Criminal profiling of Joseph Thompson

Subject: Law
Type: Profile Essay
Pages: 10
Word count: 2513
Topics: Cognitive Psychology, Crime, Criminal Justice, Criminology, Police, Rape


In most of the police investigations, criminal profiling is an important aspect. The practice is fundamental in helping the investigative bodies to document the history of the offense perpetrators for future reference. For instance, it identifies a cluster of behaviors that are common among the serial rape offenders and other law offenders. The model then focuses on classifying the types and styles of offenses using some of the descriptive labels associated with the crimes such as brutality and violence. This paper focuses on the criminal profiling of Joseph Thompson and analyzing the psychology behind the deviant behavior.


Born on 3rd August 1958 in Whakatane, Joseph Stephen Thompson was one of the 12 children of his parent. During his upbringing, Joseph’s home life was characterized by hardship and insecurity. For instance, his father, Charlie would throw late night parties some of which were similar to scenes from ‘Once were Warriors’ films. Unfortunately, during the night parties, a male family friend would creep into bed with the young Joseph and sodomize him. In return, he received leftover change as a form of payment for the abuse.

At the age of ten, in 1968, many of Joe’s brothers and sisters were farmed to relatives when his parents separated (Manning, 2009). It was during this time that he had his first conviction. He was sent to his grandfather’s place. On returning to his mother a year later, Joe and his little brother were packed into a taxi and sent to live with their father. On arrival, they did not find their father. They were put into a social welfare program for a few days awaiting the arrival of their father. At the age of 14, Joe was living with his father and his new wife in Greenlane. However, the stay did not last for long as Emma, the new wife, looked for ways of getting rid of him. She moved houses leaving Joe behind forcing him to live on and off with relatives for a couple of years. At the age of 15, Joe dropped out of school and joined the ‘storm troopers’ gang. In 1974, Joe was in court for a car conversion charge. He was later sent to live with his mother (Manning, 2009). The following year, he was charged with an attempted car robbery and disqualified from driving. He was then put on probation. In the subsequent years, Joe was charged with driving while disqualified and driving while drunk. He met his first partner, got married, and had 2 children. However, the wife left him due to drunkenness and domestic violence.

Modulus Operandi

At the age of 25 in 1983, Joe decided to pay his mate a visit that lived next to an attractive young lady. On arrival, he found his mate, not at home. He decided to make an impromptu visit to the lady next door by breaking into her home through a window (Manning, 2009). Since the woman had gone out for the movie, Joe hid inside the house until she returned. On returning, Joe did not immediately swing into action. He waited till he was sure that the lady was asleep and then raped her at knifepoint. He cut the Telephone cord and disappeared, leaving the helpless young lady to seek help outside. The incident marked the beginning of a reign of terror for the ‘South Auckland Serial Rapist.’ Henceforth, Joe made some old key collections which he used to open doors of his victim’s houses. For instance, in the 2nd month of 1993, he gained unauthorized access to a home of a 25-year old nurse in Sandringham. He beat up the nurse in the hallway and raped her.

According to Kocsis and Irwin (2000), the records indicate that during this time Joe was also committing other burglaries in the suburbs of South Auckland. After separating from his first wife, he got another partner in the mid-1985 and had a daughter. However, she also fled as she could not put up with the violence. In the following year after the departure of his second partner, Joe broke into a 24-year-old student’s room. On her return, he attacked and raped her infecting her with a venereal disease. He was later charged and convicted to jail for 9 months. However, he got out after serving barely 4 months. Reports indicate that between Jan 1988 and June 1989, Joe raped more than 11 victims in the area of Mount Eden and 1 victim in the Papatoetoe, the neighboring city.

Joe’s choice of the suburb was concentrated on areas that were of lower social and economic level in South Auckland. The territories became prime targets as there were no responsible males in the homes with the doors and windows left unsecured, and children sometimes left alone without any adults to look after them. Before attacking the victim, he often used the kitchen knife to scare the victim and punches to the face to stop the screams (Manning, 2009). Even after moving to Otara, his antics continued with a variation in the ages of the victims. At most times, he was chased away but never got discouraged as he always came back to finish the job and torment his victims. The rape continued to grow until his attack on an 18-year-old woman in 1990 was reconstructed on a program called ‘Crimewatch.’  However, even after the program highlighted the crime, he continued his attacks on victims on various occasions. He relocated to Clendon in Manurewa in 1993.

