Are you ready, Sarah Jean? Gonna ride the lightning, baby!

Jacob Dawes was a prolific hebephilic and ephebophilic serial killer and abductor who appeared in the Season One episode "Riding the Lightning".


An only child, Jacob was abused emotionally and sexually by his mother throughout his childhood. Later in life, Jacob became a carpenter, married Sarah Jean Mason, and began torturing and murdering teenage girls around 1985. After claiming at least eighteen victims, with twelve of them being buried underneath his workshop, Jacob was interviewed by police in 1990 after Sarah Jean, overcome by guilt, made an anonymous call to the authorities. Realizing the police were likely to come back, and wanting to flee before that happened, Jacob, thinking his and Sarah Jean's two-year-old son Riley was merely a liability, ordered Sarah Jean to kill him and dispose of the body. Though Sarah Jean told Jacob she murdered Riley, she had actually given him to the Sheffields, a family she cleaned for. When the police came back with a search warrant, they arrested Jacob and Sarah Jean, after discovering the twelve bodies under the workshop. Jacob confessed to the murders, while Sarah Jean confessed to killing Riley, and both of them were imprisoned in the Florida State Penitentiary, being sentenced to death.

Riding the Lightning

In the episode, Jacob is interviewed by Hotch, who is hoping to find out if he is responsible of any more murders, but he will not confess to any of them; instead, he wants to play card games. When JJ walks into the interrogation room, Jacob agrees to confess to one more murder for each time that Hotch and JJ win, but if he wins, he will get to smell JJ's hair. Hotch declines at the same time that JJ agrees to the deal. When Hotch wins, Jacob tells them there are no more girls. Then, Hotch claims that the State granted a delay of execution for Sarah Jean. Believing it to be true, Jacob becomes enraged and tells them where she had buried Riley, only to be discovered that the body is not Riley, but another victim, Ashley Farley. Hotch goes back to question Jacob, but he is denied any more information. When Jacob is being walked to the chair, he begins yelling about how he and Sarah Jean are meant to be and die together and that they are "gonna ride the lightning". As Jacob is about to die, Hotch holds up the picture of the teenage Riley, proving Sarah Jean's innocence, which ruins Jacob's plan to take Sarah Jean with him. Hotch tells him he lost and Jacob for the first time becomes angry, growling out, "No." Jacob is then executed.


A psychiatric evaluation of Jacob done during his imprisonment diagnosed him as a sexual psychopath who craved power, manipulation, and control, was incapable of guilt or remorse, and who saw Sarah Jean as merely a possession he could dominate, like his victims. Human sexuality is a complex dynamic consisting of three components: biological, physiological and emotional. Jacob's emotional needs were formed by his mother's long-term emotional and sexual abuse, which formed the template of his love map, and resulted in his disorder. As Jacob was alone during the abuse he suffered, he would logically need to be alone with his victims while torturing them to properly fulfill his fantasies.

Modus Operandi

"I made my peace eighteen times, and each one was prettier than Him."

Jacob targeted blonde, Caucasian teenage girls, and told police Sarah Jean (whose stated involvements in the abductions were undoubtedly a lie) would lure them from mall parking lots and into his truck by promising them marijuana. After abducting them, Jacob took the girls to his workshop, where he tortured them to death with his tools and dismembered the bodies with a bench saw. The remains were originally buried under the workshop, but, after running out of room, Jacob began burying them under structures he was hired to build, like his mother-in-law's living room and another client's gazebo.

Real-Life Comparisons

Jacob has some similarities to John Wayne Gacy - Both were prolific and ephebophilic serial killers who were abused by a parent (Dawes' mother and Gacy's father respectively), targeted teenagers of a certain gender (females in Dawes' case, males and also young men in Gacy's), lured them to their houses using a ruse, tortured them, and both disposed of the bodies by burying them under the floor in their houses. Both were also executed.

Another possible source of inspiration may have been Fred West - Both were prolific and ephebophilic serial killers and who tortured and killed young girls and buried them on their property. West was also aided by his wife, which Jacob was incorrectly believed to have been.

Known Victims

  • Unspecified dates from 1985 to 1990: Killed at least 18 victims during a five-year span. Named ones are:
    • Ashley Farley
    • Hilary Dickson (his last victim)
  • September 1990: Riley Dawes (his son; attempted; had ordered Sarah to kill him)


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.