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Jeffrey

Jeffrey "Jeff" Whitfield, dubbed "The Neon Terror" by the media, is a copycat, stalker, one-time robber, and serial-turned-spree killer who appears in the Season Thirteen episode "Neon Terror".

Background

Born in 1991, Jeffrey was raised in Miami, Florida by his parents and was regularly baby-sat by a young woman named Gina Meadows. In November of 1997, after bringing his pet cat to a veterinary clinic, Gina was killed by a carjacker after being shot once in the heart in a strip mall parking lot while a six-year-old Jeffrey was in the backseat and witnessed the entire incident. After she was shot, Gina's blood spattered all over Jeffrey's face and his cat then licked the blood off from him while he was in shock. Jeffrey was soon found and brought back to the local police station while the carjacker was apprehended further down the street. His parents later arrived to take him home. Jeffrey's father carried him out of the station, where they were met by a crowd of reporters bombarding him and the family with questions. Afterwards, Gina's death was widely publicized by the media and in turn, so was Jeffrey.

Jeffrey was left severely traumatized by Gina's murder, to the extent where he didn't speak for almost a year until he did his first and only on-camera interview with Sandra Madsen, a reporter from Channel 3 who was also one of the first to respond to the carjacking. During the interview, Jeffrey became exhilarated upon seeing himself in the playback of the camera, equating the experience to a game and found it more fun than real life, something Sandra noticed at the time. After talking about the incident with Sandra, he began communicating again and seemingly began to move on. However, because the case initially received such widespread media attention, Jeffrey felt forgotten and likely abandoned when the media's interest faded as time went by, believing that the period following Gina's murder was the only time he felt important to others. In 2016, both of his parents died of unspecified causes[1], leaving Jeffrey feeling that the only other person who remembered what had happened to him and Gina was Sandra. This drove Jeffrey to emulate Gina's murder in the hopes of attracting Sandra's attention again and ensuring that he would never be forgotten. He began by killing Maggie Swanson in the same fashion as Gina's death while she was parked near Coral Gables University; made a recording of the crime scene after killing her and sending it to Kal Montgomery, a reporter working for Sandra, who had since become the news director at Channel 3. Jeffrey led Kal to believe that he was a Miami police officer reaching out to the media and told him to take credit for the video so it would be aired on the news. Later that week, Jeffrey claimed the life of Catherine Shelton and sent additional footage of that crime scene to Kal.

Neon Terror

Days after killing Catherine, Jeffrey ambushes and kills Jeanette Clawson. Her body is quickly discovered and immediately broadcast on television, airing in lieu of any scheduled programs. The response by the media leads to the summoning of the BAU to assist in the case. Hours later, he attacks Steven O'Malley and Natalie Corbis, who are on a first date. While the pair engages in a confrontation with Steven standing on the driver's side of Natalie's car, Jeffrey approaches them, disposes of Steven by shooting him in the back and then proceeds to kill Natalie. He later sends more video footage to Kal, which now includes clear shots of the hair clips and allows Channel 3 to link the crimes. Jeffrey is then seen pacing in his living room and banging the wall playfully as the news airs footage of his latest murders. He is later seen still watching the news and sees that he has been named "The Neon Terror" by the press, a name chosen by Sandra as Natalie's car was parked beneath a neon sign when she was killed. As the news anchor talks about the shootings, Jeffrey flashes back to his father carrying him out of the police precinct and through the crowd of reporters. He then takes out his gun and views the profile of Lindsey Krukowski, intending to claim her as his next victim.

Having taken a liking to his new nickname, Jeffrey approaches Lindsey in her garage in broad daylight and shines a neon light on her face before shooting her, killing her instantly. He then quickly records the footage of the murder and makes his escape just before the police arrive on the scene. Sending the video to Kal, Jeffrey later watches the news at home while searching for potential victims. When Lindsey's body is displayed, Jeffrey stands up and hugs the wall in awe of the attention he is now getting. Sometime later, Jeffrey has another flashback to being carried by his father, causing him to become agitated and chooses his new target: Nancy Jones. Following her until she parks her car, Jeffrey equips a body-worn camera, planning to record himself killing Nancy. He quickly approaches her car and displays a neon for the camera before killing her. After shooting her, he turns to see Alex Grayson, Nancy's younger cousin whom she was babysitting, looking at him from the backseat of the car, having perfectly recreated Gina's murder. He then leaves and sends the snuff film to Kal, leaving Alex unharmed. However, Jeffrey becomes enraged when he does not see the footage on the news later, causing him to go into a rage and smash his devices before leaving his apartment. He goes to the Channel 3 newsroom and turns off the lights before firing on the employees, killing two of them. Jeffrey turns to Sandra and asks why she "stopped running [their] story?" before knocking her unconscious with his gun.

