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John Curtis

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Criminal
John Curtis
Name John Curtis
Alias The Replicator
Adam Worth
Gender Male
Birth Date September 25, 1951[1]
Family Unnamed parents (both deceased)
Occupation Supervisory Special Agent
  • Intelligence Oversight Section agent (at the time of death)
Pathology Serial Killer
Stalker
Copycat
Hacker (later)
Modus Operandi Varied
No. of Victims 7 killed
7 attempted
3 killed by proxy
Status Deceased
Portrayed By Uncredited actors (The Silencer, The Apprenticeship, Magnificent Light, Broken, and Carbon Copy)
Mark Hamill (Brothers Hotchner[2] and The Replicator)
First Appearance "The Silencer"
Last Appearance "The Replicator"

"You never appreciated me, none of you. I gave you my life, and you rejected me."

John Curtis, a.k.a. "The Replicator", was a serial killer and copycat who stalked the BAU throughout Season Eight of Criminal Minds.

BackgroundEdit

"You know, I admired you back then. Leading the charge the day it all changed, the day Erin Strauss ruined us. I sat next to you, borrowed your pen to sign my transfer. They put me in Kansas. Me!"

Little is known about Curtis's early years, other than he was an only child to parents who were both killed in a car accident when he was eighteen years old. Also, according to his FBI records, he had an estimated IQ of 172. During his adult years, he worked as a brilliant but reclusive FBI Special Agent who also specialized in other fields of research, most notably biochemistry. As a result, he worked on the Amerithrax case, of which Strauss and Blake also investigated. When the case turned south after a wrong suspect was arrested[3], both he and Blake were demoted when Strauss managed to put the blame on them, saving herself and her career. Afterwards, as a result, on January 10, 2002,[4] Curtis was demoted from the rank of Supervisory Special Agent to Agent and was transferred to a position in Kansas City, which seemed to be viewed as undesirable to hold. In 2005, he was promoted to Special Agent, and three years later, in 2008, he was transferred to the FBI's field office in Chicago. Another three years later, he was promoted back to Supervisory Special Agent and transferred to the D.C. field office, where he was assigned to the Department of Justice's Intelligence Oversight Section. Because of his demotion and subsequent professional ruin, Curtis blamed Strauss for his downfall and started stalking her team when he learned that there was going to be an opening in the BAU; Blake was being considered for the position, and he was, once again, being overlooked. Judging by the photos seen in his darkroom in "The Silencer" and the warehouse in "Carbon Copy", Curtis started stalking them sometime after the BAU concluded a hostage situation at a bank in Washington, D.C., on May 16, 2012, which would be the approximate point where Blake was considered as a replacement for SSA Emily Prentiss, who left directly after the aforementioned events.

Season EightEdit

The SilencerEdit

BAU Stalker

Curtis stalking the BAU in The Apprenticeship.

Sometime prior to the episode, Curtis claimed his first victim, killing her in the style of an unnamed serial killer immediately after the unsub's apprehension by Blake, Hotch, Rossi, Reid, and JJ in Seattle. He is first seen at the end of the episode, standing in a darkroom and hanging a newly-finished photo of Blake next to photos of the other members of the team.

The ApprenticeshipEdit

After the team solves the prominent case, Hotch receives a phone call from Dallas authorities, announcing the appearance of a copycat of John Myers, a.k.a. The Silencer, who has killed a man and sewed his mouth shut post-mortem. He and Rossi discuss it, believing that it must be a copycat since Myers is already dead. At the end of the episode, Curtis is seen taking photos of the team during a bureau softball match from his car.

Magnificent LightEdit

Curtis is next seen at a dinner that Morgan and Garcia attend. As Morgan gives a speech, he takes an empty wineglass at Garcia's table that was previously used by Morgan, puts it in a plastic bag, returns to his residence, and puts it on a table. From that same table, he retrieves a photo of his third victim, whom he killed by severing his right leg in the style of John Nelson, and hangs it next to a photo of his second victim and under a set of photos of the entire team. Off-screen, he murders his fourth victim, severing his right leg and replacing it with the leg of the third victim.

PerennialsEdit

After the BAU conclude the latest case, Hotch and Rossi call the rest of the team into the briefing room. There, they inform them about Curtis's copycat crimes, and Hotch says that the team will be investigating this ongoing case.

ZugzwangEdit

"Zug...zwang."

