Criminal Minds

Season 3 Episode 5

Seven Seconds

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Oct 24, 2007 on CBS

Episode Recap

Beth Jacobs looks frantically around at a group of children celebrating a birthday in the Potomac Mills shopping mall. Over the loud speaker system, a woman's voice pages Katie Jacobs. Paul Jacobs rushes down an escalator, searching through the crowds as a 911 call is heard. Susan Jacobs, Katie's aunt, is calling the police to tell them that her 6-year-old niece Katie is missing in the mall. "Someone took her, just like the little girl last week," she wails. Paul and Beth Jacobs find each other, and Beth falls, crying, into her husband's arms. Prince William County police arrive at the mall, and they and the mall security officers, lock down the mall and arrange chairs for the shoppers.

Agent James Franklin, director of the Bureau's Rapid Deployment Team, introduces himself to Beth and Paul Jacobs, and Marie Samuels, the head of Mall Security. He asks the Jacobs for a photograph of their daughter, but Beth is distracted – she's worried about her daughter because another little girl was abducted from a mall just a week ago, and she was murdered. Agent Franklin comforts the family, telling them that it is much too soon to assume the two cases are connected, but that he's called in the BAU to help them ascertain that fact. Beth offers the Agent a picture of Katie from her cell phone.

When the agents from the BAU arrive, Agent Franklin hands out walkie-talkies and tells Hotchner that the mall has been in lockdown for 20 minutes, and his team is already in motion. They are convinced that Katie is still in the mall because there are security cameras at every exit, and there is no footage showing her leaving the building. Reid mentions that the person who abducted and killed the other child – Jessica Davis – last week took her from the mall because he wanted privacy with her. If this unsub is the same person, he wouldn't leave the mall without his victim, so it is likely he is still there, also. Hotchner sends Garcia to the mall security office, sends Reid and Morgan to find the head of security, and asks Prentiss and JJ to begin speaking with Katie's family.

At the mall security office, Marie Samuels shows Reid and Morgan maps of the mall, including 117 stores, storage closets, dressing rooms, restrooms, access to the roof, restaurants and elevators. One of the agents from the RDT tells Prentiss and JJ that Katie was last seen in the video arcade with her cousin, Jeremy. A local police officer hands them a list of registered sex offenders within a 45 miles radius – Prentiss asks him to run a check against all of the mall employee files. Franklin and Hotchner discuss the fact that Franklin was the agent who found Jessica Davis' body last week. "Twenty years and I've never seen anything like it. I can't get the image out of my head," the agent admits.

Garcia isn't having much luck in the security office. Opening the equipment she's brought with her, she demands every inch of security footage and a number of devices from the tech working with her. He hurries off to try to procure the items she needs. An RDT agent distributes copies of a photo of Katie taken from Beth Jacobs' cell phone. When Prentiss approaches Beth and Paul Jacobs, they are standing with Katie's aunt and uncle, Susan and Richard Jacobs, and her cousin, Jeremy.

Morgan, Reid, and Marie Samuels are daunted by the task of searching the entire mall, including storage rooms and ventilation shafts, as well as large subterranean areas. Reid explains how much time is a factor, reciting the horrifying statistics: "99% of abducted children who are killed die within the first 24 hours, 75% within the first three hours." He goes on to mention that Jessica Davis was among the 44% of abducted children killed within the first hour.

Garcia has managed to find footage of Katie leaving the video arcade, even on the mall's antiquated equipment. Unfortunately, the angle is poor, and anyone who might be with Katie cannot be seen.

Security teams continue to search the mall. Hotchner and JJ take Beth and Paul Jacobs to the security office to look at the short footage of Katie, but neither can identify anyone within the frame. Beth tells the agents that Katie has asthma and she's going to need her inhaler. Paul Jacobs wants to be out searching for his daughter, but Hotchner explains that Paul and Beth will be "debriefed," separately. Hotchner escorts Paul Jacobs into a nearby room, and JJ takes Beth Jacobs to another office. They each ask the parents if Katie could have had any connection with Jessica Davis. Beth Jacobs begins screaming; asking JJ if she thinks Katie is dead, too. JJ manages to calm her down.

