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I had to do it. It was all falling apart. If I went to jail, who would take care of my family? I had to do it! You have to understand, I had no choice! I had to do it. I had to save them!
~ Royce's narcissistic defense for murdering his wife and children.

Malcolm Royce is the main antagonist of the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Annihilated". He is a narcissist who murders his mistress, and then murders his wife and three children after his adultery is exposed.

He was portrayed by Dylan Walsh, who also portrayed Grady Edwards in The Stepfather.

Biography

Early Life

A suburban husband and father of three, Royce grows bored with his marriage to his wife, Lindsay, especially after she loses interest in sex after undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. He begins an affair with a woman named Cynthia Yellin, with whom he pretends to be a CIA agent named Steven Dashiell, reading several spy thrillers to learn the terminology and lingo of government intelligence personnel. He keeps the affair going in secret for nearly a year, using his CIA ruse to avoid having his picture taken with Yellin or appearing openly in public with her. When she pressures him to marry her, Royce panics and decides to kill her. After having sex with her one night, he breaks her neck with his bare hands.

"Annihilated"

Special Victims Unit detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler investigate Yellin's murder, and find "Steven Dashiell", quickly uncovering Royce's adultery. Royce admits to the affair, but denies killing Yellin, claiming to have been at a pizzeria with his children on the night of the murder. However, toll records reveal that he drove to Yellin's neighborhood and back later that night. He tries to implicate Lindsay, but that only serves to reveal his infidelity.

The night after Lindsay catches him cheating, Royce kills her and their children by drugging and shooting them. He then fires the gun over his head just close enough to inflict a superficial wound on his scalp, intending to make it look like Lindsay killed the children, shot him, and committed suicide. At the hospital, he feigns grief when told of his family's murder, when in fact he only feels sorry for himself. Upon reviewing the forensics, however, Stabler figures out that Royce murdered his own family, and arrests him at the hospital just as he is about to commit suicide by jumping off the roof.

While interrogating Royce, Stabler confronts him with the evidence against him. Thinking quickly, Royce claims that he killed Lindsay in a fit of rage after she killed the children, saying that she did it to punish him for cheating on her. Stabler, who is separated from his wife, builds a rapport with Royce by empathizing with him about the pain of a decaying marriage and the desire to find romance again. Royce blames his actions on Lindsay's jealousy over his affair with Yellin, saying that the murders would not have happened if she had been able to accept that he had "enough love for both of them".

Meanwhile, forensics technician Ryan O'Halloran finds that Royce's fingerprints are on the lockbox containing his gun, not Lindsay's, which proves Royce is lying about Lindsay shooting the children. He also discovers that Royce owns an "assassin's manual" that contains detailed instructions on how to break a person's neck exactly the way Yellin's neck had been broken.

Although there is already enough evidence to convict Royce of the murders of Yellin and his family, Stabler is determined to get a confession out of him. He blocks the door to the interrogation room and attacks Royce, putting him in a headlock and threatening to break his neck just as he broke Yellin's. When Stabler condemns him for making his own children suffer, a terrified Royce whimpers that he put sleeping pills in their juice to make sure they would die painlessly. As a disgusted Stabler leaves the room, Royce yells after him that he had no choice but to kill his family because they could never have survived without him. He is then presumably imprisoned for life.

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