- "Trying to make the system secure, we make it more complex. But the more complex we make it, the more insecure we actually are."
- ―Pelant in The Crack in the Code
Christopher Pelant or The Hacktivist was a serial killer introduced in the season seven episode "The Crack in the Code".
Christopher Pelant was an American citizen who, according to Booth in The Corpse on the Canopy, was officially born in Denmark in 1986 and raised in the town of Pitt Meadows, Virginia. According to Sweets in The Past in the Present, his parents divorced when he was young and he was close to his father, though they rarely saw each other afterward. He later used his distinctive hacking skills to erase his true identity, making it appear as though he was not an American but actually an Egyptian citizen, Bassam Alfayat, who had lived in Egypt until the age of six. He did this in order to escape arrest for a crime he committed during his teens that 'Christopher Pelant' could be tied to. By making it appear as though he wasn't Pelant, he evaded arrest.
During high school, Pelant had a guidance counselor by the name of Carole Morrissey. He asked her to write him a letter of recommendation for Stanford but she refused. He hacked into her computer and wrote the recommendation himself. Pelant then killed her with a katana he "borrowed" from his grandfather, who obtained the weapon while serving in the Pacific theater during WWII. He buried her hoping he would never get caught. At the time of the murder, Pelant was rather obese, however, he later placed pictures on an online yearbook from his high school making it appear that he was slim, therefore distorting the proportions of the force of the fatal blow and the weight of the murder weapon. This distortion made it look like he was slim and using a heavier weapon, when in reality he was large and using a lighter weapon. He then began rapidly losing the large weight he had at the time to further corroborate his story.
Before Pelant became a serial killer, he was already a computer hacker who had a strong belief that the U.S. government was corrupt. He demonstrated his hacking skills twice by shutting down the Senate website in 2009 and hacking into the Pentagon security system to shut it down, endangering the lives of countless U.S. soldiers. He was eventually arrested, convicted of wire and computer fraud, and sentenced to house arrest. His personal calling card both times was leaving behind a question written in blood-like letters on the websites; on the Senate website he left the question "Where's the website?" and on the Pentagon's, he left behind "What are you defending?".
Pelant: I'm not a criminal. I'm a 'Hacktivist'.
His hatred was then directed towards the FBI for his arrest and conviction and resulted in him seeking revenge against them. He started by stealing the blood of five FBI agents and acquiring a bang stick (or as is suggested constructing one himself). He was then able to surreptitiously remove his ankle monitor and proceeded to kill a woman. He then placed her remains in various locations for the FBI to find, upon scanning the bones the Jeffersonian computers were infected with a worm that Pelant had intricately carved into their surface.
It is possible that Pelant discovered the truth about Glen Durant and his shadow government and covered his tracks to avoid getting detected or killed by Durant. These actions could have led to his first crimes; hacking into the Senate website and the Pentagon security system. He must have decided to lead Brennan and Booth to the Ghost killer so they can inevitably discover the conspiracy through the McNamara's background hoping that Durant or his agents would kill them if he failed to make Brennan see him in a new light and/or kill them.
Sweets mentioned that Gordon Wyatt wrote a book on the role of sexual sadism in female serial killers. Implying that Pelant may have reviewed Bones and Booth's Psychological Case Files from Dr. Wyatt to be even more thorough. He also may have read Dr. Wyatt's book and used its psychological information and his intelligence to find the serial killer he mentioned to Bones; The Ghost Killer.
Throughout The Bones series
In his first appearance, Pelant places the skull and spine of his victim in front of a statue of Abraham Lincoln and leaves the message "Where is the Rest of Me?." He then proceeds to leave the rest of the bones in a storage area where the FBI keeps information regarding its informants. After this, he reaches out to a reporter named Ezra Krane, who had previously covered his trial and gives him all the details of his crimes and the FBI's corruption. Later Pelant gets nervous and kills Krane in order to ensure the identity of his source remains a secret. Pelant then hacks various hospitals to have Krane's body cremated before an autopsy can be made. When brought in for interrogation, Pelant doesn't deny being responsible for the murders, but also points out that his ankle monitor gives him a solid alibi.Cam didn't conceal crucial evidence of samples of Sawyer's hair in Brennan's car. Eventually, Brennan's father convinces her that she shouldn't trust the system given Pelant's computer skills, thus making her go into hiding.
