Howard D. Teten was the first FBI profiler.


The son of a road construction forearm, Howard D. Teten lived in several towns around Nebraska, graduating high school in 1950 at Crofton. That same day he joined the Marine Corps, and due to his knowledge in photography, was assigned to their photography unit until he was discharged in 1954. He joined the Orange County Sheriff Department in California, but was his contact with the by-then renowned Southern California Criminal Laboratory, what made him switch his major (was at junior college at the time) to Criminalistics, ultimately getting his degree at Berkeley. In the mean time, he too switched jobs, going to work for the San Leandro Police Department in 1958, where after a stint in street patrol, he was assigned to their Identification Division (what now is known as CSI); in his own words[1]: I was working my crime scenes again. And I, the upshot of it was, here I am at school taking courses in abnormal psychology, criminal psychology, and working crime scenes on a daily basis, and I'm beginning to see parallels.

Joined the FBI in 1962, needing a better salary, but specially more opportunities to continue exploring his ideas about the association between the personalities and the psychology of people, their outlook on life, and the kind of crimes they committed, and the way they committed 'em. He followed up with his studies, until he got his master degree in Social Psychology. A few months after that, at the start of 1969, he was transferred to Headquarters, assigned to the FBI Training Division. He would end appointed as an instructor in Applied Criminology - although several instructors later started calling it Psych-Crim - at the old National Police Academy in Washington, D.C. because he talked his supervisor into it: In about 1970, the only way I could bring my theories out was because I was an instructor. I was teaching all the time. The only thing I could do was write my theories out in the form of a lesson plan. So that's what I did.

However his idea was conceived in about 1961-62, he needed to test the approach using solved cases for about 7 years and to check with several Psychiatrists to ensure he was on firm ground in terms of the characteristics of the different mental problem areas before he felt it was ready for presentation. He studied under, and was inspired by, Dr. Paul Kirk, the internationally renowned criminalist. The inspiration for his work also included the work of Dr. Hans Gross and Dr. Brussel. Teten met Dr. Brussel and exchanged investigative ideas and psychological strategies in profiling crimes. Although Teten disagreed with Dr. Brussel' Freudian interpretations, he accepted other principles of his investigative analysis.

In 1972, the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit at Quantico was formed with Teten joining FBI Instructor Patrick J. Mullany's team, even if the Unit was relegated to a cramped, windowless basement. Teten and Mullany designed a method for analyzing unknown offenders in unsolved cases. The idea was to look at the behavioral manifestations at a crime scene for evidence of mental disorders and other personality traits, thus aiding the detectives' deductive reasoning.

Soon, their ideas on offender profiling were tested when a seven-year-old girl was abducted from a Rocky Mountains campsite in Montana in June 1973. Later, the profile led to the arrest of David Meirhofer, a local 23-year-old single man who was also a suspect in another murder case. The search in his house unearthed "souvenirs" (body parts taken from both victims). Meirhofer was the first serial killer to be caught with the aid of the FBI's new investigative technique called offender profiling or criminal investigative analysis. A decade later, and after Teten's retirement, the technique became a more sophisticated and systematic profiling tool renowned as the Criminal Investigative Analysis Program (CIAP).

He was promoted in 1980 and made Unit Chief of Research and Department, where he remained until his retirement in 1986.