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Vincent Rowlings

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My name's not Robert. Not Robert.
~ Vincent before he stabs Michelle Watson.
Forgive me.
~ Vincent's final words before he dies seconds later from a stomach wound he sustained after being shot by a gangbanger.

Vincent Rowlings was a serial killer who appeared in the CBS series, "Criminal Minds", most notably in the Season Four episode, "The Big Wheel".

He is played by Australian-born actor, Alex O'Loughlin.

Background

The son of Sid and Kim Rowlings, Vincent lived a normal life in Buffalo, New York but despite that, his parents's marriage appeared to be an unhappy one with Kim regularly cheating on Sid with another man.

On June 5, 1983, when Vincent was nine years old at the time, Sid returned home early one day and caught Kim and her lover together.

Watching from a closet with a camera that was recording at the time, Vincent saw his parents argue and his mother scream about how much she hated Sid and her life. Vincent also witnessed his father murder his mother in a fit of rage seconds later by stabbing her in the stomach with a knife.

After his father fled, Vincent approached his mother's body, dropping the camera, and sat by her side for almost an entire day before he was found which presumably left him permanently psychologically damaged before the police came.

Vincent later 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 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 colour 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 side-walk.
  • 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 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 which he later replayed in his studio with Vincent often getting some sort of sexual release.

Vlcsnap-2013-07-30-14h30m40s155

Vincent after killing Joyce Wolcott, Stan's mom in a flashback that Stanley relives with the help of FBI Special Agent Derek Morgan.

In 2007, Vincent killed a woman named Joyce Wolcott in her yard, in front of her young son Stan who despite not being able to see sensed Vincent's presence. As Vincent got up, intending to kill Stan, Vincent quickly realized that Stanley was actually and as such, Vincent let Stan live.

After his mother's death and due to the fact that his father had died in a car accident, Stanley was placed in foster care, with Vincent later befriending 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 which he used alongside his OCD patterns.

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. Unable to cope, Vincent's murderous urges broke free and as such, he began killing again but due to his connection to Stan remaining very strong, Vincent instead felt remorse and only stabbed his victims once and directly in the chest instead of stabbing them multiple times.

The Big Wheel

After awakening and performing his morning rituals, Vincent drives to a house and after parking, heads down the street to an open house viewing, where Michelle Watson is busy speaking to her husband on her cell phone. Vincent approaches just as Michelle ends the call and she asks if Vincent is "Robert", a man who had an appointment around that time.

Vincent answers that he isn't. As Michelle tries to get grasp with things, Vincent responds by quickly stepping forward, a knife appearing in his right hand, and stabs her once in the chest, delivering a fatal wound that bleeds almost instantly and leaves Michelle gasping for air.

He walks her into the living room before closing all the doors. He then goes back into the foyer and writes the number 29 in red, circling it twice in red ink before returning to the room where he watches Michelle slowly die, all the while recording it with cameras installed in his glasses.

A week later, and at the request of the Buffalo Police Department, the BAU- (Behavioral Analysis Unit) team led by Special Agent Aaron Hotcher are seen viewing a video of Michelle's death, sent to the Buffalo, NY police by the unsub. The team discuss the contents of the video and are left stunned by the UnSub (Unidentified Subject) or Vincent writing the words "HELP ME" in red marker on a wall. This ultimately leaves the team stunned as in their experience, serial killers never express any kind of remorse or pleas for help so they decide to take the case.

Along the way to Buffalo, Penelope Garcia, the BAU's tech runs a search of women in their early thirties who were stabbed in the Buffalo or surrounding areas and discovers that there are twenty-two results that match.

A while later, the BAU team are in the Buffalo Police Department Conference Room, talking to Detective Lynne Henderson who's stunned at the twenty-two, stating that she and her people had six.

Eventually, the team split up with Agents Emily Prentiss and Derek Morgan accompanying Hotch to the crime scene while Agents David Rossi and Spencer Reid along with Media Liaison Jennifer Jareau stay at HQ to go over the case files and find any connections.

Vlcsnap-2013-07-26-15h50m59s199

Vincent in his editing room.

