"Is your inner tigress worried or is she ready for you to be free?"
When he was twelve years old, Patrick witnessed his neighbors engaging in sexual foreplay. The act went terribly wrong when the couple tried out erotic asphyxiation, which resulted in the death of the wife, who was accidentally strangled to death by her husband. The incident was left imprinted onto Patrick's mind, and since he was still developing his love map, brutal erotic asphyxiation became his fetish. As an adult, he somehow got a job as a physical therapist and also married a woman named Stacey. In 2000, they had their first child together, a girl named Connie. However, Connie's birth put a strain in Patrick and Stacey's marriage, resulting in them seeing couple therapists. Patrick was still unsatisfied and eventually went to Bowen, Illinois, where he strangled a prostitute to death. In 2007 and 2014, Patrick and Stacey had two more daughters together. After both births, Patrick would go out of the state to kill another prostitute due to the strain it put on his marriage. In 2015, he became fascinated with an erotic romance novel called Bare Reflections, which depicted many forms of BDSM. Although it did not feature erotic asphyxiation, the book's content spurred Patrick (who was still dissatisfied with his marriage) to seek out women who read the book, court them, and then kill them during sexual foreplay copied directly from the book.
After claiming the lives of Mary Healy and Donna Rayburn, Patrick sets his sights on Emma Zika when she returns home from jogging. He enters her home, sneaks up to Emma's bedroom, and watches her take a shower. Once Emma went to bed, Patrick reveals himself, has consensual sex with her, and begins to kill her. The three murders lead to local police calling in the BAU. The next day, while Patrick waits in the car for his daughter Connie to take her to school, he has a flashback of how he tied Emma to her bed and strangled her. Hours later, Patrick comes home from work, reunites with his daughters, and has a brief conversation with Stacey about their days. Later, when Patrick is about to go out, Connie confronts him about how he isn't around a lot and asks him about watching sports with her. He replies that he is busy with his job and that he needs to go to work. The following night, Patrick talks to Lynn Boyd, his newest target, on her cellphone. When they finished talking, he waits for Lynn to go to bed, then sneaks inside the house. Patrick approaches Lynn at her bedside and wakes her up, to which she asked him, "What took you so long?" He promptly smiles, has sex with her, and then proceeds to kill her.
The next day, Charlotte Jacobsen, a family friend and Connie's tutor, tells Patrick to inform Stacey about Bare Reflections, having left a copy at the kitchen counter for her. This causes him to target her next. Later that night, he breaks into Charlotte's house and hides under her bed without her knowing. Patrick then leaves and goes to his car, unaware that he was seen by Connie, who came by for a tutoring session with Charlotte. The next day, Patrick returns to Charlotte's home, and she lets him in. He tries to get her to have sex with him, quoting a line from Bare Reflections. However, she becomes nervous and tells him to leave. When he refuses, Charlotte fights back but is subdued by him and taken to her bed. As Patrick ties her up, Charlotte continues to struggle and scratches his neck, sexually arousing him further. Just as Connie comes over to Charlotte's house, Patrick gags Charlotte, strangles her unconscious, and rapes her. Connie ventures upstairs and finds Patrick in the process of raping Charlotte. He tries to explain to Connie, but Charlotte regains consciousness, removes her gag, and tells Connie to run. She tries to flee but is caught by Patrick, who tries to explain. While he does so, the BAU appears, having learned that Patrick was the unsub. He sees them, hugs Connie, and escapes through a backdoor. Morgan pursues Patrick to a cemetery, where he tackles him. As Patrick is taken to a police car, he locks eyes with Connie as she sits in an ambulance with Charlotte.
Patrick killed all of his victims by strangling them to death with nylon rope during acts of consensual sex. He initially targeted high-risk prostitutes, presumably solicited them for sex as a ruse, and sought them out in states outside of Wisconsin as a forensic countermeasure, always killing one right after the birth of a child he had with Stacey.
After reading Bare Reflections, he targeted middle-class women who were born and raised in Madison and were in their late-20s to early 30s living low-risk lifestyles who also read the book and courted them with quotes taken from it with phone calls and texts from a burner phone and Internet posts for a few weeks. Eventually, they would set up a nighttime meeting in the victim's house, where Patrick would enter while no one else was home, wearing night-vision goggles (due to the fact that the victims had turned the lights off when he came into their homes). Upon entering their bedrooms when they were asleep, he would wake them up, tie their wrists and ankles to the corners of their beds with scarves, and then engage in consensual sexual foreplay with them for at least six hours. He would then end it by repeatedly strangling them with a nylon rope, releasing it repeatedly before finally killing them. While his initial low-risk victims were single, he would later move on to women who were married. With Charlotte Jacobsen's attempted murder, he deviated from his usual M.O., attacking her in the daytime hours, tying her up against her will, and raping her when she rejected his advances.
Based on the area's demographics, the unsub is a physically-fit Caucasian male in his mid-30s to early 40s, who is a homicidal dominant with an interest in roleplay. It is believed that his charisma has allowed him to latch onto women who are interested in a popular erotic romance novel called Bare Reflections, and that the unsub and his victims are consensually recreating a scenario from it, in which the male protagonist introduces the female protagonist to BDSM by binding her to a bed as they have rough sex. The unsub uses this roleplay to get his victims into a vulnerable position before his own fantasy takes hold. This has provided the unsub with a victim pool that could easily drop its guard. His first victims were single, while his last two were married, indicating that he may be married himself and probably has a family. This unsub's M.O. takes patience and caution and is firmly rooted in a need-based desire, which means he will not be stopping anytime soon.
It was later realized that the unsub had previously committed murders years apart and in different states so the authorities would never connect the crimes. Erotic asphyxiation is the unsub's fetish since there is no mention of it in Bare Reflections. He charms his victims and is the kind of person to know that some people lose themselves in the moment and others stop at nothing to please their partners. The murders he commits are sexual in nature and the only thing that could affect his cooling-off period and sex drive is having children, since the addition of children, specifically the births, would affect even the most happiest of couples. He may have committed his first three murders around the births of his children. He may have also been previously arrested for acts of peeping or exposure.
Murphy is similar to Timothy Krajcir. Both were serial killers who targeted women, killed their victims in their homes by some form of asphyxiation, tied up some of their victims in their bed, killed victims in multiple states (one of which was Illinois), and were voyeurs as children.
- November 7, 2000, Bowen, Illinois: Ginger Paulmont
- October 12, 2007, Iowa City, Iowa: Chloe Banman
- February 4, 2014, St. Paul, Minnesota: Sarah Young
- 2015, Madison, Wisconsin:
- February 23: Mary Healy
- March 5: Donna Rayburn
- March 8: Emma Zika
- March 9: Lynn Boyd
- March 10: Charlotte Jacobsen (attempted, but barely survived; stalked; later forcibly tied to a bed, raped, and strangled to near-death the next day)
- The book Bare Reflections bears remarkable similarities to the real-life erotic romance novel Fifty Shades of Grey written by E.L. James, which controversially featured graphic scenes of BDSM. A film adaptation of the book was released almost a month prior to the airing of the episode.
- In fact, a promotional TV spot for the episode parodies the title of Fifty Shades of Grey, stating "Fifty shades of pain", possibly as means of foreshadowing.