Terrell "Terry" McCaleb (d. 31 Mar 2004) was born in Los Angeles and raised in the town of Avalon on Catalina Island. He was a former criminal profiler with the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1980 until 1996. In the late-1990s, he transferred from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles where he lived in an apartment in Westwood near the federal building. His first marriage was to Kate, another FBI agent; they divorced after three years. His second wife was Graciela Rivers. He was the father of Cielo McCaleb, and the adoptive father of Raymond Torres.
In his FBI career he worked on numerous high-profile cases including the Poet, the Code Killer, the Zodiac Killer, the Full Moon Killer, Joel Bremmer, the Night Stalker, and the Sunset Strip Strangler.
During the Summer of 1993, McCaleb was called to Los Angeles by Sheriff's detective Jaye Winston to help in the investigation into the murder of Lisa Mondrian. Her body had been found in the Vasquez Rocks in the Antelope Valley area. McCaleb recommended that the Sheriff's Department set up surveillance on the graves of Mondrian and another girl murdered by the same perpetrator in 1992, and the operation resulted in the arrest of Luther Hatch.
In April of 1996, McCaleb collapsed in his office in Los Angeles late at night. His heart had been weakened by cardiomyopathy brought on by the stress of his work, smoking and a virus. Fortunately, he was found by a janitor. He needed a heart transplant and had to wait 22 months for one to be available with his blood type, AB with CMV negative. On 9 February 1998, transplant surgery was performed by Dr. Bonnie Fox at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Following his transplant and medical retirement he lived on the boat The Following Sea, and was a neighbor of Buddy Lockridge in Cabrillo Marina. He lost 30 lbs due to his health problems and he took 27 pills a day to prevent organ rejection and improve his general health. He took his pills with large amounts of orange juice. He took his temperature, pulse and blood pressure several times daily. Although he owned a black Jeep Cherokee, he was ordered to not drive for nine months after his surgery, so he relied on taxi cabs and Lockridge to get around L.A. He also did not have a cell phone and relied on pay phones heavily.
In April of 1998, McCaleb was approached by Graciela Rivers, who requested that McCaleb look into her sister's unsolved murder. She had read about him in a Sunday LA Times Metro article by Keisha Russell, which ran under the headline "New Heart, New Start for Former FBI Agent." Initially McCaleb was not receptive because it was only two months after his transplant. However, he changed his mind when he learned that he had received the heart of Graciela's sister, Gloria Torres. He was handicapped by being a civilian and still in recovery from his surgery. After being stymied by the LAPD and following several false leads, he realized that the motive for the murder of Torres, as well as the murders of James Cordell and Donald Kenyon, was related to the organ transplant process, specifically for blood type AB with CMV negative, the same as his own. He focused on a supposed witness named James Noone who was in fact Daniel Crimmins. Crimmins kidnapped Graciela and Raymond, taking them to a remote property in Baja. McCabe and Crimmins met on the beach. McCabe shot and killed Crimmins and rescued Graciela and her son.
After resolving Gloria's murder, McCaleb married Graciela, and the two moved with Raymond to Avalon Bay on Catalina Island where they rented a house on La Mesa St. He partnered with Buddy Lockridge to operate the charter fishing boat. In January of 2001, McCaleb was approached by Sheriff's detective Jaye Winston, who requested McCaleb's assistance in the investigation into the unsolved murder of Edward Gunn. McCaleb traced elements of Gunn's murder to the 15h Century artist Hieronymus Bosch, and began to suspect the involvement of LAPD detective Harry Bosch, who had prior history with the victim. For a time, all the evidence appeared to point to Bosch, and McCaleb believed Bosch had gone over the edge and into the abyss. There is irony in this because in the Gloria Torres case McCaleb was the prime suspect for a time.
After Bosch confronts McCaleb, he reexamines the evidence, leading him to suspect Rudy Tafero. Tafero realizes he is being investigated and assaults McCaleb on his boat. McCaleb is rescued by Bosch. In the process, McCaleb shoots and kills Jesse Tafero. The incident blows open not only the case of Gunn's murder but also the trial of David Storey. However, McCaleb and Bosch become estranged because McCaleb believes Bosch allowed Gunn's murder to occur.
McCaleb became more active in investigating murder cases. He reviewed old unsolved cases as well as new ones. He consulted with at least five different local police agencies to profile killers in unsolved cases.This work created friction with his wife, causing him to spend many nights on his boat instead of at home. In addition, his wife wanted to move to the mainland but Terry did not. It appears that around this time he also learned that his new heart was failing.
In January of 2004, McCaleb read an article in the Los Angeles Times written by Keisha Russell regarding the disappearances of six men in Nevada. He then contacted the Las Vegas detective in charge of the cases, Todd Ritz to offer his assistance, but Ritz declined. A few days later, McCaleb spoke with Las Vegas Sun reporter Cindy Hinton regarding his theory on the disappearances, and was mentioned in her follow-up story a few days after that.
On 13 February 2004, McCaleb was approached on his boat by a man calling himself Jordan Shandy who paid McCaleb for a half-day charter. McCaleb became suspicious of the man and surreptitiously took photographs of him. On 19 February 2004, McCaleb and Lockridge took a client named Robert Finder out on a half-day charter, and later discovered that Lockridge's GPS unit had been stolen. At the end of February, McCaleb received a series of photographs of Graciela, Raymond, and Cielo taken by an unknown individual, including two additional photographs: one of the Zzyzx Road exit, and one of a beached boat in the Mojave Desert.
At the beginning of March, McCaleb headed overland and drove out to the boat on Zzyzx Road before returning to Catalina Island. On 28 March 2004, McCaleb and Lockridge took a client named Otto Woodall on a four-day charter. On March 31st, McCaleb collapsed at the wheel after having switched two of his heart medications with placebo pills. His funeral on Catalina Island was attended by Harry Bosch, fellow agent Brasilia Doran, and actor/director Clint Eastwood, but not his former friend Rachel Walling. McCaleb's death was investigated by Bosch, then retired, at the request of Terry's widow. He discovered that McCaleb caused his own death but did not tell anyone except Walling.
McCaleb is named after Michael Connelly's wife, whose maiden name is Linda McCaleb.
In the book's acknowledgements, Connelly thanks Clint Eastwood for reading and commenting on a draft.