Criminal Minds 111: Blood Hungry

Synopsis – It’s a bad day in Tennessee, as a mysterious man in a hoodie closes in on a small suburban house where a child is practicing singing a hymn. Things don’t get too dark, though, as the child heads off with a teen before hoodieman arrives, and kills the woman inside.

We then head off to the team’s meeting room, where they announce that the opening was actually the second in town over the past two days. In addition to the woman brutally beaten to death there was also a kindly old grandpa who was viciously stabbed. The seeming randomness of the crime suggests a psychotic killer, operating based on delusions. One unexplained fact? There were strange bloody rings on the floor of both crime scenes, like someone had put a bucket down and let blood gather around it.

On the scene of the latest crime, Elle notices that from the singing child’s point of view while singing, he should have had a perfectly good look at the killer, which he proves to have – he announces that the guy had a blood lip and looked bedraggled, and put one finger to his lips, asking the child to keep quiet about his presence. They jump to the conclusion that this must be the killer, even though it contradicts what we saw at the opening.

Of course, in this shot the killer is empty-handed, even though he’s about to kill the woman with a shotgun that he stole from the first crime scene. That’s a weird error for them to have made.

At long last they figure out that the rings aren’t symbolic, but actually more like coffee rings. But what did the killer have in containers, and why did he move the containers in an identical overlapping pattern at both locations?

Going over a list of local drug addicts leads them to a red herring. While he was the person that the kid saw, we already know he wasn’t the killer, so I won’t bother covering this other than that the man witnessed the killer leaving the scene. An autopsy reveals that organs were missing, leading to a single possible conclusion – cannibalism!

The team gives their profile, pointing out that the killer will be a local, someone they know in town. The plan? Swing by the funeral for the first victim, see if the killer shows up. Which would be a great idea, if the main theory they were operating on wasn’t that the killer is so crazy that he won’t be able to function in society. A random woman at the funeral does point them towards a local n’er-do-well, who was recently released from a mental institution. Say hello to red herring #2!

While the team is busy wasting their time with the red herring we check back in with the singing boy from the beginning and his granny, who are being stalked by the killer. Granny is brutally stabbed to death, and the singer is abducted!

A little research turns up the fact that all the stolen organs (granny’s heart was taken!) were thought to have been the seat of the soul at one time or another, meaning that their killer suffers from a religious mania, and may think the child is some kind of an angel. You may be wondering how this helps them catch the killer. Naturally, it doesn’t.

Another clue turns up in the form of the second victim’s stomach, which is returned to her home for her husband to find. The team recognizes this as a form of remorse, and hypothesizes that if the killer’s feeling guilty, he might head by a church. I don’t know about you, but I’d have sent officers to every church in town once I’d locked down the religious mania motive. But hey, what’s a couple of hours, right? Anyhow, it proves to be a good guess – the blood-soaked murderer drives up to the church that Derek and Elle are watching, and immediately surrenders to them when confronted.

Well, that wrapped up much earlier than usual, didn’t it? Other than the whereabouts of the missing child. The killer’s mother turns out to be the random woman from the funeral (convenient for casting purposes, no?), and she, while claiming to know nothing about the murders, lets them medicate her son so that he can answer questions coherently. Contacts from the killer’s life reveal that his mother was famously overbearing and monstrous, and that he’d been driven to drugs by her controlling behavior. The drugs led to his psychotic break, which led to murder! A quick search of mom’s house reveals traces of blood and bleach, meaning that she knows more than she’s letting on.

In an interview she denies everything, but a trip through her car’s GPS shows that she’s been making suspicious trips into the wilderness. They take her out there, looking for a confession. She’s not excited by the prospect of offering one, but when they confront her with the fact that they know where she stopped, which will allow them to find the boy anyway, she finally caves. It seems that the killer, in his delusion, decided the singing boy was an angel and wanted to present the child to his mother. Mom tried to cover the whole thing up because she didn’t want the family name to suffer.

1 - Was profiling in any way helpful in solving the crime?

Just a little – the identification of religious mania did lead them to stake out churches. Greg’s profiling of the mom’s motives had absolutely nothing to do with them finding the kid, so that was a wash.

2 - Could the crime have been solved just as easily using conventional police methods given the known facts of the case?

Almost certainly. With the number of cops driving around town looking for the guy it wouldn’t have been too hard to spot the stolen car he was driving. Especially since he made no effort to conceal himself.

So, on a scale of 1 (Dirty Harry) to 10 (Tony Hill), How Useful Was Profiling in Solving the Crime?

2/10 - The profiling helped them catch the killer slightly faster than they otherwise would have, but that’s about it.

Criminal Minds FactCheck!

This episode was based on real-life serial killer ‘Richard Chase’, who gets name-checked in the episode. Which is an odd choice, since their knowing about Richard Chase should lead them to wonder if this could be, in fact, a copycat, given that the crimes are so similar.

While the real Chase was actually motivated in part by horrible abuse suffered at the hands of his mother, she played no role in his crimes. He was also significantly more brutal than the Criminal Minds version, proving that there are lines that this show won’t cross. By which I mean the children weren’t so lucky in the true story.

The real Chase was caught by fairly basic policework. He left bloody handprints all over crime scenes, and fingerprinting quickly identified him. Despite the fact that he was clearly insane (he drank blood because he believed that nazis were poisoning him, turning his blood to powder) he was given a life sentence, and committed suicide in prison.


Lisa Pagan said...

Did anyone else notice that the sheet music used for "This is my Father's World" was actually "The Spinning Song" notes (the title had been changed to "This is my Father's World" on the fake-music)? The Spinning Song is a piano piece in G major written by Albert Ellmenreich.
The hymn the boy was singing was written by Maltbie D. Babcock. Seems very weird that the editors missed that.

Anonymous said...

I know this is old, but I want to address the insanity, being insane is fortunately almost never enough for an insanity defense, some jurisdictions require the minimal would not have committed crime if not for insanity, but the most popular defense is more about not knowing what they did was wrong, like if someone thinks people are chasing them so they get in someones car and tells to drive and ignore the speed limit, they cannot mount that defense because they were aware of the illegality of their actions; so its possible he knew it was wrong to kill people, or at least knew it was illegal, so the blood drinking alone would not be enough since he knew it was wrong