Violent Criminal Apprehension Program
“The dead cannot cry out for justice; it is the duty of the living to do so for them.”
- Lois McMaster Bujold
The National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) combines investigative and operational support functions, research, and training in order to provide assistance, without charge, to federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies investigating unusual or repetitive violent crimes, communicated threats, and other matters of interest to law enforcement. The NCAVC is organized into four components:
- Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP)
- Behavioral Analysis Unit 1 (BAU-1) – Terrorism Threats
- Behavioral Analysis Unit 2 (BAU-2) – Crimes Against Adults
- Behavioral Analysis Unit 3 (BAU-3) – Crimes Against Children
Established by the Department of Justice in 1985, FBI-ViCAP serves as the national repository for violent crimes; specifically homicides, sexual assaults, missing persons, and unidentified human remains. Comprehensive case information submitted to FBI-ViCAP is maintained in the national database and automatically compared to all other cases in the database to identify similarities. Individual case submissions are analyzed by crime analysts through the application of analytical skills, education, specialized training, and research.
The primary mission of the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) is to provide criminal investigative and analytical support to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. This support includes the collection and examination of case information, multi-agency coordination, and the creation of analytical products. One of the cornerstones of the program is the continued development and maintenance of ViCAP Web, the nationwide investigative database of homicides, sexual assaults, missing persons, and unidentified human remains.
ViCAP Web collects information regarding the following types of crimes, whether or not the offender has been arrested or identified:
- Homicides (and attempts), especially those that involve an abduction, are apparently random, motiveless, or sexually oriented, or are known or suspected to be part of a series.
- Sexual Assaults, especially those committed by a stranger, or those known or suspected to be part of a series.
- Missing Persons where the circumstances indicate a strong possibility of foul play and the victim is still missing.
- Unidentified Human Remains where the manner of death is known or suspected to be homicide.
Conduct comprehensive case analysis of investigative data and provide timely and relevant information to investigating officers. Employ a variety of data analysis techniques and tools including the FBI-ViCAP national database, internal government data sources, global public data sources, and geographical mapping systems. Prepare and disseminate findings in the form of comprehensive Crime Analysis Reports (CARs).
National Violent Crime Database (ViCAP Web)
Operate and maintain the FBI-ViCAP national violent crime database. Develop and maintain collection requirements to support investigative analysis. Provide operational and technical assistance.
Conduct searches of the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS) database maintained by FBI-ViCAP. This is a database of historical national and regional NLETS broadcast messages dating back to 1986.
Liaison / Referral
Facilitate communication between law enforcement agencies by establishing and maintaining active and productive liaison with sworn and non-sworn contacts across the U.S. Refer investigators to other vital resources and professionals which may be of assistance in their investigation. These include FBI and non-FBI resources.
Facilitate consultations in which agencies present their cases to the NCAVC staff for feedback, expert opinion and testimony, interview assistance, and crime analysis results.
Coordinate multi agency meetings for investigators from various jurisdictions investigating a known or suspected series of homicides, sexual assaults, or abductions, as well as cold case investigations.
Task Force Assistance
Provide analytical resources in support of major case task force operations involving significant serial or cold case violent crime investigations. Deploy personnel on-site, as needed and as resources allow, to directly support active, high-profile, and sensitive investigative matters.
Create and disseminate national bulletin alerts notifying law enforcement agencies across the nation of known violent offenders, unsolved violent crime series, and missing and unidentified human remains cases.
Prepare computerized crime mapping products to display crime data and timeline information.
Case Series Matrices
Create worksheets and matrices which concisely and accurately highlight common characteristics, traits, and features associated with potentially related crimes. Create case linkage spreadsheets which allow investigators to compare a number of cases and identify similarities or differences.
Develop time-lines regarding subject and/or victim travel, activities, criminal history, associates, and geographical locations to assist investigators in identifying the whereabouts of the individual as they relate to the crime and to assist in linking known offenders to similar, unsolved crimes.
Resources and Informational Databases
- Accurint LE Plus
- Bulletins and Newsletters - Federal/State/Local
- Bureau of Prisons (BOP)
- Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)
- Consolidated Lead Evaluation and Reporting (CLEAR)
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
- Fusion Centers
- iMap Data/Registered Sex Offender Locator Tool (ReSOLT)
- Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS)
- Internal FBI Databases
- Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW)
- Joint Automated Booking System (JABS)
- Law Enforcement Online (LEO)
- Military Records
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
- National Data Exchange (N-DEx)
- National Dental Image Repository (NDIR)
- National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB)
- National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS) Database
- National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)
- National Missing Person DNA Database
- NCAVC Personnel
- NCIC Files
- NCIC Off-lines
- NCIC ORI Cross Matches (‘Double Query’)
- ROCIC RISSNET
- State/Local/Regional Automated Systems
- Subject/Victim Timelines and Background Records
- Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS)
- Vehicle Records
- ViCAP National Bulletin Alerts
- ViCAP National Violent Crime Database (ViCAP Web)
- ViCAP NCIC Missing/Unidentified Search Tool (VNMUST)
The FBI-ViCAP Process
ViCAP Web provides authorized users with direct, real-time access to the national violent crime database. Users have the ability to enter their own case information and retrieve information about other similar cases.
