"Family Annihilator" is a term used to refer to someone who commits familicide, the act of killing one's own family, usually immediate members. However, instances of the perpetrator targeting other relatives (such as in-laws) and/or unrelated families are not unheard of. Family Annihilators can also refer to killers who specifically target families, slaughtering all members present.


Reasons for familicide vary, and can include (but not limited to):

  • Pleasure: A family annihilator may act out simply out of the pleasure of killing families.
  • Spite or revenge: A family annihilator may act out of revenge against their family or other families, for example, a former spouse killing their ex-partner and the children due to custody issues. Prince Dipendra is an example of this motive.
  • Mercy Killing: A family annihilator may carry out a twisted act of what they believe to be some form of mercy. John List is an example of this motive.
  • Mental illness or instability: A family annihilator may have a mental disorder or group of disorders such as severe depression, PTSD, or Schizophrenia that may spur them to act. Ronald DeFeo, Jr. is an example of this motive.
  • Necessity: A family annihilator may feel the need to kill families out of necessity, such as to eliminate witnesses to a crime they were committing, or they may have something they want or need. Dick Hickock and Perry Smith are an example of this motive.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse: A family annihilator may kill families while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Ramon Salcido is an example of this type.

Out of all forms of mass murder, familicide is regarded as the most common and often ends with the perpetrator (who is usually male) committing suicide.

On Criminal Minds

On Criminal Minds, the term family annihilator is applied to those who commit familicide (such as Norman Hill), to serial and rampage killers who specifically target families (such as Karl Arnold and Jeremy Sayer, respectively), and to criminals who fulfill both scenarios (such as Jerry Tidwell).

  • Season One:
    • Karl Arnold ("The Fox") - A psychiatrist who targeted families he viewed as dysfunctional. He would stalk them for some time, then hold them captive while they were supposed to be on vacation, murdering them after a few days of acting as the head of the household and making it appear as a murder-suicide committed by the father (the children and mothers were stabbed to death, while the fathers were shot).
    • Cally's Tribe ("The Tribe") - A group of eight people, led by "The Grandfather", who killed their victims via various Native American rituals. Roy Minton and his family were killed in their second massacre, as they viewed Roy as the opposing force in their mission.
  • Season Two:
    • Vincent Stiles ("Ashes and Dust") - A serial arsonist who targeted businessmen he envied, and who he saw as successful versions of himself. He killed them and their families with kerosene fires, usually after trapping them in their homes.
  • Season Three:
    • Gary and Ervin Robles ("Children of the Dark") - Team killers who were heavily abused by their foster family. Gary would kill the parents (whom he always saw as being abusive to their kids), usually via bludgeoning with an incidental object or stabbing with a knife, while Ervin would "euthanize" the children (who were forced to witness the deaths of their parents) with a chemical injection so that they wouldn't have to be placed in foster homes and be abused by their foster parents.
  • Season Four:
    • Unnamed Family Annihilator - While training Jordan Todd, her temporary replacement, JJ presents her with two cases, one of them a familicide involving an on-the-run man who murdered his wife and twin daughters. Jordan correctly guesses that the family annihilator would have priority over the other case (a suspected serial killer) since the perpetrator may go on a spree, and go after more relatives and other innocent people. ("Memoriam")
    • Norman Hill ("Normal") - Hours after committing his first drive-by shooting, he, in a state of severe psychosis, murdered his wife and two teenage daughters with a sawed-off shotgun while they slept.
  • Season Five:
    • Miranda Jakar ("Outfoxed") - Committed a number of murders in several countries, and began specifically targeting the families (killing mothers and sons through shooting, and daughters through oxygen deprivation) of soldiers stationed overseas after fleeing to Virginia, where annual military maneuvers caused her to experience post-traumatic stress disorder-induced psychotic episodes.
    • John Vincent Bell ("The Fight") - Murdered father-daughter duos in a ritual, then killed the mothers, whom he informed of his victims' abductions, in order to eliminate any loose ends.
  • Season Six:
    • Jeremy Sayer ("Safe Haven") - After being abandoned by his mother over state lines, he killed two (nearly three) families while making his way back to her. The mothers were the objects of his rage, and he would force them to watch as he killed their children (via strangulation) and husband (via stabbing) before murdering them (via bludgeoning) as well. Sometime prior to his killing spree, Jeremy also attempted to kill his own family by putting rat poison in their Thanksgiving turkey, but his mother prevented it.
    • Donald Sanderson ("25 to Life") - He was originally believed to be a family annihilator, due to being framed by James Stanworth and successfully convicted of the murder of his wife and daughter.
  • Season Seven:
    • Trevor Mills ("A Thin Line") - Influenced by Clark Preston (who previously paid two African-American men to attack his family, killing his father and sister and leaving his mother in a near-vegetative state) to kill families living in Southern California's Inland Empire as means of promoting Preston's mayoral election campaign. He did this by shooting each family member execution-style and then pin the murders on a minority he drugged, brought along to the crime scene, and also killed.
  • Season Eight:
    • Arthur Rykov ("Through the Looking Glass") - In his mission to show the worth of dysfunctional families, Arthur would stalk and abduct families of this example, expose their sins, and manipulate them into arguing with each other. His first familicide was successful in this way, and he attempted to do the same thing with a second family, but eventually failed to achieve this goal.
  • Season Ten:
    • Jerry Tidwell ("Beyond Borders") - As a teenager, Tidwell slaughtered his entire family due to the abuse he suffered from his father and the hatred he held against his stepmother and step-siblings for escaping the abuse. After being briefly institutionalized for the familicide, he began targeting other families, killing them in different countries while they were on vacation.
    • Marc Clifford ("A Place at the Table") - The product of an affair between Frank Kingman and Cora Gilliam, Marc snapped upon finding out his true heritage. As a result, he killed Frank and his current family, then tried to kill his mother.
  • Season Eleven:
    • Patrick Sorenson ("The Sandman") - Unlike the other family annihilators featured in the show, Patrick's familicide was unplanned, as he only intended to kill the fathers. In the familicide, he killed Jim Brewer by slashing his throat while he slept, then glued the eyes of Patrick's wife Lyla shut, essentially blinding her. He then held the son Kyle captive and let Lyla stumble around blindly, but this resulted in her accidental death. Afterwards, Patrick killed Kyle and dumped his body.
  • Season Twelve:
    • Kyle Ecklund ("The Anti-Terrorism Squad"): - Being a victim of constant bullying, Kyle snapped after one particularly harrowing incident and went after the families of the bullies who participated in the event. During the familicides, he would leave his tormentors alive, wanting them to feel the pain of being victimized just like he was.
  • Season Thirteen:
    • Sal Capilano ("The Capilanos") - The BAU stated that Sal fit the profile of a family annihilator, except he left the children of the families he targeted alive. He did this because they reminded him of his nephew Mikey.

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