"Spend some time down there and you might learn your lesson."
Bidwell and his sister Sandra were frequently abused by their father Sam, who was a religious, fanatical alcoholic. Among other things, he would never allow them to go trick-or-treating on Halloween. Their mother Mary tried to stop the abuse, but always wound up being dominated by Sam, who she couldn't leave because she was frightened of him. On the Halloween of 2002, Bidwell threw eggs at another house and was caught in the act. When Sam found out, he became enraged, stuffed his son inside a trunk, and threatened to not let him out until next Halloween. Mary came home from work and found Sam yelling at the trunk. After realizing what he had done, she tried to let Bidwell out, but Sam attacked her, forcing her to bludgeon him to death with a fireplace poker. Mary then let Bidwell out of the trunk, and he spotted his father's body. He then had to help his mother bury Sam at a property belonging to his paternal grandfather. However, as a result of the incident, his mind became warped. He began torturing Sandra by smothering her repeatedly and locking her inside the closet. He also began killing animals and stuffing them inside boxes, as well as getting into fights with Mary. During the latter incidents, she called police on two separate occasions to get Bidwell kicked out of the house. However, she later dropped the charges on both occasions.
As an adult, he became a driver for a courier company. On May 9, 2011, he was scheduled to marry a wealthy woman, Sharlene Taylor, but the wedding was called off after she suddenly married another man, which caused him to snap. Wanting to feel the same power and domination his father felt during the abuse, Bidwell cut himself off from society and built a small underground box on his grandfather's property. On the Halloween night of 2012, in Los Angeles, Bidwell abducted a boy named Tommy Wilcox, who was vandalizing a house by throwing toilet paper all over it. Taking him over to his grandfather's property, he locked Tommy in the box and left him inside for almost a year, as a reference to Sam's threat that Bidwell would be kept locked inside the trunk until next Halloween. Bidwell then released Tommy in nearby Venice Beach on October 30, 2013, the day preceding Halloween, but the boy died of malnutrition after being discovered. On that Halloween, in San Diego, he next abducted another boy, Joshua Parker, who had behavioral issues, and locked him inside the same box. During the year-long period of Joshua's captivity, Bidwell kept him more nourished, not wanting the boy to die like Tommy did.
On October 30, 2014, Bidwell releases Joshua in a public pumpkin patch. Hours later, Joshua is discovered by a mother and her son while they are out shopping for pumpkins. The San Diego Police Department links the discovery of Joshua to Tommy's death due to the similar circumstances and calls in the BAU to investigate. At the time, they suspect Joshua's abductor of being a copycat or accomplice of Rodney Tanner, a pedophile who confessed to abducting Tommy, having desired attention, and was imprisoned for the crime. Meanwhile, as the team is being briefed on the case, Bidwell cleans the bloodied walls of the box. The next day, Morgan and Kate interrogate Rodney Tanner and realize he isn't responsible for Tommy's abduction, prompting the BAU to call for an increased police presence in San Diego during Halloween. Later on, a boy named Hunter Olson goes out with a group of friends as they egg random houses and cars. After Hunter is separated from his friends while fleeing from a man whose house they egged, he is ambushed by Bidwell, who abducts him.
As the BAU learn of Hunter's abduction, Bidwell drives to his grandfather's property, and drags Hunter out of his car and over to the hatch leading into the box. Warning that he will beat him if he tries to run, Bidwell cuts off Hunter's bonds, opens the hatch, and forces the boy inside the box. He then instructs him where to go to the bathroom before saying that he might learn a lesson after spending his time in the box. When Hunter tries to protest, Bidwell shuts the hatch, locks it, places two water bottles inside the box through a slot, covers up the hatch with a metal sheet, and drives his car over the metal sheet. He then leaves the scene, all the while continuing to hear Hunter's protests and snarling to himself that the boy needs to shut up. Later, Bidwell watches the BAU giving a profile of him, angrily throws a soda can at his TV set, and switches it off. He returns to his grandfather's property, sits in the car over the underground box, and listens to loud music, drinking and smoking all the while. Hunter hears the music and begins banging on the hatch as he demands to be let out.
