Thomas Pressman


Thomas Pressman


Thomas Cavanaugh, Jr. (birth name)
The Pittsburgh Phantom
The Phantom



Birth Date

August 11, 1971


Thomas Cavanaugh, Sr. (father; deceased)
Anna Cavanaugh (née Pressman; mother; deceased)
Brett Pressman (maternal grandfather; deceased)
Catherine Pressman (maternal grandmother; deceased)
Hannah Pressman (wife)
Daniel Harlander (son with Julia Harlander; deceased)
Two unnamed sons
Two unnamed daughters


State senator
Gubernatorial candidate
Former state representative


Serial Rapist
Serial Arsonist (originally)
Serial Killer (originally)
Proxy Killer (later)

Modus Operandi

Varied (originally)
Varied proxy murder (later)



Portrayed By

Jeffrey Donovan

"You see, JJ, no matter how much you wanna die, there's always this moment that precedes death, this little, infinitesimal moment, where you suddenly come to an epiphany, a great appreciation for everything in life, just seconds before it's all taken away. I know this because I always see that look in my victims' eyes before I deliver the killing blow. And there's no doubt in my mind that went through Roslyn's head as well. I may not have seen her die, but trust me...I know it happened. Oh, how I would've loved to see it..."

Thomas "Tom" Pressman, a.k.a. "The Pittsburgh Phantom", or simply "The Phantom", was a former serial killer and rapist who was responsible for the suicide of JJ's sister Roslyn. He appeared in "A Summer Dream".


Pressman was born as Thomas Cavanaugh, Jr. As a child, his mentally unstable mother Anna was physically and sexually abused by his father, Thomas Cavanaugh, Sr., who was a highly respected police officer in Philadelphia. Pressman himself was also physically and psychologically abused by his father. Every time the police were called over to the house because of the abuse, the senior Cavanaugh would always manage to cover it up. Eventually, when Pressman was five years old, Anna suffered a psychotic break and stabbed her husband to death while he was sleeping. She then chased Pressman out of the house with a knife before setting the house on fire and committing suicide.

As a result, Pressman was sent to live with his maternal grandparents, Brett and Catherine Pressman, in the East Allegheny neighborhood of Pittsburgh. As he grew up, he developed antisocial personality disorder and psychopathic traits. Though he became popular in school, he secretly tortured and killed animals and lit random objects on fire in his spare time. At one point, he nearly burned a neighbor's house down. Despite complaints by neighbors about their pets mysteriously disappearing in the area around their house, Pressman's grandparents never suspected their grandson of being responsible, believing him to have completely forgotten about his parents' deaths. When the animal killings and arson fires were not enough to satiate his sadism, Pressman evolved to torturing and raping teenage girls in Pittsburgh.

As a senior in high school, Pressman deduced that Ethan Howard, a guidance counselor, was sexually grooming Roslyn Jareau, a schoolmate and good friend of his. When Howard witnessed him assaulting a victim near the school grounds, Pressman, sensing an opportunity, blackmailed him into allowing him to use a piece of land belonging to him for his future assaults. On July 23, 1989, after graduation, Pressman raped a girl named Mary Bright, although she escaped before he could inflict any further damage on her. Realizing that Howard would now be motivated to expose him, Pressman manipulated the emotionally unstable Roslyn into committing suicide in order to send a warning to Howard. It worked, and Howard even helped him enroll in the University of Pittsburgh.

Afterwards, Pressman began incorporating murder into his torture-rapes while attending college, disposing the bodies of his victims after the fact. Investigators quickly connected the disappearances to the rape-tortures and gave Pressman the moniker of "The Pittsburgh Phantom". However, after graduating from college, Pressman stopped killing, having found another calling in politics. He climbed up the social ladder quickly and became a star in Pennsylvania politics, becoming a state representative and later the Majority Leader of the state senate. He also started a prosperous family. In secret, however, Pressman continued raping vulnerable women he was associated with and took care of their finances in exchange for their silence.

Unbeknownst to Pressman, one of his rapes produced a son, Daniel Harlander. When Pressman decided to run for governor in 2018, he was approached by Daniel, who wanted to connect with him. He initially shunned him, but then realized this was an opportunity to bolster his campaign. As a result, he instructed Daniel to carry out a bombing targeting an alt-right rally in order to stoke fear into Pennsylvanians over the prospect of a subsequent larger clash between far-left and far-right groups. Meanwhile, Pressman learned of Howard's arrest for sexually grooming another student and manipulating her to commit kidnapping and attempted murder. As a result, he hired inmates to kill Howard before he could expose his former life to authorities.

A Summer DreamEdit

To be added

Modus OperandiEdit

During his time as a serial rapist, Pressman targeted teenage girls. His first victims were blitz-attacked while they were in secluded areas, but when he got Howard's cooperation and became more confident, he charmed them into coming with him in broad daylight, bring them somewhere secluded, and abduct them. Once he had them in Howard's land, he would rape and torture his victims, then drug them into unconsciousness and discard their bodies near highways. When he evolved to serial killing, he used the same ruses and murdered his victims using a wild variety of methods, such as shooting, stabbing, bludgeoning, strangulation, and sometimes even two or more methods at once. According to him, after killing the victims, Pressman would dispose of their bodies in a wild variety of ways whenever the method was appropriate. Some bodies were buried in a remote, inaccessible area like a forest or desert; others were incinerated in a crematorium that Pressman inherited and the ashes sprinkled in random areas, dozens and even hundreds of miles apart; and others were dismembered and cut up into strips of flesh, which were fed to animals.