As security teams search each store in the mall, they seal off that area

Morgan, Reid, and Marie Samuels head into the video arcade – Katie was last seen here with her cousin, 30 minutes ago. They reason that the unsub may be panicking now, believing that there was a witness to the abduction. Morgan and Reid explain that it is probable that the unsub is a preferential pedophile who came to the mall looking for a particular type, and that he may be comfortable with these surroundings.

Prentiss is interviewing Jeremy Jacobs, Katie's 13-year-old cousin, while his parents look on. Jeremy doesn't remember anyone paying any particular attention to Katie, but his father criticizes him, saying that he wasn't really watching Katie as he should have been. Susan Jacobs explains that she should hate the mall because she used to work in retail, but it was a convenient place to shop for her husband's birthday present. Richard Jacobs, Katie's uncle, insists that his son got too caught up in a video game to notice that his cousin was missing.

Hotchner continues to question Paul Jacobs, Katie's father. He tells Paul that, assuming Katie knew enough not to go off with a stranger, she might have felt safe with the person who abducted her – perhaps it was someone in uniform.

Richard Jacobs tells Prentiss that it might all be a mistake – Katie might have wandered off to look through a bookstore or to play dress-up in a store. The look on Prentiss' face tells him that this is unlikely.

Reid and Morgan have taken Jeremy Jacobs away from his mother and father to talk privately. Jeremy says that his father thinks Katie's abduction is his fault, but Reid reassures him that his father is just "super upset." Morgan tries to tell Jeremy that the moments right before the kidnapping are the most important, and that they really need his help, but Jeremy cannot remember what happened. When Reid asks him to try, Jeremy begins gasping and shaking his head – he's having a panic attack. Morgan sits him down with his head between his knees.

In the security office, Beth Jacobs is nervously fingering a purple sweater that Katie wouldn't wear that day because it didn't match her sneakers. JJ asks if she can borrow it for the search dogs. JJ explains that the abductor most likely looks at Katie as an object, and an appeal from her parents that identifies Katie as a loved little girl might spark his conscience.

Morgan explains to Hotchner that Jeremy's guilt over what he may have seen or heard has manifested as an acute stress disorder, and he can't remember a thing. Hotchner advises Morgan to take Jeremy back to the scene and do a cognitive interview.

Garcia is setting up sound equipment in the security office so that Beth and Paul Jacobs can make an announcement about their daughter. JJ explains their strategy to Katie's parents, telling them not to address what the unsub has done, but to keep the focus on Katie. Beth makes a tearful plea, telling everyone about her daughter: how she's just started first grade, and wants to learn how to ride "a big girl's bike" without training wheels. "Katie is just a little girl who deserves another birthday." The shoppers, the BAU agents, local police and the rest of the Jacobs family listen, moved by Beth's words.

Agent Franklin hands Katie's sweater off to the K-9 unit and the dogs start off after the scent.

Garcia shows Hotchner the seven seconds of footage she could decipher that shows Katie Jacobs. She leaves the arcade and moves north through the mall, but Garcia still can't identify if Katie was with another person. The only stores in the area sell furniture, bedding and stationery, nothing for which a six-year-old would leave an arcade. Hotchner believes that she was lured away from the crowd.

At the video arcade, Jeremy mentions that his favorite video game is D.O.A. – Dead or Alive. He likes the close combat, and he's really good at it.

The search dog follows Katie's scent to a hallway next to an air duct which is blowing in distracting scents from the nearby food court.

Susan Jacobs, Jeremy's mother, insists that Prentiss allow her to be with her son while Morgan and Reid interview him. Prentiss explains that Jeremy might be feeling guilty about what happened to Katie, so he won't want his mother to hear what happened. Susan can't believe the situation – she was just having a lighter engraved for her husband when she heard the announcement that Katie was missing.

