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Imagine that in modern world, a Faceless Man of Braavos is walking among us. He is able to completely change his appearance in a split second, and, unfortunately, keeps killing people. Would it be possible to catch such man?

Here are a few assumptions:

  • Faceless Man can appear as person of any gender and any age;
  • His appearance is absolutely genuine. Fingerprints, retina scan would not give him away. Only deep tests like DNA sequencing can reveal his real identity;
  • He can take appearance of only people who are already dead, and has to spend some time with their bodies;
  • His impersonation is not perfect, he does not know everything his "faces" used to know, does not know their tastes and habits;
  • He is very skilled in armed and unarmed combat;
  • He is well aware of modern security features like surveillance cameras and alarm systems;
  • He is acting alone, and, as far as we are concerned, the only Faceless Man in the world;
  • He can be an assassin for hire, or has his own rational agenda, but he does not kill just because he likes killing.
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    $\begingroup$ Does he alters the body in any way when copying a victim identity? Like pulling the face out of the skull, extracting the eyes, or removing the fingerprints? $\endgroup$ – MACN Sep 14 '17 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ @MACN - yes, I mentioned that. As far as we can tell, Faceless Men do full body transformation, not just the face. But for the sake of this question I presumed that there are still methods to detect these people. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Sep 14 '17 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ Eventually one of his victims will kill him. $\endgroup$ – A. C. A. C. Sep 14 '17 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Alexander does someone definitively know the capabilities of the Faceless man or are they just inferring that it is all a single person from evidence collected? $\endgroup$ – Philip Tinney Sep 15 '17 at 1:52
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    $\begingroup$ Can you say if the "face" was taken from this person by analyzing the corpse? In other words, can a detective write a "faces list" of the fugitive? (corpses don't stay unnoticed in modern times) $\endgroup$ – enkryptor Sep 15 '17 at 9:09
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Faceless men have to carry faces

If you know you are looking for a faceless man (which general knowledge of was expressed in GOT). Authorities would establish a perimeter (like they always do) and search the possessions of anyone trying to leave the perimeter. Obviously the one who tries to fight is the faceless man or the one with a bunch of human faces is the faceless man.

Though he would certainly rack up a body count, the flaw of any serial killer is they always give the authorities another chance.

IR Cameras

A face a faceless man uses is dead flesh that has been put over his own. It is theoretically possible that an IR camera could reveal this discrepancy in real time allowing for quick identification.

Dogs

As referenced in GOT, in order to make a faceless man's face they must apply certain chemicals to the flesh. You would need to apply some kind of unusual chemical to achieve the life like qualities of their face. These chemicals would most likely be noticeable to a dog's nose. This would not occur in GOT as everyone has bigger concerns than the faceless men to bother with such a method. However, in modern society expenses in training and research would not be spared to apprehend such prolific assassins.

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    $\begingroup$ Carrying faces is a good clue. However, he may have the faces stored somewhere, or discard them when it is becoming clear that he's going to be searched. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Sep 14 '17 at 20:13
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    $\begingroup$ If the shapeshiter is literally wearing somebody face, and you happened to find the remains of original owner, maybe it is possible for dogs to follow the corporal scent of the stolen parts, no need for chemicals. $\endgroup$ – MACN Sep 14 '17 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ They cant just rip a face off and use it, there is significant prep time involved. Cars break scent trails. It could be easier to train police dogs generally to detect the mask chemicals as one of their many banned substances. But yes blood hounding is viable in certain cases. $\endgroup$ – anon Sep 14 '17 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ We know that they carry faces because of the TV Show, but in the books the fact that they use dead people's faces to change appearance is a carefully kept secret only known to the faceless men and women. $\endgroup$ – Rekesoft Sep 15 '17 at 7:10
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    $\begingroup$ @anon: Faceless men don't have to carry faces. Remember the scene where Jaqen killed himself in front of Arya, and Arya started pulling his faces off, repeatedly? It seems that you can stack faces on top of other faces. So a prepared Faceless Man doesn't need to carry faces, he just needs to wear all of them at the same time (and then discard faces, which he could choose to abandon/destroy and not carry with him) $\endgroup$ – Flater Sep 15 '17 at 9:27
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If he is an assassin for hire, Like always, follow the money. Shake up the underworld until you find out how the hit was ordered. Then hire a hit and set up a sting. Nowhere to hide if you and the victim are the only people in the room. If not a fake hit just follow the money trail. At the end of the day don't go to him, let him come to you, even if just to use a credit card.

Much harder to catch someone killing randomly. Forensics are still a great weapon. Does he buy tools anywhere? Does he use transportation? You don't need a face if you have a license plate. Can you follow blood stains?

At the end of the day when you go for the sting mark everyone involved with a secret icon. Arrest everyone who is not marked even remotely in the area, and do not take them out of cuffs until a lab has cleared them.

