The Killing: Who Killed Rosie Larsen?: Our Theory


We’re baaaack! With AMC’s recent announcement that they’ve rescued The Killing from the land of the cancelled and have decided to push ahead with shooting a brand new third season, we thought it only fair that we should rescue these old posts from our archives as well.

Over the next few weeks we’ll try to get them all back into circulation. They start off slow, but three or four weeks into it, you’ll see that we get uber obsessed and start jotting down all of the details from both versions, detective style.

The following is a peek back at our original guess at how we thought the murder mystery would resolve.  We got the Aunt Terry part right, but we thought it had more to do with Rosie’s beloved butterflies.  All things considered, we still like our ending better.

With just three more episodes to go we’ve reviewed the case files and we’ve come to a conclusion: Terry Marek is ultimately the one responsible for Rosie Larsen’s murder. Read on to absorb our full theory and let us know what you think.

Missed a post in this series? Play catch-up using the links below:



What we know:

  1. Rosie Larsen had been distant and disconnected from her friends and family for months leading up to the murder.
  2. The rest of the Larsen family was away on a camping trip the weekend Rosie was murdered.
  3. Rosie Larsen’s biological father is David Rainer not Stan Larsen.
  4. Janek Kovarsky (I guess we’ve been spelling his name wrong for a LONG time), Michael Adams, Mayor Leslie “Bud” Adams, and Indian tribal leader Nicole Jackson are all working together on an illegal scheme to make millions of dollars on a waterfront project in Seattle.
  5. Rosie Larsen and her aunt Terry Marek both worked as call girls (Rosie at least used the site to facilitate some sort of meeting) were members of the online dating service Beau Sollei. (Janek’s thugs destroyed the evidence and the website’s servers after Stan turned to him for help in protecting his family and solving his daughter’s murder.)
  6. Rosie Larsen was using Terry Marek’s ATM card at the casino to deposit the money she received from her clients working the floor as a waitress?.
  7. Alexi Giffords drove Rosie Larsen to the casino ferry docks on the night she was murdered. She later left Alexi a voicemail from the tenth floor of the casino hotel that she was nervous because she saw “him” again and he wasn’t supposed to be there.
  8. Mayor Leslie “Bud” Adams has a thing for teenage girls.
  9. Rosie Larsen was discovered hiding at the construction site on the tenth floor of the casino hotel, but she was not murdered there.
  10. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning following the encounter on the tenth floor Rosie fled into the woods on foot from a town car that stopped at a remote station to gas up.
  11. Terry Marek is obsessed with Michael Ames and believes that he feels the same way about her even though he’s recently been rebuking her advances.

What we theorize (Scroll down to the latest update):

Who Killed Rosie Larsen?Terry Marek got her niece Rosie Larsen a job working as a call girl for Beau Sollei telling her it would be a fun job, an easy way to meet nice guys, and a quick way to earn some extra cash. Her friend and co-worker at her “cover” job maid Mary may deny it, but it’s true. Through this escort service she met Mayor Leslie “Bud” Adams and things quickly got freaky. Afraid of the Mayor’s power and unable to tell her friends or family what was occurring because of the shame involved, Rosie begins to become closed off and distant. Her former boyfriend Jasper Ames told the detectives that Rosie Larsen was a virgin which he wrongly assumed. He said she cried anytime he would bring up sex. This is because she was being abused by the mayor.

Fed up and seeing no way out of her situation Rosie Larsen decides to flee and begin a new life, but before doing so she finds a letter revealing that David Rainer was her real father. She visits him only out of curiosity about finding out more about who both of her real parents are. She’s not angry at Stan Larsen.

On the night she’s set to leave town Rosie Larsen returns to the tenth floor of the casino hotel, a spot where she often takes cigarette breaks between cleaning hotel rooms. She goes out on the balcony to take a last look at the Seattle skyline one final time before she leaves this life behind and hears voices approaching. She calls and leaves Alexi Giffords a panicked voicemail.

In walk Nicole Jackson, Mayor Leslie “Bud” Adams and Michael Ames. They beat Rosie Larsen when she struggles to escape and take her out the back exit of the casino and plop her in Michael Ames town car. He takes the long way back across Desolation Bridge and when he’s forced to stop for gas Rosie escapes and flees into the woods. Michael Ames does not pursue her. This is a mistake on the part of the detectives. They found evidence that Rosie ran through the woods, but NOT that anyone was following her.  At some point he ditches the car in question and takes a taxi cab home.

