More than an Offender Location Tool: Geographic Profiling and Body Deposition Sites

Victoria Berezowski, Douglas MacGregor, Justin Ellis, Ian Moffat, Xanthé Mallett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In homicide cases, it is difficult to provide resolution for the bereaved or to obtain a successful criminal conviction of the guilty party when no body is found. Since the mid-nineteenth century, geographic and environmental patterns have been used to better understand the relationship between crime and its environment. Now known as geographic profiling, practitioners in this field amalgamate criminological, psychological, and geographical knowledge, as well as aspects of mathematics, statistics, and physics to identify spatial patterns associated with criminal behaviour as a means of locating anchor points of an offender (where they live, or work). The same techniques can also be used to locate the covert body deposition sites of their victims. This paper aims to (1) provide a brief summary of criminal behaviour and the environment and how understanding their relationship can be helpful to geographic profiling, (2) amalgamate the available literature on the application of geographic profiling in locating clandestine graves (as most documented uses are to locate offender residences), and (3) include a geographic profile of Ivan Milat, an Australian serial killer (officially) active from 1989 to 1992, demonstrating how geographic profiling techniques can help to identify additional victims and potential body deposition sites. The information in this review will be helpful to law enforcement and practitioners to improve missing persons investigations and searches for clandestine graves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-19
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date31 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Body deposition site
  • Clandestine grave
  • Geographic profiling
  • Ivan Milat
  • Missing person


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