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Why are you just sitting at home when you should be out looking for your boy?

Claire Bates is a delusional budding serial killer and abductor who appeared in the Season Four episode of Criminal Minds, "The Instincts".


"I kept healthy. I did good. [...] My baby's dead."

Claire's early life is not elaborated upon, though she was likely born and raised in Nevada. Severely unstable, Claire was arrested and institutionalized on October 28, 2004, when she, for unknown reasons, attacked a fellow secretary at the law firm where she worked, managing to bite off part of the woman's ear. On October 30, 2006, Claire's father, Herbert, died of a heart attack, thus leaving Claire in possession of his vehicle and a small house in nearby Reno. At an unspecified point, Claire was released back into society, her mental illness kept in check by powerful anti-psychotic medication. After becoming pregnant in January 2008, with the child's father never being mentioned, Claire stopped taking her medication so as not to harm the baby, and successfully gave birth to a boy nine months later. She lost her son only a week later when Social Services deemed her an unfit parent. Her child being taken away caused Claire's psychosis to essentially go into overdrive, and she eventually came to believe her son had died. A few days after losing her son, Claire abducted a neighbor's five-year-old boy, who her psychosis caused her to view as her own newborn. Keeping the boy, Ethan Hayes, locked in her house and feeding him nothing but breast milk, Claire smothered him with a pillow after a week, recreating the loss of her son, who was taken away after a seven-day evaluation. Claire disposed of Ethan's dead body in the desert just outside of Las Vegas before taking another boy, four-year-old Michael Bridges.

The Instincts[]

Claire subjects Michael to the same treatment as Ethan, whose funeral she attends. While at the service, Claire spots the BAU arresting a man named Walter Davis, who they mistakenly conclude is the unsub after they find him recording the burial. Calling Michael's parents shortly after Walter is released, using a voice-changer, Claire demands to speak to the agents and, when Michael's mother grabs the phone from Hotch and pleads for her son's safe return, Claire tells her she will never see Michael again. When the BAU storm her house after deducing she is the unsub, Claire rushes outside carrying something wrapped in a blanket, which the agents believe to be Michael. Setting some gasoline soaked logs she had piled earlier on fire, Claire ignores the agents' attempts to talk her down, responding to everything they say with "My baby is dead!" Thinking Claire may be deranged enough to throw Michael into the fire, Morgan reluctantly prepares to shoot her when he is contacted by Reid, who just found Michael in the house, safe and sound. Directly after Morgan gets Reid's message, Claire throws her bundle into the fire, revealing it is composed of nothing but children's toys, which she had presumably purchased for her baby. Claire is arrested, while Michael is reunited with his parents. Claire is presumably incarcerated or put back into an institution.


"I loved him. His parents didn't deserve him. I took good care of him."

The unsub was originally believed to be a Caucasian male in his late-twenties or mid-thirties, as statistics show it is almost always men who take children, while women take newborns. Later, deeper analysis of one of unsub's phone calls caused the BAU to realize they are indeed dealing with a female unsub, due to the lack of bragging, the way she projected her own guilt on to the parents by demonizing them, and the heavy emphasis she gave on caregiving. Ethan Hayes appeared to be well taken care of, and showed no signs of torture or sexual abuse, implicating a remorseful unsub who, while they dumped the body in an attempt to separate themselves from what they had done, likely still visited it due how close it was placed to the main road. The quality of the clothing Ethan was in implicated an unsub of a middle class background.

He won't be dressed in a high end or well tailored suit at Ethan Hayes' funeral. He may also be paying a lot of attention to Michael Bridges' parents while at the funeral; his focus will be on them, instead of the service itself. It is believed he drives a four wheel drive vehicle. The rigidness of her phone conversations and use of certain words ("locked down" instead of arrested, calling the three minute time limit of the calls "the rule") also implicated she may have been institutionalized in the past. The reason for this confinement could be the loss of a child around the same age as the abducted boys, though Reid later realizes the unsub could merely be so unstable she simply saw the boys she took as babies.

Modus Operandi[]

"Get some sleep now, ok? Mommy's here."

Since Claire only killed one victim, the term "M.O." is somewhat misused. All of her abductions seemed unplanned and random; she would merely grab a Caucasian boy, who acted as a surrogate for her infant son when the opportunity presented itself. Keeping the captive locked up inside her house, Claire treated them like an infant, even breastfeeding them, explaining how her victims appeared starved yet were still somehow getting essential nutrients. While the child was in captivity, Claire would call the parents using a voice modifier and disposable cellphones, and taunt them, saying that their son was much happier where he was.

After a week (the same amount of time Claire had her child before it was taken from her), Claire would smother the boy she had taken with a pillow, and in the middle of the night, drive out to the desert just outside of Las Vegas and dump the body, dressing and grooming it at the scene. The body was then dumped only a short distance away from the road and left completely uncovered, allowing Claire to "visit" it by just driving by. When she tried to kill the secretary, she beat her and bit off part of her ear in a psychotic rage.

Known Victims[]

  • October 28, 2004: Unnamed female secretary (attempted, but survived; was non-fatally beaten and had a part of her ear bitten off)
  • 2008:
    • October 25-November 1: Ethan Hayes
    • November 7-9: Michael Bridges (abducted, held captive, and intended to kill; was rescued)


  • According to her file from the Department of Corrections, Claire's Social Security number is 960-68-2387.
  • Her surname, Bates, and her obsession with her son might be references to Norma Bates, the character created by Rober Bloch in his 1959 novel Psycho.