|“||They like it when they get to share me.||”|
— Robert writing in a journal about him and his victims
A farmer, Robert lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with his wife Mary, who left him in 1979 after becoming pregnant, fearing for her and her baby's safety due to Robert being violent when he drinks. At the time, Robert spent several days in jail after being arrested three times for DUIs. His wife abandoning him caused him to snap and prompt him to abduct a troubled girl named Karen Foley, whom he tortured and raped for days, keeping her captive in his barn and a small cave on the outskirts of his property. While Robert was passed out drunk one night, Karen, realizing that her bonds were loose and the barn door was unlocked, managed to escape, though her story went dismissed due to her history of drug abuse and running off. Karen later gave birth to her and Robert's son, Stephen Foley, never telling Stephen his father's identity. A year after Karen's escape, Robert went on to abduct and rape another five women, keeping them captive for weeks before chopping them up with an ax and dumping the body parts in a nearby Civil War battlefield. A year after leaving him, Mary returned to Robert and, within hours, realized what he had done. Wanting to protect her son, Mary killed Robert with his own combine harvester, making his death look like an accident.
Mary and Robert's son, Charlie, eventually finds out what his father was and feels a connection to him, coming to believe it is his destiny to be like Robert. While investigating Charlie's murders, the local police and the BAU also discovered that it was Robert who was responsible for the 1980 murders.
The unsub was believed to be a farm worker and also a possible migrant aged in his mid-twenties who would be reckless and a heavy drinker, meaning he may have had several DUIs and been charged with other minor offenses. The unsub was meticulous and had two areas of control, one to torture his victims in and another to keep them captive; the locations likely being privately owned facilities such as barns, workshops, or garages. As his wife leaving him was his stressor, Robert was likely unable to deal with abandonment, meaning that his mother may have left him when he was young. Such an event could have also instilled Robert with a type of Madonna-whore complex, which caused him to think of his wife as pure and untouchable, so he would find disposable girls to act as substitutes for her.
Robert would abduct Caucasian female drug addicts and runaways between the ages of 16 and 24, and had a habit of keeping two at a time. In his barn, Robert would force the girls to dance to music (an event he called "a party") and rape and torture them via beating and burning. After the "party" in the barn, Robert would keep the girls chained inside a secluded cave near his residence, putting a burlap sack over their heads while taking them to and from the cavern. After a couple weeks, Robert would kill the girl he held longest by dismembering her with an ax and spreading the body parts around the site of the Battle of Chancellorsville. Robert also wrote about his murders in a private journal, which his son Charlie eventually found. Oddly, unlike the rest of Robert's victims, Karen Foley was apparently kept disoriented via drugs and was also forced to call her family (this may have been because Robert only intended to rape her, and resorted to murder after Karen's premature escape).
Robert's enjoyment of attacking two victims at once might have been inspired by Gerard Schaefer, who had a habit and preference of abducting two women at a time before raping, torturing and killing them and then writing about it in a journal.
- December 1979: Karen Foley (raped, impregnated, apparently drugged, and tortured; she escaped)
- Anita Milwerth
- Tiffany Foundry
- Sharon Chroniger
- Laura Conway
- December 13 (found): Laila Dapples