I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Spectre (Tim)
We open on a small town street. A police officer walks back to his car and talks to his partner. In the street, an ambulance is parked. Two EMT’s bring back a stretcher with a body covered on it. The sheet has a large bloody mark. The officer tells his partner he has never seen anything like it, as the dead person was torn apart. In the process of trying to get the stretcher into the ambulance, the EMT’s jostle the body, which causes loose entrails to fall to the ground to the disgust of the crowd. They eventually get the body inside and drive off. The crowd disperses, except for one boy on a bicycle, our protagonist, John Wayne Cleaver (Max Records). As the cops drive forward, John gets out of the road. The cops stop and ask John what his prognosis is. “Well he’s dead for sure,” John replies.
John bikes through his small town before arriving at his home, which also doubles as the town’s funeral home. John scrubs up as he works alongside his mother, April (Laura Fraser) and her sister, Margaret (Christina Baldwin). They mention the man found dead in town, and John jokes that at least they will be making some money. They tell him not to joke about that and John and Margaret begin to prepare a body, an elderly woman.
“It stinks really bad,” John says.
“She,” his aunt corrects him. John corrects himself. They work on the body while Aunt Margaret asks about school. John doesn’t tell her much, and jokes about that all the people he has known since kindergarten have left town and been replaced with new people that all want to be his friend. They pump a preserving fluid into the body while another tube pumps blood out onto the floor where it finds a drain hole. John watches the blood transfixed.
In his room, John asks himself who he is. He states his name. He apparently is attempting to practice being social.
John goes to the crime scene where the man was killed, looking for clues. He finds a strange puddle of a black substance and touches it, trying to figure out what it is.
John goes to school. As he puts things into his locker he is told that Principal Layton (James Gaulke) wants to see him. April arrives and it turns out that the reason they are having the meeting is because John did a paper on Dennis Rader, the BTK killer. Layton tells John that it is normal to be curious about the world, to be curious about death, but sometimes you can go too far. April asks her son what he thinks about what the principal just said. “I’m interested in how many times you felt it was necessary to say the word normal,” John replies.
Cut to the cafeteria, where John sits with his only friend, Max (Raymond Brandstrom). Max was given a D minus on a paper he wrote about Albert Einstein. Max believes Einstein was only famous for the E=Mc2 equation and the atomic bomb and there wasn’t much to say about him, that he barely had enough to justify the length. John counters that the low grade was due to lack of length, bad spelling and editing, and lack of overall content. A group of bullies come up to John and lead one, Rob Anders (Vincent Russo), smells him, saying he smells something dead. Under the table, John scratches his fork, wanting to use it on someone. Instead he just smiles at Rob, who proceeds to throw mash potatoes on his face and call him a freak, leaving with his friends.
As he wipes the food off his face, Max asks him about his paper, to which John replies he wrote about the BTK killer. Max remembers the year before he wrote about Jeffery Dahmer and the photos John had with his report gave him nightmares. “Nightmares are nothing man, those pictures gave me a therapist,” John says.
After school, John waits on a street and a car pulls up. He gets into it and travels to a nearby lake with his therapist, Dr. Neblin (Karl Geary). John tells Neblin he broke one of his rules and asks about the McDonald triad; three traits of psychopathic behavior, which comprise of bedwetting, pyromania and animal cruelty which Neblin notes John has all three (John has been clinically diagnosed as a sociopath). John notes that he knows Animal cruelty is a predictor of violent behavior but until he read about it, he didn’t think it was wrong. John reveals that one of his rules for controlling himself is that when he thinks about hurting or killing a person, he will smile and give them a compliment. Neblin tells John that while it is true that John possesses many of the predicting traits of serial killer behavior, they are only predictions; they are not set in stone reality. John is controlling himself, and is in control of his own destiny. Neblin tells John he is a good person (mainly due to the fact that John chooses to not act on his impulses).
Later, John is at his neighbor’s house, making a fire in a fire pit. His neighbor, Mr. Crowley (Christopher Lloyd), asks for help with his smart phone so he can send a picture to his wife. As John tends to the fire, he sees a pretty girl, Brooke (Lucile Lawton), dancing to music in her room.
Later that night, John stands outside Brooke’s house while they eat dinner.
