Criminal Minds

Season 3 Episode 14


Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Apr 02, 2008 on CBS

Episode Recap

The children are screaming, their piercing voices are all he can hear over his own heartbeat. The images blur and jerk as his eyes are drawn from the door to the carpeted staircase. The colors of the big wheel at the top of the stairs are too bright, and the children are still screaming. He's looking for something, but the images are wrong and the beds are empty. Behind the door at the end of the hall theres blood - bright red blood on the lamp and the wall and the axe, and this bed isn't empty. The children's voices scream out at him from where they are huddled together on the floor, their eyes blank with horror.

SSA David Rossi jerks upright in his bed, gasping, sweat drenching his face, and - for a moment - the blood streaked child seems to stand there in his room, staring. Wiping his face, he clears the vision from his sight and reaches for the small charm bracelet that he keeps on his bedside table, holding it tightly in his fist.

The candles have burned low, and the plates of strawberries and whipped cream and half-full glasses of champagne have been abandoned on Analyst Penelope Garcia's table. She storms out of the bathroom, colorful robe clutched around her body still damp from the shower, and threatens to do violence to the person knocking on her door at that ungodly hour. When she opens the door she is stunned to see a very awake, very frustrated Agent Rossi clutching an FBI file. She is even more dismayed when he strides into her apartment demanding to know the location of the rest of the information he requested. Garcia tries to suggest that Agent Rossi wait until the morning for more details about the 20-year-old double homicide from Indianapolis, but Rossi is relentless. He criticizes her "researching" skills and wants her to find his original notes and other information about the case. Garcia is reminding Agent Rossi that she is not a researcher, she is a technical analyst just as her guest comes out of the shower to look for her. Analyst Kevin Lynch, very wet and very naked, is also very surprised by Agent Rossi's appearance. He quickly relocates his pink flowered towel from his hair to cover a more private area. Garcia begins to stammer out an explanation for her "fraternization" with another bureau employee, but Rossi brushes it off. "It's the 20th anniversary of this crime," he spits, "20 years tomorrow three children woke up and found their parents murdered." It's time for someone to pay.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, Connie Galen, a tired-looking blonde, walks from a strip club to her car. A dark-haired man is relieving himself in front of her bumper, but stops to tell her how much he liked her dancing. He walks closer and closer, clearly not listening to her sharp suggestions that he leave her alone - not until she draws a knife from her bag. A pick-up truck that has pulled up behind the two suddenly turns on its headlights, and the man backs off in a hurry. Connie turns towards the truck, still brandishing her knife, and yells, "What do you want?" The lights go out. Connie gets into her car and sees the cheap stuffed monkey sitting on her dashboard. She flings it away in disgust and pulls out into the night.

"Within the core of each of us is the child we once were. This child constitutes the foundation of what we have become, who we are, and what we will be." Neuroscientist Dr. R. Joseph

The next morning, Agent David Rossi drives down a suburban street in Indianapolis, Indiana.

In Quantico, Virginia, Penelope Garcia enters Agent JJ Jareau's office, full of angst about the situation Agent Rossi witnessed at her apartment last night. JJ is preoccupied by the stacks of files and folders covering her desk, but once Garcia mentions Rossi's intrusion on her hot date with Analyst Kevin Lynch, JJ is all ears.

Agent Emily Prentiss enters the BAU bullpen and wanders to her desk while sipping a cup of coffee. Her eyes are drawn to the open office door on the next level where files and papers have been scattered on the floor.

Garcia is worried that Rossi is going to report her, but JJ is encouraging - she finds the situation quite amusing and mentions to the nervous analyst that most of the FBI's anti-fraternization rules were written because of Rossi himself. Garcia is somewhat relieved until JJ asks her why Agent Rossi would go to her apartment in the middle of the night. Breaking eye contact and fiddling with some items on JJ's desk, Garcia tells her that Rossi didn't want her to tell anyone. JJ's morning gets even more interesting when her cell phone rings. The caller is SSA Hotchner's wife, demanding to know why she can't reach her husband on his cell phone. JJ explains that Agent Hotchner is in a prison, so cell service is intermittent, and Mrs. Hotchner hangs up.

