) development of a profile with critical offender characteristics, and (7) investigative suggestions predicated on construction of the profile. Criminal profiling is particularly useful in hostage negotiation, and identification of writers of threatening letters, rapists, arsonists, and sexual murderers. The FBI’s profiling program has grown very rapidly since the 1970’s and now consists of one program manager and seven criminal profilers and crime analysts. They are assisted by criminal profile coordinators located at the FBI’s 59 field offices. Criminal profilers at the FBI may also provide interrogation and interview techniques, establish probable cause for search warrants, and provide testimony as expert witnesses. Criminal profiling is not a substitute for skilled detective work; but it is a tool that the detective can use to help solve a violent crime (Douglas and Burgess 1986: 9-13). Probably one of the most deserving for creating the first systematic profile of criminals in a criminal investigation is Dr. James A. Brussel. Therefore, many define him as a pioneer in the use of criminal profiling. Brussel managed to document his significant work in 1968 in his book “Casebook of a Crime Psychiatrist”. This book intrigued FBI agent Howard Teren, who was dedicated to holding criminology courses at the time. The name of the course was “Applied Criminology”, although several instructors later started calling it “Psychcrim”. The course was based on a concept he had originally developed while working in the police as a crime investigation specialist. Teten has tested the approach using solved cases in the last seven years, paying attention to the mental structure of the perpetrators. He crossed these data with the opinion of several reputable psychiatrists, considering the characteristics of different areas of mental problems. He later expanded the course to include unsolved cases as an example. All this resulted in the development of a perpetrator profile, the opening of an expanded FBI academy in 1972, the formation of new units to provide the necessary oversight and organization. One of the units formed was the Behavior Science Unit.
Although the series “Mindhunter”, a cult series that completely delighted both the audience and critics, never explicitly emphasizes the historical premise on which the entire project was based, it is quite clear that it is the formation of the so-called Behavior Science Unit within the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). We would say that in the background of its establishment, there are interventions in relation to the expansion of serious crimes, and especially the high rate of sexual crimes and murders in the seventies.
The series “Mindhunter” by David Fincher is based on the book “Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit” by John E. Douglas. He, along with Robert Resler, working as an FBI agent introduced a revolutionary approach to solving crimes, creating a huge database based on the psychological profiling of psychopaths and sociopaths through direct interviews with criminals they visited in prisons across the United States. They researched the minds of criminals, looking for motivation and logic, the approach to preparing crimes, how the bodies of victims were dealt with and the like. With this approach, a new approach began, which enabled a higher success rate of the FBI in catching serial killers, but also the prevention of new crimes. By the way, Agent Robert Resler coined the term “serial killer” and wrote several books in the field of criminology in which he shared his experience working within the Behavioral Science Unit.

How do Nordic crime series guide us in crime analysis?

Nordic noir is a dark subset of the crime fiction genre. It is usually defined by some or all of the following: Brutal crimes, often in quiet and/or safe communities; A bleak setting, whether on city streets or a remote fjord; A tortured protagonist, typically a detective with a mysterious or painful past; A strong plot, with multiple complex threads and a few twists. And of course, the setting is always somewhere in Scandinavia or the Nordic region. While they don’t necessarily have to be, most Nordic noir authors are also from the region. Stieg Larsson’s international bestseller The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo and the other books of the Millennium series drew many people into the world of Scandinavian crime fiction, and the subsequent movies just added fuel to the fire (Nikel, 2021). The protagonists / criminal investigators in these dramatic works, which we cite, are not heroes with superhuman abilities, but obese, somewhat messy guys with confusing personal and family situations, which is why they often get drunk and take medication in stressful circumstances. They rely on instincts and experience, and often use unconventional and even illegal means to solve the case. With such a character, they are suitable so that most viewers can identify with them.
The special charm of these realistic series, as stated, is the affirmation of forensic psychology. In them, we look at profiles as they develop typologies, connect the crime scene with the characteristics of the perpetrators, and develop information that is useful in investigating violent crimes. In the given context, for reasons of expediency, we have summarized several series specific in the mode of operandi, the background of the crime and the work of the investigation teams through a series of systematic phases.