John heads home and sees his older sister Lauren (Anna Sundberg) and they briefly talk before she heads out for the night. John sees that they have been given the body of Jeb Jolley, the man found dead in the alleyway. April comes up to John and tells him that Dr. Neblin said he confessed that he has thought about killing people. John scoffs and tells his mother that was a gross misinterpretation of what he actually said; he said he follows a set of rules so he doesn’t hurt anyone. John says he thought his mother would be happy that he stays out of serious trouble. April says happy for her would not having a son who has to follow rules to not kill people, and not have a doctor diagnose her child as a sociopath. “He actually said that?” John asks. “That’s kind of cool.”
John, April, and Margaret work together to prepare the body, which is difficult, as it is literally in pieces. Margaret examines the organs and realizes that a kidney is missing, thinking the coroner had forgotten it. John says the person who killed Jeb could have taken it, a notion his mother dismisses. However, Margaret looks at the paperwork again, confirming there was only one kidney recovered, and that there is no record of it being removed in surgery.
The next morning, John and April watch the news, where another killing has taken place. Black sludge has been found at the scene, which only peaks John’s curiosity.
During lunch and after school, traveling to the second crime scene, John and Max profile the killer. They note the savage nature of the killing, which was more than necessary, and that killings happened at night. As they stop at the crime scene, John relates that Ted Bundy once said that after you killed someone, if you had enough time after, they could become whatever you wanted them to be. Max sighs and says John is weird.
It is Halloween night. Max and John are out trick or treating. Max’s father is with them carrying a baseball bat, obviously in fear of his son’s safety. He tells them to keep moving. John notices a hooded figure, illuminated by a street lamp in an alleyway that immediately disappears. Max and John go up to a house for candy, which happens to be the house of Mr. Crowley and his wife Kay (Dee Noah) who both tell the boys to be careful.
Later that night, Max and John attend a dance. Brooke comes up to John and asks if he is Pennywise from the Stephen King book IT. John says no and proceeds to try and have a conversation with her only to be rudely interrupted by Rob. Rob calls him a freak again. John smiles and compliments him on his costume. Rob says the party is for normal people and John should go back home to his “undertaking slut” of a mother. John just smiles and Rob asks what he is smiling about. So John tells him:
“I’ve been clinically diagnosed with sociopathy Rob. To me you are an object. You know, you’re a thing. You are about as important to me as a cardboard box and the thing about cardboard boxes is that they are totally boring on the outside right? But, sometimes when you cut them open, they’ll be something interesting inside. And so when you are saying all these boring things to me, I’m thinking about what it would be like to cut you open. But I don’t wanna be that person. And so I have a rule that anytime somebody says something to me where I think about, you know, cutting them, I just smile and say something nice. So that’s why I say to you, Rob Anders, of 232 Carnation Street, you are a REALLY GREAT GUY.”
Rob shoves John and calls him a freak and leaves the dance, obviously terrified. Brooke looks at John, having seen the whole thing and tells him he isn’t a freak.
Back at the funeral home, John sees his mother talking to some people. He goes down to the lab and looks at the new body and sees the claw like wound. He looks at all the organs, trying to see if something is missing. April and Margaret come in, shocked, and ask what he is doing. John tries to explain himself, but April tells him to get out, obviously disturbed he is treating a deceased person with such little dignity. As he leaves, April screams at him that the lab door will be locked from now on.
Dr. Neblin speaks to John, saying he found about him threatening Rob and how it gave him nightmares. John says Rob is a bully. Neblin then asks about the incident in the lab. John says these killings should not be happening in his town; it always seems to be somewhere else that has them. Neblin asks what happened before Rob showed up. John says he was talking to a girl, and Neblin asks if she was cute. Neblin points out a rare duck via binoculars. John sees it, and then sees the mysterious figure he has seen around town.
John begins to stalk the drifter around town. At one point he sees the man talk to Mr. Crowley who offers him a ride to go ice fishing. John follows the two to the lake and watches them from the tree line. The man cut a hole in the lake with a chainsaw. As he sets it down, Mr. Crowley doubles over with a loud cough. The man grabs a knife, intending to kill Mr. Crowley. Mr. Crowley turns around and his arm morphs into a large mass, which drives through the man’s chest killing him. “You tried to kill me. I brought you a hat,” Mr. Crowley says, picking up the man’s knife. John in the distance watches terrified and transfixed. He has no idea what he has just seen. He looks down at his pants and realizes he pissed himself in fright. He watches as Mr. Crowley pulls out several organs from the man, including lungs. He then apparently absorbs the lungs into his own body, being able to breathe again.
