|“||You do what I say.||”|
— Peter in "Mr. Scratch"
Peter Lewis, a.k.a. "Mr. Scratch" or simply "Scratch", was a serial killer by proxy, hacker, and stalker who first appeared in Season Ten of Criminal Minds. He later escaped with twelve other serial killers in Season Eleven and targeted the BAU throughout Season Twelve before his death in Season Thirteen.
Peter was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. He had extremely high intelligence and was a math genius. His parents ran a group home that took in several children who were waiting for adoption. During the day-care sex-abuse hysteria of the 1980s and early 1990s, some of the children made claims that Peter's father Neil would dress himself and the other children as the Devil, causing people to believe there were child abuse and the practice of Satanic rituals occurring inside the home. At first, the claims were met with skepticism from police, but a core member of the Believe the Children movement, a psychologist named Doctor Susannah Regan, convinced local law enforcement to believe the children. As a result, on March 5, 1985, the group home was shut down and Neil was sent to jail for child abuse and child endangerment. While the investigation was still pending, the other inmates killed him for being a pedophile; Peter was thirteen at the time.
Peter eventually moved on with his life and attended Harvard University, taking the highest level of classes for mathematics. Upon graduating, he was immediately hired by the National Security Agency, which would always hire math geniuses because it was too dangerous for them to work anywhere else. In 1992, the FBI's Lanning Report helped the BAU and other federal agencies evaluate Regan's work and debunk it. This left her credibility in ruin and forced her to go into witness protection after she began receiving numerous death threats. Realizing the closure of the group home and his father's death were all for nothing, Peter began seeking revenge against Regan and the children who were responsible for the scandal.
"Do you see Mr. Scratch?"
After forcing Daniel Karras, Christine McNeil, and Larry Merrin to hallucinate Mr. Scratch and kill their loved ones, the BAU noticed a pattern in the interrogations and investigate the occurrences. Peter then targets Bill Kinderman and attempts to make him kill his son, but Bill's paternal instinct overrides his hypnosis and he commits suicide instead. Reaching his end game, Peter hacks into the witness protection database in the BAU headquarters in Quantico to find Regan, causing a widespread blackout in the process. Reid deduces from the code used to hack into the Quantico database that the unsub works for the NSA. Appealing to Tony Axelrod, an NSA employee, Hotch identifies the unsub and who he is targeting next. He goes to Regan's house but finds that Peter is already there. Peter forces Regan to kill herself in front of Hotch, then drugs him and talks to him in an attempt to make him see Mr. Scratch.
As they talk, Hotch deduces that Peter was in Susannah's interviews as well, giving testimony against his father. At first, he is enraged by this, but Peter then takes it as a challenge to get into Hotch's head. He makes him hallucinate Peter killing Reid, Rossi, and Morgan; and then tries to goad him into shooting the real Reid and Rossi as they try to enter the house. However, Hotch overrides the suggestion and tries to shoot Peter. Dodging the bullet, Peter retreats into a room in the attic and waits for Morgan and JJ to arrive. When they do, he surrenders immediately, satisfied that he had gotten into Hotch's head. As he is put into a police car, he smiles at a watching Hotch, taps his temple, and smiles tauntingly at him. As the car drives away, Peter looks over his shoulder to take one last look at Hotch.
"The world needs to know what kind of man Aaron Hotchner really is."
In the episode, Hotch is arrested for conspiracy. During his interrogation, Hotch is shown a recording of Peter explaining, to a federal interrogator, Hotch's experience while being drugged. According to Peter, Hotch started to laugh while hallucinating his entire team getting killed (in reality, Hotch laughed after piecing together that Peter was forced to testify against his own father), and he goes on to claim that he became scared of what Hotch could do to his team and even his own son. According to federal interrogator Timothy Ritchie, this interrogation prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an independent investigation into Hotch's recent leadership abilities. After the team closes the case and proves Hotch's innocence, they receive word that prison breaks occurred in three different states: thirteen serial killers managed to escape in the chaos and Peter is one of them. It turns out that he had been involved with the people who framed Hotch, and that his testimony against Hotch was part of his escape plan.
After Peter escaped from prison, he decided to continue his experiments, changing his victimology to people who suffered from dissociative identity disorder (DID). At some point, Peter managed to abduct Daniel Cullen, a.k.a. "The Crimson King", an "injustice collector"-type serial killer who was another escapee. He also relocated to Tempe, Arizona (Cullen's old hunting ground), where he attended a support group in Arizona State University under Reid's name. There, he found a patient named Brian Phillips, who became his first target. He abducts and drugs Brian, makes him believe that he is the Crimson King, and forces him to copy Cullen's M.O. Peter first has a drugged Brian carve "BAU" into his own stomach, making it appear that Brian was a victim of Cullen's who had escaped, which prompts the local police to summon the BAU team.
