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”I saw the man who killed Anna Lindh”: A case study of witnesses’ offender descriptions.

Conference paper
Authors Pär-Anders Granhag
Karl Ask
Anna Rebelius
Published in 2nd meeting of the NNPL, Kristianstad (Sweden), September 29-30
Publication year 2005
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Subject categories Psychology


The present archival case study was conducted using 74 offender descriptions reported by 29 witnesses who saw the assassin of the Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh. The description accuracy was gauged against authentic video documentation of the perpetrator, captured by surveillance cameras a few minutes before the attack. All offender descriptions were collected within a month from the attack, and the number of interviews per witness varied from one to seven. Due to the fact that pictures of the suspected perpetrator were published in the media three days after the attack, descriptions from a majority of the witnesses were obtained both before and after the publication. In general, witnesses’ descriptions of the offender were quite inaccurate for both basic features (e.g., height, age, build) and more detailed attributes (e.g. cap, shoes). Specifically, four out of ten described attributes were incorrect. In addition, superior accuracy was found for offender descriptions reported after the publication of the pictures of the suspected perpetrator, compared with descriptions reported prior to the publication. The findings will be paralleled with previous archival studies on eyewitnesses’ descriptions.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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