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Heather Taffet, a United States Attorney and Prosecutor aka The Gravedigger was a serial killer who buried people alive and held them for ransom.

Background[]

Nothing is revealed about Taffet's life prior to becoming the Gravedigger, but it was revealed in The Hero in the Hold that in 1998, she was married to a man named William Burton for exactly one month before having the marriage annulled. She used that brief marriage to create an untraceable fake identity so she could rent a storage facility where she stored her kidnapping equipment.

In her first appearance in Aliens in a Spaceship, the Gravedigger (who at the time was believed to be a man) had performed six abductions. Four victims were released when the ransom was paid, but the family of one victim, Terrance Gilroy, didn't pay and the body was never found (although the Gravedigger was later found to have strangled him unconscious before burying him). A sixth case, Ryan and Matthew Kent, failed for both her and the brothers' family; the Gravedigger had intended to kidnap one of them, but ended up abducting both. Despite one of them killing himself in order to give the other more time, the container that held them only had enough air for 12 hours. They used it twice as fast and died. The Gravedigger miscalculated how much air they would survive and lied to Mr. Kent and the FBI that he would have 24 hours to pay the ransom. It was never the Gravedigger’s intention that Matthew and Ryan survive because she doesn’t care. A Kidnapping and Ransom expert, Thomas Vega, felt the FBI's policy not to pay ransoms was antiquated and dangerous and, in collaboration with a journalist, wrote Uncovering the Gravedigger. The seventh abduction had the team racing to find the victims, Brennan and Hodgins, before time ran out.

Throughout series[]

Season Two:  Aliens in a Spaceship[]

BonesHodginsgravedigger

Dr. Brennan and Jack Hodgins trapped in a buried car by The Gravedigger.

All the surviving victims were the ones whose families or relatives paid the ransom, until The Gravedigger abducted Temperance Brennan and Jack Hodgins. Brennan had delved too deep into the case and Hodgins was also abducted because he ran out to tell her something important and interrupted the kidnapping. The Gravedigger buried both of them in a car and requested an $8 million ransom. This was significantly higher than previous demands because Hodgins was the sole heir of the Cantilever Group, the third largest privately owned company in the United States. The Group would not pay the ransom without proof of life, but thanks to Brennan and Hodgins managing to use the car battery to temporarily 'jump-start' Brennan's phone and send a coded text to Seeley Booth, they were able to provide the team with a vital clue to work out where they were being held before air ran out.

Season Four: The Hero in the Hold[]

The identity of the Grave Digger was revealed to be Heather Taffet. She was a United States Attorney who took over the Gravedigger case after the last attorney assigned to it, Kim Kurland, was killed in a car crash. It was surmised that Taffet killed Kurland by somehow sabotaging her car; Taffet did this to gain complete access to the Gravedigger case, to steer the case away from her, and eliminate people who she saw as threats. She killed Thomas Vega when he began to dig further into the case and abducted Booth to force Brennan and Hodgins to return a key piece of evidence so that she could destroy it. As a result of their actions and inability to inform law enforcement (owing to the risk to Booth), they were barred from any case related to the Gravedigger.

Taffet was identified as the Gravedigger when Brennan surmised that a fracture on Thomas Vega was caused by a defensive attack which would have given the attacker broken ribs. When Taffet was providing the group with an injunction to reclaim jurisdiction in Vega's murder case, Temperance noticed that Taffet could not lift her arm proficiently. A careful strike by Brennan in the right area of Taffet's torso revealed Taffet to be the Gravedigger. She remained silent to the team's attempts to interrogate her for information on Booth's location, until Jared Booth used his military contacts to go through Taffet's background; this technically illegal search allowed them to find the equipment she used as the Gravedigger and led them to the abandoned ship where she had left Booth, said boat being scuttled to create a new reef by the aquarium where Taffet had been volunteering.

