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You know, most people think that a person's hair and nails continue to grow after they're dead. That's a myth.

Roderick Gless is a delusional necrophilic "collector"-type serial killer and abductor who appears in the Season Four episode of Criminal Minds, "Cold Comfort".


Gless was born in Olympia, Washington, the son of a wealthy couple, although his parents admitted to mostly neglected him, leaving him to be raised by his nanny, Abigail "Abby" Hansen. In 1992, when Gless was nine years old, Hansen died from myocarditis, a heart defect. Since his parents were on a cruise at the time of her death, Gless would curl up next to her corpse and wrap her arm around himself. This went on for two or three days until his parents returned and discovered the body. In March 2004, Gless dropped out of medical school and liquidated his trust fund of $500,000. As time passed, that money lost some of its value, but Gless still received $50,000 every six months from his father, who was desperately trying to bond with his son. Gless dug up Hansen's skeleton at an unknown point, taking her dress, two diamond earrings, and two pearl earrings. In May 2008, Gless began abducting women who resembled her, holding them captive and forcing them to accept her identity, embalming them afterward and keeping their preserved corpses for months at a time. After murdering his first victim, Lynette Hagan, Roderick sent what was mostly a goodbye letter to his mother, saying that he had found a place and was finally happy.

Cold Comfort

"Tell me a story, Abby."

Nine months after he first started killing, Gless abducted Brooke Lombardini while she was on her way home from work, keeping her locked up, drugged and altering her appearance, all the while referring to her as "Abby". During captivity, she somehow gains access to a disposable phone and calls the police, but the call is interrupted by Gless before she could give them any useful information. At first, Lombardini resists Gless, but over time, she, like the previous women, eventually submits and embraces the role of Abby. After having her read him the storybook The Troll's Daughter, Gless has her drink some drugged tea and leads her to his embalming chamber, calling it "forever" when she asks what the room is. Strapping Lombardini down when she falls unconscious, Gless dons surgical garb, adjusts his equipment and is about to puncture Lombardini's neck with a scalpel when the police and BAU, who have become involved in the investigation after Gless's buried victims are uncovered in a landslide, burst in. Dropping his equipment in shock, Gless is led away, screaming for "Abby", whom he sees Lombardini as, his hallucination of her rising from the table and smiling at him.


The unsub is a white male aged in his mid-to-late-twenties who, as he is a homicide necrophile, would be unable to associate with people and be awkward around them, especially those of the opposite sex. He has money and lives alone in a large residence; that said, there is enough space and ventilation to accommodate an embalming suite. Embalming his victims indicates a possession issue and a fear of abandonment, probably caused by someone close to him, like a girlfriend, wife or mother, leaving or dying when he was young. The unsub burying his victims and not dismembering them indicates that he cared for them, while his alterations of them, coupled with imprisoning and drugging them, meant that he is brainwashing them, projecting his dead loved one onto them by forcing them to assume her identity, completing the fantasy by having them wear something belonging to the deceased.

The unsub probably has a background in mortuary sciences, indicated by the embalming and sixty percent of all necrophiles working in the death business, so the unsub may work at a local cemetery, mortuary, or a morgue. If the unsub frequented the locales his victims worked at, it means that he is probably wealthy, explaining how he could have access to embalming equipment and the space and privacy needed to use it. Like most necrophiles, he may have a record of inappropriate post-mortem conduct, cadaver theft, and graveyard disturbances.

Modus Operandi

Operating every three months, Gless would abduct women similar to Abby Hansen in appearance, blondes in their twenties with blue eyes, who he ambushed at night while they were on their way home from work. After that, he would take them to his home; cut their hair; double-pierce their ears; and put a special dress, a pair of diamond earrings, and a pair of pearl earrings (all of them stolen from Hansen's grave) on them to turn them into her spitting image. He would even brainwash the women by imprisoning and drugging them, in order for them to accept the identity of "Abby". Once the process was completed, he would drug them one last time with barbiturates. He would then take them into his embalming suite, where he would kill them by draining them of their blood and simultaneously embalming them using tubes inserted into their jugular veins. Afterward, he would have sex with their corpses. When the bodies became too decayed, he would dispose them in a state park near Olympia, where he gave them a proper burial, and then abduct someone new to repeat the process.

Real-Life Comparisons

Gless' main source of inspiration was apparently Ed Gein, to whom he is compared by Reid - Both were necrophilic serial killers (possibly in Gein's case) who were born in families with domineering mother figures (Gein's mother, and Gless' nanny), who they felt romantically attracted to and who later died of cardiac-related causes. Both later turned to grave-robbing and later murder as a way to cope with their deaths, and targeted women who resembled them. Their names also seem to slightly mirror each other.

Roderick is also similar to prolific serial killer Ted Bundy - Both were necrophilic serial killers and abductors who targeted women who acted as surrogates for women they lost (Gless' babysitter and Bundy's ex-girlfriend, respectively), killed their victims in Washington (although this was only one of the states Bundy killed in), and engaged in sexual acts with their victims post-mortem.

Known Victims

  • 2008:
    • May: Lynette Hagen
    • August: Erin Bonham
    • November: Melissa St. Claire
  • February 5, 2009: Brooke Lombardini (abducted, drugged, and attempted to kill; was rescued five days later)