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You all pretend to care, but you just want to save your own skin.
Covey

Jonathan "Johnny" Ray Covey, dubbed "The Nanny Killer" by the media, was a serial killer, rapist, abductor, and stalker who appeared in Season Eight of Criminal Minds.

Background

Johnny was born on April 15, 1973, likely in Los Angeles. On May 13, 1980, when he was seven years old, his younger sister Amanda accidentally drowned while bathing in a bathtub while their nanny, Griselda Vasquez, was nonchalantly smoking a cigarette nearby. Johnny blamed the inattentive and abusive Griselda for her death, and although a full investigation was conducted, Griselda was never charged and Amanda's death was ruled an accident. Johnny grew up and adopted a rottweiler named Roscoe, never leaving his house even after his parents both died of heart attacks. He presumably began plotting a revenge scheme against Griselda at this time. However, when Griselda died of breast cancer on February 9, 2007, Johnny snapped due to being deprived of his revenge before he could exact it.

As a result, starting on the following year, he began annually stalking and abducting nannies and the children they watched, trying to make the nannies confess to not caring about the children so that he could project Griselda onto them. He would then kill them and dump the bodies on the anniversary of his sister's death. As for the children, they would be released during the first 24 hours of their abduction. On May 9, 2010, he abducted his third set of victims, Tara Rios and a boy named Jake Perez, but he also abducted a nearby woman vacationing from Dallas, Texas, named Allison Astor, presumably because she saw Tara's abduction and tried to intervene[1]. Two days later, Tara escaped, possibly because Johnny couldn't keep an eye on both victims at once. Deprived of his intended victim, Johnny killed Allison and buried her in a different location.

Nanny Dearest

"Shut up. Don't pretend that you care."

After claiming the lives of two more victims in 2011 and 2012, Johnny sets his sights on Gina Mendes and the child she is watching, Phoebe Payton, both of whom greatly remind him of Griselda and Amanda, respectively. As a result, he abducts the both of them ahead of schedule. Prior to the abductions, the BAU (who are already familiar with the case) is called in to investigate as part of local apprehension of another impending murder by the so-called "Nanny Killer", as the media dubbed him. Johnny is later seen filling up a bathtub with scalding water and then holding Phoebe dangerously high over the water, likely acting out a delusion in which he rescues Amanda from drowning in the bathtub. When the BAU deduce that the unsub had seen something special in Gina and Phoebe, they hold a live press conference, where they release their profile of Johnny before allowing Melody and her husband Shane to speak. The two of them appeal to Johnny and Melody begs him to release Phoebe and Gina, but Johnny, watching his television, shuts it off midway into the conference, unaffected by their pleas.

Eventually, the BAU learn about Allison and Johnny's dog from Tara, who had overcome her trauma after seeing the press conference. Meanwhile, Johnny allows Gina to alleviate Phoebe of her asthma and calm her down by singing a lullaby before forcefully taking the baby away from her. Later, the BAU learn Johnny's identity, and Garcia finds Johnny's address. JJ and Morgan race to the house and enter, just as Johnny is about to rape Gina. Johnny holds Gina at gunpoint and Roscoe rushes Morgan, forcing the agent to incapacitate the dog by shutting the door on its head. Morgan is unsuccessful in talking Johnny down, and he is forced to close the door when Roscoe withdraws its head. Johnny then flees the house and is pursued by JJ; he fires several shots at her while taking cover behind Morgan and JJ's SUV. When he runs out onto the street and tries to take another shot at JJ, she fires first, shooting two rounds, one of which strikes him in the forehead and kills him instantly.

Modus Operandi

"Can you take it?"

Johnny targeted nannies of various ages and races as surrogates for Griselda, along with a child they watched, abducting them from parks, putting them in his car, and tying the nannies up by their wrists and ankles with zip-ties. He would abduct them no more than four days before killing the nannies, except for Gina Mendes. His methods of luring the nanny in varied. Sometimes, in the case of Gina Mendes and presumably some of the previous victims, he would use a recording of a baby crying to lure them in and then blitz-attack them, threatening them into compliance with a handgun and/or threats that he will kill the children. At other times (judging from Tara Rios's flashback), he would merely approach them, having Roscoe with him during the abductions to lend further authenticity to his cover, and also further intimidation for the nannies.