Hunter continues banging on the hatch and screaming, eventually inducing in Bidwell a flashback to the time Sam locked him in the trunk. He snaps, reverses the car away from the metal sheet, uncovers it, and opens up the hatch. Then, he angrily beats him, all the while repeating the words his father yelled at him. After beating the boy to unconsciousness, he climbs out of the box, closes it again, and drives the car over the hatch. Bidwell is then confronted and arrested by the BAU, but he smugly tells them that they won't find him. The police search the area, failing to notice the hatch underneath the car. During interrogation inside the house, Bidwell refuses to cooperate. JJ then brings in Mary, whose presence surprises Bidwell. When she begs him to reveal where Hunter is, Bidwell refuses. Mary scolds him, telling him what he is doing is wrong and that Hunter is just like him when he was a boy. She then apologizes for not ending the abuse sooner and begs him to help Hunter. Touched, Bidwell reveals the location of the box, and Hunter is rescued in time. Bidwell is then taken into a police cruiser, but not before Mary hugs him goodbye.
"You're not gonna find him."
Bidwell targeted Caucasian boys between the ages of ten and twelve who had committed some sort of trouble during Halloween night. Donning a skull mask and dark clothing, so he wouldn't be noticeable and instead mistaken as another trick-or-treater, he would grab the boy, restrain his arms and legs and cover his mouth with duct tape, and take him to his grandfather's property. There, he would force the boy inside the handmade box (as a reference to how his father forced him into a trunk as a child) at knifepoint and keep them there for almost a year. During that time, the boys would be starved, restrained, and punctured by rusty nails protruding from the box's walls. He would also occasionally beat them with a pipe. Every October 30 of the year following the abduction, Bidwell would release the boy after dressing him in a skeleton costume and leave him somewhere where he could be found. On the day after, Halloween, he would then move on to another boy. As his first victim, Tommy Wilcox, was not fed as much and subsequently died of starvation after being released, he would keep his later victims more nourished so they would survive.
Based on the details of the abductions, the unsub is a white male aged in his mid-20s to early 30s. He is fixated on Halloween, probably due to a traumatic event from his childhood. He is punishing his victims for vandalizing homes because it is that aspect of Halloween that agitates him. He is classified as a "fundamentalist vigilante", meaning that because Halloween traditions are rooted in Christianity, he may be some kind of religious zealot. He releases his victims on a consistent timeline, suggesting that he is mission-oriented. For him, it is all about the punishment itself, which is why he releases them; the point of the punishment is for them to learn from their mistakes. He may be from a broken home, likely involving violence and/or abuse, which may have also been exceedingly strict. Interpersonal relationships would still be a problem for him and he would snap when being rejected by someone. He needs some sort of space to hold his victims, but less than one might think. He has to work to eat and to subsidize that space, so he most likely has a blue-collar job, specifically one where he can work alone, such as a truck driver, a night watchman, a plumber, or possibly even an electrician.
Bidwell's crimes were likely inspired by the abduction of Paul Martin Andrews, who was held in a box underground until he was rescued eight days later. Like Bidwell's first crime, the discovery of the victim was followed by a pedophile coming forward to the authorities, confessing, and being imprisoned for the crime. Unlike what was featured in the episode, though, said pedophile, Richard Ausley, was the real perpetrator of Andrews's abduction.
Bidwell also has some loose similarities to Ariel Castro, who was mentioned in the same episode. Both were abused as children, had a previous compulsion to imprison a female family member (Bidwell's sister and Castro's common-law wife), were set off by the abandonment of their longtime partners, and abducted three victims in three consecutive years. These victims were kept in a makeshift cell with a plastic bin to use as a toilet. However, Bidwell held his victims captive alone and one at a time, unlike Castro, who held his victims captive all at once. Also, in both cases, the abductions of their first victims were less planned; these victims also received the most brutal treatment, and were left with lasting injuries derived from their imprisonment.
- Unspecified dates, San Diego, California: Sandra Bidwell (his sister; non-fatally smothered on numerous occasions)
- October 31, 2012, Los Angeles, California: Tommy Wilcox (abducted and locked in an underground box; was released in Venice Beach, California, on October 30, 2013, but died of malnutrition after being rescued)
- October 31, 2013, San Diego, California: Joshua Parker (abducted and locked in an underground box; was released in a nearby location on October 30, 2014)
- October 31, 2014, San Diego, California: Hunter Olson (abducted, locked in an underground box, and beaten to unconsciousness; was rescued)
- ↑ During the briefing, it was erroneously stated that Bidwell abducted Tommy the same year he abducted Joshua