"Ladies and gentlemen…truth is what the storyteller brings you. He holds up a mirror to your soul and reflects back the truth of what happened, or in this case, what should've happened. And so without further ado, the Rain Theatre proudly continues that great tradition in this very special matinee performance of 'The Robbery', a family tale of love...and redemption."
Adam was the son of Alex Rain, a well-known puppeteer who worked with two puppets named Mitch and Stephanie, among others. As a child, Adam, like any other child, believed that his father's puppets were actually alive, and this innocent belief was further supported by his father's controlling of the puppets. One night, over fifty years prior to The Lesson, both Adam and Alex were confronted by a masked robber. As the robber held the two at gunpoint and demanded money, Adam begged Mitch and Stephanie to do something when his father refused to hand the robber the money. The robber then killed Alex right in front of Adam. He moved on after the incident and worked at a glue factory for the most of his adult life. On May 9, 2002, his mother died in a car accident. A year prior to "The Lesson", he was involved in a serious car accident of his own, which left him in a coma.
At the beginning of the episode, Adam wakes up from his coma and immediately begins acting childlike and asking for his father. It is shortly revealed that the accident caused severe damage to the prefrontal cortex, causing him to psychologically revert to a childlike mind. The memory of his father's death burned into his mind, Adam set about trying to replicate the incident, only with Stephanie and Mitch stopping the robber. He then set about abducting candidates for Mitch and Stephanie with the help of an assistant named Mr. Conrad. In three months' course, he first abducts Bruce Phillips, dyeing his hair black and trying to set him up as Mitch. However, Bruce proves too heavy for Adam's marionette device and he kills him, stuffing him in a box and leaving him on the side of the road. Adam then abducts Justin Marks and Connie Foster. While Connie proves to be perfect as Stephanie, Justin is still too heavy and Adam disposes of him in an alley after dyeing his hair and painting his nails. Adam then puts a bow on Connie, preparing her for his play.
While out shopping with Mr. Conrad, Adam spots another potential Mitch candidate named Byron Sadler while the latter gets into his car. He abducts him in his house after pretending to be in an accident. Upon returning, he sees Connie trying to escape and starts stripping her of her clothes as he looks away. He then dislocates her shoulders using a handmade stretching tool and bores holes into her hands, as well as Byron's hands and feet. Unfortunately, Byron dies hours later, possibly due to blood loss from the hole-boring. He then stuffs his body in a box, this time filled with tissue paper, and dumps his body. Frustrated by his third failure, Adam yells at Connie and goes backstage to cry. Mr. Conrad goes to him, telling him to pull himself together and get a father and son for the performance. Adam then puts a paper-mâché mask on Connie when Tucker White, a clerk who supplied Adam with the clothes he put on his victims, comes to the door, telling him the BAU arrived at his store and revealed the death of Bryon Sadler. He then asks him if he knows anything. Adam, denying any involvement, invites Tucker into his house for tea, locks the door, and proceeds to knock him out and use him as Mitch; the ploy is successful as Tucker is light enough. Adam then dresses Connie up as Stephanie and has her perform a dance using his marionette device.
With the roles of Mitch and Stephanie secured, Adam then abducts George Small and his son Matt, forcing them into his car at gunpoint in a parking lot. Adam then rehearses the play, which he calls The Robbery. George and Matt are tied to chairs and play as Alex and Adam, respectively; Tucker and Connie are dressed up and hanging from Adam's device; and Mr. Conrad is playing the role of the robber. When Tucker struggles, Adam throws him down and threatens George, shooting him in the leg with a revolver. The following night, Adam watches as people enter the theater where he is hosting the play. With the urging of Mr. Conrad, Adam begins the play with an opening announcement. As the play begins, Adam flashes back to the real incident. Just before the play ends, the BAU arrive and interrupt the performance. Adam yells at them, telling them that Mitch and Stephanie have to save his father from the robber before he could let his hostages be taken to a hospital. However, the BAU reveal that Mr. Conrad is just a puppet that Adam presumably voiced. Rossi manages to talk him down by telling him that the puppets aren't real and that he can save the victims like he wanted to save his father. Adam is then arrested in front of the audience, all of whom stand up and applaud. Adam thanks them, but it is then revealed that the audience members are all puppets and props as Hotch bitterly watches.
Adam initially targeted people whom he felt were perfect for the roles of Mitch and Stephanie because of their physical appearance. He would lure them out of their homes with some sort of ruse (such as putting fake blood on himself and telling them he was involved in an accident), then knock them out by injecting ketamine into their systems. Afterwards, he would take them to his residence, where he would dye the men's hair black (with the exception of his third victim, Byron Sadler, since his hair was naturally black), paint their fingernails (with the exception of his first victim, Bruce Philips), and put a red wig with a bow onto the woman's hair before dislocating and hanging them with rope tied around their wrists and knees, attached to a homemade marionette device. The dislocation process involved his victim standing on top of an anvil while their feet were tied together with rope and having their arms being put into medieval stocks from behind. These stocks were held up with rope and connected to a series of pulleys and levers, which allowed Adam to successfully dislocate his victim's limbs from their joints. Because they were heavy, Bruce Phillips and Justin Marks were killed from repeated instances of being hung from their necks, and Adam disposed of their bodies by stuffing them into custom-made boxes and discarding them in random locations in Winslow.