Even though he stopped killing by the time he entered politics, Pressman continued raping. This time, he targeted economically disadvantaged women who were not directly associated with him, such as an ardent supporter, a messenger for the Pennsylvania State Capitol, or a low-level employee in a reelection campaign. After the assaults, he would guarantee their silence by taking care of their finances, without targeting them a second time. Pressman also spaced out these rapes by years and made sure the M.O.s were all different, so as to prevent a connection from being traced.


Rossi and Gideon's old profile of the Phantom described him as a male and a Pittsburgh native who would have been in his late teens when the original rapes started. He was initially impulsive and sadistic, but was also a quick learner and knew which parts of his M.O. he needed to improve so he could avoid capture. This suggested high intelligence and cunning for someone his age. This constant improving was what led the Phantom to commit murder. He stopped killing either because he died or was imprisoned for an unrelated crime, though this aspect was disproved when it turned out that Pressman found more satisfaction as a politician who literally had control over everyone in Pennsylvania.

No official, updated profile was made of Pressman, though the BAU briefly described him as a cold, merciless psychopath who got off on controlling the masses. Though he had potential for a federal position in government, he never moved beyond state politics because he knew his psychopathy would get the better of him if too many lives depended on his work.

Known VictimsEdit

Personal VictimsEdit

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:
    • Unspecified dates from 1987 to 1989: Fourteen unnamed girls and young women (abducted, raped, and tortured for days; all were released)
    • 1989:
      • July 23: Mary Bright (raped and attempted to torture; she escaped)
      • July 25: Rosaline Jareau (indirectly; manipulated her into committing suicide)
      • September 19, Pittsburgh: Linda Leach (raped and strangled)
    • Fall 1989-Spring 1993, Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area, Pennsylvania:
      • Janice North (raped, tortured, and killed by unknown causes, then buried her body)
      • Melinda Grissom (raped, tortured, and killed by unknown causes, then buried her body)
      • Deborah Adamson (raped, tortured, and killed by unknown causes, then buried her body)
      • Susan Elks (raped, tortured, and killed by unknown causes, then buried her body)
      • Nineteen unnamed girls and women (all raped, tortured, and killed by unknown causes, then buried their bodies)
  • Unspecified dates from 1993 to 2018, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania:
    • Frances Brooks (raped)
    • Tammy Patterson (raped)
    • Stephanie Harlander (raped and impregnated)
    • Denise Adams (raped)
    • Irene Stewart (raped)
  • 2019:
    • November 2-3, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Daniel Harlander (his illegitimate son; shot in the chest)
    • November 3, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Unnamed prison guard (shanked repeatedly; carved "C U L8r JJ" in his torso post-mortem)
    • November 24 (found), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The bodies found at Schenley Park (arranged their bodies to form an arrow pointing at Sandy's home post-mortem):
      • Rosemary Jackson (stabbed seventeen times in the chest, neck, and arms)
      • Lynne Jasper (shot in both hands and feet, then fatally bludgeoned)
      • Rachel Lynn Jarvis (tortured by repeatedly strangling her until she died)
    • November 25, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Melinda Johansson (shot sixteen times in the head and chest)
    • November 26, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:
      • Unnamed handyman (shot in both legs, then tied to a bathtub and fatally slit his wrists; carved "Gotcha JJ" in his torso post-mortem)
      • Sandy Jareau (JJ's mother; abducted; was rescued two days later in Cleveland, Ohio)

Proxy VictimsEdit

  • 2019, Pennsylvania:
    • November 1:
      • Pittsburgh: Ethan Howard (shanked repeatedly by at least six unnamed inmates)
      • Harrisburg: The alt-right rally bombing committed by Daniel:
        • Officer Peter Bailey (incidental; killed while investigating the bomb)
        • Fourteen unnamed protesters (all killed)
        • Twelve unnamed counter-protesters (all killed)
        • Numerous unnamed people (all injured)
      • November 1-2, Harrisburg:
        • The firebombing of the Weiße Weltkrieger headquarters committed by Daniel:
          • Emily Prentiss (attempted)
          • David Rossi (attempted)
          • Luke Alvez (attempted)
          • Dr. Tara Lewis (attempted)
          • William Masters (attempted)
          • Numerous unnamed neo-Nazis (attempted)
        • Agent Steve Garrity (incidental; shot in the neck by Daniel)
      • November 2, Harrisburg: The attempted bombing of the Red Sickles headquarters committed by Daniel:
        • Jennifer Jareau
        • Spencer Reid
        • Emily Prentiss
        • Detective Betty Ling
        • Iris Belinsky
        • Numerous unnamed socialists
      • November 2-3, Harrisburg: Unnamed man (shot in the head by Daniel, then burned his body in a car to throw off investigators)
    • November 26, Pittsburgh: The shootout committed by Henry Craine:
      • Jennifer Jareau (attempted; shot at repeatedly, but missed)
      • Spencer Reid (attempted; shot at repeatedly, but missed)
      • Luke Alvez (attempted; shot at repeatedly, but missed)
      • Matthew Simmons (attempted; shot at repeatedly, but missed)
      • Agent Eli West (attempted; shot at repeatedly, but missed)