Grace is from a small farming town in Iowa, and her father is a football coach. Grace's cousin Yolanda is supposedly a "psychic." She tends to be overly sensitive at times, but she's very smart. She is also fairly religious and spiritual, believing in psychics even after Patrick, an ex-psychic, explained some tricks of the trade to her in the Pilot. She has also expressed a belief in ghosts. Van Pelt works with Rigsby and Cho most of the time, but she occasionally works with Jane or Lisbon. She is the rookie of the team, having started her job in the Pilot episode. She's very ambitious and has excellent computer skills. Most of the time she does research in the information databases, but she insists on going into the field anytime she can. According to Jane, she suffered a terrible trauma in her early life and never spoke about it, even to herself. Grace's fiancé, Craig O'Laughlin, later turned out to be Red John's accomplice and Grace and Hightower were forced to shoot him. In the episode "His Thoughts Were Red Thoughts", she accidentally admits that someone close to her was abusing her.
Personal Life Edit
Throughout Season One, Van Pelt and Rigsby were mutually attracted and had a friendship which was often flirtatious, but still platonic. Early in Season Two, however, they became lovers. Because dating colleagues is against the rules at CBI, she and Rigsby worked very hard to keep their relationship a secret, but without much success. Jane was quickly aware of their status, having noticed both of them smelling like the same bath soap when they arrived at a crime scene. Cho also seemed to know of their relationship, and Lisbon was trying very hard not to notice that they were dating. In the episode Bleeding Heart, Van Pelt and Rigsby decided to go public, revealing their relationship to the whole team. Cho said that he'd known all along, and that their relationship was more or less an open secret at CBI -- "Half the building knows," Cho said. Jane added, "The only person who didn't know is glaring at you right now," referring to Lisbon.
In spite of Rigsby's and Van Pelt's open, unequivocal admission, Lisbon remained in willful denial. She flatly declared that their relationship couldn't be happening because it was against the rules. However, new CBI chief Madeleine Hightower quickly put Lisbon on notice that she knew of the relationship; she knew that Lisbon knew; and if Lisbon didn't do something about it, she would. Soon after that, Hightower called Rigsby, Van Pelt, and Lisbon on the carpet and laid down the law: She ordered Rigsby and Van Pelt to either end their relationship or one of them would have to leave the CBI or transfer to another office. Rigsby elected to put in for a transfer to the San Francisco office while Van Pelt stayed in her job at the main office in Sacramento. Grace, however, broke up with Rigsby because she didn't want him to leave the unit. She also reasoned that if he had taken the transfer to preserve their relationship, he would have ended up resenting her and the relationship would have ended anyway.
Van Pelt and Rigsby still have some feelings for each other, but they have been able to re-establish a professional working relationship. Grace has also moved on emotionally, having a relationship with an FBI Agent (Craig O'Laughlin) then getting engaged in the third-season episode Blood for Blood.
In the final episode of the season it is revealed that O'Laughlin is Red John's mole and is shot by Van Pelt and Hightower.
In the episode Red Velvet Cupcakes, she and Rigsby pose as a couple with relationship issues. At the end of the episode, she shows up at Rigsby's place and starts kissing him. Their relationship has continued since - and they married in Wedding in Red, after the policy of dating changed.
Grace had a sister who killed herself.
- According to a character list from the Pilot script, Grace was originally named "Melody Van Pelt".
- In Red Dawn, on Van Pelt's file it was stated that she was born on April 4, 1983. This is the same date as the actress, Amanda Righetti, who portrays Grace Van Pelt.