As this happens, 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.

At the crime scene, Hotch, Prentiss and Morgan are replaying the scene bit by bit and Morgan realizes that the UnSub was recording Michelle Watson's death via cameras in his glasses. While there, Hotch gets a call from Garcia who informs him that tomorrow's the 29th and that the UnSub circled the number 29 twice in red ink which has Prentiss and Morgan realizing that they've got twenty-fours to stop the UnSub.

Back at HQ, Rossi, JJ and Reid along with Henderson find some common ground, the victims were all female, blonde and in their mid to late thirties. As Henderson looks on, stunned, JJ tells them that they've got to confirm it to the media because Buffalo officially has a serial killer.

In his bathroom, Vincent is busy washing his hands with some soap which he quickly uses before throwing into the bin.

As they head outside to examine the scene further, having finished at the show house, Hotch, Morgan and Prentiss again retrace the UnSub's steps and Prentiss eventually realizes that the killer is obsessive-compulsive and that his message of "Help me" actually means "Stop me".

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.

The next morning, Morgan, Rossi and Hotch are at the crime scene, examining Alice's body and they determine that Alice was killed incidentally, as she does not fit the victimology with Hotch concluding that the UnSub still has plans.

Vlcsnap-2013-07-30-14h27m23s234

Vincent talking to Stanley Wolcott, the son of Joyce Wolcott who Vincent killed.

Meanwhile, as the BAU give a profile on Vincent to members of the Buffalo Police Department, Stanley emerges and goes for a ride with Charlotte urging him to be careful.

As this happens, it's shown that Vincent is watching them from a distance and as soon Kate gets distracted, Vincent gets off his car and follows Stan where it's revealed that the two are on friendly terms with one another. As Vincent goes, Stan, who, after using his echolocation technique, tells him that nothing will happen if he steps on cracks with Vincent telling Stanley, "You're a kid. What do you know?" before he heads off.

Back at the Buffalo Police Department, Garcia has discovered Stan's past and she reveals that Stanley was foster-homed after his mother died.

With this new information, Rossi and Morgan later interview Stan, who offers to help them catch his mother's killer.

With Morgan's help, Stan describes the night his mother was killed: he had gone outside, finding her by following her moans, and sensed someone near her. But Charlotte stops them by after realizing that Stan is getting deeply affected by what he's experiencing. As Stan recovers, he then realizes to his dismay that the killer saw him.

Vlcsnap-2013-07-30-14h31m36s203

Vincent upon realizing that two gangbangers are following him, one behind him and the other in front of him.

Meanwhile, as Vincent walks down a street, having been forced to leave his car behind after learning that the Buffalo Police Department are on patrol, he is approached by two punks, one blocking him from behind and one confronting him face-to-face. The second punk threatens him with a handgun, but Vincent is quick and responds by stabbing 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 punk, expressionless.

Returning home without killing the other punk, Vincent quickly 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.

Meanwhile, Hotch, Morgan and Rossi later interview the first punk, apprehended at the scene of his compatriot's death, who describes the unsub, including the clicking noises that he made. Morgan and Rossi realize that Stan is the UnSub's intended target because today, the 29th happens to be Stan's birthday.

With that, Rossi and Morgan race to Stan's house, only to find him missing and his foster mother, Kate Charlotte in distress.

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. Vincent just carries on driving, an angry expression on his face.

Meanwhile, Kate reveals the identity of the man who mentored her foster son as Vincent Rowlings to the BAU and thanks to Gracia, the team learn about Vincent's tragic past.

Hotch, Prentiss and Reid later descend on Vincent's home and begin searching for it, finding blood on the floor and the videotape of Vincent's father killing Vincent's mother.

During a conference call and with Garcia's aid, the team soon realize that Vincent's at a local fair after Morgan glances through Stan's room and finds the miniature of a Ferris wheel, displayed dominantly among the other miniatures.

As Reid and Prentiss head off to meet Rossi and Morgan as well as the Buffalo Police Department at the fair, Hotch stays behind to examine things and discovers the footage of Michelle Watson's death on Vincent's computer as well as many other unnamed women who Vincent killed.

