Criminal Minds Wiki

They always lie.

Marvin Doyle, a.k.a. "The Vigilante", was a schizophrenic vigilante, and serial-turned-spree killer who appeared in the Season One episode of Criminal Minds, "A Real Rain".


Suffering from schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, Marvin worked as a court stenographer in New York City's courtroom 103. His parents Albert and Gail were shot and killed during a robbery committed by an unknown assailant on August 2, 2004, and their bodies were later found in their bedroom by Marvin. He received $250,000 from his parents' life insurance policies but chose not to cash the check as he couldn't accept how they died. Having been present at the trials of numerous criminals who were acquitted of their crimes for various reasons, Marvin took it upon himself to punish them, since his delusions presumably prompted him to believe that they were all lying. This resulted in the murders of Rachel Holman, who was acquitted of fatal poisoning, and Kaveh Surrani, who was acquitted of vehicular manslaughter.

A Real Rain

Marvin is first seen in his apartment, placing aluminum foil on the window, putting on clothes, and going out. He then murders a cab driver named Walter Derbin, his third victim, who was acquitted of spousal abuse. The BAU, are being called in to assist the investigation, initially theorizes that the unsub is an omnivore, since all of the victims appeared to be randomly targeted. However, they later realize that the murders are premeditated and begin to investigate any link between the victims. Reid suggests that they are looking for a "serial killer groupie", or a copycat recreating the crimes of different serial killers, as Marvin's M.O. bears the hallmarks of several. After Marvin murders his fourth victim, Father Patrick Breeman (who was acquitted of child molestation), the team realizes the unsub is not an omnivore or a copycat, but a vigilante. This is soon proven when an accused cop killer is the next to die.

It is later discovered how Marvin is connected to all of his victims: his job. The team tracks down the court records of all of the cases involving the victims and found him to be the only thing in common about them.

Marvin in Ted's apartment with his Beretta 92FS.

Marvin is then tracked down when he tries to murder Ted Elmore, who was acquitted of murdering his parents. Ted is saved by Hotch and Gideon, the latter of which managing to talk Marvin into surrendering, but as Marvin moves to put down his weapon he is shot by Hotch, who thought that Marvin was attempting to shoot Gideon as he was moving his gun towards him without putting it down. After Marvin's death, the general public opinion of him throughout New York proved to be divided. Some are grateful for his work, stating things like "He only did what the rest of us wish we could do" and "This is why we need gun control", while others believe that he got what he deserved. A woman being interviewed even went so far as to claim the investigators deliberately shot Marvin because they felt that he would be acquitted.


"If he dies, they'll go away!"

The unsub is a white male vigilante aged in his 40s to 50s, whose murders bear the hallmark characteristics of both organized and unorganized killers. He first shoots his victims in order to subdue them. The flint knife provides both an efficient kill and a symbolic retribution. Finally, the victim is blindfolded like the statue of Lady Justice. He possesses a heightened and poetic sense of right and wrong. Serial vigilantes are extremely rare. The exaggerated drama of the killings suggests that they are somehow personal. He, or someone close to him, is likely a victim of a violent crime. His first killing was possibly against the original attacker, and since then, he has developed an overblown sense of justice in order to justify the killing to himself. Because he chooses the imagery of Lady Justice, it is possible that he works in or around the criminal justice system, such as a lawyer, paralegal, bailiff, or even a judge. Whatever his job is, he is someone who is a cog in the judicial machine. He is overworked, undervalued, and used to not being noticed. His sense of theatrics is a way to enhance his own self-esteem, convincing himself that he has a higher purpose, and he also knows that people look right through him. Being faceless is his best defense against detection.

Later in the investigation, it is realized that the unsub is a court stenographer, as they would know all about the court cases they are involved in. If the unsub feels responsible for causing the death of the officer Will Sykes, he might feel remorse and go to the officer's funeral, mourning for what he caused. He will be alone, out of place, will not speak to anyone, and probably will not be making eye contact while present there, maybe even panicking and drawing attention to himself. Unsubs often harm their victims in ways that they have been harmed, which is most likely the reason the unsub stabs the ears of his victims, since court stenographers are, by definition, a faceless cog in the machine: he sits in a courtroom day in and day out, transcribing testimony. It is likely that he cannot stop hearing the voices from the courtroom and killing is the only way he can get rid of them. A woman from the church where Father Breeman was killed said that the unsub's fingers were moving as if he was playing a piano (later realized to be a transcribing-like motion). His latest victim had been a priest suspected of pedophilia and a suspected cop killer, which means his murders are escalating, and the next victim he targets will be involved in a capital case. He will go after someone who took the stand, as it is personal and causes him to hear their voices and testified themselves as victims of something.

Based on his M.O. and his motivations, Doyle can be considered as a mixed visionary-type serial killer.

Modus Operandi

Tell her how you lied. Tell her how you killed your parents and pretended they'd been hurting you."

As mentioned above, Marvin always shot his victims, using a Beretta 92FS pistol, to quickly subdue them, then fatally pushed a flint knife through their ears into their heads and broke off the handle once the blade reached into their brains. For reasons never specified, whenever he stabbed the victims' ears, he would alternate between the left and right ears with each victim: the first victim's left ear was stabbed, the second victim's right ear was stabbed, the third victim's left ear was stabbed, and so on. After killing them, he then blindfolded them to make them look like Lady Justice. He would always kill his victims at night, either in or outside their homes or while they were working at their jobs (except for Ted Elmore, who he tried to kill at the daytime hours due to his devolving psyche). As he continued killing, he began targeting people who were acquitted of crimes that were more high-profile than those of his first victims.

Convinced that they had lied during the trials, he targeted people who had been acquitted of various charges. Each of his victims had been found innocent by their juries: Cooley, Holman, and Surrani had been acquitted of either murder or manslaughter; Breeman had been acquitted of child molestation; Derbin had been acquitted of spousal abuse; and would-be victim Elmore had been acquitted of shooting and killing both of his parents. Additionally, all of his victims claimed to have been victims of something themselves (Holman and Surrani claimed to have been under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, Father Breeman claimed to have been a "victim of modern hysteria", and Elmore claimed to have killed his parents in self-defense because they abused him).

Real-Life Comparison

Marvin may have been somewhat based on Bernhard Goetz (who was mentioned in the episode) - Both were vigilantes who shot their victims, attacked at least one victim who was using a public transit (Doyle killed Walter Derbin while he was driving a Taxi, while Goetz shot his victims in a subway car), were given nicknames with "Vigilante" in them, and were both praised and criticized by the media after they were apprehended.

Known Victims

  • 2006:
    • February 26: Rachel Holman (acquitted of fatal poisoning and claimed to have been a victim of drug addiction)
    • March 12: Kaveh Surrani (acquitted of vehicular manslaughter and claimed to have been a victim of alcoholism)
    • March 18: Walter Derbin (acquitted of spousal abuse and made an unspecified claim)
    • March 19: Father Patrick Breeman (acquitted of child molestation and claimed to have been a victim of modern hysteria)
    • March 20: Shaun Cooley (acquitted of killing two police officers and made an unspecified claim)
    • March 22: Ted Elmore (attempted, but survived; non-fatally shot him in the stomach, then tried to stab his ear; acquitted of murdering his parents and claimed to have been abused by them as a child)
  • Note: While the BAU were searching Marvin's apartment, they noticed he had boxes filled with at least 100 flint knives, implying that he was planning on killing numerous additional victims, which he would likely track down using his files.


  • Marvin is the first vigilante to appear on the show.