What the Killer Sees: Raymond Dees


Killer: Raymond Dees (Joe Chrest)

Episode: “522666” (22 November 1996)

Writers: Glen Morgan & James Wong

Director: David Nutter

Quote: “What I do is not work, Frank. It's art. My palette is fire, glass and blood. It's a fleeting art, it lasts only a fraction of a second, but the effect is profound, permanent. And if you're lucky, you happen to look in the right direction at the right time... you might get to see my creation... I touch people in a deep, lasting way. A life-altering way. My art brings out the truth. People are either victors or victims. My explosion strips every hypocrisy, every pretension sheltered in the human heart and exposes the naked soul.” --Raymond Dees

Profile: One of the basic tenets of forensic psychology lies in the understanding of a person’s behaviour as a manifestation of their underlying needs and motives. The serial arsonist or bomber betrays a number of very specific psychological traits based upon several potential motives. In Raymond Dees’ case this is very much one of excitement gained through his “art”. Frank quickly finds evidence that Dees masturbated from a vantage point overlooking the scene of his first bombing, and he apparently does so again having discussed how he perceives the nature of his activities with Frank over the phone.

Power and control are two of the needs that often motivate serial bombers, and for this reason they nearly always live alone, partly out of an inherent mistrust of others. The FBI profile for serial arsonists goes further, suggesting a white male under thirty years of age, often dysfunctional at work and in his family background and on average more likely to be homosexual or bisexual. We do learn that Dees had a military background but, other than an indication that he lives alone, find little else out about his background or lifestyle that would either fit or contradict the other aspects of this profile (although I’m still not sure about that moustache).


Raymond Dees is also marked out by how he courts the police investigation and Frank Black in particular. He chooses his own moniker and uses it to identify himself to the police in a manner not wholly dissimilar to that employed by IRA bombers in telephone warnings given during their campaign on the British mainland.

There is also evidence in his exchanges with Frank that he is seeking control over the investigation, for which there is again precedent amongst arsonists and serial bombers. Attempts to leave false or misleading clues are not uncommon, and we see examples of this as Dees times his persistent calls to Frank with precision to always leave himself beyond detection and also when he sets off his second bomb fifteen minutes earlier than the deadline he communicated in his warning. With Dees this retention of power extends to engineering the manner and timing of his own demise, even when in fact he has placed no explosive device when he is directly threatening Frank.


There is a further facet of note to Raymond Dees, which in some respects marks an escalation in his activities as he learns more about his relationship with his own bombings. He finds that he gains more of a thrill from being present at the scene and participating in the aftermath of the explosion than from purely observing from a distance, even helping people in their escape and gaining credit for this from the media. If Dees’ obsession with power and control represents a “God complex” then this behaviour indicates more of a “hero complex”, receiving praise and attention for his superficially noble efforts, even in the face of a likely deep sense of mistrust towards his fellow man.


As with many of the killers we encounter in Millennium, ultimately Raymond Dees seems to portray a number of different characteristics from within the palette of known serial offender behavioural patterns, a complex composite that reflects the individualism of us all.

Kills: 18

Investigation: Examining the choice of target (an English pub) and discrepancies in the groups seeking to claim responsibility, the investigative team soon rules out militias and Islamic terrorists as potential perpetrators of the first bombing. The presence of semen and cigarette butts at a vantage point lead Frank to surmise than a single individual motivated by the anticipation of his crime is responsible.

Foretelling an obsession with monitoring the investigation, Frank is set up as a focal point to talk to Dees by being the only member of the team working the case to be allowed to use his mobile phone. This pays dividends as Dees soon makes contact with him, although he successfully evades attempts to track him down by triangulating the source of his phone’s signature in spite of Frank’s attempts to play along with his sense of sport.

The approach is successful in narrowing down a range of potential targets from the vicinity of Dees’ vehicle, but the next breakthrough in the case comes from Frank recognising his behavioural pattern from having placed himself at the scene of his next bombing and a need to sate his hero complex. His guilt is confirmed in the ensuing search of his home.

Dees appears to engineer his own “death by cop” as his own monitoring equipment helps the investigative team trace his location from his empty threat on Frank Black’s life, controlling events even to his last breath.

2 Responses to "What the Killer Sees: Raymond Dees"

Brian A. Dixon said... October 11, 2010 at 9:20 AM

This was a fine choice for a profile as Raymond Dees stands out, I think, as the first obvious attempt to offer some variety to Millennium's first season formula concerning antagonists. He's an arsonist and a bomber, not a standard serial killer, and all the more memorable because of this. Partly because of the role created for Dees by Morgan and Wong, "522666" remains a unique and memorable installment of the series--and a very strong episode overall.

Adam Chamberlain said... October 14, 2010 at 9:23 AM

Thanks, Dixon. Indeed, Raymond Dees stood out as a unique antagonist in the Millennium canon. Next time I'll be taking a look at a more classical serial killer, before offering something altogether more out there as part of our Hallowe'en week celebrations!

Post a Comment