Rosie Larsen returns home to find her family away, but luckily for her aunt Terry Marek is there. She finally comes clean about everything that has been happening and she also spills what she overheard on the tenth floor of the casino hotel. She pleads with Terry Marek to help her, but Terry Marek knows that she can’t. For one, she can’t ever have her sister Mitch Larsen and her husband Stan Larsen find out that her actions directly led to thier daughter Rosie Larsen being prostituted and abused. Even if the girl promises to keep her mouth shut now, there’s no guarantee that she won’t spill the beans at some later point. For two, she’s madly in love with Michael Ames and would do anything to protect him and secure a future with him. Backed into a corner Terry Marek feels that she has no choice but to off her niece. How does she secure a car from the Richmond campaign though? That’s a head scratcher, but it’s probably something that could easily be arranged by any of the major players (Janek, Michael, Nicole, or Leslie.)  In any event she tricks Rosie Larsen into believing that she’ll drive her out of town and help her with her plan to escape.

Remember when talking to the psych ward shrink detective Sarah Linden theorizes that the person who ultimately killed Rosie Larsen threw her in the trunk because they couldn’t bear to watch her die and didn’t want to see her eyes. The person with the greatest emotional bond to Rosie Larsen? Terry Marek! Poor misguided Terry Marek. She’d do anything for Michael Ames, but he’s disgusted by her actions and now wants nothing to do with her. Perhaps he thought Terry Marek would keep Rosie quiet another way, but it seems that murder was not on his mind.

Mayor Adams doctors a photo of Darren Richmond at a tollbooth on Desolation Bridge the night of the murder for two reasons. One, he can’t have a long term investigation happen, it could reveal that he was having a relationship with a teenage girl which would ruin his political career and two, it gets his main rival in his re-election campaign arrested and immediately removed from the race.

Update June 5th, 2012 (After watching episode 11 / Day Twenty Two)

It seems fairly obvious now that Terry Marek is in fact our killer. The way she reacted to finding a picture of her dead niece in Stan Larsen’s draw is telling as well as her conversation with him at the park about Michael Ames and how their plans for a life together fell apart. Also, Stan Larsen telling her that he wants her to look after the boys if anything happens to him and her reaction to his request was priceless. He’s obviously clueless as to how cold Aunt Terry really is inside.

I often find that the simplest solution makes the most sense when it comes figuring these things out, but there are a few things I do still wonder about:

Did Rosie Larsen really go all the way to the Casino just to peer out at the skyline one final time before she fled? I’m thinking she must have had something stashed at the construction site that she went to retrieve that night and that maybe she changed her mind and wasn’t fleeing at all. Could she have had something on the Mayor and his plot with Jackson and Ames? I suspect that he’s the man Alexi Giffords told the detectives Rosie Larsen saw at the ferry and he’s also the same man she referenced in the voice mail she later left for him. Could he alone have confronted her on the tenth floor?

The taxi cab with the broken taillight Michael Ames took home on the night of Rosie Larsen’s murder has to come back into play. Where did he take it from? Could Rosie have escaped and fled to Terry’s where she walked in on Michael Ames and Terry having an argument? Michael Ames certainly would have had enough time to get back to the city after his meeting with Nicole Jackson. Perhaps Rosie was shoved into his town car, but it was the Mayor and possibly Benjamin Abani who were actually using the vehicle.

This still leaves open the question of how Rosie Larsen’s body ended up in the back of a car that was stolen from the Richmond campaign. Remember the Mayor had a mole in the campaign, so getting the car wasn’t a big deal. Perhaps he had planned to off Rosie himself and had ordered the car to be stolen, but how then does Terry Marek end up finishing the job? We know that Rosie escapes into the woods behind a gas station early in the morning and presumably makes her way to Terry Marek’s place, but how then does Terry Marek end up with the campaign car?

Isn’t it great that right on cue Mitch returned at the end of last night’s episode? Get ready Terry Marek; I fully believe your sister is coming for you. Perhaps she’ll even use the gun we now know that Stan Larsen leaves in the glove compartment of his truck to finish you off.

Finally, what I’ve believed all along, that the Richmond campaign was merely a distraction to the investigation seems to be coming true, but I’m still waiting for the “uh oh” moment when Gwen and Jamie pull some underhanded stunt that goes against everything Richmond believes in, in order to get him elected. They’ve both worked too hard to let him lose and his victory needs to start with corruption to show that the new boss is no better than the old. Something tells me that when it’s all over Gwen and Jamie, not Richmond will be in a position of power and they’ll be the ones pulling on his puppet strings.

Update June 8th, 2012 (After rewatching Day One and Day Two to see the characters initial reactions to the crime)

At the start of the series we see Rosie running through the woods and she’s being pursued by someone we can’t see.  At some point she collapses.  Later when Linden and Holder are investigating the scene the dogs lose Rosie’s scent right at the spot where she collapsed.  If she didn’t make it out of the woods on her own then how was she transported from this spot to the trunk of the Richmond campaign car?

The first words Terry ushers to Mitch in relation to Rosie are “Any word on Rosie?” and “What’d the cops say?”

