|“||...I have to change my glasses.||”|
Born on May 9, 1974, to Sid and Kim Rowlings, Vincent's parents' marriage appeared to be a very dysfunctional one, with Kim cheating on Sid with another man. On June 5, 1983, when Vincent was nine years old, Sid returned home early one day and caught Kim and her lover together, forcing the latter out. Watching from a closet with a camera as his parents argued, Vincent witnessed his father kill his mother in a fit of rage after Kim began screaming about how much she hated her husband and her life. After his father fled the scene, Vincent approached his mother's body, dropping the camera, and sat by her side for almost an entire day before they were found, which presumably left him permanently psychologically damaged. Vincent hid the tape showing his mother's murder from the police and kept it to himself, watching it over and over again over the course of his life to such an extent that the video began degrading over time.
Later in his life, Vincent became a videographer and developed obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some of his rituals, which border on the extreme, are:
- Must open (and sometimes close) doors two-to-three times.
- Wears different slippers in every room.
- Obsessive about color coordination.
- Brushes teeth in front of mirror covered in plastic.
- Sandwiches must be crustless and cut exactly diagonally.
- Steering wheel wrapped in plastic.
- Cannot step on cracks in the sidewalk.
- Must touch foreign objects with a napkin in his hand.
- Must wash or sanitize hands after touching any foreign object without a napkin.
- Will use a bar of soap only once, after which he disposes of the bar of soap.
- Must circle items twice.
- Repeats certain sentences to himself.
Starting in June of 1998, Vincent began killing women similar to his mother in appearance once a year during the months of spring, stabbing them repeatedly and recording the deaths via cameras that he had installed in his glasses. On April 18, 2007, Vincent killed a woman named Joyce Wolcott in her yard, in front of her young, blind son Stan. Vincent let Stan live, and after he was placed in foster care, he befriended him through a mentoring program, believing the boy (who was unaware of who Vincent really was) helped him "to see". Presumably due to the influence Stan had on him, Vincent did not kill anyone in 2008, and he also developed a new ritual of imitating Stan's echolocation technique. In March 2009, Vincent was told by Stan's foster mother Kate Charlotte that they would be moving away soon to California, much to his distress. This distress is what triggered Vincent to begin killing again, but due to his relationship ties to Stan remaining strong, Vincent felt remorse and thus, was less violent with his new victims, only stabbing them once instead of multiple times.
The Big Wheel
"I-I wish you were my dad."
After awakening and performing his morning rituals, Vincent strolls down the street to an open house viewing, where Michelle Watson is speaking to her husband on her cell phone. Vincent approaches, and she asks if he is "Robert", a man who had an appointment around that time. Vincent answers that he isn't before stepping forward, a knife appearing in his right hand, and stabbing her once. He walks her into the living room and watches her die. He then goes back into the foyer and writes the number 29 in red, circling it twice. The BAU team is then seen viewing a video of Michelle's death, sent to the Buffalo, New York police by the unsub. After Michelle's death, the killer had written the words "HELP ME" in red marker. Vincent is later seen looking over the death videos of several previous victims. He is using video editing software to cut and paste pieces together. These videos, some of them 20 years old, are then reviewed by Garcia, who got them from the local police. Meanwhile, a woman, Alice, appears at Vincent's door, possibly a coworker. Vincent becomes distressed but lets her in. She tells him that she needs him to videotape a wedding, but Vincent explains he doesn't "do that anymore". A news broadcast appears on TV, with a sketch of the possible killer of Michelle. Alice recognizes that he is the one in the sketch, forcing Vincent to kill her and later dump her body. When Alice's body is discovered, the BAU believe that she was killed incidentally, as she does not fit the victimology.
