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It won't be much longer. It's almost time for the slaughter.
Cormac to Howard Walker

Cormac Burton is a serial killer and abductor who appears in the Season Twelve episode of Criminal Minds, "Keeper".


Born on February 15, 1976, Cormac and his older brother, Todd, were abused by their father, Curtis. Their mother, Amy, was also a target of abuse. She eventually drank herself to death as a result on October 31, 2011. Curtis would often force the brothers to wear dog muzzles and take them to a slaughterhouse belonging to his cousin Rance Kerley. There, Curtis would force them to spend the night living in the mud with the pigs and then watch him as he slaughtered pigs, all the while claiming they would be next. One day, Cormac found a dog and tried to keep it, but Curtis found out and forced Todd to help him abandon it. This incident warped Cormac's mind. As an adult, Cormac seemed to move on with his life, relocating to another town and getting a job at a sporting goods store. When he learned that Curtis died of a heart attack on August 1, 2015, he moved back to his hometown of Dillon, Virginia, a week later. He fell off the grid and began killing men who reminded him of his father and were hiking along the nearby Appalachian Trail. As he continued his killings, Cormac remained unaware that Todd, who had become homeless and had been following him around the entire time, was helping him cover his tracks by dismembering his victims' bodies and scattering the body parts around the trail.


After claiming seven lives, Cormac kills an eighth victim after the man is found by Todd with a muzzle. During this time, the BAU is called in to investigate. While the team is investigating, Cormac targets his next victim, Howard Walker, who is not a hiker and is instead a random customer at a convenience store. Cormac ambushes Howard, incapacitates him with a shovel, and abducts him. Later that night, Cormac enters the slaughterhouse with a machete and tells Howard that he is about to be slaughtered. When Howard asks why he is doing this, Cormac tells him about what his father did to him and Todd when they were children. Just as Cormac is about to kill Howard, JJ and Alvez show up, having identified Cormac as the unsub earlier. As they both point their guns at Cormac, he says "You know what they say about a cornered animal", implying he is going to fight back. Seconds later, he instead answers that the animal gives up. He promptly drops the machete and surrenders, allowing them both to arrest Cormac and rescue Howard.

Modus Operandi[]

Cormac usually targeted Caucasian men in their 40s to 50s, who were hiking along the Appalachian Trail and reminded him of Curtis. The sole exception was Kylie Fleming, a woman in her early- to mid-20s who witnessed one of his crimes and had to be silenced. They were all forcibly taken to Rance Kerley's slaughterhouse, forced to wear dog muzzles, and stabbed and/or slashed to death with a machete. Afterwards, Cormac disposed of their bodies on the trail, where they would be dismembered by Todd, unbeknownst to him. Later on, when his victimology and method of finding his victims were discovered by the BAU and the local authorities, Cormac was forced to improvise. As a result, he targeted a random man who reminded him of Curtis in a parking lot and knocking him out with a shovel.


No profile of Cormac was made by the BAU, as they were more focused on his brother Todd as a suspect.

Real-Life Comparison[]

Cormac appears to be partly based on Juan Corona - Both were mentally imbalanced serial killers who had a brother (half in Corona's case), were left mentally unstable after a traumatic experience (Burton was abused by his father and was forced to abandon a dog, while Corona witnessed a deadly flood), were active in isolated areas near an American coastline, targeted middle-aged men, stabbed/slashed them to death with a machete (though Corona used other weapons too), and left their dismembered remains in a mass grave near an inhabited area (a campsite in Burton's case. an orchard in Corona's). Their names also loosely mirror each other.

Known Victims[]

  • August 2015: Unnamed man
  • 2016:
    • February: Unnamed man
    • May: Unnamed man
    • August: Unnamed man
    • September: Unnamed man
    • October 20:
      • Unnamed man
      • Kylie Fleming (incidental)
    • October 26: Colin Maynard
    • October 26-27: Howard Walker (assaulted, abducted, and attempted to slash his throat; was rescued)


  • Cormac seems to have been inspired by at least four unsubs from the show's past:
    • Season Three
      • Stanley Howard ("Scared to Death") - Both were serial killers who were abused by a parent (Burton's father, Howard's mother) had stressors involving the death of said relative (both of which occurred in August), after which they abruptly quit their jobs and began killing, killed their victims in a ritualistic fashion related to their abuse (Burton took his victims to a slaughterhouse and forced them to wear dog muzzles, mirroring his father's abuse, while Howard killed his victims in various fashions related to their worst fears, apparently as a delusion to get over his own fears), and disposed of their victims in hiking trails.
    • Season Ten
      • Steven Parkett ("X") - Both were serial killers and abductors who were well organized, were abused by their fathers when they were young, abducted their victims and took them to locations formerly owned by one of their relatives where they would be held captive before being killed (with the locations being related to animals in some significant way, such as a farmhouse for Parkett and a slaughterhouse for Burton), gagged their victims with items meant to be used on animals, and killed their victims with machetes. In both cases, someone else was initially suspected of committing their murders after the dismembered remains of the victims were found in their possession.
      • Justin Leu ("Burn") - Both are serial killers and abductors who were abused along with their older brothers (both of whom were coincidentally named Todd) by their fathers, had mothers who died during their childhoods, targeted men who were surrogates for their fathers (though Burton also killed a woman), and were triggered to commit their killings after their fathers died from heart-related conditions (coincidentally in the month of August).
      • John David Bidwell ("Boxed In") - Both are killers and abductors who were abused alongside their siblings by their fathers, who had favorite methods of tormenting them (Bidwell's father locked him inside a trunk, while Burton's father forced him and his brother to wear dog muzzles and watch him slaughter pigs). Also, their fathers' eventual deaths triggered them to commit their crimes, as they started to identify more with their abusers, and these crimes were patterned around the abuse they once suffered.
  • Cormac's name was inspired by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, playwright, and screenwriter Cormac McCarthy, best known for his bestselling books No Country for Old Men and The Road.[1]
  • According to his employment records, Cormac's Social Security number is 906-94-7326.
  • It's interesting to note that Dusty Sorg (the actor who played Cormac) previously starred as Vernon Butts in the 2010 film Freeway Killer, a film based on the crimes of serial killer William Bonin.



  2. At least some of the photos Lindsey Vaughan took of Reid appear to have been shot during Cormac's case