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In Prisoners, Holly Jones and her husband were a religious couple who lost their son to cancer. This led to a loss of faith and in their thirst for revenge, they attempt to deny happiness to other families as well by kidnapping their children, and, based on the husband's confession to the priest, killing at least 16 of them.

They, however, do not kill Alex. Why?

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I remember Holly said something to Keller about that when she was holding him at gunpoint, but don't remember too well what it was. –  Napoleon Wilson Nov 15 '13 at 12:37
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Holly said that "adopting Alex helped [them cope with the loss of their son]. But [they] never got over it". From this I conclude that their first victim, Alex, was an attempt to replace their own dead son. But, since they never got over it (over their son's death), they lost their faith and went on killing children, as a revenge on God.

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+1 This holds water. IIRC, she mentioned this to Keller when she was still masquerading as an innocent aunt. So there is an element of doubt to her motive. –  coleopterist Nov 25 '13 at 8:54
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