John lays on the morgue table, catatonic. Margaret comes in and says they won’t tell April about his latest wetting incident. Between her blow up with John and Lauren not coming to Thanksgiving, his mother is dealing with a lot. Margaret tells him to pull himself together and help his mother for a few hours. “Make her realize she still has one loving child left,” Margaret says. “Or at least pretend.” (Knowing that given his condition, he can’t show emotion like everyone else).
John watches his mother prepare the turkey and thinks of Mr. Crowley pulling out organs. April tells John to go over to the Watson’s (Brooke’s family) to borrow some vanilla. John goes over and Brooke smiles at him, obviously charmed by him. Back at his house, John learns that a man missing for over 40 years, presumed dead, is linked to the recent murders due to similar black sludge found at the scene.
The next day, John knocks on the Crowley’s door and tells Kay he’d like to shovel their driveway for them. As he shovels, Mr. Crowley comes out with coffee. “Oh, it’s a beautiful day John. Makes you glad to be alive,” Mr. Crowley says ominously. Afterwards, Kay makes John hot chocolate.
John is in his room, writing down the names of the victims and the body parts that were taken. He wonders what will be taken next. He hears a car start and realizes it is Mr. Crowley. John follows Mr. Crowley and Kay to a Rec Hall/Diner where there is dancing for couples. After a while, Mr. Crowley has to stop due to pain. John sees on the TV that the man missing for decades has been conclusively linked to the recent murders. A man, Greg Olson (Tim Russell), a friend of the Crowley’s, talks to him briefly and asks permission to continue dancing with Kay since he still has some energy. Mr. Crowley watches the two dance with ease.
John follows the Crowley’s to a Chinese buffet. As he watches him, his mother calls out. John realizes his mother is having dinner with his doctor. She drives John and Dr. Neblin, believing incorrectly that John was following her. John asks if she can even date his doctor, saying that is probably an ethics violation. April says that she and Dr. Neblin go out sometimes to talk about his progress, nothing more. Dr. Neblin says John is doing well, believing he followed his mother because he was worried about her because of the killer in town. John asks if Neblin really believes that is why he supposedly followed her. “You may be lacking in empathy John, but you should recognize a lifeline when it’s thrown at you,” Neblin says trying to diffuse April’s anger on John’s behalf.
At the library, John is working on something, listening to loud music. Brooke sees him and walks over to him, having to scream to get his attention. John says hi. Brooke asks if he is working on a project and sees that he has various books on serial killers, witchcraft, and the occult. Brooke asks if he needs some help. John says no. Brooke says okay, and leaves, John not obviously realizing she was trying relay her interest in him.
John continues to follow Mr. Crowley and tracks him to the local barbershop. The barber is Greg, the man Mr. Crowley allowed to dance with Kay the night before. When Greg has to get some new scissors, Mr. Crowley quickly sets the blinds down, turns off the open sign and locks the door. He then proceeds to go into the other room and kill Greg. John hears the horrific noises and quickly sets off an alarm. A nearby police car hears it and drives over. Mr. Crowley has no choice but to let them in. One of the officers finds something in the back, so Mr. Crowley shoves his morphed monster hand down the man’s throat, killing him. As the man drops to the ground dead, Mr. Crowley goes back and kills the other officer. John hears the man’s horrible screams and realizes he indirectly caused the deaths of two people. He sees Mr. Crowley come back into the main room and hop around, his hips now much better (as he ripped the bones from Greg and absorbed them into his body). He gets a call from Kay and says he will pick up what she needs from the grocery store and tells Kay he loves her.
John watches as Mr. Crowley drags the body of Greg into the trunk of his car and drive off. John goes inside the barbershop and sees a pile of black sludge. He finds the two officers dead.
John sees a news report where a mob has gathered at Greg’s house, since the cops were found at his shop and thus the town believes him to be the killer. John watches stoically, knowing the truth, though unable to explain what Mr. Crowley is and why he is doing it. He goes over to their porch and watches them dances inside their living room.
