|“|| Lawrence, you're not having doubts that it's going to happen, are you?|
I believe it more than ever now.
"And life as we once knew it is gone forever. Fear not. For here, with us, you will find shelter, safety, and sanctuary, far from the terrors that lie in wait."
- Lawrence's recruitment video
The Preppers abducted women as part of their plan to repopulate society and thrive in a post-apocalyptic world in two different stages. The first stage consisted of abducting pregnant teenage girls whose children would serve as the citizens of this new society. This was followed by the abductions of professionals who would help them cater to the medical, dental, educational and nutritional needs of the other captives. More specifically, in abducting Roberta Childs and Paige Burrell, an obstetrician and a pediatrician respectively, they acquired professionals specializing in prenatal care and the care of young children. They targeted pregnant teenagers with histories of substance abuse, whom Irene met through her job as a counselor. Irene would learn of their pregnancies in their counseling sessions and rely on that information to Lawrence before abducting them. It is unknown how they selected the professional women they abducted. However, it is possible they targeted them through their social media accounts as each woman had an active online presence prior to their abductions. They would wait until the women were isolated in some way, such as in a parking garage leaving their workplace or, as was the case with Diane Pearl, alone in their homes. When abducting Allie Lieghton, they also used a ruse to distract her. Irene would drive beside them while Lawrence would incapacitate them using chloroform and drag them into Irene's van. Because of Lawrence's obsession with the Doomsday Clock, he would wait until a particular moment before grabbing them. In each case, the victim was abducted at the time corresponding to the current setting of the clock.
After abducting the women, they would transport them to the underground bunker on Irene's property and lock them in one of the bedrooms. After they regained consciousness and their resolve was weakened, they would indoctrinate them into the cult. Irene would appear, apparently as a sort of comforting figure, and give them a tour of the facility, which set an atmosphere similar to that of a mental institution. In the case of Allie Leighton, they apparently drugged her somehow. It is unknown if they did the same with the other captives, though this is unlikely. Afterwards, they would be shown a propaganda video prepared by Lawrence, featuring images of mass destruction ranging from tornados to nuclear blasts. In their vulnerable states, the women would have perceived Lawrence's words as the truth and either stay with them voluntarily or because they felt that they had no other options. The abducted mothers-to-be would then pass the same apocalyptic beliefs onto their children, who were born during their captivity.
The unsub is abducting women based on the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic clock that indicates how close the world is to total destruction. Midnight on the clock represents a hypothetical global catastrophe, such as a nuclear war, and the number of minutes to midnight stands for how soon it can happen. Since a group of atomic scientists created the clock in 1947, the minute hand has been reset many times, a total of twenty-two. For the last five years, the clock has been subtly ticking down and it was last set at two and a half minutes to midnight, which is consistent with the time the latest victim, Paige Burrell, was abducted: 11:57:30. The unsub's obsession with the clock is so great, he took the time to wait until that exact moment before taking her and the fact that he abducted a pediatrician means that the missing teenagers and their children are still alive. Wrapping Dr. Childs' body in a blanket suggests that the unsub cared about her comfort, even towards the end of her life. The times of the other abductions coincide with the times set on the clock in the past five years. This means the abductions are most likely the work of a doomsday cult.
The concept of preparing for the end is moving from the fringes of society into mainstream culture. They call themselves 'preppers' and their aim is to maintain a certain standard of living for themselves and other while riding out the apocalypse, whether it be nuclear or civil unrest. The victims are part of the unsub's prep to repopulate a new civilization in a post-apocalyptic world and the trigger was the clock starting to tick down five years ago was the trigger. The suicide of Dr. Childs, a long-term captive, could cause descent among the rest of the group. Given this plus the proximity to midnight and the pressure from the investigation, the unsub may decide it is time to sever all ties to the outside world. It is vital that the unsub is found before this happens.
- The Preppers seem to be based on several unsubs from the show's history:
- Robert and Linda Reimann, a two-person team of abductors and killers from Season Five that abducted teenage girls, held them captive for years and delivered and raised their children. However, the Preppers abducted girls who were already pregnant whereas Robert Reimann repeatedly raped their victims with the intention of impregnating them.
- Michael Thompson, a misogynistic abductor, rapist, and killer from Season Eleven. Thompson also abducted young girls, held them captive for years and brainwashed them into believing what he told them was true. Some of Thompson's victims also gave birth during their captivity. However, Thompson's motivations were very different from the Preppers' own motives and the latter abducted victims aged in their mid-to-late teens who had already become pregnant while Thompson targeted his victims when they were still children and impregnated them himself following years of sexual abuse.
- Reginald Clemmons, an abductor who appeared in Season Twelve. All believed that the world was coming to an end, abducted and holding children captive for years and brainwashing them into accepting their own beliefs. Also, in both cases, someone died during the captivity of the victims (Dr. Roberta Childs, in the case of the Preppers while in Clemmons' case, it was Clemmons himself).
- They also share minor similarities to Amber and Tony Canardo, another two-person team of abductors and killers from Season Two, and the Human Trafficking Ring from Season Ten as all of them abducted their victims in a similar fashion.
- ↑ A synonym for brainwashing. It means to teach a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.