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|Occupation|| U.S. Coast Guard member (former)|
Joseph James Thagard is a serial killer who murdered several anchor children so that their immigrant parents would have to leave the U.S.
Thagard served in the U.S. Coast Guard, but was dishonorably discharged because of his racist beliefs. He was unable to get a good-paying job afterwards, and had to settle with working for a company that shredded paperwork. He later started following Gordon Garrison, the host of the right-wing talk show Flashpoint, which particularly espoused anti-immigration rhetoric. Among other things, Garrison claimed that all of the jobs were going to illegal immigrants, and encouraged his followers to take action, which prompted Thagard to begin targeting anchor children. He found them after his workplace began shredding paperwork from an immigration assistance charity catering to illegal immigrants.
After two protests are held outside the SVU precinct, one for immigrants and the other against immigrants, Thagard goes to the office of Randall Carver, a pro-immigration attorney, and causes a scene by smashing a window and throwing his paperwork on the floor while accusing him of destroying America by defending immigrants. When Detective Fin arrives, he tackles and arrests Joe, but Carver refuses to press charges, which forces Fin to release Thagard. After going over hate mail, Fin and Munch discover Thagard's workplace, and therefore how Thagard knew about the victims.
When the police raid Thagard's house, they find that he is not there, but do discover the pictures of several anchor children, including crossed-out pictures of the victims. When Fin goes to the house of a potential target, he finds the father dead, the mother taped up, and Thagard attempting to take the child. Fin is able to save the child and bring Thagard to the precinct. Thagard tries to claim that he was drunk and went into the wrong house. When Fin confronts Thagard about the evidence against him, Thagard claims that immigrants ruined his life and that they are destroying the country. Carver then walks into the room and announces that he will be representing Thagard pro bono.
At trial, Carver claims that Thagard killed his victims because he was brainwashed by the anti-immigration propaganda espoused by Flashpoint. Thagard talks about his past and feigns guilt for the victims, but A.D.A. Cabot reveals the true reason behind his discharge from the Coast Guard, and also points out that if he believed he did the right thing, he would have called up Flashpoint to claim responsibility. When Gordon Garrison himself is called to the stand, his testimony provokes a massive brawl in the courtroom, which convinces the jury that Thagard was brainwashed. After being acquitted of three counts of second-degree murder, Thagard thanks Carver and informs him that he would continue killing. This prompts a shocked Carver to lure him into his office and shoot him to death. (SVU: "Anchor")
- 2009, New York City, New York:
- September, the Bronx: Magda Ibañez
- October 13, Manhattan: Ruby Brown
- October 14:
- Manhattan: Scotty Wu
- Brooklyn: The Al-Hazizes:
- The unnamed father (bludgeoned to death)
- The unnamed mother (held hostage)
- Tariq Al-Haziz (son; attempted)