Morgan and Reid stand Jeremy in front of the video game and ask him to close his eyes and picture what it sounded like and smelled like in the arcade. The people and the sound effects were loud, and Jeremy was wrapped up in his game when he remembered that Katie was crying because it was too loud, and she wanted to leave. Jeremy is uncomfortable when he remembers that he felt embarrassed because a cute teen-age girl noticed him. He remembers the scent of her hair. Suddenly he remembers that Katie wanted ice cream. When Jeremy still seems reticent, Reid asks if there is anything else, but Jeremy says no.

The dog has picked up Katie's scent again, and it has led the agents to a necklace in a trash can. It is the necklace Katie was wearing in her picture. When JJ asks Katie's mother about it, Beth Jacobs says that Katie found it in the school yard a year ago. The necklace is 24-karat gold, and the gems in it are real, so JJ doubts Katie's story. Hotchner asks the parents if the team can search their home, explaining that it was "just protocol."

Hotchner takes the necklace to Morgan and Agent Franklin, explaining that the clasp was broken as if the unsub tore it from Katie's neck. An abductor would not have acted this way – this act was motivated by rage, it was personal. Katie's abduction may not have any connection to the Jessica Davis abduction the week before.

At the Jacobs' home, Reid and Morgan discover what looks like the perfect "Norman Rockwell" family – they eat together, and watch movies by the fire. Morgan is worried.

JJ asks Beth Jacobs if she knows of anyone who could be a threat to Katie. Hotchner asks similar questions of Paul Jacobs – about any disagreements with neighbors or co-workers. Paul Jacobs denies that Katie could have known her abductor. Hotchner picks up on verbal cues from Paul Jacobs and asks about any marital problems in the home. Paul gets angry, but Hotchner insists on answers. "My family means everything to me," states Katie's father. "Finding Katie is everything to me," answers Hotchner. Paul Jacobs denies any marital problems.

Reid finds that Katie has been wetting the bed. More disturbingly, Morgan finds one of Katie's dolls – it has been cut and disfigured. Since most girls covet their dolls as extensions of themselves, Morgan believes he recognizes these signs. "Katie is in a lot of pain and not telling anybody and I think I know why." He calls Hotchner and tells him that it is probable that Katie was being molested, and the odds tell them that it was probably someone who lived under the same roof. The question is, why would Katie lie if her father bought her the necklace – that would seem normal. Hotchner concludes that Katie didn't lie – the molester wasn't Katie's father. He advises Prentiss to separate Jeremy Jacobs from his father immediately.

The search continues throughout the mall, to no avail.

Hotchner and Prentiss begin asking Richard Jacobs about his son, Jeremy, while, in another room, Reid sits down across from Jeremy Jacobs. Reid tries to get Jeremy to open up by talking about his own experiences at 13 years old. He tells Jeremy that he was first noticing girls then, but that he was very awkward and frustrated that he couldn't talk to them. He continues, telling Jeremy that these feelings about girls are normal, and that even Jeremy's exploration of his violent side through the video games is normal. What Reid wants to know is if Jeremy has acted on any of these curiosities yet. Jeremy avoids eye contact with Reid, and seems nervous, avoiding Reid's questions.

Richard Jacobs tells the agents that his son likes to be on the computer, and that he spends hours in his room listening to "that metal music." Hotchner is surprised that Richard can't name even one of Jeremy's friends. Richard confesses that the two have always been distant from each other. Hotchner asks about Jeremy's criminal record – he stole earrings for a girl he liked. But the earrings were very valuable, and 13 is a very young age for a criminal record. Richard doesn't even know the girl's name.

Morgan and JJ are wondering about Susan Jacobs' reaction to the news that her son is being questioned. She seems very calm, and unconcerned, as if she is covering something.

Reid explains what it means to be a profiler to Jeremy – that he can read Jeremy's body language. He tells Jeremy that he knows he is nervous, and that he's trying to distance himself from Reid by pushing back his chair. Reid also describes Jeremy's nervous tic – that he bites the inside of his cheek as if he's trying to keep hold of something. Reid noticed this in the video arcade, and believes that Jeremy remembered something that he doesn't want Reid to know. Jeremy denies it, but Reid insists that Jeremy knows something that he hasn't told anyone about.