Swedish-Danish crime series The Bridge (2011) is an extremely exciting thriller in which criminal investigators are desperately trying to find a murderer who crosses all boundaries of crime to convey his message. The killer turned out to be a former Danish police officer who was believed to have allegedly killed himself. In an ingeniously devised plan for revenge for the deaths of his wife and son, he appears under the pseudonym “Terrorist of Truth”. He uses a British journalist from a tabloid to communicate with the world as a mediator in communication. It turns out that the murder on the bridge was just the beginning and that the purpose of this cruel act was to draw attention to unpleasant truths and problems that society decided to turn a blind eye to; the first problem is that “we are not all equal before the law.” Through several poisoned homeless people in Copenhagen, the perpetrator wants to point out the problem of a large increase in the number of people left without anything, for whom society has no ear. The outcome is uncertain. One homeless man has been kidnapped, and only four rental property owners can save him if they pay a large sum of money. The question arises: What is the cost of human life? Saving the life of a kidnapped homeless man turns into a race against time and depends entirely on whether property owners are willing to pay the amount the killer demands. Following specific requests, the killer trained a group of mentally ill people for a long time. He assured them that they should commit violent crimes in Malmö and Copenhagen at the same time. The third truth that the killer reveals is the reduction of funds for the care of the mentally ill; caring for the mentally ill was reduced to “patting on the back and a handful of pills.” In Copenhagen, passions erupted after several police officers who beat an immigrant to death were released in court. One of the accused police officers was abducted from his home. The brother of the murdered immigrant finds him tied up in his basement. Will he forgive or take revenge? This time, the killer draws attention to the fourth truth: the failure of integration policy. The fifth and final truth that the killer reveals is the insensitivity of society to the exploitation of children as labor. Every day, millions of children are exploited as cheap labor. We don’t care because it’s not about our children. But when the bus full of school children disappears, we all suddenly care. In order to save the lives of children, the killer demands that the citizens set fire to the buildings of five large companies that indirectly earn money from the exploitation of children’s labor.
While all the pieces of the intricate puzzle are gradually falling into place - according to the discovered clues and evidence, the police very likely found the killer. It is noticed that the killer carefully elaborated and planned his crimes down to the smallest detail. As can be seen, he succeeded in his goal: he pointed out social problems to the public and opened everyone’s eyes…
In season 4 (2018), criminal investigators discover that the victims were killed by one of the methods of executing prisoners sentenced to death. Victims are chosen not because of their actions, but because of something their loved ones did. As more and more people are killed, it is understood that there is a common connection between the victims and people connected to the gangster and the police informant who reported when and where his gang would raid another gang, but the prosecutor refused to deal with the report. The raid led to bloodshed and numerous deaths, resulting in the execution of a police informant, a fact inadvertently revealed by a journalist whose brother was one of the victims. The involvement of individuals in this case makes their loved ones potential victims of future murders because they are believed to have betrayed a police informant ...
Background: In both cases, the killers were driven by a strong motive for revenge, which was deliberately planned. Although blood revenge is a rare occurrence nowadays, in everyday life people often have the urge to take revenge on someone. Revenge or retaliation is the conscious doing of harm to another individual or group that occurs in response to an harmful act - actual or perceived - for which that same individual or group is held responsible. In this series, we follow the killers whose revenge stems from feelings of hatred. That is why the hater thinks that the other is so evil and harmful, that he did not deserve to live, that is, that if he is alive, he must suffer because of his evil. Although hatred is the main reason for murders, most of those who hate and revenge themselves by trying to make others suffer. As revenge is associated with various destructive behaviors aimed at suffering or destroying others, killers exhibit various destructive and psychopathological symptoms, lack of ability to: empathy, lead a social life, ethics, morals, decision making, control of impulsivity and aggression… The murderers in this series are motivated by their own understanding of justice, ie the feeling of anger and sadness caused by the part they are trying to avenge, which they believe will disappear if a balance is established, ie the perpetrator is punished in the same or worse way. The expression “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” is often identified with this act. After all, revenge is believed to be as old as humanity. Let us also mention some literary works in which revenge appears as a motif: Titus Andronicus - William Shakespeare; Hamlet - William Shakespeare; Othello - William Shakespeare; Count of Monte Cristo - Alexander Dima Father…
Through the background of these crimes, it can be realized that “alienation of man from man”, in the end, is one of the leading reasons why people commit various crimes. Some people simply do not have the ability to restrain themselves from doing evil. It often happens that the seemingly ordinary, peaceful people we see in our midst every day commit horrific crimes. Why is this happening? Why do people do evil and hurt others? In fact, by alienating themselves from each other, people have distanced themselves from the very essence of their existence. That is why eminent philosophers and sociologists are inclined to say that modern human alienation is not only inhumane, but also destructive (Bjelajac, 2014a). As a product of this virulence, sadists and psychopaths commit various atrocities, exceeding the limits of understanding a “normal” human being.
