The Cold Case Squad investigates the 1964 murder of a college baseball player, Daniel Holtz, who was found beaten to death in an alley behind a gay bar. His mother, Mrs. Helen Holtz from Milwaukee, believes the police swept the killing under the rug. She and her husband helped them to do just that because they didn't push the investigation after discovering where their son was found. The murder was labeled as a robbery/homicide and left unsolved. Mrs. Holtz, who is now dying, realizes she and her husband didn't do the right thing by not investigating their son's death.
In 1964, the case was concluded as a random street murder. Daniel's body was found in an alley behind a bar in what is referred to as "Queen Village" - a bar that no longer exist in 2004. Residents in the area called it the lunchroom at the corner of Sodom and Gomorrah. It was the only place for gays to socialize at that time.
But why was Danny in the alley? The file on the case is very small. His cause of death was blunt force trauma with round wooden implement speculated to be his baseball bat or a cop stick. An anonymous caller to police saw the body lying in the alley.
Danny had a girlfriend named Deborah. He was also romantically involved with another guy in law school, Hank. Danny's mother and father saw him at Danny's upon visiting him in college that year.
Rush, Valens, Vera, and Jeffries head to Queen Village. Jeffries says in 1964, gays frequented the area because it was the only place around meet. They look at the alley and wonder why Danny would be there. Was he chased? Did he get lucky there? Lilly says the anonymous caller saw the body "splayed and protruding" from the alley.
The case file mentions a drag queen called "Tinkerbell" who had information about gay-bashing that went on the neighborhood. There was never any follow-up with Tinkerbell. Lilly thinks Vera should look for Tinkerbell.
Jeffries and Vera are at the district house getting information on area bullies at that time. They search for code violations. They find there is no code for hate crimes and gay-bashings. Vera asks Jeffries if it would be something like "male-on-male assaults". Jeffries says it might be something like "assaults", "drunken disorderly" or "disturbing the peace" incidents. At that time, there were no codes for hate crimes and the term "gay bashing" didn't exist.
Back at headquarters, Stillman tells Rush that the "Hush Room" was managed by Anthony in 1961-1968. Lilly plans to follow up on it. Mrs. Holtz comes in again and wants to know how Danny was killed. They tell her it was blunt force trauma such as a baseball bat. She talked about how much Danny loved baseball and that he was on the Penn team. Lilly wanted to know about Helen's prior mention of Danny's fiancé. Helen said she was really a girlfriend. Lilly wanted to know if Danny had any other friends or romantic interests.
In a flashback of Mr. and Mrs. Holtz visiting Danny at college, we see a male friend with Danny. She realizes that she doesn't know the guy's name but Deborah might. She asks Lilly to let her know is she finds out who the boy is and tells her to let him know she is around and would like to see him.
Rush and Valens are talking with the bar owner, Anthony, of the "Hush Room". Anthony takes them to a private area to talk because he doesn't want his co-workers to know he worked in a gay bar. He used to talk to Danny, who was a baseball nut and played shortstop for the Penn baseball team. He didn't know Tinkerbell. He thought of all of them as "Tinkerbells". He knew about the night Danny died because of the police raid that occurred that night. He usually had a heads-up before the raids but not that night. He said the police were always raiding them, so they paid them off to tip them off, but that night there was no tip-off. When a tip-off came, they used to put the red light out that signaled the couples to switch to guy/girl couples. Anthony said they did hurt people at those raids.
In a flashback we see the police raid in 1964 at the "Hush Room". When everyone hears them coming, the males switch partners and pair up with the women. Daniel is seen sitting at the bar.
Back at the headquarters, Stillman talks to Rush and Valens that there is nothing on the books about a police raid that night. The police department was on the up-and-up back then in this area regarding the "Hush Room". Roseau's Raiders was an elite squad of Captain Roseau's. They took care of payoffs, raids and most likely gay bashing too. That night's raid was off the records. They realize there are two secret worlds to break into for this case: gays and the history of the police department. Scotty wonders how to determine if Danny was beaten with a baseball bat or a cop's nightstick?
Vera and Jeffries seek out Tinkerbell. They learn about Tinkerbell, a drag queen, who was frequently beaten because he was gay and in drag. S/he was never sought as a witness. Information was obtained that s/he was beaten up a lot. He had her nipple sliced off and had surgery at the Veteran's hospital. The two detectives put the VA Hospital on their follow-up list.
Lilly and Scotty talk to Debbie, Danny's girlfriend, who is now an OB-GYN. Debbie tells Lilly that she found out about Danny and Hank when she caught them kissing. She loved Danny. Danny said he loved her but not as much as he loved Hank. She and Danny then remained friends. She felt Danny was being blackmailed. But why? He didn't have any money. Lilly asks Debbie if she knew Hank. Debbie says she did know Hank Phillips. She felt Danny wasn't cruel but the world was. Lilly has someone in the department run a test to find out if a baseball bat or a nightstick killed Danny.
Lilly visits Hank , who still lives in Philly and is now a judge. He is reluctant to give information because of his status. Lilly tells him they were looking at Danny Holtz's death as a possible hate crime/gay bashing. Upon hearing this, Hank says he doesn't remember Danny well enough to help her. Lilly gives him her card, saying "in case something jogs your memory". He tells Lilly that he doesn't talk publicly about "these things", and that he wants to help her but he needs assurances. Lilly promises it will be kept between the two of them and she would take no notes. He agrees. She asks him if Danny was being blackmailed. Hank says no, that he was the one being blackmailed by management at the "Hush Room". He went there with Danny twice. They were running an extortion scheme there and a young law student was a good target. Hank says that in those days he couldn't have been a lawyer if people knew he was gay. Rush wants to know why Danny was trying to get money if Hank was the one being targeted. Hank says Danny felt responsible for the problem because he was out about his sexuality and Hank wasn't. Hank tells her he didn't kill Danny to preserve his career. He also tells Lilly that Danny's teammates on the baseball team really hated him.
