George in 1972
George in 1985
George in 2005
|Portrayed by|| Nick Price (1972) |
|First Appearance||Mind Hunters|
|Last Appearance||The Woods|
George Marks was a prolific serial killer responsible for the murders of at least eleven women over a thirty-three year period. George was finally shot and killed in 2005 in his childhood home by Detective Lilly Rush after a tense standoff with police.
George's childhood, not surprisingly, was not a happy one. He was raised alone by his mother Simone Marks, an emotionally disturbed woman who suffered from a condition called hysterical blindness, which caused her to genuinely believe she was blind. Though George tried to help her, doing things like carving crude braille symbols at the top and bottom of the attic staircase to let her know how many steps there were. Simone blamed George for her "blindness", saying he was "darkness", and treated him harshly. It is implied that she hated him because he was the product of rape.
Simone kept George locked in the attic, which was decorated with drawings of trees all over the wall, resembling the woods. George and his mother were feared by the entire neighborhood, leaving him with no friends. The closest was a boy named Evan who lived next door, he and George would often exchange signals with flashlights from their windows.
George would often play cheerful music, referencing the sun, like John Denver's "Sunshine On My Shoulders", which Simone hated. After George cut the eyes out of several dolls on November 3, 1972, Simone finally had enough of him and called DHS to have him removed. A social worker named Lee arrived and took George away to a group home.
George didn't stay long, running away only hours later and headed home. Coincidentally, Lee had also returned at the same time with a man named Jacob Leonardo, intending to rob the house. However, Jacob was a serial rapist who was more interested in raping Simone when he saw she was apparently blind. Lee wouldn't allow this, however, and forced Jacob to leave at gunpoint.
Lee was about to leave himself when he heard George playing "Sunshine On My Shoulders" in the attic again. Simone said the darkness always came back, causing the frightened Lee to drop his gun and run away.
When Simone headed up the attic, Lee's gun in hand, George asked his mother why she had sent him away. She said he was darkness and accused him of being responsible for her blindness.
It was then, however, that Jacob returned, eager to finish what he'd started. George hid in the closet, and watched as Simone raised the gun at Jacob, who simply slapped it away. As Jacob undid his belt, Simone pleaded with him not to rape her in the attic. "Not in the woods", she pleaded over and over. She then whispered to Jacob that George was in the closet and told him to do it to him instead. Jacob, deciding to take Simone up on the offer, pulled George from the closet. George tried to run, but the doors were locked. Jacob caught George, dragged him back up to the attic and raped him.
After Jacob had finished, George picked up the fallen gun, pointed it at his mother and asked how she could have known about "the woods", realizing for the first time that she wasn't truly blind. Simone begged his forgiveness, but without another word, George shot her in the chest, killing her. A horrified Jacob then fled the house.
The First Hunt
Little is known of George’s life for the remainder of his childhood. At age eighteen, he applied to the Police Academy, but failed the entry exam. At age twenty, he failed the physical to be a shopping mall security guard. Sometime later, he was hired as a civilian clerk in the Philly PD's Report Control Unit. It is not known when he first decided to stalk, hunt, and kill women in the woods, but it is believed his first victim was Janet Lambert in 1985.
George had prepared for his twisted endeavor well. He purchased a World War II-era Japanese Arisaka Model 38 rifle and ammo from an Army Surplus Store, run by a man named Herb, using a fake ID with the alias Peter Brodsky, the name of a cop who'd left town in 1984, after being shot in the line of duty and confined to a wheelchair. George even took several glass deer eyes used for taxidermy.
George had read about Janet in a police report on November 2, after she and her eleven year-old daughter Susan Lambert left Janet's abusive husband Leroy Lambert and filed charges against him. Putting on a police uniform and taking a police cruiser, George pulled Janet's car over hours after she filed charges, intending to abduct her. He hadn't counted on Susan being in the car as well and promptly left.
Hours later at around 9PM, George caught up with Janet again at the convenience store where she worked and took her out to the Tinicum Wildlife Preserve. Donning hunting gear, and forcing her to strip down to her underwear, as his mother had been when she died, he forced her to run barefoot throught the woods for hours, while he hunted her with his rifle. Finally cornering her at dawn, around five in the morning, ignoring her pleas to spare her life for the sake of her daughter, he finished her off with a single bullet to the chest. George decapitated Janet's body, burying the body in the woods, and taking the head. George was spotted by a young park ranger named Jack Robbins, who had overheard the gunshot. Jack simply assumed George was a deer hunter, however, and warned him not to hunt on the preserve again. George took the head back to his childhood home, skinning it and fitting the skull with deer eyes. He then buried it in the back yard, positioning it with the head "looking" up to his room, to "see" what had been done to him there.
