Dr. Whitney Cadwalader Frock was a physical anthropologist and curator at the New York Museum of Natural History and advisor to Margo Green. He occupied the Cadwalader Chair in Statistical Paleontology at Columbia University and was chairman of the Evolutionary Biology Department at the museum.
Appearance and Mannerisms
Dr. Frock was a brilliant and kindly older man who was described as being somewhat forgetful (he often scheduled over his weekly meeting with Margo by mistake). He was obsessed by his own research, and Margo often feared she was boring him by discussing her dissertation.
Frock had white hair, bushy eyebrows and a ruddy complexion. He preferred conservative dark or tweed suits, but had a fondness for loud ties. When listening intently he would rest his chin against his chest and close it eyes, making it appear that he was sleeping.
Frock was confined to a wheelchair after contracting polio. Nevertheless he conducted significant fieldwork and published a number of books over his long career. Many of his theories were the basis of standard anthropological textbooks.
Little is known about Frock's life outside of the museum. If he was married or had family, they were not a major part of his life by the beginning of Relic.
Frock had been a museum employee for many years and had several students including Greg Kawakita and Margo Green. These two competed for his limited attention, wrapped up as he was in his own research. While his students adored him, many of the museum's higher-ups including Assistant Director Ian Cuthbert considered Frock to be past his prime and perhaps a little touched.
Frock and Kawakita worked together closely on a computer program, the Genetic Sequence Extrapolator, which sequenced DNA and extrapolate information about the organism from a database of known markers.
At some point in his early life, Frock contracted polio which left him unable to use his legs. Relic stated that he was crippled from childhood, while Reliquary revised this to have occurred while he was a young scientist working in the Ituri Forest of Africa.
Frock did pioneering research in the field of physical anthropology until recurring malaria forced him to retire from fieldwork (Reliquary states that this was a result of his contracting polio). He wrote several books and proposed a theory he called the "Callisto Effect", which stated that evolution periodically brings about a creature so powerful and well-adapted (a "monster species") that it triggers a mass extinction event. He kept a fossil footprint on his desk that he believed to represent historical evidence of a "monster species".
Frock was working at the Museum during the failed 1987 Whittlesey/Maxwell expedition. He was aware of the subsequent disappearance of curator Hugo Montague, but like most museum employees, he put little stock in the rumors of a "museum beast".
RelicBill Smithback discover the nature of the killer. With his assistance they examined the crates from the 1987 Whittlesey/Maxwell Expedition and found the fibers of the Mbwun Lily. Frock and Margo used the gene sequencing program to analyze a claw recoved from Mbwun and extrapolate its characteristics. They also DNA sequenced the lily and found that it contained high levels of an unknown virus. The two theorized that Mbwun was addicted to the lily and used some of the fibers to lure the beast away from guests after the disastrous opening gala of the Superstition Exhibition.
After Mbwun was killed, Frock clung to his "monster species" theory. His protégé Kawakita soon learned the truth, that Mbwun had once been human and was transformed into a monster by the virus contained in the Mbwun Lily. Soon afterward, Kawakita left the museum to experiment with the virus in his own private laboratory.
After the events of Relic, Frock was considered a major contender to be the next director of the museum, but as he explained to Kawakita, the position did not interest him. Instead he went into semi-retirement. Margo Green finished her. Ph.D. and became an assistant professor at Columbia University.
Eighteen months after the museum killings, the two met again. Frock and Green were called in to examine two skeletonized bodies pulled from the Humboldt Kill. Both had apparently lain underground for some time before being washed into a storm drain and then into the river. One of the skeletons showed severe deformities and abnormal bone growth.Frock, Margo Green, and medical examiner Dr. Simon Brambell worked together at the museum to autopsy and identify the bodies. Frock and Brambell quickly developed a rivalry and came to detest one another. Margo noted a change in personality in her old mentor. When he had been in a position of authority he was always kind and solicitous; now, working with Brambell and with Margo a scientist in her own right he often seemed defensive and even petty.
During the course of the investigation, Brambell was attacked and kill in an apparent mugging. Frock received the news at the museum and told Margo that, despite their differences, he respected the medical examiner and felt a sense of loss over his death. Following a lead begun by Brambell, Frock and Margo discovered that the unknown skeleton was none other than Greg Kawakita.
Margo began to track Kawakita's movements in his final months. She discovered that he was growing the Mbwun Lily in his laboratory and came to suspect what Kawakita had previously discovered; that the lily had the power to transform people into creatures with the characteristics of Mbwun. Frock expressed shock and skepticism at the idea and stormed out of the room.
In reality, Frock knew what Margo was saying to be true. Kawakita had come to him before his death, already changed by the lily. He confessed to his old mentor that he had been selling the lily extract to addicts, who called it glaze, and that he had lost control of them.
Frock agreed to help his former student. Together they refined the drug, managing to remove most of the physical side effects, but there was still a generation of users (nicknamed Wrinklers by the underground homeless) that had been permanently transformed. Frock used his knowledge of anthropology to set up a tea-ceremony-like ritual around the consumption of the drug.
After Kawakita's death, Frock asumed leadership of the Wrinklers. At some point he started to take glaze himself. The more refined version of the drug restored some of his lost physical abilities, including the use of his legs. Frock expanded his ritual into a full-blown cult and preached that he could heal the Wrinklers, although he knew this was unlikely. In public he continued to use his wheelchair so as not to arouse suspicion.
In the Astor Tunnels deep under New York, Frock directed his minions to build a temple similar to the Kothoga hut discovered by the 1987 Whittlesey/Maxwell Expedition. The Wrinklers were already killing people to eat the hypothalamus when Glaze was not available, so Frock had them build the structure out of human bones and skulls.
Margo, Special Agent Pendergast, Vincent D'Agosta, Bill Smithback and a homeless community leader named Mephisto encountered Frock in the Astor Tunnels during one of the rituals. Margo recognized some of the artifacts clustered around the hut as similar to ones in the museum's collections.
Frock revealed his involvement with Kawakita and that he had killed Kawakita and Dr. Brambell. He told the group that he planned to be the catalyst for the next wave of evolution on earth. He planned to release the Mbwun Lily and its virus into the ocean through the storm drains, in the hopes of triggering a new mass extinction.
As Frock was about to have the group killed, explosions and gunfire rocked the tunnel. The last surviving member of a Navy SEAL team sent to blow up the storm drain entrances and prevent the lily from escaping had arrived in the temple area. A firefight ensued and Mephisto detonated an antipersonnel mine, killing himself and destroying the temple. Frock died in the ensuing firestorm, his arms outstretched in triumph at the thought that no one could stop his plan.