In a flashback, we see one of Danny's teammates finding his matches from the "Hush Room" and asking Danny if he went there. Danny acknowledges that he does. His teammate called him a "fag". Hank overhears the conversation.
Hank tells Lilly that when team found out Danny was gay, they made it hard for him, making him an outcast. Danny ended up quitting. In those days, there was no such thing as a gay athlete. Lilly promises to keep the information confidential but says she'd like to have Danny's mother talk to him.
Lilly and Scotty then go to Anthony and ask him about the extortion scam being run around the "Hush Room". Anthony tells them his cousin, using a hidden camera, tried to extort a couple of guys. Anthony's uncle found out about it and stopped it because it would have been bad for business. There was no reason for his cousin to hurt Danny. Lilly wants to know about the raid that night and Anthony says he couldn't see any names because they had taped over their name tags. Lilly tells him that they know he usually got warnings. Anthony says they had a bagman who picked up the envelopes. He was a rookie, named Nelson. They had to give contributions to the "Police Athletic Foundation". Lilly wanted to know if Officer Nelson was at the bar the night Danny was killed. Anthony says that he was always there.
Vera and Jeffries call the VA Hospital trying to find out more about Tinkerbell. They find out that the entire Penn baseball team was at an away game in Ithaca, NY the weekend of Danny's murder. Rush gets the results of the weapons test and it shows that Danny was not killed by a cop's nightstick. The weapon was probably a baseball bat.
Lilly finds out Tinkerbell's real name was George Polk and pays him a visit. Tinkerbell accompanies Lilly and Scotty down to the headquarters. He tells them how he was beaten up by every cop in South Philly when there was gay bashing. They beat him up out of hatred and career advancement. Lilly shows George some mug shots of arrests made in that district in the early 60's. Scotty asks George why he flaunted himself that way if he knew he'd be beaten up for it. George wants to know how he made homicide detective asking such a question. Lilly tells George her partner is new. George then identifies a local ringleader who used to beat him up, O'Brien, who lived near the "Hush Room".
Scotty talks to O'Brien at his business and shows him Tinkerbell's picture. He claims he never hurt any of them but just harassed them or threw stuff at them like Chinese take-out. Then he is shown Danny's picture. He says he doesn't recognize him. He says it was just pranks.
Meanwhile Hank and Lilly visit Danny's mother in the hospital. She recognizes him as the boy who ran out of Danny's room the day she and her husband went to visit Danny at college. Lilly talks about O'Brien and how he used to throw Chinese food on gays.
In a flashback, we see what happened that night as Hank tells them both. Danny and Hank were walking in the alley and O'Brien and his friends came up, threw food on the both of them, and ran away. Danny wanted to see their faces and ran after them calling out to a police officer who was right there. Hank walked away but watched. He saw Danny talking to the officer and pointing to the guys who were running away. Hank then went home and Danny came over. They had an argument and Danny left and went back to the "Hush Room". Hank never saw him again. Lilly wants to know if he knew the name of the officer to which Danny spoke. Hank said he had the paper work because Danny threw it at him that night and called Hank a coward. He kept anything that belonged to Danny. Helen says, "You loved him." Hank says, yes, he did. Helen says she's glad. In the paperwork, there is again the same name, Nelson. Paul Nelson was a rookie back in 1964 in the Third District, working under Captain John Roseau - a "Roseau Raider". He is now retired.
Lilly and Scotty track him down. They confront him about taking a harassment complaint from Danny Holtz back in 1964 and how Danny was murdered later the same night. Paul acknowledges and then says he "knew this day would come". He says Danny had "moxie" because he had noodles dripping from his forehead. He recognized him from the Penn baseball team games he used to attend. Nelson thought the whole situation was embarrassing. He was only 22 and thought everything would be okay and then he became Roseau's bagman. He took Danny's report but that was it. Then a raid was called later in the evening and he saw Danny again.
Nelson says the next time he saw Danny, he was dead. Rush says she isn't buying it. Nelson then says he doesn't need to be talking to them. Rush presses him. Nelson says he and his buddy had chased a patron to the alley and saw the kid's body splayed and protruding from the alley. Lilly says "splayed and protruding" were the words used by the anonymous caller that night. Both Lilly and Scotty confront Nelson about making the call that night. Lilly tries to tell him it was okay, that they are all cops, and forensics thought it was a cop who committed the murder. Nelson gets upset and says that's wrong. Lilly presses him saying he knew because he was there. And then Nelson says he didn't see all of it. He didn't know he was going to die. He saw them beating on Danny and he and his police partner looked the other way. Lilly and Scotty want to know who they were and Nelson said they were guys from the neighborhood. Lilly and Scotty want names. Nelson pulls out a picture of his son with his partner. His son is gay. Nelson says his son thinks his father is a good guy. Lilly and Scotty tell Nelson to tell them for his son's sake. To be a good guy. And so he does. It's the O'Brien guy who lived in the neighborhood and pulled the "pranks" on the gays from the "Hush Room".
In a flashback we see the killing take place in the alley. O'Brien and his friends are making fun of "fag boy". Danny tries to stand up for himself with his bat, but they take the bat from him and beat him. It appears that O'Brien delivered the final blows that caused Danny's death in the alley. Nelson and his partner saw it and did nothing. Nelson was encouraged to walk away by his police partner.