Vincent is then seen approaching and talking to Stan, who, after using his echolocation technique, tells him that nothing will happen if he steps on cracks. Rossi and Morgan later interview Stan, who offers to help catch his mother's killer. Stan describes the night his mother was killed: he had gone outside, finding her by following her moans, and sensed someone near her; Stan knows the killer saw him. Later, as Vincent walks down a street, he is approached by two gang members, one blocking him from behind and one confronting him face-to-face. The second gang member threatens him with a handgun, but Vincent stabs him. As he dies, the gunman shoots right through the side of Vincent's waist; Vincent recovers quickly, only grunting slightly from the pain, and merely turns to the other, now-frightened gang member, expressionless. Returning home without killing the other gang member, he changes his clothes before grabbing the leftover half of a sandwich and tears a small piece of bread off, which he stuffs into his gunshot wounds. He then wraps the wound in plastic wrap to stop the bleeding for a short time before watching the video of his mother's death, remorse in his eyes.Morgan, Hotch, and Rossi later interview the surviving gang member, who had apparently fled and phoned the police, at the scene of his compatriot's death, who describes the unsub, including the clicking noises that he made. The team races to Stan's house to find him missing. Vincent and Stan are then seen riding in Vincent's car. Stan tells him that the FBI was at his house earlier. Vincent says that on the night Stan's mother was killed, the unsub may have saw something in Stan, and knew that he couldn't hurt him. Stan confesses that he wishes the killer had gotten him, too. Meanwhile, Stan's foster mother reveals the identity of the man who mentored her foster son as Vincent Rowlings to the BAU. The team is then able to track him down at a local fair after looking through Stan's room and discovering the miniature of a Ferris wheel, displayed dominantly amongst the other miniatures. Meanwhile, Vincent and Stan approach a Ferris wheel, getting into one of the baskets. Vincent asks the attendant to stop the Ferris wheel when they reach the top. Stan then asks Vincent if he can see the stars. He promptly asks Stan if he remembers saying that he wished the killer had killed him too. He explains that he saw his own mother die too, and that Stan should never wish to die. Vincent then tells Stan that he is special because he helped him to "see". Vincent then asks Stan for forgiveness before bleeding to death on the way down, closing his eyes before lying still, still clinging to Stanley. By the time the wheel gets back down, Morgan is there to greet Stan, his gun drawn and upon realizing that Vincent is dead, takes Stan away. After reuniting Stan with his foster mother, Stan asks Morgan if Vincent had killed his mom. Morgan doesn't answer, but Stan figures it out and begins grieving for his dead mother.
The unsub is a white male aged in his early 30s. The rage and overkill that was present in the M.O. of the original murders, and also the fact that the unsub records them, indicates that he is a sexual psychopath who gains release by watching repeated viewings of his murders. However, the lack of overkill in his recent murders, and the "HELP ME" message that was sent to the Buffalo Police Department (and eventually the FBI), indicates an emotional change in the unsub, who is growing increasingly ambivalent due to "someone or something showing him who he really is"; the unsub wants to stop, but like an alcoholic, he cannot. The mannerisms displayed by the unsub in the video indicate that he is extremely obsessive-compulsive, while the technology that he employed to record the murders indicates that he is well-versed in camera-related technology, and probably generates income from a field related to it. The unsub's vehicle, probably an SUV or something similar (due to the angles in the video), would be something nondescript and low-profile, with muted colors. Spring is likely a stressor to the unsub, since all of the murders were committed then. The degraded video, depicting a woman's murder, that was briefly glimpsed in the unsub's apartment gave possible insight into the unsub's mindset: he may be recreating the death of the woman in the video over and over again.
The unsub appears to be devolving, however, with his OCD growing worse and becoming more difficult to hide. He will begin taking bigger risks to achieve his ultimate goal, something set on the twenty-ninth, the number circled in Michelle Watson's clipboard, which was left at the scene of her murder. If he notices a heavy police presence, and his goal, whatever it may be, has not yet been achieved, the unsub will panic and flee. The way Alice Steadman was positioned, under a blanket and with her arms crossed, shows some level of remorse with this murder. Additionally, since she did not fit the unsub's usual victimology, and had her possessions and identification taken, it indicates that she knew the unsub and could be connected to him, unlike the other victims, whose possessions were left behind.
