|“||I must atone.||”|
Born on April 13, 1988, Kevin's mother Susan died during childbirth, leaving him to be raised by his religious, devoutly conservative father John, who owned a farming company. John was once a member of a local religious group called True Believers but cut ties with them after judging that they weren't adherent enough to their faith. He abused Kevin regularly as the latter grew up, making him cut his hands while setting up fences of barbed wire, and whipping him hard with rope. Kevin received sympathy from a neighboring girl named Wendy Baldwin, and the two fell in love. However, when the misogynistic John found out, he kicked Wendy out, whipped Kevin in the back, and then strapped his son to a cross in the middle of a nearby cornfield, like a scarecrow, hung a sign around Kevin's neck that said "fornicator", and left him there for the night. Eventually, Kevin snapped and killed his father, setting his body up like a scarecrow as well. However, the guilt-wracked and conflicted Kevin suffered a psychotic break in the process and killed Wendy as well. With John's dogma about morality in his head, Kevin then turned his rage toward women that he viewed as loose and amoral prostitutes, and started killing them, claiming eleven victims after killing Wendy.
On December 5, 2016, Kevin abducts another victim, Cheryl "Cherry" Rollins, but she somehow manages to escape and flee into a nearby neighborhood later that night. However, despite the presence of the neighbors, no one lets her in as they believe her pleas for help to be a ruse for criminals to gain entry into their homes. Eventually, Kevin finds her, recaptures her, and takes her to the barn. The next morning, Cheryl regains consciousness and watches him sharpen his shears. He ignores her attempts to get his attention. Later, Kevin returns to the barn and Cheryl tries to sweet-talk to him, but Kevin rips open Cheryl's shirt with the intention of torturing or sexually assaulting her. Instead, he becomes frustrated and yells "No!" a few times while hitting himself. Cheryl continues to sweet-talk him and tells Kevin about her personal life, including her son. However, Kevin tells Cheryl that he is not a little boy and has a flashback of John abusing him. Deducing that he was abused, Cheryl tells Kevin about the sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of her uncle and his friends. When she asks Kevin about what his father made him do, he yells at Cheryl and has a flashback of John whipping him. Afterward, Kevin goes to a table, puts his hand on the barbed wire on top of it, and squeezes down on the wire.
The following night, Cheryl watches as Kevin uses a machine to sharpen his shears. The next morning, Kevin re-enters the barn, grabs the shears, and is about to kill Cheryl. In another attempt to save herself, Cheryl reminds him of what his father did to him. Kevin stops and has a flashback to when his father caught him and Wendy kissing in the barn together. Realizing she is about to die, Cheryl apologizes to her son and prays to God. He drops the shears and removes the burlap sack from his head to reveal his face. Afterward, Cheryl asks Kevin about what his father did to him, and he recounts the time John took him out to the cornfield and set him up like a scarecrow for the night. Cheryl apologizes to him, then tells Kevin that he found a way to survive and that sometimes it is all they can do. Then, she convinces him to untie her, telling him that she didn't want the life of a prostitute and was extremely ashamed of it. Convinced, Kevin unties her, but when he turns his back on Cheryl to retrieve the barbed wire, she picks the shears up from the ground, stabs Kevin in the back with them, and flees into the wilderness. An enraged Kevin manages to remove the shears and then goes after Cheryl.
Cheryl runs into the cornfield and stumbles upon John's corpse, which horrifies her, allowing Kevin to find her and hold her at knifepoint. Then, the BAU arrives at the farm, having identified Kevin as the unsub. As Kevin tries to drown Cheryl in a trough filled with water, Rossi and JJ find them and confront Kevin. He picks up the shears and flees with Prentiss and Alvez in pursuit, while Cheryl is rescued by Rossi and JJ. Prentiss and Alvez follow Kevin into the nearby grain elevator. Inside, they hold Kevin at gunpoint as he points the blades of shears to his neck, intending to commit suicide. Prentiss tells Kevin to put the shears down, but he asks her if she knows what he did. She replies that they know what his father did to him. Filled with guilt over what he has done, Kevin tells them that he needs to atone for his crimes. Alvez interjects, saying that they can help him, and tells Kevin to put the shears down. Though Kevin complies and drops the shears, he apologizes soon afterward and activates the grain elevator. Grain is poured down on all three of them; Kevin willingly allows himself to be buried in it alive, while Rossi manages to get Prentiss and Alvez out in time.
