|“||Oh God, what did I do?! What did I do to my family?! My family! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!||”|
— Norman as he is arrested
A quiet, all-around average man with an affinity for collecting model cars, Norman lived in the suburbs with his family and worked as an accountant at an insurance company in Orange County, California. In June 2008, Norman's youngest daughter, Jenny, was hit and killed by a car on the freeway, having wandered away while Norman was busy changing a flat tire. Norman never got over Jenny's death, and came to believe everyone secretly blamed him for the tragedy. This added to his already considerable disenchantment with life, which stemmed from his dead-end job, his emasculating wife Vanessa and his other, teenage daughters, Sasha and Britney.
"I tried to tell you, but you wouldn't listen! You just wouldn't listen!"
Six months after Jenny's death, Norman, on his way to work and intending to drop off a Remington 870 Field Gun shotgun as a gift, is cut off in traffic by a woman named Judith Hannity, who resembles his wife. Norman pulls up next to Judith, presumably to ask for an apology, but is blown off and insulted. Angered by her attitude, Norman pulls up to her again, pulls the shotgun out of its gift box, and opens fire, causing Judith to crash, paralyzing and nearly killing her. Something inside him having changed, Norman later arrives at an office party, where his wife and coworkers notice that he is unusually happy and confident. Later that night, Norman is shown contemplating the unknown as he stares at each of his children's bedroom doors. He then goes to the garage and begins sawing the barrel off his shotgun. Killing two women in drive-by shootings with the shotgun in an attempt to achieve the same high he got from attacking Judy Hannity, Norman finds he is unable to achieve as much satisfaction from shooting as he did before. As a result, he begins modifying his shotgun and starts role-playing, dressing as a 1950s style punk after the media dubs him the Road Warrior.
Going over a week without killing anyone, Norman begins becoming more and more unstable. While at the office, he briefly contemplates committing a massacre when he envisions his coworkers are mocking him. Regaining his senses just as he begins reaching for his concealed shotgun, Norman spots Jordan Todd on a television in the lounge, releasing the BAU's profile of the Road Warrior to the public. Rushing to his car after seeing the broadcast, Norman, on his way home, has a psychotic fit. When two men pull up beside him and ask him if he is alright, Norman hallucinates they are laughing at him, instantly calms down, and murders both of them, shooting the two until the shotgun is empty. Arriving home, Norman watches another news broadcast, in which Jordan pleads with the Road Warrior, whom the BAU had discerned had a family, to turn himself in peacefully. Seemingly moved by Jordan's speech, Norman tells his family that he is the Road Warrior, but is mocked by them. Changing his mind about giving up, Norman forces his family into the SUV and drives off. All the while, he rants about how he can fix everything and that he can no longer bear living in the house after what happened to Jenny, whom he accuses his wife and daughters of forgetting about.
Norman's erratic driving attracts the attention of the police and a chase ensues, with Norman alternating between firing shots at officers and bickering with his family, who begin blaming him for Jenny's death, saying they can never be a family again. Reaching the highway, Norman jerks the steering wheel to the left (thinking Vanessa had grabbed it) and crashes into the concrete barrier, causing the SUV to flip over. Crawling out of the wrecked SUV, Norman is surrounded by Morgan, Prentiss, Reid, and several officers, who he begins begging to help him save his family. However, Morgan, who had gotten a call regarding the fate of the Hills from Rossi, shows him the SUV is empty and tells him his family is gone. Then, Norman remembers the truth: he murdered his wife and daughters shortly after shooting Judith Hannity. Realizing what he had done, Norman suffers a complete remorseful breakdown and does nothing but sob and say he is sorry as Morgan arrests him. Morgan tells Norman that it is over and promises to get him some help. Given his mental state, Norman was most likely institutionalized afterwards. The events of the case would later lead Jordan, who felt responsible for Norman's killings of his family and the two men, to resign from the BAU after JJ, whom she replaced temporarily, returned to work.
