Fearing was born in England and later moved to San Antonio before settling in New York. He had a tall, lanky frame, with unruly hair framing a lean face and thin lips in a perpetual leering smirk. He had a birthmark on his right ankle and a tattoo of a hobbit on his left shoulder.At the age of 38, Fearing evidently committed suicide by jumping off a railroad bridge into the Harlem River. His body was recovered by the police, autopsied, and identified by his sister. The police later found a suicide note on the railroad tracks.
When New York Times journalist William Smithback Jr. was murdered in his apartment ten days later, Fearing—who had lived in the same building until his death—was positively identified by several eyewitnesses, including Nora Kelly and the building's superintendent, as the assailant. He was clearly identifiable on the building's security camera footage entering the building with the strange, slow, aimless heavy-footed shambling shuffle described by the witnesses, then leaving again, covered in blood and carrying the murder weapon.
Vincent D'Agosta and Special Agent Pendergast began investigating the case while mourning the death of their friend, proceeding under the assumption that Fearing had somehow faked his death. They questioned the medical examiner and noted that the autopsy had been sloppily done: no DNA samples were retained, and the sister who had identified the body was now missing and could not be contacted.
The two visited Fearing's mother in a nursing home and collected a DNA sample from her. Nora Kelly compared the DNA to blood samples collected at the scene of Smithback's murder, and confirmed that Fearing was indeed the killer. D'Agosta attained an exhumation order for Fearing's crypt, but they discovered that his body was missing and a small voodoo fetish had been left in its place.
The media got wind of the case and began to speculate that Fearing had risen from the dead as a zombii, possibly under the influence of the Ville des Zirondelles Obeah Cult. Later, Smithback's body went missing from the city morgue and he appeared to have risen as a zombii himself.
Fearing continued to evade capture and terrorized Nora, stalking her in her apartment, her hospital room, and her office at the museum. Nora thought that he appeared very dead. His clothes were torn and bloodstained, his eyes, face, and skin showed signs of decomposition, and he had dirt and leaves in his hair. He never spoke, but made wheezing, gurgling sounds with his throat.
Several days later, a pair of teenagers stumbled across a body in the woods just outside the Ville. The body was positively identified as that of Colin Fearing, and both D'Agosta and Pendergast were astonished to find not a decomposing rotting corpse, but a clean well-dressed body freshly deceased by a prominent gunshot wound to the head.
Fearing had, in fact, been working for former Hollywood director and activist Alexander Esteban, who had been stirring up public sentiment against the Ville des Zirondelles in hopes of gaining access to the grave of an ancestor buried in its crypts. The ancestor, Elijah Esteban, had been a farmer on what was now twenty acres of prime real estate in central Manhattan, and Esteban hoped that finding Elijah's will along with the deed to the farm would give him legal standing for a lucrative lawsuit leading to a multibillion dollar settlement.
Esteban hired Fearing and a reporter, Caitlyn Kidd, as his accomplices, then killed a researcher he had hired to look into records of his family history. The researcher's body was thrown off a bridge into the Harlem River, made to look like Fearing's suicide. Kidd posed as Fearing's sister to identify the body.
Once Fearing's death had been established, he killed Smithback while wearing theatrical makeup to look like a reanimated decomposing version of himself, being careful to make sure he was clearly identifiable to witnesses and security cameras. They stole Smithback's body from the morgue and made a latex mask of his face, which Fearing wore to kill Caitlyn Kidd and stalk and assault Nora Kelly while convincing the public that Smithback had also returned as a zombii.
Finally, having completed his role in plan, Fearing was killed by Esteban, who dumped the actor's body in Inwood Hill Park near the Ville.