The next day, John follows Mr. Crowley to a gym and watches him on an exercise bike.
That night, John leaves a note on Mr. Crowley’s car. The next morning, he watches Mr. Crowley wipe off snow off his car and find the note. The note reads “I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE.” Mr. Crowley walks away, obviously frightened. John smiles.
A few days later, a neighborhood meeting is held, so the locals can band together in light of the killings. Kay talks to April about her husband, saying he hasn’t been feeling well and seems depressed. Kay notes that he hasn’t left the house in the week. John asks if that is true, and Kay confirms it, saying it is like her husband is afraid. Kay asks John to go see him. Brooke comes up to John and offers him a drink, but he is too focused on Mr. Crowley to notice. She makes a joke about offering him rat poison, which snaps him out of his trance and accept a drink, thanking her.
John goes to see Mr. Crowley. Mr. Crowley recites some poems by William Blake, unnerving John.
We see a montage of John playing the piano, watching Mr. Crowley, looking at his journal and walking around town. In his journal he made a flip book design of Mr. Crowley killing a man with his monster arm.
John is on his bed, practicing a conversation with Mr. Crowley.
John meets with Dr. Neblin. John notes that everyone at school is scared but he isn’t. John says fear is a funny thing, as people fear things but never their own action. He uses a woman outside as an example, about to cross the street. The woman may be afraid of being hit by a car, but isn’t afraid to cross the street. We see the woman cross the street only to get hit by a car halfway. But that turns out to be just in John’s mind as the woman crosses safely.
At the Crowley’s, John must help Kay get Mr. Crowley up the stairs. Despite his “upgrades” his health is getting worse and it is getting harder for him to move. Kay says he refuses to see a doctor. John has to help Mr. Crowley stand up so he can use the bathroom and get into the bathtub. Mr. Crowley thanks John for all the help he has given them and how he worries for his wife Kay and how he can’t leave her alone.
It is now Christmas. April is surprised to find out that her daughter Lauren will be at dinner. Margaret says she talked some sense into Lauren; that and she apparently just got dumped. As John goes down to get the extra chair, Lauren arrives and tells John she might need him as backup. At dinner, Lauren is sullen and uncommunicative to her mother. John leaves the table and goes to his room and watches as Kay and Mr. Crowley leave the house. Mr. Crowley sits on the porch with a blanket. John hears Mr. Crowley cry out in great pain.
Exchanging gifts, John gives his mother, sister, and aunt bottles of soap. John is given a Panda ski mask. Lauren and John are given gifts from their estranged father. John supposedly is given an MP3 player loaded with songs they used to love, but when he opens the package he finds the MP3 still in its box untouched, meaning his father lied about loading it with music. Lauren says her father gave her a DVD of a kid’s show they apparently watched together though she has no recollection of it. April apologizes to her kids for her ex-husband’s shoddy treatment of them, but John is openly angry with his dad and leaves the house.
John walks around and puts on his panda ski mask. Later that night, he calls Mr. Crowley from a pay phone, telling him he sent the note. Mr. Crowley hangs up. John dials again and when Mr. Crowley picks up, he tells John (though not knowing it’s him) to leave him alone and if he knows so much about him, then he knows what he will do when he finds him. He calls again, so John asks about his MO, why he hides certain bodies and doesn’t for others, and asks if it hurts when he takes the parts. Mr. Crowley says it hurts every time. John asks what he took from Emmett, the man missing from decades. Mr. Crowley says he took his life; a life that would have probably been long, that would have had marriage and children in it. Mr. Crowley says he has killed more people than John could ever imagine. John hears a noise and asks about it. John then realizes Mr. Crowley is in his car, looking for the caller. He hangs up and runs off but Mr. Crowley pursues him down an alleyway.
John gets away and goes to Max’s house. John looks outside, only to see Mr. Crowley has tracked him there. Max asks why John is at his house seeing as he hasn’t seen him in two weeks. John tells a half truth; he’s there because he is losing it, breaking all his rules. Max asks what he means. John explains that he has rules to keep him out of trouble and everyone safe from his potential sociopathic wrath. One of his rules involves hanging out with Max because they do normal things together. Max says that the reason why they have been friends for 3 years is because it helps John feel normal? John nods yes. Max kicks John out of his house, insulted that John uses him only as a tool to feel normal.
