TU students learn about serial murderers in new criminal justice class
Thomas University students majoring in Criminal Justice are learning about some of the most notorious murderers in history thanks to a new class about serial murderers that began this semester.
“While serial killers are not the most common of murderers, they are the most egregious,” said Keith Howard, who co-teachers the class along with Assistant Professor Lori Battle. “Almost every crime movie or modern day police television series captures the audience’s attention with the term ‘serial killer.’”
Class topics include well-known serial murderers such as Ted Bundy, Dennis Radar also known as the BTK Killer, and Gary Leon Ridgway also known as the Green River Killer. While TV and movie viewers may be familiar with these killers, they may not realize why they stimulate public interest.
“What the audience doesn’t realize is that it is not the number of victims the offender kills that captivates their attention, but rather the personality of the offender,” Howard said. “Their crime behavior reflects personality. Understanding the offender’s personality can help identify the characteristics and traits of an offender and contribute to a successful apprehension and prosecution.”
The Serial Murderers class is taught completely online as a part of TU’s bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. TU also offers an associate degree in Law Enforcement online giving college credits for an officer’s basic mandate training in additional to students completing Core Curriculum courses.
So far students are enjoying the new class.
“The students are captivated,” Battle said. “They are asking engaging questions and cannot get enough information on the serial murderers they have heard of for years. Profiling criminal behavior is an art and not a science. It is the process of gathering, processing and evaluating a person’s behavior that intrigues society.”
Both Howard and Battle are seasoned veterans in the Criminal Justice field.
Howard brings to the course his experience working on more than 1,000 criminal investigations. While an Assistant Special Agent In-Charge with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, he supervised the Crime Analysis unit, which included 21 Crime Scene Specialists, 15 Child Abuses Specialists and the Behavioral Science Unit. This unit averaged about 150 cases per year, most of which included offenders with multiple victims. Howard was consulted on the Jon Benet Ramsey investigation and assisted with jury selection and case presentation of the Sydney Dorsey prosecution. He is president of the International Criminal Investigative Analysis Fellowship, the only organization with an established criminal profiler understudy program that certifies criminal profilers internationally. Howard is currently the Deputy Director of the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, Ga., and he regularly teaches Criminal Justice courses at TU.
Battle first learned about criminal deviant behavior in the late 1990s as a student in one of Howard’s deviant behavior classes. Working with the Department of Corrections for the past 25 years has allowed her to observe this type of deviant behavior of convicted felons first hand. Battle currently works on special assignment with the Georgia Department of Corrections, Facilities Division while serving as a full-time professor at TU.
In the Serial Murderers class, Battle and Howard want students to learn skills that they will apply in their careers in Criminal Justice.
“What we want to accomplish is to teach the Criminal Justice student that the key to all successful investigations is understanding offender behavior,” Battle said. “They can use the behavioral techniques they learn from serial killers to be successful in all investigations.”
For more information about the Criminal Justice program at Thomas University, visit www.thomasu.edu.