|“||Everyone in this town talks except me. Gossip. Rumor. Innuendo. You think I hurt your children! But I didn't. It was all a lie.||”|
— Wayne as he holds a hostage
Not much is revealed about Wayne's past prior to "Hamelin" except that he used to be a computer teacher for a summer activities program before he was fired after only working for three weeks on the job for suspected inappropriate behavior with his students. Supposedly, he would meet children after school to teach them "things" either at a park or in the mall, most likely harmless extracurricular activites. When the parents found out about this behavior, they began spreading false rumors that he was a pedophile who was molesting the children.
These rumors caused his son, Garrett, to commit suicide by hanging after the gossip started circulating around the school he attended, which lead to Garrett being bullied relentlessly by other students. When Wayne discovered his son hanging, he cut him loose in an attempt to save him; it was too late. Wayne buried Garrett in his backyard afterwards. This event caused him to develop a loathing for people who he saw as "awful parents" and the belief that he was saving the children from their "lies".
"It doesn't matter what Garrett wants or doesn't want. He's dead! BECAUSE OF YOU! All of you. He had hopes and dreams and you took it all away with your lies. LIES! But now, I'm taking something away from you. By the time you find your children, it'll be too late. And that will haunt you for the rest of your lives."
After Garrett's death, Wayne begins his mission to "save" the children from their parents' "lies" by luring three children (Aiden Lyson, Joey Pryor, and Olivia Woosley) from their homes to a park via hypnosis through the internet.
When the BAU watches the surveillance footage from the park, they travel to Wesser, Iowa in order to determine what caused the children to disappear from their homes at night and what drove them to walk towards the white van awaiting for them. They meet up with Agent Brenda Channing and begin the investigation at the instruction of Wesser Mayor Rob Tremaine. At first, the BAU partakes in a couple of interviews with the parents of the three missing children to further investigate the case by finding the source of the kids' disappearance and possibly a potential suspect. Garcia manages to inform the team of a potential suspect; Arthur Brodie. Tara Lewis and Spencer Reid go off to the park where Brodie is to interview him about his white van and if he had anything to do with the abduction of the three children last night. Arthur becomes annoyed with the accusations and shoves Tara, only for him to get thrown to the table by Spencer and placed under arrest.
While the BAU takes Arthur Brodie in for questioning, Wayne lures Katie Linz from her bedroom and into his van (even in spite of Katie's leg injury she sustained from the fall). The next day, the BAU begins to ponder about how Katie managed to get out of the house when the front door was double locked and a couch was used as a barricade to prevent her from leaving. While searching for answers, they receive an envelope containing nail clippings and a flash drive containing a video providing proof that the children were still alive with a message in the form of an expression, "How does it feel?". As the BAU presents their profile, Wayne is working on new audio files and prepares for the abduction of another child; Timmy Tremaine, the son of Rob Tremaine. In the process, Wayne crushes Joan's skull with a hatchet and leaves her for dead before the police and the BAU arrive. When Rob arrives home, he appears in shock when he finds out that Joan is dead and Timmy has gone missing. Matthew Simmons promises that they'll find Timmy and bring Joan's killer to justice. Afterwards, Spencer asks Rob if Timmy ever had a cellphone or a computer in his possession to which Rob replied that "he did" because Timmy never did his chores and all of his electronic devices were taken away for a couple of days. This development made Rossi and Spencer come to the assumption that Timmy was originally going to be one of the children that was supposed to be abducted alongside the first three children that the BAU witnessed from surveillance footage, but because Timmy was "offline" that night; the unsub they were looking for took an axe and went "back to basics".
After the incident at the mayor's house, the team comes to the conclusion that the perpetrator not only had a grudge against the mayor and his family, but to the town as a whole. Garcia calls in to notify the others that the connection between the missing children was that most of them partook in a summer activities program at the fairgrounds. Meanwhile Spencer, Emily Prentiss, and Brenda stumble upon video files on Timmy's computer that revolved around ASMR audio and subliminal messaging that drove the children to leave their homes. After viewing the first video, it disappears indicating that the emails that were sent to the children by the internet were programmed to self-delete after witnessing it once. When that happens, Prentiss suggests recording the other four files so they'd be able to trace the source before the files disappeared and they ended up going back to square one. While the files are being recorded, Wayne prepares for his final moment of retribution against the citizens of Wesser.
