Criminal Minds

Season 4 Episode 14

Cold Comfort

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Feb 11, 2009 on CBS

Episode Recap

The rain falls steadily in Olympia, Washington, running in sheets down the windows of the local police department as Det. Ron Fulwood erases the word "Missing" and replaces it with "Deceased" under the picture of a beautiful blonde woman. Her picture is not alone on the evidence board. Det. Fulwood paces back to his desk and leans against it, his eyes traveling along the line of photos, all of young blonde women, all with the simple word "Missing" tacked under their faces. Another officer approaches him, telling him that Sandra Lombardini is waiting for him, and Det. Fulwood's eyes snap to the last photo on the right: Brooke Lombardini. After ushering the weary mother into his office he quickly tells her that the body found in the woods wasn't Brooke's. She's relieved, but saddened for the other family. He tells her that they have officers searching the area but the rain is making it difficult. He gently advises her to get some sleep, but she can't imagine closing her eyes "without knowing." Standing, Mrs. Lombardini makes a request. She'd like Det. Fulwood to return Brooke's necklace that was found by her car after her abduction. Fulwood frowns, reminding her that it is evidence, but she insists. "He says that it could tell him things." Mrs. Lombardini walks onto the porch of a small frame house and closes her umbrella. Her knock is answered by a middle-aged black man, Stanley Usher. Usher sits motionless in a dining room chair fingering the necklace in both hands, eyes closed. Finally he opens his eyes and turns to Brooke's mother. "What did you see?" she asks. At the BAU, Penelope Garcia is reading her horoscope while Kevin Lynch looks over her shoulder. As she finishes reading aloud, Kevin agrees enthusiastically, but Morgan mocks them, ridiculing their belief in astrology. Kevin defends the notion, telling Morgan that he'd be surprised at its accuracy, but Prentiss turns from pouring herself a cup of coffee and declares it to be gibberish. "Oh, you are just jealous because you don't have the magic ingredient," Garcia quips, but Prentiss merely waves her spoon over her coffee cup and declares the magic ingredient to be Splenda. When Kevin asks Prentiss her sign, she refuses to give it, but SSA Reid happens to be walking by, and can easily tell Garcia the exact date and time of Emily Prentiss' birth: "7:12 AM, October 12, 197..." Prentiss quickly cuts him off before he can finish, but Garcia has what she wants and begins reading the agent's horoscope: "A romantic opportunity may experience a slight hitch thanks to the pesky lunar influence which could have you dipping into a rather chilly mood. If being demonstrative and warm is difficult then neutralize this temporary cold front with a simple but affectionate gesture." Prentiss listens carefully, seeming almost to be agreeing with the stars until Garcia finishes and she turns and gives the analyst a "simple gesture" just as JJ arrives with case files in her hands. Garcia notices the beautiful new citrine ring on her finger, and JJ tells her that she and Will wear them to commemorate Henry's birth. She admits that it is difficult separating from her baby son, and asks Garcia for the astrology section of the newspaper before she walks off. On the screen in the conference room, JJ posts photographs of four young blonde women - all missing from the Olympia area in the past five months. The first woman was taken nine months ago, and just yesterday her body was found. The photograph shows an almost mummified corpse, but JJ corrects that assessment - the woman had been embalmed by her killer. They found the body in a state park after a mudslide. The abnormal rate of decomposition makes it difficult to know how long she'd been dead, or how long she'd been buried there. The women were abducted three months apart, and the unsub may be "rotating" his victims out - there might be more bodies to find. The instruments are being washed amidst the metal shelves full of orange and brown chemicals. Blue gloved hands carefully pour the right mixture into the large glass tanks, readying the lab for use once again. "And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride, In the sepulchre there by the sea, In her tomb by the sounding sea." Edgar Allan Poe Aboard the jet, Prentiss asks the group of profilers how a person would go about embalming a body. "Start with some nose plugs," Morgan suggests, before Reid gives a more scholarly answer, explaining that the blood is drained through the jugular, and then replaced with embalming fluid over a few