Not much is revealed about Taffet's life prior to becoming the Gravedigger, but it was revealed in The Hero in the Hold that she in 1998 was married to a man named William Burton for exactly one month before having the marriage annulled. She used that brief marriage to create a fake identity she used to 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) has performed six abductions. The victims of four of them were released when the ransom was paid, the family of one victim, Terrance Gilroy, didn't pay and the body was never found (though the Gravedigger strangled him almost to death before burying him), and a sixth case, Ryan and Matthew Kent, failed for both her and the boys' family; the Gravedigger had intended to kidnap one of them, but ended up abducting both. When they were inside the container, which held enough oxygen for 24 hours, they used it twice as fast and they died; despite one of them killing himself in order to give the other more time. A Kidnapping and Ransom expert, Thomas Vega, felt that the FBI's policy not to pay ransoms was outdated and dangerous and, in collaboration with a journalist, wrote Uncovering the Gravedigger. The seventh abduction has the team racing to find the victims, Brennan and Hodgins, before time runs out.
Modus OperandiEditTaffet abducted her victims inside parking garages from spots where security cameras couldn't see them, stunning them with a modified taser, and running over any witnesses (such as in the cases of the two brothers buried, and with Brennan and Hodgins being buried. The grave-digger only planned on burying one) and burying them alive inside some kind of container large enough to house 24 hours of oxygen. She then makes a single phone call to a friend or family member of the victim with a ransom demand for some millions of dollars (the amount depends on how much the family of the victim can 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, or beer vats, and used untraceable foreign bank accounts for the ransom money.
Prior to Aliens in a Spaceship, all the surviving victims were the ones whose families or relatives paid the ransom, until Taffet 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. Taffet buried both of them in a car and requested an $8 million ransom. This was unusually higher than the previous requests and most likely different because Hodgins is the sole heir of the Cantilever Group, one of the biggest companies in the United States.
The identity of the gravedigger is revealed to be Heather Taffet on the episode The Hero in the Hold and she is convicted in The Boy with the Answer. It is known that she is the Gravedigger when Brennan surmises that a fracture on one of the Gravediggers' victims was caused by a defensive wound which would have given the attacker a broken rib. When Taffet was handing over some documents to the group, Temperance notices that Taffet could not lift her arm proficiently and after a careful strike in the right area reveals to everyone the Gravedigger's true identity. She is a United States attorney who took over the Gravedigger case after the last attorney assigned to it, Kim Kurland, was killed.
She represents herself in court after being indicted and the evidence that was found in a storage locker is disallowed as illegally obtained. She hints to Bones about not finding the number yet, which ends up being the number she called when she was in jail. The numbers are the coordinates to where one of her victims, a 10-year old boy, is located. Although Taffet had intended for the discovery of the boy to be a taunt to the team, Bones and Booth use the evidence in that 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 the boy's mouth confirming that he had bitten Taffet as she attempted to kill him.
Appeal and DeathEdit
When Taffet appealed her conviction, it was on her way from prison to the Federal Courthouse to participate in her appeal that 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 Taffett had been taunting or rather mocking just a few seconds before her death.
The investigation into her murder formed the basis for the episode The Bullet in the Brain. It was revealed that she was killed by Jacob Broadsky, Booth's former mentor, who had approached James Kent, the father of Ryan and Matthew Kent, the two boys who were Taffet's victims, and offered to kill her for the sum of $2 million; in an ironic twist, this amount was that which Taffet had demanded as ransom for the two boys.
Presumbly, this was an act of revenge on Kent's part as he sought to avenge his two sons.
- 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)
- February 4-5, 2009: Seeley Booth (abducted; was rescued)
- February 5, 2009: Thomas Vega (intentionally killed; subdued with a taser and then tasered in the heart)
Taffet was often viewed as the anti-Brennan in that she was just as brilliant but completely lacking any human emotion. She considered herself above everyone else and it seemed as though taking a life meant nothing at all.