|“||Welcome home, Kimberly.||”|
— Merza to his daughter
Merza worked as a hitman for the Chaldean Mafia, an Assyrian ethnic gang with a criminal network spanning from Detroit, Michigan to San Diego, California. At some point during his career, he acquired a shipping container that he converted into a hideout that he could use to torture and kill his victims, which he hid in the remote wilderness outside Detroit, where it went undiscovered. In his personal life, he cultivated a relationship with a woman named Cynthia Hendricks. On May 6, 1994, Cynthia gave birth to a daughter, who they named Kimberly, in their home in Lafayette, Indiana in the presence of Merza's sister, Janel Merza.
In 1996, Cynthia was planning on leaving Merza and likely intended on telling the authorities about his activities. To stop her, Merza shot her in the back of the head and buried her body near his hideout. Believing he could never raise Kimberly on his own without Cynthia, Merza gave her up so Janel could raise her and Kimberly grew up believing that Janel and her new husband, Conrad Desmond, were her biological parents. In 2006, Merza was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for voluntary manslaughter. In 2011, while he was incarcerated, the Chaldean Mafia was dealt a serious blow following Operation: Shadowbox, a joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and police in El Cajon, California, effectively shattering their operations.
In late 2016, a year prior to Blue Angel, Merza was granted parole from the Sidney Falls Correctional Facility after serving ten years of his sentence. With the Mafia in shambles, he sought to reconnect with the one part of his life he felt had any meaning: Kimberly. However, when he located her, he was horrified to learn that Kimberly was having numerous relationships with several men she met online. This caused Merza to start abducting and killing men who spent time with Kimberly, brutally murdering Darrel Forester in late September. Planning on revealing himself to Kimberly after killing all of her companions, Merza also moved into his old residence that was legally owned by the Mafia that was confiscated after Operation: Shadowbox near Kimberly's house.
Merza is first seen driving towards his hideout on an isolated road. Using a pair of bolt cutters, he breaks the lock on the container and goes inside. He looks around, examining his tools of torture before returning to his car, having abducted another man who had a relationship with Kimberly, Curtis Wyler. Merza kills him and disposes of his body, which is soon discovered by police, leading them to request the assistance of the BAU. Meanwhile, back at his hideout, Merza rewatches the recording of Curtis' torture, just before he emasculates him. After sending the recordings of both murders to the victims' homes, Merza abducts another victim, Phillip Sullivan, and restrains him in the chair in his torture shack. He plays the voice recording of himself on a radio before starting to cut Phillip with a knife. Afterwards, he disposes of his body on the east side of Detroit, his old stomping grounds from his time with the Mafia. That night, Merza drives back to the wilderness, but sees the BAU approaching from a distance after narrowing down the location of the shipping container. He quickly douses the equipment with gasoline and ignites it before making his escape. After the fire is extinguished, Reid and Alvez discover Cynthia's body.
Forced to accelerate his plans, Merza abducts Janel from her home. She fights him, leading to a struggle throughout the house before being overpowered by him, suffering a black eye in the process. Merza makes another getaway with Janel in tow before Lewis, Rossi, and Simmons arrive. Now setting his sights on Kimberly, Merza breaks into her house and murders the police officer assigned to protect her before abducting her. Before she was grabbed by him, Kimberly manages to call 911 and Merza smashes her phone beneath his foot. She regains consciousness back in Merza's old home and sees Janel sitting beside her. When she asks where they are, Merza appears and tells her that it used to be her room before saying "Welcome home". As Kimberly begs for them to be released, Merza calmly takes a can of food from a backpack. When Janel states that Kimberly is afraid, Merza briefly loses his temper, referring to her by name and revealing to Kimberly that they know each other. Merza regains his composure and apologizes for leaving Janel to bear his burden. He recollects the night that he told a two-year-old Kimberly that her mother "was never coming back to" him as Janel begs him not to tell her. He does so anyway and reveals to Kimberly that she was raised by her aunt. Janel tells Merza to shut up before starting to break into tears. He then says that Janel did the best she could and he forgives her for Kimberly being "a whore", citing an angry response from the latter. He responds that he is her father and it is his responsibility to "fix everything". With disdain in his voice, Merza states that after he has killed all of the men who "took advantage of" Kimberly, the three can start over as the family they should have been.
In disbelief, Kimberly asks Janel if it is true. Janel sadly apologizes and asks for forgiveness before standing to talk to Merza. As she does, Kimberly tries to escape, but is grabbed by Merza before she can leave the room. He holds her against the wall, telling her that he loves her and will do whatever he needs to do in order to protect her, even from herself. While he is distracted, Janel picks up a knife and stabs him in the shoulder from behind. This allows Kimberly to escape while Merza knocks Janel to the floor and pulls the knife out of his back. Before he can kill Janel, Prentiss and Simmons arrive. Merza breaks a window in the back of the house and jumps out to escape with Simmons in pursuit. Simmons chases him to the alley where his car is parked. When Simmons turns his attention to the vehicle, Merza ambushes him from above, knocking him to the ground and tries to stab him. They struggle over the knife. Merza uses all of his strength to try and kill him, but is overpowered and disarmed. Merza is then arrested by Simmons and is last seen being placed into a police car.
"You're gonna die here tonight. It's gonna take a lot of time. And it will be incredibly... painful. But before I get too distracted, you need to know there's a purpose to everything in this life. Fact is... this is mine!"