For the most part of his murders, Vincent had a set type of victim, mostly blonde Caucasian women in their thirties. This set type of victims comes from Vincent's mother, who too was murdered and matched this profile. The murders themselves appeared entirely opportunistic. Annually in the months of spring (the same season when his mother was killed), Vincent would approach a woman fitting the victimology in their home, workplace, or some other random setting connected to them. There, he would stab them repeatedly with a knife hidden in his coat sleeve, recording their deaths with cameras retrofitted to his glasses. Leaving the body at the scene once he was done, Vincent would upload the recorded footage onto his computer and edit it at home. After his murder of Joyce Wolcott, Vincent began killing with a single stab to the chest, and also started targeting other people, mostly out of necessity. The body of his twelfth victim, Alice Steadman, was dumped, partially wrapped in a blanket, and posed by the arms being crossed over her chest.
Vincent's cry for help was presumably an allusion to serial killer The Lipstick Killer, who also left a message written on a mirror with lipstick, which read, "For heaven's sake catch me before I kill more. I cannot control myself."
Vincent's murders are similar to those of The Servant Girl Annihilator. In both cases, the killers selected their victims before and attacked them in their own homes or workplaces, targeted a specific type of female victim before deviating from it in their final crimes (Vincent killed white women that resembled his mother but later murdered a black woman and finally a black man; the Annihilator killed black women before murdering two white women), stabbed their intended victims several times (although Vincent only delivered a single stab in his final murders), had one unplanned male victim that they eliminated quickly (a robber in Vincent's case; the boyfriend of one of his victims in the Annihilator's), and came in contact with the child of one of their victims but spared said child.
The specific circumstances of Michelle Watson's murder are similar to the unsolved murder of Lindsay Buziak in Greater Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, in 2008. Both victims were female realtors who were going to show a house to a client, and this appointment was used by a third person to gain access to the house and stab them to death. Michelle also talked on the phone to her husband right before her murder, while Buziak made a phone call to her boyfriend before hers.
- June 1998: Emily Flyn (stabbed 23 times)
- May 6, 1999: Vanessa Bright
- March 4, 2000: Hillary Habner (stabbed eighteen times)
- April 2001: Cindy Stagnal
- Spring 2002: Unnamed woman
- April 18, 2003: Erin Whitberg (stabbed eight times)
- April 20, 2004: Maddy Portman (stabbed twelve times)
- Spring 2005: Unnamed woman
- May 17, 2006: Tina King
- April 18, 2007: Joyce Wolcott (stabbed 32 times)
- March 21: Michelle Watson (stabbed once)
- March 28: Alice Steadman (incidental; stabbed once like the previous victim; dumped and posed her body)
- March 29: Jay (gang member; fatally stabbed once in self-defense)
- Vincent had a high pain tolerance, being shot at point-blank range and barely reacting. This makes Vincent Rowlings the second of six unsubs the BAU have apprehended that display 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.
- Rhett Walden ("Reflection of Desire") - A necrophiliac, abductor, and budding serial killer who was still able to carry his mother's corpse, despite being shot by Hotch at close range.
- 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.
- Vincent is the second of only seven serial killer on the show to successfully kill all of the victims they targeted. This is a very rare occurrence, as almost all serial killers depicted on the show have at least one survivor. The others are:
- Steven Fitzgerald ("In Heat") - A serial-turned-spree killer who killed eight homosexual men.
- Megan Kane ("Pleasure Is My Business") - A serial-turned-spree killer and poisoner who killed four divorced fathers who refused to pay child support.
- Lee Mullens ("Remembrance of Things Past") - A prolific serial killer and abductor who killed two dozen women.
- Paul Westin ("Broken") - A homosexual serial killer who killed four men and two women, the men being homosexual.
- Larry Feretich ("Brothers Hotchner") - A serial-turned-spree killer, mass murderer, and poisoner who successfully killed fifteen people.
- Charles Johnson ("Strange Fruit") - A serial killer who successfully killed all four men who castrated him as a teenager.
- In the Behind the Scenes program for Vincent, it is revealed that his surname was initially planned to be "Anderson".
- Vincent's OCD is presumably a reference to the fact that the actor who portrays him, Alex O'Loughlin, suffered from OCD as a child.
- Vincent's method of murdering Alice Steadman (stabbing her once and crossing her arms post-mortem) seems to be similar to the M.O. of Nathan Tubbs ("Doubt").