JJ dials again, and reaches Agent Hotchner in the warden's office of a Connecticut prison. He and SSA Reid are waiting to do an interview with a serial killer who is scheduled to be executed the next week. Hotchner paces, on edge, and curtly tells JJ that he'll handle the situation when he returns. Reid asks Hotchner if he is all right, suggesting they postpone the interview if he has something personal to deal with, even offering to take the lead on the interview, but Hotchner interrupts and tells Reid he is fine. Assistant Warden Abner Merriman enters the office and introduces himself to the agents. Reid explains that serial killer Chester Hardwick has agreed to be interviewed for their Criminal Personality Research Project. Merriman tells the agents he is fascinated by serial killers, and admires the articles Dr. Reid has written for various journals, but Hotchner wants to get on with it and hurries him along. Merriman tells them they don't have an interview room, but they do have a small room the two agents can use. Hotchner is preoccupied and brusque, reminding the assistant warden that they have a lot of experience interviewing inmates in prison. Merriman is surprised that Hardwick agreed to speak with the FBI, as he has not been very communicative. Hotchner briefly explains that people change when they realize they are about to die.

Asleep on her sofa, Connie Galen moans and tosses fitfully. In her nightmare she is a child again, sleepily approaching her mother's bed to see why she hasn't gotten up. There's blood - on the sheets and on the axe leaning up against the bedroom wall. The little girl raises the sheet and sees the bed has become a pool of blood. A voice awakens Connie and she opens her eyes to see her brother, Georgie, sitting on the floor, his back against the sofa. He is holding a child's brightly colored plastic baton, and assures her that she was just dreaming again. When she realizes how late it is, she asks Georgie why he hasn't gone to work. He replies that he accidentally "punched a guy" and got fired. Georgie points to a small pile of one dollar bills on the coffee table and complains that she must be the worst stripper in the world. Connie asks about their sister, Alicia, and Georgie tells her that she took off with some guy in a Jeep last night. He notices the stuffed monkey, and mentions that his "gift" was waiting for him on the front porch that morning. Connie feels that he "will never leave them alone." Georgie flings the cheap toy across the room and wishes his sister a "Happy 20th Anniversary."

Rossi stares out the window of his SUV at a red-brick home.

The small room that Merriman has shown Hotchner and Reid to contains a table, a few chairs, a window, and a button on the wall which will alert the guards that they are finished and wish to leave. Reid places open folders on the table revealing bloody crime scene photos and Assistant Warden Merriman is fascinated by them. He begins picking them up and paging through them while an irritated Hotchner looks on. Merriman can't contain his horror - he understood intellectually that Hardwick had brutally killed 23 victims, but he had never seen the extent of the crimes. As Reid explains that these interviews often reveal further crimes that law enforcement never suspected, Hotchner rolls his eyes, eager for the assistant warden to leave so that they can do their jobs. Hotchner finally takes the photos from Merriman and places them back on the table, telling him that it is important for the agents to observe the criminal's initial reaction to what he sees. Merriman backs away just as the door opens and Chester Hardwick is escorted into the room in chains.

Hardwick is a well-built man belying his gray hair and black framed glasses. He stands at ease in the small room, his face revealing no emotion as he locks gazes with Agent Hotchner. Hotchner asks the guard to take the chains from the prisoner's wrists and waist, much to Reid's dismay.

Morgan, Prentiss, and JJ stand in the doorway of Agent Rossi's office staring at the floor littered with FBI files and paperwork. When JJ mentions that Garcia might have some idea about what is going on with Agent Rossi, the others are surprised. Garcia, who has been watching and listening outside in the bullpen, tells them that Rossi didn't want her to discuss the matter with the other agents. Prentiss, encouraging Garcia to share her information, tells her that Rossi might need help - he is a very particular man, color-coding his case notes and keeping his office in absolute order. His office is a scream for help. Garcia tells the agents about the 20-year-old double homicide in Indianapolis. JJ tells the others that the jet is available, and she, Prentiss and Morgan head out to catch up with Rossi.

