Thirteen .... Are you impressed?
The Footpath Killer to Gideon in "Compulsion"

The Footpath Killer (real name unrevealed) is a serial killer who appeared in Season One of Criminal Minds.


Nothing about the Footpath Killer's past is revealed, and not even his real name is mentioned. What is known about him is that he worked at (and likely owned) a secluded roadside gas station in Dumfries, Virginia. At an unspecified point prior to "Extreme Aggressor", he snapped for an unspecified reason (likely due to his low self-esteem from his stutter, should the profile about him be correct). As a result, he began brutally killing people on backwoods trails, beating them into submission before shooting them in the head with a 9mm. The Footpath Killer eventually murdered thirteen people, though only six bodies were found.

Season One

Extreme Aggressor (Part 1)

Unable to catch the Footpath Killer, the authorities asked Jason Gideon to profile him, which the agent did, later using his profile in a lecture he gave at Quantico in 2005, right before returning to work with the BAU to help them track down the Seattle Strangler. After the unsub is killed and his latest victim saved, Gideon returns to Virginia and unknowingly (and coincidentally) stops at the gas station the Footpath Killer works at, later immediately realizing the clerk possesses every characteristic his profile stated the unsub would have when he goes inside to pay for his gas. After several seconds of awkward silence, in which the Footpath Killer notices Gideon's gun, Gideon leaves, only to hear a shotgun being chambered.

Compulsion (Part 2)

After forcing Gideon back inside, the Footpath Killer demands to know who he is. Gideon replies that he is an FBI agent and also claims (as a ruse) to know why he stutters. Ignoring this, the Footpath Killer marches Gideon into a back room, where he shows him pictures of his victims, feeding off from the surprise Gideon expresses when he finds out that there are thirteen victims and not six before demanding him to grab a nearby camera (presumably to record Gideon's murder or even have him record something else). When Gideon simply begins mocking him, the Footpath Killer grows increasingly frustrated and begins sputtering incoherently, keeping him occupied long enough for Gideon to disarm him, knock him out, and arrest him.


The unsub is a disheveled male aged in his twenties who would work a menial job and own an American-made truck that would be in a state of disrepair. Despite the murders being committed in secluded hiking trails, they were all unnecessarily violent, implicating the unsub lacked confidence and felt he would be unable to charm his victims. His low-impulse control meant that he could not stop killing until he was arrested. This low self-esteem likely stemmed from the unsub being ashamed of some physical limitation he possessed, most likely a stutter.

Modus Operandi

The Footpath Killer's victims were all killed on remote hiking trails and appeared to be random people who had stopped at his gas station. He would brutally attack his victims to incapacitate them, then shoot them at point-blank range in the forehead with a pistol, most likely a 9mm or something similar. His signature was leaving pictures of his victims, taken at the gas station, with their bodies. The Footpath Killer also kept copies of the pictures, presumably as trophies, and surrounded them with nonsensical scribbles and words. When he held Gideon at gunpoint, he used a 12-gauge Remington 870 pump-action shotgun.

Real-Life Comparison

The Footpath Killer shares some similarities to real-life serial killer Robert Hansen, who hunted prostitutes in the woods with a .223-caliber rifle. According to John Douglas's profile of Hansen, the killer would stutter severely; this suggestion was later proven correct. He also shares some traits with David Carpenter, who also killed his victims by blitz-attacking and shooting them in the woods, had a stutter, and was given an alias by authorities, The Trailside Killer, which is actually somewhat similar to the name of the Footpath Killer.

Known Victims

  • Unspecified dates: Seven unnamed victims
  • Unspecified dates from 2004 to 2005: Six unnamed victims
  • September 23, 2005: Jason Gideon (held at gunpoint with a shotgun and intended to kill)


  • The DVD commentary for "Extreme Aggressor" reveals that Lukas Haas originally auditioned for the role of Spencer Reid, but he instead got the role of the Footpath Killer after he began expressing doubt about doing a series.


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