Curtis made a brief appearance in the episode, calling Reid on a payphone from Maeve Donovan's house. He identified himself as "Adam Worth" and uttered the single word, "Zugzwang". At the time, Reid and the BAU believed that it was Maeve's stalker, Diane Turner, who made that call since Maeve and Reid had used names related to Arthur Conan Doyle in their correspondence.[5]

BrokenEdit

Curtis was seen at the end of the episode, watching live news coverage of the BAU raiding a conversion camp that was using illegal methods. He then views photos of his victims, where it is revealed he has already killed a woman in the style of Adam Rain. Finally, he views a video of Blake's lecture on linguistics and then looks at the cover of a book written by her.

Carbon CopyEdit

In the beginning of the episode, Curtis sends JJ a bouquet of flowers with a card reading "Zugzwang". Reid then realizes that it was Curtis who called him on the payphone, not Diane. Throughout the episode, the BAU team assumed that Donnie Bidwell was the Replicator, as he was killing women using the M.O. of killer artist Bryan Hughes. Towards the end of the episode, however, the team realized that Curtis convinced Donnie to commit the Bryan Hughes-based murders while he simultaneously killed a woman in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the style of killing team David Turner and Toby Whitewood. At the end of the episode, the BAU manage to track him down at an abandoned building in Pittsburgh, where they only find the woman's corpse, the hammer used to kill her, a radio playing "Just in Time" by Tony Bennett, and dozens of photos of the team, all surrounded by the word "Zugzwang" written in red.

Brothers Hotchner (Part 1)Edit

Curtis is seen in the episode, taking pictures of Hotch and his brother Sean. He also hacks into Garcia's computer system, disabling it after showing photos of the team on the screens along with the word "Zugzwang" written over and over. His face was finally revealed at the very end of the episode as he loomed over a sleeping Strauss in her hotel room.

The Replicator (Part 2)Edit

"Erin Strauss and the Bureau discarded us. We were the forgotten ones."
"They forgot you. I [Blake] did alright."
"But they'll remember me now."

Curtis abducted and slowly killed Strauss by poisoning her with spiked wine on a crowded sidewalk, a murder based on poisoner Larry Feretich, who had been arrested by the BAU a few hours previously. While she was dying, Curtis called and taunted Hotch about the incident with George Foyet, who killed his wife Haley, referring to the serial killer by name. Curtis left the scene before Hotch saw Strauss and flew back to Quantico. Once he returned to Quantico, Curtis directly sent Rossi a letter that had a poison attached to it, even innocently helping Kevin Lynch and Agent Grant Anderson into the meeting room as he did so. The letter was a forged official report of Strauss's autopsy, which revealed that Morgan's DNA was found on a strange 8-shaped marking that was carved onto her wrist (the DNA having come from the glass Curtis took during the dinner in "Magnificent Light"). As a result, Rossi, becoming deluded from the poison that he was exposed to, confronted Morgan with his gun when the agent came into his office. Overhearing the commotion, Hotch stepped into Rossi's office and realized that he was poisoned. When Rossi lets his guard down after seeing a hallucination of Strauss, Hotch takes the gun from his hands. Rossi is later taken away on a stretcher. The team then deduces that the Replicator was able to learn of the cases he copied by reading FBI case-files. The 8-shaped marking was based on a false statement Strauss wrote in a report about proxy killer Phillip Connor in an apparent attempt to trick Curtis into revealing where he got his information about the BAU's cases.

Using a list of names of people in positions that allow them to view FBI case-files, compiled by Senator Cramer, the BAU deduce that Curtis was the Replicator, and the team flies over to a land of property owned by his family in helicopters. However, Curtis disabled the helicopter that Hotch, Reid, Blake, and a pilot were flying in, and caused it to crash-land. Using a smoke bomb that knocked them all out, he captured Blake, chaining her to a chair outfitted with a pressure sensor. When she regained consciousness, Curtis explained his rage and his motives to her. He then left her to die, along with the rest of the team who would come to rescue her. When Blake was freed, she stood up from the chair, sealing the team inside the room and effectively starting a timer linked to explosives. Garcia managed to delay the timer, but only for a short time. Noticing that the explosion was delayed, Curtis returned to the room he trapped the BAU in, only to learn that they had escaped. He was then confronted by Rossi, who was especially affected by Strauss's death, and had freed his teammates. Sensing defeat, he promptly trapped himself and the agent by sitting on the pressure-sensor chair and then getting back up. However, Rossi had blocked the door's locking mechanism by using Strauss's Alcoholics Anonymous coin and was able to escape the room, but not before saying to Curtis, "Zugzwang." Rossi was able to escape the explosion in time, while Curtis was likely killed.

