Criminal Minds

Season 3 Episode 11


Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Dec 12, 2007 on CBS

Episode Recap

Under a bright full moon in Fredericksburg, Virginia, young couples are gathered in a field, passing around drinks in plastic cups, and partying. Although the atmosphere seems light, one of the young women is uneasy, worried about a friend – Julie - who has been missing for three weeks. The boys teasingly advise her to stick close to them for safety, but she is very upset, convinced that her friend would not just disappear. Another girl, Molly, shrugs off her fears with the thought that Julie probably left town on her own. Other young couples begin to glance around at the surrounding darkness with uncertainty, when Danny staggers into the group, his hand clutched to his bloody throat. Gasping for breath, he falls to the ground. Molly's boyfriend, Justin, reaches down to help him, but Danny jumps up laughing, having successfully pranked the group.

Molly and Justin sneak off behind a fence, a few yards away from the other partiers, and begin to kiss. They hear a rustling in the nearby trees, and Justin, sure that it is Danny again, walks over to get rid of him. When he returns to his make-out spot, he finds Molly's shoes and sweatshirt, but she is gone. Danny and Justin call out for her, but she doesn't answer.

In Quantico, Virginia, JJ Jareau of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit sorts through bloody crime scene photos of dead young women as she prepares the next case for the team. She seems upset, troubled by the photographs. Finally, she places them into the file folder and walks briskly to the conference room where the team is waiting for her. She apologizes for her lateness, and begins to talk about the Fredericksburg case, but there is a tone in her voice and an awkwardness to her actions that telegraph her distress. She explains that twenty-year-old Molly McCarthy disappeared last night, the third woman to disappear in the area in the last six weeks. A few days ago a woman's body parts were found in nearby Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park the site of the Battle of Chancellorsville. The remains have been identified as those of the first victim, and lab results show that she had been dead only for a week. The killer obviously wanted to spend a great deal of time with his victim before killing her. Reid mentions reading about a similar case in 1980 and JJ explains that in the winter of that year six women went missing and their dismembered bodies were found in the same battlefield park. That case is still open. The victimology has changed from drug addicts and runaways in 1980 to college students in the present day. Hotchner thinks the two missing women might still be alive.

Prentiss is wondering about a possible link between the two cases as 27 years makes for a very long "cooling off" period for the unsub. Morgan mentions that the BTK killer resurfaced after 25 years, but Reid adds that he didn't kill anyone else, just taunted the police. Rossi cautions that the tool marks on the bone and the location of the dump site reveal a very specific signature – these were details that were never made public. Hotchner asks Garcia to check the MO with reports from other states in case the killer moved away from the area and recently returned.

As the BAU discussion continues around the table, JJ remains rigidly fixated on the photographs of the three missing women projected on the screen. She stands with her back to her colleagues, shielding the fact that her eyes are filled with dismay at what she sees.

Molly McCarthy's hands are chained above her head around a beam in a large, well-lit barn. She watches as the barn door opens and the unsub pushes another woman inside – her head is covered in a sack. She stumbles and falls to the ground as Molly watches, shaking with fear. The unsub drags the woman towards Molly and pushes her down to fall at Molly's feet before pulling the sack from her head. Molly is amazed to see it is Julie – the girl who disappeared three weeks earlier. Julie is exhausted, but manages to whisper a warning to her friend – "If you're quiet, you won't get burned. Trust me – do what he says." The unsub hits a button on his stereo and the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Woman" blares out from the speakers. Julie begins shuffling her feet back and forth in a desperate parody of a dance, and tells Molly, "It's a party." Molly cries quietly in shock.

"It doesn't matter who my father was, it matters who I remember he was."

Reid's comments from the back seat of the SUV about the killer's obvious disregard for women also seem troubling to JJ. As she, Reid and Hotchner drive towards the killer's dumpsite, Hotchner advises them that the theory back in 1980 was that the killer was a seasonal worker on one of the surrounding farms. He also believes that the choice of dumpsite in a respected National Park makes the unsub feel important.

Molly and Julie are now chained in a dark, stone-walled room. Julie wants to know what her friends and family in Fredericksburg are saying about her disappearance. She wants to know if people are saying that she just "took off." Molly admits that she was the only person who thought that – the rest of the town, including Julie's parents, are still out searching for her. Molly tells Julie she has been missing for three weeks, and then asks her if the unsub does "that" every night. Julie's face is set and her eyes are empty as she tells Molly that she has to "go to a different place to get through it."

