In Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the family of a missing 7-year old boy, Kyle Murphy, appeals to the public to provide any information that will help the police find him. Det. Bill Lancaster, the lead detective and a family friend of the Murphys, had sought the BAU's help because there had been two previously murdered and assaulted boys in the community recently.
Dr. Berton Grebin once said, "To lose a child is to lose a piece of oneself."
Prentiss interviews the Murphys and then gives a profile about the unsub. The unsub could probably have good social skills, be highly functioning, and have a steady job. Children will have no problem talking to him because he could have been wearing a uniform, such as a delivery man. Mrs. Murphy needs some time to rest, so Prentiss focuses on the father and their older son, Danny. They tell her they not noticed a stranger who could've taken Kyle. Danny asks to be excused so he can play, and his father explains he still doesn't understand what's happening.
The unsub has no specific type, and Reid thinks he might be more interested with the boys' ages and not their appearance. Rossi visits Kyle's room and notices the disorder resembles the first two abductions, but it was more chaotic. Kyle had had time to drink water in the kitchen and someone had broken in through a window. Garcia learns Hugh Rollins, one of the listed sex offenders in the area, had no credit card purchases or calls during the days during which the first two boys went missing, but he had contact with their families when he sold them televisions. He has child pornography on his computer and Morgan finds toys he had taken as trophies. Det. Lancaster tries to shoot him as he tries to escape, but Morgan stops him and takes down Rollins by himself. There's no evidence that Kyle was ever in his house, so the BAU sends a search team to the woods. The mother of a previous victim is able to identify that one of the toys belonged to her son. Kyle's father can't identify any of the toys as belonging to his son. Rossi threatens Hugh Rollins with stories of what the prisoners in Trenton State can do to him. He agrees to confess to killing Kyle with a deal that will send him to state penitentiary rather than Trenton State. Upon further questioning, Hotchner learns he doesn't even know where Kyle's body was dumped. He was apparently the culprit in the first two abductions, but not in Kyle's. Reid and Rossi gathers that Kyle slept in his brother's room, not in the room where he was supposedly abducted. That room was staged to look like it was the crime scene. Kyle's body had been found in the woods and it had been dumped with care, not like the first two boys.
Rossi and Morgan confront Det. Lancaster about staging the crime scene. He admits to killing Kyle and agrees to put it in writing. Prentiss notices how Kyle's parents held hands and seemed to protect each other. Hotchner talks to the parents as Prentiss is left with Danny in a separate room. She sees how Danny looks unconcerned during the press conference about Kyle's disappearance and how he angrily pounds the bag of chips with his fist when he can't open it. He tells her how Kyle had broken his model plane and he had chased him. The parents recall how they saw Kyle on the floor, dead. They had enlisted Det. Lancaster's help them stage the crime scene because they couldn't afford to lose Danny, although he had killed his younger brother. What surprises the team is that Danny had stuffed airplane parts down Kyle's throat; the son they were trying to protect is a sociopath. Det. Lancaster is then arrested for tampering with a crime scene.
André Maurois wrote, "Without a family, man, alone in the world, trembles with cold."