In February of that year, he attacked and raped a 12-year-old four times (Kocsis & Irwin, 2000). The police took DNA samples from the scene as they now believed that they were after a serial rapist. In August 1993, they developed an Operation Park to aid the investigations. During the operation, the media was also used to urge the sexual offender surrender to the authorities. However, Joe continued his attacks on his victims.

In one instance, Joe stalked a 15-year-old girl that was brushing her hair in the house. When the girl saw a stranger’s face at the window, she alerted the male occupants of the house who ignored her and told her to check for herself. She left the house and went to check, but found nothing. Police reports indicate that on returning, he grabbed, attacked, and raped her. She tried to scream, but the pouring rain drowned her screams (Kocsis & Irwin, 2000).  After raping her, Joe dragged the girl to Mount Fork Park and tied her to a tree and raped her again. The attack was followed by the raping of another 10-year-old girl that was the youngest of his victims. In Manurewa, he raped and attacked another victim that was 14 years old. Aware of the danger posed by the DNA samples, he tried to wipe the evidence from the body of the victim. However, in the process, he left behind his cloth. In 1994, the police stepped up investigations by incorporating the use of blood samples and conducting night vigils in South Auckland. However,

Joe continued being deviant and still attacked his victims. In one particular scenario, as he punched one victim in the mouth, her tooth cut Joe’s hand (Kocsis & Irwin, 2000). The police took the blood sample from the scene for testing. Since Joe wasn’t new to the police authorities, the DNA matched the culprit that was being sought by the police. When the second test proved positive, Joe was arrested and arraigned in court where he pleaded guilty to all the 129 charges. He was convicted to 30-years imprisonment with a recommendation of serving a minimum of 25 years (Manning, 2009). The appeal was declined to mark an end of the reign of terror by a serial rapist in Auckland.

Psychological Explanations of deviant behavior

Based on the available evidence, according to the FBI’s psychological profile, Joseph Thompson could meet some diagnostic criteria. The diagnoses include the paraphilic disorders like Pedophilia, sexual sadism, transvestic disorder, and personality disorders like Antisocial Personality Disorder, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Regarding the Paraphilic Disorders, Joseph Thompson appears to meet the criterion of diagnosis for more than one paraphilia. Kocsis, Cooksey, and Irwin (2002) argue that the Paraphilia disorder is characterized by the persistent sexual interest which does not involve genital stimulation of phenotypically normal and physical mature human partners. In this context, the focus of arousal involves nonhuman objects like women’s underpants, infliction of bodily suffering like humiliation masochism or sexual sadism, and other non-consenting persons like prepubescent children. To meet the criterion, there are specific behavioral aspects that must be fulfilled by an individual. First, the urges, behaviors, and sexual fantasies of a person must have persisted for a period exceeding 6 months (Jordan, 2008). Secondly, the person in question must have acted on the urges resulting in significant impairment in social, occupational or interpersonal domains affecting their functioning. Joseph Thompson fulfills both of these behavioral aspects partly.

On the other hand, Joe seems to meet the Sexual Sadism Disorder Criteria. There are various types of sexual sadism which can be categorized by their severity. For instance, extreme sadism includes necrophilia, lust, murder, and injury inflicted by either flagellation or stabbing (Jordan, 2008). Minor sadism involves assault and the defilement of women. The diagnostic criteria for this disorder require that for a period exceeding 6 months, an individual must have experienced intense sexual arousal from another person’s psychological or physical suffering manifested by the repetitive behaviors. As a result, the individual must have acted on the urges or actions with a non-consenting person causing impairment in the functioning of the social and occupational aspects. In most aspects, the sadist acts encompass having control over the victims. Therefore, it involves activities indicating the dominance of an individual over the victim. The actions discussed above might include mutilation, killing, rape, restraint, blindfolding, beating, and torture (Kocsis, Cooksey & Irwin, 2002). The disorder might be present in a person, but its manifestation might vary with the fluctuation of age. Among the males, the 19.4 year age has been reported as the average age for the onset of the expression. When practiced with non-consenting partners, the perpetrator is most likely to continue with the activity until apprehended.

