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No! She's not like the others!
Billy to the delusion of his grandmother

William "Billy" Lynch is a delusional stalker, rapist, and serial-turned-spree killer who appears in the Season Thirteen episode of Criminal Minds, "To A Better Place".


Billy was born to Ruth Lynch in 1991, his father never being a part of his life. His mother was a drug addict, likely in response to years of verbal and emotional abuse at the hands of Billy's alcoholic grandmother, Edith, who had been left to raise Ruth alone after his grandfather, Joseph, had abandoned the family after running off with a young nurse. In spite of her addictions, Ruth was determined to be the mother that Edith never was to her for Billy. She attended rehab, kept Billy up-to-date with vaccines and used what money she could spare to send him to summer camps. Finally, in 1997, Ruth decided to move out of Edith's house, removing her son from the hostile environment in which she grew up, and live with her best friend, Susan Aldrete. She even sent several of her and Billy's belongings to Susan's house ahead of them, including a red toy tow truck Billy played with. As Ruth began to pack the rest of her belongings, she and Edith got into a heated argument, which started to upset Billy. When Ruth tried to leave with him, Edith struck her in the head with a bottle in a moment of intense rage, an act a six-year-old Billy witnessed. As Edith tried to revive Ruth, Billy started to cry. She buried her daughter in the backyard and told Billy, who later suppressed the memory, that his mother had abandoned him. This caused Billy to develop abandonment issues and a deep mistrust of women.

Growing up, he suffered from a series of psychiatric problems (including schizophrenia) and in 1999, at age eight, Billy attempted suicide by cutting his left wrist. This was one of the several times Billy was admitted to the emergency room. As an adult, Billy's destructive behavior was kept at bay by Edith but when she was diagnosed with emphysema in 2010, Billy went into a deep depression, for which he received treatment. At some point prior to the episode, he got a job as a barista at a coffee shop and developed feelings for a co-worker named Helen Pierce, who liked him in return. On August 27, 2017, Edith died from her emphysema. Her death caused Billy to become severely depressed and, although he sought out counseling at the Boardwalk Community Counseling Center, it ultimately caused Billy to snap and begin killing women who served as surrogates for Ruth, claiming the lives of Patty Dunlop, the caterer for Edith's memorial service, and Ann Baker, the nurse who treated Edith prior to her death.

To A Better Place[]

After killing Ann Baker, Billy disposes of her body near a beach, where it is quickly discovered by two cyclists, which leads to the BAU being called in. Meanwhile, Billy kills Laura Westin, a member of a grief counseling support group at the community center, and leaves the suitcase containing her body next to a bus stop. Later that day, Billy goes to the coffee shop on his day off to see Helen. He timidly accepts a cup of coffee from her and takes a seat while Helen talks to Wanda, another barista, about Billy, who had told her that a family member recently died. A few minutes later, Helen brings Billy a fresh cup and asks about a cut on his hand, which he sustained from killing Laura. Billy brushes it off by saying that he cut it accidentally and that he "is in a fog these days". She tells him that she understands the feeling of losing a loved one as her father died when she was nine. She asks if he has anyone to talk to and Billy tells her he can talk to Edith, but that she's ill and he doesn't want to upset her. Then, another patron at the coffee shop accidentally breaks a mug and Helen leaves Billy to clean up the mess.

That evening, Billy returns to Edith's house. When he enters her room, "Edith" asks where he has been. He tells her he "met someone" and reminds her of who Helen is. He then says that Helen "is not like the others" and tells Edith about her father's death and also how Helen understands Billy's feelings of abandonment by his mother. Edith points out that Helen's father died, while Ruth left. Before he can respond, Edith, holding a picture of a woman whose face has been smeared with lipstick, asks him "Is this what you want?". She then calls Helen a whore and tells Billy she will leave him like his mother did. This enrages Billy to the point where he grabs the photo out of her hand and rips off her oxygen tank before throwing it on the floor. Billy turns to see Edith is gone and breaks down, making it clear that Edith is a delusion. Later, Billy looks up and sees her again. Sadly apologizing, he reconnects her oxygen tank and puts the picture into a drawer. He tells Edith that she "was right about Helen" and leaves while she smiles at him.