hours. This all suggests that the killer has some type of medical training or a background in mortuary science. Prentiss doesn't understand why someone would want their body preserved and "painted" for their funeral - she just wants to be cremated. Hotchner redirects the conversation to the important aspect of the killer's signature - why would someone want to embalm someone he has just murdered? Rossi suggests that he wants to hold on to them, or, as Morgan observes, the killer might have a fear of abandonment. When even the embalmed body decays, the killer will need new victims which would explain the abduction cycle. If this theory is correct, two of the remaining three victims are already dead. Brooke Lombardini was abducted four days ago, and the odds, which Dr. Reid repeats, tell them that 90% of all abduction victims are killed within the first 36 hours. Morgan and Reid make their way carefully through the mud to the site of the next body revealed by the heavy Washington rain. The detective tells the agents that they are searching the woods, but there are over 800 acres of wilderness. Both agents instruct the local detective that the man would not have carried the dead weight very far from trails or fire roads. "That's why a lot of killers dismember their victims, they're easier to dispose of that way," Reid comments, knowing that every observation will add to the killer's profile. Noticing something gleaming through the mud, Morgan reaches down one gloved hand and unearths a gold cross necklace from beneath a fern. Farther up the hill, searchers call the agents to another body. Reid hurries to the barely uncovered body, and gently brushes the dirt away from the woman's crossed hands. Another gold cross necklace has been placed in the dead girl's hands. Now Reid is certain that the lack of dismemberment is important to the profile - the killer cannot mutilate these women because he cares about them. Det. Fulwood takes Hotchner and Prentiss to the latest abduction site - the restaurant where Brooke Lombardini worked the closing shift. Hotchner notes that all of the victims were taken as they left work, and their places of employment were all upscale. If the killer patronizes these businesses that means he has money. As they walk towards the parking lot, they stop for a moment next to a large puddle - this is where they found Brooke's amethyst necklace, the clasp broken. Hotchner tells the detective that he will need to look at it, but Det. Fulwood admits that he gave it back to the girl's mother. Hotchner is taken aback - that is far from normal procedure. Det. Fulwood tells BAU agents that Mrs. Lombardini hired a psychic, Stanley Usher, who helped the Portland police find a missing child a few years ago. He needed the necklace to get a "reading" of the victim. A rueful smile on his face, Hotchner asks the detective what the psychic told Brooke's mother. Sandra Lombardini, surrounded by microphones, faces the media's cameras and speaks directly to the person who took her daughter. "I know Brooke is still alive - it's not too late to do the right thing." Rossi, Morgan, and JJ stand watching the news conference on a television in the Olympia Police Station. Rossi is frustrated that they did not have a chance to coach Mrs. Lombardini before she made her plea, but JJ is impressed - the woman seems to be saying all the right things to make the unsub think twice before killer the girl. Rossi believes that it is already too late, but JJ shrugs, "It's her daughter, she has to have hope." Rossi doesn't believe in offering false hope. He's worked with psychics before, and doesn't like it. JJ notes that there have been cases where psychics have been believed to have been of help. Rossi is jaded - he thinks people will believe a lot of things under horrible circumstances. At the Lombardini home, JJ sits at the table with Sandra, while Stanley Usher and David Rossi hover over the women's shoulders. JJ explains that the man might have been seen by Brooke at her work, and Brooke might have described him as a loner who dined by himself, who was shy. Sandra replies that her daughter got asked out sometimes, but Rossi explains that this man would not have had the courage to ask her out, but he might have made her uncomfortable by staring. Sandra shakes her head, insisting that the agents should be looking into the clues that Mr. Usher has provided. Usher addresses Rossi, telling him about "token object reading" or psychometry - Rossi interrupts, telling him that he's not the first psychic Rossi has dealt with. Referring to his notes, Rossi repeats the "images" that Usher has given them: a fenced in area, the color orange, and the numbers 8, 6, and 