Sheriff Michael Ballantyne meets the three BAU agents at the battlefield and shows them where the body parts were found. JJ tells him that the other BAU agents are meeting with John Caulfield, the sheriff from the original case. Ballantyne admits that he's only heard stories about Caulfield – that he was a good man, but this murder case broke him and the town asked him to retire.

John Caulfield, a frail older man who walks with a cane, enters the bustling Sheriff's Station in Fredericksburg and is greeted by BAU Agents David Rossi, Derek Morgan and Emily Prentiss. Morgan and Prentiss are going through boxes related to Caulfield's old case, and have left some case files out on the desk. When the photo of a young victim catches Caulfield's eye, his countenance falls, and he is instantly reminded of the horrible murders. He remembers promising the young girls' parents that he would find out who killed her, but her father died before he could fulfill that promise. Caulfield tells Rossi that, in 1980, Fredericksburg was largely a farming community where everyone knew everyone else and doors were left unlocked at night. Now the town is full of new homes and townhouses which may explain the change in victimology. Morgan explains some of the reasons that might have caused the 27 year hiatus between the unsub's killing sprees – he may have been in jail, or injured, or he may have moved away for a time. Caulfield can only shake his head in disgust.

Sheriff Ballantyne describes the party to the agents, telling them how Molly and her boyfriend separated from the others. JJ is appalled that, with other girls missing, no one realized Molly was gone until it was too late. The BAU team realizes that this unsub is patient, willing to wait for the absolutely right moment before striking, and that he can act quickly. Hotchner notes, "If he's pushing 60 he's got to be strong enough to carry her a long way without her struggling." He glances up to see that JJ has turned away and is running her hands over her face, trying to hold her emotions in check. Reid and the sheriff determine that the unsub must be a local man, as only someone familiar with the area could find his way around so easily after dark.

As the sheriff and Reid walk off to check the park's entrances, Hotchner approaches JJ. He explains that he understands that seeing all these cases come across her desk, many involving the murder and torture of women about her age, must take a toll on her. When JJ asks why he never seems to be affected, Hotchner responds that perhaps he should have been.

The killer has moved Molly and Julie back to the barn. Julie pleads with Molly, asking that, if she dies, Molly promise to never tell Julie's parents what the unsub did to her. Molly tries to be tough, telling Julie that they will get away, but Julie is at the end of her rope. When the unsub comes for her, releasing her from her chains, she falls to the barn floor and cannot get up. Tears streak Molly's dirty face as she begs for her friend's life, but the killer is deaf to her protests and drags Julie away. Molly shrieks the words Julie wants to hear, "I promise – I promise!"

The next morning, at another location in the battlefield, crime scene technicians remove the newly found body parts in black garbage bags. Sheriff Ballantyne reminds JJ that two sets of parents are awaiting an identification of the body – each hoping the dead girl is not their daughter. Reid remarks that the unsub left the body parts in plain sight to taunt the authorities – saying there is nothing they can do to stop the killer. The sheriff wonders how the killer entered the park as everyone must show his identification to do so. JJ is quick to tell him that the fences surrounding the park all back up to personal property – there are a hundred ways in.

Molly screams as the unsub chains her in the stone-walled room. Her cries for help cannot be heard – this room is built right into the side of a hill and is barricaded with a rusty iron grid padlocked into place. She is utterly alone.

David Rossi joins John Caulfield on the steps of the Sheriff's Station. Caulfield admits that many people in town believe that he's crazy. He didn't want to believe that someone from his town could have committed these crimes. Rossi pulls a charm bracelet out of his pocket and hands it to Caulfield. He tells the sheriff about a case he worked in Indianapolis on Christmas Eve. It was one of his first cases. Three kids watched their parents get beaten to death. Every year he calls the children to assure them that he hasn't given up – he's still looking for the person who killed their parents. Last year none of the children returned his call. Caulfield understands Rossi's determination to find that killer – it matches his own resolve to put the 1980 murders to bed. The two rise and walk back into the station to continue the investigation.

Inside, Prentiss hands information to Rossi about violations that preceded the 1980 murders. Morgan enters with a call from Garcia – she has checked the entire country for this killer's MO and has found nothing that matches. She did, however, find a complaint filed by Karen Foley in the next county one year before the 1980 killings began. Her descriptions of her torture are eerily similar to the wounds found on the women's bodies in 1980 and in the current case. Rossi wonders if she was the unsub's first attempt – his "dress rehearsal." Morgan asks Garcia to find a current address for Karen Foley.

