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Little is known about Nichols, including why he started murdering prostitutes alongside his partner Sam Russell. However, what is known about him is that he became a hacker, which is how he met Russell, also a hacker, with whom they were partners in hacking money and infrastructure; Nichols acted as the silent partner. Also, considering the high-end style of his house and the fact that he seemed perfectly capable to buy an address with a large sum of money, he may also have access to a fortune (likely acquired through his hacking attacks). Together, they started killing in 2004. When Russell was arrested by the BAU as a suspect for the killings, he convinced him to take the fall in exchange for supplying him with drugs and prayer beads with hair from his victims. When Russell agreed to the deal, Nichols stopped killing, but continued to send Russell strands of hair from his victims in order to reassure him that their deal was still in place. Sometime prior to "The Black Queen", he joined an activist organization of hackers called Star Chamber and came to hold a hatred of Shane Wyeth, its leader, when the latter repeatedly kept using the money he acquired for the organization's cyber-activities. He and the rest of Star Chamber eventually investigated Russell's case and annotated the original case file with their own research. They then hacked the U.S. Department of Justice's website in 2014 and voiced its support of Russell's innocence, stating that the victims "died in vein[1]". This prompted Nichols to start killing again, in order to ensure that Russell would stay alive.

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