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; one of them from 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 A Kidnapping and Ransom expert, Thomas Vega, felt that the FBI's policy not to pay ransoms was outdated and dangerous and, in collaboration with a journalist, wrote Uncovering the Gravedigger.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.
MethodEditThe Gravedigger kidnaps her victims inside parking garages from spots where security cameras couldn't see them, stunning them with a modified taser 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, but when the Gravedigger abducted Temperance Brennan and Jack Hodgins, Brennan had delved too deep into the case and Hodgins because he ran out to tell her something important and interrupted the kidnapping, and buried both of them in a car (The ransom itself may have been intended for Hodgins due to his position as head of the Cantilever Group). The two were able to extend their air supply by puncturing the car's spare tire and later using Hodgins's knowledge to create a A carbon dioxide scrubber (which is a device which absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2). It is used to treat exhaled air in life support systems such as rebreathers or in spacecraft, submersible craft or airtight chambers.) Hodgins's knowledge of particulates and a jury-rigged cellphone they sent a brief text containing information to their friends that the rest of the squints were able to use to determine the area where the car was buried.
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 Taffett 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 Taffett'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.
- Terrance Gilroy (strangled, the first known fatality, the family didn't pay the ransom) - The Boy with the Answer
- Four unspecified cases of abductions (all paid the ransom and were saved)
- October 31, 2001: The Kent brothers (both died)
- Temperance Brennan and Jack Hodgins - Aliens in a Spaceship (saved)
- Seeley Booth - The Hero in the Hold (saved)
- Thomas Vega - The Hero in the Hold (intentionally killed; subdued with the taser and then tasered in the heart)