Criminal Minds Wiki

You understand why I had to show everybody how vulnerable we are!

Chad Brown is a spree killer, homegrown terrorist, one-time mass murderer, and poisoner who appeared in the Season Four episode of Criminal Minds, "Amplification".


Born on February 6, 1976, Brown studied at the School of Public Policy located at the University of Maryland in 2004 and spent the next five years as an on-and-off Ph.D. candidate. He had an unsteady job at a bookstore called The Book Front, has an estranged sister, had been arrested twice at protest rallies, and had a girlfriend to whom he proposed but was rejected. She later filed a restraining order against him. Prior to the episode, he applied for a civilian position at Fort Detrick a total of four times, but failed the psychological evaluation every time; whenever he was asked about whether it was appropriate to sacrifice a few to save many, he had always answered "yes". During his studies at the School of Public Policy, Brown wrote a thesis that was focused on anthrax attacks, like the Amerithrax attacks of 2001. In it, the thesis talked about city preparedness and how easy it was to make samples of anthrax at home. For assistance in his thesis, he asked Dr. Lawrence Nichols, an expert in the field who had been previously demoted to working with influenza. Nichols accepted it, having missed teaching, and even showed him the private laboratory at his residence, where he had access to anthrax and had even developed a new and more aggressive strain.


Nichols being an anti-WMD proliferation fanatic who wanted to show people how vulnerable America was, Brown took his teachings to the extreme and carried out an anthrax attack on the bookstore he once worked at, hoping for a promotion but had been rejected. Since the dosage was very high, all three infected victims died of organ failure before other symptoms became present, with the deaths being classified as meningitis. When Nichols found out, he and Brown got into an argument, which resulted in a struggle that led to Brown killing Nichols and breaking a container of anthrax in the process. Unfazed by Nichols's death, Brown goes to the Quiet Hills Park in Annapolis, Maryland, where he had proposed to his girlfriend, and releases weaponized anthrax developed by him and Nichols. A total of 25 people are severely infected, with twelve of them dead by the time a joint investigation by the BAU and several U.S. Army scientists from Fort Detrick, led by General Lee Whitworth, is launched. The profile they made of the unsub eventually leads them to Dr. Nichols. However, when Morgan and Reid go to Nichols's residence, the latter finds Nichols dead at the lab, as well as the broken container of anthrax. Knowing that he inhaled the released anthrax, Reid locks Morgan out of the lab. Investigating the lab, Reid realizes that Nichols had a protégé, later identified as Brown.

In Brown's thesis paper, he also wrote about a mock anthrax attack on the D.C. subway system. Whitworth sends watchmen to the target area suggested by Brown as having the most fatalities, but Hotch argues that Brown attacked places he associated with rejection and would therefore attack the subway line leading to Fort Detrick. Whitworth is unconvinced, but he accompanies Hotch and Morgan to the subway line suggested by Hotch, where they find Brown and confront him. Brown refuses to listen to Hotch and Morgan, but just before he can drop a bag full of anthrax-filled light bulbs, thus shattering them and releasing the anthrax upon everyone in the station, Whitworth stops the two agents, wanting to take Brown into military custody so he can help find a cure for the anthrax strain. When he talks Brown into giving up the bag, Morgan makes the arrest; the whole intervention had been staged in order to give Brown fake validation and get him to surrender. Reid, who has deduced that Nichols had hidden a cure for the anthrax strain in his inhaler, is cured along with the last four surviving victims infected at the park. A sample of the anthrax, the container of which bearing his and Nichols' names, is seen being placed inside a massive storage vault at Fort Detrick. Its safe to presume that Brown was incarcerated afterwards.

Modus Operandi

"I can kill everyone in here!"

The homemade anthrax strain used by Brown was highly aggressive and killed its victims much faster than its regular counterpart. In addition to the lung failure and black lesions that were typical of symptoms of anthrax poisoning, this strain would duplicate roughly 30 to 45 minutes, deeply poison the lungs, and cause massive hemorrhaging and failure to other organs as well as aphasia, a speech impediment. He targeted places that he associated with rejection. When he killed Dr. Nichols, he personally applied blunt-force trauma to his head.


"I helped create this [anthrax]! You have to name it after me!"

No official profile of Brown was made by the BAU since their profile was more in sync with Nichols. When Nichols's body was found along with two different workspaces and handwritings in his home, it was realized that he may have had a protégé, one who may have turned on him. Because Nichols saw himself as a teacher, his partner would have appealed to him as a student. Since he was helping Nichols with his thesis, it was initially believed he may be a local Ph.D. student studying either biology or microbiology (though he was later revealed to be a student in social studies, such as public policy and urban planning, as his thesis revolved around city preparedness and response). He is also connected to the bookstore that was attacked in some way, either being a former employee or a customer who had a grievance. His writings had verbatim to Nichols, which means he adopted his views as his own.

Real-Life Comparisons

Brown may have been inspired by Shoko Asahara - Both were terrorists, poisoners, and mass murders (Asahara by proxy) who attacked a subway station with a Bacteriol agent.

Brown is also compared to the Amerithrax attacks repeatedly throughout the episode and may have been inspired by it - Both attacks consisted of at least one (possibly more in Amerithrax's case) poisoner and terrorist (homegrown in Brown's) who attacked numerous victims in several places with anthrax. Particularly, Brown seems to be inspired by the theory that Bruce Ivins perpetrated the Amerithrax attacks in order to raise awareness and promote research for an anthrax vaccine.

Known Victims

  • 2009:
    • May 8, Washington, D.C.:
      • Killed three people at The Book Front with a large dose of anthrax. The victims are:
        • Albert Franks (the bookstore owner)
        • Gale Mercer
        • Martha Finestein
      • Doctor Lawrence Nichols (was killed by blunt-force head trauma in his lab)
    • May 9, Annapolis, Maryland: Infected 25 people in the Quiet Hills park, with four of them cured. Named victims are:
      • Abby (one of the cured)
      • Danny
      • Ethan
      • Jason
      • Melinda
    • May 10, Washington, D.C.:
      • Spencer Reid (indirectly; was infected by an open dose of anthrax left in the lab, but was cured)
      • The attempted anthrax attack at the Frederick subway line:


  • According to Brown's file, his Social Security number is 960-01-1701.