Victor Paleologus is a sexual predator convicted of the murder of Kristi Johnson.
To date, nothing has been revealed about Paleologus' personal life besides his age. What is known is that he was born on July 16, 1962, and was divorced at the time of his arrest and that he once owned an Italian restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard. His first known offense took place in 1989 when he told Christine Kludjian that he was a music executive at Columbia Records and that he could make her a star. Once he got into her hotel room, he tried to tie her to the bed with ropes he had hidden in the room beforehand and rape her, but she fought him off. He made a plea bargain and received three years' probation for false imprisonment by violence. In 1991, he met an aspiring actress named Elizabeth Buzzini (some sources name her as "Elizabeth Davis") at a bar. Posing as a Disney producer, he started talking about a Bond movie and sneaked some white powder into her drink. She noticed him and called the police, but he got away and no charges were filed. In 1995, he broke into the home of a woman he had once dated and held her against her will. Consequently, he made a plea bargain and received five years' probation for pleading guilty to burglary. In the late 1990s, he perfected his Bond movie producer ruse and used it to lure most of his victims.
Crimes, Capture and Incarceration
In August of 1998, Paleologus attempted to rape 24-year-old Heather Maher in Brentwood. Making yet another plea bargain, he was found guilty of assault with intent to commit rape and went to state prison in 2000. Before that, in 1999, he also had an encounter with actress Cathy DeBuono, who later got a recurring role on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He used his usual ruse on her, but because she showed up to the "audition" with a male friend, Paleologus backed off. In 2003, only four days after being paroled, Paleologus attempted to lure 24-year-old Susan Murphy the same way as he tried to lure his prior victims, but like DeBuono she showed up with a chaperon and went unharmed. Three weeks later, Paleologus approached Kristi Johnson, a 21-year-old aspiring actress, in a Century City mall and lured her to a fake audition. That was the last time she was seen alive. When she wasn't heard of for two days, her mother reported her missing. When the police learned from Johnson's roommate that she had gone shopping at the Century City mall and told her that she was going to audition for a Bond movie when she got home. The police started a tip-line, leading to witnesses emerging. One was a realtor who had shown Paleologus several houses, including one on Skyline Drive to which he had lured Johnson. Another witness was Susan Murphy, who had also been approached by Paleologus at the same Century City mall and had been told to wear the exact same outfit. Records showed that Johnson had purchased the same clothes on the day of her disappearance. DeBuono also came forward and told her story. Murphy gave a description of Paleologus and the sketch was released to the media. When Paleologus' parole officer saw it, he called the police and told them about him. Luckily, Paleologus was already in custody on suspicion of grand theft auto.
When Paleologus was picked out of a lineup by Murphy, the investigators started questioning him about Kristi Johnson. When confronted about his attempts to lure girls by posing as a Bond movie producer, Paleologus simply said all of the women who accused him of doing so were lying. Three weeks after the "audition", Kristi Johnson was found dead by hikers in the Hollywood Hills. She was bound, partially dressed and had been strangled to death. She also had a peri-mortem head wound from when she fell down the hill, suggesting that she may still have been barely alive when Paleologus dumped her body there. By the time she was found, weeks of rain had washed away any forensic evidence. As the investigation continued, the other women Paleologus had tried to lure came forward. He was put on trial for Kristi Johnson's murder even though there was no forensic evidence that implicated him in the crime. There was however circumstantial evidence as well as the testimonies of his past attempted victims, illustrating a pattern in his crimes which Johnson also fit. Less than two weeks into the trial, as the stories piled up on him, Paleologus, who had been flat out denying committing any crimes, made a plea bargain and confessed to Johnson's murder in exchange for avoiding the death penalty, but also turning down his right to appeal. But on the day of his sentencing, Paleologus sent a handwritten 11-page letter to the judge asserting his innocence and requesting to withdraw his plea. By then, it was too late for him to change his mind and he was sentenced to 25 to life in a state penitentiary.
Paleologus targeted women, usually aspiring actresses, in their 20s and found them in public areas. Promising them auditions for movies, usually James Bond or Disney movies, he would arrange a meeting with them at some secluded area, where he would try to bind them with rope or nylon wire and sexually assault them. He made most of them come to the fake auditions dressed the same way: a black or white shirt, a miniskirt, stilleto heels, and nylon stockings. When he killed Kristi Johnson, he bound and fatally strangled her.
- Unspecified date in 1989: Christine Kludjian, 21 (attempted to rape)
- Unspecified date in 1991: Elizabeth Buzzini (attempted to drug)
- August 29, 1998: Heather Maher, 24 (attempted to rape)
- Unspecified date in 1999: Cathy DeBuono, 29 (lured and presumably intended to attack)
- January 24: Susan Murphy (lured and presumably intended to attack like the previous victim)
- February 15: Kristine "Kristi" Johnson, 21 (bound and fatally strangled)
On Criminal Minds
Paleologus was mentioned by Hotch in "Fear and Loathing" when the team tracks down an unsub who lures his victims by promising to make them famous singers, not unlike the way Paleologus lured Kristi Johnson. The comparison is then accompanied by a flashback where Paleologus (played by an uncredited actor) gives Kristi Johnson his card.