7. Rossi simply closes his notebook. JJ wants to know if Usher can determine whether or not Brooke is alive or dead. The psychic explains that a person's psychic energy leaves an impression on everything she touches. He tells JJ that he knows Brooke felt weakened, tired and heavy. Rossi asks Usher to step aside with him and the two move into another room. Rossi confronts Usher, telling him that coming into the lives of grieving families and taking advantage of them. "The last thing this woman needs is some conman giving her unrealistic ideas." Usher is adamant that Rossi doesn't know what Sandra needs and should be concentrating on his job, profiling, which many people don't believe in either. As Usher walks off, JJ steps up to Rossi and quietly informs him that they've found a third body. Reid and Morgan stand in the autopsy suite with the three bodies - all young women in various stages of decomposition. The killer's victims - Lynette Hagen, Erin Bonham, and Melissa St. Clair - had all been embalmed. The cause of death, according to the ME, was blood: the girls were alive when they were embalmed. The tests show high levels of barbiturates. All of the victims have the same hair cut, even though recent pictures of the victims show two of the girls with much longer hair - the unsub cut it. Their ears have also all been double pierced. There was semen present, but no tearing or bruising that is associated with sexual assault: the unsub had sex with his victims after death. The evidence board has changed. Now there are three girls with the word "deceased" under their pictures, as well as horrific crime scene photographs. Only Brooke Lombardini's photo sits to one side, alone, just the word "missing" beneath it. JJ confirms that none of the girls had double pierced ears. Rossi believes that the unsub is changing his victims into someone else. He might be remaking them into an image of a loved one. Reading the file, JJ notes the high levels of barbiturates in the girls' systems, and remembers the psychic telling them Brooke felt tired and heavy. Rossi explodes, insisting that psychics are all scam artists, but JJ explains that she just wants to believe that Brooke is alive. Hotchner and Rossi remind her of the profile of a necrophiliac - he has no use for a live victim. As the agents head off to give the profile to the local law enforcement officers, Rossi takes a moment to call Garcia and ask her to run a full background check on Stanley Usher. Hotchner explains that, from the DNA testing they've run on the semen, the unsub is not in any criminal database. Prentiss describes the killer as a white male in his mid to late twenties, who has money and lives alone in a large residence. Hotchner notes that a homicidal necrophile will have trouble relating to people, especially women. Morgan tells the officers that the killer is trying to recreate someone he once loved - a wife, girlfriend, mother, daughter - someone he has lost suddenly. Reid explains that this killer most resembles famous killer Ed Gein, who had an Oedipal complex and after his paralyzed mother died, he had a compulsion to dig up corpses who resembled his mother. He so wanted to resurrect her that he dressed in "female suits" made from the skins of dead bodies. When he grew unhappy with decaying, dry flesh, he kidnapped live victims so he could better preserve their flesh. This shift to live victims also characterizes their unsub, Hotchner explains, and Prentiss begins handing out earlier case files that might have led up to the unsub's current behavior - cadaver theft, post mortem assault, graveyard disturbances. "60% of necrophiles work in the death business," Reid explains, suggesting the officers canvas local cemeteries, mortuaries and morgues. Hotchner adds one final word, noting that Brooke's chances are slim, and if she is to have any hope at all they must work quickly. The agents and officers approach people at crematoriums, cemeteries, and mortuaries. Reid finds a caretaker who shares that a woman's grave was robbed of her dress and jewelry. A mortician tells Hotchner that these kinds of things happen in the industry, but they try to take care of it in-house. When Hotchner advises the man that the unsub is dressing up his victims, the mortician remembers one young apprentice that was hired who paid a lot of attention to the female cadavers. He liked to do their make-up, and he even put a wig on them. The man gives Hotchner a file box of items retrieved from the apprentice's locker - in it is a short blonde wig. That evening, Det. Fulwood, Hotchner, and Prentiss trail through the rain to knock on the door of Ivan Bakunas, the fired apprentice. He refuses to let