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Temple Brooks Gault is a major antagonist in the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. Gault appears in Cruel and Unusual and From Potter's Field, being mentioned in The Body Farm and posthumously in Point of Origin.



Temple Brooks Gault is a born psychopath and the son of a military general awarded the Medal of Honor. Gault has a twin sister, Rachel Jayne Gault, whom everyone called "Jayne" because she had the name of their mother, both twins also sharing blue eyes. Gault always hated Jayne from even seemingly being more doted on and much better a person. The Gault parents noticed this, as well as were increasingly worried and resentful toward Gault, especially when, by the account of the veteran father, Gault killed Jayne's puppy and left it in her bed that night. The entire family never forgave Gault and would take significant precautions to protect their daughter for years, including kicking Gault out of the house before more damage could be done. The elder Rachel Gault would die sometime years later.

Gault grew up to be a put-together yet narcissistic man, with toned features, a karate black belt, an affection for military clothes, and an original flamboyance and style to the point of hair highlights done at home. The first run in Gault had with the justice system was a confrontation with a trucker at a bar. In 1990, when drinking White Russians in Abingdon, Virginia, the truck driver, heavily inebriated, started to pick a fight with Gault by calling out his flashy looks. Gault did no more than turn, flash a trademark eerie smile, and roundhouse kicked the trucker in the head, killing the man almost instantly. Half a dozen state troopers off duty at the bar pounced on Gault and carried out the resulting arrest. Gault's charges were only as far as manslaughter, and the psychopath served a light sentence. Feeling the thrill of the attention and violence of murder, Gault refused to stop there. When the execution of Ronnie Joe Waddell for the murder of Robyn Naismith was approaching, Gault saw the convoluted viciousness of the murder as his chance for quick action and resulting attention. Gault started preparing a serial killing spree, with contingencies if things went wrong, starting with evoking Naismith's murder, then continuing to kill and make sure the crimes were all connected in a "cat and mouse" chase he'd set up to start a race for "glory" vs. justice.

Cruel and Unusual

Under the alias of "Hilton Sullivan", Gault resides with prison guard Helen Grimes and blackmails warden Frank Donohue to be ready to tamper with the investigation. Donohue in turn employs Ben Stevens and Susan Story in the morgue's administration board with similar blackmail and assignments. Several days after Waddell's execution, Gault kidnaps thirteen-year-old Eddie Heaton, shoots him, and poses him against a dumpster the same way Robyn Naismith was left when she was murdered. Only the bite marks Gault leaves are excised with Heaton's flesh where they're located to prevent tracking by dental records. Gault next kills pregnant Jennifer Deighton by suffocating her, then stages to look like she died from exhaust poisoning from a hose attached to her tailpipe stuffed in her mouth. Scarpetta's continuously scrutinized in her job by the blackmailed parties in question, but when the walls close in on Gault's scheme, the accomplices start to die. Story's killed first, then Donahue. The team eventually finds out Gault is the killer and realizes the assumed name, as well as past background information, which FBI Agent Benton Wesley used to profile Gault as a flashy textbook narcissist. The teams' too late to catch Gault, and said serial killer escapes, leaving behind a dead, headless Grimes at her home.

The Body Farm

Kay Scarpetta soon finds out her niece, Lucy Farinelli, wasn't responsible for retrieval of classified information in Quantico even though her ID is used. It's revealed Farinelli's girlfriend, Carrie Grethen, stole it to get to the documents, and as a worse shock, it's revealed Grethen's in collusion with Gault. Grethen escapes and goes into hiding as well before the team can bring Grethen to justice and for questioning, everyone fearing the worst when the duo returns.

In the book, Gault is mentioned repeatedly because of copycat murders happening in the extent of the story. A fourteen-year-old boy in London is killed in the same way Eddie Heath is, but it's never clarified if Gault killed the boy or if the case is even closed. but the central story is the copycat murder of Emily Steiner, who's raped and murdered in the same way as Robyn Naismith. In a shocking twist, it's revealed Denesa Steiner is her killed and that of State Bureau agent Max Ferguson, whom she hanged and cross-dressed along with leaving a condom. The murders' staging were the sake of disguising Denesa's true motives. Scarpetta kills her with a shotgun to save Pete Marino when Denesa ties him up and holds him hostage.