The Killing (2011) is a cult Danish crime series set in Copenhagen and revolves around a crime investigator. The series is known for plot twists, seasonal stories, dark tones and for giving equal emphasis to stories about the family of the murdered victim and the effect in political circles with a police investigation. Season 1 is particularly notable, in which the brutal murder of a young girl triggers an extensive police investigation, which will ultimately result in the discovery of the killer from the immediate environment of the victim and her family.
Background: Many bullies do not look like abusers. The worst abusers in the rest of the world usually look like super guys. The worst bullies are those who, when you hear someone say, “This is an abuser,” you would usually say, “No, not to mention, he’s a good guy.” The killer, who developed a strong sense of pathological jealousy, lived in the victim’s environment. We have seen how the jealousy of the perpetrator resulted in some other low motivation, which consisted of hatred, envy, malice, malice - in the simple reconciliation of the perpetrator with the fact that his love was not returned. Pathological jealousy is unusual - abnormal. It has no foundation in real life. It is about crazy jealousy because there is a tendency to appropriate and possess another human being in a forced way. The killer lives in an illusion, so when he was confronted with the fact that something was not as he thought it was, he simply “cracked”. in a very striking way it is shown how femicide, as an extreme form of violence, developed. The killer controls and stalks the victim and learns that the victim is moving and starting a life together with a “Muslim”. It was a kind of “trigger”, when he realizes rejection, unrequited love, feelings of emptiness, despair, anxiety, anger, hopelessness. Hurt pride or hurt vanity is usually the main motive for “crimes of passion”, and emotional disorders or affective disorders appear as a product of a long-term psychopathological process. The problem with understanding passion-based murder is that these acts are not based on common sense but on a deviant pseudo-logic. That is why the largest number of psychopaths is registered among sexual serial killers. They are also fully aware of what they are doing and clearly see the reality. Some of them act impulsively when the opportunity arises, while others plan crimes, follow the victims, skillfully hide clues. The factor of deficiency of the complex of personal structures, inhibiting aggressive and sexual urges, determines the peculiarity of the motivational sphere, associated with violations of socially determined ways of fulfilling needs. Realization of uncontrolled sexual and aggressive arousals is manifested in mechanisms related to the pursuit of “direct satisfaction of sexual needs” and to “redirection of aggresion”, as well as to increase the influence of situational factors on the initiation, regulation and control of criminal behavior. The offender uses the existing situation (Logunova and Dvoryanichkov, 2019). In the environment, they look like normal members of the community, sometimes they have a family, children. In practice it is the most difficult to establish representatives of this type through traditional operational-search and investigative measures (Dvoryanichkov and Zhuravleva, 2020). As an example of such a person, we can mention Andrei Chikatilo, one of the most cruel serial killers in the world.
Modus (2015) is a popular Swedish psychological crime series based on the success of the series “The Killing” and “The Bridge”. It is an exciting modern story that argues about hatred, intolerance, gay marriage, adoption of children by same-sex couples, gay prostitution, (non) acceptance of homosexuals by their families, including state institutions, religion, human rights and the very nature of love. As the number of corpses grows, investigators realize that these killings are related despite the fact that there is no obvious connection between the victims and the method of killing. Common to these crimes is that all the victims are lesbian and gay men.