In the Season 8 opener, Bones is still on the run, still attempting to find a way to prove Pelant has framed her, while Pelant is currently teaching a night class in computer skills at a nearby college. She manages to uncover the bones of Pelant's former school counselor, whom he murdered in order to ensure his place at Stanford by forging her recommendation; Sweets is able to identify this as key passages of the recommendation later fit with Pelant's writing style rather than the guidance counselor's. It is revealed that Angela and Bones have also been communicating using flowers with various coded meanings. Cam tells Edison to send details of both the bones and the flowers to Booth via email, knowing it will draw Pelant out. Knowing of the flower's code Pelant waits at the next drop point for a flowered message and encounters Hodgins who he taunts into strangling him into unconsciousness. Hodgins reveals this fact to Sweets who realizes it uncovers the third aspect of Pelant's personality and gives this information to Angela, showing that it fits into Ethan's pyramid. Booth convinces Flynn (the agent who took over for Booth when Booth was taken off the case due to manipulation by Pelant) to arrest Pelant for hacking into the FBI email system just as Cam had hoped and he is detained. Meanwhile, Bones has snuck into the Jeffersonian and is using Cam and Edison's work to analyze the bones further; based on her observations of his gait, she determines that Pelant was in fact fat in high school and thus could have used a light weapon to deliver a heavy blow. The FBI discovers his grandfather's Japanese sword and it matches the killing blow to his high school counselor, he is finally arrested for at least one murder. Angela uses the explanation Sweets provided of Ethan's pyramid to find an encryption key that breaks some of Pelant's code and reveals how he superimposed Bones into security footage.
Just when things start to seem settled, Caroline reveals that the man they know as Pelant is in fact, according to DNA, fingerprints, and background records, Bassam Alfayat, an Egyptian diplomat who is being taken back to Egypt by their government, begging the question of which identity was real. As a final act, Pelant/Alfayat gives Bones a Marigold symbolizing pain and grief, and in return, Bones slaps him across the face. When Bones tells Booth what the flower means, Booth throws it into a nearby wastebasket and they both leave, only to have the camera zero in on the flower in the wastebasket, which is then retrieved by Agent Flynn.
Angela and Hodgins wake up with a skinned body above them. They figure out that it was Pelant who placed it there. They identify the victim as a private military contractor and track Pelant to his place of work. Pelant hacks into a security firm's firewalls and takes control of a drone and targets a school full of children in Afghanistan. At the same time, he hacks into Hodgins' bank accounts and starts draining all his money. He forces the team to make a choice between the school and the money and Hodgins' chooses the children while Booth and Flynn pursue Pelant. In pursuit of Pelant, Flynn is shot and injured by robotic machine guns while Booth opens fire on Pelant, grazing his face from behind, and causing severe damage to his right side. He drains all the money from Hodgins' account so now Hodgins is broke. He is last seen stitching up his face with supplies he took from a dead veterinarian.
Though not featured in this episode, after three months of trying to find him, Booth doesn't have any sort of leads on Pelant. Booth and Brennan are conflicted, because if Booth accepted Brennan's proposal then Pelant would kill five random people and send Booth to jail for the murders, and Brennan can't know it. The two become distant, but Brennan talks with an old friend of Booth and decides to have faith in Booth that he wouldn't have declined her proposal without a good reason. At the end of the episode, after the couple made up, the kitchen clock starts blinking the wrong time before going back to the right one, proving or at least implying that Pelant is spying on them.
- "You and I are destined to die together... Someday. I hope not today, but that's up to you."
- ―Pelant to Brennan
As Angela installs more anti-hacking firewalls in the Jeffersonian computers, the Jeffersonian staff, Booth, and Flynn use a donated body to stage a Pelant-style crime scene to try to flush Pelant out. They send Flynn to pose the skinned body as Prometheus in a painting. Although the plan does work, Pelant, who has bugged Flynn's car, catches onto them, kills Flynn, and uses his body for the crime scene instead. Pelant tries to woo Doctor Brennan, thinking that he would be able to win her over based on his analysis of Sweets' research, which 'confirmed' that Brennan can change her mind about people. In the end, however, Brennan refuses Pelant, who thought that Brennan would pick him instead. Though he has the intelligence, Brennan still wants him dead, even if it means her death. Booth calls Pelant's bluff, shooting him in the neck, "disconnecting the computer", and ultimately killing him, and then proposes to Brennan, telling her the truth behind his refusal. She stated that she knew that it was something like that and that he made the right choice.
In this episode, Pelant reveals to Brennan that there is another serial killer still at large. Pelant may or may not know them personally, but he has "a reason to believe it's a woman."The Ghost Killer, becoming rather obsessed with this new killer.