The One That Got Away
George would repeat this pattern for several years. His position in the Reports office allowed him access to police reports. He would use this to find women who had fought back against attackers. On an early November day, when the constellation of Orion the Hunter became visible in the night sky, George would take a woman he'd selected into the woods under the guise of a police officer, tormenting them with personal details he'd learned from their reports, and would hunt them for hours, before letting them beg for their lives at dawn, then finally killing them. His victims varied greatly in age and ethnicity and included Gloria Zucker in 1986, Theresa Raymond in 1989, Martha Williams in 1991, Beatrice Simon in 1993, Yvette Lopez in 1995, Tina James in 1999, and Latrice Hicks in 2001. Aside from purchasing a gas mask as a precaution against Tina, who had blinded an attacker with tear gas, George would remain fairly consistent in his methods.
In 1997, however, one of his victims escaped. George had chosen DeeDee Cooper, a bar waitress who had escaped from a rapist. Taking her in, claiming it was for disorderly conduct he drove her out to the woods. As he forced her from the car, however, he called her "Atalanta", the name of a fast-running princess in a story Deedee had heard as a child. The story had given her the strength to run away from the would-be rapist. Hearing George say it (as he had read about it in her police report), Deedee ran out of the car towards a couple driving by, and escaped. Either deciding she wasn't worth the effort, or too risky, George moved on to other women.
In late 2004, George's dark secret finally began to emerge. Hikers discovered Janet's headless remains. Although Homicide detectives initially suspected her husband Leroy, once the other bodies were uncovered, they realized they were dealing with a serial killer.
Playing the seemingly innocuous role of a helpful clerk in Report Control, George provided Detective Lilly Rush and her partner Scotty Valens with police reports on all nine victims, noting all had fought back against some sort of attack. He politely agreed to look for records on similar women when asked.
When Herb, the army surplus store owner, was questioned, the name Peter Brodsky came up, casting suspicion on him. Deedee was questioned as well, telling them the killer had known about the story of "Atalanta", they realized the killer had been learning his victims' secrets through police reports. Once they learned that Brodsky had been confined to a wheelchair for the last twenty years, detectives realized the killer wasn't a cop, but someone who had access to police reports. It was then that suspicion fell on George.
George was called into Lieutenant John Stillman's office where Stillman and Scotty asked for his perspective on the case. Knowing they were on to him, but still playing the helpful clerk, George suggested "the killer" hated women because of his domineering and controlling mother. He freely acknowledge to reading the victims' files. Then, dropping all pretense for a moment, he told them smugly that they wouldn't find anything in his house.
Just as he predicted, detectives found nothing. George had kept his home immaculate, without a trace of dust, blood, or a fingerprint, not even his own. They did find his collection of deer eyes, however.
Meanwhile, George calmly waited in the interrogation room, still keeping up the act that they were consulting him on the case. George reminded them it was just a conversation and he could leave anytime he wanted. Stillman asked how and why he forced them to take off their clothes first. George "speculated" that it was more about control and humiliation and suggested few people resist when a firearm is involved. He also suggested he picked women who'd fought back as they presented a challenge. Scotty tried to goad George by suggesting the killer "never got laid once in his life". At this, however, George, who had studied up on the detectives, retorted by goading Scotty about his mentally ill girlfriend Elisa. He also reminded Stillman of the estranged relationship with his ex-wife Rita and his daughter Janie that his job had left him. He then told them he was finished talking to them.
In the second round, Detectives Nick Vera and Will Jeffries placed one of the deer eyes on the table and asked if he hunted. George scoffed at the idea of "chasing dumb animals through the woods", saying there was "no challenge." Vera asked why their killer only hunted women, not men, if he wanted a challenge. George suggested females had more to live for. When Jeffries brought up Deedee, the one that had escaped, George simply pointed out that she was a drunk, possibly even an addict by that point and no D.A. would ever put her on a witness stand. He then baited Vera, reminding him of the Gail Chimayo case, which had taken him five years to solve, allowing a serial rapist to go on attacking women. A furious Vera nearly came to blows before Jeffries held him back. Hinting at the murder of Tina, his youngest victim, George told them "things a female will beg to do if only you'll let her live". In one last swipe, he goaded Jeffries about the death of his wife Mary in a hit and run years earlier. Despite a minor misstep when he let slip that he knew what the deer eyes in his home were, George quickly quieted up, telling them he wanted to talk to Lilly.
In the third and final conversation, George told Lilly he'd watched her in interrogation on occasion. When Lilly suggested he'd snuck into observation and "groped (his) ding-a-ling in the dark" or that it only worked in the woods, perhaps not even there, George simply scoffed at "yet another tired Lilly trick." George then told her he'd read the report about how she'd been attacked herself as a little girl, asking if she ever dreamed about it. Shaken, but not beaten, Lilly brought up George's own history, recounting his failure to join the police academy, failing a physical to become a security guard. She goaded him about being forty-five and "filing away pieces of paper" and even about his mother's murder. "No wonder you're such a small, little man." She said.