From Potter's Field

Gault shows up again in New York, finally killing Jayne after forcing her to walk naked in the Central Park snow. She was mutilated and posed accordingly to evoke Eddie Heaton's death to send a message, which the Virginia team pounces on to assist in the case without hesitation. Once this happens, Gault and Grethen continue to shake up the team by waging a war as a series of taunts and assaults in the forms of killing cops, in New York and Virginia. First is Jimmy Deliva, a officer who works the subway homeless unit everyone loved, who was shot in his head and the revolver used left on his person. When the team goes back to Virginia, they're personally mailed early in the morning at the coroner's office a new dead cop: Sheriff Lamont Brown, aka "Sheriff Santa", a dirty cop embezzler known for having delivered toys to children. Video footage reveals Grethen assisted in the killing, more specifically indressing and posing the dead brown before the shipment. The office only gets further breached when Detective Jakes is beaten and kicked to death with Gault's moves and locked in the incinerator to be cooked postmortem. All the deaths in question only shake the team with each new under, Scarpetta particularly much more unhinged. She herself pays a visit the Gault twins' father, told about Jayne's puppy and personally asking for a DNA test to confirm her identity, as they only knew as a Jane Doe until they started suspecting her relation to Gault. With resentment of on-the-loose Gault, the begrudged General Gault is simply glad Jayne can come home to get the honor she deserves from her family. The team finally figures out Gault is using the subway system's abandoned tunnels as a hideout in New York. Collaborating with the task forces in New York, the team set up an ambush, snipers at the ready, the main characters and other squad officers on the ground, ready to capture Gault from within the maze of tunnels. The plan, unfortunately, goes awry: Gault ambushes then by electrocuting Detective Meier and welding to the rails, meeting Scarpetta face to face while holding Farinelli hostage with a scalpel. When Scarpetta says she's the one Gault wants to let Farinelli go, Gault retorts with a laugh. But Farinelli finds an opening to knock Gault away, diving out of the way while Gault and Scarpetta scuffle. While holding Scarpetta hostage on her knees and ready to kill her, Scarpetta makes the final move of slashing Gault's leg with the scalpel, causing the serial killer to stumble back and scream. This is when snipers open fire on Gault and send Gault stumbling back into the tracks - in the path of an oncoming train, which hits Gault in an extremely bloody mess and kills the murderous psychopath once and for all to end the killing spree.

Point of Origin

Gault is repeatedly mentioned when Grethen returns after escaping a psychiatric hospital where Grethen was detained. Scarpetta receives a sickly taunting letter from Grethen hinting at a new case where Grethen's teamed up with a new serial killer, Newton Joyce. Eventually, Grethen and Joyce try to kill Scarpetta, Farinelli, and Farinelli's mentor, TN McGovern, in a helicopter shootout, but the ladies win the duel by doing it to the duo and cause that helicopter instead to explode, the pieces and the two criminals' corpses falling into the sea.


Gault would always try to put together an original look presenting an empowering, handsome image he wanted. Military clothes were a passion of his coming from a military family, but to look beautiful and to take pride in an originally made look, he toned his figure and even highlighted his own hair in different shades. With his father's medal of honor and seeing the glory more than the effort put in for it, Gault was an obsessor of grand recognition, particularly by notorious acts. He also believed in a masculine strength, hence a sharp build and a black belt in martial arts. Gault holds a superiority complex of grandeur "best" achieved from even one dazzling, widely known action, even if infamous, but also an insecure narcissism that leads to a jealousy if people are easily recognized from more endearing traits that are simpler yet pure and chances from starting off in where they want to go in their life. In other words, Gault believes in quick achievements of success, but not ones outright easy handed to people, even though Gault hypocritically likes his own ease in his amorality. This is the resentment he held towards his twin sister, whom he alleged by himself "didn't" deserve the hope and affection she received, so he waged a vendetta against her and tried to break her to usurp her attention. When his family kicked him out to protect Jayne, Gault decided to find it elsewhere and learned to adapt on his own to build a timeline. Killing the trucker Gault considers a "a nice start in protecting confidence" as well as "practice" for the infamy the psychopath would try to acquire later. The unique brutality and sexual sadism of Robyn Naismith's murder left Gault an "inspiration", Ronnie Joe Waddell's execution a timeline. But Gault doesn’t work on a chronological timeline, too fixated on aspiration to consider it until it’s a hurdle or an additional thing to suit Gault. Thrilled by the rush of a villainous vendetta and challenge, as well as the necessity to act fast after Waddell's execution, Gault sprang into an invigorated action with careful planning and contingencies in the back of his mind not only to taunt the police with copycat murders and strike terror from making the communities flash back to Naismith's murder, he wanted his adaptation and brutality to ensure he'd cause extensive extents of destruction and only loved the idea more in each murder of never being caught and having the chance for more and more climactic crimes "to share as moments with" enemies trying to catch and/or kill him. Scarpetta, Marino, and Wesley became his highest targeted adversaries as his spree neared its end, because they matched his skill in crime where they were investigators, and Gault felt challenged as much as "threatened" in the "game" he waged as well as the "legacy" and records he'd leave behind. breaking his threats slowly and further upping his stakes are precisely why he started killing cops, before eventually standing off with Scarpetta to leave some profound mark of having existed as a violent manic behind, whether alive or dead. Gault would've still preferred to be alive from being an insatiable, resentful force of evil, like a commonly accepted psychopath and serial killer devolving into a spree.

