Albert J. Yates (or simply "A.J.") was a Character that appeared in Season Eight of DEXTER. A former patient of Dr. Evelyn Vogel, he worked as an all-around electronics technician specializing in cable, internet, and other appliances for Solray Communications. In his spare time, however, he was shown to be a very careful and paranoid individual with various security cameras situated inside of his house, to protect his "secret".
Behind the mask of a technician, he was a psychopath with a fixation in feet and killing women. He was also believed by Dexter and Evelyn Vogel to be The Brain Surgeon, a Serial Killer who had recently appeared in Miami, creating unusual crime scenes with bodies that had the back of their craniums incised and a portion of their brain scooped out. However, even Dexter notes that there are some oddities when comparing the two... though sides with the thought that Yates is TBS after investigating the latter's house and discovering the jars, brain surgery diagrams and files on all of Vogel's patient records on his computer. However, Yates was then confirmed not to be TBS in Episode 8.08 Are We There Yet?, because the real Brain Surgeon struck another victim in that episode.
Yates is a man appearing in his early 30's to mid 40's with short-black hair and dark brown eyes. A unique feature to Yates is that the back of his head has a large scar, where he received brain surgery in his youth as a way to "help" with his psychopathic tendencies. His hair is kept shaved short around the sides and the back of his head, while, on the top of his head, his hair is fairly longer and slightly spiked.
So far, he has only been shown wearing his work uniform which consists of a pair of brown khaki pants with a matching shirt as well as a black hat with his company's name on it. Interestingly, his outfit resembles that of Boyd Fowler, another psychopath involved with kidnapping women.
In a sense of his regular life, Yates was never thoroughly observed. He became a cable guy, likely due to his interest in electronics (as he has his entire house monitored by at least 8 security cameras) and used that as his cover along with his income. In addition, he cares for his sickly father who resides in a retirement home but his relationship with his dad is never elaborated on (whether or not he was abusive like his mother), though he was willing to risk his father's life in order to make an escape and save his own. Despite that act, he appeared generally concerned when he was notified (falsely by Dexter Morgan in disguise of hospital staff over the phone) of there being a complication with his father and he rushed to the hospital, moving in close to check on him when he arrived. Therefore the decision to use his father as an escape plan was an act of desperation, one he may have planned out (due to realizing hospital staff would rush in to save him) after pulling out his father's oxygen.
Behind all of this is a man troubled by growing up in a highly abusive household, where his mother viciously beat him and stalked him, trying to find him in her rage. He'd hide under his bed, terrified while curling up feeling it was his only safe place...sitting there with panic rising of the pain that awaited. According to Dr. Evelyn Vogel, she suspects that he suffered a lesion on his brain due to her abuse which resulted in him having the tendency for highly violent behavior. As he grew, he developed into a psychopath that ultimately targeted women whom he captured and kept in captivity for days. He had an unusual fixation with feet, breaking each individual toe on the right foot while leaving the left foot untouched. Vogel believed that he targeted women due to his anger for his mother, seeking an obscure connection that he never experienced with her. After their passing, he would bury their bodies in his backyard neatly with all of their possessions out of a form of respect (minus the right shoe, which he kept on display in his closet).
He has a strong dislike for his own birthname "Albert", which his mother used during his childhood while abusing him. This weakness could be exploited, following by physical abuse by an older woman (Vogel herself, who was held captive by A.J.) that had him revert to a terrified state. Despite being physically hit by Vogel several times, he did not harm her but instead had his emotional walls damaged...taking some time to think to himself before sitting on the couch with her to talk about his issues. This fear exhibited itself again when Dexter Morgan arrived at his house, where he chose to hide under the bed just like in his youth...unfortunately, he did not plan out the scenario very well. He intended to slash the back of Debra Morgan's leg, severing an artery but was ultimately killed in the very spot he felt safest (when a spear came through the bed piercing his body).
Yates appears to be a very cautious individual as he has his entire household wired with security cameras and has a set of monitors hidden away in his lair. He also has a habit of being a very neat individual, with much of his house kept in order and has an issue with people "touching his things". He did appear intelligent, as he was never caught in the kidnappings he committed and was able to keep women in captivity for weeks at a time in his house (which was located in a suburb, not secluded).
As a final note, he's said to have highly violent tendencies. They were not shown to much extent in his time on the series, as he was relatively controlled with Vogel but his past speaks a very different story. It's likely that the tendencies vanished when the lesion was removed from his brain, though during one of his talks with Vogel he's shown to be frantic and yells at her several times (though never strikes).
