Ahh, Criminal Minds season 1. The series was still fresh out of the oven and boasting famous Criminal Minds hater Mandy Patinkin as its star, but it was already dishing out some of the most harrowing cases of the week on TV.
Case in point, the episode “The Tribe.” We begin with the brutal and seemingly ritualistic slaying of a group of college students partying in an under-construction housing development on recently re-distributed Apache land in New Mexico. While Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) initially thinks the murders match Indigenous war rituals, a cop from the nearby reservation, John Blackwolf (Gregory Cruz), corrects the assumption and urges the agents to consider that the crimes were probably committed by someone trying to make them look like they were connected to the local Indigenous communities.
That turns out to be the case. The titular tribe of the episode is actually a cult led by a white guy named Jackson Cally (Chad Allen), who did some slapdash research on Indigenous rituals in an attempt to make the local tribes look like the perpetrators of the crime. His goal was to capitalize on the heightened tensions brought up by the housing development to start a race war between the Indigenous and white residents of the New Mexico community.
That plan bears a striking resemblance to the motivations of cult leader Charles Manson. The now infamous murders of actress Sharon Tate and her friends were part of an attempt by Manson to instigate a race war between white and Black Americans that he believed had been prophesied on the Beatles’ White Album, specifically the song “Helter Skelter.”