Season TenEdit

A Thousand SunsEdit

Curtis was briefly, but prominently, mentioned by Reid in the episode. In the reference, he pointed out that the complex, sophisticated device used to hack into the computer systems of a passenger jet, allowing the hacker complete control over the jet, was similar to the device Curtis used during his attack on the helicopter Reid was flying in along with Hotch and Blake.

ProfileEdit

The unsub is a white male who is aged in his mid 40s, possibly in his late 50s. He is criminally and forensically sophisticated, so he may be an ex-convict or have law enforcement training. He is using his victims as a device with which to antagonize the FBI, particularly the BAU team by copying murder cases that the team have closed all over the country. He has been stalking each member of the team, which means that he is mobile and has the time and means with which to get around and the intelligence to cover his tracks and remain evasive. He is intelligent and organized, but also bent on revenge, making him especially dangerous.

It was remarked by Hotch once Curtis's identity was revealed that, having no relatives or any family, he took it very badly when he lost his job since he had nothing else to live for. It was also remarked by the team that Curtis's continued usage of the alias "Adam Worth" suggests that he identifies himself as a similar master criminal and wants to paint himself out as the worst enemy the team has ever had, being a malignant narcissist.

Modus OperandiEdit

During most of Curtis's killings, he copied the M.O. of unsubs the BAU team have captured during the course of Season Eight:

  • The first victim was killed in a manner similar to an unnamed serial killer in Seattle. Little details were revealed about the murder, but it was likely the victim, a woman, was lured in by a child. Since not much is specified about this killing, it is unknown if there were any major differences between this and the original killer's murders. It should be noted that he didn't take a photo of this victim, for unknown reasons.
  • The second victim was killed the same way John Myers, a.k.a. The Silencer, killed his victims, by fatal asphyxiation and then sewing his mouth shut post-mortem. Major differences to this particular murder were that the victim's mouth was sewn shut post-mortem instead of ante-mortem and the victim, a man, was specifically targeted.[6]
  • The third victim lost his right leg and died of blood loss, with the fourth victim losing his right leg as well and having it replaced with the leg of the third victim, later dying of either blood loss or gangrene; this was the same way killer surgeon John Nelson killed his victims. Major differences to these particular murders were that neither of the two victims were sedated before they had their legs removed and the victim whose leg was used as the implant wasn't discovered.
  • The fifth victim was killed by having her limbs dislocated, followed by a fatal hanging from a marionette device and then disposal by stuffing into a box, the same way killer puppeteer Adam Rain killed most of his victims. Major differences to this particular murder were that the victim was a woman and that holes didn't seem to be bore holes into her hands.[7]
  • The sixth victim, also a woman, was abducted, apparently tortured with suffocation by placing a plastic bag over her head, and killed by being fatally clubbed with a hammer, the same way killing team David Turner and Toby Whitewood killed their sole mutual victim. Major differences to this particular murder were that the victim was killed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, while the original victims murdered by both were killed in Miami, Florida; and that she didn't appear to be a prostitute.[8]
  • The seventh victim, Strauss, was killed by being poisoned with wine spiked with a combination of methamphetamine and ecstacy, the same way poisoner Larry Feretich killed some of his victims. Major differences to this particular murder were that Strauss was specifically targeted, the drug recipe was enhanced to become more potent but not boil the insides of her body like the original victims, her wrist was branded with the number 8 by a piece of glass afterwards (which was actually based on a false report she made on proxy killer Phillip Connor in an apparent attempt to trick Curtis), and Curtis directly called Hotch to taunt him over the phone while Strauss was dying (which was actually based on George Foyet's murder of Haley Brooks, with the fact being referenced by Curtis during the call).
  • The proxy victims murdered by Donnie Bidwell were all killed by exsanguination and then their eyelids being removed post-mortem, which was the fully-evolved M.O. of killer artist Bryan Hughes, who used said M.O. to kill two of his victims. Major differences to these particular murders were that the victims were all women who were specifically targeted and worked as nurses (which instead found a basis in Jack Lee Kemper); they all had their eyelids removed post-mortem instead of ante-mortem; they were all murdered within a day's time; and the murders instead occurred in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while the original victims were killed in San Francisco, California.
  • Notes:
    • From the second victim to the fifth victim, Curtis went to largely-populated cities located near the same cities where the original killers committed their murders, likely as clues that point to the first victim, who was the only victim to be killed in the exact same city where the original killer was active, until Strauss's death.
    • Another difference between Curtis and the serial killers he copied is that the former takes photos of his victims (with the exception of the first victim and Strauss) after killing them, possibly as trophies and/or a "score-sheet" for the BAU to view later.
    • To start off his endgame, Curtis hacked into Garcia's computers, shutting down the system and causing it to repeat the word "Zugzwang" over and over. While it isn't specified in the episode, this may have been an emulation of Randall Garner's first attack on the BAU. If so, it was likely to be deliberate, as Randall was one of the most significant of the BAU's early cases, with Curtis trying to paint himself as the worst the team has faced.