The red-brick house sits on a quiet street in suburban Indianapolis; the lawn and landscaping is immaculate. Gary Willis of the Indianapolis Police Department drives up and introduces himself to Agent Rossi. Rossi was expecting a Captain Giles, but Giles died a year ago. Det. Willis has brought a copy of the Galen file for Rossi, but tells him that there is nothing new on the case. When Rossi shows his dissatisfaction, Willis reminds him that it is a 20-year-old cold case. "When do you stop looking for a double murderer?" demands Rossi. He was on the original scene when it happened 20 years ago. Willis tells him that there is nothing to be found inside the Galen house - it was cleaned out years ago and is attended to once a week by a housekeeping service. Rossi knows - he owns the house. He bought it at auction after the murders, the money going to the grandmother who was taking care of the children at that point. He explains that he just could never let go of the case. He knows there's nothing in the house, nothing that they missed, no evidence they didn't find, he was just hoping the local police had something new. He thanks Det. Willis and turns to go.

Chester Hardwick walks towards the heavily screened and barred window set high in the wall of the small room and demands that it be opened during their interview. Hotchner, standing near Reid who is seated at the table with his notebook and files, agrees and Hardwick pushes the window open a few inches. Reid begins with an easy question - Hardwick's birth date. Hardwick stands staring out the window at the cinderblock wall and replies tersely that there's not much to say about his childhood - it was average in every way. Reid looks up in surprise as Hotchner immediately contradicts him, rattling off details about Hardwick's series of homes in the projects in East Bridgeport, how he peeped into his neighbor's windows and stole underwear from their drawers. He details the hundred fires Hardwick set and how he spent time in juvenile detention because of them. Speaking more quietly and soothingly, Reid tells the serial killer that they have done extensive research and spoken to everyone in his life - including his mother - so lying to the agents would be pointless. Hardwick tells them they are wrong - he started a lot more than 100 fires. Hotchner turns away in disgust.

Garcia, concentrating on data from three different computer screens, doesn't notice Analyst Kevin Lynch coming into her office. He leans over, gazing in awe at her multi-tasking abilities, and murmurs, "Beautiful." Startled, Garcia jumps and yells, scaring Lynch who backs off hurriedly and apologizes for scaring her. Garcia is not happy to see him, and when he leans over as if to kiss her she places her hand on his face and pushes him away. She is still very worried about being "caught in the act" by one of her supervisors last night. Lynch tells her that it was very rude of Rossi to show up at her apartment after hours, and thinks he should have a talk with the Senior Agent and "straighten him out." Garcia's stern demeanor finally begins to melt as Lynch explains that he wants to be able to come up and kiss his girlfriend every once in a while without worrying about Agent Rossi. She places one hand on his shoulder and looks at him lovingly as she backs him out of her office, saying, "If you get within 100 feet of Agent Rossi I will unleash an unrecoverable virus on your personal computer system that will reduce your electronic world into something between a Commodore 64 and a block of government cheese." But she does ask him to call her later before shutting the door in his face.

On the BAU jet, the three agents discuss the evidence - or lack of it - with Garcia over the computer link. One latent print was found, and she's running it through AFIS again in the hope of getting a match. Morgan, Prentiss, and JJ wonder why this case has affected Rossi so deeply: they've seen worse crime scenes since he's been back with the BAU. Garcia has also not been able to find any other crimes that may make this one of a series - while it is a double homicide, it is apparently a single occurrence with no crossing of state lines. Since no local authorities requested FBI assistance, there is no justification for this as a BAU case. Morgan asks Garcia to check the states surrounding Indianapolis for other crimes that are similar in nature as it doesn't feel like a "one time" crime to him.

The interview with Chester Hardwick is not going well. For a man who requested the interview, Hardwick is not very forthcoming with information, standing with his back against the wall beneath the open window staring at an increasingly frustrated and angry Agent Hotchner. Hardwick tells them his father beat him and his mother daily and wants to know if that is what the agents want to hear. When a very patient Reid tells him they only want to hear the truth, Hardwick remarks, "Nobody gives a damn about the truth."

When Garcia's office phone rings she is nervous to see Rossi's name on the caller ID. He asks her about any matches that were found on the latent print recovered at the Galen crime scene, and she tells him there were none. She was able to find his original case notes and will fax them to The Palmer Hotel where he is staying. When Rossi begins to say goodbye, Garcia advises him that Prentiss, Morgan, and JJ will be arriving shortly to join him on the case. Rossi is furious, shouting "I don't need anyone's damn help!" before he disconnects.

