Eugene Victor Tooms was a genetic mutant serial killer who was capable of squeezing his body through narrow gaps; his unique muscle and bone structures allowed for extreme elongation and contortion of his body. He also had an incredibly low metabolic rate, allowing him to slip into hibernation periods lasting thirty years at a time. Between these periods of hibernation, Tooms would feed on human livers; usually five livers were consumed by murdering random citizens and removing the organ from each victim with his bare hands. Tooms would typically hibernate at the same location, in a nest made of newspaper strips glued together with his own bile. (TXF: "Squeeze", "Tooms")
Early Life and Killings
In 1903, details about Tooms were recorded in the Baltimore County Census, in which he was said to be living in an apartment at 66 Exeter Street. This building was where, by 1993, he had assumed a space for himself in an old coal cellar that contained his nest and several personal belongings taken from his victims. Also in 1903, Tooms killed Edwardo Jeffers, the occupant of a room above the one he was reportedly living at. Tooms was working as a dog catcher employed by Baltimore Animal Regulations at this time.
Tooms' place and year of birth can be deduced from the 1903 census.
In 1933, Tooms murdered five victims, killing two of them in Powhattan Mill, but he accidentally left fingerprints at three of the five locations where he had committed each murder. (TXF: "Squeeze") One of Tooms' victims was a young male; Tooms gnawed on his rib-cage at a point near the location of the victim's liver before burying the body in cement at the Ruxton Chemical Plant, which was under construction, but Tooms failed to sufficiently hide a piece of the liver and it was later found while the chemical plant was still not complete. (TXF: "Tooms")
The Powhattan Mill murders were investigated by Sheriff Frank Briggs who, despite having previously seen numerous bloody murders, was shocked by the killings. (TXF: "Squeeze") Even though no evidence linked Tooms to the piece of liver unearthed in the Ruxton Chemical Plant, Sheriff Briggs correctly assumed it was from one of Tooms' victims who had not yet been found as it did not match any of the other bodies. A particular missing person was correctly suspected of being the victim who was unaccounted for, though this suspicion would only be confirmed sixty years later. The piece of liver ended up in Briggs' possession and, sixty years later, he would admit to having a strong hunch that Tooms had hidden the body because there was something about it that could prove his guilt. (TXF: "Tooms")
In 1963, Tooms killed another five victims, accidentally leaving two fingerprints, both at Powhattan Mill. By this year, Tooms had been granted responsibility of driving a van in conjunction with his job. Frank Briggs realized that the recent murders and those in 1933 had been committed by the same killer. As he was not permitted to officially investigate the recent killings due to having been assigned a desk job by the Baltimore Police Department, Briggs nevertheless unofficially investigated the murders, collecting evidence concerning them and taking several surveillance pictures, including one of Tooms and another of the building where he lived.
One of the victims Tooms killed between 1903 and 1963 had the last name Walters and another had the surname Taylor. Tooms would take a small item from each victim, such as a hairbrush from Walters and a coffee mug from Taylor; the victims' families reported the small personal effects missing in each case, a fact that Frank Briggs learned. Although these eleven murders were officially unsolved, evidence and information about the killings was recorded in an X-File. (TXF: "Squeeze")
First Period of Activity in 1993
In 1993, Tooms killed a college girl in her ten-by-twelve cinder block dorm room and murdered another victim. He subsequently tracked George Usher, who was an employee who worked in a high-security office building, from a restaurant in downtown Baltimore to the building where he worked. Creeping into the building, Tooms climbed up an elevator shaft and accessed George Usher's office by crawling through an air duct. There, he violently killed George Usher before again using the air duct to escape, accidentally leaving a fingerprint on the covering of the air vent as he left.
The Baltimore Police Department was so perplexed by the recent murders that they requested the involvement of the FBI. Agents Tom Colton, Dana Scully and Fox Mulder as well as other members of the FBI consequently assisted with the investigation.
On July 23 of that year, Tooms was climbing up an air duct in an area where he had killed one of his previous three victims when he was caught doing so by Agent Scully. He was subsequently arrested and taken to the FBI Bureau in Baltimore, where he was subjected to a polygraph test. Despite being asked questions possibly indicating that the FBI were aware of his extreme age and his presence at Powhattan Mill in 1933, Tooms answered each question as if he were innocent and his responses did not alert his examiner to the fact he was lying. (TXF: "Squeeze") He was therefore released, but the incident was instrumental in Tooms losing his job as a dog catcher for Baltimore Animal Regulations. (TXF: "Squeeze", "Tooms")
Tooms subsequently murdered a man in his suburban home at night, climbing down a chimney to enter the residence and leaving another fingerprint before making his escape.
