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You should be honored that I chose your stories. I did everything that you described down to the smallest detail.
Mark's last words

Mark Jackson was a misogynistic serial killer and stalker who appeared in the Season Eight episode of Criminal Minds, "The Gathering".

Background

Mark was physically abused by his stepfather while he was a child, but when he managed to tell someone of what was happening and Social Services arrived, his mother changed the story and told them Mark had made up the abuse to protect her husband. This instilled severely misogynistic feelings in Mark, who came to believe that all women were liars. Mark later got a job working at an anonymous call center called Call First. While working there, he attended a lecture given by a psychiatrist, Dr. Montgomery Houston, on "document therapy", which involved patients writing out their violent fantasies and then having them admit their guilt or shame about having them in order to curb their impulses. On February 27, 2011, Mark snapped and killed Maria Bothwell in Tampa, Florida, cutting out her tongue to symbolize his belief that women were liars. He then killed two more women across the East Coast during the following year, also cutting out their tongues. He eventually settled down in St. Paul, Minnesota, and started a group that indulged in document therapy, intending to use his group members' stories as guidelines for his later murders. Among the members of this writing group was Peter Harper, whose stories were of a particular interest to him; he would use one of his stories as the basis for the murder of Patricia Moore.

The Gathering

Mark is first seen rescuing Nicole Francis from her drunken boyfriend, John Butler. When she thanks him, he refers to her by her name and then kills her. Later, he immediately goes after Laurel Tyson. Entering her house through an open window, he is surprised by Laurel's brother Daryl, whom he quickly kills as Laurel watches while hiding in a closet. Laurel then gets out of the closet and tries to escape, but he catches up to her and murders her. After waiting for a while, he ambushes Kayla Jefferson at a public laundry room, strangles her to death, and removes her tongue. The following night, Mark meets up with his group and reads their stories. Peter submits his late, and while reading it to the group, Mark stops midway, shocked by the content. After the meeting's conclusion, Peter confronts Mark about the murders and asks if he intended to go after Tammy, a woman Peter had been communicating with, next. In response, Mark taunts him, saying that he should be grateful that he chose his stories as guidelines. Peter then tells him that the tongue removal was never part of his stories, closes the doors, and beats him to death.

Modus Operandi

Mark targeted Caucasian women of various ages. How Mark killed his first three victims or managed to find them is unclear, but it can be assumed that they had a strong online presence that was a factor.

In the episode, he killed more frequently and found his victims through Peter's stories. His signature was gripping their tongues with pliers, removing them with a knife while they were still alive, and keeping said tongues as trophies. The only exceptions to this were Daryl Tyson, whose tongue wasn't removed since he wasn't the target, and Kayla Jefferson, whose tongue was removed post-mortem. He would then kill them by stabbing them to death with the same knife and leave their bodies where he killed them. An aspect of the latter phase of his murders would be identical to details given in the victims' blogs:

  • Patricia Moore tweeted "saw one of the most beautiful oak trees in the park, wish I could just take a nap under it like I was a little girl", and her body was left under a tree in the park.
  • Nicole Francis posted how she wanted to be rescued from a loveless relationship, and Mark saved her from her drunken boyfriend during one of his outbursts before killing her.
  • Laurel Tyson had a blog where she described how much she loved S&M and how she wished someone would climb through her window and ravish her with bondage; Mark entered her house through an open window and she was the only victim that he bound around the wrists and ankles prior to the killing.
  • Kayla Jefferson wasn't active online, but prior to the episode, she had a stalker who kept a blog about her, in which he stated "my fingers tightened around her throat. I could feel her heartbeat pulsing under my fingertips" after she repeatedly ignored him in real life; this blog inspired Mark to kill Kayla by strangling her with his bare hands instead of stabbing her.

Profile

The unsub is a fit, aggressive white male aged in his mid- to late-30s, who is practicing what is called vicarious fantasy assimilation, a term that is referring to the cathartic release that comes when he turns someone else's thoughts or fantasies into reality. He searches around the Internet and is selecting women with a strong online presence, all of whom frequently post their fantasies with descriptive detail. There are two levels to his M.O., the first being the enjoyment he gets from taking one of his victim's fantasies and turning it into a nightmare. Once the unsub establishes his dominance by subverting that fantasy, he moves on to the second level, which is removing the tongue. His M.O. is polymorphic, which means it has taken on different forms while his ritual never changes. It is likely that he has already targeted other women.

He learned about his latest victim from a post through an online community that exchanges psychopathic stories while remaining anonymous, which would explain the change in his M.O. All of his victims have been found on different platforms and the only common denominator is writing. He may have created his own writing group, using their stories and specific details in them to find the people his group wrote about and kill them himself. He might have attended one of Dr. Montgomery Houston's conferences or read about his form of therapy, and adapted it to fit his needs. However, instead of working on the steps, he is focused on one thing: acting out homicidal stories. In his mind, the unsub sees the tongues he takes from his victims as trophies, as they represent the telling of stories, and by taking them, he is able to claim possession of stories that are not his own. It is likely the members of his group are not aware of what he is doing, but because of the specific nature of the murders, it is only a matter of time before they finally realize it.