Kevin's victims were all killed by multiple stab wounds from a pair of shears. He initially targeted people closely associated with him before moving on to apparently random prostitutes. The prostitutes were all lured in by Kevin, who would pretend to be a customer. Once they got into his car, he would drive them over to his farm, somehow subdue them, and hold them captive in the barn. There, he would wear a mask made from burlap over his face and torture his victims by making them wear cilices made of burlap and fastened together barbed wire around parts of their bodies. Finally, Kevin would kill them, and afterward, he would dump their bodies in a creek. However, the body of his first victim, John, was instead set up like a scarecrow, mirroring the abuse John inflicted on Kevin after he caught him kissing Wendy.
When he tried to kill Cheryl Rollins, Kevin did not stab her and instead tried to drown her in a trough filled with water. He also tried to kill Prentiss and Alvez by activating a grain elevator with them still inside and therefore burying them alive in the grain, but they both escaped.
The unsub is a white male between the ages of 30 to 40, who is targeting prostitutes and appears to be a mission-oriented moral enforcer. He may be forcing his victims to wear a cilice made of burlap and fastened together with barbed wire. He may be projecting his own sexual desires onto his victims and punishing them; he wants to have sex with them, but because of his upbringing, he either cannot or will not. The use of barbed wire could be the unsub's way of inflicting more punishment on his victims before killing them. His guilt-ridden love map was likely formed during his childhood and adolescence, which was possibly spent growing up in a conservative household in which a parent or teacher was strict and overbearing. He is driving a dark-colored car and cruising the streets in search for victims. Since he was able to dispose of his victims' bodies undetected for years, he most likely lives or works in the area.
Based on his M.O. and the motivations for his crimes, Decker can be considered an organized mission-oriented serial killer.
Kevin is similar to Gary Ridgway, being compared to him by the BAU - Both were serial killers who targeted prostitutes, committed crimes before their serial killings, and disposed of their victims' bodies in heavily forested areas, sometimes in or near a body of water.
A Twitter post confirmed that the Gilgo Beach Killer and the Eastbound Strangler served as the inspiration for Kevin - All were serial killers who targeted women working in the sex trade and the bodies of most of their victims were found in a single location. Also, the Gilgo Beach Killer (who Kevin was briefly suspected of being in the episode) was a prolific offender who put his victims' bodies in burlap sacks. In addition, Kevin's would-be victim, Cheryl "Cherry" Rollins, had a tattoo of cherries near her cleavage; a suspected victim of the Gilgo Beach Killer, known only as "Cherries", had a near-identical tattoo on the same spot.
- Unspecified date: John Decker (his father; killed and set up his body like a scarecrow)
- December 15 (disappeared): Wendy Baldwin (stabbed over 50 times)
- 2011-2016: Eleven victims killed and buried prior to Scarecrow. They are:
- Unspecified dates:
- Brianna Latsman
- Jade Glaswell
- Alicia Haverford
- Yolanda Barry
- Clary Alders
- Paulie Newly
- Whitney Brynn
- Melanie Earlson
- An unidentified woman
- November 16: Debra McDermott
- November 27: Allison Carson
- Unspecified dates:
- Kevin seems to be based on a number of unsubs in the show's history and is tied with Michael Lee Peterson ("Tribute") for having the highest number of inspirations. They are:
- Season One
- Vincent Perotta ("Natural Born Killer") - Both were prolific serial killers and abductors who were abused by their fathers (whom they later killed), had signatures that involved torturing their victims, and were based on infamous real-life serial killers (Kevin was based on Gary Ridgway; Perotta was based on Richard Kuklinski).
- Season Two
- Ronald Weems ("Sex, Birth, Death") - Both were serial killers who targeted prostitutes, killed their victims by stabbing them, and were based on Ridgway.
- Tobias Hankel. Both were psychotic and religious serial killers and abductors whose mothers left them in some way when they were young (Decker's died in childbirth, while Hankels' divorced his father), were abused by their religious fathers, later killed their fathers when they were minors and suffered psychotic breaks after doing so, owned large farmlands where at least some (all in Decker's case) crimes occurred, both targeted people they viewed as sinners, killed them with bladed weapons, and attempted to kill at least two BAU agents.
- Season Three
- Charlie Wilkinson ("Birthright") - Both were killers who had stressors involving their fathers (Kevin's father abused him; Charlie learned his father was a serial killer), targeted women, abducted their victims and held them captive in barns where they would be tortured, and killed their victims using farm tools.
