|Profession||Defense attorney, specializing in sex crimes|
|Notability||Serial rapist/serial killer|
|Played by||Billy Burke|
|First appearance||Power of Attorney|
|Latest appearance||Special Master Part Two|
Phillip Stroh is a defense attorney and serial rapist turned serial killer, played by Billy Burke. His character was introduced in the episode Power of Attorney.
Not much has been revealed about Stroh personally besides the fact that he was a skilled defense attorney. He specialized in defending accused sex offenders, arguing that because they are labeled as such for the rest of their lives if found guilty they deserve the best possible defense.
Among his clients was Chris Dunlap, whom he defended twice for sex crimes against children and who was desperate for money to obey his mother's wishes and "fix his face". In 2008, Stroh became a serial rapist himself, having Dunlap, who worked at a delivery company, use his job to find victims for him, paying him $1500 per victim. Though Dunlap wasn't happy about it, he felt obliged to help him to repay him for keeping him out of prison. Over six months spanning from 2008 to February of 2009, Stroh performed six increasingly violent rapes that way.
On his attempted seventh rape, the victim, Jessica Goodall, fought back too much and eventually he was forced to kill her before he could rape her and flee, leaving his partner behind. When his partner was captured Stroh marched to his side and used this as an opportunity to look at all the evidence they had on him. While going through the evidence he discovered one of his victims, Lauren Clark, could I.D. him and went to visit her to contaminate her memory. Afterwards he had Chris reveal that he was the serial rapist they wanted and the Major Crimes Division believed they had him, until his conversation with Lauren was revealed when she went to pick him out of a lineup and he walked away.
After this Brenda started stalking him everyday to try and catch him while he was taking a break from raping for awhile. He eventually started up again without Brenda's knowledge because this time he killed his victims and buried them where no one would go looking. But eventually her harassment was enough so he decided to join his colleague, Peter Goldman's lawsuit against her which eventually forced her bosses to have her reel back.
Eventually he was suspected of another rape-murder when a woman named Gweneth Adler turns up dead in a hotel room. The room is registered to a man named George Harris, a man arrested for rape twelve months prior, though the DA declined to prosecute him because the victim went missing. Further investigation shows that both women drank at a bar called Stella's before the rapes.
It was later discovered that Stroh defended him against these charges and was suspected to be George's partner-in-crime. They eventually found the other woman George was accused of raping named Natalie Gilbert and try to get her to identify Stroh as George's partner. But things do not go exactly as planned as Natalie instead identifies Charlie, the bartender at Stella's. With that Stroh convinces his client to testify against his partner in exchange for a deal in George's favor.
One of his clients was Wade Weller, a rapist and serial killer whom he helped when he got spooked by the investigation into one of crimes he committed. Stroh gave Weller advice and told him he'd call in the favor one day.
Philip continued raping and murdering more women. He tried to kill Rusty Beck, who witnessed him dumping a body. Rusty's report rekindled Brenda's vendetta against Stroh. Stroh eventually tried to kill both the witness and Brenda in her own home. Brenda shot Stroh and arrested him for two counts of attempted murder. Since he used the same MO to break into her house he is currently on trial for the rape-murders he committed.
During his time in prison he met a man named Florentino Reyes charged with rape and offered him a deal: find inmates in the infirmary about to leave to pass along a message to an accomplice named Wade Weller on the outside and Stroh would draft his legal motions expertly for free. Through this he started communicating with Weller who has him send threatening letters to Rusty and when the messages were delivered Stroh had him kill the channels so there couldn't be any direct link to him.
After about a few months when Rusty didn't back off Stroh sent another message to Weller stating that he start writing letters to Captain Sharon Raydor in addition to Rusty. Finally after they both stood firm in the case, Stroh decided to give Weller a new objective: kill either Rusty or Sharon. At the same time, Stroh offered his knowledge about Weller to the LAPD in exchange for a deal, but they turned it down. In order to fulfill Stroh's orders, Weller started communicating with Rusty under the guise of being part of his security team and killed someone in Sharon's building to prepare for the kill. He lured Rusty into the apartment and tried to kill him but Rusty managed to dodge it just in time as the police arrived and the killer escaped. While Rusty was testifying against Stroh, the Major Crimes division tracked down and killed Weller who was a major serial killer, partially thanks to the information Stroh gave them giving them a starting point. Afterwards, Stroh was thrown into solitary until they decide what to do with him.
In "Leap of Faith", Stroh fires his attorney and decides to represent himself. He then begins trying to work out a plea bargain to get the death penalty taken off the table in exchange for him telling them about crimes his clients have committed. He has to check with another attorney first about privilege before he does this and Rusty has to make an Impact Statement.
