|“||Things won't change. ...The world? There aren't enough bullets to make things right.||”|
Little is known about Clifford's early life, but during his adult years, he raised a happy family with his wife Emma and their teenage son Teddy. However, his upbringing of Teddy was somewhat strict. On February 1, 2003, while the Walsh family was living in Cleveland, Emma and Teddy were both killed by eighteen-year-old Howard Clark during a home invasion and robbery. At the time, Clifford was not at home, currently working as a night supervisor at a tool and die plant in Strongsville, located just outside of Cleveland. Clark was arrested the next day, and it turned out that he was high on meth at the time of the attack. During the ensuing trial, Clark's wealthy and powerful father used his influence to have important evidence suppressed by Morton Hines, an employee of the District Attorney's office. As a result, Clark was only sentenced to ten years in prison, which was considered to be unusually short for a double homicide and attempted sexual assault. Clifford, feeling extremely unsatisfied by the verdict, seethed with hatred towards Clark for taking his family away from him. As a result, he started drinking, quit his job, and moved to Florida, being in and out of jail several times for vagrancy- or drinking-related offenses.
At the time of the home invasion, newspaper reports had suggested that Clark might have had an accomplice. Clifford blamed himself when he learned from an unknown source that Clark and Teddy had hatched the plan after meeting each other on a hiking trip, with Teddy knowing where Emma's jewelry was located. The plan got out of hand when Clark showed up high on meth, making him erratic and uncontrollable; Clark had tried to rape Emma, and Teddy fought back to try and stop him, prompting Clark to kill the both of them. When Clark was scheduled to be released on April 25, 2014, Clifford, intending to take matters into his own hands, planned to return to Cleveland, somehow managing to acquire a 9mm pistol with the intention of using it to kill Clark and presumably himself afterwards. However, on January 14, the day before Clifford came back to Cleveland, Clark was randomly killed with a blow to the head during a fight in the prison's exercise yard, thus ruining Clifford's plan of revenge. Upon arriving and realizing that he arrived too late, Clifford decided to commit suicide.
The Road Home
Clifford is first seen writing a note to Emma in his car before taking out his pistol from the glove compartment, intending to commit suicide. However, as he reaches for the gun, he spots three gang members walking nearby. When the same gang members threaten two elderly men playing checkers, Clifford snaps, confronts them, and fatally shoots two of them in a strangely calm demeanor. He then chases the third down to a gas station, shoots him, and kills him by running him over with his SUV. Shortly afterwards, at a bus stop located less than half a mile from the gas station, he kills a high-school senior named Paul Holler when he robs a woman of her purse at the same gas station; he had been arrested for robbery before. Reinvigorated, Clifford uses a public washroom to empty out the last of the alcohol he had with him, and also wash his face. Then, he goes to a sporting goods store, where he purchases several boxes of ammunition. Around that time, the BAU is called in to investigate the killing spree, which they initially assume is drug-related. Their investigation becomes more complicated when witnesses intentionally refuse to give them much information, bearing no sympathy for the victims, known common criminals.
Later, Clifford drives up beside the residence of Madison Davis and watches as she says goodbye to her young daughter when she boards the school bus that he has stopped behind. As soon as the bus leaves, Clifford spots Terry Pyke, Madison's abusive ex-husband and a renowned businessman who participates in charity, as he confronts Madison and begins viciously beating her for filing a restraining order against him in front of his clients. Terry then tries to strangle her when Clifford confronts them and orders Terry to release Madison. Thinking that Clifford is a homeless man, Terry throws coins at him and tells him to get lost. Clifford responds by pulling out his gun and shooting Terry three times in close succession, killing him in front of a shocked Madison, before calmly walking away. When Reid and Blake question Madison in the aftermath of the shooting, she tells them of Terry's abusive nature and how he was always able to get away with it, then states that it is "all over" and proclaims her hope that Clifford never gets caught.
