He is played by Ray Milland.
Jarvis was the uncle of Tony Goodland, a reasonably rich man who had the problem that he loved his disloyal wife. He made an argeement with his wife's lover that he would leave if Tony gave him 150,000 dollars. But as Tony lacked access to that money, he turned to his uncle for help.
His uncle had a low opinion of Tony, seeing him as a weak willed man who wasted his money on keeping a spendthrif and a adulterous wife happy. But seeing an oppertunity to make himself much more wealthy he agreed. The Ammount of Money necessary was in a trust fund set up by Tony's parents, with Jarvis acting with the bank in regulating it. As such the money could not be accessed easily, but there was a clause which said in the case of certain emergencies it could be taken. As such together they staged a kidnapping.
One night, first Jarvis called Tony's wife Cathy, using a handkerchief to disguise his voice, giving an ambiguous message about them having Tony. Then he waited till Cathy called him, while looking for Tony. After the call ended, he and Tony left to stage the kidnapping (after taking the phone of the hook in case Cathy called back) driving up together. Jarvis had Tony turn off everything, then set the clock back an hour and put the parking break on. Then he shot a bullet hole in the windscreen and together they pushed the car off the edge.
He confirmed Tony knew the rest of the plan (to send the kidnapping letter saying they wanted the money, and to make the phone call) and dropped him off at a shack they were using as a hide out. The next day Jarvis went to visit Cathy, while being his usual rude and disparaging self towards her on the matter of the letter. They were interrupted when Columbo arrived to talk to Cathy about what they had found.
Upon Columbo figuring out from there reactions that they knew more then they were telling, Jarvis told him about the letter. He then revealed it had been sent to confirm it was Tony's hand writing, and took up Columbo's offer for one of the police lab boys to check it over for fingerprints. Before leaving to go to the bank, however he stopped off at his greenhouse where he kept his prize Orchids.
Only to discover Columbo was there waiting for him, keeping up his ruse of politeness Columbo asked him about the specifics of the trust fund and the clause, while also enquiring about his orchids. Irritated at this, Jarvis told him to leave, Columbo agreed but before he did he brought up Jarvis must really love Orchids as he came here before going to the bank, in a moment of irritation, Jarvis let it slip how lowly he considered his nephew.
The next night, once the letter was confirmed, he collected the ransom money, and waited for the phone call from Tony, telling him to go to the gas station, once there he collected another one to the true meeting process. Arriving he met Tony, disguised with a mask who he handed the money, before driving around (as he police were following him) to pick up Tony, who hid in his boot. On the way back he was stopped by Columbo who asked if he could identify the man. Jarvis claimed he was to shaken and the man was wearing a mask, so Columbo let him go.
Back at the hide out, Tony began examine the money, but at that point Jarvis betrayed his nephew and shot him taking all the money for himself, just as he had planed from the start. He then set up the shack so it looked like there were at least two other people there.
The next day however he was met up with again by Columbo, who arrived under the pretence of enquiring about a plant of his wives. However he began to talk about several matters of the case that didn't make sense, such as the skid marks on the road proving there was another heavier vehicle there, but Tony's car being newer and lighter should have been able to easily out run them. Jarvis replied by pointing out the shot, which Columbo countered by pointing out that from the angle of the shot it should have killed Tony. Jarvis replied that Tony must have ducked. But not buying it Columbo went on to reveal he had found a police report showing that Jarvis owned a .32 cause he had shot at an intruder the year earlier.
Jarvis admitted it, and said all he had hit was a pile of earth, and hadn't seen the gun in a year or so, it being a gift from Tony. He suspected Columbo was going to book him for having an unregistered gun, but Columbo dismissed this on the account nearly half of Los Angeles did it. However he then revealed that the gun that killed Tony was a .32. Jarvis denied the accusations and Columbo left.
Later however Jarvis was visited by Tony's old secretary Gloria West, who told him about her hearing Tony was killed by a .32 and remember Tony saying he had given a .32 to someone a year earlier. Suspecting she meant him, Jarvis reached for his gun, but the Gloria revealed she was talking about Cathy. This gave Jarvis the idea to frame Cathy, and quickly got rid of Gloria.
Then breaking into Cathy's home, he planted the ransom money bag, and stole Cathy's gun, while hiding his own in her house. He then went back home, having called the police, causing ambitious Sergeant Fred Wilson to rush over, he gave him the stolen gun, passing it off as his own. He then gave Fred the idea Cathy was the murderer.
Later he turned up at Cathy's home, while Fred and his men were searching the place, and pretended to defend her when they found the bag claiming it wasn't defiantly the same. Later however after the gun was found and Cathy had seemingly been arrested, he returned home feeling triumphant, only to discover Columbo in his greenhouse.
Columbo first thanked him for saving his wife's plant, before revealing he had some plans. At this point Sergeant Wilson arrived still with Cathy, having got orders from Columbo to come here. Columbo then revealed he had something's arriving, sure enough the evidence arrived. Columbo revealed the first bullet shot into Tony's car and then the one shot at Tony. He revealed the labs had proven they were from the same gun.
Jarvis grumpily said they already knew this, only for Columbo to reveal a third bullet also proven to be fired from the same gun, which he had found in that mound of earth in Jarvis's greenhouse, which Jarvis had fired a year earlier at the prowler, proving it was his gun which had killed Tony.
Sergeant Wilson arrested Jarvis, and he was taken away.