"Look up to the sky!"
Rodney grew up in the same neighborhood as Morgan, but, unlike him, he grew up a criminal. He was apparently one of the boys protected by pedophile and future serial killer Carl Buford from the King Cobras, a street gang active in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood. One day, when they were younger, Morgan and presumably some others got into a fight with Rodney's gang, during which Rodney was pushed to the ground and hurt his head. That was the first time local detective Stan Gordinski, then a beat cop, arrested Morgan, who was charged with aggravated assault because Rodney needed some stitching. In "Restoration", it was also stated by the BAU that Rodney may have intentionally attacked Morgan because he spotted him and became jealous of the success he seemingly had.
Unbeknownst to anyone, Rodney was one of many boys molested by Carl, who ran a community center Rodney was presumably a member of. According to another molestation victim, Keron Bendor, Rodney was Carl's "favorite" who "got it the worst". Coincidentally, Morgan was also a member and another of Carl's victims. Rodney spent the rest of his life dealing with the sexual abuse, and, likely coupled with head trauma he sustained from the fall, this led to a slowly deteriorating mental stability. He went on to marry a woman named Sheila Goode, having a son named Tyler with her. However, he worked as a drug dealer, which likely led to his divorce with Sheila, who would go on to marry another man named Paul Kelly.
Rodney plays a small role in the episode. He is first seen in the episode confronting Morgan after seeing his sister Desiree with him. Later that same day, he passes by the community center, threatening James Barfield and Damien Walters before being chased away by Carl.
Prior to the episode's events, Rodney quit his days as a drug dealer, but continued to be mentally unstable. In events directly preceding "Restoration", Sheila pulled Tyler out of a swimming center after finding out that his coach, Michael Crowley, had molested him. This brought memories of the sexual abuse by Carl's hands back to Rodney, and upon spotting Crowley on March 23, 2013, he snapped and beat him to death. Several days later, in "Restoration", he spots shop owner and former MMA fighter Anthony Rango letting in two young boys to have some food during closing hours. Believing that Rango was molesting the children, Rodney waits until the boys leave and then attacks Rango, dragging him into a secluded storage shed, and murdering him there. Out of instinct, he paints the message "Look up to the sky" on the shed door before leaving. Going into a frenzy, Rodney murders Rod Avill and Sean Traner in a short period of time between, leaving behind "Look up to the sky" at the former's crime scene.
Becoming increasingly unstable, Rodney takes a Beretta 92FS handgun and goes to Sheila's house as she, Tyler, and Paul come home. He holds them hostage and assaults Paul with the pistol. The BAU, deducing that he was the unsub as well as his motivations, arrive at the house, and Rodney and Morgan's eyes meet each other as the former holds Sheila at gunpoint. Morgan eventually volunteers to go inside the house and talk Rodney down. Doing so, the agent tells him that he was also molested by Carl, and that Carl had already gone to jail for what he did. When this fails to pacify Rodney, Morgan argues that by continuing his killings, he will traumatize Tyler just as Carl traumatized Rodney. When Tyler tells Rodney that he still loves him, he releases Sheila and kneels to the floor, apparently about to commit suicide, but instead drops the gun and allows Morgan to arrest him. Upon being dropped off at the local jail, Rodney calls Morgan's name, and the two look at one another as Rodney is escorted away by an officer. At the end of the episode, Rodney watches a live press conference held by Morgan and Gordinski, smiling.
Rodney initially targeted random men, but as he began to project Carl onto the victims more, he shifted his focus to other African-American men. He would blitz-attack his victims at night when they were isolated (with the exception of Rod Anvil, who was killed in the daytime hours) and brutally beat them to death with his bare fists. His signature was leaving them with their pants and boxers pulled down to their ankles. He first killed Michael Crowley, who had molested his son, followed rapidly by the others, men who were killed close to where they had innocent interactions with children before they died; they were surrogates for Carl Buford. When he killed his last two victims, he also bashed their heads with a Helgenson Vineyards wine bottle (the same kind of wine that Carl gave to his victims). For his second and third murders, he wrote the phrase "Look up to the sky" at the crime scenes (apparently as a reference to something Carl used to say while molesting his victims) in white paint. He would leave behind at least one other Helgenson Vineyards wine bottle that he drank from, likely by accident.
The unsub is an African-American male aged in his late 30s to early 40s. He is from the urban Chicago area and most likely attended the local community center as a youth. He is athletic and powerful (which explains his ability to overcome his victims with aggression), and his perfect timing and selection suggest that he has a high intelligence level, but his victim selection shows that the murders are not planned in advance. Additionally, he may have a drinking problem, which makes him more unpredictable and exacerbates his anger. The fact that he doesn't steal from his victims means that he is mission-oriented, which says that the substance abuse is a coping mechanism from the fact he never adequately dealt with his own victimization. By exposing his victims (men who make innocent interactions with children) and then scrawling the phrase Carl used during his sexual assaults at the crime scenes, he is telling the world that he sees the victims as child molesters, which is his justification for killing them.
This belief is an example of mental projection and polarization, a black-and-white thinking that, when coupled with impulsivity, anger, and outbursts of violence, indicates that this unsub most likely suffers from an extreme case of borderline personality disorder, which is one of the most common mental disorders suffered by adults who were victimized as children, and this particular disorder represents the borderline between anxiety and psychosis. This unsub's perspective has become so warped that he is most likely experiencing stress-related paranoid ideation, most likely brought on by a recent traumatic event that triggered that rage. He is assumed to be armed and extremely dangerous.
- Unspecified date: Derek Morgan (assaulted)
- March 23: Michael Crowley (no message was left behind)
- April 1: Anthony Rango
- April 2:
- Rod Avill (also bashed his head with a wine bottle)
- Sean Traner (no message was apparently left behind; also bashed his head with a wine bottle)
- April 3: The standoff at his ex-wife's house:
- Paul Kelly (Sheila's current husband; assaulted and threatened to kill)
- Sheila Goode (his ex-wife; held at gunpoint)
- Tyler Harris (his son; held at gunpoint)
- It is worth noting that Rodney is the first unsub on the show to have appeared in an earlier season as a notable character before reappearing as a criminal.
- Rodney is very similar to Season Three criminal Gary. Both were victimized as children (Rodney was molested by Carl Buford; Gary was abused by his foster mother); targeted individuals who represented the sources of their rage after seeing their interactions with children, which they perceived as being abusive; and beat their victims to death (though Rodney used his hands while Gary used incidental blunt objects).
- Rodney also bears some similarities to Season Seven spree killer Jimmy Hall in the sense that both were mentally-unstable, targeted men, killed their victims by beating them to death with their bare fists, and were set off in some way that involved their sons (Rodney's son Tyler was molested by the first victim; Jimmy's son Ryan suffered from and eventually died of cancer).
- A news report seen in "Restoration" refers to Rodney as "The South Side Killer", which was presumably a general reference to the area he was active in during his killing spree, not a nickname.