|“||Beauty can cover a multitude of sins. But underneath, we all look exactly the same.||”|
— Frank in "No Way Out"
Frank was born the son of one Mary Louise Breitkopf, a German immigrant, and never knew his father. They lived together in an apartment in Manhattan. He was highly intelligent and for that reason, had a number of specific needs. In order to be able to afford to care for her son's needs, Mary Louise resorted to prostitution, occasionally in her own home, at which point her son witnessed the encounters. As a result, Frank grew up to become a textbook sexual sadist; when his mother died (possibly at Frank's hands), he left home, traveling around the U.S. with his trailer and killing people, funding himself with the possessions and money taken from his victims. In 1977, while he was in Golconda, Nevada, he met a young woman named Jane Hanratty and attempted to kill her. However, when she was on his makeshift autopsy table, she looked straight into his eyes and felt calm, which completely turned him off. He would later claim that he fell in love with her and regularly returned to Golconda to leave her wind chimes made out of rib bones taken from some of his victims. Whenever he stopped by, he would also have a strawberry milkshake at a local diner. The BAU is summoned to investigate him when several of his latest murders are connected.
By the time the BAU investigated, Frank abducts Sheriff Georgia Davis when she is assigned to watch Jane, whose connection had been traced to Frank. He then goes to a remote diner, where he is recognized. This leads to Gideon and Morgan entering the diner to meet him and find the location of Sheriff Davis. Frank is interested in Gideon's name and explains to him what it means in mythological and biblical terms. When the two agents identify themselves and demand to know where Davis is, Frank calmly replies that he is going to finish his milkshake and leave. Gideon then asks Frank if he would like to know how they caught him, just as police cars surround the diner. After Gideon says that a woman's suicide would have no emotional effect on Frank, Davis's husband Mark bursts into the diner and threatens Frank with a double-barreled shotgun if he doesn't tell him where he has his wife. Frank eventually issues an ultimatum after handing a bag containing a man's decapitated head to Gideon.
Frank is led outside of the diner by Morgan and Gideon and are met by the local authorities, including Sheriff Davis, who had been found inside a trailer Frank used to kill his victims. She is traumatized, having witnessed Frank brutally murder a local. Frank then tells Gideon that if he is allowed to get away with Jane, he will reveal the location of a busload of children he has abducted (explaining the decapitated head; the victim was a school bus driver). Gideon is skeptical, but eventually believes that Frank would not actually harm children. Gideon drives the two of them to the desert and watches as Frank and Jane share a disturbing kiss. By the time Gideon drops him and Jane off, Frank tells him that the children are two miles to the west. Gideon allows them to leave, locates the children, all unharmed, and calls for support. They follow Frank and Jane's footprints into the desert, where they disappeared. Gideon declares, "We'll find him."
Frank reappears in the season finale at McLean, Virginia, where Gideon lives. Having accidentally lost Jane sometime ago, Frank decides to attract Gideon's attention, killing Gideon's girlfriend Sarah Jacobs in Gideon's own apartment before calling him, saying, "What is your fascination with birds?" Before leaving Sarah's body behind at the scene, he cuts off one of her ribs and places it in her hand to tell the BAU that he has lost Jane and wants her back. Frank then murders Rebecca Bryant, the daughter and former hostage of budding serial killer Randall Garner and also abducts Tracy Belle, the would-be victim of young serial killer Jeffrey Charles. Gideon learns that Frank is now intent on killing all of the would-be victims that were rescued by him.
When Gideon finally locates and confronts Frank in Manhattan, Jane appears and intervenes. Frank then takes Jane by the wrist, tells her that he loves her, and the two jump onto the nearby train tracks. A passing train instantly kills them. Tracy is rescued, but the events psychologically scarred Gideon, eventually leading to his resignation from the BAU next season.
"Were you afraid? I've never felt the feeling of fear. Apparently, I'm... incapable. Tell me, Rebecca. What does it feel like? Fear?"
The unsub is a white male aged in his mid- to late-50s, listens to Beethoven, wears a corduroy jacket with a fleece-lined collar, and is left-handed. In a right pocket inside his jacket would be a notebook containing extensive details of the torture of every one of his victims. It is essential that he sees the terror in his victims' eyes, as it is what gives him release. He either has medical training or has honed that skill over the years. He is also methodically and obsessively clean. His vehicle is most likely a mute-colored RV, neither old nor new and in perfect condition. It will have a radio, radar detectors, and a police-band radio, allowing him to evade authorities. His vehicle is also his killing room, and it will be soundproofed, have surgical instruments on the walls, and a stirrup chair or an autopsy table in it. All of his murders are recorded, if not on a camera then in a journal. He is also a textbook psychopath exhibiting all of the classic traits: incapability of feeling any empathy towards others, neither guilt or remorse, and claiming no responsibility for his actions. Like others of his type, he is highly intelligent, manipulative, and narcissistic. It is later discovered that he always travels east to west along the same highway (Interstate 80), and all of his victims were abducted and killed along his route.
