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Truth is, they meant nothing to me. They were toys, a diversion, and from the moment I decided to kill them, they were dead. They begged, they cried, they bargained, and it didn't matter, because they didn't matter.
~ Chester Hardwick disdaining his victims.

Chester Hardwick is the main antagonist of the Criminal Minds episode "Damaged". He is a serial killer on death row attempting manipulate his way out of his execution.

He was portrayed by Michael Shamus Wiles.

Biography

Early life

Hardwick was born into a family with a long history of mental illness. His father suffered from severe PTSD from his service in World War II and dulled the pain with alcohol, and his mother suffered from bipolar disorder and undifferentiated schizophrenia. Both parents were violent with each other and with him, often beating him after (and even during) their frequent, violent arguments. As a teenager, Hardwicke spied on his female neighbors and stole their underwear, and set hundreds of fires. He spent two years in a juvenile detention center.

As an adult, he began raping and murdering women, claiming twenty-three victims before he was finally caught and sentenced to death.

"Damaged"

A week before his execution date, Hardwick agrees to submit to an interview with Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) agents Aaron Hotchner and Spencer Reid, who are conducting the Criminal Personality Research Project. Hardwick tells him he will only talk to them if they open a window, Hotchner agrees. Hardwick is uncooperative afterwards, however, provoking a frustrated Hotchner to ask why he had agreed to be interviewed in the first place. Hardwick smiles and replies that he just wanted to feel the fresh air after years of isolation on death row.

Angered, Hotchner presses a button to summon the guards to let him and Reid out, but Hardwick says that the guards are changing shifts and will not arrive for thirteen minutes, which will give him enough time to kill them both. He then reveals his plan to delay his execution, perhaps indefinitely, with another murder trial.

Thinking quickly, Reid tells Hardwick that he knows why he killed his victims. Intrigued, Hardwick tells him to continue. Reid then launches into an exhaustive profile of Hardwick, including his abusive childhood, family history of mental illness, and genetic propensity for violence thanks to an underdeveloped hypothalamus. Reid concludes his theory by saying that Hardwick never had a chance to be anything other than what he is.

Hardwick is fascinated by Reid's theory, and listens raptly long enough for the guards to arrive and take Hotchner and Reid to safety. As they are led out, Hardwick asks Reid if he really thinks he never had a chance. Reid shrugs and says, "I don't know, maybe", and leaves. Hardwick is then presumably executed on schedule.

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