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The soil will heal you.
Emma to her daughter

Emma Kerrigan is a delusional serial killer, abductor, and one-time cannibal who appeared in the Season Eight episode of Criminal Minds, "The Good Earth".


A health store worker, Emma was married to John Kerrigan, who owned a large farm, and the two of them had a daughter together named Lexy. She was a firm believer in natural, holistic medicine, with her beliefs bordering the point of fanaticism. At some point, she developed scleroderma, a severe skin disease. This turned her into a hypochondriac (although it is possible she was one for her whole life) who wouldn't eat anything unless she grew it herself. On August 18, 2010, while she was still suffering from the scleroderma, John died in a car accident, and his body was cremated and his ashes spread in Emma's tomato garden. Emma healed soon after, which made her believe that her husband's ashes were what healed her. However, she would often hallucinate of having scabs on her arms and face, causing her to visit the hospital thirty times in six months. Becoming frantic and delusional, she started abducting fit young males to use as fertilizer due to her belief her husband's ashes were what cured her disease, and possibly because she had used up all of her husband's ashes.

The Good Earth

In the episode, Emma is first seen abducting Terry Rodgers after he drives off the road due to a melatonin overdose. She takes him to her farm and tends to him and three other men she abducted (Gary Ellard, Barry Deaver, and Paul Hicks), feeding them a cocktail of soil additives and animal feed. After some time, she realizes Terry has cancer, Emma kills him, and dumps his body in the river. She is later seen chopping firewood, likely testing her ax's sharpness when Lexy surprises her. After hurriedly shutting the door and telling Lexy to go back inside, she starts up the wood chipper and kills Gary Ellard. Afterward, she washes the ax and the wood chipper clean. She and Lexy begin digging in the tomato garden and Emma hallucinates scabs and itches on her arms. When she visits her doctor, he insists she is fine. She quickly leaves when he suggests that this is a mental problem and asks her if she contacted a therapist, but Emma leaves. Later that day, she still scratches the imaginary scabs when she looks in the mirror and sees the disease on her face. Emma then begins waiting outside a baby shower for Cheryl Winslow, who is due in three weeks. She abducts her and does a C-section, taking the placenta and dropping her and the surviving newborn baby off at the hospital.

After consuming the placenta, Emma looks in the mirror and sees her face has healed, much to her relief. Later, Lexy tries to investigate the barn, but Emma stops her. She then tries to feed her daughter the placenta, but the bowl is accidentally spilled, angering Emma. She then hallucinates severe scabs and pustules on Lexy's face. Panicking, Emma feeds Barry Deaver the sawdust cocktail and kills him for fertilizer. That night, she drugs Lexy with the melatonin and buries her up to her neck in the soil. Believing that her daughter will be healed by the soil and Paul Hicks's blood, she drags him to her and starts cutting his wrist. The BAU arrive and attempt to convince Emma to drop the knife. She refuses, claiming that it is all she has left. Blake tries to convince her that the blood will not help her, then gives Emma a bag of ashes she found at a fireplace, which she claims are her husband's. Convinced that the ashes will heal Lexy, Emma drops the knife and spreads them over Lexy. She is then taken into custody, while Lexy and Paul are saved, although judging by Paul's condition when he was last seen and the fact that the BAU did not comment on whether or not he survived, it is possible he later died of the injuries he sustained from the torture. It's safe to presume Emma is institutionalized after her arrest.

Modus Operandi

Emma sought out healthy Caucasian men and found all of her victims through her job at farmers' markets. Her first three victims were all healthy, employed, married with children, and born and raised in La Grande, but her fourth victim was a terminally sick, new resident who lived as a recluse. After giving them drinks drugged with melatonin, she would follow them until they fell unconscious, after which she would abduct them and take them to the barn on her farm. She would then strip them nude, gag them with duct tape, and hold them captive by restraining their wrists and ankles with chains. Then, Emma would force-feed them a cocktail of soil additives such as gypsum; animal feed such as cotton and flax; and natural sedatives such as hops, catnip, and kavakava through a tube inserted into their nose and by injecting the blend with a liquid syringe. After killing them by decapitating them with an ax, she would dismember the bodies and grind the parts with a wood chipper. Afterward, she would use the chopped flesh as fertilizer for her garden, believing it would cure her of her scleroderma.

Her first fatal victim, Terry Rodgers, was drowned and dumped in a riverbank instead when she found him undesirable due to him being terminally sick. When she attempted to cure Lexy from her alleged scleroderma, she drugged her with the melatonin and buried her up to the neck in the soil in her garden, then cut Paul Hicks's wrist and parts of his neck in an attempt to pour his blood all over the aforementioned soil. She later briefly targeted Cheryl Winslow, a pregnant woman, abducting her without drugging her, taking her to her farm, gagging her, and performing a Caesarean section on her with a serrated-edge knife (sterilizing it with a lit candle beforehand), removing her entire placenta to use for consumption. She then crudely stitched up her abdomen and uterus before leaving her and her unharmed baby in a hospital parking lot.


The unsub is a Caucasian woman who is highly organized, thorough, and patient. Based on the amount of complexity and sophistication demonstrated in the abductions, she is most likely between the ages of 30 and 40 and is familiar with the rural area surrounding La Grande, being either a native or someone who had lived there for a while. She is keeping her victims in isolation in the countryside, which means she has access to land or a structure that is remote, hidden, and private. Her targets are exceptionally health-conscious men, who represent ideal specimens for fertilizer (although it was originally believed that these victims were selected for their ability to father children, since they are all age-appropriate and all of them are fathers). The unsub killed her first victim because she saw him as flawed, being the least physically fit of the four and making him undesirable. It was initially thought the victims could be surrogates for a man that she wanted but could not have. Because she killed the last two victims, it is possible the unsub is engaged in some sort of elimination process: pre-selecting a handful of prime candidates and then whittling them down one by one until she has her ideal human fertilizer.

Known Victims

The dates denote when the victims were abducted.

  • 2012:
    • Abducted four men, held them captive, tortured by force-feeding, and killed at least three of them. They are, in order of abduction:
      • September 17: Gary Ellard (died on October 26; the second fatality; decapitated with an ax, dismembered post-mortem, and put his body parts into a wood chipper)
      • October 6: Barry Deaver (died on October 27; the third fatality; decapitated with an ax, dismembered post-mortem, and put his body parts into a wood chipper like the previous victim)
      • October 18: Paul Hicks (his wrist and neck were later cut with a knife; was rescued on October 27, but possibly died from the torture and injuries)
      • October 25: Terry Rodgers (died on the day after he was abducted; the first fatality; drowned him and dumped his body in a riverbank)
    • October 26: Cheryl Winslow (abducted, performed a successful Caesarean section, removed her entire placenta, and consumed some of it; was released)
    • October 27: Lexy Kerrigan (her daughter; survived; drugged with melatonin and buried up to the neck in soil; did not intend to kill)



  1. She is classified as such because she consumed the placenta of a woman. It is arguable if this qualifies as cannibalism in the most common sense of the word since the placenta doesn't consist of human flesh.