The next day, Billy sits in his car across from the coffee shop, waiting for Helen to leave. He nervously looks in the rearview mirror and sees his delusion of Edith in the back seat. He watches Helen leave and as she enters her car, Billy goes to start his own while hearing Edith say "You know what you have to do. She's a whore. Like all the others". Billy hits the mirror in an attempt to dispel the delusion, still appearing in the back seat. As he turns on the engine to follow Helen, he starts to go into a panic and relents. Sometime after, he is seen on a beach scouting for potential victims. As he does, his attention is drawn to a young boy and his mother, which causes him to leave the beach. Walking down the street, he comes across a woman named Holly Lefferts and starts following her. He ambushes her as she enters her home, bashing her head into the floorboards to subdue her and shutting the door. He rapes and kills her, this time strangling her with his hands. Afterwards, Billy poses her, placing a pillow behind her head, unaware that he is recreating Ruth's death, and cradles the body, sobbing uncontrollably. After killing her, Billy returns to the house. When asked where he was, he brushes it off by saying that he was at work, but Edith calls him a "liar". Billy tells her that he plans on asking Helen out, which she responds to by saying "something evil" happened to Billy. He repeats his intention, adding that Edith can't do anything to stop him. Edith tells him to leave like his mother did. This causes Billy to remember the argument, with Edith taunting him by saying "Your own mother left you". He sadly tells her not to talk about it. She then says that Helen will do the same. In an attempt to hold back his rage, Billy clenches his fist so tightly, he reopens his wound. He then angrily leaves the room.

Later, a now-calm Billy enters the coffee shop and tells Helen that he quit his job, surprising her. He then asks to go out with him that night, which she gladly accepts. He offers to pick up Helen when her shift ends, much to her agreement, before leaving. After she finishes work, Billy picks Helen up and tells her that he was worried she would change her mind. He asks if she would mind if they go to Edith's house before going for drinks as Billy would like to introduce them to each other. When asked why, he responds that it is to show her that Helen is "different from most women". He brings her up to Edith's room, calling for her. He explains her absence by saying they had argued earlier that day and she had likely gone out. However, Helen, looking around and seeing the room in a state of disarray, becomes increasingly apprehensive and asks to Billy to take her home repeatedly and to meet Edith at a later time. Although Billy insists on her staying, Helen tries to leave. He angrily grabs her arm and pushes her back into the room, taking her captive with a box cutter.

Billy sees the delusion of Edith in her chair again and starts to talk to her, saying Helen "is like the other women". Edith responds to him saying "You know what you have to do". Billy then turns to Helen before taking another vintage suitcase out of the closet. He tells her about his mother leaving him and seeing her pack a suitcase to leave. Helen tells him it wasn't his fault that his mother left. He starts approaching Helen while the delusion of Edith smiles at him sinisterly. Just as he is about to kill Helen, Reid breaks into the room and holds Billy at gunpoint. Agitated, he tells Reid he needs to "make it right". When he asks Billy about his mother, he becomes enraged. Lowering his weapon, Reid tells him about Susan, although Billy doesn't remember her name, and about Ruth's plans for her and Billy to move in with Susan. Billy initially doesn't believe him, but Reid then asks him about his old toy tow truck, which Susan had kept to help her remember him and Ruth. He looks at his delusion of Edith in disbelief as he remembers watching her kill Ruth. Billy starts to cry as Reid starts to explain how Edith was abandoned by Joseph and releases Helen. Looking at Edith's chair and then to Reid, Billy stands up with the box cutter in his hand. Thinking Billy is going to attack him, Reid raises his weapon and tells him to put it down. Instead, Billy hurls the blade towards where the now-vanished Edith was sitting and falls to the floor, breaking down and crying as he is arrested by Alvez. Prentiss later mentions that police found Ruth's body in Edith's backyard. Given his mental state, Billy is likely institutionalized afterwards.

