Criminal Minds Wiki

Marcus and James Wells are a pair of spree killing brothers who appear in the Season Fourteen episode of Criminal Minds, "Twenty Seven."


Very little is known about the Wells brothers, except that they had a younger brother named Tom, who they raised following the deaths of their parents. Marcus and James Wells lost their younger brother when he was stabbed in the lower torso outside the Hard Times nightclub by a man named Lonny Carson. Despite making nine calls to 911, it took emergency personnel 27 minutes to arrive and Tom was pronounced dead at the scene. Marcus and James decided it was a broken system that killed their brother. They determined from the incident that the neighborhood you're in and where you live dictates your quality of care. Following this incident, they started to act out their revenge by committing a machete attack every 27 minutes.

Twenty Seven

The episode begins with Marcus chasing down Park Ji Sung down K Street while carrying a machete and slashing at him as several witnesses watch as the attack unfolds. He spots two women at a bus stop contacting the police and sets his sight on them until he is told to leave them alone. Knowing that the authorities will soon arrive, he leaves the area. The police, the FBI, and several EMTs arrive at the scene to help Park and take statements from the witnesses. A manhunt is issued when Charles O'Neill, a security guard who had survived the first machete attack, dies from his injuries.

Following the attack on Park, the authorities set up a perimeter on K street and search the area for Park's attacker, only for things to go south when an unarmed African American man named Peter Salah is shot in a parking garage by an individual taking matters into his own hands when he thought that Salah bared a remarkable resemblance to the attacker due to the green jacket that he was wearing at the time.

After the BAU establish a profile that the authorities are dealing with a pair of attackers rather than only one, everyone looks out for two attackers, but by then, they were too late to stop another machete attack when an unnamed man is found bleeding in a parking lot next to Heights Park, where Luke, Spencer, and J.J. were travelling down. Luke leads several officers to look for the man's attacker while Spencer and J.J. stay behind to attend to the man's wounds. As Spencer and J.J. are trying to save the man's life, a passerby spots them and begins to record the incident despite J.J.'s protests to the man to turn off his phone and stop recording. Several paramedics arrive soon after, but by then, the victim succumbs to his injuries.

Luke and the officers follow both a blood trail and the eyesight of a witness, leading to a building where Marcus is found stepping on a cellphone that he was carrying with him. He is subsequently captured and taken to the perimeter on K Street for interrogation.

Emily Prentiss congratulates Luke on capturing Marcus and proceeds to interrogate him in order to figure out who is helping him. He doesn't respond at first to any questions she asks, but then he looks at the timer and begins counting down the minutes. An annoyed Prentiss exits the room, unplugs the timer, and smashes it in front of Marcus, telling him that what he is doing is not a game. Marcus agrees with her and despite being asked for his name, he continues to taunt Prentiss by cryptically telling her that time is running out before the next machete attack occurs.

The team identifies Marcus and James as the attackers and come to a consensus that the machete attacks may be the result of a violent incident where they lose a relative. It is confirmed when they dig deeper into the past and reveal that the brothers lost their younger brother, Tom, to a stabbing perpetrated by a man named Lonny Carson outside of the Hard Times nightclub. Mendoza in a confused state, asks how if Lonny Carson is currently facing jailtime, why Marcus and James would attack innocent people. To find the answer, they go back inside the interrogation room and speak with Marcus. Prentiss attempts to reach Marcus by offering an apology for the loss of Tom, but Marcus refuses it and tells her that she has no right to speak of his deceased brother. She then asks about James' whereabouts and asks if the machete attacks were his idea. She brings up James' history of being in juvie and jail before Marcus interrupts her and tells her about the life he and James had before the machete attacks including how James worked two jobs in order to put Tom through school. Marcus then states that Prentiss and the authorities don't really know who he and James are and that they don't really care about their lives, saying that they'd probably shoot them dead in the streets like how Peter Salah was shot in the parking garage earlier in the day. He asks Prentiss where she was and if she did anything to help Peter before proclaiming that the blood that was spilled during that incident was on her hands. Prentiss asks if this whole situation was what Tom really wanted and said that he would be ashamed of Marcus' and James' actions. Marcus disagrees with her and tells her that Tom would have understood what he and James were doing. Prentiss rebuttals and tells him that the message that he and James were trying to get across is no longer relevant because they killed two people and critically wounded two others before appealing to him that the attacks are over and that the only way for them to end is for him to do the right thing and tell her where James is. Marcus becomes angered upon hearing her saying "the right thing" and goes on a tangent about how Tom did everything right, but he never had a chance of living further in his life due to the incident that killed him. Prentiss asks Marcus the significance of twenty seven and Marcus responds by saying that he wondered about that very significance as well on an everyday basis. Prentiss asks again what it means to which he responds "everything" before refusing to speak any further and lawyering up.