Gaining more confidence from the killings, Clifford goes to a meth house, which is frequented by four meth dealers, including Dane Hendrix, a friend of Clark's at the time of the home invasion, and presumably the one who supplied Clark with meth before the Walsh murders. Clifford gets Dane to open the door, and he asks him if he knows who he is. Clifford then tells him that "[he's] been waiting a long time for this" before opening fire, killing all four men. Clifford then leaves the apartment, not bothering to take notice of the security camera installed in the hallway. The security footage later aids the BAU in identifying Clifford, who goes on to abandon his SUV and steal another car. Later, he arrives at the home of Jeffrey Hines, the brother of Morton Hines, as he returns from jogging. Clifford, confronts Jeffrey at the doorstep, thinking he is confronting Morton and asks him if he knows who he is. Once again saying that he has been waiting a long time for this, he then executes Jeffrey and walks away just as his wife discovers his body.
Clifford then goes to a bar and chats up with the bartender after watching news reports about a man arrested for possession of child pornography as well as a suicide bombing that killed dozens, telling her that the world will stay the same because there are not enough bullets to make things right. He then overhears a conversation between the bartender and another barfly, in which the barfly tells her that it is the parents' fault when their child is bad. This inspires him to go after Clark's mother Helen, who had testified in Clark's favor. That night, he watches as Helen arrives home, breaks into her house, and confronts her, to which she recognizes him. She then asks if she is going to die, to which he responds that she is. However, he instead relents (presumably because he hasn't killed a woman prior) and talks to her about how they thought they knew their sons and asks if they will see their loved ones after they die, just as the BAU burst in, ordering him to drop his gun. He refuses, but is shocked when he is told that the man he thought was Morton was actually Jeffrey. Stunned that he killed the wrong man, Clifford points the gun under his chin and pulls the trigger, committing suicide as Helen screams in horror.
"You know who I am?... I know who you are... I've waited a long time for this."
Clifford initially targeted random men, all of whom varied in age and race and were guilty of some sort of crime, such as gang members, muggers, and abusive husbands. He would kill them after stumbling upon them by chance as they were in commission of a crime (as he was operating in an area with an extremely high crime rate). However, as he evolved, he began killing people who were connected to Clark or the trial in some way (except for Jeffrey Hines, who Clifford only assumed was connected), seeking them out and killing them in residences connected to them. All of the victims were shot with a 9mm pistol, usually execution-style. The third gang member was also run over with an SUV repeatedly (possibly done to conserve on ammo since he was in possession of only one fully-loaded magazine and nothing else at the time). Whenever he killed people who were connected to Clark's case, he would always confront them at the doorways of their residences, ask them if they knew who he was, tell them that he knew who they were, and then declare that he had been "waiting a long time for this" before executing them. However, in the case of his would-be victim Helen Clark, he relented in killing her at first, since it would have been the first time he would kill a woman.
Clifford's spree was triggered by the murders of his wife and son committed by Howard Clark, as well as the fact that Clark died in prison before he could get to him and exact vengeance. The first five murders appear to be opportunistic kills, but all of the victims had criminal records or a history of domestic violence, but in the case of Paul Holler, he was a simple mugger. The massacre at the meth house, however, was premeditated and calculated, since one of the victims was Dane Hendrix, a friend of Clark's at the time of the home invasion. Targeting Hendrix means Clifford might now be trending towards more mission-oriented behavior. He holds no concerns about keeping his identity or his movements a secret, and in some ways, his recklessness works against him, for he is out in the open and his identity and description is known to the public. However, since he lost his family and he feels that he therefore has nothing to lose, he does not care about repercussions, which makes him even more dangerous.
- January 22:
- The park shooting:
- Oscar T. (full surname unrevealed; a gang member; shot)
- Tito A. (full surname unrevealed; a gang member; shot in the torso)
- Ruben R. (full surname unrevealed; a gang member; chased from the park, then shot and also run over with an SUV six times at a gas station)
- Paul Holler (a mugger; shot at a bus stop)
- Terry Pyke (an abusive ex-husband; shot three times outside his ex-wife's home)
- Four meth dealers killed in the meth house massacre. They are:
- Dane Hendrix (a friend of Clark's; shot in the stomach)
- Clement Walker (shot twice)
- Holden Jones (shot three times)
- Tyler Steadman (shot in the torso)
- Jeffrey Hines (the brother of Morton Hines; mistaken for his brother; shot in the chest at his doorway)
- The park shooting:
- January 22-23: Helen Clark (Clark's mother; held at gunpoint inside her home and attempted to kill)
- January 22:
- Note: Prior to his killing spree, Walsh had intended to kill Howard Clark once he was released from prison. However, he never got the chance to do so, as Clark had been murdered while he was still incarcerated.