|“||How did I do?||”|
— Vargas' signature when he raped his victims
Employed as the floor manager of women's plus sizes in a clothing factory in Allende del Sol, Mexico, Pablo, at some point, apparently killed his mother. He left her corpse in the living room of their home, situated in front of a television that was constantly running. At some point in his life, he began cross-dressing for unknown reasons. In 2003, Pablo began raping young women, ambushing them in the street, forcing them into the desert at knifepoint, and blindfolding them before committing the act. Once it was over, Pablo would kiss the woman's neck, ask "How did I do?", and leave. In the fall of 2004, Pablo attacked his fourteenth victim, a waitress named Milagros Villanueva, who struggled more than the other women, managing to give him several minor injuries. After being wounded by Milagros, Pablo was mocked and laughed at by the woman, who had noticed he was wearing a dress.
Discouraged and humiliated, Pablo fled the scene without being able to successfully rape her. A month later, Pablo attacked the mother of his first victim, believing the elderly would be easier to rape. During the attack, Pablo, having been unable to get over the feelings of emasculation his failed rape of Milagros left him with, was unable to rape the old woman, and in a rage, stabbed her, discovering murder was a satisfactory substitute for rape. Targeting the mothers of his rape victims, Pablo killed one about every nine weeks, committing eleven murders in two years. While the Mexican media was convinced a serial killer is on the loose, the government was reluctant to admit this, and the slayings continued.
Going on vacation from his job, Pablo murders Lupe Trejo on his first day off and, seemingly in a frenzy, kills Isabel Santiago only two days later, taking a necklace she was wearing (which belonged to her daughter) and bringing it back to his house. Once home, Pablo places the necklace on his mother's body, along with other accessories he had stolen from his victims, and applies makeup to himself, throwing a fit in the midst of it and smashing the mirror, before going to caress his mother's hair. Later, Pablo heads to the home of Nina Villanueva, Milagros's mother, and is attacked on the property by his rape victims as well as Nina, who had discerned his identity due to the local police and the BAU's investigation of the murders. After being brutally beaten, Pablo is castrated with a kitchen knife (Milagros stating "He pretended to be a woman. Now he doesn't have to pretend.") and is left bleeding outside, where the BAU and police find him. He most likely died from his injuries, which appeared to be extremely severe.
The unsub is a Hispanic heterosexual male who is aged thirty-five to fifty, based on the number of times he has killed and the skill of gaining the trust of his victims. He blends into the poor neighborhoods he targets and (since the homes of his victims showed no signs of forced entry) appears non-threatening and is capable of making his victims feel at ease due to disguising himself as a woman, as evidence at the scene and the testimony of Roberto González indicated. Using his disguise, the unsub probably pretends to be a nurse or social worker, like most Old Lady Killer-type offenders. The heavy mutilation inflicted to the face, chest and genitals of the victims indicates the murders are sexually motivated, with the unsub attacking the subjects of his attraction. Before escalating to murder, the unsub probably committed other sex crimes, such as peeping and rape, and when rape stopped being enough, he began killing women who reminded him of a repressive authority figure in his life, like his mother or grandmother, who he blames for his perceived impotence.
After interviewing his rape victims, the unsub is classified as a power-reassurance rapist, meaning he is passive, non-athletic, lacks confidence, is incapable of having normal relationships with women, and lives or works near his victims. The unsub probably fantasized that the women he raped were his girlfriends, and would be dissuaded if they had fought back or screamed. The unsub asking "How did I do?" after the sexual assaults confirmed he lacked confidence, as the confident do not need reassurance that they did a good job; they just assume they did. In his workplace, he may act somewhat inappropriately around female coworkers, would be unable to look his boss in the eye, and desperately wants approval from his superiors, no matter how small the job.
The stressor that caused the unsub to stop raping young women and begin killing old ones was assumed to be rape victim Milagros Villanueva fighting him off and mocking him, making him feel humiliated and emasculated. Deciding to attack an older woman after the incident, likely thinking she would be easier to overpower, the unsub found he was unable to go through with the rape, his feelings of emasculation still lingering heavily, and thus he grew enraged and murdered the victim, discovering killing gave him the same sexual release that rape did. Until he is stopped, the unsub will continue killing, his cooling-off period growing shorter as his need for sexual release grows.