Sandra soon regains consciousness, restrained to a chair and wearing Jeffrey's neon light while he faces her. He asks Sandra if she remembers him before revealing his identity, much to Sandra's shock. Jeffrey briefly talks about them "working well together" twenty years beforehand and that they both were forgotten as time went by. When Sandra voices her dismay at what he's been doing, Jeffrey merely replies that they were both finally getting the attention they deserved until Sandra didn't air Nancy's murder. He then asks why she did not and she answers that she couldn't because it was implied that Alex was also killed. When Jeffrey dispels the accusation that he would hurt a child, Sandra tries to explain that it was the way the footage was edited that left her uncertain. However, Jeffrey states that it was a "cliffhanger" before starting a livestream from his phone, intending to kill Sandra in front of a worldwide audience. Holding his gun to Sandra's head, Jeffrey forces her to recount what he had told her in their interview and the impact of Gina's murder on him while staring awestruck at the camera. Then Prentiss and Rossi enter the room and hold Jeffrey at gunpoint, ordering him to put down his gun. He only answers that the world will never forget him again as he prepares to kill Sandra. However, Garcia manages to cut off Jeffrey's livestream, leaving an angered Jeffrey without an audience. Rossi and Prentiss try to convince him to surrender under the promise of widespread media interest in him, but to no avail. Before he can kill Sandra, Prentiss assures Jeffrey that if he surrenders, they will arrange a prime-time network interview exclusively focused on him. Rossi then states that doing so will make sure that people will talk about him and the interview forever. This causes Jeffrey, elated at the idea, to drop his revolver and allow himself to be arrested by Prentiss while Rossi frees Sandra.

Modus Operandi

Jeffrey killed young brunette women in their 20s who resembled Gina to recreate the media sensation that occurred after her murder. He would target them using their profiles on dating sites[2] and stalk them for an unspecified amount of time to learn their routines before approaching them while they were in their cars. When close, he would shoot them once in the heart with a .44 caliber Smith & Wesson Model 29-4, exactly how Gina was killed. Afterwards, he would then place a colored hair clip behind the victim's left ear, as Gina was wearing one when she was killed. This signature aspect also served as an intentional clue for the media to link the crimes when Jeffrey would later send the video footage he made of the crime scenes to Kal Montgomery, one of Sandra's reporters at Channel 3, so they would be aired on the news. In the case of his first victim, Jeffrey also robbed Maggie Swanson after killing, likely trying to replicate and complete Gina's murder. However, he did not continue doing so in his subsequent murders as it was the deaths of the women that was the focus of the media's attention. Jeffrey committed his third and fourth shootings in quick succession, with less than twelve hours passing between them in order to elicit a larger media response to a killing spree. In the latter instance, he attacked Steven O'Malley and Natalie Corbis while they were arguing with Steven standing outside of her car. Jeffrey shot Steven, whose death was purely incidental, once in the back and proceeded to kill Natalie using his usual M.O.

After being named "The Neon Terror", Jeffrey began to incorporate the nickname into his M.O. by bringing neon lights to the crime scenes and leaving them behind to be found along with the body. As the case became more high profile, Jeffrey became more confident. This confidence manifested itself in him switching from attacking victims on dark, empty streets in the middle of the night to striking while in the victim's own garage in the middle of the day, as was the case with Lindsey Krukowski. With each kill, the time gap between Jeffrey shooting the women and recording the crime scenes began to shrink and the two eventually collided in the creation of a snuff film in the murder of Nancy Jones. Nancy's death was an exact replication of Gina's murder. Jeffrey shot and killed Nancy while she was parked in the parking lot of a strip mall late at night with a child, her cousin Alex Grayson, sat in the backseat and, like Jeffrey, Alex, and her family were met by a crowd of reporters leaving the police station. In his attack on the Channel 3 newsroom, Jeffrey stormed in and shot two workers with his revolver before taking Sandra captive. He then pistol-whipped her, restrained her to a chair and made her recount what was said in their interview from twenty years previously at gunpoint on a live stream, intending to kill her so the world could see and remember him and what he had done.

