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Do you hear that, Mom? Shoulda won the scholarship. Me. Not the other guy. Coulda got a degree, better job... I...I coulda taken you to Hawaii, like you always dreamed about. Do you understand me?

Ben Davis is a serial killer, abductor, and one-time angel of death who appears in the Season Twelve episode of Criminal Minds, "True North".


Ben grew up in an apparent low-income household, and at some point, his father left him and his mother Virginia for reasons unknown. When he was a senior at his local high school in 2013, he participated in a science fair; his project focused on making shock collars more humane. Though he was one of three finalists, Ben lost to another boy named Joey Fletcher, whose subpar experiment on sundials still garnered a lot of attention. As a result, Joey won a scholarship to Cochrane University, a university in Ohio. Having missed his chance for a free ride in getting a higher education, Ben continued to live his life of squalor, and was unable to move out of Virginia's house. His failure in winning the scholarship also dashed Virginia's lifelong dream of going to Hawaii, as Ben could have gotten a good job that would have made such a trip affordable. This caused Virginia to become cynical and emotionally abusive towards Ben, soon spiraling downward into alcoholism. Eventually, an adult Joey, an academic flunkie in reality, wound up wasting the scholarship, as he flunked out of Cochrane. This caused Ben to snap and plot a revenge scheme against Joey. In order to build up his confidence, Ben started killing overachievers who he was jealous of.

True North[]

After killing four victims, including Joey, Ben tries to impress a drunk Virginia by making a lei necklace on his own, but she chastises him for not bringing the real thing and throws it away. He then promises to take her to Hawaii one day, but she mocks him for not having enough money. In an effort to win back his mother's love, Ben tracks down the science fair judge, Marla Grace (whose company produced the scholarship prize), abducts her, and takes her to his and Virginia's home. After assuring Marla that he wasn't planning on raping her, Ben leaves and finds Virginia, who is dying, presumably from alcohol poisoning. He returns to Marla and instructs her to tell Virginia that Ben should have won the science fair. When she does, a tearful Ben then kills his mother as an act of mercy, electrocuting her to death. He then tells Marla that she is going to die next, but Alvez and JJ burst into the house and hold him at gunpoint. When Ben steps into a puddle and threatens to throw an activated fan on the water, thus killing himself, JJ assuages him by leaving the premises. Alvez then tries to calm Ben down by advising him to cremate his mother's body and spread the ashes in the Hawaiian seas, but Ben is convinced that the police will just bury Virginia in a cemetery at home. He tries to go through with his suicide attempt, but JJ disengages the power, thus allowing Alvez to safely tackle Ben and handcuff him.

Modus Operandi[]

Ben targeted people who received scholarships to go to college out of state, and who returned to the Tucson, Arizona, area after graduating. His first three victims were overachievers who were featured in local news media for their accomplishments (which was how he first came across them), but his fourth victim, Joey Fletcher (the true object of his rage), flunked out of his school and led an unsuccessful life.

Once he somehow abducted them, he would take the victims to Saguaro National Park, where he would tether them to stakes, strap shock collars without batteries onto their necks, and place blue sashes on their necks (as a reference to the blue sash used to declare the science fair winner). Afterwards, he would use the collars to electrocute the victims to death by pouring water on them and touching them with a metal pipe, which would trigger the collars to lethal levels. The first three victims were positioned together in order to form a life-sized sundial (as some sort of mocking reference to Joey's successful science fair project), but when it was discovered, Ben was forced to improvise, taking Joey to kill him at another location in the park.

Ben later targeted a judge in the science fair, Marla Grace; he abducted her for the purpose of telling Virginia the truth about his stolen victory. Once that was done, Ben killed Virginia as an act of mercy, by submerging her feet in a container of water and dropping an activated fan in the container, thus electrocuting her. Ben then expressed his intent to kill Marla, presumably by electrocution as well.


The unsub is a physically fit male aged in his early to mid-20s, who is intelligent and criminally sophisticated despite his youth. Based on his familiarity with the surrounding desert, he may be a local who owns or has access to an off-road vehicle. His first victims were people who excelled in universities, and if the unsub flunked out of school, the killings are his way of lashing out. All of the victims were positioned to face true north, which is a geographic term, but it is believed the unsub is using it in a more philosophical sense. He is most likely working in a menial job that is below his abilities. His latest victim was an academic flunkie like the unsub, which is either a de-compensation or a refinement of his M.O. If the latter scenario is correct, he may be closing in on the true target of his rage.

Known Victims[]

  • 2017:
    • Three bodies found at the life-sized sundial. They are:
      • Mid-March: Oscar Benitez (represented 4:00 p.m.)
      • March 29: Carol Brandom (represented 3:00 p.m.)
      • April 6: Peter Jones (represented 2:00 p.m.)
    • April 11: Joey Fletcher (the winner of the science fair; represented 1:00 p.m.)
    • April 12:
      • Marla Grace (one of the science fair judges; abducted and intended to kill; was rescued)
      • Virginia Davis (his mother; killed as an act of mercy)


  • Ben seems to have been partially inspired by at least three unsubs from the show's past:
    • Season Two
      • Tobias Hankel ("The Big Game" and "Revelations") - Both were serial killers, abductors, and one-time angels of deaths who were abandoned by one parent (Hankel's mother and Davis' father respectively), and were abused by the other as a result, and both later killed said abusive parents as acts of mercy.
    • Season Eleven
      • Dana Seavers ("'Til Death Do Us Part") - Both are serial killers and abductors who murdered people they were jealous of, had objects whom they wanted the affection of, later tried to kill those objects (though only Davis succeeded), and had signatures comprised of wrapping sashes around their victims' heads post-mortem.
    • Season Twelve
      • Daniel Cullen ("The Crimson King") - Both are serial killers and abductors who operated in Arizona, had pathologies that were in line with an injustice collector, killed both men and women, transported their victims to desert areas to watch them die in a ritualistic fashion, and bound them in some way (Davis tied his victims to poles before electrocuting them while Cullen chained his victims' arms into an arm-stretcher.)