Brian commits several crimes while in that induced state and eventually escapes from a hospital with a list of DID patients from across the country, which the BAU acquired as part of the investigation. He returns to Peter, who invites him inside a house he had purchased, has him lay down on a surgery table, and drugs him again. Afterwards, Peter tells Brian that he has to go, but not before showing him Cullen. Peter tells Brian that Cullen thinks he is the Crimson King and asks him what he will do about it, then leaves Brian to torture Cullen, taking the patient list with him. Though the BAU are able to stop Brian and rescue Cullen, they are unable to find Peter. At the end of the episode, Peter is seen in another hideout looking through files relating to the list. He finds the name of his next victim, Desmond Holt, who lives in Franklin, Tennessee. Peter says "There you are", draws a circle around Desmond's full name and address, and smiles.
Immediately following the events in Arizona, Peter began stalking Hotch's son Jack. He first appeared at one of Jack's soccer games, prompting the FBI to put Hotch and Jack on 24-hour surveillance. Peter then attempted to visit Jack at his school while the BAU closed a child abduction case in California. As a result, Hotch and Jack went into witness protection, while Hotch resigned from his position as BAU Unit Chief and recommended Prentiss for the position, so Jack won't be endangered through him any further.
At some point, Peter managed to abduct both Desmond and Gabriel Lewis, the younger brother of Doctor Tara Lewis. Peter brainwashes Desmond into believing that he is Gabriel while he held the real Gabriel captive in a warehouse, which is booby-trapped with a device that fires nails from the ceiling. While investigating Gabriel's whereabouts, Lewis and Alvez find a TV screen depicting a videotape of Gabriel yelling out "Luke" repeatedly. They find the tape, just in time to see Peter putting a gas mask on Gabriel and saying tauntingly, "Luke can't help you now." It is later revealed that Gabriel wasn't yelling out Alvez's name, but instead the Gospel of Luke, which turns out to be an important clue in the case. By the time the BAU rescue Gabriel from the warehouse and avoid the trap, Peter has escaped again.
Peter was mentioned several times in the episode when the BAU considered him a top suspect when Reid is framed in Mexico for drug possession and the murder of Nadie Ramos. However, there were also assumptions that Peter might be unrelated to the events. The team spends much of the episode trying to prove Reid's innocence and get him extradited back to the U.S. since Nadie was apparently an American citizen. By the end of the episode, it is still unclear whether Peter had any involvement in the case.
JJ later revealed to an imprisoned Reid that blood tests did not turn up any signs of scopolamine, the only piece of proof that Peter would have been responsible for Nadie's murder. She then commented that it had already been a while since the blood test was taken and that Reid might have already metabolized it.
Peter was later spotted in Honduras by an associate of Stephen Walker, who managed to take a photo of him and send it to the BAU. This seemed to confirm his involvement in Nadie's murder, as he would have had to cross through Mexico to get into Honduras. As a result, the BAU launched a campaign to petition the NSA and Interpol to add Peter to a terrorist watch-list because of his taunts to the FBI. Meanwhile, Lewis has a series of cognitive interviews with Reid in prison. By the end of the episode, Reid finally remembers that a woman was responsible for drugging him and forcing him to kill Nadie, which apparently exonerates Peter.
Peter was mentioned several times throughout the episode. Stunned by Reid's revelation of the events in Mexico, the BAU theorize that Peter may have yet again selected a female victim suffering from DID or that he was, for the first time, working with a lucid accomplice. However, they appeared to dismiss the latter theory as Peter's profile suggested that he wouldn't risk working with a partner. Later that night, Stephen gets a call that a friend of his, Sam Bower, was admitted to the hospital for a suspected heart attack, later revealed to be radiation poisoning. While Stephen was briefly hospitalized after being exposed to the radiation, JJ speculated that, given Bower's friendship with Stephen, Peter could be responsible for the attacks. However, Rossi noted that if Peter was behind it, he would have gone after Stephen's family and not his former colleague, since he always went after families. Peter was later officially ruled out when the true unsub was identified.
Green Light (Part 1)
Peter was officially exonerated of Nadie's murder by the BAU when Lindsey Vaughn and Cat Adams were identified as the only ones behind it and the framing of Reid. The two had learned about Peter and his history with the BAU and decided to copy his M.O. as part of their plan to frame Reid.