As John walks away, he sees Mr. Crowley’s car idling. Not far from that he sees a big rig idling. In front of it, Mr. Crowley is attacking and killing Max’s father. John tries to pull Max’s dad away from Mr. Crowley, but Mr. Crowley (who does not recognize John given he is wearing his mask) growls at him menacingly, implying to him a horrible death as well if he interferes. John, knowing he can do nothing, walks away, as Mr. Crowley continues to dismember Max’s dad.
The next night, there is a memorial for Max’s dad. John sees Max and two trade nods. John sees Kay and Mr. Crowley come up to comfort Max, and John almost rushes Mr. Crowley when his mother stops him.
April talks to her son, saying they need to talk, to discuss what he is feeling. John loses it. “What don’t you get? I don’t feel anything. Okay, I don’t give a shit that Max’s dad is dead. I don’t give a shit that YOU COULD BE NEXT!” April says she is so sorry, trying to comfort her son, but John, at a breaking point, tells her to shut up and pulls a butcher knife on her. After a few tense seconds, John realizes what he is doing and drops the knife.
The next morning, April speaks to John through the door, talking about the night before. She notes that they are still a family but he has gotten worse in the past couple weeks.
John goes to speak to Dr. Neblin about the situation with his mother. John asks what would make a person stay in a bad situation. Neblin notes the question is what the cost of leaving is and what emotional bonds would be broken. John realizes that Mr. Crowley’s actions have to do primarily for the love of his wife Kay.
John is at a pawn shop, looking at a GPS tracker system which has a range of 2-3 miles. He pawns his dad’s MP3 player gift to help pay for it. John goes to the Crowley residences and plants the tracker in the car under the guise of helping Kay with the groceries. He learns that Mr. Crowley’s heart has started to go bad. He watches Kay leave and test the tracker. John stays up all night, waiting to see if the car will move. He falls asleep but at 5 a.m. he hears the car start up. He sneaks out of the house and into the Crowley residence wearing his mask. He takes a picture of Kay with her phone, obstinately to send to Mr. Crowley. He takes a pillow sheet off a pillow and tries to use it to cover Kay’s face. However, she wakes up and struggles with him. John tells her to calm down but she doesn’t so he grabs the clock and hits her in the head with it once. Kay goes still and a blood pools on the pillow sheet. John is stunned by his first true act of violence, thinking he killed her. He goes to his phone and calls Dr. Neblin.
John tells him it is too late, that he finally did what he feared and there is no going back. Dr. Neblin tells John he is a good person and says they can make it right. Neblin asks where John is but John hangs up and thanks him. John checks on Kay and finds out she is still alive. John takes several photos and sends them to Mr. Crowley with the caption, “My turn.” John looks at the tracker and tells Mr. Crowley to look at his phone for he isn’t going to kill anyone. Mr. Crowley sees the photos and turns around back to his house.
John grabs up his phone and other items and gets downstairs just as Mr. Crowley arrives. Ducking into a closet, he sees Mr. Crowley race up the stairs, half transformed to kill the person that harmed his wife. John gets out of the house and removes the tracker from the car, only to notice something in the backseat. He opens the door to find Dr. Neblin dead. John says Crowley can’t have his heart and drags the body to the woods. As he walks home, he sees Mr. Crowley go to his car and find the body gone. He shuts the door in anger and looks at John suspiciously. John walks away but Mr. Crowley continues to watch him.
Later the next day, the funeral home holds the service for Max’s dad. Among the attendees is Brooke, who gives John a big hug. As the service starts, Mr. Crowley enters and sits down with John. Mr. Crowley tells him he knows John attacked Kay. John responds Mr. Crowley killed his therapist. Mr. Crowley sighs and says that explains why the man was out at their houses so late at night. Crowley says he had no choice and asks where the body is. John asks how long he has left. Mr. Crowley grips John arms menacingly and says long enough to find another, inferring he will kill John for his heart. John defiantly says not in the funeral home in front of so many witnesses. Mr. Crowley says John has no idea what he has done or what he will do. As the service concludes, Mr. Crowley is left alone, coughing up blood and in poor shape. When the room is empty, John seemingly traps him in the room with a chair barricading the door.