Background: The killer with tattooed angel wings covering his entire back is associated with the Christian religious cult of America and their strange way of dealing with those who, according to their understanding, were rejected by God. His passion is abused by others, because behind everything there are actually some much less divine, and more material motives. He lives in a camper deep in the woods, is lonely and seems inconspicuous. Through video conversations with the American pastor, he received guidance and advice. He has the characteristics of psychopaths: selfishness, heartlessness, cruelty, and lack of empathy. He grew up in a frustrating cultist environment, from where he draws psychological traumas and predispositions for aggression. The killer and his mentor from the cult do not want to accept the fact that differences between people are necessary and good, but recognize them as a danger. The hatred that emanates from this character, as opposed to love, not only despises the human being who belongs to the LGBT population, but also wants to harm, injure and deprive him of life.
The promulgation that the action of this series brings us is, among other things, the abuse of freedom of consciousness, which is undoubtedly an inalienable element of a democratic society. Thus we see how totalitarian and destructive sects, inadmissibly and illegally, engage in indoctrination, ie the process of forcible implantation of ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or professional methodologies, using complex psychological manipulations for different degrees of initiation to become members. At the same time, they usually advocate three levels of truth: one for external use, one for internal use and the third “hidden” which camouflages the true goals of a group of fanatics, psychopaths and sociopaths and their seduced followers. Totalitarian sects, or destructive cults, nowadays greatly violate the rights of their members and inflict great mental and physical suffering by using certain methods, which are called “consciousness control”. It is actually a systematic use of modern psychological processes which are aimed at blocking and neutralizing the human will and channeling control of thoughts, feelings and behavior (Bjelajac, 2017a). Destructive cults, not only violate the civil rights of those persons who try and succeed in conversion in a more disgusting way, but they are becoming more and more pronounced latent carriers of endangering security in society.
Darkness: Those Who Kill is an interesting Danish crime series, which follows a moody crime investigator and a profiler who, after an initial reservation, form a good team together. In the search for the missing girl, along with the occasional loss of hope that she will ever be found, they do not give up, but turn to the thought that she is alive and that they can save her. Left without a trace, the detective begins to search old files that reveal another case of missing persons from the same suburb. Namely, a 17-year-old named Natasha disappeared there 10 years ago. When her remains are found at the bottom of a calm lake, the question arises: Can the cases be connected? While the police are investigating, we can witness scenes from the perspective of a criminal. His behavior is becoming more and more erratic, he has something he wants from his victims. While the patterns and meanings in the killer’s behavior are matched, the character of the suspect slowly emerges…
Background: The identity revealed to viewers is an antisocial person with a record of assault, rape and imprisonment. His unarticulated anger is a product of childhood trauma. He was born into a dysfunctional family. As a boy, he was locked in the basement by his mother, exhausted by hunger and thirst. He was permanently exposed to psychological pressure and aggression. He locks young girls in the basement, deprives them of their liberty, rapes them and psychophysically abuses them. He is especially obsessed with Natasha, keeps her yellow dress and puts it on the next victim. That obsession is actually the answer to why he kidnaps young blonde girls. The basement belongs to his partner in crime, who leads the seemingly inconspicuous life of a car rental officer. She has a strange, perhaps even sick, attachment to the killer. Behind everything is severe psychopathology, incest in the family environment, rejection by loved ones and life at home outside the family environment. These two characters actually reproduce their own lives in their own way. Namely, it is known that children interpret traumatic situations with scarce resources that they currently have at their disposal and based on them create patterns (mostly unhealthy ones) for functioning in the world: how to treat the opposite sex, how to play different social roles, (in) appropriate ways of expressing feelings, how to get what they want, etc. One example of such a pattern that we often see is the repeated pattern of behavior of children of bullies and sexual predators. These patterns are strongly embedded in the child’s mind and change, although possible, is quite difficult.
In dysfunctional families, the elementary patterns of civilized interpersonal communication are also disturbed, with the exclusion of emotional connections and mutual attachment. Confusion and disorganization reign in such families, and the basic value systems are inconsistent and lose their significance. Mutual conflicts are so pronounced that they become chronic forms with which one lives and functions in a specific pathological balance (Bjelajac, 2017b). From such determinations of the family, it logically follows that a healthy and functional family prevents the emergence of preconditions that lead individual members to deviant or, in the last resort, risky behavior.