As a serial rapist, Pablo disguised himself as a woman using plus-size clothing, presumably taken from his workplace, approached young Hispanic women in the streets, came up from behind them, put a knife to their backs, and took them out to the desert, where he would blindfold and rape them. His signature for the rapes was kissing his victim's neck, and asking "How did I do?" after he was finished. At home, Pablo would place flyers showing his victim's faces on the living room wall, presumably using them to relive the rapes.
After he escalated from raping young women to murdering their elderly mothers, Pablo would still disguise himself as a woman using the same plus-size clothing, knock on their doors, pretend to be a nurse or social worker from a city, and enter their homes when they answered. Once inside, Pablo would overpower the victims, and stab them repeatedly in the face, chest, and genitals (except for his last victim, Isabel Santiago, who was only stabbed in the chest and genitals) with a knife, possibly taken from the kitchen (since it would have been difficult to hide a knife in his disguise), as was the case in Lupe Trejo's murder. Once the victim is dead, Pablo would take pieces of jewelry belonging to their daughter and bring it home to place on his mother's corpse. In the case of Lupe Trejo, he placed jewelry on her body, presumably out of remorse. He would always kill his victims in chronological order in accordance to his rapes.
Pablo appears to be based largely on female serial killer Juana Barraza, a.k.a. "La Mataviejitas" ("The Old Lady Killer"). Both killed elderly women in Mexico in the early 2000s and surprised the public with the revelation that they were female (though Pablo was later revealed to be male). Barraza was also believed to be a transvestite male before her capture, while Pablo actually was. In addition, like Pablo, Barraza gained the trust of her victims by posing as a nurse or social worker to get in their homes, stabbed some of them with objects found there (at other times, she strangled them), was apprehended when she was fleeing from the home of her last victim, and had a traumatic relationship with her mother. Both Pablo and Barraza stole items from their victims.
Additional inspiration may have been taken from José Antonio Rodríguez Vega, a Spanish serial rapist and killer known as El Violador de la Moto ("The Motorcycle Rapist") and El Mataviejas (also "The Old Lady Killer"). Like Pablo, Rodríguez Vega began his criminal career as a serial rapist preying on lone younger women, but unlike him, Rodríguez Vega was tall, athletic, and confident enough to subdue his victims without using a knife, and did not ask about his performance afterward. He was also married and had a child, unlike Pablo, who was unable to have a healthy relationship with women. Pablo switched to raping elderly women after being defeated by a younger victim, and to murdering them after failing to get an erection, feeling even more humiliated; Rodríguez Vega switched to raping and murdering elderly women after serving prison time for rape and being kicked out by his mother when he pretended to move in with her after being released. Pablo's murder of his mother may have been a reference to Rodríguez Vega wishing he did the same to his own mother.
A scenario in which the Mexican government refused to acknowledge the presence of an active serial killer seems to be inspired by prolific Soviet Union serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, as stated by Gideon. Also, like Pablo, Chikatilo had a managing job in a factory but was very shy and insecure with other people (particularly with women), felt mocked and humiliated by them, had a traumatic relationship with his mother, and was sexually impotent, only managing to ejaculate when he stabbed his victims. However, unlike Pablo, Chikatilo preyed on young women and children only.
- Pablo Vargas is the first of only twelve serial killers 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:
- Charles Holcombe ("Legacy") - A "house cleaner"-type serial killer who killed at least 64 victims within at least a year.
- 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, 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 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.
- The BAU team makes the connection that the unsub kills the mothers of the raped women by matching their last names; for example, the first rape victim is called "Julia Torres Morales" and her mom is "Elena Gutiérrez Torres". However, in Mexico (in all Spanish-speaking countries, actually), married women tend to keep their last name instead of replacing it with their husband's, and people typically use both of their parents' last names in their full name (in Julia's case, "Torres" would be her father's last name and "Morales" her mother's). So either the mother should have as her first last name "Morales" or her name should be "Elena Gutiérrez De Torres", which is the only way married women use their husband's last name.
- Vargas has some similarities to Norman Bates, the fictional serial killer from the Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho. Both killed their victims by stabbing them, both dressed as women during their murders and both kept the skeletal bodies of their own mothers at their homes.
- ↑ Different spelling owed to dialectal differences