Red Light (Part 2)
Peter launched another attack against the BAU, beginning it by posing as Garcia and texting Morgan using her cloned cellphone number. In the text, he claimed that Reid had been released from prison and was now with his mother in a safe-house. However, Morgan became suspicious of the text and informed the BAU about this. As a result, Garcia pinpoints the origin of the text and the team heads to the location. However, once they are on a lonely street, Peter disables their SUVs with spike-strips. Then, he (or possibly someone else, given Peter's preference for using proxies) rams into the SUVs with a semi-truck, abruptly ending the episode and leaving the team's fate unknown.
Wheels Up (Part 3)
Directly after the crash, everyone except for Stephen Walker comes out alive, but Peter drugs Emily at the crash site before abducting her with the intent of forcing her to give him Hotch's coordinates. After some torturous hallucinations brought on by the drugs, she eventually breaks the hallucinations with the phrase "Wheels Up," and she escapes as the team arrives. Reid and Lewis exchange fire once before Luke Alvez gives chase. Alvez follows Lewis to the top of the building and they exchange fire, causing the platform that Lewis is standing on to break, leaving him hanging from a ledge. Asking Alvez for help, he hesitates, but Peter loses his grip, sending him falling to his death.
After Reid is reinstated, he mentions to Emily Prentiss that he's worried about his being back in the field and wonders if she worries as well because, according to him, he would have killed Peter had he got the chance and would have "slept well". At the end of the episode, after Reid talks the unsub down from killing yet another victim, he talks with Luke Alvez on the plane saying that the unsub was "no Mr. Scratch", which is why he took him down so easily. Alvez retorts with saying that they aren't all that different.
Peter will reappear in this episode via flashbacks.
Peter initially targeted people who lived at his father's group home as children during the scandal, specifically those who testified against his father and were responsible for putting him away. After finding the victims, presumably by using his job to access the country's adoption records, he would drug them with a mixture of two powerful dissociative agents (sevoflurane and scopolamine) he planted into the air-ventilation systems of their homes, presumably while no one was home. These drugs caused them to hallucinate about Mr. Scratch and lash out violently at the person next to them, which would always be a loved one living in the same house. These people would be stabbed to death with knives by the drugged victims, who would then slip out of their psychotic episodes with barely any memory of what they were actually doing. He would later force his true target, Susannah Regan, to commit suicide. Soon afterward he drugged Hotch and held him hostage with a knife and the latter's FBI-issued sidearms. He would later have Hotch use one of these sidearms in an attempt to kill Rossi and Reid.
Following his escape from prison, Peter changed his victimology, focusing on people who suffered from dissociative identity disorder and attended a support group at Arizona State University to this end. He first identified Brian Phillips as a DID patient, drugged him, and had him believe he was Daniel Cullen, a.k.a. "The Crimson King", who Peter abducted and tortured for specific details about his crimes prior to his incarceration, such as the arm-spreaders Cullen used. Peter then had Brian commit several crimes under this induced state until the BAU's attention was caught. After Brian attacked another DID patient, Peter placed him in one of two arm-spreaders he purchased, using Reid's name, so Brian would appear to be a survivor of Cullen's, making the BAU believe that Cullen had restarted his crime spree. He later manipulated the BAU into compiling a list of DID patients, which Brian delivered to Peter, therefore giving him the personal information of a large pool of potential victims.
Peter later used this information to track down Desmond Holt and use him as a taunt against Tara Lewis. He did this by having Desmond pose as Lewis' brother Gabriel, who he captured earlier, and leaving behind a series of clues leading the BAU to Gabriel's location, all revolving around the Gospel of Luke. He strapped Gabriel to a homemade BDSM chair with shibari, an intricate form of BDSM bondage, and rigged the chair to a shotgun (which belonged to Gabriel's father Albert) that would fire automatically if Gabriel made any sort of movement. However, the shotgun was unloaded and simply a diversion from a larger trap that Peter had constructed for the BAU, which was a multi-barreled device in the ceiling that fired nails.
After months of inactivity, Peter resurfaced by posing as Garcia and texting Morgan using her cloned cellphone number, in which he instructed him to go to an address, claiming it was a safe-house Reid and his mother were hiding at. This prompted Morgan to predictably, inform the BAU about it, which in turn prompted them to head over to the address to investigate it. At that moment, Peter disabled their vehicles using motion-triggered spike-strips and then rammed into the SUVs using a semi-truck.
Part of Peter's signature was also mixing his drug cocktail with the scent of burning sage. This was a reference to the burning sage Regan would have in her office when she interviewed Peter and the other children who testified against Peter's father, telling them that the aroma made it safe to talk about Mr. Scratch. He did not utilize this part of the signature following his escape from prison, resulting in the sevoflurane retaining its bubblegum-like taste and smell.