Prentiss and Morgan arrive at Karen Foley's home just as she's getting out of her car. They explain that the current murder case may have something to do with what happened to her in 1979. Turning away from the agents, Karen gets a grocery bag out of her trunk and holds it against her chest as if it was a shield. She claims that she made up the story of her abduction and torture. Prentiss questions her about the details she related – she had been drugged, burned, beaten and sexually assaulted. Karen interrupts her and tells her that she was just trying to give an excuse for where she'd been. She had been using drugs and wasn't proud of the choices she made. Karen makes her way quickly toward the door of her home, but the agents follow her. Morgan reminds her that she called home as if her abductor forced her to, and that the crime against her exactly matches the behavior of the current killer. When Karen continues to deny her story, Prentiss tells her that she might be the only person who can stop the murders. Karen refuses to take Prentiss' card, goes into her house and shuts the door. Prentiss slips her card into the small crack in the door and the two agents walk away.

When they arrive back at the Sheriff's Station, Morgan and Prentiss tell Rossi that Karen refused to acknowledge what happened to her back in 1979. While they understand that she was trying to protect herself, they are confused about her behavior. They wonder why she isn't concerned that her attacker could still be out there, and killing again. Rossi believes that she knows there is nothing to fear. The reason he and Caulfield can't let go of their old cases is that they know in their guts that the killer is still out there. Karen Foley has a reason to believe that she is safe. She must believe that the man who attacked her either moved away or died. Rossi challenges Caulfield – he must know the identity of the unsub. He reminds the old man of his characteristics : he would have been in his twenties, he grew up there, he left after Caulfield found his last victim, he was reckless, a drinker, he was meticulous. The three agents throw out information quickly now, desperate for a reaction from Caulfield, guessing that the unsub had two areas of control, one for torture and one for confinement, that the unsub was there before the last body was found, and then suddenly wasn't. Caulfield remembers in a flash – Robert Wilkinson – he was 28 and he fell into his combine harvester right when the killings stopped. He left a widow.

Mary Wilkinson comes out onto her front porch to greet Rossi and Sheriff Caulfield. Initially hesitant, she coolly invites them into her home. Caulfield tries to make small talk, inquiring after her son, but she knows he didn't come there to ask about her family. They tell Mary that they suspect that her husband Robert murdered five women in 1980. Mary is emotionless as she denies thinking about her husband much – she claims that she moved on with her life when she moved back in with her parents. She had stayed with them when she was pregnant, but her husband begged her to come back, telling her that he'd changed. She never got the chance to find out if it were true as he died the day she returned home.

Rossi returns to Morgan and Prentiss to tell them that Mary Wilkinson was not surprised that they suspected her late husband of the 1980 murders. Her abandonment of him might have been the stressor that led to his murders. Morgan theorizes that it is likely he suffered from a "Madonna/whore" complex – that he couldn't touch his pure wife, so he found girls he could touch with impudence. Whatever the explanation, Robert Wilkinson has been dead for 27 years, so who is doing the killing now?

Tara has stopped at a roadside produce stand. She calls for the owner, Mr. Parker, but the sign says he'll be back in five minutes. She drops some cash in the money box and turns to pick up some apples as an old brown pick-up truck pulls in behind her. A man gets out of the truck and rushes towards her. As she turns, he grabs her around the throat and drags a sack over her head.

Since Tara has been reported missing, the BAU knows it has a very short time to find the unsub's other victim before he tires of her and murders her. Sitting around the conference table at the Sheriff's Station the team tries to put everything together. They know they are dealing with some type of copycat – a killer using the same MO and same dumpsite as Robert Wilkinson. Since none of these details were made public, they are looking for someone with ties to Robert Wilkinson. They know that Robert and Mary Wilkinson had a son, and that genetics is one factor, along with psychology and socialization, in the making of a killer. A son who grew up without a father and with a genetic predisposition may be a killer. Charlie Wilkinson, now 27, did have a history of violence against animals when he was a child. Garcia calls and tells the team that she has the reason Karen Foley lied to them.

Karen Foley is angry to see Agents Prentiss and Rossi at her door. Prentiss gently tells Karen that they know she was burned and raped by Robert Wilkinson, and that she has a son because of it.

Tara is now chained in the stone-walled room with Molly. Molly, battered and bruised, tells Tara about Julie, and about the promise she made to her. When Tara asks why Molly is telling her this, Molly explains that their tormenter will kill her next.