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    $\begingroup$ Well there are ways around this that a professional like the faceless men would certainly use. Brokers, bit-coins, encrypted communications, ambiguous contracts (obviously wouldnt accept a hit that dictated time, place, and method). $\endgroup$ – anon Sep 14 '17 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ This method is more successfully used to capture the payers than the do-ers. $\endgroup$ – anon Sep 14 '17 at 21:16
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    $\begingroup$ Also, arrest everyone who is in the area and IS marked, including the police. Just have all the police draw tasers, all simultaneously march themselves into the back of a police van, and taser anyone who runs. Let the lab sort it all out. $\endgroup$ – Scott Sep 15 '17 at 3:23
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    $\begingroup$ @anon: and that’s a great starting point. An assassin for hire must offer a way to get contacted. So if you get hands on the payers, you are already close to get hands on the doers. Even if you don’t get the doer, once every potential payer has to fear to get busted, you dry out the market, which leads to the doer making mistakes when trying to stay in business. $\endgroup$ – Holger Sep 15 '17 at 7:06
  • $\begingroup$ @anon Hire him for a job in a sting set-up. Nab him as he approaches the target, in a completely controlled situation. $\endgroup$ – user151841 Sep 15 '17 at 19:56
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Know who dies.

Wireless pacemakers communicate on their own reserved frequency. http://newatlas.com/wireless-pacemaker-internet-monitoring/12549/

Developed by St Jude Medical, the Accent pacemaker contains a low-power radio transmitter that communicates on a frequency band between 402 and 405MHz, a spectrum specially reserved for medical implants. Information from the device is sent to a home transmitter and becomes available for viewing by the clinician via an Internet link and some proprietary software.

So, basically, this patient can provide a full report on the condition of her heart without even leaving home – without doing anything, actually, since the pacemaker reports automatically – and the doctor is able to perform regular check-ups without seeing the patient at all. In fact, since routine pacemaker checks are typically done every six months, the wireless device offers a much greater level of monitoring and care than ever before.

If everyone has such a device implanted, it would be immediately obvious when any given person has died. The death of that person would immediately and tastefully be broadcast everywhere via cell phones. Credit cards, access cards and so on will immediately be put on hold.

The Faceless Man's trick is to get close access to people who think he is someone that they know and do not suspect. I might have ignored news that Guy Random is dead because I do not know him. Guy is not an effective disguise for killing me; no more than any other disguise or the faceless man's own face. But if I learn my high school buddy Joe Blow has died I would definitely pay attention to that. And when he walks up to me and smiles he will die a second time.

Or, because I am not that badass, Fake Joe will get to see my chubby backside moving away from him as rapidly as it can manage.

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    $\begingroup$ "Put a device on everybody so we know when they die. wisper: And I can kill you all mouhaha" $\endgroup$ – Drag and Drop Sep 15 '17 at 7:19
  • $\begingroup$ You had me convinced up until the mouhaha. $\endgroup$ – Willk Sep 15 '17 at 11:18
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, but do you know how many people die every minute? Even in a small city area everyone's phone would be downloading tons of pictures constantly. $\endgroup$ – kleineg Sep 15 '17 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ @kleineg - you are right. But I do not need to know about the death of Guy Random. Notification should be limited to persons who are Facebook friends or this world's equivalent. It would mean anyone you know at all should be on your network. That narrows things down to the tens of thousands. $\endgroup$ – Willk Sep 16 '17 at 23:42
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You could profile him like a serial killer and anticipate his targets, then stakeout the likely next target and capture any potential threats (Pretend you're the secret service, ANYONE could be a threat). If he's acting like an independent contractor with no M.O. though this would not work.

I'd say the only way you're likely to catch this person is if they are caught in the act and you don't lose sight of them until they are safely subdued.

EDIT: Even worse than if he's an independent contractor (An assassin for hire) if he is truly on his own, and killing just to kill, it would make it near impossible to anticipate where he will strike.

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You will have to wait for a mistake

Leaving a disfigured corpse with blatantly identificative marks will put all security forces on alert, after all. And while hiding or destroying the corpse will work for the first times,things will not remain so easy for long.

He will need to start masking his identity thefts as disappearances to keep people from noticing the raise in deaths. Later, he will have to prepare convincing façades to mask some those disappearances as explainable absences at least for some time, or somebody will notice the sudden increase in missing people.

Most likely, he will also need to do some detective work in order to get near strongly protected targets: security measures, routes, habits, etc. And he will need to do that without drawing the attention of the target, or those protecting the target, or they will become really paranoid, and his work will become complicated really fast.

Maybe your assassin is a accomplished sniper, and can manage score some deaths avoiding all the hassle. Maybe is a competent spy and an able liar, and maintaining such tangle of lies and identities is like a second nature for him. But in any case, as time passes, he will end up making a mistake.

He may become overconfident in his skills, and careless, and attempt a job that is over his head. Someone may find the remains one of his "donors" (or parts of them) and manage to compromise his current identity. Someone may spill the beans, or follow the money. He may be tricked and betrayed by the person who hired him, if he is an assassin for hire, or for someone he trust. If he has a reason to kill people, when the pile of corpses grows enough, someone may be able to connect the dots and discover that reason, giving his enemies an edge when determining his true identity, or his next move.

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The best way is to catch him red-handed, and to do that set a trap. You say he works as an assassin for hire - hire him to kill one of your own agents with heavy protection, and trap him that way.

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The guy can take appearance of only people who are already dead, and has to spend some time with their bodies. And they need to be fresh as you said in the comments.

Domain of faces available to him are of lately dead people. Cops can scrutinize city's electronic surveillance and look for wandering man/woman who was reported dead or missing recently.

For supply of new faces he may visit hospitals, funerals, etc. We can tighten up the blockade and allow entry only with identification proofs to such places.

Chances are low but not zero.

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