them inside, claiming that his mother is sleeping. They explain that the killer they are looking for shares some of his love for women with blonde hair and blue sin. Ivan refuses to give up his DNA without a warrant. Garcia is looking into the man's past and tells Garcia that he has no juvenile record, but was expelled from college for slipping his girlfriend tranquilizers and having sex with her while she slept. "Oh, Emily, maybe this is that romantic encounter your horoscope foretold!" Garcia quips. Det. Fulwood is sure that he will be able to get a warrant for Bakunas based on this information, but Hotchner and Prentiss do not believe he is the unsub. Bakunas hasn't held down a job in years and their profile points to a man with money. As the agents argue with Fulwood, JJ rushes in to tell the group that a 911 operator has just received a call from someone claiming to be Brooke Lombardini. The agents and Sandra Lombardini listen to the recording of a young woman; her voice is hushed but anxious, afraid that "he will hear me." She identifies herself as Brooke and tells the operator that she needs help. Sandra closes her eyes and puts one hand to her mouth. Brooke doesn't know where she is, she's sobbing, begging for help, sure that he's going to kill her. Suddenly the phone cuts out. Sandra immediately identifies the voice as Brooke's but Rossi is uncertain. "Any surveillance expert will tell you it's almost impossible to positively identify a whisper." Hotchner and JJ eye Rossi coldly. "You think I don't know my own daughter's voice?" Brooke's mother hisses. Det. Fulwood can't think of a reason for anyone to call 911 and pretend to be Brook. Rossi explains that there are a lot of sick people out there who might want to inject themselves into the investigation. Sandra Lombardini insists that Brooke is alive - Stanley Usher told her so, and the phone call proves it. Still adamant, Rossi tells the woman that Usher has a vested interest in telling her Brooke is alive, and that he has a police record. As JJ and Hotchner look on, disapproving, Rossi hands the woman Usher's file with the charges of fraud from Oregon. Mrs. Lombardini, tears flowing down her face, takes the file, looks at it, and turns, head held high. Hesitating at the door, she turns back to face the agents there. "I need my baby to be alive," she says simply before she turns to leave. "All she has right now is hope," JJ snaps at Rossi, "why would you take that from her?" She follows the grieving mother out. Brooke lies on a bed behind a locked door, asleep. He enters, brushing his fingers across her cheek, whispering to her. She awakens when he places the scissors beside her face, but he hushes her, calling her Abby, reminding her how much she likes a straight line. "Who's Abby?" Brooke whispers, but the man laughs. "You are, silly," he laughs as he cuts her hair. Prentiss has had the 911 one call traced to a 20 miles radius in south eastern Seattle, a densely populated area. Garcia tried to ping the phone, but it had been shut off. Rossi still insists that the call was a hoax, but Hotchner begins to reel him in - although he agrees with the older agent about psychics, the mother positively identified her daughter's voice and they must assume the call is genuine. Reid suggests that the unsub might need his victim alive to affect her transformation. Since he's had Brooke more than five days, this transformation may be about something deeper than appearance. Brooke sounded drugged, and she said she was a prisoner - these tactics are used for sexual slavery, or mind control. The unsub is trying to break her down, to make her surrender her identity - that's what he's waiting for. The longer she holds out the longer she stays alive - once she accepts her new role, he'll kill her. He sits outside her locked room, watching through a screen. Her hair is short now, and she finds it hard to wake up when he speaks to her. He calls her Abby, and asks for a story. She climbs off the bed and goes to the screen, begging him to let her go. "I'm not Abby," she insists. She goes to the mirror nearby and sees her shorn hair, and feels the blood on her ears where he's pierced them. He wants a story, begs for one, but Brooke picks a book up off the rocking chair and hurls it at the screen, screaming, "I told you, I'm not Abby!" He slides a metal shutter over the screen, locking out her cries. Rossi looks up from his conversation with Prentiss to see Det. Fulwood leading Stanley Usher from his office. Drawing the detective aside, he is appalled that the man is speaking with the psychic, but Det. Fulwood is unrepentant. "I can't afford to let my ego get in the way on this one; I'll take