|“||Just let me do my job!||”|
— Charles before being shot by the BAU
"But you will beg, whore. They all do."
When Charles' father died last year, he inherited the family's meat-packing plant and a substantial amount of money. In 2006, Charles took up serial killing for an unknown reason. He had a submissive accomplice, Steven Foster, whom he personally knew because Steven's family worked for his. Steven would pick up potential victims for Charles and bring them to him, to which he would then place them in the meat-packing plant, torture them by allowing them to run around the plant and fall into his traps, and then kill them. His murders went mostly unnoticed and none of his victims were reported missing as most were drug addicts, homeless people, runaways, prostitutes, etc. Charles later became enraged when he read a newspaper article announcing Detective Cal McGee's receiving an award for Charles's work since McGee was assigned to supervise the areas where Charles's victims disappeared in. As a result, he sent a letter to McGee, saying, "There are two types of people in the world, those that do work and those that take the credit, you should be ashamed."
After killing at least 64 victims, Charles has Steven bring him a prostitute named Maggie, whom he tortures like the rest of the victims. Maggie is nearly able to escape the warehouse, but fails at the last minute and is knocked unconscious by gas. Charles takes her to an operating room where he tries to kill her but is interrupted when Hotch, Prentiss, Morgan, and a SWAT team burst into the room, having deduced him as the unsub after apprehending Steven, who identified him. When he raises his butcher's knife, shouting "Just let me do my job!", he is shot and mortally wounded by Hotch, Prentiss, and Morgan. Maggie demands to see his face, which prompts Morgan to remove Charles's surgical mask, revealing his bloody visage. She then looks at Charles's face and says "I won" just before he slowly bleeds out from his wounds and dies.
"I assure you, I'm not without compassion. You're in the center of a 130,000-square-foot facility. You have until sunrise to find your way out of here. If you don't, your sentence will be carried out. You only have a few hours, Maggie. Go."
Charles targeted random homeless people, prostitutes, vagrants, and junkies. After being given his victims by Steven, who picked them up with a van using some simple ruse such as pretending to be a Social Services employee, Charles would torture them indirectly both mentally and physically by placing them inside the basement of his meat packing plant and giving them a few hours to find their way out, all the while watching them attempt to escape on a TV connected to the surveillance cameras inside the plant.
The dungeon would be filled with traps (such as crushed glass scattered across the floor and dead ends), gas, and a Doberman dog was used to keep the captives going. If they didn't make it out in time (and it appears no one did), Charles would sedate them by releasing gas using the plant's ventilation system, strap them to a stainless steel table, butcher them alive with an electric saw, all the while recording the murder, and then use the tape to torment future victims with. Charles kept the dismembered limbs (and presumably other body parts) in his "Kill Room" and the shoes of his victims, presumably as trophies, in a room near the meat plant's exit. When Charles killed his victims, he always wore goggles, a germ mask, rubber gloves, and a protective coverall.
"What did you do? Hmm. What is the legacy of a whore, Maggie? How 'bout AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, hepatitis, disease, and filth. What did you do? You... were... you."
The unsub is a "house cleaner", a mission-oriented killer who fixes perceived wrongs in the world. He has deeply rationalized his behavior and while he knows his killings are wrong, he believes he is doing the world a service by doing so. This type of killer devolves rapidly and is usually a loner since not many people could tolerate him. He leaves a long-lasting and negative impression on everyone he meets, and even if he has someone who is close to him, that person will not be an equal, but more of a servant of sorts. He would be very fastidious, tending towards obsessive-compulsive disorder, and would have an overwhelming sense of indignation towards the things he perceives as wrong, not even considering the reasons why someone might disagree. It is unlikely that he will have an actual job, based on the number of victims as well as the fact that it would prevent him from his murdering. The killings were most likely set off by the death of a family member or someone who had control over the unsub.
Elements of Charles's meat plant (such as gas emitting vents, random dead ends, a furnace presumably used for disposing of body parts, etc.) may have been partly inspired by serial killer H.H. Holmes's so-called "Murder Castle", a multistory facility that he constructed to torture and murder his victims in.
Charles is also similar to Gilles de Rais - Both were prolific serial killers that had accomplices who abducted and brought their victims to them, tortured and killed their victims by dismembering them (though this was only one of Rais's kill methods), and committed their killings after someone connected to them died (for Charles, it was his father; for Rais, it was Joan of Arc).
Charles also seems to have been inspired by the Maniac of Novosibirsk - Both were prolific "house-cleaner"-type serial killers with a similar victimology, and who also dismembered their victims.
- Charles Holcombe is the second of only twelve serial killers on the show who have killed at least a dozen victims, yet not be a prolific killer since their crimes did not occur over the coarse of at least three years. The others are:
- Pablo Vargas ("Machismo") - A serial rapist and abductor-turned-serial killer who killed at least 13 victims within a two-year span.
- Stanley Howard ("Scared to Death") - A serial killer who killed 17 victims within a two-year span.
- Jonny McHale ("True Night") - A serial-turned-spree killer, one-time mass murderer, one-time abductor, and vigilante who killed 14 victims within a 16-day span.
- Armando Salinas ("Catching Out") - A serial-turned-spree killer, robber, and one-time cop killer who killed 14 victims within a 32-day span.
- Eric Olson ("Zoe's Reprise") - A serial killer, copycat, and budding serial rapist-turned-spree killer who killed 12 victims in an almost two-month span.
- James Thomas ("Compromising Positions") - A serial-turned-spree killer and one-time mass murderer who killed 15 victims in at least two weeks.
- Trevor Mills ("A Thin Line") - A serial killer, family annihilator, and abductor-turned-spree killer and attempted assassin who killed 17 victims within an eight-day span.
- Larry Feretich ("Poison") - A poisoner, serial-turned-spree killer, and one-time mass murderer who killed 15 victims within a 29-day span.
- Jake Logan ("Killer App") - A serial killer, mass murderer, serial bomber, one-time cop killer, workplace shooter, and one-time abductor-turned-spree killer who killed at least 379 victims in an almost two-year span.
- Kevon Winters ("Miasma") - A "hose cleaner" and "angel of death"-type serial killer and poisoner-turned-arsonist who killed 13 victims within a 24-day span.
- Mark Henshaw ("All You Can Eat") - A poisoner, stalker, and serial killer-turned-mass murderer who killed 12 victims in a three-day span.
- Charles's M.O. has some similarities to that of the Jigsaw Killer from the Saw franchise, as they both place their victims in some kind of compound filled with elaborate traps and force them to undergo severe pain as a form of redemption.
- In the opening credits, Holcombe whistles "Joanna" from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Both Sweeney Todd and Charles kill to clean up the "vermin of the world", as Todd puts it, though Todd's main target is elsewhere.
- Charles' surname, Holcombe, is coincidentally the name of the small town in Kansas where Dick Hickock and Perry Smith killed the Clutter family. Whether this was a coincidence or an intentional reference is unknown.