Criminal Minds Wiki

You all pretend to care, but you just want to save your own skin.

Jonathan "Johnny" Ray Covey, dubbed "The Nanny Killer" by the media, was a serial killer, serial rapist, stalker, and abductor who appeared in the Season Eight episode of Criminal Minds, "Nanny Dearest".


Covey was born on April 15, 1973, likely in Los Angeles. On May 13, 1980, when he was seven years old, his younger sister Amanda accidentally drowned while bathing in a bathtub while their nanny, Griselda Vasquez, was nonchalantly smoking a cigarette nearby. Covey blamed the inattentive and abusive Vasquez for Amanda's death, and although a full investigation was conducted, Vasquez was never charged and Amanda's death was ruled an accident. Covey grew up and adopted a rottweiler named Roscoe, never leaving his house even after his parents both died of heart attacks. He presumably began plotting a revenge scheme against Vasquez at this time. However, when she died of breast cancer on February 9, 2007, Covey snapped due to being deprived of his revenge.

Starting the following year, he began annually stalking and abducting nannies and the children they watched, trying to make the nannies confess to not caring about the children so that he could project Vasquez onto them. He would then kill them and dump the bodies on the anniversary of his sister's death. The children were released within the first 24 hours of their abduction. On May 9, 2010, he abducted his third set of victims, Tara Rios and a boy named Jake Perez. He also abducted a woman vacationing from Dallas, Texas, named Allison Astor, presumably because she saw Rios' abduction and tried to intervene[1]. Two days later, Rios escaped, possibly because Covey couldn't watch both women at once. Deprived of his intended victim, Covey killed Astor and buried her in a different location.

Nanny Dearest[]

"Shut up. Don't pretend that you care."

After claiming the lives of two more victims in 2011 and 2012, Covey sets his sights on Gina Mendes and the child she is watching, Phoebe Payton, both of whom greatly remind him of Vasquez and Amanda, respectively. As a result, he abducts the both of them ahead of schedule. Prior to the abductions, the BAU (who are already familiar with the case) is called in to investigate as part of local apprehension of another impending murder by the so-called "Nanny Killer", as the media dubbed him. Covey is later seen filling up a bathtub with scalding water and then holding Payton dangerously high over the water, likely acting out a delusion in which he rescues Amanda from drowning in the bathtub. When the BAU deduce that the unsub had seen something special in Mendes and Payton, they hold a live press conference, where they release their profile of Covey before allowing Melody and her husband Shane to speak. The two of them appeal to Covey and Melody begs him to release Mendes and their daughter. Covey, watches on his television but shuts it off midway through, unaffected by their pleas.

Eventually, the BAU learn about Astor and Covey's dog from Rios, who had overcome her trauma after seeing the press conference. Meanwhile, Covey allows Mendes to alleviate Payton of her asthma and calm her down by singing a lullaby before forcefully taking the baby away from her. Later, the BAU learn Covey's identity, and Garcia finds his address. JJ and Morgan race to the house and enter, just as Covey is about to rape Mendes. Covey holds Mendes at gunpoint and Roscoe rushes Morgan, forcing the agent to incapacitate the dog by shutting the door on its head. Morgan is unsuccessful in talking Covey down, and he is forced to close the door when Roscoe withdraws its head. Covey then flees the house and is pursued by JJ; he fires several shots at her while taking cover behind Morgan and JJ's SUV. When he runs out onto the street and tries to take another shot at JJ, she fires first, shooting two rounds, one of which strikes him in the forehead and kills him instantly.

Modus Operandi[]

"Can you take it?"

Covey targeted nannies of various ages and races as surrogates for Vasquez, along with a child they watched, abducting them from parks, putting them in his car, and tying the nannies up by their wrists and ankles with zip-ties. He would abduct them no more than four days before killing the nannies, except for Gina Mendes. His methods of luring the nanny in varied. Sometimes, in the case of Gina Mendes and presumably some of the previous victims, he would use a recording of a baby crying to lure them in and then blitz-attack them, threatening them into compliance with a handgun and/or threats that he will kill the children. At other times (judging from Tara Rios's flashback), he would merely approach them, having Roscoe with him during the abductions to lend further authenticity to his cover, and also further intimidation for the nannies.

Once he brought the victims to his house, he would tie the nannies to his bed with zip-ties, gag them, and torture them by placing lit cigarettes on their bodies (as a reference Vasquez's chain smoking). Covey would also rape them and allow Roscoe to attack them. His signature was killing them on May 13 (the anniversary of his sister's death) after days of torture by drowning them in a bathtub filled with scalding hot water as a reference to Amanda's drowning. He would abduct the victims from different cities located all over California, but then posed all of the bodies on benches and under trees in playgrounds in Los Angeles; his first victim, Rachel Hughes, was abducted and dumped in the same park. The only exception to this was Allison Astor, who was buried in a shallow grave.

During the first 24 hours of the abductions, Covey would always release the children, dropping them off at hospitals or churches. The only exception to this was Phoebe Payton, who reminded him of his sister the most out of all the other child victims due to her suffering from asthma like his sister.


"You'll break. They all do."

