|“||Look, we hit enough of these houses, you ain't gotta live like animals no more. But if you give up now, you are exactly what they say you are: nothing. Nobody. And they win. You really want them to win? But you stay the course, I'll give you a future.||”|
Born in Carthage, Arkansas, as an only child, Zeke was raised by his single mother Linda, who suffered from an opiate addiction, and various relatives who abused him. In 2010, Zeke was imprisoned for aggravated assault in Texas. While in prison, he met and befriended Michael "Germ" Sale, a fellow inmate. When the two were released, they both stole a van in Arkansas and embarked on a cross-country burglary spree targeting high-class homes. At some point, they took in three girls under their wing: Kay, Viv, and Bethany "Bea" Adams. The five became a close-knit gang that specialized in burglarizing and vandalizing high-class homes, with Zeke acting as the leader. He became romantically involved with Bea, who began manipulating him into incorporating murder into the burglaries when the gang arrived in Bea's hometown of San Diego, California.
Seek and Destroy
Zeke is first seen with the rest of the gang as they ransack the residence of Rick and Lenore Purcell, who are being held hostage in a separate room. While the gang is ransacking and vandalizing the house, Zeke outfits his pistol with a suppressor and then kills the couple, unbeknownst to Germ, Kay, and Viv. Zeke is next seen in the van with most of the gang when Bea comes back to tell the others that she found another house to target. Hours later, the gang arrives at the house, forcibly gains entry, and holds Joe and Claire Vendl hostage. After the group is finished ransacking and vandalizing the house, Germ turns off the music and asks if he wants to leave, but Zeke says there is one last thing to do. Afterwards, Zeke brings Joe and Claire to the living room where they are, and kills them in front of the rest of the gang, horrifying all but Bea, who kisses him in excitement.
Afterwards, the gang stay at a motel. In their room, Zeke tells Germ, Kay, and Viv that he overheard their plans to leave, and tells that if they give up now, they will become nothing to the outside world. Bea stands up for Zeke, reminding Kay and Viv about their old lives and how they would have died if Zeke hadn't found them on the streets. Then, Zeke and Bea have sex on the bed when Bea proclaims her boredom. Later, Zeke has the girls leave the room, leaving him alone with Germ. They discuss the morality of the situation, and Zeke convinces Germ to remain loyal to the group. When Germ looks away, Zeke points his gun at him, tells him that he had become too soft, and orders him to get to his knees. However, he is distracted when Bea returns, allowing Germ to attack Zeke in an effort to disarm him. However, after a short struggle, Zeke overpowers him and kills Germ with a shot to the neck.
The next day, the gang is next seen in their van, with Zeke driving them around town. When Kay asks Zeke where Germ is, he tells her that Germ abandoned them. However, she refuses to believe that, as he would have told her beforehand. The four then go to Bea's parents' residence, gaining entry after Kay gets Bea's mother Michelle to open the door. Bea becomes increasingly irrational and starts kicking her mother. Zeke tells her to stop it when Bea's father Paul steps in, and Bea holds him hostage as well. Realizing that he is losing control of the situation, Zeke points his gun at Bea, tells her that he is in charge, and orders her to put her own gun down. Bea turns around and tells Zeke that he doesn't have the guts. Immediately afterwards, Viv holds Zeke at knifepoint and tells him to put his own gun down, which he does. When Bea apologizes to Zeke, Viv lets him go. Zeke and Bea both kiss, whereupon Bea shoots Zeke in the stomach. He falls to the ground, wounded and shocked, after which Bea finishes him off with another shot to the head.
During the gang's burglaries, Zeke would always be the one to stay sober, in order to easily assert control of the rest of the gang whenever necessary. During the San Diego murders, he would isolate the homeowners from the gang and eventually shoot them in the head execution-style with a suppressed, compact 9mm pistol. However, unlike the other victims, the Vendls were killed in front of the rest of the gang when Zeke attempted to reassert control over them.
The BAU believed the gang's leader to be the only member who stayed sober during the home invasions, so he could maintain self-control throughout. Judging by the common weapon, barrel placement, and downward angle in the murders, he is also the only one committing the murders, being clearheaded, controlled, mature, and on the hunt, while the others are merely going along on a drug-fueled party binge. He may be providing drugs and alcohol to his inferiors to make them easier to control.
Later, the BAU found from Zeke's history no indications that he could lead a gang, and based on his precursor crime of aggravated assault, it would have been difficult to predict a sharp escalation to murder. Therefore, he is being manipulated without his knowledge.
Zeke is partially similar to cult leader Charles Manson. Both were leaders of criminal groups that committed home invasions that involved casualties and targeted wealthy people, operated in California (though Zeke's group was also active in other states), and were raised by single mothers who suffered from addictions, as well as other relatives.
- Unspecified date in 2010, Texas: An unspecified aggravated assault
- August 8, Lawton, Oklahoma: A victimless home invasion
- October 12, Beaumont, Texas: A victimless home invasion
- December 23, Newnan, Georgia: A victimless home invasion
- 2017, California:
- January 3, Del Mar: Janelle Klecker
- January 9, Rancho Santa Fe: Rick and Lenore Purcell
- January 10, San Diego: Joe and Claire Vendl (both killed in front of the rest of the gang and not robbed)
- January 11:
- Zeke seems to be based on a few unsubs in the show's history:
- Gary, a serial killer who appeared in Season Three. Both were abused by relatives while they were children, led criminal groups, and committed home invasions with a male partner before they escalated to killing the occupants. Additionally, both gained entry to their victims' homes by getting the homeowners to open their front doors with an innocent ruse.
- Michael Kosina, a serial rapist and killer who appeared in Season Six. Both were the leaders of criminal packs who killed their victims to preserve the safety of the groups at large, with the other members not knowing. When these murders were discovered by the rest of the pack, who reacted with shock, they both murdered one of the members in order to remove loose ends and also reassert their superiority over the others.
- Chris Stratton, a killer and bank robber who appeared in Season Seven. Both were manipulated by their psychopathic female accomplices, who led them to believe they were the leaders of their respective criminal groups. Both of them were also murdered unexpectedly by the same accomplices when they questioned their authority.
- Lester Turner, a spree killer who appeared in the previous season. Both committed their first crimes in Texas and were imprisoned for it, met their male partners in prison, and went on to commit further crimes with them after being released. Both also killed most of their victims by shooting them once in the head, while their last victims were shot in the neck. In addition, both of them forced people to watch as they killed victims in at least one instance.