The unsub is a white, middle-aged, married father with a wife who is believed to be blonde, approximately 40 years old, who resembles the victims, and drives a luxury sedan. He drives a blue, small SUV and most likely lives in the area. It is believed the unsub recently suffered a personal trauma in his life. The hyper-masculine disguise, victim preference, and the emasculating trigger of the first attack points out that the unsub is suffering a masculine identity crisis; Judith Hannity was just the trigger. He appears to be suffering from a psychotic break, which means the world he sees around him has changed, and so has his role in it and that of his family. His perception of his home life is the key to his pathology. At home, he feels less than a man, a failure as a father and as a husband. He feels his children do not need or respect him and that he is unwanted and obsolete in their lives. As a husband he feels emasculated and humiliated by his wife. These perceptions, real or imagined, have destroyed this individual's masculine self-image.
This unsub is delusional, as he is now dressing in this Road Warrior persona. It gives him feelings of power and purpose that he craves. It is now the single most important thing in his life and he will die before giving it up. His new fantasy persona cannot coexist with the everyday reality of his home life, which means that sooner or later, he is going to kill his entire family. Somebody out there knows this man, but does not know it.
Impersonal killers are like drug addicts. The first time gives the ultimate high, and after that, no high is as good. Unfortunately, the addict doesn't know that. He will chase that high to the gates of insanity and death. Killing is all the unsub thinks about. He has set up the exact same situation again and again, hoping to get the same result. He begins to think he is doing it wrong. He becomes obsessed with improving his skills, honing his M.O. and tailoring his weapon to a deadly purpose. He figures if he gets them all just right, if he can get his technique and his tools perfected, he will feel that first high again. He is becoming a more lethal addict and he will never accept that the high is gone and it will not come back. He will never stop.
It is difficult to officially classify Norman as either a spree or serial killer, as he seems to have characteristics of both. While his motives and profile fit the description of a spree killer, his actual killings more closely resemble serial killings: he had a specific M.O., specifically targeted most of his victims, and there was a week-long cooling-off period between his fifth murder and the double homicide.
While Norman's first freeway attack was spontaneous and committed out of rage, his next two murders were planned in advance, taking place at night (when there would be fewer witnesses) and being committed with company cars. Cruising on alternate merge sites on the freeway (sites where multiple lanes are funneled down into one, which cars must alternate to enter, at the drivers' discretion), Norman would drive extra slow, and when a middle-aged Caucasian blonde woman who reminded him of his wife inevitably cut him off, he would pull up next to them and open fire with a 12-gauge Remington 870 Field Gun pump-action shotgun.
Norman repeatedly modified the shotgun in order to create a "perfect" weapon. First, after his shooting of Judith Hannity, Norman sawed down the barrel of the shotgun to increase the spread of the shots. Next, he sawed off the stock to make the shotgun easier to conceal. Then, he attached a bracket to the pump handle, allowing him to hook the gun onto his car door when the window was rolled down and chamber new shots without having to take both hands off the wheel.
As he grew more mentally unstable, Norman fully embraced "The Road Warrior" persona coined by the media and began dressing as a stereotypical tough guy on his outings, wearing a dark leather jacket and mirrored sunglasses. When he killed Joe Karem and Timothy Calvert, he shot them both six times on a surface street during the day while driving his own car. When he killed his family, he shot them all once each with his shotgun while they were sleeping in their beds.
Norman shows some similar characteristics to James Swann, named by the media as "The Shotgun Stalker". Both were spree killers who were also mentally ill and committed drive-by shootings using a shotgun. Norman is also similar to Christopher Peterson, a.k.a. "The Shotgun Killer". Both killed the same number of victims with shotguns, killed at least one victim in their cars, shot one victim who survived, and their last shootings were a double homicide in which they killed two men.
- December 5: Judith Hannity (attempted, but barely survived; shot with a shotgun; paralyzed from the waist down)
- December 5-6: His family (all shot execution-style in their beds with a sawed-off shotgun):
- Vanessa Hill (wife)
- Sasha Hill (eldest daughter)
- Britney Hill (middle daughter)
- December 7: Linda Sicher (shot and killed with a sawed-off shotgun)
- December 8: Marilyn Cohen (shot and killed with a sawed-off shotgun like the previous victim)
- December 16:
- Burke Manning and numerous unnamed coworkers (intended to massacre; relented at the last second)
- Joe Karem and Timothy Calvert (both were shot six times with a sawed-off shotgun)
- An unnamed police officer (attempted; shot at three times as he pursued him, but missed)
- An unnamed police officer (attempted; grazed his SUV into his car while in a psychotic episode)