With the help of now-retired Frank Briggs, Agents Mulder and Scully managed to locate the building where Tooms lived and - as the pair of agents explored the coal cellar, finding his nest as well as the collection of small personal items he had gathered from his victims - Tooms hid upside down on the room's ceiling. As Agent Scully walked underneath him, he quietly tugged at her without her realizing and stole a necklace she was wearing.
The next day, Tooms followed Scully to her apartment. At night, he cut her phone lines and climbed up the outside of her building's back wall as she prepared to have a bath. He climbed into the air ducts leading to Scully's bathroom but she suddenly became aware of his presence when bile from an air vent in the ceiling dropped onto her. After she obtained her FBI-issue gun and reentered the bathroom in search of Tooms, he burst through a small air vent near the floor and attacked her, causing her to drop her weapon.
Tooms was about to reach inside Scully and pull her liver out when Agent Mulder, who had discovered Scully's necklace amongst Tooms' stolen personal items upon revisiting the coal cellar, hurried into the apartment. Tooms tried to make a hasty escape, breaking a barred window in the room with a bare hand, but he resumed his attack on Scully when she tried to prevent him from escaping. After Mulder managed to fasten handcuffs to one of his wrists, Tooms became furious and turned his aggression on the male FBI agent until Scully secured the handcuffs to her bath and Tooms finally acquiesced. (TXF: "Squeeze") He would later claim that he believed his assault on Agent Scully was "frustration directed at the wrong person". (TXF: "Tooms")
Psychiatric CareTooms was placed in secure psychiatric care, confined solely for his assault on Scully as there was insufficient evidence to connect him with any of his previous murders. (TXF: "Squeeze", "Tooms") His capture was reported in an article that was printed in the Section Two newspaper with the headline "Suspect Caught in Serial Killings". In his cell, Tooms began to build another nest, using - amongst other scraps of newspaper - a copy of the article written about him in Section Two. Shortly after his capture, Tooms was visited by Agents Mulder and Scully; he stared at the agents when he became aware of them observing him from outside his cell door. (TXF: "Squeeze")
Dental x-rays were conducted on Tooms and a Doctor Pamela Karetzky performed several diagnostic procedures on him to determine whether he had any organic physiological dysfunction but all her tests were negative. Tooms also met with Doctor Aaron Monte on numerous occasions and, in an interview conducted by the doctor, Tooms claimed the first thing he would do if he was released would be to return to his former job as it had made him feel that he was helping both people and animals. As a review date approached, however, Tooms told the doctor he was doubtful that he would be released. (TXF: "Tooms")
Nevertheless, Tooms was determined to leave confinement. (TXF: "Squeeze", "Tooms") In Druid Hill Sanitarium, on the night before his review, Tooms placed an arm through a narrow food slot built into his door and tried to quietly reach up to a high lock. His attempt was abruptly interrupted by a visit from Dr. Monte, who did not realize that Tooms had been attempting to escape. Dr. Monte admitted that he had peeked at the reports of doctors who would testify at the review the following day, discovering that they concurred with his own opinion that Tooms was ready to be released. Tooms listened to Dr. Monte's assurances that the review was nothing to worry about and took the doctor's advice that they should "keep [their] fingers crossed" literally.
At Tooms' court hearing the next day, a board of three judges led by a female with the surname Kann witnessed Doctors Karetzky, Collins and Monte present the viewpoint that Tooms was ready to be released. Unknown to all other attendees of the review, Tooms' animal instincts were momentarily stimulated by Dr. Monte's statement. After Agent Mulder was asked to present a testimony, he demonstrated his disputed findings that Tooms had killed nineteen previous victims, revealing pictures of the victims' deceased bodies and images of their stolen personal belongings that had been photographed as evidence. Despite protests from the killer's defense and orders from the court to leave, Mulder passionately continued to state his controversial opinion that Tooms should definitely not be released from confinement.
Later, the judges decided amongst themselves whether Tooms should be released and eventually announced their decision that he would be, if three conditions were adhered to. Namely, that he remain in counseling with Dr. Monte, that he retain his former job and that he take residence in the house of married couple Arlan and Susan Green, who were trained in a program to assist the social readjustment of patients released from Druid Hill Sanitarium. Tooms happily agreed to the conditions and exited the court room with his new family.