In the alternate reality, Pelant makes a brief cameo as a waiter to tell Brennan she has a phone call.two years ago, and Pelant himself is later seen in a video but Brennan turns it off deciding to leave Pelant in the past where he belongs.
Pelant had no consistent method in his crimes, though his murders were usually very complex and involved severely mutilating the victims, sometimes in order to implant messages into their remains. When he manipulated Anna Samuels into killing, her victims were shot with a 9mm pistol, first once in the neck to kill them and then ten more times in the body. He also based some details of Samuels' crimes on research papers written by Sweets.
He used messages written in blood to sign his work on the Senate website and the Pentagon security system as well as Inger Johannsen's murder investigation during The Crack in the Code. Ever since he was put under arrest for Ethan Sawyer's murder after the team proved Brennan's innocence, he started to leave flowers next to some of his later victims similar to how Brennan communicated with Angela between Seasons 7 and 8.
His use of Sweets' psychological research on everyone he faced could indicate that he is the Anti-Sweets like how Heather Taffet is the Anti-Brennan and how Jacob Broadsky is the Anti-Booth. Some of the crimes he commits not only depends on computers and other forms of technology, but also on human behavior, such as the behavior of the people he faced during his crime spree. He uses the information he accumulated from Sweets' files to manipulate people into doing exactly what he wants them to do in order to use the criminal justice system against them. However, he was also the Anti-Sweets in his inability to truly understand this insight, believing that Sweets' observations about how Brennan had changed over time meant that he could convince Brennan to return his displays of 'affection,' as he was incapable of recognizing that Brennan had fallen in love with Booth due to their shared dedication to finding justice and protecting innocent people in the process of arresting and/or killing murderers like him.
- June 2003: Carole Morrissey (snared, hung upside down and slashed to death and gutted with a katana)
- Inger Johannsen (killed with a bang stick, dismembered and her spine and skull removed)
- Ezra Krane (killed with a bang stick and hung from a flagpost)
- Ethan Sawyer (drugged him with tubocurarine, cut his arteries and left him to be eaten by wolves; framed Brennan for the murder)
- Xavier Freeman (tortured to the point of cardiac arrest with repeated needle punctures to the spine, then flayed and mutilated and posed like Vesalius)
- Special Agent Hayes Flynn (shot with security Gatling guns; survived, was later killed and posed like Prometheus and his liver was removed while he was still alive)
- The students of a girls' school in Afghanistan (threatened to kill with a drone strike; averted)
- An unnamed veterinarian (apparently stabbed; killed for access to his office and supplies)
- He is regarded as the most dangerous and recurring serial killer in the entire series.
- He had a grandfather that served in WWII who was befriended by Max Keenan in order to gain information. He brought over many Japanese weapons from his time in WWII, including the Japanese katana Pelant used on his first victim.
- The right side of his face was badly mutilated by a shot from Booth into Pelant's car's windshield, which Pelant had to sew up himself using tools from a veterinarian he killed.
- Booth shot Pelant in the neck, severing his spinal column. While going after Jacob Broadsky, Booth mentioned in The Killer in The Crosshairs while investigating the death of Walter Coolidge that severing the head from the spinal cord is a gold standard for snipers. They call it "Disconnecting the Computer." It was the same method that Booth used to kill Pelant with his handgun.
- The old computer Pelant owned in The Crack in the Code was an IBM 7501 Console Card Reader made in 1958. However, it was based on discrete transistors rather than old vacuum tubes which makes it questionable how there would be a vacuum tube missing from inside the computer. Although, Pelant may have possessed old vacuum tubes among his collection of obsolete electronics to build his bang stick.
- The computer virus/worm delivered via the bone etchings, which Pelant personally devised and carved, could be considered a form of Arbitrary Code Execution (aka ACE exploit), a real-world method of computer security exploitation. While it may not be feasible to use carvings on bones to produce an ACE exploit, the core concept of using seemingly random imputs to generate a series of code within a program thus making the program do something it normally shouldn't remain a valid real-world technique. (In this case, the imaging program which rendered the images of the scanned bone etchings gave Pelant remote access to the FBI computers.)
- Pelant has the highest known I.Q. of all of the villains to appear on the show,
- Due to his unparalleled hacker and computer skills and his appreciation of the fine arts (albeit for self-gratification) Pelant could be viewed as the Anti-Angela.
- Since Pelant is quite adept at reading human psychology in order to unhinge and manipulate his enemies, Pelant also functions as the Anti-Sweets. Although he can be equally stubborn when it comes to bringing his patients' issues to the light, Lance Sweets refuses to push their personal boundaries, whereas Pelant would go through extremes to bring out their personalities' darkest aspects.