|“||The town demanded blood for blood.||”|
|— Mr. Svenson to Archie and Veronica[src]|
He was the janitor at Riverdale High School and notably the only survivor of the Conway family massacre forty years ago by the hands of the Riverdale Reaper. He was subsequently killed by Sheriff Keller and revealed to be the Black Hood, the serial killer who was terrorizing Riverdale. With Joseph being the last remaining member of the Conway Family, the Conway bloodline ended with his death. He served as a hidden antagonist for Season 2.
In Chapter Twenty-Three: The Blackboard Jungle, Archie revealed to Agent Adams that despite unmasking the Black Hood and discovering that Joseph Svenson was the man under the hood, he wasn't entirely sure that they had gotten the right guy.
Joseph Conway grew up in Riverdale where his family lived in Fox Forest, where the Conway House use to be. He grew up with two other siblings, a brother and a sister, along with his parents. One night, his family's home was intruded, by the Riverdale Reaper, who came into his home and killed his entire family. Joseph, was the only member of the family who survived that fateful night, where he snuck out of his bedroom window, later running outside, as he stayed and watched from afar as his family was murdered.
After news of his family's murder spread, Joseph identified the Reaper to a group of towns people, one of which was Betty Cooper's grandfather, who then took the law into their own hands by executing the alleged killer in Pickens Park. Soon thereafter, Joseph was placed into the Sisters of Quiet Mercy group home, where he lived for an unknown period of time. While there, he received a surprise visit from the same group of men, who executed the Reaper. However, this time they were joined by a woman with striking white hair, save for a cherry-red stripe, later to be identified as Rose Blossom. During his time with the Sisters, Joseph admitted that in his terror and shock, he may have accused the wrong man of killing his family. At the time, the Sheriff was Sheriff Howard, who was investigating the Conway's families case. It wasn't long after, Joseph was adopted, where he had to change his last name for his own safety, as he continued to remain a resident of Riverdale, where he lived with his adoptive family, while he attended Riverdale High.
While Josie McCoy was practicing in a music room late after school hours, she was interrupted by Mr. Svenson. He said was about to lock up, asking Josie if she'll be fine by herself, presumably so that he knows she regularly stays late after school to practice on her music. He reassured her, telling her to not inform Principal Weatherbee or "he'll have my head."
Josie was receiving disturbing letters and gifts from a deluded obsessor, declaring their love for her in an unsettling manner. After Josie went on a date with Chuck Clayton, her friend Cheryl Blossom suggested that he could be the mystery person, more so because he had stated he had began taking art classes, and Josie's obsessor sent her a detailed drawing of her. Josie and Cheryl claimed that Chuck was the one sending her all of the gifts and letters, and so Mr. Svenson forcefully removed the boy from Josie's sight.
The Conway Massacre
Archie Andrews and Veronica Lodge were researching and finding facts on a serial killer that loomed over Riverdale forty years ago, known as the "Riverdale Reaper". He broke into a house that was at the edge of Fox Forest. In there lived the Conway family. The Reaper shot Jim and Mary Ellen Conway dead, as well as their two children. However, Archie and Veronica discovered that there was a third child that survived, finding his initials to be "J.C.", along with a photo of the surviving child. After looking through photos from over the years in Riverdale High, they found a boy that looked exactly the same, and underneath his name was said to be "Joseph Svenson".
They realized that the janitor, Mr. Svenson, was the child. They went to confront him and he ran off in terror, but was pinned against a locker by Archie who wanted answers. They suspected that he could possibly be the current Riverdale serial killer, wanting revenge and blaming the town for what happened to his family. Mr. Svenson revealed that he heard gunshots the night of the massacre and that he escaped through his bedroom window, later seeing the Reaper leave covered in his family's blood. The next day, a group of men took Joseph to the motel the Reaper was apparently staying at because he was "a con man, a preacher passing through town." He pointed the gunman out. The group of men took the Riverdale Reaper away and killed him in revenge, claiming it to be "justice". Joseph Conway later changed his name to Joseph Svenson to hide his identity. Veronica accused Mr. Svenson of being the Black Hood, but Archie disproved it due to having seen the Black Hood's eyes, describing them to be green.
The Man Behind the Hood
Betty Cooper and Archie were suspicious of the new janitor at Riverdale High, who claimed he was called in because Mr. Svenson wasn't around. After asking a staff member, they learned that he "called in sick" and "sounded terrible". They knew something wasn't right, so they decided to go to his house to investigate, only to find no one home. Later on, Betty received a gift from her "Secret Santa", but it was actually from the Black Hood: Mr. Svenson's finger, much to her horror. Archie and Betty discovered that the Black Hood abducted Mr. Svenson and cut off his finger. The Black Hood anonymously called them, Joseph being heard for the first few seconds of the call asking Betty for help, just to be interrupted by the Black Hood, who said Svenson was "losing a lot of blood". He tasked the two to find out what sin Mr. Svenson carried out in order to save him, as that being the reason why the Black Hood kidnapped him.