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.

As this goes on, Prentiss, Morgan, Rossi and Reid along with Detective Henderson arrive at the park with Rossi later finding that Vincent and Stanley are on the top of the ferris wheel. This has both groups combining their efforts to edge closer to the ferris wheel.

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".

Vlcsnap-2013-07-26-16h05m01s171

Vincent succumbing to his fatal stomach wound.

Vincent then asks Stan for forgiveness before bleeding to death on the way down, closing his eyes before lying still, his hand still clinging to Stanley's. As this happens, Morgan is heard yelling at the fairground worker to bring the ride back down and to do it immediately.

By the time the wheel gets back down with the car landing safely on the ground, Morgan along with an officer from the Buffalo Police Department are both there to greet Stan.

His gun drawn, Morgan cautiously approaches the car and checks Vincent for a pulse and upon realizing that Vincent is dead, takes Stan away despite Stan wanting to know what's happening.

Vlcsnap-2013-07-26-16h37m20s102

Vincent lies dead in the car.

After reuniting Stan with his foster mother who is overjoyed that her foster son is safe, Stan asks Morgan if Vincent had killed his biological mom. Morgan doesn't answer, but Stan figures it out and begins grieving for his dead mother as Charlotte embraces him.

As this happens, an obviously-drained looking Morgan returns to Rossi, Reid, Prentiss and Detective Henderson as they all struggle to come to terms with the fact that Vincent is dead which also means that the families of the women he killed will never get justice along with the fact that Stanley will be left presumably scarred over the news that his friend, Vincent killed Stanley's own mother.

Profile

The rage and overkill present in the original murders, and the unsub recording them, indicated he was a sexual psychopath who gained release by watching repeated viewings of his kills. The lack of overkill in recent murders, and the "HELP ME" message sent to the Buffalo police and eventually the FBI, indicated an emotional change in the unsub, who was growing increasingly ambivalent due to "someone or something showing him who he really is"; the unsub wants to stop, but like an alcoholic, he can't. The mannerisms displayed by the unsub in the video indicated he was obsessive compulsive, while the technology he employed to record the murders indicated he was well-versed in camera technology, and probably generated 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.

The unsub appeared to be devolving, 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.

Spring is likely a stressor to the unsub, since all 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 way Alice Steadman was positioned, under a blanket and with her arms crossed, showed some level of remorse. Since she did not fit the unsub's usual victimology, and had her possessions and identification taken, it indicated she knew the unsub and could be connected to him, unlike the other victims, whose possessions were left behind.

Modus Operandi

For the most part of his murders, Vincent had a set type of victim, mostly blond 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.

Vlcsnap-2013-07-28-23h10m53s81

Vincent's weapon of choice: a knife.

In the spring, Vincent would approach a woman fitting the profile in their home, workplace, or some other random setting, and 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 and edit the recorded footage 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.

Known Victims

  • June 1998: Emily Flyn (stabbed 23 times).
  • May 6, 1999: Vanessa Bright.
  • March 4, 2000: Hillary Habner (stabbed eighteen times).
  • April 2001: Cindy Stagnal.
  • Unspecified date in 2002: Unnamed woman.
  • April 18, 2003: Erin Whitberg (stabbed eight times).
  • April 20, 2004: Maddy Portman (stabbed twelve times).
  • Unspecified date in 2005: Unnamed woman.
  • May 17, 2006: Tina King.
  • April 18, 2007: Joyce Wolcott (stabbed 32 times).

2009:

  • March 21: Michelle Watson (was stabbed once).
  • March 28: Alice Steadman (incidental).
  • March 29: Jay (gang member; killed in self-defense).

Notes

  • Much like Jonny McHale, another criminal hunted by the BAU, Vincent had an almost inhuman tolerance to pain, barely reacting at all to being shot at close range.
  • 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 plays him, Alex O'Loughlin, suffered from OCD as a child.
  • His driver's licence gives his birthdate as May 9, 1974.
  • Rowlings is also classified as a Prolific Killer, ie, a serial killer who has killed dozens of victims within a several-year span without being apprehended.

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