Criminal Minds Wiki

I'm no copycat. You wait. Before this is over, you'll be a footnote in my story.

Daniel "Danny" Dryden is a copycat, abductor, one-time cop killer, and serial-turned-spree killer who appears in the Criminal Minds novel Killer Profile.


Originally a fashion photographer on his way to stardom, Daniel met his future wife Connie during an outdoor shoot, which was interrupted when it began to rain. Taking shelter in the company car while waiting out the storm, Daniel and Connie both wound up having a bout of spontaneous sex and instantly fell in love, marrying sometime later. The two eventually had a son named Kevin, which ultimately caused Connie to become a stay-at-home mom. Without his so-called muse, Daniel's quality of work declined and his popularity fell rapidly, which forced him to get a job as a crime scene photographer when companies and agencies stopped hiring him and moved on to the next hot prospect. A few years after their second son Kyle was born, Daniel decided to become a copycat killer. Using Max Ryan's book Serial Killers and Mass Murderers: Profiling Why They Kill as a guide, Daniel planned on first emulating the serial killers it listed before moving on to the rampage killers. On March 21, 2008, Daniel killed his first victim, Bobby Edels, whom he lured from a gay bar by paying off a lowlife named Eddie Minchell. After strangling him, Daniel disposed of Bobby's body in a plastic barrel, which he left in an abandoned apartment in Chinatown. Several weeks later, Daniel shot a couple making out in a car, and two months later lured two female beachgoers to a secluded area, where he strangled them and left several of their bones partially buried in the forest.

Killer Profile

By the time the BAU is called to Chicago to investigate the murders, Daniel has Eddie bring him another victim, a traveling salesman named Stevie Darnell, who Daniel abducts after Eddie drops him off at a secluded motel. Burying Stevie in the crawlspace of John Wayne Gacy's house after killing him, Daniel (in his job as a crime scene photographer) arrives at the scene with the authorities after the body is found by an employee of the gas company. As Rossi and Hotch converse with detectives, Daniel, overhearing them discussing on how the unsub replicated crime scene photos that were never made public, introduces himself and mentions the killer could be a city employee with access to evidence, or they could merely be someone who found the pictures on the Internet. Daniel goes on to kill a man he picks up in a bar (disguising himself as a woman to do so) and later abducts and prematurely buries Grant Shuler near a deserted farmhouse, being interrupted in the midst of doing so by Detective Jake Denson, who had somehow pieced together Daniel was the killer. Managing to gain the upper hand against the detective, Daniel shoots him the stomach, knocks him on top of the homemade coffin Shuler is in, and fills in the hole. Having finished copying all the serial killers in Max Ryan's book, Daniel moves on to the rampage killers, the first one mentioned in the book being Richard Speck, who had raped and tortured eight nursing students before stabbing or strangling them to death.

Discovering Daniel is the killer, Rossi, Morgan, and a local detective reach the house where Speck committed his murders at the same time as Daniel. Scared off, Daniel manages to reach his car and drive to a nearby community hospital where he randomly opens fire, killing one nursing student and wounding two others (who he incorrectly believes he had killed) as a distraction intended to get the authorities away from the Speck house. After a few hours of hiding, Daniel returns to the house, and, just as he is about to break in, Rossi (who had been staking out the property, having correctly assumed Daniel would return) engages him. Trying to escape again, Daniel is brought down and arrested by Rossi. Brought to the police station, Daniel is interrogated by Rossi, due to it being possible Grant Shuler is still alive, as Daniel had Herman Kotchman (a killer who buried his victims alive and gave them enough supplies to survive a few days) in mind when he kidnapped him. By making it seem as if Shuler had already been rescued (using doctored photographs of a man vaguely resembling him being loaded into an ambulance) Rossi manages to manipulate Daniel into unintentionally revealing some information about Shuler's whereabouts - he is in a secluded farmhouse a short distance across the state border. Spreading out to search possible farms where Shuler is, Rossi and Morgan find the correct one and successfully dig up and save the still barely alive Shuler.


The unsub is a patient, obsessive, and meticulous white male, who would be between thirty-five to fifty, as the crimes were too sophisticated and organized to be the work of a young offender, the unsub's fantasy too well formed to have been committed by someone who hasn't had years to develop it. He would be highly intelligent, charming, be capable of easily blending in, and have a massive ego, believing himself to be smarter than the police, the FBI, and the killers he copied. Despite this, he would have an inadequate personality and feel he has no control in his normal life, believing everyone looked down on him as a loser and refused to recognize his brilliance and superiority. Despite copying killers whose crimes were sexual in nature, his murders showed no sexual component, which led the BAU to believe that he was killing merely for self-satisfaction and attention. Wanting to prove his superiority over those he copied and becoming even more infamous than them, the unsub made "improvements" to their crimes, and, if his alterations were deemed mistakes by investigators, he could be enraged. When it came to copying, he took care to be exact but was willing to fudge some details and adapt to get his kills, even if it undermined the exactness of his recreation.