Hotchner asks Richard Jacobs to sit down, and asks him if Jeremy spends a lot of time with his cousin. Hotchner wonders if that makes Richard jealous. Placing Katie's necklace on the table in front of him, Prentiss wants Richard to tell her how he knew that Katie loved to read and play dress-up, but didn't know the first thing about his own son's friends. Hotchner explains that molesters usually concentrate all of their attention on their victim, ignoring everyone else around them. Hotchner goes on the attack, demanding to know when the molestation started, wanting to know if he knew it was sick, and asking if Katie got too old for him. Richard shouts, "No! I may have done some things that you couldn't possibly understand, but I would never hurt Katie." Hotchner and Prentiss look at him with disgust. As he leaves, Hotchner explains to Prentiss that Richard is not in a rage, as Katie's attacker must have been. Prentiss remembers Richard's wife's words to her about having a lighter engraved with her husband's name. She asks Richard how he could have kept from smoking during this terribly stressful time. Richard tells her he quit smoking over a month ago. Another flash of memory goes through Prentiss' mind: Susan Jacobs also admitted that she used to work in retail.

Striding purposefully, Prentiss tries to draw Susan Jacobs away from Katie's parents, explaining quietly to Morgan and JJ that Susan hasn't told them everything. Stopping a few paces away from the others, Prentiss confronts Susan: she didn't just work in retail, she worked at the Potomac Mills mall and that she knows it like the back of her hand. As Prentiss' voice rises in anger, Katie's parents demand to know what's going on. Prentiss leads Susan away into a small office, and dissects Susan's behavior. She wants to know what Susan did with Katie. Richard didn't need the new lighter Susan told them she was buying when she went off by herself. Susan admits the two have been separated. Prentiss wants to know if Susan got the idea for getting rid of Katie when she heard about the other child who was abducted from a local mall.

Hotchner leads the rest of the search teams towards the mall storage rooms.

"This was not supposed to happen to my family," says Susan. Prentiss lays into her, demanding to know what she has done with Katie. When Susan continues to deny her involvement, Prentiss shoves Katie's mangled doll in Susan's face, telling her that this is how Katie sees herself – with self-loathing – that is what her husband made her feel. Prentiss doesn't let up, shouting that Susan just lay there, letting her husband do terrible things to Katie, and even protecting him. "Instead of shielding her from more pain, you blamed her for your own." Finally, Susan collapses in tears.

The search teams are frantic now, going through the last of the storage closets. Morgan and Hotchner direct people to search everywhere and everything and agents and officers search quickly. Hotchner opens a closet and finds Katie unconscious on the floor, bound and gagged. He desperately begins CPR. JJ leads Katie's parents to the storage closet at a run. EMTs work on the little girl as Hotchner continues CPR and other agents and officers watch helplessly. Prentiss leads Susan Jacobs away in handcuffs. Katie is still unresponsive. A police officer leads Richard Jacobs away in handcuffs. Katie begins coughing, and her heart begins beating. Jeremy Jacobs, standing between Reid and Morgan, watches as his mother is placed in a police car. He asks if Katie will be all right, and admits that he heard Katie call his mother's name in the arcade. "What's going to happen to me now?" he asks. Reid tells him that he will make sure that he's all right. As JJ and Garcia leave the security office, JJ mentions that the image of Susan comforting Katie's mother will haunt her, but Garcia reminds her that it could have been very much worse. As Beth and Paul Jacobs accompany Katie towards an ambulance, Paul catches sight of his brother being seated in a police car. He watches him with shocked disgust before turning back to his family.

Agent Franklin reminds Hotchner that there's still a guy out there who hasn't been caught, and Hotchner notes that there always will be.

Later, Hotchner knocks on Haley's sister's door and asks his wife if he can see Jack for five minutes. Haley hesitates a moment, and then opens the door for him. Hotchner sits in his son's darkened bedroom, quietly watching as his son sleeps peacefully.

[recap written by Finnegan77]