Prentiss leaves the interrogation room and asks for Garcia to bring up call logs on the night that Tom Wells was murdered in a bid to establish a connection between the machete attacks and the significance of twenty seven minutes. They theorize that Marcus and James picked their victims based on the disparity of response times for help to arrive in richer or poorer neighborhoods as well as the dictation of where people lived and the quality of care that was given. They soon prove their theory by finding out that on the night Tom was killed, Marcus and James had called 911 nine times and that it took the ambulance twenty seven minutes to arrive at the scene, resulting in Tom's death.

The team then comes to the conclusion that James may be heading to Hallridge University and Prentiss along with Mendoza, Matthew, Tara, and Police Chief Connie Wagner make their way there. They split up and begin evacuating students right as James roams around the campus and looks for another victim. He spots Mendoza in the crowd and takes a student hostage. Upon hearing the screams, Prentiss asks for the status of their position. Matthew and Tara respond, but Mendoza confronts James and tells him not to kill the student, offering to take her place instead. James obliges, shoves the student aside and grabs a hold of Mendoza right as Prentiss arrives. Upon seeing her, James slashes Mendoza across the stomach with his machete. Prentiss orders James to drop the machete and tells him that the attacks are over, but he refuses and says that they aren't and that he's going to let her know what it feels like to see a loved one bleed to death before ranting about the time it took for an ambulance to arrive when his brother was bleeding to death and that no one was there to help him. Prentiss tries to appeal to him that what happened to Tom was a tragedy and that mistakes were made, but this further aggravates James and he rants about how the system worked exactly as it was intended and how Tom did everything right yet he was still left for dead in the streets. Prentiss agrees that the system is unfair and unequal and that it has to change, but that the actions that happen around everyone or to them cannot be controlled, but how the actions that are responded to can be. She puts away her gun and tells James that she doesn't want to shoot him before she sees the news crews arriving and attempts to appeal to him that she will let those very news crews listen to his story and have the authorities to never allow an incident like what happened to Tom to ever happen again if he surrenders as she slowly approaches him. As James looks at the news crew, Mendoza elbows him and escapes. James then tries to attack Prentiss, but she gains the upper hand and knocks him to the ground as Tara and Matthew show up. James is then placed under arrest and escorted from the campus.

Given their actions, it is assumed that both brothers were incarcerated afterwards.

Modus Operandi

The M.O. of the Wells Brothers consisted of abducting their victims from areas that the victims were familiar with and transporting them to areas where they weren't likely to be on a daily basis. Once in those unfamiliar areas, either James or Marcus would chase down the victim with machetes and slash/stab at them when they caught up.

These attacks were often to take place every 27 minutes based on the response time it took for an ambulance to arrive when their brother, Tom, was on the verge of dying.


"Tick tock, Emily. Tick tock." - Marcus Wells

The unsubs are a pair of statement-oriented spree killers believed to be in their late 20s to early 30s and African-American males. They are probably bonded by a shared grievance, either a loss or past trauma. Examination of the wound patterns dictates that both unsubs have had hands in the attacks and that they are taking turns. But while one may be dominant over the other, they are equal participants and equally dangerous.

The unsubs are abducting their victims, taking them from the neighborhoods where they live into neighborhoods they would not be likely to visit. This back and forth is a deliberate provocation designed to question the general population's assumptions about who belongs where. It can, therefore, be determined that the unsubs' anger is focused on something along the lines of inequality, privilege, class, etc.

Real-Life Comparison

The Wells Brothers may have been based on John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo - Both teams consisted of African-American spree killers (budding at least) who attacked random victims in public areas, used specific weapons in their crimes (sniper rifles in Muhammad and Malvo's case, a machete in the Wells'), and were motivated by a personal vendetta (the Wells killed out of grief for their deceased brother, while the snipers killed because they wanted to kill Muhammad's ex-wife).

Mutual Victims

  • November 14, 2018:
    • 12:05 pm, Noma: Charles O'Neill (survived the initial attack; subsequently died of his injuries)
    • 12:31 pm, Trinidad: Kary Karlsson (survived)
    • 12:58 pm, K Street: Park Ji Sung (survived)
    • 1:25 pm, Heights Park: Unnamed man (died on the scene)