Hardwick comments on the cooler air coming in from the open window and how the days are getting warmer. It will be summer soon - but not for him, Hotchner notes. Reid tries to get the conversation back to the topic and asks Hardwick why he chose Sheila O'Neill. Hardwick tells them he doesn't remember his victims' names, they will have to show him a picture. Hotchner snaps at him, asking if this was the reason he agreed to an interview - to be able to see the photos of his handiwork. Hardwick seems amused by Hotchner's anger and tells him that he has an excellent memory, the victims just meant nothing to him. The girls were a diversion, and from the moment he decided to kill them they were dead. All their crying and begging and bargaining didn't matter because they didn't matter. He wishes he was normal and had a regular life, but he didn't. Hotchner asks him why he requested this interview. Hardwick smiles and turns to the window: "Because I wanted to smell the air." He has been kept on death watch in 24-hour isolation and they will keep him there until he goes to the death chamber. He only wanted to smell the air one last time before he dies.

As Hardwick looks on, smiling, Hotchner angrily tells Reid to pack up his bag, they are leaving. He is furious that the killer has used him to get something he wanted. Hotch rings the bell and tells Hardwick to "Have a nice trip. You're going where you belong." Reid hurriedly begins gathering his files as Hotchner rings the bell again. Hardwick, standing quietly, watching, advises the agents that it is 5:17 PM, and evening hours began at 5:00 PM. The guards are all busy in the yard with the population and there will be no one to open the door and let them out for at least 13 minutes. He reaches down to the crime scene photos on the table and picks one up, holding it so that the agents can see his mutilated victim and the dripping blood on the walls and floor. "And it took me less time to do this," he smiles.

Hardwick tells Hotchner that, during his research, he should have looked into the meaning of the various security tones they've been hearing. Hotchner glares at the inmate, assuring him that he heard the tones. Hardwick sarcastically asks Hotchner if he planned to be trapped in the small room with a brutal killer without any guns or weapons, and Hotchner assures him that he won't need a weapon. Reid nervously puts some distance between himself and Hardwick, watching the interplay between the smug serial killer and the seething FBI agent. Hardwick leans casually against the wall, rubbing his hands together and observing that they would stop the execution if he murdered two FBI agents. "You saved my life by coming here," he tells Hotchner. Taking off his jacket and tie, Hotchner growls that he is not Hardwick's typical victim, and he is clearly not a five foot tall, 100 pound girl. Pointing his finger at the killer Hotchner tells a now enraged Hardwick that at his core, he is a coward.

The two men close with each other, muscles taut, faces set when suddenly Agent Reid breaks in with a question: "Chester, do you want to know why you killed those women?" Hardwick is now torn, still glaring at a threatening Hotchner, but glancing back at Reid's earnest face. Reid continues, offering to tell Hardwick why he is different, why he grew up to be a serial killer.

Rossi is sitting alone at the bar in the Palmer Hotel when Prentiss, Morgan, and JJ arrive. He wearily tells his team mates to go home, that he doesn't need any help. Morgan insists, telling him that fresh eyes couldn't hurt. Rossi tells them it isn't even a BAU case, but JJ states that she can make anything into a BAU case if she does the paperwork right. Finally, Rossi turns around to face the other agents and asks the question: "Why do you care?" "Because you do," Prentiss answers.

Hardwick is now focused solely on young Agent Reid, facing him across the small table. As Reid begins to talk, throwing out facts and speculation about Hardwick, his mother, and his father, Hotchner slowly slides back into the shadows never taking his eyes from the killer. Speaking quickly, Reid explains that serial killers are almost always raised by mentally ill parents, and that he learned to equate violence with love at a very early age. Reid, hardly hesitating to take a breath, relates physiological and psychological findings to the enthralled inmate, weaving a web of words to draw the killer in, explaining away his violent tendencies, giving him reasons for his drives and desires. Slowly, Hardwick's tension slackens; he bends over to lean on the table listening closely to the agent's explanations and rationalizations. Hotchner watches, tense, ready to act immediately if Hardwick threatens them again. Reid, quiet and sincere, tells the inmate that his killings all make perfect sense when viewed in light of his physiology and upbringing. Finally, Reid tells Hardwick, "Earlier you said your victims never had a chance. I think you know deep down, it was you who really never had a chance." The door opens and the anxious prison guards walk into the silent tableau. Hotchner, still on edge, tells them they are finished and leads the way out. As Reid hurriedly follows, Hardwick turns to him and asks sadly if he really never had a chance. Reid, all compassion and pity gone from his voice, throws his parting comment over his shoulder at the brutal killer, "I don't know, maybe."