After his release, Tooms resumed his work for Baltimore Animal Regulation, but his gruesome hunger persisted, hampered by Agent Mulder; one day, Tooms disposed of a dead rodent he found on the ground, licking a rubber glove on the hand he had used to place the deceased animal into a garbage bag, and was targeting a woman walking down the street towards him when Mulder stepped in front of him, blocking his view of her. In response, Tooms growled in frustration and quickly drove his van away from the area.
Later, Tooms was disposing of another dead animal when he noticed a man in a blue trenchcoat who walked straight past him. Tooms was transfixed by the pedestrian and continued to watch him from the window of his van, after climbing into the vehicle. He followed the man home that night, but was pursued himself by Agent Mulder. While the FBI agent was sleeping, Tooms managed to move from his van to the inside of a sewer directly below. He initially attempted to enter the property via the toilet but, after the man's wife secured the toilet seat with a small latch that served as a child-proof lock, Tooms emerged from the sewers, covered in sludge, and squeezed through a barred window. He breathily observed the man while hiding in darkness but had left the residence by the time Mulder alerted the owners of the property, having quickly driven away in his van.
Tooms traveled to another residence, all the while being tracked by Mulder. As the FBI agent sat in an automobile outside the building and was visited there by Scully, Tooms climbed into the vehicle's trunk shortly before Mulder drove to his apartment.
As Mulder slept that night, Tooms unscrewed the covering of an air vent, pausing when the apartment's occupant momentarily awoke. Finally, the vent was completely loosened and Tooms entered the apartment, where he made it look as if he had been badly beaten up. He was hospitalized due to his injuries and claimed to the medical specialist who examined him, a Dr. Richmond, that Mulder had attacked him. Consequently, Mulder was forbidden to go near Tooms.
At the home of Mr. and Mrs. Green, Tooms started to build a new nest of newspaper scraps in his room. During a visit by Dr. Monte, Tooms was left alone with the doctor. He claimed he was using the newspaper strips for art and ignored Dr. Monte's questions as to his wellbeing, before aggressively murdering the doctor.
Having now killed five victims, Tooms returned to his usual home of 66 Exeter Street, where a new giant shopping mall had recently replaced the apartment building he had lived in. By this time, Tooms had completed another nest of newspaper and bile, underneath an escalator in the mall. Even though the building was closed at night, Agents Mulder and Scully were allowed access to the darkened mall in pursuit of Tooms.
The mutant serial killer was hidden in his nest when Mulder discovered it but suddenly reached out to make a failed attempt at pulling his visitor inside the nest. A brief struggle followed, in which Tooms, covered in bile, unsuccessfully tried to pull Mulder back as the FBI agent shifted away. After Scully eventually managed to help Mulder escape to higher ground, Tooms was killed by the moving staircase when it was activated by Mulder. Tooms screamed as his body was dragged under the escalator, smearing the moving staircase's steps with red blood.
While Mulder had been trying to prevent Tooms from claiming a fifth victim after his release from psychiatric care, Scully had assisted in unearthing the skeleton of the missing victim from 1933, a body that finally proved Tooms' guilt. With the case closed at last, Mulder and Scully submitted a report in the X-File about Eugene Victor Tooms to Assistant Director Walter Skinner. Both Skinner and the Cigarette Smoking Man read the report and, when asked if he believed the agents, the Cigarette Smoking Man answered, "Of course I do". (TXF: "Tooms")
Shortly after Tooms' death, Mulder and Scully were requested to investigate a case by Detective Sharon Lazard, whose brother worked for Baltimore Police Department and had told her of Mulder's impressive work on the Tooms case. (TXF: "Born Again")
Mulder later attached one of Briggs' 1963 photographs of Tooms and a copy of the article about him that was headlined "Suspect Caught in Serial Killings" to a wall in his X-Files office at the FBI's headquarters in Washington, D.C.. The article and photograph, which were situated next to an article about Duane Barry, could be seen on the wall shortly before a fire destroyed the office in 1998. (TXF: "The End")
By 2001, Special Agent John Doggett had been assigned to the X-Files and, in that year, was temporarily partnered with Agent Leyla Harrison while investigating a murder case. Harrison, who was well accustomed to the X-Files, suggested that slime she and Doggett found at the scene of the murder could be bile from a liver-eating mutant, like Eugene Tooms who Harrison recalled had been chased by Mulder and Scully into an escalator. Doggett disagreed with Harrison's theory, though, and it would ultimately be confirmed that neither Tooms nor another liver-eating mutant was responsible. (TXF: "Alone")
The kernel of the character's creation was provided by Carter, who contributed the idea of a killer having developed a taste for human liver. He was influenced by a recent visit to France, where he had eaten a lot of foie gras. According to Glen Morgan, the writers settled on the liver as it was "funnier than any other organ." Carter maintains that the character of Tooms was largely created by Morgan and Wong, whose contributions proved to be essential.
