|“||Just enjoy the ride.||”|
Rhodes was a socially-awkward but computer-savvy man who worked as a sound technician at 98.2 WUKO, a Bradenton, Florida, radio station. He apparently took pride in his job, even getting a custom license plate that was named after his workplace. In his personal life, he enjoyed playing video games, especially first-person shooter and racing ones. In August 2016, he joined a dating site called Amorous Intrigue and made attempts to court female members, including Alyssa Miles and Veronica Perotta, but they never responded after taking one quick look at his unappealing profile. Unable to handle the rejection, Rhodes began cyber-stalking them and scheming their murders. He developed a computerized system that would allow him to hack into and take control of vehicles manufactured after 2009, which are all vulnerable to hacking. Once he had it finished and tested on his own vehicle, a 2013 Meridian, as a starting point, Rhodes moved on to hacking other drivers' vehicles and using them to strike pedestrians.
"Hi, Alyssa. ...I, uh, thought it was time we met."
After perfecting his technique through three car crashes, Rhodes hacks into a fourth vehicle and crashes it into Veronica as she is outside her home, killing both her and the driver. The next day, he approaches Alyssa outside her home and tries to get her to remember him. When she doesn't, he forces her into his car, duct-tapes her hands to the steering wheel, and makes her drive down a highway. Midway into the ride, Rhodes hacks into the car, forces it out of the highway and onto a street, and directs it toward a loading dock with the intent of crashing the car and killing himself and Alyssa. This fails, however, when Garcia (who had been pursuing his car with Alvez in an SUV) overrides his hacking and stops the car in the nick of time, allowing Alvez to make the arrest.
Rhodes would hack into security cameras in crowded parking lots and spy on people to learn their daily routines and schedules. Once he spotted a motorist who owned a vehicle manufactured after 2009, and who would frequently use handheld technology simultaneous to their driving, he would hack into their vehicles. Once he had complete control over the vehicle, Rhodes would assert his dominance by activating the windshield-wipers, rolling the windows up and down repeatedly, and setting the radio channels to 98.2 WUKO, his workplace. Then, he would guide the vehicle via remote control until it struck a pedestrian. He would record the hijackings from start to finish via the drivers' handheld devices and the vehicles' dashcams, so he could rewatch the videos and relive the collisions he caused.
During his first two hijackings, Rhodes hacked into a vehicle of the same make and model as his own, a 2013 Meridian, since he already knew how to take control of that specific brand, while the pedestrians he struck were selected at random. As his confidence grew, Rhodes started hacking into other vehicles and targeting pedestrians who resembled the true objects of his rage. By the time of his fourth hijacking, he went after Veronica Perotta directly, striking her with a vehicle outside her own home and making sure she died by pinning her against her SUV. Then, Rhodes abducted Alyssa Miles, forced her to drive his vehicle while he took control of it via remote, and planned to crash it in a murder-suicide, but was stopped in time.
The unsub is a white male in his mid- to late 20s who is a sadistic symphorophiliac, one who is sexually aroused by observing disasters (like car accidents) to the point where he must stage them himself so he could watch. He enjoys watching the terror of the drivers whose cars he hijacks, as well as the impact of his chosen pedestrian victim. He does so by hacking into traffic cameras or in-car dashboard cameras, as well as dash-mounted smartphones. There is no connection between the drivers and the pedestrians, and the unsub seems to be selecting the drivers based on their vehicles. His vehicle selection was initially limited to a single make and model, but he has since expanded his hacking capabilities. His first two hijackings were experiments, and the pedestrians he struck were victims of opportunity, but the third hijacking reveals that he is refining his victim criteria: specifically, a young, attractive, dark-haired woman who was likely a surrogate for someone the unsub seeks to terrify and punish. This unsub may lack the confidence and social skills necessary to form healthy relationships, which could be fueling his anger.
It is difficult to officially classify Rhodes as either a spree or serial killer, as he seems to have characteristics of both. While his motives and initial victimology fit the description of a spree killer, his killings (especially the later ones) more closely resemble serial killings: he had a specific M.O., specifically targeted his later victims, and had cooling-off periods between his first three hijackings.
While Rhodes himself doesn't seem to be based on any specific real-life cases, his M.O. may have been inspired by new but rising concerns about the susceptibility of modern Internet-connected, drive-by-wire vehicles to outside hacking, and the potential for such vehicles to therefore be used as remote-controlled weapons in vehicular terrorist attacks. In one such incident in 2015, hackers managed to gain control of a Jeep ten miles away from their position, and crash it into a ditch with the driver still inside.
- February 13: The first crash:
- Tim Thurtia (the driver; attempted, but survived; was injured in the crash)
- Jan Gilford (pedestrian; attempted, but survived; was non-fatally struck)
- February 17: The second crash:
- Marta Calderon (the driver; attempted, but survived; was injured in the crash)
- Todd Daberman (pedestrian; survived, but later died of his injuries)
- February 20: The third crash:
- Mark Keeling (the driver; attempted, but survived; was injured in the crash)
- Meredith Courtelis (pedestrian; killed)
- February 21: The fourth crash:
- Tim Dellinger (the driver; survived, but later died of a brain hemorrhage)
- Veronica Perotta (target victim; killed)
- February 22: Alyssa Miles (target victim; abducted and attempted to kill in a remote-controlled car crash; was rescued)
- February 13: The first crash:
- Rhodes is extremely similar to Hayman Vasher, a homegrown terrorist and mass murderer who appeared in Season Ten. Both were brilliant but socially-awkward people with expert knowledge in engineering, who orchestrated deadly crashes by hacking into the vehicles in question using a homemade system, and taking complete control of them from their drivers. Both were also motivated by the rejection of at least one woman who spurned their romantic advances; both later directly went after these women and successfully killed them in one of their attacks.