- Season Six
- Robert Bremmer ("Out of the Light") - Both were delusional serial killers and abductors who targeted women, abducted their victims and took them to barns where they would be tortured with improvised tools, killed their victims by stabbing them, and attempted to kill one of their would-be victims by drowning them. In both cases, the BAU was called in after one of their victims managed to escape them, which followed the discovery of at least one other victim; this, in turn, led to the discovery of their burial grounds.
- Blake Wells ("Big Sea") - Both were prolific serial killers and abductors who were abused by their fathers (who were also their first victims), abducted their victims and took them to locations where they would be tortured, killed their victims by stabbing them, and dumped their victims' bodies in bodies of water.
- Season Seven
- Thomas Yates ("Profiling 101" and "Profiling 202") - Both were prolific serial killers and abductors whose mothers died while giving childbirth to them, were abused by a relative when they were minors, targeted women who led high-risk and low-risk lifestyles, killed their first victims (who were also male) out of revenge, abducted their victims and held them captive in locations where they tortured them, killed their victims by stabbing them, and operated in the state of Washington (though Yates also killed victims in the other West Coast states of Oregon and California). Yates also appeared in Season Twelve
- Season Eight
- John Myers ("The Silencer") - Both were serial killers who were abused by a parental figure (Kevin was abused by his father; Myers was abused by his mother) whom they would later kill as adults, were socially isolated, were based on real-life serial killers (Kevin was based on Ridgway; Myers was based on Henry Lee Lucas), killed at least one victim out of revenge, had signatures that involved torturing their victims, and died by committing suicide.
- Season Nine
- Leland Duncan ("In The Blood") - Both were delusional and religiously-motivated serial killers and abductors who would harm themselves as punishment, primarily targeted women whom they perceived as being sinful, took them to locations formerly owned by at least one of their relatives, tortured them there, and made their victims wear garments based on those worn in ancient times before killing them.
- Season Ten
- Steven Parkett ("X") - Both were serial killers and abductors whose mothers died while giving childbirth to them, were abused as by their fathers when they were young, killed their first victims (who were also male) out of revenge, abducted their victims and held them captive on farms formerly owned by their fathers where they would torture their victims before killing them, and were based on real-life unidentified serial killers. In both cases, they were tricked by one of their would-be victims into untying them before the victims managed to assault and escape them.
- Jerry Tidwell ("Beyond Borders") - Both were delusional and prolific serial killers and abductors who were abused by their fathers (whom they later killed out of revenge), constantly had flashbacks of their fathers abusing them, tortured their victims, and would attempt to kill one of their victims by drowning them.
- Aspects of Kevin's M.O. are similar to many previous criminals who have appeared on the show:
- The Johnson County Brotherhood ("Middle Man") wore scarecrow-themed masks while terrorizing female sex workers in cornfields
- The Killer Woodsman ("Blood Relations") utilized barbed wire in his crimes.
- John Nichols ("The Black Queen") targeted prostitutes and killed them by stabbing them.
- Robert Wilkinson and his son Charlie ("Birthright") held their victims captive in a barn where they tortured them.
- Season One
- Kevin's surname was taken from a close college friend of Karen Maser, the writer of "Scarecrow".
- The scarecrow-themed mask Kevin would wear while holding his victims captive seems to be based on the one worn by Cillian Murphy when he portrayed the supervillain Scarecrow in the 2005 superhero film Batman Begins.
- Kevin has a high tolerance of pain, being stabbed in the back with shears but, once removed them, still being able to go after his victim, catch her in the middle of a cornfield and attempting to drown her in a trough. This makes Kevin Decker the fifth of only seven unsubs in the show's history that displayed a high tolerance of pain, the others are:
- Season Three
- Season Four
- Season Six
- Season Seven
- Robert Adams ("Painless") - An "injustice collector"-type serial-turned-spree killer, serial bomber, and copycat of Randy Slade who smashed his hand through the glass sheet of a trophy case with no visible damage, and took multiple gunshots before finally dying. Robert is also the first of these killers to have a proper medical explanation.
- Season Twelve
- Trey Gordon ("In the Dark") - A serial-turned-spree killer and sniper who was able to walk barefoot on broken glass and still managed to slaughter a couple while sleepwalking. When he woke up, he only seemed mildly irritated by the glass cuts. He also has a medical explanation for his pain tolerance.
- Season Thirteen
- An article of clothing that is made of coarse material and worn close to the skin. The act of wearing a cilice is a means of punishment in some religions since they induce discomfort or even pain.