all the help I can get." Rossi claims he would be happy to find Brooke alive, but knows he isn't wrong about Usher. JJ greets Usher warmly, shaking his hand. Walking off with Det. Fulwood, he calls out to JJ and gestures to his own finger, telling JJ "congratulations." In the detective's office, Usher fingers the blonde wig that they received from the mortician. He's at the screen again. Brooke is now tied to the rocking chair, the children's book in her lap. She hears his pleas for a story to help his sleep, and she picks up the book and begins to read quickly, crying. He rubs his brow, agitated, angry, telling her that she's not doing it right. She sobs, telling him that she'll do whatever he wants. "I want Abby!" he cries. "I'll be Abby, I'll be whoever you want!" she screams. He closes the shutter again, and she struggles, knocking the chair over. Lying on the floor she mutters, "Abby...Abby." Officers lead Ivan Bakunas from a squad car into the station past Hotchner, JJ, and Rossi. Fulwood explains that he was trying to cross the border into Vancouver. He'll charge him if he confesses, but until then they will hold him until the DNA tests come back. "What did he get off the wig," Rossi demands. Fulwood explains that Usher got enough to tell him that Bakunas is sick. In the interrogation room, Fulwood lays the blonde wig on the table in front of Bakunas. Prentiss calls it a "magic wig" that changes the identity of the dead. Bakunas denies that there are any victims in his crimes. Prentiss places photos of the dead girls on the table in front of him and Bakunas shudders, closing his eyes, claiming not to know these women. Bakunas is insistent - he does not kill people. The wig isn't even the important part for him - for him it is the shoes. He places shoes on the dead women he has sex with, shoes that belonged to Sunny Rains, the weather girl who was killed in a car accident a few years ago. A friend of his was working when her body came in, and called him because Ivan was a fan. He stole the shoes, the "genuine article" that made it all real for him. Watching from the observation room, Reid suddenly whispers, "genuine article" and hurries out, Hotchner following. Reid shuffles through his case notes, looking for the information the custodian at the graveyard gave him. The person who robbed the woman's grave took a dress, a pair of diamond earrings and a pair of pearl earrings - two pairs from one woman. The unsub needs the "genuine articles" from his obsession to complete the transformation. The dead woman's name was Abigail Hanson. Garcia has looked up the woman's obituary - she died suddenly at 26 from a heart defect. Her photo shows a young blonde woman with short hair. She worked as a nanny for the Gless family until her death in 1992. He sits quietly outside the locked room now, as her voice reads the children's story. She is animated and interested, raising her voice as the crowd cheers the new emperor and his bride. As she reads he smiles and whispers, "Abby." He opens the door and holds up the dress he wants her to wear. Brooke reaches out for it. The Gless home is extravagant, set on its own lake. Rossi and Hotchner sit down for tea with Patrick and Leona Gless and the couple describe Abby as "one of the family." She had no other family. She took care of their son, Roderick. Patrick quickly rises and takes a framed photograph from a cabinet nearby and hands it to the agents. Leona looks on sharply, and Rossi catches her eye, causing her to frown in suspicion. The photograph shows the young woman wearing the same dress that the killer held out to Brooke. "She basically raised the boy," Leona says, curtly, but Patrick objects. "Patrick likes to think he was a good father," Leona replies. Dropping his gaze, Patrick asks the agents why they are interested in Abigail. When they explain that they are looking into recent murders, the Glesses lock eyes for a moment. Roderick was nine when Abigail died. The parents were away, and Abigail was looking after Roderick. When they returned from their cruise, Abigail had been dead two or three days, and they found them on the floor of Roderick's room - he'd curled up next to her with her arms around him. They haven't spoken with their son in years, not since he dropped out of medical school at 21 and liquidated his trust fund. Leona knew her son was troubled, but never believed he'd hurt anyone. Patrick leaps to his son's defense, saying the agents couldn't know Roderick had done anything. Leona hands Rossi the last letter they received from their son a year ago, telling him that he can have it. She hands him the framed photograph as well, telling him to keep it, too. Patrick is