The Valhalla Murders, is a series that critics call a hidden gem in Icelandic crime series. The series follows two detectives (who also have personal traumas) while following the gruesome series of murders in which older men are abused and butchered in a horrible way. The deeper you dig, the more obvious it becomes that the murder case is related to things that have happened in the past. As a link emerges to an old case of child abuse from the early 1980s, they find new evidence leading them to continued child abuse at Valhalla, a state institution for troubled boys. The wards aged seven to fourteen were beaten, raped and branded by staff members who managed to silence everyone. Unfortunately, the perpetrators were members of the upper classes, a high profile of Icelandic society. The series is inspired by a true story from the late 1940s, about a state institution for troubled boys, in a remote place in Iceland, where children between the ages of 7-14 were horribly beaten and abused by staff members. This is a story about the sins of our past and how we can never escape from them.
Background: Pedophilia, alternatively referred to as a pedophile disorder, is a psychosexual defect that mainly affects adults in a way that they are obsessed with sexual fantasies or attempts to have sex with children of the same or opposite sex. It is a very complex disorder, which requires a sociological, criminological, and especially psychopathological approach that would systematically investigate the symptoms, nature and factors (hereditary, organic and social) of pathological conditions and processes in the mental life of these individuals (Bjelajac, 2020). Raising awareness of the hidden horrors of state homes was important for the series, as was exploring how the past can “revive” and persist in the future. On the one hand, there are pedophiles, people who achieve sexual arousal through physical and / or sexual contact with pre-adolescent children and abuse them in order to satisfy lust and sexual urges. These are deviant, socially immature and irresponsible people who do not control their urge, despite being respected members of the community and members of respectable professions behind which they hide. On the other hand, traumatized victims of pedophiles are shown who have a hard time deciding to talk about their horrors. Their testimonies give a special note to this series.
The humiliation and pain inflicted by another human being creates an intense feeling of fear and distrust of others. This contributes to the process of alienation, powerlessness and isolation, and withdrawal from social relations. A violent crime so physically and mentally injures the victim that he becomes alienated from his own emotions and thoughts. This numbness increases the confusion and leads to the loss of the victim’s orientation. In fact, the victim surrenders more and more and loses himself, because after physical damage and bodily injuries due to rape, the child can suffer multiple psychological consequences (Bjelajac, 2014b). What is imprinted as a mark on the child’s psyche is the impossibility of suppressing the memory of what happened and avoiding talking about it. A constant state of excitement and tension often accompanies the victims of this crime in various ways, throughout their lives.
Finally, the series raises a number of questions, which come down to one thing: How to protect children? In principle, there are two fronts on which children should be protected. The first is protection against classical, contact pedophilia, that is, protection of children from physical contact with a predator. Although this type of danger to the child is greater, it is easier to defend against it. Today, protection from sexual predators on the web and on the Internet is a far greater challenge (Bjelajac and Filipović, 2020). The Internet now provides pedophiles with unhindered and carefree monitoring of children, involvement in their activities, play and entertainment. At the same time, it provides a way out, ie the possibility of escaping into anonymity whenever there is a danger of disclosure.
Of course, with the subject series, the catalog of Nordic crime achievements is not exhausted. There are many interesting films from that region, we will mention some: Case, Karppi, Wallander, Bordertown, Bullets, Caliphate, The Chestnut Man, Wisting, Quicksand, The Trapped, Borderliner, Fallet, Equinox,…


According to the Global Homicide Study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2019), 464,000 people estimated to have been victims of intentional homicide in 2017; an average global homicide rate of 6.1 victims per 100,000 population was estimated in 2017; about 90 percent of all homicides recorded worldwide were committed by male perpetrators; men make up almost 80 percent of all homicide victims recorded worldwide. These startling data warn that there are more and more criminals, and less and less preventive solutions and answers to the question, what is it that drives them? What is certain is that this phenomenon cannot be described by a single factor. It is not clear what is the cause and what is the consequence - whether brain development disorders lead to antisocial behavior or whether social and family factors negatively affect the formation of parts of the brain. Further research will certainly help to identify individuals who have a predisposition to become serial killers, as well as to prevent it in time. So prevention is the answer to be given before a crime happens. Film works (not only those presented here), after all, as well as literary works on similar topics, are of educational and preventive character. They can draw attention to the indicators of early detection of killers, the safety culture of people / potential victims, the work of community policing, and the very important issue of profiling in criminal investigations, to which we rightly pay attention in this paper.