Law enforcement agencies that would like to have access to ViCAP Web must take the following steps:
1. Select an agency point of contact to serve as the link between FBI-ViCAP and the users within the agency.
2. Obtain individual LEO accounts for all users (www.leo.gov).
3. Contact FBI-ViCAP via ViCAP@leo.gov to request access to the ViCAP Web.
The FBI-ViCAP national database captures for retrieval the following detailed administrative, investigative, and behavior-oriented data regarding violent crimes: Agency information, Victim information, Offender/Suspect information, Offender Time-line information, Modus Operandi, Dates and Exact Geographic Locations, Crime Scene information, Types of Trauma Inflicted on Victim, Weapon information, Sexual Activity, Vehicle information, Evidence Tracking, Narrative Summary, Holdback information (which is restricted to the submitting agency, the hub agency (if applicable), and FBI-ViCAP), and Attachments (photographs, crime scene diagrams, composites, etc.).
All criteria cases remain in the FBI-ViCAP national database indefinitely and are compared continually against all other cases. Crime analysts are assigned individual cases for more in-depth analysis based on geographic areas of responsibility. Analysts document their findings in the form of comprehensive Crime Analysis Reports (CARs), which are then provided to case investigators.
LEO Special Interest group
Law Enforcement Online (LEO) is a network program accessed through the Internet and administered by the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division. It is only available to persons duly employed by a law enforcement, criminal justice, or public safety agency/department and whose position requires secure communication with other agencies. The LEO system provides a user friendly means of electronic communication that offers a secure transmission of sensitive but unclassified information throughout the world, a vehicle for exchange of information, on-line education programs, and participation in professional special interest and topically focused dialog.
LEO hosts several categories of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) which are controlled-access areas for specialized organizations or disciplines. Each SIG contains a public area accessible to all LEO users and may also contain a private (restricted access) area for members approved by the SIG’s moderator.
FBI-ViCAP maintains a Public SIG, which means the ViCAP SIG is open to any LEO member. The ViCAP SIG provides the following:
1) Access to the ViCAP Web Crime Database (by authorized users)
2) Information re ViCAP services
3) ViCAP Staff and Assignment charts
4) Featured ViCAP cases
5) ViCAP success stories
6) ViCAP Alerts
7) ViCAP newsletters
8) Forms and Reference material
9) The ViCAP events calendar
Go to www.leo.gov to obtain a LEO account.
Highway Serial Killings Initiative
The FBI’s NCAVC has undertaken an extensive effort to provide assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies with the investigation and analysis of violent crimes that have a nexus to the Nation’s highways. Specifically, this assistance is being provided in support of cases involving homicide victims whose bodies have been recovered along highways. The FBI has named this unprecedented investigative support effort the “Highway Serial Killings (HSK) initiative.”
The NCAVC requests that all law enforcement agencies please forward information pertaining to cases meeting any of the following criteria to ViCAP for possible inclusion into the Highway Serial Killings initiative:
- Homicide victims whose remains were recovered along a highway, or at a location associated with a highway (rest stop, truck stop, gas station, and/or restaurant located along a major highway)
- Kidnapped or missing persons whose last known location was along a highway or location associated with a highway
- Victims of sexual assault, in which there is a connection to a highway or a location associated with a highway
- Truck Drivers or other individuals who have been investigated or arrested for the murder, kidnapping, or sexual assault of one or more victims along a highway or at a location associated with a highway
The Highway Serial Killings initiative primarily consists of female victims; however, ViCAP is also interested in cases involving male homicide victims found along the highway and truck drivers found murdered in their trucks. As with all ViCAP case submissions, Highway Serial Killings initiative cases should be random, motiveless, sexually oriented, or known / suspected to be part of a series.
When a suspect is identified, or a group of cases are determined to be linked to a common offender, the NCAVC can also provide behavioral analytical services in furtherance of the investigation.
Since its inception, ViCAP Crime Analysts have developed and continue to develop extensive timelines on suspects through the utilization of a variety of reliable sources of information. By comparing information in the victim matrix to suspect(s) timelines, ViCAP Crime Analysts are able to assist in investigations by advising agencies who have contributed names to the victim matrix about the identity of potential suspect(s). The program has proved very successful and continues to serve the law enforcement community with valuable case analysis and linkage, which has helped resolve numerous cases involving this unique type of serial offender.
National Advisory Board
Founded in 1999, the ViCAP National Advisory Board (NAB) is comprised of state and local law enforcement personnel representing agencies throughout the United States which are actively using ViCAP Web. Board members are selected based on nominations by regional representatives and serve a term of four years. The NAB provides consultation and direction to FBI-ViCAP management in the areas of system applications, networking, case criteria, and program development. More information regarding the NAB and its members is available at the ViCAP LEO SIG.
Violent Criminal Apprehension Program
National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime
Quantico, VA 22135
800.634.4097 (toll free)
ViCAP is a confidential system and is exempt under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, Title 5 United States Code 552a.