All The Clues Pointing Towards The Serial Killer In The Alienist

Photo: Courtesy of TNT.
We all know the real fun of watching a show about serial killers is the wild speculation that comes with them. After all, Riverdale (allegedly) wrapped up the Black Hood mystery months ago and we’re still asking the big questions about his identity. The same twisty entertainment can be applied to TNT’s new serial killer drama The Alienist.
The series takes place in 1896 New York and follows alienist, or criminal psychologist, Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Brühl), who is investigating the grisly murder of a young boy whose mutilated body was abandoned on an in-the-works bridge. Laszlo enlists the help of longtime friend and illustrator John Moore (Luke Evans), along with NYPD secretary Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning), to get to the bottom of the truly gruesome case. A case, Laszlo is convinced, may connect to another vicious killing three years prior.
The details of both murders are so haunting, it’s likely you’ll be kept up wondering, “Who would do this?” Well, it’s likely the answer to that question is hiding in the many clues scattered throughout The Alienist. To figure out who the killer might be, and where his motives come from, we put together all the details that might point toward his identity. Keep reading to see all the evidence and who our heroes eventually figure out is the killer— the conclusions will surprise you.
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The Silver Smile

The third Alienist episode, "Silver Smile" reveals the suspect bizarrely sports a, well, silver smile. In subsequent installment "These Bloody Thoughts," it's explained such a smile would likely be caused by mercury salts, a treatment for syphilis, which also turn ones' teeth silver.

By the end of "Bloody Thoughts," the unnamed man we've seen glimpses of creeping around New York (Game of Thrones alum Josef Altin) smiles at a group of implied child sex workers. All of his teeth are silver.
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The Series Premiere Chase Scene

In premiere “The Boy On The Bridge,” the alienist finds a suspicious package, eventually revealed to be holding a human tongue, in his carriage and realizes the serial killer probably put the disturbing item there.

Laszlo frantically looks around and sees a white man of average build – with his coat jacket and hat suspiciously hiding all identifying features — staring at him from across the street. As Mindhunter, which is my go-to source for all serial killer armchair psychology, will tell you, some murderers love to watch their twisted plots unfold.

Of course, Laszlo gives chase and follows the plausible mass murderer up to the top floor of an abandoned building. When the alienist ends up in the room the killer dashed into, he finds it completely empty, with a human-sized hole in the very tall ceiling.

So, the killer is likely an average white man who possibly knows 1890s parkour.
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The Theme Of Heights

An in-development bridge is a really bizarre venue to leave a body. If you want people to find it, a park or even the middle of the street would be more than adequate. But, a bridge, like where the mutilated corpse of Giorgio Santorelli was placed, is both extremely theatrical and nearly a backwards form of veneration (remember, Laszlo says John’s drawing of the body made it look like “a saint in a Renaissance painting”).

This has proven to be a bit of a theme with the killer, who also likely murdered the Zweig twins three years prior to the Santorelli slaying. The twin bodies were then placed in a rooftop water tank, again on high and away from prying eyes.

And then there’s the fact the possible killer escapes Laszlow's capture by jumping up through a ceiling rather than losing him in the sewers or something like most criminals.

Forensic scientists the Isaacson twins (Douglas Smith and Matthew Shear) eventually realize the killer is using expensive climbing equipment like ropes and pitons.
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The Series-Starting Crime Scene Itself

Speaking of the Santorelli murder, let’s get into the very specific way the body of the young sex worker, who dressed as a girl for customers and went by “Gloria” in his brothel, was found.

“The boy’s throat had been cut to the bone, his right hand was severed, his chest and abdomen ripped open, and the innards were left by his feet… A kidney and a lung, I think,” John, one of the few people to see the body with his own eyes, says. “His genitalia had been removed.”

As the disturbingly long shot of the scene proves, each cut was purposeful, so the killer probably isn’t a sloppy, thoughtless mess.
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His Alleged History Of Victims

The body of the kidnapped Benjamin Zweig, who enjoyed dressing like his twin sister and is signaled to be a transgender child, was found in a chillingly similar manner to Giorgio. “The boy was cut from sternum to pubis, his innards displayed,” Laszlo recalls.

It’s worth noting Zweig’s sister Sophia, who chose to identify with the sex assigned to her at birth, was also kidnapped with her brother and murdered, but her body was in no way mutilated.

That is proof the killer has an obsession with young boys who break gender rules. But it’s unclear if this is happening due to jealousy, anger, or some other emotion.
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The “Bridge” Closer

In the final seconds of “Bridge,” we see yet another young boy who dresses as a girl, again for sex work, is likely stalked and subsequently murdered by the killer. This is more evidence he is fixated on male children who present as young women.

But, the voiceovers complicate the obvious malevolence of the murderer. When the killer comes upon his apparent next victim, instead of something terrifying, we hear the implied voice of the deadly mystery man ask in a kind, accent-free whisper, “What’s wrong child?”

The question has the distinct sound of a priest during confession.

Laszlo similarly suggests there are more depths to The Alienist’s supposedly cold-hearted serial killer as the psychologist muses, “What drives [him] is not an absence of emotion, no. [But], rather, a torrent of feeling. The kind that gives meaning and purpose.’
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The Creppy Lair

While police originally believed Giorgio’s eyes had been taken by scavengers, we find out in “Bridge” the boy’s missing body parts were actually kept as trophies by his murderer, who seemingly drops them in some kind of food preparation.

It’s suggested Benjamin Zwieg befell the same fate, as, during the second inspection of his body, the Isaacsons find evidence of knife lacerations around his eye sockets.

Again, this suggests the killer is deeply methodical.
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His Fingerprints

During our haunting glimpse into the killer’s lair, we find out he cut his own fingerprints off. So, our suspect has to spend his days with gloved hands, right? There’s no other way to avoid explaining such self-inflicted disfigurement, right?
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The Killer

While Willem Van Burgen seems to be the killer for much of The Alienist, our heroes eventually realize the man truly terrorizing New York city is a failed soldier, John Beecham. Beecham was relieved of his duty when he was found completely naked and aroused, repeatedly stabbing the body of a young boy, which is extremely in line with the behavior of the serial killer.

After lots of twists and turns and uncovered identities (Beecham is actually a disappeared farm boy named Japheth Dury), the Alienist crew figures out their suspect had a punishing mother and suffered a brutal rape by a male farmhand. That farmhand's name was George Beecham, suggesting Japheth took the last name of his abuser after murdering his own cruel parents. George, by the way, was found with his throat slashed and his eyeballs removed, the same way the killer maimed his more recent NYC victims.

Our heroes have found the culprit.

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