No official profile of Peter was made by the BAU. However, in Mr. Scratch, Hotch briefly described the unsub as being too psychologically unstable for the NSA to hire, but the agency did so anyway due to his expertise with computers. He would have broken into adoption records before in search of a particular person.
Later, in The Crimson King, the BAU said that Peter never liked to kill and got others to do it for him and that his newest victimology was a shared mental condition that he could exploit. Reid also said that as a math genius, Peter plans for every variable in his schemes and doesn't act out of compulsion like most serial killers. He also committed scientifically revolutionary feats by controlling DID (an extremely difficult task for a third party) and artificially creating brand-new personalities for DID patients. Such a scenario is undocumented in DID literature but is possible with the right balance of drugs and torture. To succeed with this kind of experimentation, he would have had multiple failures.
Then, in Mirror Image, the BAU said that Peter evolved from drugging victims and making them hallucinate, to taking DID patients and brainwashing them with someone else's memories. The more memories he could transplant into someone else, the stronger the identity he can create. In the next episode, Lewis and Rossi lamented that Peter would go into hiding again in order to plan his next attack against the BAU and that the team could take advantage of his meticulous nature. Later, when Peter was suspected of framing Reid for murder in Mexico, the BAU speculated that Peter had either found another female DID patient or he was working with a fully lucid accomplice for the first time. However, the latter theory was quickly dismissed as Peter's profile suggested he would not risk working with a partner.
(Peter is holding a drugged Hotch hostage in Doctor Susannah Regan's home)
Peter: You can't move. Because I say you can't move. Do you see how this works? You do what I say.
Peter: I didn't say you could talk.
Peter: Don't cry for her [Regan]. She was stupid... and wrong. She used to burn sage during the sessions. She said that made it safe to talk about Mr. Scratch. What do you see when you look at me? Do you see Mr. Scratch?
Peter: You can talk now. I want to know. I want to know what you're feeling.
Hotch: (as his phone vibrates in the background) That's my team. They know I'm here. They're going to come looking for me and if you harm me--
Peter: What are you talking about? Your phone isn't ringing.
(The phone stops vibrating)
Hotch: It was ringing.
Peter: No, it wasn't. Very interesting.
Hotch: (disoriented) You gave yourself away, just now.
Peter: I did?
Hotch: Yes, you did.
Peter: How do you figure?
Hotch: You have no idea, do you?
(Hotch begins laughing as a puzzled Peter stares at him)
Hotch: You said that she... She would... burn sage. (brief silence) But how would you know that? (another brief silence) Unless she questioned you too.
Hotch: (referring to Regan's interview with a young Peter) I know, Peter. I know how those interviews worked, how coercive they were... with children who were innocent and helpless.
Peter: Shut up.
Hotch: She questioned you about your father. And she wouldn't stop until she got the answers she wanted. So you gave them to her.
(A teary-eyed Peter holds Hotch at gunpoint)
Peter: Shut up.
(Peter's expression changes to one of awe a moment later)
Peter: Oh, that was good. Oh, that was so good. That was so impressive. The way you got into my head. It makes me want to know how I get into yours.
(Lights from approaching SUVs shine into the room)
Peter: You were right. They did come calling for you.
Hotch: They'll kill you...
Peter: Are you sure about that?
(Peter shoots an imaginary Morgan in the neck, then approaches the hallucinating Hotch)
Peter: Now I know what scares you.
Hotch: No! No!
(Peter proceeds to kill Morgan)
Hotch: (as Peter's hallucination ends) Son of a bitch...
Peter: (sitting in front of Hotch) It's ok. You can move now.
(Lights from approaching SUVs shine into the room)
Peter: And here. I have something for you. (places a knife in Hotch's hand)
Peter: (instructing a suggestible Hotch, referring to Rossi and Reid) I'm about to come through that front door. Kill me. Before I kill you.
Hotch: My gun... I need my gun...
(Peter tosses Hotch's gun in front of him)
Peter: Look. Here I come. Kill me.
Peter: (cornered by Morgan and JJ) I win.
Morgan: I don't think so.
Peter: (referring to Hotch) You have no idea what I did to him. I win.
(Peter is speaking during a pre-recorded interrogation)
Peter: It was March of last year. I dosed Agent Hotchner with a dissociative drug.
Interrogator: What did this drug do?
Peter: It put you in a state where you experienced a waking dream. Now, I try to get my victims to see their worst nightmares. But Agent Hotchner, well... He went in his own direction.
Interrogator: What do you mean by that?
Peter: He started rambling about how I killed his team, which I expected. But then...he started to laugh... Like he was delighted. And I'll be honest with you, in that moment, I was scared...of him. Of what he could do to his own team. Or his own son for that matter. I was scared...
