|“||So what? You saved one little whore! Believe me, she'll never be the same!||”|
— Amber as she is being arrested
Amber Canardo (née Brooks) is a psychopathic and misogynistic serial killer, abductor, and the mastermind of a two-person killing team that appeared in the Season Two episode of Criminal Minds, "The Perfect Storm".
Born in 1985, Amber's childhood was full of abuse from her father and brother, which continued on into her teenage years. They would often abuse her in nearby local woods. Finally, on March 19, 2000, when she was fifteen, she managed to stumble into a Tallahassee hospital, showing signs of having been savagely beaten and raped. When doctors discerned her father and brother were the ones responsible, they convinced Amber to go to the police, but when Amber arrived at the station, her mother appeared and told the officers that Amber was lying about everything, including the rape, and they stopped investigating. The abuse presumably continued, and as a result, Amber was scarred for life, both physically and mentally. She also became a misogynistic sexual sadist, due to her mother's neglect and apathy. In 2003, Amber began abducting and killing teenage girls in Jacksonville, Florida, somehow convincing a boyfriend to assist her. The girls were taken to a secluded cabin in the woods and would be tortured by Amber and her partner (who took turns filming each other) for weeks before Amber strangled them to death. At some point in 2004, Amber's partner died (possibly at her hands) and she left his body to rot on the grounds located near the cabin.
The following year, Amber met Tony Canardo, who became her new partner when he was released from prison. The two married and began killing girls together, recording the torture and murders. They would then have Tony's former cellmate Joey Davin dispose of the victims' cars over state lines; he would do so without realizing what the two were actually doing. When the mother of her sixth victim, Bonnie Mossenberg, appeared on television, pleading for her daughter's safe return and begging forgiveness for her abductor, not knowing at the time Bonnie was dead, an enraged Amber sent a DVD depicting Bonnie being tortured and raped to Mrs. Mossenberg, as if to say "I don't want, or need your forgiveness". Why she was so enraged by Mrs. Mossenburg's willingness to forgive her is never revealed, but it is possible that it may have been because the act reminded her of the way her own mother had forgiven the people who once abused her, drawing Amber's anger.
The Perfect Storm
When the BAU is given a series of DVDs by a number of murder victims' families, they are appalled that the killer or killers had recorded the murder and sent the videos to the victims' parents. The team is convinced that the unsub is actually a two-person killing team and that the dominant one is most definitely male. Meanwhile, Amber is seen abducting Tiffany Spears after Tony asks her for directions. Through investigation, the team finds a link to Joey, but he refuses to comply and gets himself killed. The BAU then tracks down Joey's old cellmate, Tony, whom they believe is the dominant partner. Tony refuses to give up any information, so Amber is brought in to talk to Tony to find out the location of the missing girl. Tony pretends that the killing team was Joey and himself. As Reid and Gideon watch the tape, they realize that Amber looks too calm when she is in the room with all of the pictures of the murdered women. They also notice that she isn't scared because she looks at her husband dead in the eyes while talking. Hotch suspects that Tony is trying to protect her and that Amber is definitely the mastermind behind the bizarre killings.
It is evident by the defensive wounds on the victims that the killer is not much stronger than they were. The victims appeared to have managed to get away for short periods of time and were recaptured. Amber's voice also appears in the videos, and it is evident that she is not afraid of the cameraman. This leads Hotch to deduce that she is the killer. Gideon manages to get Tony to reveal where Tiffany is being kept (a cabin in the woods), and when the team arrives, they find Tiffany with her face pressed against the window. Hotch sees Amber, who is tossing Tiffany around the room, beating her as she was once beaten. The team bursts in, arresting Amber. She states that the FBI has nothing on her, but Hotch replies that they have her voice on tape giving orders to Tony. She and Tony are incarcerated afterward, although it is never revealed what happened to her abusive family after her arrest.
Having been beaten and raped at a young age, Amber grew to desire to inflict the same pain on other young women. She and Tony would abduct young girls so that Amber could relive her earlier experience as the abuser.
Amber is a rarity among serial killers, as a vast majority of serial killers are men. In this case, the fact that the abused has become the abuser is also a rarity among female killers. She is also an outspoken misogynist, which is slightly odd since she herself is a woman. It most likely stems from the sexual and emotional abuse she suffered at the hands of her family. It is possible that she may also suffer from self-hatred due to her misogyny, presumably for not being able to defend herself from her family.
Based on her M.O. and the motivations for her crimes, Canardo can be considered an organized, power-seeker type serial killer.
"Now put that little bitch on her side. You like it, don't you? Dirty whore likes it."
Targeting Caucasian women in their teens to early twenties who live low-risk lifestyles, Amber and her partner usually abduct them while they were jogging, though some victims were taken from parking lots, along with their cars (which, after Amber met Tony, were given to Joey Davin, who sold them across the state line). If the victim was jogging, the partner would approach them with a van and ask for directions to lure the victim close, so Amber could jump out, grab them, and drag them into the vehicle. The girls are then taken to a cabin in the same woods where Amber would be abused by her father and brother. There, they would be tortured for weeks, with methods of torture including rape (presumably only done by whatever male partner was involved), beating, burning, cutting, bludgeoning, and flagellation. While the duo presumably takes turns torturing the girls, it appears the partner is the primary torturer, working under the instructions of Amber, who filmed everything, and taunted the victims. It is always Amber who finished the victims off, which she did via strangulation (originally manual with her boyfriend, but later with a ligature of some kind while working with Tony). The bodies would be dumped in places where they could be easily discovered, and were left in demeaning positions for shock value. The only thing they wore were lengths of colored plastic film, which was wrapped around their pelvises and chests.
Amber eventually started sending DVDs of the torture sessions to the victims' parents as a form of psychological torment. The envelopes and the DVDs sent were always addressed to just the mothers. In the case of Laura Clemensen, it included a fake letter from Laura written by Amber.
- Unspecified dates in 2003:
- Erica Stern
- Dee Cathell
- Unspecified dates from 2004 to 2006:
- Her unnamed boyfriend (possibly; his body was discovered near the cabin)
- Abbey Roxford
- Madison B. (full surname unrevealed)
- August: Bonnie Mossenberg (sent a DVD of her torture to her mother)
- October 1: Laura Clemensen (sent a DVD of her torture to her parents; later killed on October 6)
- October 5: Frank Clemensen (Laura's father; indirectly killed; suffered a fatal heart attack after watching the DVD of Laura's torture)
- October 6: Tiffany Spears (abducted and attempted to kill; sent a DVD of her torture to her mother; was rescued the next day)