too shocked to speak. The information from the Glesses checks out - according to Garcia Roderick Gless took his half million and dropped off the map. There are no properties or utilities in his name, no IRS returns. Morgan doesn't believe half a million would be enough cash to live completely off the grid for long - it's been four years, he'd need to supplement his income. Reid has been studying the letter, but can find nothing between the lines to pinpoint a location. The letter is only addressed to Leona. Rossi has an idea and walks off to call Garcia. JJ reaches for the letter and envelope from Reid, and fingers her new ring, getting an idea of her own. Roderick Gless touches Brooke, running his fingers through her hair, fingering her earrings. "I've missed you," he whispers. "Me, too," Brooke replies. He pours her a cup of tea and tells her to drink - that it's the last time. She drinks it all. He takes her by the hand and walks her rout of the room and down the hall. She is already drowsy from the drugs in the tea, her vision fading in and out, but it is Roderick who imagines his much younger self walking down the hallway with his nanny. She sees the equipment in his lab and asks him about the place. He replies, "It's forever." He carries her through the plastic curtains and lays her on the cold metal table. Stanley Usher sits in his hard wooden chair, both hands stroking Roderick Gless's letter as JJ stands beside the window, watching. His eyes open and he turns to her. Back at the police station, JJ tells Hotchner and Reid that Usher saw water, a rocky shoreline that you could see from Roderick's location. Hotchner and Reid are both skeptical, but JJ pulls the photo from the file. The photo of Abigail and Roderick was taken from the Gless's waterfront property at Mercer Island - no one has lived there for ten years. Rossi hurries in to tell the agents of his findings: Roderick's father has been sending him money for years, that's why Roderick only said goodbye to his mother. Every six months he sends $50,000 to his son via Western Union. He didn't know that his son was a killer; he's just a sad man trying to buy his kid's love. The Western Union location is within the cell tower circle that Prentiss originally found from the 911 call; Mercer Island isn't. The agents exchange glances. Some minutes later Hotchner races from the Gless home with a location, leaving Patrick stricken and Leona tightly angry. The orange fluid is ready, standing in large glass tanks. Brooke is restrained on the metal table and Roderick stands over her, dressed in surgical scrubs, holding a sharp scalpel. He touches it to her jugular just as the FBI and local agents force the door. His eyes are only for his "Abby" but he feels the agents' touch as they pull him away from her and the bottle of fluid crashes to the floor. They wrestle him away and call the EMTs who begin examining the unconscious girl and administering Narcan. One removes the restraints and chafes her cold hand in his. After a moment, Brooke blinks and sits up on the table. She's alive. "Some psychic this guy is. This place is as far from a rocky shoreline as you can get," Rossi snaps. Hotchner sees a blue tarp covering a nearby window and pulls it down. "Dave." Outside the window is a large billboard for Turn Point Ale showing a lighthouse on a rocky shoreline. Rossi's eyes widen in disbelief. "For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don't believe, no proof is possible." Stuart Chase. Hotchner holds an umbrella over Sandra Lombardini as she walks next to her daughter's gurney. Brooke's eyes meet her mother's and she murmurs, "Brooke. Brooke," as they place her in the ambulance. The rain falls against the windows of the quiet BAU offices in Quantico, Virginia. JJ pours a cup of coffee and turns to find SSA David Rossi standing there. "I know how it can be coming back here," he sympathizes with the returning agent. He remembers how much worse all the bad things seemed, and how much he wanted to cling to easy answers. She knows she shouldn't believe in psychics, but Rossi interrupts, telling her that she can believe in whatever she wants, as long as, when she's working she has faith in the profiling. "I just...I saw a mother losing her child and we didn't have any other leads so I thought 'What harm could it do?'" Rossi tells her he felt the same way once, on a kidnapping case in Georgia. There was a local woman known for her abilities, and on her advice they took the investigation in an entirely new - and wrong - direction. The boy died. "We won this time, that's what matters, right?" JJ asks. Rossi welcomes her back. [Recap written by Finnegan77, uploaded Mar 2, 2009]