Peter: (while drugging Brian Phillips) Are you ready? Breathe it in. There you go. Now you're ready. Tell me, what is your name?
Brian: Brian. Brian.
Peter: No, you're not Brian.
Peter: (showing a drugged Daniel Cullen to a drugged Brian) I have to go. But I'm leaving you with a gift.
Brian: Who is he?
Peter: His name is Daniel Cullen. He thinks he's the Crimson King. What will you do about that?
Peter: (finds Desmond Holt's name) There you are.
(Peter circles the name and grins)
(Gabriel is shouting in a videotape)
Gabriel: Luke! Luke!
(Peter forces a gas mask onto Gabriel Lewis's face, then shows his face to the camera)
Peter: Luke can't help you now.
(Peter chuckles, while Gabriel screams)
Peter: (speaking to Desmond, referring to his plan to use Albert Lewis's shotgun) Maybe this is for killing and for fun.
Peter: Help me, please. Help me. Help me. Ahh! (falls to his death)
Luke: (over the radio) Scratch is down. Repeat, Scratch is down. He fell trying to escape.
- Peter is based on a few other unsubs on the show:
- Season One criminal Edward Hill. Both created sophisticated drug cocktails that triggered psychotic breaks in otherwise mentally healthy people. In one case, a victim attacked his son while in the midst of a psychotic break, nearly killing him.
- Seasons Four and Five criminal George Foyet, a.k.a. "The Boston Reaper". Both were particularly antagonistic towards Hotch, which was highlighted with an ambush in a residence that involved some sort of torture. Both also engineered highly dramatic escapes from prison and forced the Hotchner family to go into witness protection.
- Season Six criminal Blake Wells. Both were serial offenders and abductors who had M.O.s involving the drugging of their victims in order to control their minds and that their crimes involved their fathers in some way (Peter's father was killed in prison, while Blake's father abandoned him and later abused him when he got full custody of him).
- Season Eight criminal John Curtis, a.k.a. "The Replicator". Both were brilliant, organized proxy killers and stalkers whose crimes were motivated by revenge against multiple people, operated in multiple cities, successfully hacked into Garcia's computer system, and were repeatedly referred to by their criminal aliases by the BAU (in Peter's case, he is still called by the name of "Mr. Scratch" or "Scratch" even after the team learned of his true identity). Also, both of them managed to disable vehicles occupied by multiple BAU agents (Curtis hacked a helicopter carrying Reid, Hotch, and Blake, causing it to crash; and Peter disabled the BAU's SUVs with spike-strips) and then abducted a team member from the crash site. Finally, both set up traps for the BAU, in which they restrained a hostage to a chair rigged with a booby-trap that would be set off with any movement that hostage made and were ultimately killed during confrontations with the BAU after being lured out into the open in a trap set by a leading team member.
- Peter is the first recurring unsub to appear in more than two seasons. He first appeared in the Season Ten episode Mr. Scratch as the unsub-of-the-week. He then has a cameo reappearance in the Season Eleven episode The Storm before having a full-fledged, multi-episode story arc dedicated to him in Seasons Twelve and Thirteen.
- Peter is the third unsub who was able to successfully hack into Garcia's computer system, the first two being Randall Garner and John Curtis. He is also the first unsub to stage a direct attack against the BAU headquarters' computer and electrical systems in Quantico.
- Peter is the second unsub in the series to successfully murder a main character, with the first unsub being Donnie Mallick, who murdered Jason Gideon two years earlier.
- Mr. Scratch appears to be similar to The Mirror Man, a fictional entity of creepypasta lore featured early on in Season Ten. Both were supernatural beings characterized as having clawed hands.
- The two drugs used by Lewis to control his victims' minds would not have worked in the same capacity as they were portrayed in Mr. Scratch. Sevoflurane is a common dental anesthetic and has to be inhaled directly via breathing apparatus, such as a mask or a nose tube, for it to achieve a noticeable effect. Scopolamine only exists in a liquid or powder form, making administration via air vents implausible, and it takes at least ten minutes to start taking effect when it is injected directly, or up to four hours if absorbed through the skin. These discrepancies may have been intentionally implemented by the writing staff to avoid real-life copycat incidents.
- In The Storm, Peter stated that his drugging attacks and proxy murders occurred in March 2015. However, that is an error, as the crimes occurred in April in accordance with Mr. Scratch's airing.
- Bodhi Elfman, the actor portrays Peter, had two guest appearances in the sitcom "Dharma and Greg". Thomas Gibson portrayed Greg while Dharma was played by his wife, Jenna.