Case linkage: offender modus operandi and signature
Date of this Version
Case linkage, also referred to as linkage analysis, is the process of determining whether there are discrete connections, or distinctive behavioral factors, between two or more previously unrelated cases by means of crime scene analysis. It involves establishing and comparing the physical evidence, victimology, crime scene characteristics, motivation, modus operandi (MO), and signature behaviors of each of the cases under review.1 It also requires consideration of both behavioral similarities and dissimilarities.
Case linkage is seen in two different contexts: investigative and forensic. In investigative contexts, it is used to assist law enforcement by helping to establish where to apply investigative efforts and resources (e. g., identifying serial or pattern cases or dosing cases by exceptional means).2 In forensic (a.k.a. legal) contexts, it is employed to assist the court with determining whether or not there is sufficiently distinctive behavioral evidence to connect crimes together in their commission. This will be used to help deride specific forensic issues, such as whether similar crimes may be tried together or whether similar past crimes may be brought in as evidence.
This document has been peer reviewed.