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What Really Drove Criminal Minds Serial Killer Rafael Acosta To A Life Of Crime

In the world of "Criminal Minds," the serial killers encountered by the BAU always have a method to their madness. They plan their killings with meticulous forethought, crafting their crimes and executing them with precision. Yet their motivations and the drives behind those killings can be all too human: Behind the majority of the killers encountered by the BAU, many are victims of abuse or trauma, left twisted and warped by their pain until their killings become the sole means of expressing that pain.

Easily one of the worst examples of a killer with an all-too-understandable pain was Rafael Acosta (Aaron Behr), a man who suffered a horrendous loss and snapped, driven by the unfairness of it all to become a cold-blooded killer. Stalking the eldest sons of Americans vacationing in Latin America, Acosta worked as a security guard. He would break into their rooms, recite a brief prayer, stab them, then wrap them in a hemp blanket in a manner imitating Judeo-Christian burial rites. The reason why he did it was the true tragedy — Rafael Acosta felt he had been forsaken by God.

A loss of faith

Debuting on the "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders" episode "De Los Inocentes," Rafael Acosta was once a pastor whose son, Matthew, died when an earthquake struck. While Matthew lost his life, an American boy named Bryan Holt (whose family were vacationing in Mexico) survived. The loss of his son while the child of a total stranger survived proved too much for Rafael's sanity, and he believed God had abandoned him. Quitting his job as a pastor, he became a security guard and began stalking the first born sons of American tourists in an effort to take what had been taken from him.

This loss compelled him to act in a manner similar to King Herod, taking those he believed were favored by God in an effort to balance the loss of his son. This led him to his confrontation with the agents of the FBI's International Response Team and Agent Clara Seger (Alana De La Garza) reaching out to his humanity, reminding him that no matter how many times he killed, it would never bring Matthew back. This convinces him to release the hostages he had taken and to surrender himself into custody.

The man within the monster

Rafael Acosta is a killer, and the crimes he committed were horrible: He killed seven victims, all of them young boys, and his actions make him unquestionably a monster. However, given his loss, he is an understandable monster, one in which we can see something of ourselves. The loss of his son shattered his sanity, leaving him with nothing but rage and pain that sent him over the edge and into madness. He couldn't justify the random chaos of existence with his own personal vision of God's plan, and the death of his son while another was allowed to live completely broke him.

Rafael Acosta is a sad figure, a man whose rage denied him the comfort of his faith and whose actions left him forever damned. His story is a sad one, and he stands as one of the most tragic monsters in the world of "Criminal Minds."