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You know nothing. God took my son. I take His. An eye for an eye.

Rafael Acosta is a religious, traumatized and narcissistic serial killer, abductor, one-time robber, and one-time cop killer who appeared in the Season One episode of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, "De Los Inocentes".


Acosta was a local pastor whose twelve-year-old son Matthew was in a church when an earthquake struck. The church collapses, killing Matthew, but Bryant Holt, a boy whose family was vacationing in Mexico at the time and who was in the church with Matthew, survived. Devastated by the loss of his son, and enraged by the fact that Holt survived, Acosta felt he was forsaken by God, quit his job as a pastor, and started working as a security guard. Six months after his son's death, he was arrested for assaulting a thirteen-year-old boy. In 2010, he started to kill the eldest sons of families who were vacationing in Mexico, as surrogates for Holt, on the same day as Día De Los Innocentes.

De Los Inocentes[]

One night, Acosta breaks into a hotel resort with the intention to abduct Ryan Wolf. His mother Jessica wakes up by the noise he makes and begins to investigate. She finds Acosta standing over Wolf, about to abduct him. Jessica believes that the hooded figure is her husband Daniel, but because Jessica disrupted his original plan, Acosta kills her in the bedroom and takes her body for a burial at sea. After Jessica's body is found, Acosta and several other guards are deputized by Chief Inspector Silvia Ruiz to help her in the investigation of the murder, because the place the resort is in has no local police force. The IRT are also called to assist in the investigation. Daniel is originally suspected of killing Jessica, but the team reconsiders this stance after looking at the new evidence they find. Acosta is next seen lighting candles and looking at a picture of Matthew, proceeding to whip himself in the back as punishment and cover himself with a blanket. He is then seen back at the hotel resort with Ruiz, who is tasked with driving Wolf and his sister Megan back to the airport to go back to the U.S. and live with their grandparents.

Ruiz gets a call from Garrett, who tells her Acosta is the unsub. In an attempt to protect the children, Ruiz begins to pull out her service weapon, but Acosta charges at her and stabs her while the children yell at Acosta to stop. Ruiz tries to fight back, but Acosta stabs her again, killing her. The IRT arrive at the resort and see through a window that Acosta is holding the children hostage, with a knife being held against Wolf. Garrett and Seger enter the hotel room and hold Acosta at gunpoint. Garrett talks with Acosta about what happened to Matthew and gives him his condolences, but Acosta replies that Garrett doesn't know anything. When Acosta begins to tell them about how his son was taken, Seger tells him about her deceased husband and adds that the act of killing over and over again would never help Acosta, because vengeance doesn't do anything to help Matthew's death. This convinces Acosta to release the children, after which he is arrested.

Modus Operandi[]

Acosta targeted the eldest sons of American families who were on vacation in Latin America and checked into hotel resorts he worked at as a security guard. All were surrogates of Bryant Holt. He would break into the hotel rooms at night carrying a True Cross bound in gold, a hemp blanket, and a knife. After reciting the Latin version of the Confiteor, he would stab his victims, then wash their bodies in mineral oils and wrap them in the blanket, mimicking ancient Judeo-Christian burial customs. When he killed Jessica Wolf, he also killed her by stabbing her after she walked in on him trying to abduct her son Ryan; he performed his signature on her despite not being his targeted victim, stole jewelry to make it appear as a robbery gone wrong, and dumped her body in the sea after wrapping it in cloth. A notable pattern in Acosta's crimes was that he always killed on Día de los Inocentes, the day of remembrance for those who were slaughtered by the order of King Herod.


The unsub is a male who is most likely in his 30s or 40s, based on his technical proficiency and historical knowledge. He is highly educated, but due to socialization issues, he most likely dropped out of school or is someone who was expelled from college, possibly even a seminary or a church. He is both motivated and repelled by his concept of sin, which somehow correlates to his chosen surrogates. This suggests that he is a grief-induced, anger-retaliatory narcissist. Judging by his belief that he is a latter-day version of King Herod massacring Messiahs, he is possibly retaliating against God himself. This could mean the unsub's trigger was some kind of act of God, maybe even one that took the life of a loved one.

Known Victims[]

  • Unspecified date: Unnamed boy (assaulted)
  • December 28, 2010: Unnamed boy
  • December 28, 2011: Unnamed boy
  • December 28, 2012: Unnamed boy
  • December 28, 2013: Unnamed boy
  • December 28, 2014: Unnamed boy
  • December 28, 2015:
    • The attempted hotel room abduction:
      • Ryan Wolf (attempted to abduct and kill)
      • Jessica Wolf (Ryan's mother; incidental; killed after seeing Rafael trying to abduct her son)
    • The hotel room standoff:
      • Chief Inspector Silvia Ruiz (incidental; stabbed twice after trying to prevent him from harming the kids)
      • Ryan and Megan Wolf:
        • Ryan Wolf (held at knifepoint)
        • Megan Wolf (held hostage)