Targeting random people who were unwanted in society, such as gang members and runaways, Frank used ketamine on his victims to paralyze them, take them to his trailer, and place them on a metal table situated underneath a mirror (meant to allow the victims to watch what he was doing to them). He would then vivisect them and remove their organs with surgical tools. He would also dismember the victims while they were still aware and cauterize the wounds by burning them with some sort of tool in order to keep them alive for a longer period of time. After watching the victims die, Frank would typically remove a single right rib bone, which he would use to make wind chimes for Jane. He would then dump the remains in remote areas near Interstate 80, although the bodies of his later victims were left where they were killed. In the case of Sarah Jacobs, she was targeted because of her relationship with Gideon and left her severed rib bone in her hand. He also targeted Rebecca Bryant and Tracy Belle for being survivors of unsubs apprehended by the BAU.
In the Season Two Making-Of documentary, Simon Mirren states that the inspiration for Frank came from the story of an unnamed man who had created a makeshift torture chamber complete with torture instruments, video cameras, and a gynecology chair.
Frank may have also been based on the unidentified Jack the Ripper case - Both were prolific (possibly in Jack the Ripper's case) serial killers who targeted the 'unwanted'/high-risk victims (mainly women), were incredibly sophisticated and organized killers, and performed vivisection and dismemberment on their victims with bladed weaponry.
He may also been inspired by the unidentified Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run - Both were prolific serial killers and abductors (possibly in the Butcher's case) who targeted both genders, tortured and killed via dismemberment, and only left partial and badly decomposed remains behind.
Frank may have also been inspired by Henry Lee Lucas - Both were prolific (possibly in Lucas' case) serial killers who had prostitute mothers who forced them as children to watch as they had sex with numerous men (molding them into sexual sadists in the process). Both later killed their mothers (possibly in Breitkopf's case), primarily targeted women (Breitkopf also killed men), killed over 100 victims (possibly in Lucas' case, who also claimed thousands), and killed their victims via violent means with bladed weaponry and dismemberment.
He might also have been based on David Parker Ray - Both were abductors and (suspected in Ray's case) prolific serial killers who abducted victims (usually female, though Breitkopf also targeted men) and brought them back to a trailer to torture them. Also the above-mentioned story by Mirren is very similar in concept is similar to Ray, though he isn't officially named as the inspiration.
Frank might also be based on Robert Ben Rhoades - Both were prolific (possibly in Rhoades' case) serial killers who targeted both genders (though the male victims were incidental in Rhoades' case, who simply shot them) and tortured and killed their victims inside a vehicle which doubled as a torture chamber.
Frank seems to be based from serial killer Ted Bundy - Both were prolific, psychopathic, and organized serial killers who committed murders over a span of decades in multiple states with the possibility of many more victims and cases that were unsolved. Both were also sadists who took pleasure in seeing their victims' fear moments before death, mutilated them, and kept trophies of their murders as to relive them; Frank kept the victims' rib bones while Bundy kept their skulls. After being captured, Bundy attracted a following of female fans, seemingly echoing Jane's captivation towards Frank. In addition, both Bundy and Frank evaded capture once from the authorities after being held in their custody. Lastly, both presented themselves as good-looking, charming, and non-threatening due to their physical appearance and way of dressing, which allowed them evade suspicion.
Frank: What's your name? Come on, names are a hobby of mine.
Gideon: Jason Gideon.
Frank: Jason. From Greek mythology, to heal. Gideon, a hero from the Old Testament who lead the Israelites against the Midianites. Your parents had great expectations of you. I'm Frank. Germanic, third century, derived from the name of a kind of spear. I wonder what expectations my parents had of me.
Frank: (to Morgan) If I had your looks, do you know how much easier my life would be?
Frank: (to Gideon, smiling) What's the psychopath got in the bag, Jason?
Frank: Magic time!
Gideon: If I ever find myself feeling what you feel, I'll kill myself.
Frank: Call me first, I'd love to pick your brains.
Frank: (while on the phone with Gideon) What is your fascination with birds, Jason?
Gideon: Who is this?
Frank: (ignoring Gideon) Paintings of birds, sketches of birds, books about birds...
Gideon: Frank, please, please don't hurt her.
Frank: Birds can be extremely single-minded in their pursuits. Almost... obsessed.
Frank: (to Rebecca) Did you know recent studies into female rape victims found a high proportion of them, later in life, are raped again?
Rebecca: No, I wasn't raped.
Frank: (ignoring Rebecca) It's almost as if, in them, they had a kind of... signal.
Frank: (to the BAU via phone) I regret to inform you that Rebecca's name should be moved to a new list.
Frank: (to the phone, in a calling voice) Jason...
Gideon: You son of a bitch. I swear to you, I will find you, and I will stop you.
Frank: Shhhh, Jason. I chose the station because I know how much you love trains. I saw the toys in your apartment.
(Frank hangs up)
Frank: Agent Hotchner! We haven't had the pleasure of a... formal meeting.
Hotch: Where is Tracy Belle?
Frank: Do you have something for me?
(Hotch hesitates for a moment)
Hotch: No I don't.
Frank: (calmly, facing away from Hotch) Then you'll never see her again.
Frank: (to Jane) I love you.
