Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Victims of Anthony Shore: Numb3rs

From the fine folks at Wikipedia:
Numb3rs (Pronounced Numbers) is an American crime drama television series that ran on CBS from January 2005 to March 2010. The series ...follows FBI special agent Don Eppes and his mathematical genius brother Charlie Eppes who helps Don solve crimes for the FBI. ... A typical episode begins with a crime, which is subsequently investigated by a team of FBI agents led by Don and mathematically modeled by Charlie ... The insights provided by Charlie's mathematics were always in some way crucial to solving the crime.
It was a decent show, even if you weren't a geek. It's now available on streaming video on Netflix.

The pilot episode dealt with locating the home of a serial killer using a technique known as geographical profiling. That show was based on the real-life work of Kim Rossmo.

Mathematical genius Charlie explained to dedicated FBI agent Don that Don should not be attempting to predict the location of the next murder. Instead, Don should be hunting for the murder's home. Charlie compared the problem to a lawn sprinkler. Even for the mathematically brilliant Charlie, predicting where the next water droplet would land would be an impossible task. However, Charlie could, by examining the location of all the drops, and by using mathematics, predict where the sprinkler was.

With a flurry of clicks on his computer, and with the aid of a large flat-bed printer he must have somewhere in his house, Charlie generated and printed a probability map for the serial killer's home.

That's nice work, and I'm suffering a bit of math envy, and printer envy.

Forty males lived in the central portion of that probability map. Don and his FBI buddies collected rogue DNA from each of the forty males. More specifically, they collected DNA from discarded cigarette butts, coffee cups, water bottles, chewing gum, and other waste products. None of the DNA matched the killer's DNA.

Charlie decided he made a mistake in focusing only on the killer's home when he should have been focusing on the killer's home and work place. He modified his program to allow two hot spots and came up with this.

Even though that was mathematically the weakest part of the show, it did the trick. Don caught the serial killer, the two brothers bonded a bit, and Charlie began working with Don routinely on cases.

The mathematics of geographical profiling is not particularly daunting, as mathematics goes. After reading Evaluating the Usefulness of Functional Distance Measures when Calibrating Journey-to-Crime Distance Delay Functions, I programmed my own version of a serial killer locator using a database software package called Filemaker.

For victims, I used the set of unsolved murders of young women from the Houston area between January 1981 (when Anthony Allen Shore moved to the Houston area from California) and November 2003 (when Shore was arrested). Here's my probability map, crude as it is.

Imagine for now a street map of the Houston area lying underneath. You'll only have to imagine for a little while, since I'll show that soon. Right now, I wanted to explain what you are looking at.

I used a grid of only 50 cells by 50 cells. It's a really crude geometric profile, but I have neither the computing power nor the large flat-bed printer (nor the mathematical gifts) that Charlie Eppes seemingly had. You can seen small dots in some of the cells. Those are the points where the victims were last seen. They are presumably the points-of-first-encounter, or close thereby. Real geographical profilers take advantage also of the locations where the bodies are found and the locations where the murder actually took place, assuming those are known. I'm not a real geographic profiler.

Based on my crude probability map, the most likely location for the home of the serial killer is the red spot. In this case, there are three red spots. I'll call them southeast, west, and north. Perhaps there were three serial killers working the Houston area during that time frame. Perhaps not.

Perhaps instead Anthony Allen Shore lived in three different locations during that time period, and each hot spot corresponds with one of those three residences. To consider that last perhaps, I overlaid my geographical profile over a map of the Houston area, making sure that each of Shore's residences during that period were indicated on the map with a yellow house icon.

Hold on to your fedora. Here's what I got. Click to enlarge. It's worth it this time.

Holy One-to-One Correspondence, Batman. I'll show in a future post that the correspondence is temporal as well as geographical. It seems as if wherever Anthony Allen Shore moved, the bodies of murdered young women were sure to follow.

There is a caveat to my work. I'm not sure where Anthony Allen Shore lived immediately after he moved to the Houston area. A public records search shows that he moved into a house on Tallulah Lane in 1985. That would be the westernmost house. We know he moved from the Tallulah Lane house to the 18th Street House (the northernmost of the three) sometime before he murdered Diana Robellar in August of 1994.

Prior to 1985, Anthony Allen Shore was seemingly staying at some place maintained in another person's name. I'm assuming that person was Anthony's father, Robert Shore. Robert Shore lived in League City. I'm trying to find out exactly where in League City. For now, I've put his house, the southeastern most of the three, in the middle of League City.

I predict that when I learn the specific address of his house, that it will be slightly north and slightly left of where it is shown above. I predict that it will move closer to the center of the predicted hot spot.

If this is merely a temporal and geographical coincidence, then it is one hell of a coincidence. Instead, I think the map I have just presented herein provides good cause to suspect that Anthony Allen Shore has killed many more people than he has admitted to.

I still think Melissa Trotter is one of those people, though she is not on the map. I still wonder whether Shandra Charles and Marcell Taylor are two of those people.

Stay tuned.


Rick Bonin said...

Exciting stuff TSJ. Keep it coming!

Anonymous said...

If you would likesome more info as to background you may contact Anthony's family. His sisters and daughters are very open to helping you get your info correct. A lot of the the info out there is not correct and/or misrepresented, glorified, or in some cases made up to make for a good story? Most of his crimes were comitted while he was employed as a top ranking Southwest Bell customer service representative and line man for them. He actually planned some of his crimes ahead of time. Crimes of opportunity. In example the young girl he raped that testified in his trial.

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