|“||You liked her [the Woman] to look at you. You liked it, didn't you, whore? She knew...that you can't cheat the laws of God or the laws of nature forever.||”|
— The Killer Woodsman to Cissy
Not being named, the Woodsman was born in 1965 to teenage siblings Malachi and Magdalene Lee, who kept his conception a secret from the rest of the family. When Magdalene began to go into labor, Malachi fled in terror, and she stumbled into the nearby forest in pursuit. However, she tripped and fell, and she was approached by an unidentified woman, known only as the "Appalachian Woman", who would watch Malachi and Magdalene during their lovemaking. The Woman assisted Magdalene in giving birth to the Woodsman and then adopted him, calling him "perfect". Magdalene allowed the woman to keep the baby as long as she promised never to tell anyone how he was conceived. As the Woodsman grew up, he was raised by the Woman, who taught him how to hunt, but kept him away from other people, citing that they wouldn't understand him. When the Woman became bedridden from cancer, she informed the Woodsman about his parents and the circumstances of his adoption before dying from it. Confused about why his mother gave him away, the Woodsman managed to track down his parents and formulated a scheme to get the attention of Magdalene, who had by that point renamed herself Cissy and inducted herself into the Howard family.
On March 30, 2014, the Woodsman initiates his plan, killing Malachi's son Matthias with a bear-trap wrapped with barbed wire as the latter was out hunting. The following day, he attacks Clark Howard, Cissy's son, by hanging him with a noose made from barbed wire. However, when that fails to kill him, he instead snaps his neck and twists his head around 180 degrees. Because both the Lee and Howard families held a long-lasting feud, the BAU, who are called in to investigate, initially assume that the violence between the two families escalated into murder. The following night, the Woodsman goes to the home of Miles Lee, another of Malachi's sons, with the intention of killing him. However, when he isn't home, he instead kills Miles's wife Maddie by decapitating her through dragging with a car despite Miles's best efforts to save her. The next day, he straps the Woman's body onto a bed, raises it so he can face her body, and then stabs her in the stomach with a kitchen knife, presumably to collect her blood. As he does so, the Woodsman begins to sob. Later, he collects salt and puts it on the Woman's face and spreads it all over it as her corpse is inside a coffin. He then initiates the final phase of his plan, breaking into Cissy's house the following night, knocking her out, and abducting her after she tries attacking him with a shotgun.
The Woodsman then takes Cissy to the shack where he was conceived. When she regains consciousness, he confronts her and asks her to say hello to the Woman, whom he identifies as his mother, showing Cissy her corpse. He then tells Cissy about how the Woman raised him and then reveals the time he was told about his adoption. Then, the Woodsman declares that he will decide whether Cissy should live or not, but adds that he will decide after Cissy tells him about what happened to lead to his adoption. When she tries explaining herself, the Woodsman merely replies that she or Malachi could never have the ability to change the laws of God or nature. Cissy then tells him everything about the circumstances of his adoption. He asks her if she named him or kissed him goodbye; when she replies no to both questions, he angrily asks if she even held him, to which she answers yes. The Woodsman then stands up and prepares to hang her with barbed wire, ignoring Cissy's protests. However, she argues that the authorities will find him and prosecute him, and that she can help him escape, citing that she needs to pay for her sins, but that she also wants him to live. The Woodsman agrees and releases her. Off-screen, Cissy gives him a route of escape. However, as he escapes, he stumbles across Blake and ambushes her, knocking the both of them into the water, where Blake fires several shots from her gun, grazing the Woodsman once in the head and apparently knocking him unconscious, causing them both to submerge into the water. Blake resurfaces a few seconds later, shaken by the experience, and tells the rest of the team to open fire, to which they fire over thirty bullets into the water. Though the body isn't recovered, JJ reassures Blake that the Woodsman is dead.
The next day, somewhere in Kentucky, a couple named Brent and Sandy arrive at an isolated home that belongs to the former's parents. The two try to have sex, but Sandy tells Brent that he needs to wait and leaves the room. As he waits, he notices that the fireplace had been recently used before hearing a small crashing noise inside the bathroom. After going inside, he finds the sink running and a window open; Brent shuts off the sink before being surprised by Sandy, who then begins to undress. Just then, the Woodsman ambushes Brent from behind, wrapping barbed wire around his neck and telling him that he has three seconds to give him the keys to his car. When he completes the countdown, the episode abruptly ends, but it can be assumed that the Woodsman killed both Brent and Sandy. He currently remains at large.
The Woodsman initially targeted the sons of Malachi and Cissy (and therefore his half-brothers), killing them in a variety of ways, although his usual signature involved using barbed wire in some capacity. Matthias Lee, Malachi's son, was killed by a bear-trap wrapped with barbed wire that was launched out of a tree with a makeshift projectile. Clark Howard, Cissy's son, was killed after being hanged with a noose made from barbed wire, but when that failed to kill him, he twisted his head completely around. Maddie Lee (who was incidental) was killed after being tied up with a noose of barbed wire wrapped around her neck and her legs chained to a container, to which she was dragged by the car and therefore decapitated. When he tried to kill his mother Cissy, he tried hanging her with barbed wire. In the case of the SWAT agent, he was killed by being stabbed with a pickax tied to a cinder block, which was triggered to swing down and kill whoever opened the door to the Woodsman's home. It is unknown as to how he killed Brent and Sandy, but it is very likely the usage of barbed wire was involved. The Woodsman usually attacked his victims while they were armed, not being intimidated by the advantage they had over him.
No official profile was made of the Woodsman, since the BAU were more focused on the Lee and Howard families, their conflict, and the secret, rival bio-fuel businesses they ran.
- Wheeling, West Virginia:
- March 30: Matthias Lee (one of Malachi's sons; killed by a bear-trap wrapped with barbed wire)
- March 31: Clark Howard (Cissy's son; hanged by a noose formed from barbed wire, then fatally twisted his head completely around when the noose failed to kill him)
- April 1:
- Miles Lee (another of Malachi's sons; intended to kill, but attacked Maddie Lee instead when he wasn't home)
- Maddie Lee (his half-sister-in-law and Miles's wife; incidental; tied down, wrapped a noose of barbed wire around the neck, and decapitated by dragging with a car)
- April 2: Cissy Howard (his mother; abducted and attempted to kill by hanging her with barbed wire; was released the next day)
- April 3:
- April 4, unspecified location in Kentucky: Brent and Sandy (both killed by unknown causes)
- Wheeling, West Virginia:
- The Woodsman is the fourth of five criminals to evade the BAU. The first was Tony Mecacci (who would later be killed by a mobster), the second was Shane Wyland, and the third was Darlene Beckett. The next criminal was Taras Yudin.