They decided to pay a visit to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, where they found out a young Joseph Conway was a patient there. A woman told them the story that Svenson told Archie and Veronica, of how he pointed out the man that murdered his family and a group of men took the man away and killed him. She did mention, however, that Svenson could've easily pointed the wrong man out, accidentally having an innocent man killed. Betty came to the conclusion that is what Mr. Svenson's sin is. After visiting Rose Blossom, who was one of the many people involved with capturing the innocent man, she revealed that they buried him alive. Betty's grandfather Louis was also involved. Rose mentioned that they were "standing under the Devil's hands". Upon looking through photos of her grandfather Louis, Betty found a picture that was similar to Rose's description of the "Devil's hands", that being a creepy-looking tree that Louis and several men were standing under, being the spot where they buried the accused man alive. Archie pointed out it was in Pickens Park, and so they traveled there.
Arriving, Archie and Betty found a plaque sticking from the ground under the tree of the "Devil's hands", reading: "Here lies Joseph Conway." They dug for some time, believing the Black Hood had buried Joseph alive. However, after opening the coffin, they found it was empty. Alarmingly, the Black Hood appeared, pointing a gun at the two of them. He told Archie to get in the coffin, otherwise he'd shoot Betty in the head. Archie did so, and the hooded man told a distressed Betty to shut the coffin and start digging. Betty proclaimed that Archie doesn't have to die, neither does Mr. Svenson. Fortunately, they heard sirens approaching as Betty called Sheriff Tom Keller before arriving at Pickens Park. As the Black Hood was distracted, Betty used the shovel to hit the Black Hood with. She hurriedly got Archie out of the coffin in time. They found the Black Hood had run off, but Archie found his gun that he left behind and took it.
They ran after the Black Hood to a bridge above Sweetwater River. Coming to a stop, Archie shouted at the madman who was going to jump into the water, threatening that'd he shoot him if he attempted to jump, also confronting him over why he targeted all of his friends and shot his father. The Hood attempted to jump anyway, but was stopped in his tracks when he was shot fatally in the chest by Sheriff Keller who came in time. He told Archie to drop the gun and carefully stepped over the deceased Black Hood, confirming him to be dead. Sheriff Keller took off the hood, unmasking the psychopath to be none other than Joseph Svenson himself, notably with a finger missing (which the Black Hood disturbingly gifted to Betty).
Betty described Joseph's motives as presumably "to balance the scale of sinners" as Joseph put the blame on the wrong man for killing his family as a child. Additionally, he could've been blaming the town over what happened to his family.
Joseph Svenson was a man of medium-height, seemingly in his forties, often seen wearing his janitor uniform.
Much of Svenson's personality remains a mystery, but he is vengeful if nothing else. Even as a child, he sought justice for his family's murder, telling Archie and Veronica that justice had been served when he sentenced the man who killed his family to death as the town demanded blood for blood.
- "Chapter Twenty: Tales from the Darkside"
- "Chapter Twenty-One: House of the Devil"
- "Chapter Twenty-Two: Silent Night, Deadly Night"
- "Chapter Twenty-Three: The Blackboard Jungle" (archive footage; mentioned)
- "Chapter Thirty-Two: Prisoners" (mentioned)
- "Chapter Thirty-Four: Judgment Night" (mentioned)
- It was heavily implied in Chapter Thirty-One: A Night to Remember that he has an accomplice or at least inspired a copycat murderer.
- Sheriff Keller revealed in Chapter Eighteen: When a Stranger Calls that the hand writing in the two letters from the Black Hood didn't match; this supports the former theory.
- In the Archie Comics, Mr. Svenson is the custodian at Riverdale High and speaks with a strong Swede accent. He is hard-working and admired throughout the school by many students, particularly Archie and his friends.
- See also: Category:Images of Joseph Svenson
- ↑ DeWille, James (writer) & Wilkinson, Dawn (director) (November 29, 2017). "Chapter Twenty: Tales from the Darkside". Riverdale. Season 2. Episode 7. The CW.
- ↑ Lawrence, Yolanda (writer) & Sullivan, Kevin (director) (December 6, 2017). "Chapter Twenty-One: House of the Devil". Riverdale. Season 2. Episode 8. The CW.
- ↑ Boucher, Shepard (writer) & Seidenglanz, Rob (director) (December 13, 2017). "Chapter Twenty-Two: Silent Night, Deadly Night". Riverdale. Season 2. Episode 9. The CW.