Karen Foley never told her son about his father – she made up stories instead. She told Stephen that his father was a hero and died in a motorcycle accident. She decided to have the child because she couldn't punish her child for his father's actions. She tells the agents that Stephen has been drinking, and just got out of jail for a DUI. When Rossi begins questioning her about Stephen's behavior – about whether he has been distant or aggressive lately – she begins to get defensive. The agents know that Karen herself suspects that Stephen might have something to do with the murders.

JJ and Hotchner join the Fredericksburg officers at the roadside produce stand where they are investigating Tara's disappearance. JJ is appalled that the produce stand owner did not report Tara's abandoned vehicle sooner. Reid calls to report that Charlie Wilkinson did not show up for work that day. Hotchner and JJ head off to his home to find him.

Stephen Foley arrives home to find Prentiss and Rossi waiting for him. Rossi explains that they are investigating the disappearance of four local women. When Rossi asks Stephen if the name Robert Wilkinson means anything to him, Karen protests, begging them to keep her secret. Stephen turns and comforts his mother, and then admits that he knows what Robert Wilkinson did to his mother all those years ago. Mother and son face each other as if no one else is in the room. Stephen quietly tells his mother that he's known the truth for a long time – he heard her cry herself to sleep every night, he saw that she never dated or married, and he knew that someone had hurt her badly. Karen tries to deny it, but she can't. Stephen goes on to say that he found articles about Robert Wilkinson's death and the 1980 murders when he was cleaning out the garage. When his mother walked in and found him holding the picture of Wilkinson, he knew just from the look on her face. Tears stream down Karen's face as she moves towards her son, amazed that he knew the real story for 10 years, knew that she made it all up, and never said anything. She touches his cheek and he gently tells her that they were "really good stories." She wanted Stephen to believe that his father was a good man, as he was the only good thing that came out of her ordeal.

Stephen turns to Prentiss and asks her if the FBI suspects the current killings are related to the old case, even though Wilkinson is dead. He realizes that the suspect him. He turns to his mother, hurt that she could believe he had anything to do with the deaths. Karen explains that she never wanted to doubt him. Stephen tells the agents he never killed anyone and walks off into the kitchen. His mother goes after him.

Rossi calls Hotchner and tells him that they can't rule out Stephen Foley just yet. Hotchner advises him that the rest of the team is on its way to the Wilkinson house to try to find Charlie Wilkinson.

Prentiss and Rossi follow the Foleys into the kitchen. Sitting with Karen at the table, Prentiss asks her for any details about her experience that could help them. Karen remembers he took her to a barn, but he would cover her head so she didn't know where she was. Her memories are strong, and she can see the stark images as if she were back there once again. He kept her high on drugs, and wanted her to dance for him, calling it a "party." One night her abductor was so drunk that she was able to get away. Stephen asks why the police didn't believe her story and Karen says they thought she was a junkie. "It was humiliating." When Prentiss prompts her for details, Karen remembers that she scratched a peace symbol on the wall and touched it whenever he came for her.

When the agents get to the Wilkinson home, Chrissy Wilkinson, Charlie's wife, tells Morgan and JJ that her husband is at work. Chrissy is very pregnant, but she doesn't seem shocked or horrified when the agents tell her that they are looking for her husband in connection with the recent abductions and murders. They move off to search a nearby barn. Sheriff Ballantyne uses a crowbar to tear off the barn's padlock, and the agents move in, guns drawn. They find empty bottles of alcohol, the stereo, and manacles hanging from the beams. Hotchner calls Reid over to show him a bloody axe.

The entire team goes over every piece of evidence left at the barn, and realizes that while this is the location where the killer tortured and raped his victims, he could not have held them so close to his home. Rossi asks John Caulfield if he knows anything about the Wilkinson property, but he only ever had contact with Robert in town. Looking through the open barn doors, Rossi spots Mary Wilkinson and moves towards her. Mary is also not surprised to find out that the FBI is looking for Charlie. Rossi confronts her – she knew Charlie was an angry child, she saw the path he was going down and she also knew what had happened in that barn 27 years ago – that's why she moved away, back to her parents' home. She thought she was protecting him by keeping it a big secret. Unfortunately, Charlie had so much anger and so many questions he wouldn't quit until he knew. He figured it out.

Mary looks over Rossi's shoulder at John Caulfield and tells him that it was over – Caulfield didn't have to worry about any more girls being hurt, and Mary didn't want her son to have the legacy of a murdering father.

