- "My dear chap, I know so much more than you or Red John could ever imagine."
- ―Bret Stiles to Patrick Jane
Bret Stiles was the leader of the Visualize Self-Realization Center church and apparently a person close to Red John. He was one of the seven final people on Jane's List of Suspects to be Red John and the fourth to be eliminated just before being killed by Red John due to an explosion at Jane's house.
Much like Jane, Stiles is charismatic, smooth, and highly intelligent and has used all three qualities to deflect investigations by authorities into his operation of Visualize on several occasions. He has hinted to Patrick Jane that he has inside knowledge about Red John, suggesting that someone he knows or perhaps he himself might be one of Red John's accomplices or even Red John himself (though Patrick himself has said that Stiles "wouldn't hurt a fly"). However, his apparent connection or friendship with Red John didn't stop RJ from murdering him by a bomb blast at Jane's house during the events of Fire and Brimstone.
He was accused in three murders, of which he was innocent, but is involved in other crimes and murders that the FBI has never been able to accuse him of.
During one meeting, Bret gave Patrick the address where Kristina Frye was being held by Red John. He said he knows a lot about Red John. Kristina was found alive, but catatonic. At the end of the episode, Patrick is told that Stiles has gone to Jakarta, Indonesia to open another Visualize center and that his representatives don't know when he will be back. Stiles later returns in Season 4 episode "His Thoughts Were Red Thoughts" charged with murdering a critic of his cult. Despite apparent evidence implicating Stiles as the killer, Jane pursues a course which in the end proves him to be innocent. Stiles concludes and Jane admits to him at the end of the episode that Jane assisted Stiles so that Stiles would owe him a future favor.
In the Season 5 episode "Red Sails In The Sunset", Patrick calls this favour in and asks Bret to help him free Lorelei Martins from a federal prison where she is held captive by the FBI. Although Bret is first reluctant to help, he finally agrees to Patrick's plan. It is not seen on screen what Bret does for Patrick exactly, but it is very likely that it was he who orchestrated Lorelei's escape from the prison in a transporter, since Patrick was seen to be unable to get on the prison's premises in the previous episode "If It Bleeds, It Leads".
In Fire and Brimstone, he is hiding in the Venezuela embassy because the FBI wants to arrest him. However, he participates in the meeting of the suspects RJ at Jane's house, and is involved in an explosion. In the same episode, he affirms that he has a terminal illness, apparently cancer, and his time is limited and precious.
In The Great Red Dragon, Stiles is said to be dead.
Crimes committed by Stiles or on his order or attributed to him by police and FBI
- tax and fiscal offenses
- brainwashing of followers
- possible abetment or friendship with Red John
- assaults at journalists
- The Harrington family (attempted to blow up with a bomb through Elisabeth Stanfield)
- Sadie Harrington
- Ella Harrington
- Ashley Harrington
- Alexander Harrington
- Timothy Farragut (Visualize' s first guru; killed in a staged car crash caused by alcohol)
- Elliot Elswit (Sheriff investigating Farragut's death; shot once in the head and staged to look like a suicide)
- Julius Coles (Stiles' personal attorney; shot three times by David Herren)
- Julia Howard (killed by Lorelei Martins who was broken out of prison as a favor to Patrick Jane)
- Stiles claims to have been a friend of Ronald Reagan.