Modus Operandi

Gault had a variety of weapons and means used in murders. Gault's most notorious signature in the majority of his killings is posing every dead victim sitting upright on the floor, likely starting to copy Robyn Naismith's murder, but keeping it as a ritual for reasons unspecified, be it fame or otherwise. Gault's combat training makes him effective in brute force, so his own fighting skills are often a weapon, especially in his first human murder. But starting off with copying Ronnie Joe Waddell and then varying in his crime spree, Gault would use a variety of MOs, from shooting to stabbing and slashing even to electrocution. When Gault would replicate Naismith and Waddell, as well as allude to his past crimes, he would leave bite marks in the same intricate places Naismith was bitten when she was slaughtered. To prevent dental record tracing, he would cut the bite marks he left out of his own victims. Gault never had bounds in whom he killed, varying the people he killed ages, genders, and races, killing them when they'd be the victims to get attention and lead to him or when it was convenient or necessary for his spree or being on the run. Gault would also originally blackmail for hideouts and access to the investigation, as well as have his blackmail victims blackmail others in turn, before killing them to silence witnesses and accomplices. Though the murder of Rachel Jayne Gault, his twin sister, was personal and directly intended out of jealousy. She was humiliated and tortured by being forced to walk naked and barefoot in the New York snow to Cherry Hill Fountain, where she was killed and posed near identically to Naismith. When Gault was officially targeted in a manhunt waged against him thus law enforcement was his primary group of chases and thus most threatening enemies, he targeted cops. He would even deliver them, with the assistance of Carrie Grethen, directly to Scarpetta's morgue as part of the vendetta. Grethan would also be useful in obtaining records on the investigation for Gault's own personal acquisition and advantage. Gault's murders would often be more violent and utilize even postmortem mutilation. including decapitation, tying a trash bag around the head, and burning in an incinerator. The peak of the spree was when Gault tried to kill Lucy Farinelli and Kay Scarpetta with a scalpel in the New York subway system, but Scarpetta ultimately turned to weapon on Gault to leave weak enough to be taken down.


  • Unspecified date: Jayne's unidentified puppy (killed and left in Jayne's bed)
  • 1990, Abingdon, VA: Unidentified truck driver (killed for insulted Gault's looks; roundhoused in his head, killing almost instantly)
  • 1993, Virginia:
    • Eddie Heath, 13 (kidnapped and shot in his head; stripped named, bitten, bite marks cut out, and propped against a dumpster sitting upright postmortem; copied the murder of Robyn Naismith by Ronnie Joe Waddell)
    • Jennifer Deighton (suffocated; disguised her death as suicide by car exhaust through a hose postmortem; her unborn child was also killed)
    • Susan Dawson Story (the morgue supervisor; blackmailed indirectly by Ben Stevens, then killed)
    • Ben Stevens (the morgue administrator; blackmailed by Frank Donohue)
    • Frank Donohue (Waddell's warden; blackmailed into providing Gault a place to hide and tamper the investigation; later killed)
    • Helen Grimes (a prison guard and Gault's hideout provider; killed and decapitated postmortem; took her head)
  • 1994, Quantico, VA: Victimless thefts of classified info in FBI databases (committed by Carrie Grethen; stole Lucy Farinelli's ID for access)
  • 1995:
    • NYC:
      • Cherry Hill Fountain, Central Park: Rachel Jayne Gault (stripped naked, forced to walk to the fountain in the snow; shot, bitten, and cut pieces of her flesh out and sat her up against the fountain postmortem; copied the murder of Eddie Heath)
      • Officer Jimmy Deliva, 27 (worked in the subway homeless unit; shot in his head with a .38 revolver; left the revolver on his chest postmortem)
    • Virginia:
      • Sheriff Lamont Brown (aka Sheriff Santa; a corrupt sheriff in the Richmond department; shot in the head; tied a trash bag over Brown's head with a shoelace and left a message in a pink envelope in a pajama top pocket postmortem; mailed the corpse to the Richmond coroner's office at 3am)
      • Detective Jakes (beaten and kicked to death; shoved in the incinerator and cooked postmortem)
    • NYC Subway System Standoff:
      • Detective Maier (fatally electrocuted and welded to the rail track)
      • Lucy Farinelli (held at knifepoint with a scalpel and intended to kill; was rescued)
      • Kay Scarpetta (attempted to shoot dead; was slashed by her instead with the scalpel just before being killed)