Jane: I love you too.
(The two jump on the railroad tracks in spite of Gideon's protests and are killed by a passing train)
- With his total body count of at least 176 people, Frank Breitkopf is the second of only nine unsubs in the show's history who are confirmed to have claimed hundreds of lives. The others are:
- Season One
- Season Five
- Season Seven
- Season Ten
- Season Eleven
- Sharon Mayford ("Entropy") - A prolific and international serial bomber, hitwoman, cop killer, one-time mass murderer, and gangster who killed at least 173 people.
- Cat Adams ("Entropy", "Green Light", and "Red Light") - A prolific and international serial killer, hitwoman, gangster, and later proxy killer who killed over 200 people (an exact number unspecified). Adams also appears in Season Twelve.
- Season Thirteen
- Jake Logan ("Killer App") - A mass murderer, serial bomber, workplace shooter, one-time cop killer, one-time abductor, and serial-turned-spree killer who killed at least 379 people.
- Benjamin David Merva ("Believer" and "300") - A prolific serial killer and cult leader who killed 299 people. Merva also appeared in Season Fourteen.
- Frank seems to have a considerable amount of knowledge with the meaning of names, saying names were a hobby of his, as revealed in "No Way Out", in which Frank describes Gideon's name. The name Jason is from Greek mythology, meaning "To Heal". The name Gideon is a hero in the Old Testament, who led the Israelites against the Midianites. His own name, Frank, is third-century Germanic, derived from the name of a type of spear.
- In "The Last Word" (which aired before No Way Out), Prentiss mentions the existence of a yet-to-be-identified "I-80 Killer" targeting co-eds in Indiana. Frank would search for victims while traveling along that particular highway. In that same episode, Reid mentions that it is very rare for two independent serial killers to be active within the same area.
- In the TV series Dexter, Keith Carradine portrays FBI agent Frank Lundy, a profiler who appears in the show's second and fourth seasons. In the fourth season, he investigates the case of a serial killer who has been killing all over the U.S. for decades without his murders being connected, not unlike Frank.
- Keith Carradine also previously portrayed a serial killer in the 1983 miniseries Chiefs.
- Though Gideon calls Frank "the most prolific serial killer ever", there is evidence that real-life serial killer Harold Shipman, a.k.a. "Dr. Death", killed around 250 people and is believed to have killed many more, his victim count easily surpassing Frank's. Pedro López confessed to over 300 murders after a flash flood uncovered a mass grave. Amelia Dyer, a 19th century serial killer, also has 247 murders attributed to her and she may have killed as many as 400. Elizabeth Báthory, the Blood Countess of Hungary, is attributed with as many as 650 victims, although it is possible she may have been a victim of conspiracy and was therefore innocent. Also, in-show serial killer Billy Flynn, a.k.a. The Prince of Darkness, was responsible for attacks on over 200 families (not including the victims depicted in the episodes he appeared in), killing at least one member per family.
- The BAU didn't know Billy Flynn's murders (actually, they didn't even know Billy) when they encountered Frank, nor did Jason Gideon.
- Frank's hijacking of the school bus is likely inspired by the climactic hijacking of a school bus by serial killer "Scorpio" in the 1971 film Dirty Harry. Scorpio was based in turn on the Zodiac Killer, who threatened to attack a school bus in a letter to police.
- The scene with a decapitated head discovered in a bag is similar to one of the final scenes in the 1995 psychological thriller movie Se7en, which involves a head in a box. In both cases, the killer enjoys teasing people about what might be in the box. Frank hints to Mark Davis that the head might belong to his wife. In the movie, the head actually did belong to a police detective's wife.
- Part of the beginning description Gideon gives for Frank could be based on the popular story about the profile for the Mad Bomber, George Metesky . "Read favorably, Brussel's profile of the Mad Bomber predicted that he would be a middle-aged man, he would be a slob and he would be unmarried but probably living with women related to him who played a maternal role. Brussel also guessed that he would be wearing a double-breasted suit when he was arrested."
- Frank Breitkopf is the second of only nine unsubs in the show's history to have successfully completed their goal. The others are:
- Season Two
- Season Three
- Season Five
- Season Seven
- Season Eight
- Darlene Beckett ("The Pact") - A killer, one-time proxy killer, and one-time abductor who alongside Ellen Russell killed the man who killed her daughter (along with several other girls) and the woman who killed Ellen's nephew. Also Darlene managed to evade capture while Ellen was caught and incarcerated.
- Diane Turner ("Zugzwang") - A murderous stalker and abductor who successfully killed both her intended targets and herself.
- Season Nine
- Season Ten
- Peter Lewis ("Mr. Scratch", "The Crimson King", and "Wheels Up") - A proxy killer, hacker, stalker, one-time cop killer, and "wound collector"-type-turned-killer and abductor who successfully killed Susannah Regan and the others responsible for a scandal that resulted in the death of his father. Lewis also appeared in Seasons Twelve and Thirteen.
- Season Two
- Season Three
- Season Four
- "Omnivore" (referenced)
- Season Six
- Season Eight
- Season Ten
- "Nelson's Sparrow" (referenced)