While stalking the BAU, he would give each individual member a taunt for the past year:

  • He called Reid at the payphone while he was waiting for Maeve Donovan's call and gave him the message "Zugzwang".
  • He sent JJ flowers with a card message reading "Zugzwang".
  • He left a photo of Hotch at the crime scene of one of Donnie Bidwell's victims.
  • He hacked into Garcia's computer system with the words "Zugzwang" repeating themselves.
  • He left Morgan's DNA on Strauss's body.
  • He attacked Rossi by exposing him to a poison attached to a letter sent to him, the same way the Amerithrax killer murdered his victims. A major difference to this particular attack was that the poison was not anthrax, but a different type that caused victims to hallucinate and become delusional; it appeared to be based on the one that killed Strauss. It was suggested by the team that Curtis planned not to kill Rossi since the poison was laced to the paper, preventing it from being absorbed easily.

When he tried to kill the entire BAU team, he hacked into and crashed one of the helicopters they were in at the moment. He then abducted Blake from the scene; used her to lure the others into a room elaborately rigged with explosives, all of them with a timing device; and trapped them in said room.

Known VictimsEdit

Personal VictimsEdit

  • 2012:
    • Early September, Seattle, Washington: Unnamed woman (killed by unknown causes; based on an unnamed Seattle serial killer)
    • October 25, Dallas, Texas: Maxwell Holmes (asphyxiated and his mouth sewn shut post-mortem; based on John Myers)
    • November 6-7, unspecified location, likely New Mexico: Unnamed blond man (his right leg was severed and died from blood loss; based on John Nelson; body was never found)
    • December 11-12, Las Cruces, New Mexico: An unidentified black man (severed his right leg and replaced it with the leg of the previous victim; died from either blood loss or gangrene; also based on John Nelson)
  • 2013:
    • February 19-20, Phoenix, Arizona: Megan Lowenbach (her limbs were all dislocated, killed by hanging and her body stuffed in a box; based on Adam Rain)
    • February 28, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Unnamed woman (apparently tortured with suffocation, then fatally clubbed with a hammer; based on David Turner and Toby Whitewood)
    • May 25, New York City, New York: Erin Strauss (poisoned with spiked wine; based on Larry Feretich; also carved a symbol of an 8 into her wrist; based on Strauss's false report on Phillip Connor)
    • May 26, Quantico, Virginia:
      • David Rossi (attempted, but survived; was exposed to a hallucinogenic poison attached on a letter; based on the Amerithrax case)
      • Attempted to kill the following by crashing their helicopter:
      • Attempted to kill the following by blowing them up:
      • David Rossi (attempted to blow up)

Victims by ProxyEdit

  • 2013:
    • February 27, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (all exsanguinated with their eyelids removed post-mortem by Donnie Bidwell; based on Bryan Hughes):
      • Molly Patton
      • Sandy Larson
      • Shannon Levin (Curtis personally left a photo of Hotch on the body)
    • May 26, Quantico, Virginia (the following were held at gunpoint by a delusional Rossi):
      • Derek Morgan
      • Aaron Hotchner

QuotesEdit

Curtis: (on the phone with Reid, his voice electronically disguised) Zug...zwang.

Reid: (silent for a moment) I'm sorry, can you please repeat that?

Curtis: Zug...zwang!

(Curtis hangs up)


Curtis: You really think your team is gonna save you?

Strauss: I know they will.

Curtis: Did you get everything you wanted?

Strauss: What?

Curtis: In life? Did you?

Strauss: Does anyone?

Curtis: We should.


Hotch: (answering Curtis's call, believing him to be Strauss) Erin!

Curtis: Not quite. Does it ever get confusing? That whole Erin-Aaron thing?

Hotch: Where is she?

Curtis: Closer than you think. But she's not doing do well. She looks a bit pale. Remember the last time you got a call like this? Remember? George Foyet, right? You were too late.