As the agents sit around a table in the hotel, Rossi fills them in on the 20-year-old Galen case. He was in town to investigate a series of rapes, and after the rapist was caught, he was on his way to the airport with the lead detective. The detective received a call about screaming kids in a house not far from there, and Rossi agreed to go with him to investigate. The axe used as the murder weapon had belonged to the family, and was wiped clean of prints. Connie, the oldest daughter, told him her father bought it months earlier to cut down the Christmas tree. Rossi has not been able to put a Christmas tree up himself since that day. The killer never hurt the children even though he must have known they were in the house. Prentiss observes that leaving the weapon and not eliminating all potential witnesses are signs of a disorganized killer. Morgan adds that wiping all fingerprints, on the other hand, is a sign of organization. The only print left was behind a door. The notion that he only needed one more piece to the puzzle, one more clue, to be able to solve this case has haunted Rossi for 20 years. He fingers the charm bracelet as he hesitatingly tells the other agents about that day - how warm it was that morning, how he could hear the children screaming even before he got out of the car, "three terrified children screaming for their murdered parents." He still hears them screaming every night. If he can't tell these children he's caught the killer and he'll never do it again, the screaming may never stop.

Alicia Galen has arrived home. She is sitting on her boyfriend's lap in the front seat of his open Jeep kissing him passionately when her sister Connie walks outside and calls her. Alicia grabs her bag and gets out of the car, stalking up the sidewalk towards her sister. Alicia resents the fact that her sister is checking up on her, and storms inside. Connie, arms crossed, waits outside until the boy in the Jeep drives away. She is just turning to go inside when the BAU team arrives. Angry, Connie approaches Rossi and tells him he has to stop, he has to leave them alone. Morgan, Prentiss, and JJ look on as Rossi tries to talk with Connie, tries to explain that he wants to make sure that someone pays for their parents' deaths. Hearing the argument, Alicia and Georgie come out onto the front porch and listen to the confrontation. Connie demands that he let them try to get on with their lives and stop reminding them of this tragedy. Rossi quietly assures her that he won't bother them again, and turns away. Connie continues, telling him to stop sending the stupid toys, as well. Rossi stops - suddenly alert - he never sent them any gifts.

Inside the children's home they have collected all of the "anniversary" gifts that they could find and placed them on the dining room table. They had always assumed that Rossi sent them, leaving them on the front porch at night. The toys are all extremely cheap, leading the agents to wonder where they were purchased. Connie tells Rossi that she found the last gift in her car the night before - that means the killer is following her. Morgan, as the expert in obsessional crimes, tells the group that there are two types of criminals who want to keep close ties with the victims' families: sadists who want to make the families keep re-living the crime, or guilt-laden offenders who are trying to make up for doing something wrong. Since sadists usually send something that would inflict more pain, they are probably dealing with a guilt-laden killer. These toys look like something a child would send. Morgan confirms their killer may be someone who is developmentally disabled with a very low IQ who did not mean to kill anyone - they are generally large and can hurt people without realizing it. Since there was no evidence left at the scene, he must have been assisted by someone else, probably a parent. Morgan tells JJ to contact Garcia: she is to look for reports around the area involving children, but not necessarily children who have been abused or hurt. This type of unsub seeks out children in order to play with them, not to hurt them.

Driving away from the prison, Hotchner congratulates Reid on his quick thinking in getting Hardwick to focus on himself until the guards returned. He apologizes to the young agent for antagonizing the situation, and admits that his wife, Haley, has been pressuring him to sign the divorce papers uncontested to save time and money. Hotchner has been unwilling to admit to himself that there is no hope of resolving matters with his wife.