The unsub is a Caucasian male who is most certainly a resident of Los Angeles County and operates on a strict yearly schedule, which takes patience and discipline, indicating that he is likely aged in his late 30s or 40s. He abducts his victims from public parks in broad daylight, which suggests that he is socially competent, fits in, and comes off as non-threatening and someone most people would never notice. His schedule is very important to him. He may be suffering from a rare psychological disorder referred to as "paternal desire". Like the contrasting feminine disorder, "maternal desire", it stems from a deep-seated need to fill an emotional void felt by the loss of a child. Such a loss may be related to some kind of long-term stressor in his life, a stressor that would explain why he exhibits so much rage and violence against the nannies that he abducts. He shows little mercy towards his adult victims, but he has been compassionate to the children.

Later in the case, it turns out that it is "fraternal desire" and not paternal desire that is motivating the unsub, since he is trying to replace his deceased younger sister as opposed to his child.

Real-Life Comparisons[]

Covey appears to be partly inspired by Robert Napper - Both were serial killers and rapists with a past criminal history relating to their sisters (Napper peeped in on his sister when she was naked, Covey lost his sister to a fatal negligent drowning), primarily targeted women with caregiver roles (Napper targeted mothers, Covey targeted babysitters and nannies), committed attacks in parks, held children under the women's care against their will as well, put the women through physical and sexual violence with the children present, and each got away with their violent crimes for around five years.

Covey may have been based on Derrick Todd Lee - Both were serial killers, serial rapists, and stalkers who targeted women, used a tape of a crying baby (though this is a myth in Lee's case), and killed via means of suffocation (drowning in Covey's case, while Lee manually strangled his victims).

Known Victims[]

Note: The locations denote where the victims were abducted or attacked

  • California:
    • May 13, 2008, Los Angeles:
      • Rachel Hughes (was abducted from and dumped in the same park)
      • Christopher Wilson (the child Rachel was watching; was released)
    • May 13, 2009, San Diego:
      • Melissa Martinez
      • Sondra Jackson (the child Melissa was watching; was released)
    • May 9, 2010, Los Angeles:
      • Tara Rios (tortured, raped, and intended to kill; she escaped two days later)
      • Allison Astor (presumably incidental; tortured, killed at least two days later, and buried her body in a different area; was properly identified in 2013)
      • Jake Perez (the child Tara was watching; was released)
    • May 13, 2011, Santa Barbara:
      • Diana Brooks
      • Daniel Thomas (the child Diana was watching; was released)
    • May 13, 2012, San Francisco:
      • Gloria Clemente
      • Jennifer Harris (the child Gloria was watching; was released)
    • 2013, Los Angeles:
      • May 8: Both were abducted and eventually rescued the next day:
        • Gina Mendes (tortured, presumably raped, held at gunpoint, and threatened to kill)
        • Phoebe Payton (the child Gina was watching)
      • May 9: The neighborhood shootout:
        • Derek Morgan (attempted; ordered his dog to attack him, but Morgan fought it off)
        • Jennifer Jareau (attempted; shot at repeatedly, but missed; tried to shoot again)


  • Covey appears to have been based on at least five unsubs from the show's past:
    • Season One
      • Mark Gregory ("Charm and Harm") - Both were serial killers, rapists (Covey serial and Gregory statutory), stalkers (once in Gregory's case), and abductors (once in Gregory's case) who had stressors involving women and the death of a female relative (Gregory killed his mother, his wife cheated on him, and he killed women who he believed were adulteresses, while Covey's sister drowned as a result of their nanny's neglect, causing him to hate nannies as a result), targeted women who were presumably surrogates for said stressors, tortured them (though using more various methods, one of which involved burning), and killed them by drowning them in a bathtub, and were later shot and killed by a BAU member with a Glock pistol while attempting to kill at least one final female victim.
    • Season Two
      • Tobias Hankel ("The Big Game" and "Revelations") - Both were serial killers and abductors who experienced traumatizing stressor events as children involving the death of a relative (Hankel was repeatedly tortured by his father and was later forced to kill him, while Covey was abused by his nanny and his sister died as a result of her neglect), targeted victims due to a perceived wrongness of some sort (Hankel targeted victims who he believed were sinners, while Covey killed nannies because he believed all nannies were like his own), used dogs in their crimes in some way (Covey tortured his victims by letting his dog attack them, while Hankel killed one victim by feeding her to his dogs and they attacked two other victims), and were ultimately shot and killed by a BAU member.
    • Season Five
      • Robert Reimann ("Cradle to Grave") - Both were serial killers, serial rapists, and abductors who had stressors involving the death of a young relative (Reimann's son and Covey's sister), targeted women, abducted them in different cities, and kept them in their homes where they would be raped and killed via suffocation.
      • Anita Roycewood ("Mosley Lane") - Both were serial killers and abductors who abducted children from public locations in different cities and kept them in their homes.
    • Season Seven
      • Thomas Yates ("Profiling 101" and "Profiling 202") - Both were serial killers, abductors, and stalkers who had stressors involving both the deaths of female relatives and abuse by another woman (Yates' mother died giving birth to him and he was abused mainly by his grandmother as a result, while Covey was abused by his nanny and his sister died due to her neglect), abducted, tortured, and finally killed women who were surrogates for their abusers, dumped at least one victim in Griffith Park, were given nicknames by the media for their crimes, and were ultimately shot and killed by a BAU member while attempting to kill a final female victim. Yates also appeared in Season Twelve.



  1. However, judging by what he said to Aster ("Can you take it, Allison?"), just like he told his other victims, it could be possible Covey thought that she was a second nanny