As she walked away dismissively, George finally lost his composure. In a burst of anger, he told her in the woods, "he's God".
At that point, George decided to end their conversation. Lilly had gotten George to lose control, if only for a moment, but she hadn't gotten a confession. As he stood up, she demanded to know what he'd done with the heads. George would tell her nothing, however.
Lilly warned that she would be watching him. George responded that he might leave town and do some traveling. "Beautiful country we live in," he said. "Lots of empty woods." He asked if Lilly ever hunted, and suggested they should do it sometime. "Maybe we will." She said.
George then walked out the squad a free man.
The Final Stand
George left Philly for several months. Detective Gil Sherman from the Fugitives Unit kept a close eye on George until the spring of 2005, when George managed to elude him.
With his identity exposed, however, George would not be able to hunt as easily as he once could. He managed to track down his one surviving victim, Deedee, somehow forcing her back to the Tinicum Preserve, he killed her in the woods. In a possible sign of boredom, or loss of control, he shot her not once, but multiple times, stabbing her as well.
Simultaneously, George set his sights on his one true adversary; Lilly. Using an alias, Benton Smith, he purchased his childhood home, and sent an inspector over to examine the property, knowing this would lead to the discover of the skull buried in the back yard.
Sure enough, Lilly and Scotty were called in, which led to them investigating George's past and the murder of his mother. Detectives questioned Jacob and Lee about the night they broke into the house, though both denied killing Simone.
George then called Lilly from the preserve, telling them how Jacob had come back to the house. He carefully worded his account to suggest Jacob had raped and killed his mother, while George watched from the closet. He left the phone off the hook, so Stillman and the other would trace him to the preserve. Lilly however, decided to head over to George's house, against orders, only to find George there waiting for her.
Holding her at gunpoint and taking her own weapon, he showed her "the woods" on the walls that had been his life growing up. Lilly had already deduced that Simone had faked her blindness and that George had been replicating her murder again and again. She asked why he made them run, however, as Simone hadn't ran.
Police surrounded the house, but George warned them to stay away or he would kill Lilly. He confronted her about her own past, forcing her to recount the childhood attack she had suffered, while walking outside alone at night to buy a drink for her mother. "Sold out," George said, smugly, "by the person who loved you most." It was then that Lilly figured out that George's mother had sold him out as well, that she had let Jacob rape him to save herself.
Losing control, George told her to shut up, but Lilly had finally learned the truth, she proceeds to strip away his god complex to point out that in the woods he's still that little boy, betrayed by his mother, "Like You!" he points out. He tossed her gun to her and walked to the corner ignoring her commands to surrender stating either she kill him or he kills her. George stated they were alike and that when he killed her, she would be alone, like him. Holding the gun on him, Lilly insisted she would never be like him. "Wanna bet?" George said, raising his gun. Lilly then shot him three times in the chest, killing him instantly.
George could never be brought to justice for his crimes, but would never harm another female. His body was buried quietly in Potter's Field shortly thereafter, with no one but the grave-digger present.
Though she continued working, Lilly would be shaken by the incident for some time afterwards. Months later, when questioning John Harding, she told him how she wished she had never gone up into the attic and stared down his gun, understanding for the first time, that she could die.
- George Marks is the most prolific serial killer in Cold Case.
- George shows several similarities to Billy Flynn, a serial killer who appeared in Criminal Minds. Both were prolific serial killers who had extremely similar back-stories (which involved an abusive and emotionally-disturbed mother who became their first victims after allowing a man to rape them), killed their later victims over a long period of time starting in the mid-1980s, claimed numerous victims (although George killed only eleven people while Billy was responsible for the murders of hundreds), had an M.O. that involved darkness in some way (Billy killed his victims in their houses during the nighttime, while George hunted his victims through local woods during the nighttime before finishing them off at dawn), were motivated by fear, killed at least one victim who survived their first attacks on them, and were particularly antagonistic towards one of the show's main characters (who would kill them after tense standoffs).
- Based off the real-life serial killer Robert Hansen. Hansen, an Iowa-born man, was known for his social awkwardness. He lived in Alaska where he would set up meetings with young women - often prostitutes, strippers, or exotic dancers - kidnap them, take them to his home where he would strip, shackle, and torture them before flying them to a rural part of the state. Once in that part of Alaska, Hansen would blindfold and handcuff his victims before hunting them down with his rifle. In exchange for the prosecution not seeking the death penalty, Hansen pleaded guilty to six counts of murder; he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
- "Mind Games" (mentioned)