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Ben Foster is a schizophrenic robber-turned-spree killer and arsonist who appears in With Friends Like These....


Ben was born suffering from schizophrenia, in which he kept seeing imaginary friends. He also suffered from insomnia. His mother, a strict and demanding Christian, believed that he was possessed by demons and took him over to a local church for an exorcism. The exorcism "worked" for a short time, and Ben befriended three of the people who performed the exorcism, Matt, Tony, and Yolanda, but something happened that caused him to set a fire that killed them (what happened is never specified). He was arrested for setting the fire, but was acquitted. Ever since the fire, Ben began hallucinating about them and began spiraling downward. In 2008, he moved to Portland, where he later got involved in an apartment fire a month prior to the episode, which prompted him to get medication after his insomnia returned. On March 25, 2011, he was pressured by these hallucinations to kill Jay Johnson, a disc jockey, and take several of his items to pawn.

With Friends Like These...

Ben is first seen shopping at a supermarket with Matt and reunites with Tony and Yolanda. As a clerk begins scanning his food, Ben spots Karen Heywood and tries to talk to her but is rebuffed. Matt, Tony, and Yolanda force Ben into following Heywood to her house and killing her. He later hallucinates Tony fixing his sink and he states that he doesn't want to kill anymore but is scolded by them. The following night, his hallucinations force him into killing another man. At the same time, the BAU arrive at Portland. Knowing he is unable to control his hallucinations, Ben attempts to go get another exorcism, but, as they aren't performed anymore, he is turned down and goes aboard a bus. There, Matt, Tony, and Yolanda pressure Ben into following a female passenger off of the bus and kill her at her home. Ben does so, and later sleeps beside her body before escaping. The BAU later realize from the overkill of all of the victims that Ben is stabbing them repeatedly so he can sleep, which allows his hallucinations to go away. Ben later hallucinates that he is killing Matt, Tony, and Yolanda, but they stand back up, "alive".

The BAU and local police later identify Ben as the unsub and track him down at his home. As a result, he and Matt, Tony, and Yolanda flee to a neighbor's house where Ben takes the two children living inside hostage, ordering them to shut the curtains. Hotch and Reid spot one of the children doing so, and the BAU arrive inside the home. Ben is convinced by them to release the children after Hotch tells him that Matt, Tony, and Yolanda are dead, and therefore, they are unable to hurt him anymore. However, Ben hallucinates Reid ordering him to stab him in the neck alongside Matt, Tony, and Yolanda (stating that his problems will all go away if he does so), and, as a result, he is non-fatally shot by Hotch when he tries to do so. Ben is put into an asylum, where he continues to hallucinate despite the electroshock therapy that is supposed to remove them. Ben asks them why they are there and they respond with that they "have been there his whole life". Ben tells them that he's only seen them since the church fire and they retort with, "Are you sure about that Ben?" The screen then fades to him on his mother's lap at the age of five, with three shadowy figures moving around.

Modus Operandi

Ben killed Matt, Tony, and Yolanda with a fire, setting it using a lighter. The 2011 killing spree he committed was completely disorganized as a whole, with the acts being mostly unplanned in advance. He killed his victims in their homes, except for Jay Johnson, who was killed in an alleyway. He would blitz-attack them by bludgeoning them with a blunt object he brought along to subdue them, but in the murder of Karen Heywood, he would use any blunt household item that caught his eye. He would then kill his victims by stabbing them repeatedly with a knife he also brought along (the number of stab wounds being at least thirty times each), even after death so then he could be able to tire himself out and sleep in order to escape his hallucinations. After the murder of Joe, he would only use a knife against his victims. In the murders of Johnson, Heywood, and presumably Joe, Ben would also steal several belongings and sell them for money for his medication.

During each murder, Ben hallucinated that Matt, Tony, and Yolanda were helping him. As a result, he would sometimes switch between his left and right hand with each stab, and also leave both shallow and deep stab wounds of wildly varying degrees. He also used multiple household objects to bludgeon Karen Heywood because of this.


The unsub is a white male and a paranoid schizophrenic who suffers from hallucinations. He probably lives nearby and is in his early 20s, as that is the typical age when schizophrenic breaks occur. He is hyper-vigilant, and in this condition, he is unable to travel far from his home. He kills at night, and he is very violent. However, during the day, he is probably a loner and cannot keep a job. Something probably happened to this unsub in his childhood, as childhood voices are telling him to kill (or he is misinterpreting them as doing so). The unsub has probably been coping until now, but a recent stressor is causing him to act out. He will spend his days wandering around, fighting the desire to kill, yet he feels trapped by his hallucinations. No matter what he does or tries to do, the hallucinations' power is greater than his own. Because of his limited social circle as a child, it is believed the incident involved close friends or family. After finding out the stressor and the recent incident causing the unsub to relapse, it will be that much easier to deduce his identity. He strikes at night and will not retreat until found.

