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David Meirhofer
Background information
Birth name: David Meirhofer
Born: 1949
Died: September 1974
Cause of death: Suicide
Number of victims: four confirmed
Span of killings: 1966–1974
Country: USA
State(s): Montana
Date apprehended: 1974

David Meirhofer (June 8, 1949 – September 1974) was an American serial killer who committed four murders in rural Montana between 1966 and 1974. At the time, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was developing a new method of tracking killers called offender profiling, and Meirhofer was the first serial killer to be caught using the technique. Offender profiling is a method used to learn clues about the characteristics of an unknown killer from evidence at the scene of the crime.[1]

Among his victims was seven-year-old Susan Jaeger, who was taken from her tent at night during a family camping trip. The kidnapper left no ransom request[2] and no physical evidence.[3] However, the psychological profiling technique, which was first used in this case, was employed about a year after the kidnapping. The technique led investigators to suspect that the kidnapper was a young, white male who killed for sexual gratification and may have kept body parts of victims as "souvenirs". Further, they believed that the killer may have been arrested for other crimes.[1] Meirhofer was 23 years old at the time and already suspected in another murder. He denied the charges.[1] Meirhofter placed a telephone call to Marietta Jaeger, the mother of Susan Jaeger, exactly a year after the kidnapping, and she obtained enough information to help the FBI track him down.[4] .

Meirhofer had killed Suzie Jaeger, two boys, and a woman.[3] In September 1974, he confessed to having kidnapped the woman, Sandra Dykman Smallegan, in her sleep during February of that same year.[5] Smallegan had once dated Meirhofer but had ended the relationship.[5]

Meirhofer committed suicide in jail,[5] hours after confessing to the murders.


  1. ^ a b c Garrido Genoves, Vincente. 2007. El perfil Criminologico como un tecnico forense (in Spanish). University of Valencia. Retrieved on June 30, 2007.
  2. ^ The History Channel Classroom Study Guides: Meirhofter Retrieved on June 28, 2007.
  3. ^ a b CourtTV Crime Library. 2007. Criminal profiling: Part 1: History and method. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Retrieved on June 28, 2007.
  4. ^ 2005. An account of the experience of Marietta Jaeger, the mother of Susan Jaeger. Retrieved on June 30, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c Sullivan, Ted. Personal items belonging to 1974 murder victim found in Manhattan. Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Retrieved on June 28, 2007.


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