Hotchner is interviewing Chrissy Wilkinson as JJ and Reid go through Charlie's books and papers. She tells Hotchner that Charlie goes to the barn to be alone. JJ and Reid find books and diaries that belonged to Charlie's father detailing his crimes. Charlie was already having murderous impulses, so finding his father's notes must have made him think it was normal to feel this way. They still haven't found any references to where he kept his victims.

After searching the barn, the agents have not found the peace symbol Karen Foley described – there must have been another location. Even though they don't want to subject Karen to it, the agents know that bringing her to the barn to try to jumpstart her memories may be the only way for them to find Tara and Molly before it is too late.

Karen and Stephen arrive, but Karen is shaking, tightly clutching her son's arm. Prentiss holds onto her hand and encourages her toward the barn slowly. As she approaches the open doors, the smell nearly doubles her over and she turns away. Her gaze falls on the figure of Mary Wilkinson speaking with John Caulfield. Anger surges through Karen, and she strides towards Mary, demanding to know if she could hear her screams in the house every night while her husband was torturing her. Karen screams at her, outraged that she didn't even ask what Robert was up to in the barn every night. "Why, why didn't you stop him? Why didn't you help?" Finally, Mary's composure breaks and she shouts back at Karen: "I killed him!" She came back to the farm when she was pregnant, and she saw the barn and she knew what he had done. She couldn't let her son be born into it.

In the house, Chrissy Wilkinson is sitting in the kitchen, lost in thought. When Sheriff Ballantyne brings her a glass of water she tells him that she's going upstairs to rest.

Karen is calmer now and willing to try to remember. Rossi and Prentiss ask her to close her eyes and take a few steps to try to remember what the ground was like where she walked. She remembers leaves and twigs and that it was a long walk. She remembers falling and feeling something soft and cold covering something hard – it was rocks, rocks that were taller than she. Mary immediately knows that these rocks can be found along the north side of the property. As Morgan runs off to search that area, Karen is relieved that something she remembered may have helped.

Morgan, Hotchner and Sheriff Ballantyne make their way over the steep hillside and find the iron gate. Crawling inside, they find Molly and Tara – alive. As Molly is being placed on a stretcher and carried off, JJ comforts Tara and Hotchner approaches Mary Wilkinson one last time. She claims she doesn't know where Charlie would go, but her husband had a special place on the battlefield, just over the ridge, that he liked to go. She agrees to lead him there.

Charlie Wilkinson sits on a bench before a civil war monument, drinking straight from a bottle. Chrissy walks up behind him and tells him that the FBI searched their barn and found a lot of blood. She demands to know what Charlie did to the women there. She is angry – they were just starting a family and he ruined it. She calls him a "sick son of a bitch, just like your daddy was." Charlie rises and turns, rage in his face.

Hotchner, JJ, Mary and other officers hear the sound of a gunshot and hurry towards the monument. Charlie lies dead on the ground, and Chrissy is cradling her swollen abdomen, staring at the gun she has dropped at her feet. She calmly tells Mary that Charlie came at her, and that she had to kill him. Staring at her daughter-in-law, Mary can only see herself.

As the police take Chrissy away, Hotchner stands with JJ and asks if she's all right. JJ doesn't know how to answer him. She knows that if, as an agent, she stops caring about the victims she'll become jaded, but if she cares too much she'll be ruined. Hotchner tells her that she has to believe she did everything she could – that's the job – it's never perfect. "It's still better to care," he advises. When she asks him if he really believes that, he is also at a loss.

Caulfield is wondering why he doesn't feel better now that the cases are closed. Rossi assures him that these last killings weren't his fault, he couldn't have solved that case since the murderer was dead. Caulfield reminds Rossi that, for 27 years, he wasn't dead to him. He asks Rossi how long it has been since his unsolved case. When Rossi tells him it's been 21 years, Caulfield wisely advises him not to allow it to become 22. The BAU team drives off.

Wordsworth wrote: "A simple child that lightly draws its breath and feels its life in every limb – what should it know of death?"

Back in the BAU bullpen, Morgan invites the team out for a drink. JJ begs off, but Rossi catches Hotchner on his way past and invites him along. Hotchner hesitates, and then agrees just as a clerk approaches him with a delivery. Hotchner looks at it, and signs for the papers dejectedly, annoyed that this is happening in front of his team. He tells the others that Haley is filing for divorce and he's been served. [recap written by Finnegan77]