Portrait Of A Serial Killer

Don Hewitt CBS

From the unimaginable crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer to the cold calculation of Ted Bundy, investigators say there's a chilling reality to stopping a serial killer, CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan reports.

"He has to hit again, and again and again, until they catch him," says Joseph Coffee, a former NYPD detective. "It's really unfortunate to say, but if he stops, they're not going to get him."

Coffee should know. He led the task force that eventually put the infamous "Son of Sam" killer behind bars.

His real name was David Berkowitz. He terrorized New York for 13 long months, murdering six people and wounding seven, all with his .44-caliber revolver.

But investigators say had he stopped, they might never have caught him. It wasn't until the fifth murder they even realized the killings were linked.

"You're only as good as the information you're getting, and the information in this particular case, because he's hitting rapidly, is going to come much faster," says Coffee.

In the end, Berkowitz got sloppy. During his last murder, he parked too close to a fire hydrant and was ticketed, which helped police track him. Investigators are hoping the current killer gets sloppy, too, and most profilers bet he will.

"When a person gets this much into a competitive game with law enforcement, they're heading for a fall," says Robert Ressler, a former FBI profiler.

Ressler helped build a psychological profile of the "Son of Sam," just as the FBI is doing now.

"I did indicate it would be a lone white male," says Ressler. "I did indicate that it would be an introverted person, a person working in a menial capacity."

In the end, Ressler was right on.

But to this day, Coffee claims the profile never led anyone to Berkowtiz -- never even narrowed the search. It was, at best he claims, nothing but a guess done by investigators that should have been working the streets instead.

"Psychological profiling is a scam," says Coffee. "Anybody who knows anything about homicide investigation will tell you that.

"It doesn't work. It's never worked, ever!"

Ressler disagrees.

"The criticisms are along the lines that it didn't work," says Ressler. "But then when they catch the individual, they say, by God, he fit the profile."

Either way, it appears all sides are in a waiting game: the police, the community and the killer. His next move may be the one that gets him caught, if there's another move at all.
  • Jaime Holguin

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