Profile

"People will forget. They always do. They always forget me."

The unsub may be a member of the media and it is these credentials that likely allow him to easily blend in at the crime scene without raising suspicion. It is not known whether he films the crime scenes immediately after the murders or is responding with other news crews. This unsub has to be considered in two parts. The first part is the part he is probably unaware of and that's who he is killing. The victims represent a personal loss, most likely a maternal figure or a caregiver. The hair clip is his symbolic way of remaking his victims into that woman. But the second part is the part that he is very aware of. This unsub is obsessed with the media's representation of his murders. His dopamine levels rise when he is on the crime scene watching other people respond to what he has done and they spike later when he is at home watching his footage on the evening news.

Much like an addict, he is masking the pain of a childhood trauma by escalating his risks, but that only adds to his power, control, and excitement, which is why the name "The Neon Terror" is a problem. The media is feeding his ego directly and he will respond in kind. Right now, he is planning for the biggest spectacle as possible. He will likely be following the news stories on social media, tracking ratings, the number of likes and shares, all of which probably matter to him. Because he is no longer focused on public crime scenes, police should cover as much ground as possible inside the unsub's hunting zone. It is very important that the information shared in this profile is not posted online or leaked to the media. Doing so could further embolden him and cause him to escalate.

Real Life Comparisons

Jeffrey was apparently based on David Berkowitz, who was also referenced in the episode - Both are narcissistic serial killers who targeted victims (primarily women, though they also killed men) in cars, shot them with 44. caliber revolvers, interacted with the media in some way after each of their attacks, and were given nicknames for their crimes.

He may have also been partially based on the unidentified Maryvale Serial Shooter - Both are serial/spree killers who killed victims of both genders but primarily targeted one (men in the Shooter's case, women in Whitfield's), killed them by shooting them with a handgun, had some infatuation with media attention of their crimes (possibly in the Shooter's case), were given nicknames, Whitfield and Aaron Saucedo (the main suspect in the Shooter case) were in their 20s when they committed their crimes (and additionally the Shooter was described by witness as being in his 20s), and killed exactly nine victims.

Known Victims

  • 2017:
    • November 11: Maggie Swanson (also robbed)
    • November 13: Catherine Shelton
    • November 14-15:
      • Jeanette Clawson
      • Steven O'Malley and Natalie Corbis:
        • Steven O'Malley (incidental; Natalie's date; shot in the back)
        • Natalie Corbis (target victim)
    • November 15:
      • Lindsey Krukowski (shot in her garage)
      • Nancy Jones (was babysitting Alex Grayson when she was killed; her murder was an exact recreation of Gina's)
    • November 15-16, the Channel 3 shooting:
      • An unnamed man (shot in the chest)
      • An unnamed woman (shot in the abdomen)
      • Sandra Madsen (assaulted, held captive, intended to kill on a live stream, later held at gunpoint; was rescued)

Notes

  • Jeffrey seems to be based on a few other unsubs:
    • Roderick Gless, a necrophiliac killer who appeared in Season Four. Both were serial killers who targeted women who resembled their childhood babysitters, whose deaths they witnessed.
    • Greg Phinney, a.k.a. "The Co-Ed Killer", a serial killer who appeared in Season Six. Both were killers who devolved, had similar victimologies (brunette Caucasian women in their twenties), targeted women who were surrogates for their childhood babysitters, found their targets online, would stalk their victims prior to killing them, killed their victims primarily at night, committed a double homicide in which they killed a male and a female, and were given names by the media for their crime.
    • Johnny Ray Covey, a.k.a " The Nanny Killer", a serial killer from Season Eight both target women who are just like their nannies.
    • Wallace Hines, a psychotic killer who appeared in Season Nine. Both were devolving killers who had similar victimologies (Caucasian women in their twenties), went after women who were surrogates for women in their lives, incidentally killed a male victim, and killed their victims by shooting them in the heart.
    • The standoff between Jeffrey and the BAU that resulted in his surrender and subsequent arrest after being told how famous he was going to be for his crimes mirrors how Gideon persuaded serial killer Franklin Graney to surrender and release his own female hostage. Additionally, both were serial killers who targeted females that represented mother figures in their lives and held a captive at gunpoint just prior to their arrests.

Appearances

References

  1. However, it is implied by Alvez that their deaths may have been sudden or in rapid succession, which would help explain such a profound impact on Jeffrey.
  2. The website he views throughout the episode is called Match Made Online
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