Once he brought the victims to his house, he would tie the nannies to his bed with zip-ties, gag them, and torture them by placing lit cigarettes on their bodies (as a reference to Griselda's chain smoking). Johnny would also rape them and allow Roscoe to attack them. His signature was killing them on May 13 (the anniversary of his sister's death) after days of torture by drowning them in a bathtub filled with scalding hot water as a reference to Amanda's drowning. He would abduct the victims from different cities located all over California, but then posed all of the bodies on benches and under trees in playgrounds in Los Angeles; his first victim, Rachel Hughes, was abducted and dumped in the same park. The only exception to this was Allison Astor, who was buried in a shallow grave.

During the first 24 hours of the abductions, Johnny would always release the children, dropping them off at hospitals or churches. The only exception to this was Phoebe Payton, who reminded him of his sister the most out of all the other child victims due to her suffering from asthma like his sister.

Profile

"You'll break. They all do."

The unsub is a Caucasian male who is most certainly a resident of Los Angeles County and operates on a strict yearly schedule, which takes patience and discipline, indicating that he is likely aged in his late 30s or 40s. He abducts his victims from public parks in broad daylight, which suggests that he is socially competent, fits in, and comes off as non-threatening and someone most people would never notice. His schedule is very important to him. He may be suffering from a rare psychological disorder referred to as "paternal desire". Like the contrasting feminine disorder, "maternal desire", it stems from a deep-seated need to fill an emotional void felt by the loss of a child. Such a loss may be related to some kind of long-term stressor in his life, a stressor that would explain why he exhibits so much rage and violence against the nannies that he abducts. He shows little mercy towards his adult victims, but he has been compassionate to the children.

Later in the case, it turns out that it is "fraternal desire" and not paternal desire that is motivating the unsub, since he is trying to replace his deceased younger sister as opposed to his child.

Real-Life Comparison

Johnny's habit of killing his victims and dumping their corpses on the same day of each year seems to have a loose basis on The February 9th Killer, an unidentified murderer who killed two women, both of whom were of Hispanic descent, one of whom was pregnant, on the same day, February 9 (hence the name). As of 2011, the February 9 Killer case has been classified as a cold case.

Known Victims

Note: The locations denote where the victims were abducted or attacked

  • California:
    • May 13, 2008, Los Angeles:
      • Rachel Hughes (was abducted from and dumped in the same park)
      • Christopher Wilson (the child Rachel was watching; was released)
    • May 13, 2009, San Diego:
      • Melissa Martinez
      • Sondra Jackson (the child Melissa was watching; was released)
    • May 9, 2010, Los Angeles:
      • Tara Rios (tortured, raped, and intended to kill; she escaped two days later)
      • Allison Astor (presumably incidental; tortured, killed at least two days later, and buried her body in a different area; was properly identified in 2013)
      • Jake Perez (the child Tara was watching; was released)
    • May 13, 2011, Santa Barbara:
      • Diana Brooks
      • Daniel Thomas (the child Diana was watching; was released)
    • May 13, 2012, San Francisco:
      • Gloria Clemente
      • Jennifer Harris (the child Gloria was watching; was released)
    • 2013, Los Angeles:
      • May 8: Both were abducted and eventually rescued the next day:
        • Gina Mendes (tortured, presumably raped, held at gunpoint, and threatened to kill)
        • Phoebe Payton (the child Gina was watching)
      • May 9: The neighborhood shootout:
        • Derek Morgan (attempted; ordered his dog to attack him, but Morgan fought it off)
        • Jennifer Jareau (attempted; shot at repeatedly, but missed; tried to shoot again)

Notes

  • Johnny seems to be based on a few unsubs in the show's past:
    • Season One serial-turned-spree killer Mark Gregory, who also targeted women, tortured them (though using more various methods, one of which involved burning), and then killed them by drowning them in a bathtub.
    • Season Five criminal Robert Reimann. Both were serial killers who targeted women, abducted them in different cities, and kept them in their homes where they would be raped and killed.
    • Season Five serial killer Anita Roycewood. Both targeted children, abducting them from public locations in different cities and keeping them in their homes.
  • Also, Johnny's method of using a dog to attack his victims appears to be an allusion to Tobias Hankel, who killed one of his victims by feeding them to three dogs.
  • Coincidentally, Griffith Park (the same San Francisco park where Johnny abducted his first and sixth set of victims and buried one of them) is also the same park where Thomas Yates, a.k.a. "The Womb Raider", dumped one of his victims.
  • Johnny's method of luring his victims in with the recording of an infant crying seems to be based on a myth regarding how real-life serial killer Derrick Todd Lee, a.k.a. The Baton Rouge Serial Killer lured in his victims.

Appearances

References

  1. However, judging by what he said to Allison ("Can you take it, Allison?"), just like he told his other victims, it could be possible Johnny thought that Allison was a second nanny

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