Modus Operandi[]

"My grandma knew. Can't trust women. They paint their lips and take what they want!"

Billy targeted women who adopted the role of a caregiver or were connected to the grieving process. His first two victims also had additional connections to his grandmother, Edith, with Patty Dunlop being the caterer for Edith's memorial service and Ann Baker the nurse who treated Edith in the weeks before her death. His third victim, Laura Westin, was a member of the grief counseling support group at the same community center Billy joined after Edith died. They served as surrogates for Ruth, the mother whom he believed had abandoned him as a child, and the nurse his grandfather left his family for when Ruth was a child. He would passively insert himself into their lives romantically and slowly build a relationship with them, using his feelings of abandonment by his mother to appear sympathetic and trustworthy.

With the exception of Patty Dunlop, after a few weeks, he would convince his victims to allow him into their homes for a romantic dinner. Sometime later, he would subdue them using a knife[1], strangle them with a ligature and smear Midnight Surprise lipstick on their mouths then stuff their bodies into vintage oversized suitcases, which he brought with him. The lipstick and suitcases dated back to before the 1980s when Ruth would have been roughly the same age Billy was when she "left". The suitcases represented Billy's last memory of his mother that he could remember, which was Ruth packing a suitcase to leave, while the smeared lipstick represented the shade of lipstick worn by the nurse, likely based on images of women that had been similarly defaced kept in a drawer in Edith's room. He would then transport the bodies to secondary disposal sites, which became more public as Billy became more reckless; a swamp, a beach, and a bus stop respectively. In the case of Laura Westin, he likely killed her as they were preparing to have consensual sex (she was found wearing only lingerie and traces of spermicide were found on her hands). It is unknown if he did this with Ann Baker as well.

As he devolved, Billy began to abandon elements of his M.O. He was less selective in his chosen victim when he ambushed Holly Lefferts as she entered her home. Instead of subduing her with a knife and using a ligature, he bashed her head into the floor repeatedly, raped and manually strangled her. He also posed the body post-mortem, placing a cushion behind her head, unknowingly re-creating his memory of his mother's death as Edith did the same after she killed Ruth. Also, while he did smear lipstick on her face, he did not place her in a suitcase or move the body to another location. He also tried to clean up some of the lipstick after smearing it, out of remorse. Attacking a random victim was Billy's attempt to divert his homicidal impulses onto a woman other than Helen, who he was in love with. However, when he ultimately did try to kill Helen, he did intend to place her inside a suitcase.


The unsub is a male in his early-to-mid twenties. He is strong enough to strangle his victims, stuff them into oversized luggage and transport them to secondary disposal sites. He is most likely handsome, non-threatening and is able to insinuate himself into his victim's lives romantically before murdering them. This unsub differs from the usual "charm-and-harm" killer as he does not actively seduce his victims, rather they come to him. He hunts them by making himself the hunted. In psychoanalysis, this is referred to as the "Florence Nightingale effect", a term given to caregivers who develop strong sexual or romantic relationships with their patients.

The stressor is placed in his childhood and involves abandonment by a maternal figure, most likely his actual mother. However, this goes far beyond the mere seeking out of lost motherly love. For some reason, his needs are entangled with intense and ritualistic homicidal impulses, meaning something or someone else could be in play.

Until now, the unsub has been able to easily compartmentalize his life, separating the psychopath who kills from the part of him that blends into normal society. However, something recently triggered a breakdown and his ability to separate the sane from the psychopath is rapidly eroding. It is expected that this killer will become more reckless and more violent and time is of the essence.