With Connie Foster, he undressed her, placed her in a Stephanie-like dress, dislocated her limbs so then she could be easily manipulated by the marionette device and placed a paper-mâché mask on her that looked like Stephanie's face. He also bored holes into her hands with eye-bolt screws (which he used to hold her arms up by placing rope that was connected to the marionette device through screws' circular rings) while she was restrained to a chair. The same happened with the third fatal victim, Byron Sadler, but he also had holes bored into his wrists and feet and unintentionally died from the exsanguination, presumably because Adam accidentally punctured one of the arteries in Sadler's hands, wrists, and/or feet. Afterwards, his body was placed in a custom-made box, but Adam also put tissue paper in it out of remorse since he did not intend to kill him. Byron was also dressed in a Mitch-like outfit and his limbs and jaw were also dislocated (the latter of which Adam likely did with his hands) before he died.
In the case of Tucker White, Adam lured him into his home, knocked him out, undressed him, dressed him in a Mitch-like outfit, placed a paper-mâché mask that looked like Mitch's face and held him up by his arms, legs, and back with rope connected to the marionette device, but did not torture him, presumably because he did not have the time. With George and Matt Small, who he thought were perfect for the roles of him and his father, Adam abducted them from a parking lot forcing them into his car at gunpoint with a revolver (instead of abducting them from their home with a ruse), and took them to his residence. He later tied them to chairs and, as The Robbery was near to being performed in front of a live audience, Adam threatened the father and son to ensure the Mitch and Stephanie actors' compliance, and presumably vice-versa.
"This is gonna be great."
Due to the sophisticated nature of the crimes, the unsub is believed to be a white male who is at least 30 years old. It is believed he is trying to perfect a delusion, at which he has failed three times. As with most fantasy-based crimes, the reality never lives up to the perfection of what the unsub envisions.
The fantasy involves the torture and stretching of his victims, including men that have had their hair dyed black by the unsub, but before killing them, he fixes their hair and paints their nails. He has escalated to crucifying his latest victim, driving holes into his hands and feet. Historically, crucifixion is a sentence reserved for a serious crime, meaning that someone in the unsub's past makes him feel that his victims have wronged him, so now he is performing some sort of inquisition. Although he is attempting to get his victims to repent or adhere certain religious beliefs, he is hanging them as though they were victims of religious tribunals of the 1100s, but something in his fantasy is not working, since he keeps discarding the men while the sole female victim is still being kept. He kills his victims and then ritualistically places them in a box with tissue paper, which is odd because his initial behavior dehumanizes them. This means that he values those victims more when they are dead. So far, he has spared one woman, whom he still has in captivity, and she is either witnessing the unsub's horrors or has been forced to participate in them. Crucifixion is sadistic and watching it is the ultimate torture. Consequently, the killings will continue to escalate as the unsub strives to achieve his perfection.
Later on in the investigation, it was realized that the unsub was turning his victims into human marionettes, based on the dislocation of his victims bones, boring holes into their hands, putting makeup on them, dressing them, and putting them into boxes. As such, he most likely built a device to control his victims and lift them up like actual puppets, as he wouldn't been able to move them up by hand. This explains why he couldn't control his first two victims: they were too heavy for his devices. He may be a local theater owner or a puppeteer owner. Because he abducted a father and son, he may have been involved in an incident involving his father, who likely worked as a puppeteer. If the unsub suffered a head injury, he might have a delusion where he is a child again and have damage to the prefrontal lobe, causing him to lack rational thought and empathy, turning him into a psychopath out to avenge his father's death. It is likely that if the traumatic event happened at a theater, he will reenact the moment there.
- December 1-3: Bruce Phillips (dislocated his limbs and killed him by repetitive hanging)
- December 5: Justin Marks and Connie Foster (both abducted and tortured):
- Justin Marks (dislocated his limbs and killed him by repetitive hanging)
- Connie Foster (later dislocated her limbs and bored holes into her hands; was rescued two days later)
- December 6: Byron Sadler (dislocated his limbs and jaw, then bored holes into his hands, wrists, and feet; died from subsequent exsanguination)
- December 7:
- Tucker White (knocked out and held captive, but not tortured; was rescued)
- George Small and his son Matt (abducted; both were rescued):
- George Small (tied to a chair and non-fatally shot his left leg with a revolver)
- Matt Small (also tied to a chair)
- Adam bears some similarities to Season Five serial killer Samantha Malcolm, as both were psychotic, childlike killers; killed the same number of people (though Adam killed male victims, while Samantha killed females); their crimes being triggered by an event involving their fathers (Adam's father was killed when he was a child and learned he was dead after he woke up from his coma; Samantha was molested by her father and believed that he had given her dolls away to one of his patients); abducted and turned their victims into living dolls; and would later be institutionalized due to their severe psychosis.
- Brad Dourif, the actor who plays Adam, is possibly best known for playing fictional serial killer Charles "Chucky" Lee Ray, a.k.a. "The Lakeshore Strangler", in the Child's Play franchise, who inhabits the body of a doll after being killed and begins murdering victims in this new form.