In "Special Master Part One" and "Special Master Part Two", Stroh begins going over his previous cases with a judge before suddenly predicting a murder. Stroh offers information to stop further killings, but demands a new deal which includes meeting with Rusty. During the meeting, Stroh claims that he and Rusty changed each other's destinies. After getting the terms of the deal fulfilled, Stroh murders the judge and escapes, leaving the message "find Jesus of Nazareth" and an arrow on the wall. He later makes it seem like he's buying a rifle to draw the police away and successfully escapes the city. Sharon Raydor believes that the true deal Stroh is giving them is the chance to catch the killer, who they call Burning Man in exchange for him having a chance to escape. Raydor eventually realizes he was tracking the killer through astrology and DDA Rios is able to identify the killer as Markos Christakis, a man Stroh had defended as a juvenile for disfigurement charges. With the help of an astrologer, they locate and capture Christakis who tells them the advice Stroh gave him on escaping which includes being prepared in advance and leaving no witnesses.
In “A Rose Is a Rose” there have been sightings of him in Cyprus and Crete and the LAPD believe that he has fled the country though Raydor kept a secret protective detail on Rusty for awhile.
In "Heart Failure", Fritz Howard brings Sharon a report from Pennsylvania that Stroh may have returned to the United States. Fritz tells Sharon that the connection is thin, but felt she deserved to know.
In "Intersection", Sharon shares a report with Andy Flynn that three people connected to Stroh's past have all mysteriously died. Sharon is now worried that Stroh is indeed back and may be planning to seek revenge on Rusty.
In “Sanctuary City, Part 1”, Stroh's step-mother is found dead, making it five people connected to Stroh's past that have turned up dead. Despite no sign of Stroh himself, protection is ordered for Brenda, Emma Rios, Rusty and possibly Linda Rothman. Sharon is forced to tell Rusty about Stroh's possible return and he decides to become "more proficient" in protecting himself in case Stroh has returned rather than letting Stroh ruin his life again. In “Sanctuary City, Part 2” Rusty begins seeking a permit to carry a concealed gun in case Stroh comes after him and creates a map board in his room of Stroh's possible victims.
Stroh targeted blonde, attractive women in their 20s who lived alone and found them with Dunlap's help. While making deliveries to them in the course of his work, Dunlap would use the bathrooms and unlock their bathroom windows. A few days later, Stroh and Dunlap would break in together through the same window at night and Stroh, wearing a mask to hide his face and a condom to avoid leaving behind DNA, would then rape them. During his later attacks, he was more brutal, even tying a victim to a bedpost and beating her. His initial series of rapes ended with him more or less by accident fatally smothering his victim with a pillow to muffle her screams before he could rape her. Eventually he got so violent that after his seventh victim he started killing his victims in addition to raping them. After Dunlap was arrested, he started approaching his victims pretending to be a photographer. After he was done raping them he would strangle them with a chain and bury their bodies at a separate location.
After being arrested, Stroh began using his former clients to try to get away with his crimes. In the case of Wade Weller, Stroh used a man named Florentino Reyes who had been charged with rape and was defending himself on the charges. Passing motions through library books, Stroh eventually had Reyes start passing messages through prisoners who are about to be released to Weller while making sure to never be seen with Reyes. To prove he'd gotten the messages, Stroh had the prisoners killed so there would be no witnesses and dumped in locations where Stroh would see it on the news so he'd know. When Weller started to fail, Stroh tried to use the opportunity to get himself a deal by passing on information. Later, he offered to open his old cases to stop future crimes and when the serial killer known as Burning Man began striking again, Stroh used the opportunity to back the police into a corner and make a deal with him, then take the chance to escape while the police focused on catching Burning Man.
- The first series of attacks (committed with Dunlap as his accomplice; all raped except Jessica)
- Alexa Smart
- Monica Hill
- Vanessa Davis
- Kim Stansbury
- Rebecca Howl
- Lauren Clark (tied to a bedpost and beaten as well as raped)
- Jessica Goodall (fatally suffocated with a pillow)
- The second series of attacks (committed alone; all raped and fatally strangled with a chain)
- Unnamed woman
- Anna Sills
- Becky Stanley
- Mary Claire Smith
- Karen Oncidi
- Rusty Beck (attempted; held at knifepoint and slashed his leg)
- Brenda Leigh Johnson (attempted)
- Judge Stephen Schaeffer (suffocated with a compressed air duster)
- Gordon Ducrest (Stroh's sixth-grade science teacher; electrocuted)
- Lynn Porter (Stroh's high-school girlfriend; drowned)
- Clyde Fowler (Stroh's ex-professor; shot)
- Unnamed victim (killed in a car accident)
- Carolyn Sayles (Stroh's step-mother; fell to her death)
Victims by ProxyEdit
The following were stabbed twice in the chest and once in the neck by Wade Weller on Stroh's orders
- Keith Mapleton
- Russell Jackson
- Jesus Mario Chavez
- Gregory Boone
- Markos Christakis (defended for disfigurement and mayhem)
- Wade Weller (defended for child abduction; also his stalker writing letters and proxy killer)
- Chris Dunlap (defended for indecent exposure and child molestation; also his accomplice in the first string of attacks)
- George Harris (defended for rape and murder)
- Florentino Reyes (defended for rape; also his accomplice in the proxy murders)