Real-Life Comparison[]

Lynch may have been based on Carl Panzram (who was quoted by Prentiss in the episode) - Both were serial killers who went by a shortened nickname, had fathers who abandoned them, were sent to camps in their youth (though it was a juvenile detention center in Panzram's case), developed destructive and disturbing behaviors, primarily targeted one gender (men in Panzram's case, women in Lynch's), strangled them (though Panzram's M.O. was widely varied), disposed of them in watery areas (oceans in Panzram's case, a swamp and a beach in Lynch's), and devolved overtime. Also, Lynch attempting suicide could be a slight nod to Panzram's nihilism.

Known Victims[]

  • 2017:
    • Early September: Patricia "Patty" Dunlop (the caterer for Edith's memorial service)
    • September 30-October 1: Ann Baker (Edith's nurse)
    • October 2: Laura Weston
    • October 3-4: Holly Lefferts (bashed her head into floorboards; raped and manually strangled; was not placed in a suitcase and posed post-mortem)
    • October 4: Helen Pierce (his co-worker; previously stalked, held captive and attempted to kill with a box cutter; was rescued)


  • Billy seems to have been based on at least six unsubs from the show's past:
    • Season Six
      • Colby Bachner ("Remembrance of Things Past") - Both are serial killers and abductors who witnessed a murderous family member kill their mothers when they were children, yet were convinced that their mothers abandoned them. And later both targeted and killed women under the instruction of said family member (though Lynch's grandmother was just a hallucination that encouraged him to).
      • Rhett Walden, Jr. ("Reflection of Desire") - Both are psychotic serial killers (budding at least) who had delusions of deceased maternal figures, targeted women, and had signatures involving a victim's lips (Lynch smeared lipstick on his, while Walden, Jr. removed his).
    • Season Eight
      • Adam Rain ("The Lesson") - Both are mentally-ill serial killers who witnessed the murders of one of their parents when they were kids, suffered from hallucinations in which they saw people they thought were real, and would stuff the bodies of their victims in some kind of casing after killing them (suitcases in Lynch's case, giant custom-made boxes in Rain's).
    • Season Ten
      • Claire Dunbar ("If the Shoe Fits") - Both are delusional serial-turned-spree killers who would date their victims before killing them, had stressors involving the death of a relative (Claire's father and William's grandmother) which played a part in their delusions (Claire would visit the grave of a random woman, convinced that it was her father buried there, while William was driven to kill by a vision of Edith), lost their jobs during the episode (though Dunbar was fired while Lynch simply quit), killed their last victims the same way as the others but used different weapons (Lynch strangled his last victim manually instead using a ligature, while Dunbar killed her last victim by stabbing him with one of her heels instead of using gardening shears), attempted to kill one of their co-workers with a bladed object, only to be talked down by Reid, and were likely institutionalized following their arrests. Additionally, they have identical kill counts (four killed, with one attempted, and all of the opposite gender.)
      • Patrick Jon Murphy ("Breath Play") - Both are serial killers, stalkers, and rapists who witnessed the unintentional death of a woman when they were kids, targeted women and used a ruse on them in which they would romanticize them before killing them, killed their victims in their homes by strangling them with a ligature, and raped one of their final victims as a deviation from their M.O.
    • Season Eleven
      • Randy Jacobs ("The Bond") - Both are serial killers who had malicious maternal figures in their lives who murdered one victim in their presence (Lynch witnessed Edith kill his mother Ruth, while Jacobs' mother Flora killed the man who raped and impregnated her after forcing Jacobs to cut off his ear), both later suppressed the memory of these events, were encouraged by these maternal figures to kill as adults (though in Lynch's case, it was only through a delusion of Edith), and attempted to kill a woman they knew with a bladed object before being talked down by the BAU.



  1. Given the shallow cuts on Laura's hands and Billy's preferred use of a box cutter, it is possible that he used the same box cutter to establish control over his victims or simply used a knife from their homes