|“||Every great movie star has a walk... Something you'll never have.||”|
Born on October 28, 1956, Rhett was the only son of actress May Walden. She became pregnant with Rhett during the shooting of her first and only movie called Reflection of Desire. The father, also named Rhett, was her costar, though he never became involved in raising their son. Once she got pregnant, her career was ruined. As Rhett grew up, he was verbally and emotionally abused by his mother, who blamed him for her ruin; this abuse led to Rhett suffering from schizophrenic delusions. He would then develop a love-hate relationship towards his mother that seemed to border on incest. Before the events of Reflection of Desire, his mother died, possibly by his hand. He kept her corpse hidden inside the house, but, in his mind, she was still alive. She interacted with him daily in his hallucinations.
Reflection of Desire
Rhett is first seen showing a clip of Reflection of Desire to Kelly Landis, a woman he managed to abduct. He then tries to get her to act the scene along with him, all the while hallucinating about May. When Kelly fails to pull off the act, May shows her how it is done (although Rhett, in reality, was either talking to himself or using the corpse). The following night, Rhett kills Kelly, takes out his razor blade, and it closes in onto Kelly's lips. Kelly's body is later found by a vagrant in an alleyway and the BAU is called in. They find out that another vagrant lives in the alleyway and he tells that no other vagrants were present in the alleyway when Kelly's body was found. The BAU realized that Rhett was posing as a vagrant. Meanwhile, the day following Kelly's murder, Rhett and May sit at a train station, looking for potential victims. May excuses herself, and Rhett spots a little girl and tells her that she has the confidence and grace of an actress. He kindly has her enact a walking-down of a red carpet before he spots Penny Hadley. He absentmindedly tells the girl she is an ugly girl with nothing to give to the world and leaves, later abducting Penny.
Taking her to his residence, he attempts to get her into his mother's shoes, but Penny's large toes prevent the shoes from being worn. Playing along, she says she can do the scene barefoot. When she is untied, she hits him and effectively breaks his nose. She tries to escape, but the door is locked. Rhett grabs the sedative used to knock her out and approaches her. He grabs her by the throat and roughly kisses her, but she bites back and continues to resist. Rhett knocks her out and greets her when she awakes, telling her that she was right about her big toes. Penny looks at her feet and screams when she realizes that they are now fitting perfectly in the shoes, with her abductor having cut them off with his razor blade. When Rhett leaves, Penny attempts to escape once more, but finds a room full of Reflection of Desire posters and screams, stumbling across May's corpse. Rhett appears behind her and takes her to a secluded alleyway in his car. He then attempts to kill her, but he is spotted by Hotch and Rossi. Hotch shoots at Rhett to incapacitate him; he manages to hit Rhett, but he keeps running, merely yelping out when he is shot. He is then able to rescue Penny. Garcia manages to track down Rhett's address with his car's license plate as well as the handicap permit, which is registered to May, and the authorities surround his house. Inside, Rhett straightens out his suit and, still hallucinating, asks May if she is ready. Rhett calmly walks out with his mother's corpse in his arms and surrenders to the police, laughing hysterically as he hallucinates walking down a red carpet with his mother. It's safe to assume that Rhett is placed in a psychiatric institution after his arrest.
"Some of the lines are missing."
"We'll remember them, won't we?"
"Every... last... word."
-Rhett and Penny
Rhett targeted Caucasian blonde women, abducting them and restraining them to a chair in a special room in his house for a couple of days, dressing them up to resemble his mother in her prime. During their imprisonment, the victims would be forced to reenact a scene from his mother's last movie. If they were not convincing, he would knock them out with chloroform and drive them to a secluded spot. When the victims woke up, they would be fooled into thinking that they were free. When they attempted to escape, Rhett would come out with a plastic bag and wrap it around their heads, suffocate them, dump and pose their bodies. His signature was using a razor blade to mutilate his victims in some way. In Kelly's case, he removed her lips post-mortem and placed them on the face of his mother's body. In Penny's case, he removed her toes to make a pair of shoes fit her feet. He had several "calling cards" during his murders, such as sending photos of his victims to the Georgetown's Monitor a day after abducting them, leaving a page from a Reflection of Desire script stuffed down the throat of Kelly Landis, and writing quotes from the script in blood on a wall near where her body was dumped. Doing so, he gave her the fame that eluded his mother.