It is somewhat difficult to determine whether Mark is a serial or spree killer. While he targeted specific victims, had a specific M.O., and planned out the murders beforehand, it should be noted that he attacked several people within a span of roughly three days during the latter phase of his murders as depicted in the episode.

Real-Life Comparisons

Mark seems to be inspired by Harvey Miguel Robinson - Both were serial killers and stalkers who had abusive criminal father figures (Robinson's father abused his wife and later killed his mistress, while Jackson's stepfather abused him), targeted women, attacked them in their homes after stalking them, stabbed them to death, disposed of one victim in a wooded area, asphyxiated at least one victim (though Robinson never succeeded in killing anyone in this manner), and attacked at least one man incidentally while trying to kill a victim (though Jackson did this twice; he assaulted the male and killed the female before killing a brother and sister; Robinson tried to shoot a cop while attempting to attack a victim that survived a previous attack).

He may have also been based on Paul Michael Stephani - Both were serial killers who were abused by stepfathers, targeted women, stabbed them to death, were active in Saint Paul, Minnesota (though Stephani was active in other cities too, and Jackson also killed in Florida), deviated once from their M.O. by asphyxiating a victim (Jackson manually strangled one, while Stephani drowned one in a bathtub), and were stopped from killing a final victim when a man confronted them (though Jackson was killed by Harper, who then tried to kill the intended victim). Also, the way Jackson saved a victim from her drunken boyfriend could be a slight nod to how Stephani's first attempted victim was drunk when he attacked her.

Mark is similar to Danny Rolling - Both were serial killers who were abused by their fathers (a stepfather in Jackson's case), were active in two states (one of which was Florida), targeted women, stabbed them to death with a knife in their homes after binding them (though Jackson only binded one victim), mutilated some of them (Jackson cut out most of his victims' tounges, while Rolling decapitated one victim), and in one attack they killed an incidental male victim before killing the female who unsuccessfully tried to hide from them. Also, the way Rolling kept audio diaries of his crimes is somewhat similar to how Jackson found his victims in stories and blogs. And Rolling's desire to become infamous like Ted Bundy could be a nod to how Jackson used Peter Harper's stories as a basis for his later crimes.

Mark seems to have been based on Andrei Chikatilo - Both were serial killers who were abused by a parental figure (Chikatilo's mother and Jackson's stepfather, respectively), had jobs involving telephones (Chikatilo was a telephone engineer, Jackson was a call center employee), primarily targeted women (though Chikatilo had a widely varied victimology), violently stabbed them to death with a knife, sometimes cut out their tounges, asphyxiated at least one victim, committed a double homicide on a family at one point (Chikatilo killed a mother and daughter, while Jackson killed a brother and sister), and their crimes also coincided with another sexual predator in some way (Jackson's murders were heavily based on Peter Harper's writings, while another sex offender was executed for Chikatilo's first murder).

Known Victims

  • February 27, 2011, Tampa, Florida: Maria Bothwell
  • 2012:
    • July 15, Atlanta, Georgia: Emily Hilton
    • August 23, Charlotte, North Carolina: April Carver
  • 2013, St. Paul, Minnesota:
    • March 18: Patricia Moore (her body was left under a tree after her death)
    • March 19:
      • John Butler (Nicole Francis's boyfriend; assaulted while targeting her)
      • Nicole Francis (killed in her car)
    • March 19-20: The attack at Laurel Tyson's house:
      • Daryl Tyson (Laurel Tyson's brother; incidental; his tongue wasn't removed)
      • Laurel Tyson (bound around the wrists and ankles before being killed)
    • March 20: Kayla Jefferson (was manually strangled instead of being stabbed; her tongue was removed post-mortem)
    • c. March 21: Tammy (stalked for an unspecified amount of time and intended to drown)

Notes

  • Mark Jackson seems to have been based on at least three unsubs from the show's past:
    • Season Two
      • Amber Canardo ("The Perfect Storm") - Both were misogynistic serial killers who were abused by a paternal figure (Canardo's father and brother, and Jackson's stepfather), and when they denounced their abusers, the denunciations were withdrawn by their own mothers, resulting in their hatred towards women, and tortured their victims (including by cutting) before killing them.
    • Season Four
      • George Foyet ("Omnivore", "To Hell and Back, part 2", and "100") - Both were psychopathic and misogynistic serial killers who were abused by father figures and were unprotected from them by their mothers (which sparked their misogyny), targeted women (though Foyet killed indiscriminately, while Jackson killed a man incidentally), stabbed them to death (though they also used other methods at least once), left at least one victim inside a car, were active in multiple East Coast states, and were ultimately beaten to death by another man. Foyet also appeared in Season Five.
    • Season Five
      • Joe Belser ("The Slave of Duty") - Both were misogynistic serial killers and stalkers who stalked their victims extensively, usually killed them by stabbing them, performed overkill, and committed a double murder in which they incidentally killed a male and also the female they targeted, respectively, in the homes their victims lived in.

Appearances

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