Yates grew up in an abusive household, specifically with his own mother. She would often beat him, resulting in him hiding underneath his bed to keep away from her, though she would pace just at his foot realizing that he was there to frighten him. This lifestyle ultimately had an effect on him...resulting in his violent behavior (leading into him becoming a psychopath). At the age of 12, he attacked a classmate with a chair, and at age 15 he was institutionalized. Dr. Evelyn Vogel worked with the boy, trying to channel his violent tendencies but was beyond her help and he was eventually transferred to another hospital. They conducted an X-ray of his brain, identifying a lesion in his brain that Vogel suspected contributed to his violent behavior, and suggested a surgery to remove it. The hospital went through with it, unknown to Vogel herself, and he has had the scar since his youth.
A couple murders arise in Miami, Florida featuring a unique trait - each of the victims had their skulls sawed into from behind and a portion of their brain removed. These murders dub the killer The Brain Surgeon (courtesy of Joey Quinn) and Dr. Evelyn Vogel approaches Dexter Morgan seeking his help: As she believes she's in danger from this very same killer. The brain portions were placed in jars and left as "presents" for Vogel on her doorstep, leading her to believe them as a threat to her and that the killer was a former patient of hers. After enlisting Dexter, they cross off various patients from the list (including a cannibal by the name of Ron Galuzzo) and arrive at "Chapter 7" (in reference to her novelized account of psychopaths, through her own records), A.J. Yates.
Dexter investigates Yates, locating him outside of a home he was installing the cable on for his job at Solray Communications. While reading through his history, a particular trait catches Dexter's eye - a unique scar located on the back of Yates's head that closely resembles that of the victims to The Brain Surgeon. Dexter later questions Vogel on the instance, learning that she suggested in his youth that a hospital do a surgery on him to remove a lesion on his brain (that she suspected created his violent tendencies) and the two begin to suspect the surgery as motivation for him potentially targeting Vogel.
He later arrives at Yates' house, not seeing his vehicle in and assumes he's at work. He heads inside, investigating each room before reaching the bedroom and discovering an odd shrine dedicated to 6 right female shoes. Unknown to Dexter, there's a security camera located behind these shoes (and at least 7 others all throughout the house) where Yates has been watching him since he entered. Yates calmly turns around in his chair, stands up and grabs a hand-taser before exiting his lair through a secret entrance in the kitchen. He stalks towards Dexter but stops when he hears Dexter call someone and hears his former psychiatrists' voice on the other end. After Dexter finishes his conversation with Vogel, Yates returns to his lair and says to himself that "Vogel's found herself a hero" before sitting back at the monitors watching Dexter. A woman is shown chained to the wall behind him, alive.
Dexter finds DNA on the shoes, realizing they belong to various missing women and confirms that Yates meets the Code of Harry. He heads to his house, where he intends to stalk and capture Yates but finds no one there. He does however discover the entrance to the lair and makes his way down into it, locating the monitoring equipment (realizing Yates knew he was there the entire time) and then discovers manuals as well as jars and equipment on brain surgery. In his mind, Dexter affirms that Yates is in fact the Brain Surgeon. Before he can leave, he hears a noise in one of the toolboxes and opens it to discover Yates' most recent attempted victim Janet Thorton (whom was previously chained to a wall). She's been stabbed, with pressure provided on the wound due to her enclosed space and Dexter ties her up to help keep that pressure so he can save her life. He later returns with Vogel, the two of them agreeing that he's The Brain Surgeon before they have a falling out and Dexter decides after he deals with Yates, Vogel will be out of his life (he discovers a computer with written files on himself).
He arranges a way to trick Yates into appearing before him, thus using his sickly father (whom he learned about during his time in Yates' house). Dexter calls Yates, faking to be a hospital attendant saying his father's heart is failing and he should hurry in. Yates immediately arrives at the hospital, rushing to his father's side saying he's there for him before Dexter closes the door behind them and announces himself. After a short exchange, Yates pulls a surprise move by removing the oxygen tube on his father and using the immediate alarm as a distraction against Dexter, as he escapes through window while hospital staff rush to the room. Dexter quickly hides behind the door and slips out during the commotion, but learns that Yates is capable of anything.