The police question Jasper at school with only the principal present.  At one point Michael Ames burst into the room and asks every one to give him a moment alone with his son.  Jasper stands and makes to say that he didn’t do anything.  Michael Ames hits him across the face and says “What did you do this time?”  This seems to imply that he doesn’t know Rosie is dead.  Why would he make such a display to an empty room unless it was genuine?  It also could establish that Jasper has been pulling “shit” on his dad for a while, and that maybe, just maybe, he was telling the truth when he fessed up to sending the black mail text to Michael’s phone.  Circumstantial at best, but even though we know Michael Ames was at the casino that night, I still think it was the Mayor that Rosie spotted and was afraid of in her voice mail to Alexi.

Updated June 9th, 2012 (Updated one final time before the two part finale: It’s all about the butterflies)

After rewatching some of the early days in the series it now seems clear to me that Rosie was attempting to impersonate Terry Marek, but for what aim? Remember, the girl has her boots, her ID, and her ATM card, and she’s getting dolled up for trips the casino. Also, three days before she’s murdered she uses her computer to access the escort web site. Does she set up a random meeting with a john that turns out to be the mayor by pretending to be Terry’s online persona “Simone?” Or is she more calculating and she’s actually after something specific? If she’s that afraid after an initial meeting why does she risk returning to the casino? One could argue that she used the site to setup a meeting with Michael Ames, but that doesn’t make sense as Terry and Michael are in direct connect with one another by this point, they wouldn’t need the anonymity the site provides. Is there something on the tenth floor that she needs to deal with before she skips town?

Will the destruction of the waterfront ruin the habitat of thousands of butterflies? We know the girl is obsessed with them. Could she be trying to save these innocent creatures? Does she have some sort of evidence to this end that environmental groups would be all over? Here’s an example:  Is she trying to blackmail the mayor into abandoning the waterfront by exposing the fact that he hires prostitutes?

We know Ames, Jackson, and Rosie are all at the casino the night of the murder. We know Terry is at least at the ferry docks from what she’s told the detectives. We know the rest of the Larson family is off camping (except Mitch’s parents, it would be priceless if they committed the crime, no?) We have no idea where the mayor or Jamie or Benjamin Abani were. We know Richmond and Gwen were having a relaxing stay at suicide bridge.

Ames and Jackson are plotting to tank the waterfront project with Janek’s help without the Mayor. The mayor was pissed when the bodies were discovered on day twelve to the point that it’s obvious that he wasn’t involved. The question is why. Originally from rewatching, it sounds like a mall was going there. Now because Indian bones were discovered (planted) it sounds like Jackson can get involved and she and Ames can somehow make more money.  Everyone, including Rosie, has a stake in the waterfront.  Every episode features some reference to butterflies.

What if Jasper really did send the text to his father’s phone from Rosie asking for money and saying that he’ll expose the relationship if he doesn’t get it? Terry could see this and believe it was all part of Rosie’s plan, impersonating her, threatening her boyfriend, and in a jealous rage flip out and decide to remove the girl from the equation and protect what’s hers.  The Mayor is manipulating everyone else, it doesn’t seem like too much a stretch to imagine that he could use Terry as a pawn as well.

Thanks to everyone who commented and helped.  This will be my final update before the finale begins!

Where we go from here:

In the original series Forbrydelsen, Theis (Stan) kills his daughter’s murderer. It’s one of the saddest and greatest season enders in television history. Will AMC have the balls to stick to the original and do something similar? We’re guessing yes, but as much as he loved her, Stan Larsen isn’t Rosie Larsen’s biological father. Mitch Larsen however is her real mother. Remember when we pointed out the book on Stan Larsen’s bed when Mitch Larsen called him on Day Twenty Two?:

The Story of the Treasure Seekers is a novel by E. Nesbit. First published in 1899, it tells the story of Dora, Oswald, Dicky, Alice, Noel, and Horace Octavius (H. O.) Bastable, and their attempts to assist their widowed father and recover the fortunes of their family; its sequels are the The Wouldbegoods (1899) and The New Treasure Seekers (1904). The novel’s complete name is The Story of the Treasure Seekers: Being the Adventures of the Bastable Children in Search of a Fortune. The original edition included illustrations by H. R. Millar. The Puffin edition (1958) was illustrated by Cecil Leslie.

Foreshadowing? Perhaps Stan Larsen won’t be windowed, but instead he will have to raise the boys alone because his wife Mitch Larsen will be put away for a long time for murdering her sister Terry Marek. We won’t speculate as to how that all goes down, but if AMC really wants to rescue this show and go out of this season with a big bang that people will be talking about, this is the ticket. It stays close to the spirit of the original and sends a strong message that the network isn’t afraid to tackle difficult and dark subject matter.

Go ahead; take your best shot at shooting some holes in our theory! Who do YOU think killed Rosie Larsen?

About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.