No specific details were given about Merza's M.O. during his time as a hitman. However, it can be assumed that he would abduct and torture his victims prior to killing them. When he killed Cynthia, he shot her once in the back of the head and buried her body behind his torture shack.
Following his release from prison, Merza shifted his victimology specifically to men who had a relationship with Kimberly, sexual or otherwise, seeking to take revenge on "the terrible men who took advantage" of her. After stalking them for some time, he would abduct and transport them to a shipping container he had converted into a hideout from his days as a hitman. There, he would brutally torture them using various methods. These methods included pulling out teeth using a pair of pliers, placing their heads in branks and cutting their backs with a knife, all the while recording the torture and posing them in degrading positions. Before he started torturing them, Merza would also play a recording of himself warning his victims of their deaths will "take a lot of time". After torturing them, he would emasculate them, or completely remove their sex organs, using a power tool of some kind, most likely a saw. He would then slowly watch as they bled out from the injury, recording them right up to their deaths. Afterwards, he would dispose of the bodies in abandoned warehouses in downtown Detroit, leaving them hanging from meat hooks, except in the case of Phillip Sullivan, whose body was left in the garage of an abandoned structure on the east side of the city. Sometime after dumping the bodies, he would send cassettes of the tortures to the victim's homes to inflict additional psychological pain on others. By using an outdated form of media, Merza protected himself from being digitally traced.
When he abducted Janel and then Kimberly, Merza only used whatever force was necessary to subdue the women non-lethally, though Janel did put up stiff resistance. When he killed the police officer assigned to protect Kimberly, he likely stabbed him repeatedly before abducting her. After Janel stabbed him, he assaulted her again, removed the knife from his back and tried to kill her, but was interrupted by the arrival of the BAU. When he tried to kill Simmons, Merza assaulted him from behind and tried to stab him with the same knife.
While no official profile of Merza was given by the BAU, they did deduce that, based on the brutality and the public display of his crimes, the unsub most likely committed similar crimes in the past. At the time, he was likely operating as a member of an organized crime collective like the Chaldean Mafia. However, the extreme expression of sexual brutality seems to go far beyond the punishment inflicted by the enforcer of a narcotics gang.
On the surface, the crimes seem like pure sexual sadism, however, in this case, the unsub not only inflicted physical pain on his victims, but also intended to inflict additional psychological pain on others by sending them tapes of the murders. His chosen form of media, microcassettes, could suggest some degree of technical expertise or a complete lack thereof. It is, however, an effective forensic countermeasure as it avoids the technical markings inherent to digital media.
Later, the BAU remarked that it made more sense for a jealous ex-lover obsessed with Kimberly would be responsible. The unsub is confident from experience, which would take time and practice. He is a born sadist, perfect to act as gang muscle, and following Operation: Shadowbox, the unsub probably flew under the radar because he was incarcerated somewhere, just not for his most brutal crimes. After he was identified by the BAU and had abducted Janel and Kimberly, they profiled that he doesn't want to kill them since his violence is motivated by a desire to protect his biological daughter. He will feel compelled to tell Kimberly who he really is and what he has done for her and when she rejects him, he will most likely kill her.
- July 23, 1996: Cynthia Hendricks (Kimberly's mother; shot once in the head; her body was found in 2017)
- Killed numerous unnamed victims during his time as a hitman
- September 28-29: Darrel Forester
- October 11-12: Curtis Wyler
- October 17: Phillip Sullivan
- October 17-18:
- Janel Desmond (his sister; assaulted twice, abducted and attempted to kill; was rescued)
- The attack at Kimberly's home:
- An unnamed police officer protecting Kimberly (apparantly stabbed repeatedly)
- Kimberly Desmond (his daughter; previously stalked for an unspecified amount of time; abducted and briefly held captive; likely intended to kill; she escaped)
- Matthew Simmons (attempted; assaulted and tried to stab him)
- Merza is based on a few other unsubs on the show:
- Lee Mullens, a.k.a. "The Butcher", a prolific serial who appeared in Season Six. Both were sexual sadists who would abduct their victims and take them to locations where they would be tortured, had sexual components to their crimes (Merza fatally emasculated his victims; Lee sodomized his victims as a way of torturing them), killed their wives when they discovered their crimes, psychologically tortured people connected to their victims, and went dormant (albeit for different reasons) before committing another series of murders.
- Giuseppe Montolo, a serial killer who appeared in Season Eleven. Both were prolific hitmen who were part of criminal organizations, killed three men out of revenge, and attempted to kill a member of the BAU, only to be subdued and arrested by said member.
- William Taylor, a budding serial killer who also appeared in Season Eleven. Both were killers who were motivated to commit their murders because of their daughters in some way (Merza's daughter has relationships with several of the men her father killed; William's daughter was abducted and killed), abducted their victims and brutally tortured them, killed a member of law enforcement.
- Aspects of Gabriel's M.O. are similar to many previous criminals who have appeared on the show:
- Merza is not the first unsub the BAU hunted who possessed a tolerance to severe pain: when Janel stabbed him in the back, he merely pulled the knife out. Later on, he didn't do anything to tend to his wound, which did not impede his ability to attack Matthew Simmons in any way.
- ↑ Based on Captain Adrian Scott's comments that the officer was "butchered"