As Wayne loads his gun and reminisces about his life with Garrett, the BAU discusses about the ASMR files. Garcia alerts the team that she managed to find several audio clues within the files such as the sound of a playground swing and a reversed dialogue of the phrase "Hamelin", resulting in them believing that the unsub that they're searching for sees himself as like a "twenty first century Pied Piper". In the morning, the BAU further discusses the subliminal messaging of the video files and go over employment records of the summer activities program where they discover that Wayne was a computer teacher before he was fired after working for only three weeks when the rumors of suspected inappropriate behavior toward his students began circulating around the town amongst the parents, believing that he was molesting them. After Spencer explains the story behind the rumors (which according to him, were undetermined and maybe nonexistent), Prentiss asks if Wayne had a regular job and Spencer replies that he does in the form of a research consultant at a tech firm in Des Moines.
While the team searches his home, Wayne travels through Legacy Park until he crosses paths with a mother and her baby. Wayne starts out appearing as innocent when he compliments the woman's baby, asking about it's age and gender and thinking about how children appeared so "innocent" and "pure". However when he begins accusing the woman of hurting her child and rambling about the rumors that ruined his life, she begins to think that something is up and tries to leave; only for Wayne to pull his gun on her. He begins threatening the people in the park that if anyone tries to move or run away, he will shoot the woman.
After searching Wayne's house, the BAU talks about Garrett's suicide until Brenda cuts the discussion short by warning them of a hostage situation in Legacy Park. Rossi notifies them that Tara and Matthew are currently in the area. Meanwhile at Legacy Park, Wayne continues threatening the people around him not to move until Tara and Matthew show up to get him to surrender, drop his weapon, and release the hostage. He refuses and rambles on and on about how everyone in Wesser has a voice except for him and that the rumors centering on him hurting the children were a "lie".
Matthew tries to calm Wayne down by telling him that what he is doing is not "what Garrett wants", but the phrase further aggravates Wayne and he blames everyone (the BAU and the town of Wesser) for the death of his son, claiming that the "lies" they told took away his "hopes and dreams". After his outburst, he provides a warning that he had taken away the children and that by the time that they're found, they'll already be dead and the deaths will haunt both the parents and the authorities for the rest of their lives. When he finishes his rant, Wayne lets go of the hostage and commits suicide by shooting himself; taking the knowledge of the children's location with him.
All hope seemed lost until Matt finds mud under Wayne's shoe and the BAU traces it to the Great Plains Meat Tenderizer Company. Miraculously, the children were saved and reunited with their families.
Wayne's M.O. mainly consisted of luring the children from their homes by sending them emails containing video files with ASMR audio and subliminal messaging (in the case of the episode, the audio included the sound of a playground swing going back and forth (to signal the children on where to go) and "Nilemah" ( the phrase "Hamelin" said in reverse ). Once the children were in his possession, he would transport them to a room at the Great Plains Meat Tenderizer Company to make sure that the children were safe from the "lies" of their parents.
During the incident at the Tremaine household, Wayne manually abducted Timmy and bludgeoned Joan with a hatchet; severing her neocortex, but leaving her paleocortex intact. Timmy was meant to be a part of the first group of children that were abducted, but because his electronics were taken away when he didn't do his chores; he couldn't view the video files sent to him. This resulted in Wayne showing up at the Tremaine household in person.
The unsub's use of the expression "how does it feel?" indicates that, while he abducted the children, his anger is focused on someone else. This suggests they are a means to an end, as there appears to be no deliberate harm to them.
The unsub is not a sexual predator nor a kidnapper in a traditional sense. He is an "injustice collector," and as such is motivated by revenge. None of the children's parents, however, are in professions that typically evoke revenge-based anger: doctors, judges, lawyers.
He is believed to be in his mid-30s to mid-40s. He is thorough, intelligent, and calculating. He may have also suffered the loss of a child recently, which may have triggered these current abductions. Whether this was a literal death, a physical separation, or purely a symbolic loss isn't clear.
These children are apparently responding to a form of post-hypnotic suggestion. He's also technologically savvy and capable of bonding with children. He is a local and also not a transient, which will make identifying him even more difficult.
- January 9-10
- Aiden Lyson (abducted along with the next two victims; all were rescued January 12)
- Joey Pryor
- Olivia Woosley
- January 10-11
- Katie Linz (injured her leg as she left her house; was rescued January 12)
- January 11
- The attack at the Tremaine home
- Timmy Tremaine (manually abducted; was rescued the next day)
- Joan Tremaine (incidental; crushed her skull with a hatchet)
- The attack at the Tremaine home
- January 12
- The standoff at Legacy Park
- Unnamed woman (held hostage; was released)
- The standoff at Legacy Park
- January 9-10
- Activities such as paper mache was the link between the victims and Timmy's interaction with Hollis indicated a friendly relationship, rather than an abusive one. This also lines up with Hollis' own statements just before he took his own life.