His hallucinations are vivid and clear, not fractured like a typical schizophrenic. He purchased large amounts of salt and water the night he murdered Karen Heywood, which he could use as a torture technique on his victims, despite there being no evidence to support that, or to remove his victims' blood from his clothing. Schizophrenics often interpret the hallucinations they see as demons, so the unsub could be using the salt and water for an exorcism. He may have also recently visited a church within his comfort zone to get one. The unsub suffers from psychogenetic stuttering, which is either caused by the schizophrenia medication he is taking or by situational circumstances. His last victim, an elderly woman, may represent someone to him, such as his mother who had him exorcised as a child; now that he cannot get one, he is taking his rage out against a surrogate.

The unsub also has insomnia, which makes his hallucinations clearer when he is awake, leaving sleep to be his only escape. The way the unsub stabs and bludgeons the victims more than at least thirty times suggests that he would tire himself out and fall asleep, giving him some relief from the hallucinations. He might have recently been arrested for mugging, lewd behavior, or car theft, and also purchased sleeping medication for his insomnia as well.

Real-Life Comparisons

Ben is somewhat similar to serial/spree killer Herbert Mullin; both were paranoid schizophrenics who committed their spree killings at the exact same age of 25, committed a triple homicide (Ben killed three people in an arson fire; Herbert killed a family of three), killed an elderly person as their last victim, and attempted to stop killing by going to a priest. The difference in the latter similarity was that Ben didn't kill the priest like Mullin did, though it can be initially assumed he did until after his murder of the old woman.

Ben's habit of robbing his victims and selling the items seems to be a vague reference to the Dnepropetrovsk maniacs, who also robbed their victims and sold the belongings, though their motivations for doing so are entirely different. Additionally, as a reference to the maniacs, it was originally thought that Ben's murders, all of which were extremely violent and random, and involved savage bludgeoning, were committed by a group of thrill killers, instead of just one severely psychotic individual.

Ben's crime spree may have also been indirectly inspired by the Briley Brothers, a group of criminals that also committed a spree of brutal murders and robberies, which incorporated in their M.O. stabbing and bludgeoning with a wild variety of items (some of which were convenient items at the locations of the murders). Like Ben, the brothers also followed a majority of their victims home and murdered them there, robbed them afterwards, and even attacked a disc jockey outside a nightclub. Additionally, the Briley Brothers consisted of four members (the three brothers and an accomplice), which could be a vague reference to the fact that Ben had three imaginary accomplices, all of whom were initially assumed to be real in the episode.

Known Victims

  • March 12, 1996: Three killed in the church fire:
    • Matt
    • Tony
    • Yolanda
  • 2011:
    • March 25: Jay Johnson (bludgeoned with a pipe and stabbed 31 times in an alleyway; stole his watch, cellphone, and laptop)
    • March 27: Karen Heywood (stabbed 40 times and bludgeoned with eight different blunt household items; stole her computer, jewelry, and a framed photo)
    • March 28: Joe (bludgeoned with a hammer and stabbed at least 40 times; presumably stole items from him)
    • March 29: Unnamed woman (stabbed 71 times without being bludgeoned; was not robbed)
    • March 30: The standoff at Sarah and Evan's house:
      • Sarah and her brother Evan (two children; held both at knifepoint)
      • Spencer Reid (attempted to stab in the neck)


  • Ben has some similarities with two unsubs in the show's past:
    • Eddie Mays ("Blood Hungry") - Both were psychotic, disorganized spree killers who had strained relationships with their mothers, a religious aspect in their lives, performed overkill and had a varying M.O., killed at least two of their victims in their homes, killed elderly Caucasian women as their last victims, and would be institutionalized after they were arrested.
    • George Foyet in Seasons Four and Five - Both were spree killers (though Foyet was only briefly) who murdered their first victims in childhood, had similar M.O.'s, and killed one of their female victims by stabbing them 71 times.



  1. On Garcia's screen, it erroneously states that Ben was born in 2001, not 1985, which would make him ten years old at the time of the episode's events