The duo's inspiration came when, working late one night, they imagined a man being able to squeeze himself in through the grille of a nearby ventilator shaft outside their office.
According to Morgan, he was also influenced by an article he read about real-life serial killer Richard Ramirez, who had been dubbed "The Night Stalker" by the news media as he had terrorized California in the mid-1980s. The rumors surrounding the killings were that Ramirez was climbing in through his victims' windows above their shower, the windows being a common feature in Californian homes, and, even though the killer was a large man, the dust and soap grime on the sill would be left undisturbed.
In an interview for a featurette on The X-Files Season 1 DVD, Chris Carter revealed more about the inspiration for Tooms' habit of eating livers, his nest and bile. "Jim and Glen wanted the character to harvest the livers of people and do it on a schedule so that, in fact, if we didn't catch this character, he would disappear again and go into hibernation. The bile, I think, was a suggestion of mine..."
Additionally, Morgan and Wong have cited Jack the Ripper as having inspired the character's conception and Tooms also bears some, perhaps unintentional, resemblance to the fictional serial killer from The Night Strangler, the second of two movies in the Kolchak: The Night Stalker series. The murderer in that film would rise from the Seattle Underground every twenty-one years, strangle his victims and use their blood to keep himself alive for over a century.
Tooms proved to be extremely popular and was the first of only three Monster of the Week characters in the entire run of The X-Files to make more than one prominent appearance in nonconsecutive episodes, the other two being Robert Patrick Modell and Donald Pfaster.
When Morgan began thinking of the episode concept in which Tooms ultimately reappeared, however, the character was not initially involved in the idea. Morgan was Christmas shopping at a mall in Los Angeles when he saw men working on an escalator that was open and exposed, the sight of which inspired him to begin considering the scare factor of an urban myth stemming from a monster living underneath an escalator. The monster was initially unspecified but Morgan soon realized that the best option would be to reuse Tooms. The character's review was included in his reappearance episode as Morgan and Wong wanted to recap who Tooms was, for viewers who might not have witnessed his debut.
Bringing the Character to Life
Given the extraordinary abilities devised as doable by Eugene Victor Tooms, portraying these physical feats on-screen proved challenging. "'Okay,' I would say to myself, 'here's a good one: This guy can relocate all the bones in his body and slither through tiny air vents and suck people's livers out of their bodies. Great. How do we do that?' [...] That [was] really amazingly challenging to create," reflected Co-Executive Producer R.W. Goodwin. (X-Files Confidential, p. 30)
Although Eugene Tooms was a liver-eating serial killer, the character was played by vegetarian actor Doug Hutchison. For several shots featuring Tooms' elasticity, however, other people doubled for Hutchison.
In the filming of the scene in "Squeeze" where Tooms climbs down a chimney to enter one of his victims' properties, a Canadian contortionist named Pepper was used in shots of the rooftop and chimney. The model of the chimney was only a few inches high, allowing the contortionist to more easily climb through it, but this was not revealed to the audience and the chimney was made to seem taller.
Additionally, a shot of Tooms reaching down the chimney with his fingers subtly stretching to become elongated was created by Art Director Michael Nemirsky and the man who did the effect, Mat Beck, the series' regular Visual Effects Producer. To create the effect, a shot of Hutchison reaching down was filmed and his fingers in the shot were then elongated using a computer-generated imager before the footage was completed with a stretching sound-effect.
A shot in the same episode that shows Tooms lunging at Scully out of an air vent in her bathroom was created by filming the background first, before blue-screen material was wrapped around the vent and, from the same camera position, Hutchison was filmed rocketing out of the vent, backdropped by the blue. This made it possible for the footage of Hutchison's body to be digitally stretched, slightly.
For the sequence in "Tooms" where the character chases Mulder under the escalator, Doug Hutchison decided he wanted to film in the nude, shocking Chris Carter when he visited the set. Although baking, piping gel was used to represent the bile in some shots, Hutchison was covered with Karo syrup and food coloring while filming the chase sequence. Chris Carter later stated that he believed the discomfort of having a naked man on the set had added to the scene as it had made Mulder actor David Duchovny nervous of being near Hutchison.
On The X-Files Season 1 DVD, "Eugene Victor Tooms" is also the title of the fifth chapter in "Squeeze", in which the character is subjected to his polygraph test.