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Truth is, they meant nothing to me. They were toys, a diversion, and from the moment I decided to kill them, they were dead. They begged, they cried, they bargained, and it didn't matter, because they didn't matter.

Chester Hardwick was a prolific serial arsonist-turned serial killer who appeared in the Season Three episode of Criminal Minds, "Damaged".


Born into poverty in East Bridgeport, Connecticut, on April 4, 1950, Hardwick moved in and out of various housing projects as a boy, each residence being worse than the last. Due to both of his parents being mentally ill (his mother suffering from bipolar disorder while his father was afflicted with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder he suffered after World War II), Hardwick grew up in a violent household, with his parents abusing him and each other. In his teenage years, Hardwick began to spy on his female neighbors and steal their underwear, as well as starting random fires (claiming to be responsible for over a hundred). For these petty crimes, Hardwick spent two years in a juvenile detention facility. Upon reaching adulthood, Hardwick began murdering young women, slaying twenty-three before being caught and sentenced to death. While awaiting execution, Hardwick barely talked to or interacted with anyone.


A week from his execution date, Hardwick agrees to be interviewed by the BAU as a part of the Criminal Personality Research Project, to which he is scheduled to be interviewed by Hotch and Reid. After being escorted to a small room to be interviewed, Hardwick (his shackles removed at Hotch's request) tells Hotch and Reid that he will only talk to them if they let him slide open one of the fortified windows in the room, terms the agents agree to. When the interview begins, Hardwick is uncooperative and, when Hotch begins to grow frustrated and asks him why he requested to participate in the program in the first place, Hardwick gestures to the open window and flatly states he simply wants to smell the fresh air, having been in isolation on death row for so long.

Angry at this reveal, Hotch presses the button signaling the guards to let him and Reid out, only for Hardwick to smugly state that none of the personnel will be able to respond to them for thirteen minutes: the evening hours began at 5:00 and the guards will be busy out in the yard with the other inmates until 5:30. Hardwick then reveals he intends to kill both Hotch and Reid to delay his execution. Hotch would not back down, and ready to fight, he said that as Hardwick's core, he was a coward, As Hotchner and Hardwick are about to engage, Reid jumps in at the last possible second, and claimed that he could tell Hardwick why he killed all those women. Intrigued, he listens to Reid, who, at an incredibly rapid pace, begins describing Hardwick's mental state in-depth for thirteen minutes straight - the time they needed to buy to get out of the cell alive. Reid was able to completely engross him in the information and was able to keep him distracted until the guards return. As his shackles are put back on, Hardwick asks Reid if he ever had a chance at being normal. As Reid walked out the door, he quickly dropped one last remark, "I don't know. Maybe." It is certain his execution went as planned the following week.


No official profile was made of Hardwick by the BAU, since he was not the center of their investigation. However, Reid did deeply describe Hardwick's mental state in dept. It goes as follows:

"Your mother's bipolar and almost certainly an undifferentiated schizophrenic. Your father suffered severe shell shock in the war, what we now refer to as post-traumatic stress disorder. As far as I can tell he remained clinically depressed the rest of his life. Fifty-three percent of all serial killers have some form of mental illness in their family. In your case both your parents suffered from psychological disorders which they largely took out on you. They beat each other as much as they beat you, so violence became a natural expression of love. There's something called the hypothalamic region of the limbic system, it's the most primitive part of the brain. It wants what it wants, without conscience and without judgment. It's what makes babies cry when they're hungry, scream when they want affection, become enraged when a toy is taken away. In most children, a healthy relationship with their mother counters the hypothalamus and maps the child's brain to healthy emotional responses. Your hypothalamus never learned control; it still operates on that primitive level.

Pre-records indicate that you displayed the symptoms of satyriasis, you're obsessed with sex. Sex and love are cross-wired with pain in your head. Additionally, your hypothalamus won't allow you to stop seeking the desires that it wants, so you became a sexual sadist. No functioning sexual partner will ever willingly submit to the painful desires that you have. The only way you can serve them is by making a partner compliant, making sure they do exactly what you want them to do. And you ensure that by killing them. Earlier you said your victims never had a chance... I think you know deep down... it was you who never really had a chance."

Modus Operandi[]

Hardwick targeted young Caucasian women, who he would kill with quick and brutal efficiency. Exactly how he killed is never mentioned, though judging by the condition of the bodies (one of which appeared to have a slashed throat) shown in crime scene photos in his file, he presumably used a bladed weapon of some kind, such as a knife. However, he appeared to be confident that he could kill Hotch and Reid with his bare hands while alone with them trapped in his cell, implying that he may have beaten and/or manually strangled at least some of the victims to death.

Real-Life Comparison[]

Hardwick appears to have been mainly based on Edmund Kemper - Both were serial killers who targeted women, seemingly killed them through similar means (though Hardwick's M.O. is never fully elaborated on), had similar sentences (Hardwick was sentenced to death and presumably executed off-screen, while Kemper wished to be sentenced to death by electric chair, but wasn't), and were both interviewed by FBI personnel. Their interviews took a turn when the guards failed to show up, resulting in both killers taunting and threatening their interviewers (Kemper repeatedly taunted and threatened to kill Robert Ressler, while Hardwick intended to kill Hotch and Reid), but never actually harmed them. The interviewers distracted the killers by talking to them and stalling them until the guards could arrive. Hardwick's physical appearance even seems to mimic Kemper's.

Known Victims[]

  • Unspecified dates:
    • An unspecified amount of victimless arsons
    • Numerous unnamed women (spied on or stole their underwear only)
    • Killed 23 women during a several-year span. Named ones are:
      • Sheila O'Neal
  • January 30, 2008: Aaron Hotchner and Spencer Reid (attempted)