The issue of profiling in criminal investigations is quite complex and not easy to define, which is why it contains a lot of ambiguities but also underestimations. It is not enough to say that in addition to the lie detector, there is also a profiler that can distinguish a lie from the truth. Describing, analyzing and organizing the answer to this question requires a certain amount of effort. Profilers are individuals / experts who are able to construct the psychological profile of the perpetrator but also the victim. They strive to be close and / or identical to their characteristics in real terms. In fact, one should look at the above-mentioned Mindhunter crime series, in order to see how much effort and skills are needed to establish the practice of criminal profiling; what it was like to submerge himself mentally in the world of serial killers to the point of ‘becoming’ both perpetrator and victim; and individual case histories including those of Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and the Atlanta child murders. Profilers are a benefit to the law-enforcement agencies they work for. The characteristics that a profiler gets from the evidence and crime scene with very specific evidence will help apprehend the offender quicker. The file will also aid the investigators when the serial killer is caught during the interrogation process (Polen, 2015). Having in mind the above, modern criminal investigation units must have individuals trained in criminal disciplines: tactics, technique, methodology and operations. It is necessary for them to be acquainted with the principles and techniques of criminal psychology as well as their application in various security spheres. In addition, the prerequisite is that they possess pronounced moral, intellectual and intuitive abilities.


Beasts lurk and plunder their prey solely because they are hungry and because the instinct for survival has “worked” in them. Beastly people are hunters who seek the “taste” of human blood and suffering for sheer pleasure. These are people who live among us, seemingly respectable members of the community, fathers, husbands, who perform daily activities. The Big Book of Serial Killers: 150 Serial Killer Files of the World’s Worst Murderers (Rosewood and Lo, 2017) is the ideal reference book. Included are the most famous true crime serial killers, like Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, and Richard Ramirez, and not to mention the women who kill, such as Aileen Wuornos and Martha Rendell. There are also lesser known serial killers, covering many countries around the world, so the range is broad. The Big Book of Serial Killers is a compendium of information on the most heinous killers in the world with plenty of information.
We would say that the study of serial killers is still in the initial phase, but the facts are gathering quickly. The authors of numerous studies agree that certain factors probably play a role in the formation of criminals, but only in combination with social and biological factors. Through years of profiling serial killers, experts have begun to identify key traits that many have in common. Some of them are: smooth and helpful in conversation, but also insincere; egocentric and grandiose; lack of remorse or guilt; lack of empathy; fraudulent and manipulative behavior; shallow emotions; impulsive; poor behavioral controls; the need for excitement; lack of responsibility; behavioral problems in puberty and adolescence; antisocial behavior in adulthood, etc…
Profiling begins on a solid scientific basis, but during this process intuition and imagination begin to prevail. An experienced criminal investigator thinks about the perpetrator of a crime permanently, and when he gathers all the facts about him, he selects them in his mind in different ways. After that, he begins to imagine a person, sees him more and more clearly and forms an image of him, making reasonable predictions about how that person will react in certain specific situations (See: Bordertown series). Such an approach has been credibly presented through the aforementioned Nordic crime series, which have been praised by audiences and critics. The reasons for this popularity can be found in the specific form of narration and aesthetics of the series. Viewers around the world emphasize the importance of authenticity, the main characters and the narration that gives the characters time and space to develop in the background of the presentation of real topics and concerns.
Finally, it would be utterly inappropriate not to mention some important profilers: Roy Hazelwood, who profiled sexual predators; Ernst Gennat, a German criminologist, who developed an early profiling scheme for the Berlin police; Walter Charles Langer, who predicted Hitler’s behavior and eventual suicide; Howard Teten, who worked on the assassination case of Martin Luther King Jr.; and John E. Douglas, who worked on the wave of child murders in Atlanta in the 1980s.

Conflict of interests
The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Corresponding Author:

Željko Bjelajac, Faculty of Law for Commerce and Judiciary, University Business Academy in Novi Sad, e-mail:


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