|“||You made a mess...and now you're gonna clean it up.||”|
— Robert to Austin
The son of a maid, Robert lived in a small apartment in the decrepit part of Atlanta, Georgia, with his mother, who worked for the wealthy Holden family. As a child, Robert showed signs of being a voyeur, hiding in the closets of the Holden house and doing nothing but spying while his mother worked. One day, in 1984, Mrs. Holden found Robert and her youngest daughter, Vanessa, in a closet together, both nearly naked. Vanessa blamed everything on Robert and watched with immense satisfaction as her mother harshly berated and spanked the sobbing Robert in front of his mother. As a result, Robert's mother was fired by Mrs. Holden later that day. By 2008, Robert had grown into a serial killer, meeting prostitutes at dingy motels, where he non-fatally disemboweled them and forced them to clean their own blood, before killing them by slitting their throats. When he attempted to claim his third victim, Melissa Foster, Robert was wounded when the woman fought back, scratching him and leaving a scar. Panicking due to the mess, Robert clumsily stabbed Melissa (succeeding in only wounding her) and fled. On January 17, 2008, two months after he first started killing, Robert's mother fell ill, needing a dialysis machine and Robert to care for her, even to change her when she soiled herself. Adversely affected by his mother's sickness, Robert, after noticing an ad for a pickup class in the same underground newsletter that he chose his victims from, began attending the class, which was taught by the flamboyant "Viper"; he did so for almost a year without killing.
Gaining new skills and a new level of confidence from the classes, Robert, as part of Viper's first true test of confidence building (devastating the source of your first major rejection - "squashing your queen bee") tracks down and successfully seduces Vanessa, later murdering her in the same way as his previous victims. A week after Vanessa's murder, Robert manages to seduce another woman named Becky Williams, and the two headed to her apartment. When Robert tries to attack her, Becky evidently fights back, resulting in her falling out a window and plummeting eight stories to her death. As a result, he is unable to gain emotional release from Becky's death, due to being unable to disembowel her and perform his preferred method of killing. Instead of waiting another week to kill again, Robert heads to another club the next night, in search of another victim. Working on seducing a woman named Brandi, Robert is suddenly interrupted when Austin, the bartender, spills a drink on Brandi as a distraction, having recognized Robert from a sketch and description given to her by Reid.
After Austin leads Brandi away under the pretense of wanting to help her clean off the stain left by the drink and tries calling Reid outside, Robert appears and knocks her out by punching her in the face. Afterwards, he takes her over to his apartment and leaves her cellphone at the crime scene. In his apartment, Robert forces Austin to kneel on his living room floor, screaming at her to clean up and forcing her to grab a brush and begin scrubbing the floor. Austin cries, telling Robert that she will do whatever he wants, but Robert only responds by placing a piece of duct tape on her mouth, kissing her and whispering that "the help" does not talk. After muffling Austin, Robert prepares to gut her, just as the BAU, who had discovered his identity from the information provided by Viper and the Holdens, burst in. Tackled and disarmed by Morgan, Robert is led outside, while Reid aids Austin, while Hotch and Rossi both discover Mrs. Parker down the hall, the bedridden woman (whom the two agents correctly surmise was what caused Robert to change his victimology and M.O.) whimpering for her son, claiming that she needs to be changed.
"They don't even see you. You're nothing. The help."
The unsub is a confident, narcissistic, and misogynistic white male between the ages of twenty-five to thirty, who is in excellent physical shape, so as to overpower his victims and feed his own self-image. The unsub's obsession with cleanliness implicates someone who works in the service industry, where he believes that everyone looks down on him; by disemboweling his victims and forcing them to clean up, the unsub gains emotional release and, if something were to compromise that, he may go off-schedule (a victim every Friday) and kill sooner. The unsub is going from killing prostitutes, who he had barely any social interaction with due to simply calling them up and meeting them, to targeting club goers. From this, it indicates that he has some secondary trigger that caused him to change on a psychological level and pick up new skills. He would need help doing that, indicating he may have taken some form of self-help class. While the unsub may be uneducated, he is not stupid; the classes he took have taught him to do things like read verbal cues and body language, making him, in a matter of speaking, like a profiler.
The act of using something flashy to draw attention away from his face not only distracts witnesses, but also implies the unsub may have something identifiable on him, such as a birthmark or scar. The victims were all killed away from the unsub's home, meaning that the unsub has some kind of restriction there, like a nagging girlfriend or a crying baby, something that reminds him of how miserable his life is. This restriction is what caused him to take his rage out on others and could relate to his secondary trigger.
When the team learned from Viper that the first confidence building exercise that he had his students perform was "squashing their queen bee" (the alpha female that was the source of their first major rejection), it was realized that the unsub knew Vanessa, his first victim after altering himself. The unsub had probably expressed himself sexually to Vanessa at a young age, in an encounter that was a failure, being awkward and embarrassing.
Originally, Robert found his victims through the underground newsletter X-Press, calling up a prostitute listed in the classifieds and arranging to meet them at a pay by the hour motel. After changing his victimology, Robert began exploring the same nightclubs that Viper went to on Friday nights, approaching a prospective victim and using tricks and mind games to charm them and convince them to let him go with them to their homes. He would utilize some flashy accessory (such as a hat or sunglasses) to draw attention away from his face and avoid it being seen by surveillance cameras, mainly because of his obvious facial scar above his right eye (which he acquired from his would-be victim Melissa Foster) and his apparent heterochromia.
Once he was alone with a victim, Robert would rant towards them, referring to them as "the help" and later overpower them. His signature was gutting them with a knife, forcing them into cleaning up their spilled blood and entrails, as well as traces of his DNA as a forensic countermeasure. After a few hours, Robert would finish his victims off by slitting their throats, leaving the cleaning supplies (bleach, ammonia and trash bags) in a triangular pattern on the floor. In case of Becky Williams, she was killed prematurely when she fought back; she was thrown (or jumped) out of an eight-story window to her death. He later abducted Austin, a bartender, outside of the club she worked at, instead of luring her in with his ruse due to her recognizing him and his M.O. He then took her to his home, forced her to clean his living room floor, and attempted to disembowel her, but was stopped by the BAU.
Aspects of Robert's original M.O. seem to have been inspired by Jack the Ripper, who also targeted prostitutes, eviscerated them, and killed them by slashing their throats.
- November 9: Unnamed prostitute
- November 23: Unnamed prostitute
- November 30: Melissa Foster (attempted, but survived; was non-fatally stabbed in the stomach)
- November 21: Vanessa Holden
- November 28: Becky Williams (was knocked out of an eight-story window and killed by the fall)
- November 29:
- Brandi (intended to kill; was interrupted mid-seduction by Austin)
- Austin (incidental; assaulted, abducted, and attempted to kill; was rescued)