Season Five: The Boy with the Answer[]

She represented herself in court after being indicted; use of the evidence that was found in her storage locker was disallowed, since it was regarded as illegally obtained from an invalid warrant. She dropped a hint to Brennan about not finding "the number" yet (meaning a phone number), which ended up being the number she called when she was in jail. The number initially led to a pizza place, until Angela figured out that they were the coordinates to where one of her victims, 10 year old Terrance Gilroy, was buried. Although Taffet had intended for the discovery of the boy to be a taunt to the team, knowing Booth, Hodgins, and Brennan wouldn't be able to act as expert witnesses unless they dropped their cases, the Jeffersonian team uses the evidence in her first murder to convict her, forensic examination of the body confirming that he was killed by someone with Taffet's physical characteristics, and a DNA sample acquired from a dust mite wedged between the boy's teeth confirming that he had bitten Taffet as she attempted to stuff him into the freezer used to trap him. Despite her efforts to slander the team and mark any evidence they submitted as potentially fabricated or unreliable, the jury convicted her in the abduction and murder of Terrance Gilroy.

Season Six: The Bullet in the Brain[]

When Taffet appealed her conviction, she was on her way from prison to the Federal Courthouse to participate in her appeal when she was killed by a single rifle shot to the head. The power of the .338 Lapua Magnum completely destroyed her head and skull, spraying blood and brain matter all over the place, some of which landed on Lance Sweets who Taffet had been taunting and mocking just a few seconds before her death. The subsequent investigation revealed that she was killed by Jacob Broadsky, Booth's former mentor, who had approached James Kent, the father of Taffet's old victims Ryan and Matthew Kent, and offered to kill her for the sum of $2 million. (This was the amount which Taffet had demanded as ransom for the two boys; presumably, this was an act of revenge on Kent's part as he sought to avenge the death of his two sons). Despite having to investigate her death, everyone was relieved that the Gravedigger was dead, particularly Hodgins, who said he might get the killer a gift basket or possibly drive him to Mexico.

Modus Operandi[]

Taffet abducted her victims inside parking garages from spots where security cameras couldn't see them, stunning them with a modified stun gun, and running over any witnesses with her car (such as in the cases of the Kent brothers buried, and with Brennan and Hodgins being buried where the Gravedigger only planned on burying one) and burying them alive inside some kind of container large enough to house 24 hours of oxygen purchased at cash auctions or found in landfills. She then made a single phone call or voicemail message to a friend or family member of the victim with a ransom demand for some millions of dollars (the amount depended on how much the family of the victim could afford) using a digitally altered voice. As forensic counter-measures, she used containers which couldn't be traced back to her (such as the victims' own cars, coffins, rusty refrigerators, or beer vats), using an aluminum case in the back of her van to contain her victims and any possible DNA evidence, and used untraceable foreign bank accounts for collecting the ransom money.

Known Victims[]

  • September 1999: Terrance Gilroy (strangled; his family didn't pay the ransom)
  • Unspecified dates from 2000 to 2005: Four unnamed victims (all were abducted and rescued when their families paid the ransom)
  • October 31, 2001: The Kent brothers (both abducted and died)
  • November 14-15, 2006: Temperance Brennan and Jack Hodgins (abducted; were rescued)
  • Sometime in 2008: Kim Kurland (sabotaged car)
  • February 4-5, 2009: Seeley Booth (abducted; was rescued)
  • February 4-5, 2009: Thomas Vega (heart stopped from stun gun to chest)

Notes[]

Because of her intellectual acumen, cold nature and complete lack of morals, Heather Taffet could be considered the Anti-Brennan. While Temperance Brennan isn't overly emotional, she displays affection to those closest to her, albeit with slight awkwardness. While Brennan doesn't always understand conventions or certain rules she does adhere to them. While Brennan dedicates her exceptional level of intelligence to finding and catching killers, Taffet chooses to use her intelligence and knowledge of the criminal justice system to keep herself hidden, take advantage of people that she considered beneath her, and even sending non-negotiable ultimatums to her enemies in an attempt to keep herself from getting arrested and/or sent to death row for her crimes.

  • The Fox Network website initially displayed a summary for the episode which included an original ending where the Gravedigger was identified as Janine O'Connell, the female reporter that coauthored a book about Gravedigger and scenes to this effect were filmed. The summary was later revised to reflect the episode as broadcast in which the Gravedigger is unidentified and the scene replaced by character reunion moments.
  • The M.O. and mistakes of the Gravedigger appear to be derived from the kidnapping and murder of Ursula Herrmann, a German girl imprisoned in a box for ransom and dying from suffocation and malnutrition within hours. The M.O. also appears to relate to Barbara Mackle, who was forced out of her home after her family was bound in their house, with two kidnappers keeping her in a box and demanding two ransom drops for her return.
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