A little while later, while Dexter continues to search for Yates, Vogel can be seen in her house listening to a song while reading through her mail. Suddenly, a chair is thrown through her window and Yates crashes in, tackling her to the ground threatening to kill her if she tries to escape. He kidnaps her and brings her to one of the vacant houses for his work, where he questions her on who the guy was and why he was going through his house. Vogel doesn't thoroughly explain herself, feeling that Yates is TBS (The Brain Surgeon) but states that she was afraid for her life and feels that the surgery he had as a child was the reason for him being angry with her. He laughs that off, mocking the scar before moving to the other side of the room stressing on her even bothering him (which is odd, considering she believed him to be stalking her). The two converse some more before he puts a bag over her head again.
Meanwhile, an investigation goes underway for Yates after his surviving victim Janet Thorton gives up a positive ID on him. They arrive at his house, where the bodies of 3 women are unearthed, with their graves marked by rose bushes. The remaining bushes indicate that there could be at least three more victims, while Dexter learns what he can from Miami Metro Homicide's investigation. His sister Debra Morgan arrives, after she discovers Vogel's house ransacked and her missing. The two begin searching all possible locations Yates could have taken Vogel, figuring it to be any possibility of vacant houses he's assigned to.
As their search continues, things intensify between Yates and Vogel. They converse some about his past, with Vogel analyzing him and determining his actions are based on his abusive mother during his childhood. Yates disapproves of talking about her but does begin letting loose some of what she did to him, while Vogel continues to coach him in hopes of winning him over. It's not long before he becomes frustrated and instead tells her to shut up, moving down to her foot ready to break each of her toes slowly (as per his ritual). Vogel, figuring the only way to control him at this point would be to take drastic measures, smacks him across the face once. Noticing how he stopped and seemed to be effected emotionally by the attack, she strikes once more...and attempts a third time before he stops her. After forcing her to sit, he moves into the kitchen to clean up the wound that he sustained (a cut lip from when she hit him) and Vogel quickly reaches for a cellphone to call Dexter. She is able to make the call but has to leave the phone face down before Yates returns, thus allowing them to listen to their conversation (and hopefully provide Dexter a way to pinpoint their location).
Dexter and Debra listen in on the call, with her using her current boss Jacob Elway to trace the call remotely. After determining the address, the two begin driving to the location. In the meantime, Yates can be seen sitting on the couch claiming that he can't be helped, but she tries to reassure him that she's there to aide him. She talks to him, breaking down his defenses as he seems in tune with her understanding words...until he realizes that a phone is on in the distance and he juts away from her, finding out that it was Dexter she called. Dexter and Deb then rush to the house, busting open the door to find no one in the living room.
They continue to search the house, finding bloody rags in the kitchen (which Yates used to clean his injury) and hear a noise upstairs. Upon arriving in the master bedroom, they immediately check the closet where Vogel is found gagged and her wrists tied by duct tape. She isn't certain where Yates went, but Dexter notices a blood stain next to the bed, remembering that during the conversation Yates had with Vogel she mentioned how he was forced to hide under the bed as a child from his mother. Dexter looks around for a weapon, casually playing off that they "need to look for Yates"...and sneaks to the window where he locates a long-curtain hanger shaped like a spear. Yates, who is under the bed, has a knife ready while Deb slowly walks backwards towards it. Just before he can slash at Debra, Dexter jumps on the bed and thrusts the pole straight down, impaling A.J. who dies within seconds.
Under a unique set of circumstances, both Debra and Vogel are present on the "Slice of Life" as Dexter dumps Yates into the ocean. In tune with more recent victims, the body is not cut up and wrapped entirely in black plastic.
The Morgans and Vogel continue their lives feeling that The Brain Surgeon is finally gone from their lives with the death of Yates, however unfortunately for them and Dexter's recent protege Zach Hamilton, the real Brain Surgeon makes his return in Episode 808: Are We There Yet?, after killing Zach and leaving his body in Dexter's apartment. This suggests that the real TBS set Yates up (by leaving the instructional manuals, jars and patient files in his house) as a way to mislead both Dexter and Vogel, after he had already thrown off the police by framing Lyle Sussman.
- Kendell James
- Three unnamed women
- Kathleen Pickett
- Isabella Scannone
- There are some similarities between Yates and another psychopath named Boyd Fowler, appearing in Season Five. The characters wear very similar uniforms and have been seen only wearing this outfit in their appearances, along with the circumstances involved with their psychosis (kidnapping women). While Boyd kept trophies of women's hair, Yates appears to keep their shoes.
- Aaron McCusker, who portrays A.J. Yates in Dexter, has previously co-starred in the UK version of Shameless.