It's nearing midnight on the dark streets of St. Paul, Minnesota. The local bars and clubs are releasing their patrons for the night; they drunkenly make their way to the Metro bus stations, the LightRail, or to their cars. Some of them walk home to their beds.
Among the buildings and streets, two young brunette women weave happily through a well-lighted, though very dark street, giggling hysterically. They appear to be no older than 16 or even 18 years of age, and are talking about the party they have just left.
"I'm NOT kidding, Lainey," the first girl, Jessica, insists. "Danny Jacobs was SO eying you tonight."
"No, he wasn't," Lainey insists, slurring her words as she grips at a lightpole the two women have passed. "He was so high, he could've been looking at the damn ceiling overhead, and thought he could see through to the stars."
"Really?" Jessica chuckled. "I could've sworn he was looking at you. Imagining you in his bed, undressing you with his eyes…"
"Oh, shut UP, Jessica!" Lainey cries, mockingly hitting out at her friend. Both of them shriek out in drunken laughter.
Neither of them notices the van pulling up beside the curb as they continue to laugh. They never see the sliding door open, and by the time they look to see the gun that pokes out, they are already dead, the shots muffled from anyone ever hearing them.
There is a beat of silence before the owner of the van steps out. He leans over each girl, checking them for a pulse. Then, he reaches toward them, laying the hands of his victims on their stomachs. Satisfied with his kill, the murderer straightens up, dusts himself off, and returns to his car.
No one has even noticed.
"Good morning, sweetness," Derek Morgan calls out to Penelope Garcia as she walks by his desk.
"I'll show you a good morning, Hot Stuff," she crows, turning to face him with an eager smile.
On the other side of the office, in the tiny workplace kitchen, Dr. Spencer Reid pours himself a cup of coffee, chuckling to himself as Morgan and Garcia teasingly flirt with each other. On his other side, Emily Prentiss smirks, staring at the two friends as they play happy couple.
"Those two…" Emily chuckled, grabbing her coffee mug from inside the cabinet above her head.
Reid turns back to his mug, a small smile still in place on his face. "You know, that never gets old."
"Unlike the coffee," Prentiss reminds him, taking a sip, and making a face. "I think the coffee-maker is on the fritz again. Be careful."
"Isn't it always on the fritz?" Jennifer Jareau, or JJ, as her teammates and friends routinely called her, remarked as she approached the two profilers. "Budget cuts have kept it from being fixed… or, even better, replaced. But coffee is the least of your worries. We've got a new case; it looks like St. Paul has a serial."
"Joy." Emily muttered. Reid raised his empty coffee cup in a salute before taking a sip of his coffee, and promptly spitting it out.
"Nope," he muttered. "The coffee-maker is definitely NOT on the fritz. It passed the fritz a long time ago."
With that, the five agents went up to the briefing room, where Hotch and Rossi were already waiting.
JJ turned on the computer, and brought up some images.
"This is Jessica King and her best friend Lainey Jones. Both girls were walking home from a small keg party that had been busted shortly after they left. They appear to be the fourth and fifth victims of a serial killer who is randomly targeting men and women between the ages of 16 and 23. There is no connection between any of the victims except for the positioning of the bodies, and the fact that our last two victims were best friends."
"How were they positioned?" Morgan asked.
"They were lying face up on the sidewalk. Their eyes were shut, and their hands were folded across their stomachs. Each victim also had a rosary threaded through their fingers." JJ replied, bringing up another picture of one of the victims hands, which sported a small plastic rosary intertwined in her fingers. "It's a very cheap version, machine made, one of the glow-in-the-dark models that you usually find at a store for a dollar, or the type that churches give away for free
during parish holidays, or Communion."
JJ clicked her remote at the screen again. "According to the reports, there were no fingerprints, no hair fibers, clothing fibers or other trace evidence. Just the rosaries."
"Who were the other victims?" Hotch asked.
JJ brought up another bunch of pictures. "The first victim was Jacob Swan, age 19, a student at the University of St. Thomas. Our second and third victims were Amiee and Alec Sawyer, ages 18 and 23. Aimee was a freshman at St. Catherine University, and Alec worked at an Italian restaurant in downtown St. Paul. Jessica and Lainey were 16 and 17, respectively, and both were students at Cretin Derham Hall, a St. Paul private high school."
"All right," Hotch said. "Wheels up in 30."
The rest of the team, save for Reid, Rossi and Morgan, got up to leave the room "Hang on a minute, JJ," Reid called suddenly. "I just noticed something."
"What is it?" Rossi asked.
"The first three victims," Reid began. "They look as though they've been restrained. They had ligature marks on their wrists, arms, ankles and legs. Yet Jessica and Lainey look as though they have only been shot, yet they have the same mood rings. Same signature with the same M.O, but it's a different kill tactic."
"The St. Paul crime lab has figured out that the rings on out two newest victims are in fact the same rings as the ones used in the last three murders."
"But why shoot them in the middle of the street?" Hotch asked, "A city as heavily populated as St. Paul, someone would've heard a gun go off, unless he had a silencer, of course."
"But why kill them?" Prentiss asked. "They almost have no apparent connections to each other. They all attend different schools; two of them were in high school and one of them worked at an Italian restaurant. Nothing about this crime makes sense; if I didn't think the profile would have a gaping hole in it, I'd say this guy was a sadist. But the act of crossing their arms and closing their eyes afterward speaks of remorse."
"It looks like we're gonna be working extra hard this week," Morgan replied. "If this UnSub kills again, he'll probably be doing it sometime this week."
"And we can't let that happen," Reid finished, looking at the pictures.