Inside the Criminal Mind season 1, episode 2 recap: ’Kidnapping’


Netflix series Inside the Criminal Mind peers into the mindsets and motivations of kidnappers. It turns out they’re not a wholesome lot.

The series looks at some world famous kidnapping cases:

  • The Ariel Castro kidnappings of Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus, who were each held for at least 10 years in his Cleveland, Ohio home.
  • Josef Fritzl, the Austrian who imprisoned and raped his own daughter, Elisabeth, for 24 years in his elaborately built prison basement.
  • The kidnapping of Colleen Stan by Cameron and Janice Hooker, who often kept her in a wooden box beneath their water bed.
  • The 1991 kidnapping by Phillip and Nancy Garrido of Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was imprisoned for 18 years.
  • The kidnapping of Natascha Kampusch by Wolfgang Přiklopil. She was kept for 8 years and often placed in a soundproof cellar beneath his garage.
  • In 2002, Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped in Salt Lake City, Utah by Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee for 9 months of hell.

Motives and Drives

What explains this craziness? Is it that these kidnappers are crazy? Inside the Criminal Mind tries to explain their possible motives, their basic sexual drives, and why they become psychopaths. In some cases, kidnappers were themselves abused as kids. Some do drugs. Some seem to suffer from paranoid delusions.

Some of them seem depressed. For example, Ariel Castro killed himself shortly into his prison term. While some say he wasn’t brave enough to face prison, it’s also speculated that he was suicidal even before his capture. Before the kidnappings, Ariel Castro had abused his wife, Grimilda, breaking her nose, ribs, and arms and eventually throwing her down the stairs, cracking her skull.

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Inside the Criminal Mind also interviews Monica Stephens, Castro’s former daughter-in-law, who says he had an abusive father.  Dr. Charles Heller, a Forensic Psychologist, suggests Castro had a sense of powerlessness, which inspired him to lash out at captives in his deviant ways.

Dr. Kostas A. Katsavdakis, a Forensic Psychologist, suggests the question of “nature and nurture” is a false dichotomy. The truth is likely in between. People may be born inclined towards selfish behavior, but sometimes it takes harsh, abusive experiences to make them cross over into deviancy. If they feel justified in what they’re doing, it partly explains how psychopaths can lack guilty feelings.

Repeat Offenders

Like Castro, Phillip Garrido was a repeat offender. Before kidnapping abducted 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard for 18 years, he had abducted Katherine Callaway Hall in a hotel room, for which he was sentenced to 50 years at Leavenworth Prison. She was saved when a cop noticed the storage unit being used at night. When he went to investigate, Katherine cried for help and Garrido was arrested.

Josef Fritzl was a repeat offender, too, as he raped someone in 1967. This base level deviance stuck around, as he imprisoned his daughter for 24 years, producing 7 children and 1 miscarriage with her. In order to keep such deep, dark secrets for so long, it’s important for [most] kidnappers to appear normal to outsiders. This makes them like serial killers, at least in certain respects.


Like serial killers, most kidnappers have abnormal and intense sexual impulses involving humiliation, pain, power, torture and abuse fantasies. They are often pedophiles, seeking to control their victims. Oddly enough, as these cases show, they sometimes rely on a partner in crime. Garrido had a wife, as did Cameron Hooker and Brian David Mitchell. In fact, Cameron Hooker used his wife Janice and their baby as a prop to appear normal when he first picked up Colleen Stan.

They also sometimes try to regard their setup as normal, or even as a family, which is why men will sometimes impregnate their victims. At the very least, it will complicate things for those seeking to escape. Inside the Criminal Mind  suggests  that, to some extent, certain kidnappers believe their victims even wanted to be kidnapped!

Homes Into Prisons & Psychological Manipulation

In many kidnapping cases, the perpetrators try to modify their homes into prisons. Ariel Castro relied on soundproofing and lock systems. Garrido and Přiklopil had soundproofed key sections of their homes.  Fritzl went well out of his way, relying on multiple layers of doors, some of which weighed more than 1,000 pounds. Between the keys, pass codes and sheer exhaustion of constant imprisonment, escape was unlikely except through unusual circumstances.

In such a scenario, a captive may even fear anything happening to their captor. It could jeopardize their ability to ever be freed! As a similar psychological tool, Garrido told his victim she was keeping him from assaulting other girls.  Inside the Criminal Mind does a pretty good job at examining the psychological tricks employed.

Kidnappers may utilize physical torture, beatings, noise, food and water deprivation, darkness and general isolation to control their victims. Ariel Castro blasted a radio at all hours, so his victims wouldn’t know if he was home or not. Cameron Hooker had Colleen Stan sign a slavery contract, and said he worked for a shadowy group called “The Company,” which he insisted would be even crueler to her if she escaped. Similarly, Brian David Mitchell threatened harm to Elisabeth Smart’s family (who he knew by doing yard work).

How These Ones Got Caught

Thankfully, kidnapping cases like these are rare, and the perpetrators are often caught. Natasha Kampusch escaped Wolfgang Přiklopil because, after he relented in his strict confinement practices, she fled as he was on the phone (later he committed suicide by walking into an oncoming train). In the Castro case, Amanda Berry saw that Castro left a door unlocked. A neighbor heard her frantically screaming from the house and she and the others were saved.

For whatever reason, Garrido took Kaycee to UC Berkeley campus, and people there thought they seemed suspicious, leading to Garrido’s arrest. Similarly, in a faint glimmer of humanity, Fritzl was caught after he brought his daughter to the hospital.

Given the almost “winding down” nature of prominent cases, it’s easy to speculate that, after a while, these sadists grow weary of the activity. For whatever reason, kidnappers tend to have these moments of “weakness” (or, again, humanity) where they let their guards down. Maybe they begin identifying with their victims too much, or just become depressed about their abnormal behaviors.

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It makes sense as a theory. For example, some think Castro left that door unlocked on purpose, because he wanted to get caught, or was suicidal. In any case, Castro received 2 life sentences plus 1,000 years. His house was also demolished, and “Inside the Criminal Mind” says that, after his cremation, no cemetery would accept his ashes.

That’s it for this Inside the Criminal Mind recap! What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!