"Look at her. Look at her, mom! Is that the work of a weak man? In a matter of hours, she'll be more famous than you ever were."
The unsub is a white male in his mid-to-late-40s, who is approximately six feet tall, has a slim build, and maybe an unemployed local who is antisocial. He is moving his victims around the city unseen, so he has a vehicle, probably an older model, but well-maintained. By leaving a piece of a script in the victims' throat, it is believed that in the unsub's mind, Kelly Landis failed to live up to his expectations. Although there is no sexual interaction ante- or post-mortem, the removal of the lips is a sexual act in itself, and a behavior that says they are dealing with someone who suffers from a borderline personality disorder (later clarified to be schizophrenia). Based on the obvious theatricality of the case, he may have worked in or around the arts.
Rhett may have been directly or indirectly inspired by murderer Ed Gein, a.k.a. The Plainfield Ghoul, as both had domineering and emotionally abusive mothers and were schizophrenics. His habit of keeping his mother's body in the house may have also been mainly inspired by Norman Bates, a fictional murderer prominently featured in Psycho, who did the same and was, in turn, inspired by Gein. This scenario may have also been inspired by necrophiliac Carl Tanzler, who kept, for seven years, the body of a young Cuban-American woman who died of tuberculosis, of whom he was morbidly obsessed with even after her death.
- Unspecified date: May Walden (his mother; possibly)
- November 9: Kelly Landis (was also mutilated; her lips were removed and a script page stuffed down her throat post-mortem)
- November 10: Penny Hanley (abducted, mutilated by cutting off her toes, and attempted to kill; was rescued two days later)
- Rhett is similar to Max Poole ("About Face") - Both were budding serial killers who killed women and mutilated their heads in some way (Rhett removed the lips of his victim post-mortem, Max fatally removed his victim's face), would abduct their victims and hold them captive for several days, left calling cards for their crimes, and were given names by the media for their murders.
- Rhett seemed to have an almost inhuman tolerance to severe pain: when Hotch shot him as he was running from him, he merely yelped out but continued running. When he arrived home, he didn't do anything to tend to his gunshot wound, which did not impede his ability to move his mother's corpse in any discernible way. This makes Rhett Walden the third of six unsubs the BAU have apprehended that displayed a high tolerance for pain. The other five are:
- Jonny McHale ("True Night") - A serial-turned-spree killer and vigilante who withstood being hit by a car, was able to brutally slay six armed men, with one of them shooting him.
- Vincent Rowlings ("The Big Wheel") - A prolific serial killer who was shot at point-blank range by a gangbanger, yet still managed to stab him unhindered by the gunshot (but still died hours later).
- Robert Adams ("Painless") - An "injustice collector"-type serial-turned-spree killer, serial bomber, and copycat of Randy Slade who smashed his hand through the glass sheet of a trophy case with no visible damage, and took multiple gunshots before finally dying. Robert is also the first of these killers to have a proper medical explanation.
- Trey Gordon ("In the Dark") - A serial-turned-spree killer and sniper who was able to walk barefoot on broken glass and still managed to slaughter a couple while sleepwalking. When he woke up, he only seemed mildly irritated by the glass cuts. He also has a medical explanation for his pain tolerance.
- Gabriel Merza ("Blue Angel") - A serial killer and former hitman who was stabbed in the back and was still able to attack Matthew Simmons unobstructed, also not treating the stab wound at all.
- Rhett mutilating his would-be victim's feet so they would fit a pair of shoes is an allusion to the original story of Cinderella, in which the stepsister characters mutilate their own feet so they would fit into the glass slipper.
- As noted above, Rhett is loosely based off fictional murderer Norman Bates from the 1960 movie Psycho. He also references the character Norma Desmond from the 1950 film Sunset Boulevard. Like Rhett's mother, Desmond was an actress who fell into obscurity. At the end of Sunset Boulevard, Desmond commits a murder and when the police arrive, she delusionally believes they are a film crew. Rhett's capture, where he thinks he's walking down a red carpet, is a direct reference to this scene.