Though not proven, it can be theorized that Joseph Thompson was suffering from the sexual sadism disorder. For instance, in most of his victims, Joe used to beat and torture his victims to make them helpless before raping them. Also, most of the victims were young girls that were exposed to volatile life environments, making them easy prey for the offender (Kocsis, Cooksey & Irwin, 2002). Additionally, studies indicate that sexual sadists are associated with alcohol use and drug abuse. As a result, most of these people have higher volatility of being involved in violence often. As his history indicates, Joseph married his first partner that bore him 2 children. However, continued use of alcohol compounded by domestic violence caused their separation. He got into his second marriage which did not last for long either as the wife could not condone the instances of violence and drunkenness.

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Additionally, another disorder criterion that seems to align with Joseph Thompson is the Pedophilic Disorder. Pedophilia is used to refer to a child lover. In this context, the police report indicated that Joe targeted the female minors by either sneaking into their bedrooms or attacking and subduing them and then raping the victims (Jordan, 2008).  Satisfying the conditions of this criterion requires that an individual must have experienced intense sexual arousing behaviors which involve sexual activities with children that are 13 years or younger. In this regard, the youngest of Joe’s victim was aged 10. However, the second condition requiring that the offender must be 5 years older than the victim or 16 years of age might serve to disqualify the individual. Several researchers that have conducted studies on this path have criticized the practice of the criteria ignoring the fact that there are patients with erotic interests that might focus on post-pubescent children

Joseph Thompson also seems to meet the Personality Disorder. Despite the fact it was not proved clinically, the conditions that might have led to his being a serial rapist align with the personality disorder syndrome. Jordan (2008) indicates that a Personality Disorder is defined as an individual’s enduring pattern of behavior that is incoherent with his cultural expectations. In most cases, the behavior is pervasive and begins during early childhood or adolescence, becoming stable over a period resulting in distress. There are different types of personality disorders. Some of the common forms include the paranoid and schizotypal types. Several case studies have recommended the reformulation of antisocial personality disorder to psychopathic nature. A psychopath is characterized by the lack of empathy, consciousness, pathological lies, repeated social norms violations, disregard for the stipulated laws, and having the history of victimizing other people (Jordan, 2008).

In most investigations conducted, researchers have found out that most of the sexual sadists might either be narcissists or anti-social psychopaths. Moreover, the avoidant personality disorder argues that the pervasive patterns of the person might include behaviors such as hypersensitivity, social inhibition, and feelings of inadequacy. Individuals suffering from this type of disorder have a higher likelihood that they might have faced violence during their early childhood. The police reports present evidence that Joseph Thompson might have been suffering from a personality disorder (Kocsis, Cooksey & Irwin, 2002). For example, during his early years, Joe faced a tough and hard life due to the domestic violence amongst his parents that led to their separation. As a resulted, he moved from one relative to another in search of shelter which led to his school dropout at the age of 15 to join a gang. Moreover, when he was a little, a family friend used to sneak into his room during parties and sodomize him, which might have played an essential role in influencing his personality.


Throughout his upbringing, Joseph Thompson faced various challenges that might have proved fundamental in shaping his later life. From the domestic violence in the home to cases of domestic violence that alienated his family, Joseph had to put with life hardships to survive. His dropout from school might have presented further life challenges. For instance, after dropping out of school, he joined a gang and indulged in alcohol use that resulted in the breaking of his two marriages. As a result of alcohol use, he became violent and more aggressive. He was in and out of the courts for various offenses such as car conversion and violation of probation. He later got into attacking and raping young women that became more inherent as time went by. Over the years, Joseph laid a trap and ambushed his victims to give in to his sexual demands. The nature of the attacks was an explicit representation of cruelty and callousness which might have indicated that Joe might have been venting his frustration of his life on the young victims. However, no exact account of understanding can be attached to the incidents but only assumptions.

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  1. Jordan, J. (2008). Perfect Victims, Perfect Policing? Improving Rape Complainant’s Experiences of Police Investigations. Public Administration, 86(3), 699-719.
  2. Kocsis, R. N., & Irwin, H. J. (2000). An analysis of spatial patterns in serial rape, arson, and burglary: the utility of the circle theory of environmental range for psychological profiling. Psychiatry, psychology and law, 4(2), 195-206.
  3. Kocsis, R. N., Cooksey, R. W., & Irwin, H. J. (2002). Psychological profiling of offender characteristics from crime behaviors in serial rape offences. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 46(2), 144-169.
  4. Manning, J. (2009). Serial Rape: Offender Profiling. Retrieved September, 29, 2014.
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