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How Criminal Minds Influenced A Real-Life Crime

The crimes committed by the various "unsubs" on "Criminal Minds" are often the stuff of nightmares. There was the serial killer who turned his victims into living marionettes. Another used hypnosis to get others to kill for him. There's been a homicidal cult leader, a femme fatale assassin, a cannibal, and even a preteen serial killer who killed other children. Given the varied and sickening modus operandi of the series' many killers, abductors, and torturers, it's tough to imagine an instance of life imitating art. However, that's exactly what happened in 2011 – or so the real-life killer alleged.

The victim, plumber Jeffrey Hall, was 32 years old when he was shot in the head while he slept in his California home. The previous day, the father of five had hosted a meeting of his neo-Nazi group – one of the largest in the country, according to The Washington Post - in the home and was interviewed by The New York Times. Hours later, Hall would be dead. The killer? His 10-year-old son, Joseph.

An episode of Criminal Minds allegedly inspired patricide in 2011

According to Joseph and his stepmother Krista McCary, the senior Hall was a drug addict who regularly beat him and other family members (via The Washington Post). After the murder, McCary told police that her husband often punched and kicked Joseph for minor infractions such as being too loud. When police arrived at the scene, Joseph told them that he feared his father – who the night before had threatened to burn the house down while everyone slept, according to a Supreme Court petition – and wanted the beatings to stop. When he was interviewed by police, Joseph said he'd seen an episode of "Criminal Minds" in which a child killed his father (via The Press-Enterprise). "A bad father did something to his kids and the kid did the exact thing I did — he shot him," the juvenile said. According to Joseph, the child in the episode was not arrested or punished.

As the investigation into Hall's murder progressed, the police learned that Joseph – who already had a violent history despite his youth, per The New York Times – might have begun to plan his father's murder four days before he pulled the trigger. However, it's also worth noting that Joseph was described as having learning difficulties and appeared not to understand the permanence of death, even asking police after the slaying, "How many lives do people usually get?" But after a trial in juvenile court, a judge determined Joseph was aware of the consequences of his actions and thus responsible, per BBC News. In 2013, Joseph Hall was sentenced to 10 years in a juvenile facility (via Time).