The unsub's signature, the act which he "gets off on" in manner of speaking, is taking photographs of his victims. He would use the pictures to relive his crimes, and, by sending them to the police, he is taunting them and gaining the attention he craved. Like most organized offenders, he would inject himself into the investigation to see what the authorities know and to give himself a feeling of power over investigators. The unsub delaying police investigation by killing in different jurisdictions and basing some of his murders off unpublicized crime scene photos implicated he may work in law enforcement.

The distance between the murders meant the unsub had a vehicle, probably something large, nondescript, and dark in color, and the time he devoted to stalking his victims and planning his murders meant he had a job which allowed a lot of freedom, with the unsub being able to come and go as he pleased. Though he may have a family, the unsub is a textbook sociopath: cold, calculating, and devoid of compassion or mercy.

Over time, the unsub began to devolve into a spree killer, with his cooling-off period growing shorter and his murders growing sloppier (entering a "close enough" phase when it came to copying). Even when he finished replicating the criminals in his guide, he would not stop killing and may plan to go out in some grandiose manner, possibly by killing his family and himself.

Modus Operandi

Daniel's kills were all meticulously planned, sometimes weeks in advance. Though he went to great lengths to make sure his murders were as true to the originals as possible, even going so far as pretending to be a woman in the Wuornos-based killing, Daniel always made sure to alter the crime in some small way:

  • In the Dahmer-based killing, the victim wasn't raped, dismembered post-mortem, or lured in by the Daniel, but by Eddie Minchell
  • In the Berkowitz-based shooting, the male victim was shot before the female victim and Daniel didn't masturbate at the crime scene afterwards
  • In the Bundy-based killings, the victims weren't raped and no bones from victims of prior killings were found
  • In the Gacy-based killing, the victim wasn't raped and lured in by the Daniel, but by Eddie Minchell
  • In the Wuornos-based shooting, the victim wasn't undressed
  • In the attempted Kotchman-based killing, the victim was buried near Modesto, California, not Indiana, and also wasn't given water to survive or a claw-hammer to escape

His signature was taking several pictures of his victims after killing them, afterwards mailing the photographs to the authorities to fuel his need for attention, which grew so immense over time that he eventually came to skip the police altogether, emailing the photos directly to the media. In the case of Detective Jacob Denson, he shot him in the stomach and put his body on top of the homemade coffin he put Grant Shuler in before burying both of them.

Known Victims

  • 2008:
    • March 21, Chinatown, Chicago, Illinois: Bobby Edels (strangled and sealed in a plastic barrel; found on July 22; based on Jeffrey Dahmer's murder of Jeremiah Weinberger)
    • April 18, Chicago Heights, Illinois: Benjamin Mendoza and Adrienne Andrews (shot with a .44 Magnum while in a car; based on David Berkowitz's murders of Alexander Esau and Valentina Suriani)
    • June 14, Bangs Lake-Lakewood Forest Preserve, Wauconda, Illinois: Donna Cooper and Casey Goddard (strangled and left some of their bones in the woods afterwards; found a week later; based on Ted Bundy's murders of Janice Ann Ott and Denise Marie Naslund)
    • July 30, Chicago, Illinois: Stevie Darnell (abducted and presumably asphyxiated; buried in the crawlspace of Gacy's house; based on John Wayne Gacy's murder of William Kindred)
    • August 5, Chicago-Aurora, Illinois: Vern Latham (shot three times with a .22 Automatic; based on Aileen Wuornos's murder of Richard Mallory)
    • August 7:
      • Unspecified location in Indiana:
        • Detective Jacob Denson (incidental; shot in the stomach with a .22 Automatic and buried his body)
        • Grant Shuler (attempted to kill by burying him alive; was rescued; based on Herman Kotchman's murder of an unnamed victim)
      • Chicago, Illinois:
        • One killed, and two injured, in the shooting at the Chicago State University community hospital. The victims are:
          • An unnamed nursing student (killed)
          • Two unnamed people (attempted, but survived; both were non-fatally shot)
        • Attempted to kill the following as a plan to emulate Richard Speck:
          • Laticia
          • Laticia's unnamed son
          • Three unnamed other people
        • David Rossi (attempted)
  • Note: Other spree killers Daniel intended to copy were Howard Unruh, Charles Whitman, and Byran Uyesugi. Exactly how he intended to copy their rampages without getting caught is unknown.


  • Dryden appears to have been an inspiration for Eric Olson ("Zoe's Reprise") - Both are serial killers who copied the M.O.'s of famous serial killers from the past, with one of their murders emulating David Berkowitz.