Blake: (recognizing Curtis) What do you want?

Curtis: You're the profiler. You tell me.


Curtis: I don't remember you being so skittish.

Blake: You know what, you never seen me in chains before?

Curtis: I've seen you with your hands tied, so to speak...


Curtis: You know what I've been wondering? Why did Strauss change her mind about you?

Blake: I kept my head down and I worked hard.

Curtis: We all did. But you got my chance.


Curtis: You'd really die for them?

Rossi: It's the oath we all took. To protect our country from people like you, no matter what.

Curtis: You never appreciated me, none of you. I gave you my life. And you rejected me.


Curtis: (last words, to Rossi) We'll go out as heroes.

Rossi: I'm not so sure about that. (opens the door, holds up Strauss' medallion) Zugzwang.

(Rossi flees and traps a shocked Curtis in the room)

NotesEdit

  • Much of the cast, including Mark Hamill, have stated that they do not believe Curtis is dead, as a body was never shown by the end of The Replicator. Showrunner Erica Messer had even stated that the intention was to leave Curtis's fate up in the air. However, it can be assumed that Curtis is indeed dead, since his status wasn't given an official update in The Inspiration.
  • Prior to the BAU referring to Curtis as the Replicator in Carbon Copy, the staff specifically used this name during interviews. Also, during that time, he was referred to in this wiki as, aptly, "The BAU Stalker", a title that remained prevalent even after Carbon Copy, until Curtis's identity was revealed in The Replicator.[9]
  • Curtis seems to be based on a few unsubs featured in the show's past:
    • His habit of stalking the BAU is similar to Randall Garner, a budding serial killer who appeared in Seasons One and Two. Both stalked the BAU team throughout the seasons they first appeared in, including taking photos of them (though Randall wasn't shown until the season finale while the Replicator appeared early in the season and has been recurring). It should also be noted that Curtis successfully hacked into Garcia's system, being the second unsub to do so, after Randall.
    • His M.O. of putting the basis of one murder each on a different killer is reminiscent of copycat serial killer Eric Olson (though he based his murders on real-life killers).
    • His M.O. of putting the basis of one murder each on a different killer, but leaving behind distinctive differences between his killings and those of the original killers, seems to be reminiscent of copycat serial killer Daniel Dryden, who also based his murders on real-life killers (with the exception of Herman Kotchman, a serial killer who appeared within the novels' canon).
    • His being an FBI agent who stalked and later abducted the targets of their obsessions and later made unsuccessful attempts on the lives of BAU agents seems to be reminiscent Vincent Shyer, who was also a stalker and abductor, targeted certain victims, and later attacked the BAU directly, failing to kill any of them.
  • Curtis is the first unsub in the show to be seen active several episodes before the BAU investigates his case, committing crimes in three episodes that go unnoticed until Perennials.
  • Curtis currently holds the record for having the most appearances for a single unsub, with eight episodes prominently featuring him.
  • Likely by coincidence, Curtis shares the same name with John Curtis, a serial rapist from the CBS crime drama CSI: NY. Both criminals were also particularly antagonistic towards a recently-induced member of the prominent teams and had some past association with them.
  • Curtis is the first unsub in the series to introduce a leitmotif that occurs throughout an entire season.
  • According to his file, Curtis's Social Security number is 968-00-1701.
  • Curtis is the third unsub in the history of the show to successfully breach the BAU headquarters. The first two are serial killer Jason Clark Battle, who appeared in Season Three, and spree killer Luke Dolan, who appeared in the previous season.

AppearancesEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. September 25, 1951, is actually the birthday of the actor who portrayed Curtis, Mark Hamill; this was either a fact recycled by the writers or a reference to the popular actor
  2. Wasn't credited for the role
  3. Possibly a reference to the incident with Dr. Steven Jay Hatfill, who was named as a "person of interest" in the case, but was eventually exonerated (though he was never actually arrested)
  4. Garcia's screen erroneously writes the year as 2001
  5. Adam Worth is said to have been one of the inspirations for Sherlock Holmes's archenemy, Professor Moriarty. Reid's pseudonym was "Dr. Joseph Bell", the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes himself
  6. Myers targeted men during the latter part of his killings only out of necessity
  7. Adam didn't kill his sole female victim
  8. It may have been committed there since the BAU were in the state at the time
  9. This was because of the impending reveal of Curtis's identity at that time, and later due to redundancy after the reveal of the finale episode's title, The Replicator

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