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The Worst Criminal In Law & Order: SVU Season 6

Out of the many successful shows in Dick Wolf's "Law & Order" universe, "Law & Oder: Special Victim's Unit" has proved to be the most enduring. The series already has the 24th Season in production, which places it as the longest-running series of the entire franchise. Part of its engaging hook has been the particularly complex and dangerous criminals that the Special Victims Unit is tasked with bringing to justice in each episode. And that fact is a bit surprising considering that "SVU" often deals with some cases that easily veer on the side of going too far.

During its long tenure, "SVU" has presented some of the most depraved and notorious criminals that have served as nightmare fuel for fans. Season 6 certainly doesn't pull punches in this regard, as quite a few episodes during this era showcase some of the worst villains the series has to offer. For instance, few could forget the episode "Pure," which features iconic comedian Martin Short in a shocking role that sees him playing one of the vilest criminals Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler (Christopher Meloni) have ever gone up against. As memorable as his role was, there's still one other Season 6 episode that features a perpetrator that is even worse.

A serial killer plays a dangerous game with detectives in Scavenger

"Scavenger" has all the makings of an R-rated criminal thriller, as detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler frantically race against the clock to locate a serial killer who is taunting the detectives with a breadcrumb trail of clues. In fact, "Scavenger" ventures into territory so dark that it's a wonder the episode even made it to air at all. Everything kicks off with a note left on an abandoned baby that reveals that the infant's mother has been kidnapped. Benson and Stabler follow clues left by the killer, who even mails them the victim's severed ear at one point. Unfortunately, they are too late to save that victim, and the killer even manages to claim another life before the detectives can put together the pieces of his twisted puzzle. But they eventually do figure out that the killer is a man named Humphrey Becker (Doug Hutchison), and he's copying the work of a previous serial killer from the '70s known as RDK.

What's grotesque about all this is that to Humphrey, the killings are nothing more than a twisted game and a sick way to continue the legacy of an infamous horrid murderer. The man even kidnaps one of RDK's original victims, who barely escaped her previous tormentor. Humphrey's plans are eventually unraveled, as his mother reveals to the detectives that as a child, she used to put him in a dark closet whenever she went out. This results in Humphrey being placed in a closet by Benson and Stabler. Screaming, the murderer finally confesses the location of his last victim, as his claustrophobia takes over. We'd almost feel bad for him if not for the fact that he's a terrible copycat killer.

The episode has a striking similarity to a true crime

Humphrey is Season 6's worst criminal because he tries to continue the work of one of the worst serial killers in the "Law & Order" universe. But there's another more meta reason why Humphrey deserves that title. His actions in "Scavenger" resemble a real-life serial killer who also went by a set of initials. Beginning in 1974, the residents of Wichita, Kansas were terrorized by serial killer Dennis Rader, known as the BTK Killer, who murdered ten people over three decades (via History). Like Humphrey, Rader brutally murdered his victims and toyed with authorities and the media by sending notes and packages.

Both Humphrey and Rader had disturbing childhoods, and in both cases, their communications with the police helped lead to their arrest. Using the real-life case of the BTK killer as inspiration for a "Law & Order: SVU" episode isn't too far-fetched. After all, "SVU" has used quite a few real crimes as inspiration. And in this case, it helped make Humphrey Becker the worst criminal in "Law & Order: SVU" Season 6.