Garcia has found a string of petty crimes reported in the Indianapolis area every year during the same two-week period between March and April. Then, during the next two weeks the same kinds of crimes are reported in Springfield, Illinois, and then Des Moines, Iowa. The killer travels in the same pattern year after year, and has access to a variety of extremely cheap toys and stuffed animals. "What about a carnival?" asks Rossi. Alicia and Connie remember going to a carnival the day before their parents were killed. They had to leave early because one of the clowns started following Connie around and it worried her mother. Garcia pulls permits and finds the only carnival in town.

When the agents arrive, the carnival workers are breaking everything down and packing up to leave. Morgan and JJ begin to look around as Rossi and Prentiss approach an older man who seems to be in charge. The man continues to work, loading glass Coke bottles into the back of a pick-up, but he is unnerved by Rossi's questions about a "clown" associated with the carnival. As Morgan and JJ walk through the area, she spots a large man wearing hastily applied clown make-up picking up trash. As they move towards him, the man shuffles away.

Rossi continues to question Landon about a carnival worker who has been complained about, who kids are uncomfortable around. Landon tries to brush him off, but Rossi pulls out his identification and asks if Landon has a son. This worker would have been a big problem for the carnival's owner, and he would have gotten rid of him years ago if he had not been related. Morgan and JJ lose sight of the clown and hurry through the area. Landon admits that what happened 20 years ago was his fault - he should have been watching his son more closely, but one of the rides had broken down and he wandered off. His son, Joe, just wanted to play, to see the little girl again, "he would never hurt anyone." Joe went into the father's room by mistake and the father hit Joe with the axe, so he got mad. He was sorry as soon as he did it, and Landon was too late - he couldn't save them. Every year he takes his son back there to remember what he did, and makes him pick out some toys to give the children. "He never forgets," his father insists. Morgan and JJ have found a trail of trash and a trash picker next to a carnival ride. They position themselves, guns drawn, next to the brightly colored plastic sheeting that covers the underside of the ride. They pull the plastic away and find Joe has hidden himself in the undercarriage of the ride. He is frightened and begins calling for his daddy. Landon, Rossi, and Prentiss hear him, and run to his location. Morgan has pulled Joe from under the ride and the big man is crying, wailing for his daddy to help him. Rossi holds Landon back as he yells for his son to stay down. Morgan and Prentiss cuff Joe as lies on the ground, weeping for his daddy, and Rossi looks on. The Galens' killer has been caught.

Outside their run-down home, Rossi hands the keys to the Galen's original home over to Connie, Georgie, and Alicia. They can sell it for a good price and get a new start in life. He takes the gold charm bracelet out of his pocket and hands it to Connie. Her grandmother had let him hold on to it until the case was solved. As he begins to leave, his last physical connections to the Galen case gone, Connie rushes up to him and places the bracelet back in his hand. She wants him to have it, and she tearfully asks if it would be okay if she called him sometime, "just to let you know how we're doing." "Anytime, kiddo," he answers, "anytime." Looking back at the three from his car window, Rossi can now see them as the happy children they should have been.

The four agents breeze into the BAU bullpen and Morgan asks Reid how the interview in Connecticut was. "Ultimately uneventful," answers Reid as he points out to Agent Rossi that someone is waiting to see him in his office. Looking up, the team sees Analyst Kevin Lynch anxiously awaiting Rossi's arrival. Lynch approaches the group and announces that he wants to talk to Rossi about Penelope, "man to man." Rossi acknowledges the challenge and takes Lynch into his office while the rest of the group wonders about the situation. JJ smiles secretly and begins singing a grade-school song about "Garcia and Kevin, sittin' in a tree...' Morgan rushes off to Garcia's office, and Prentiss laughs, happy to finally find something the least bit "scandalous" happening at the BAU. Befuddled, Reid has no idea about the significance of JJ's song, and Prentiss is sure not going to explain it to him.

"There is no formula for success except perhaps for an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings." Arthur Rubenstein.

Hotchner sits alone in his office and signs his divorce papers. [recap written by Finnegan77]