As he goes to lock up, thinking the building is empty he learns from his sister that his mom is upstairs. Scared, he quickly reenters the building and checks the upstairs apartment, finding a broken coffee cup. He goes down to the morgue lab and finds his mother on the table, with Mr. Crowley sitting nearby, his arm right at April’s face, with the implication he will transform to kill her at any moment. Mr. Crowley asks where John has hidden “it” (Dr. Neblin).
“It’s him, not it,” John replies, finally understanding if only a bit, the value of a life.
Mr. Crowley says he needs the heart or any heart. He points at April in a threatening manner. John asks about Kay, and if Crowley loves her. “Why do you think I’ve stayed human all these years?” Mr. Crowley asks. Crowley asks if John loves his mother, and furthermore asks John if he thinks he wouldn’t kill April after all the things he’s done. April meanwhile is slowly regaining consciousness. Crowley asks again about Dr. Neblin and John lies and says his body is in the freezer. As he walks towards it, John knocks Crowley out with a metal bar. April looks down and sees Crowley’s monster hand and asks what is going on. John grabs straps and explains Crowley has been killing everyone and labels Crowley an “it” as he is not human, only appears so. April wants to call the police, but John tells her he tried and Crowley killed two cops. John begs for her help.
They strap Crowley to the table, and operate him as they would a dead body, prepping him for preservation. As they hook up the tubing to pump the preserving chemicals in and the blood out, Mr. Crowley wakes up. John orders his mom to turn the machine on and she does. The pink preserving chemicals pump into Crowley’s body while his black sludge blood pumps out. Crowley screams out in pain, telling John it hurts. Mr. Crowley seemingly dies. As John looks at his rapidly decaying corpse, he notices something ripping out of the body. He pushes his mother back as part of Mr. Crowley’s body tears away and out reveals the monstrous true form of who he is. John turns out a suction machine and threatens Crowley with it. Crowley, accepting his fate, tired and weary, and perhaps out of the love of his wife, chooses to die. Crowley begs John to look after Kay and takes the suction knife. After reciting lines from a William Blake poem, Crowley jams the needle into his heart, letting his essence drain away. His human shell decays away to black sludge.
The next day, the police find Dr. Neblin (apparently on a tip by John). The news also reports on that local resident Bill Crowley has gone missing.
John goes to visit Kay and asks about Mr. Crowley. Kay tells him that she met Bill when they were in their thirties at a time being unmarried at that age was a bad thing. They started to date and one night, she brought him over to meet her extended family. Bill left the table and Kay found him in the kitchen crying. Bill told her he had never understood what it meant (family and love) until that moment and told her he loved her more than anything in heaven or hell. Kay says Bill was very romantic with his words. In his last days, he was very sick, but told Kay he would stay with her forever. John listens quietly, struck by the scope of humanity Crowley had despite his monstrous nature and the irony that a murderous creature had known more love and emotion than he probably will in his entire life.
The final scene is in the morgue where John, April, and Margaret are preparing Dr. Neblin for burial. April tells her son they can get him a grief counselor. John says talking to another therapist about the death of his previous therapist would seem disloyal. John smiles and says Neblin would have laughed at that joke. His mother and aunt groan and tell him to turn on the preserving pump as they go on preparing the body.
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
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Mr. Crowley (Christopher Lloyd) is the killer. But he is no ordinary killer. He is a monster hiding inside a human shell, who has been killing people for their organs and other body parts in order to keep living a healthy life. However, human mortality is causing his body to decline nonetheless, causing him to kill more and more, so he continue to stay with his beloved wife Kay.
John Wayne Cleaver (Max Records) attempts to trap Crowley but his mother April is taken hostage in the process. John is able to knock Crowley out and convinces his mother that they cannot go to the police given Crowley is not human. They proceed to embalm him alive, seemingly killing Crowley. However, his true monster form breaks out of the human shell and seems ready to attack them. However, Crowley weary and perhaps in loyalty to Kay, chooses to die, killing himself with an embalming tool but not before begging John to look after his wife.
Crowley is declared missing and his murders are implied to remain unsolved. John learns from Kay what kind of man he was in the life they had and John is struck that a monster could love and have emotion in ways he probably never will. The film ends with John, his mother, and his aunt preparing Dr. Neblin's body, John's therapist, who wound up being Mr. Crowley's final victim.