Criminal Minds

Season 4 Episode 2

The Angel Maker

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Oct 01, 2008 on CBS

Episode Recap

In Lower Canaan, Ohio, Delilah Grennan is getting ready for bed when she sees something out of the corner of her eye. Walking through her small home, a slight frown on her face, she is startled by a noise and cautiously heads into the kitchen. She sighs in relief to find her cat on the counter, eating leftovers out of a pot on the counter. A cool breeze plays over her skin and, as she turns to close the kitchen window, she notices a shooting star in the clear night sky and closes her eyes to make a wish. Behind her, a figure crosses the hallway. Delilah turns out the night and gets into bed. A few minutes later, the closet door opens and a figure holding a hammer emerges into Delilah's bedroom. The figure raises the hammer high over the sleeping woman. SSA Aaron Hotchner is undergoing an MRI at the hospital. Consulting with his doctor afterward, he discusses the fact that the buzzing doesn't bother him – it is the recurring pain that is the problem. His doctor tells him that he is suffering from hyperacusis and he has a small tear in his right eardrum. Although the condition may heal itself in a few weeks, sometimes the damage is permanent. She hesitates suggesting that he can return to the field due to his acute sensitivity to sound. He assures her he will "take it easy" and he will limit his field work. She pointedly tells him to stay out of loud places. Hotchner doesn't hear that his phone is ringing until the doctor points it out. Back in the BAU conference room, JJ is briefing the team about the murder and rape of Delilah Grennan. Seeing the staging of the body immediately, the team sees the ritual in the killing. JJ adds another troubling detail – the puncture wounds on the victim's body were administered post-mortem. When Prentiss asks if there are any other victims, JJ explains the details of the killing resemble serial killings in the same town 10 years previously performed in exactly the same way by a killer called "The Angel Maker." He had been put to death by lethal injection one year ago yesterday – one year to the day before Delilah Grennan's murder. Theorizing they are dealing with a copycat who is "honoring" this killer's MO, Reid wonders if the local police will be able to match the DNA found in the semen with another offender. JJ relates they have already done so, and the DNA matches that of Cortland Bryce Ryan, The Angel Maker. "We all die. The goal isn't to live forever. The goal is to create something that will." Chuck Palahniuk. On the BAU jet, Reid notices all of the Angel Maker's victims had been beaten with the killer's bare hands, yet Delilah Grennan was bludgeoned with something like a hammer. This unsub is weaker than the Angel Maker and had brought the hammer along to subdue the victim easily. Rossi interrupts the discussion, believing the team should discuss "the elephant in the room" – the fact that the new unsub had the dead Angel Maker's DNA. Many of the team members believe the current killer planted the DNA "in" the victim, but Reid has another theory: perhaps it was the Angel Maker's "eviler" twin. Morgan, Prentiss and Rossi stare in dismissal at their young colleague, but Hotch leans over, eyes squinted against the stabbing pain caused by the altitude changes. When Morgan questions his fitness to fly, Hotchner just leans back against his seat. In Lower Canaan, Sheriff Merrill Dobson ushers Hotch and Reid around Delilah Grennan's home, telling the agents that the people of the town are afraid the Angel Maker has returned. Hotchner asks the officer to stick to the facts and wonders about forced entry marks. The sheriff tells him that, although there was no forced entry, the killer had opened every window in the house before he left – one of the Angel Maker's signatures that was not released in the press, and didn't even come out at the trial. Hotchner tells the worried man that the person they are looking for is a fan of the Angel Maker who studied the case exhaustively. He may have had contact with Ryan while he was in jail. The semen was most likely smuggled out and kept on ice. At the City Morgue, Prentiss asks the coroner about the puncture wounds on the woman's abdomen. He explains they were most likely made by a small screwdriver. She and Rossi discuss the different number and grouping of wounds on the Angel Maker's previous victims, from three wounds on one woman to 24 on another. The coroner lets them know that, this time, there was notebook paper in the wounds. Prentiss stares down at the pattern of puncture wounds, an idea nagging at her. Morgan is investigating Ryan's past visitors and his personal effects at the prison with guard Sid Ruttledge. Sid describes the Angel Maker as "a real lady killer," and tells Morgan he had received a lot of correspondence from women. One young man dedicated a song he'd written to Ryan, and had mailed him a copy written in his own blood. Smuggling in the prison usually works the other way – inmates attempting to smuggle items into the prison, not out. Before Morgan can begin going through the correspondence he receives an urgent call from JJ: a local newspaper has received a letter from someone claiming to be the Angel Maker. Reid is examining a copy of the new letter and comparing it with copies of previous Angel Maker notes. At first glance, Reid believes the letter shares some characteristics with the old correspondence and may be authentic. This could be a forgery or a genuine letter sent before his death. As the men discuss the situation, the sheriff's wife, Sela, enters the station, visibly shaken. Sheriff Dobson tries to assure her that the letter isn't from the same man, and Hotchner adds it might be from a friend. Sela is worried – the entire town knows there were problems with the execution. "What if he's still out there?" she pleads. She gestures to the window, and the sheriff notices that many people from the town have assembled outside the station for answers. "They want proof that he's dead." Later that night, Hotchner tries to talk the sheriff out of his exhumation of the killer's body. Standing at the gravesite with Prentiss and Rossi, Hotchner tells the sheriff he will only be helping the copycat perpetuate the Angel Maker's myth, but Sheriff Dobson is adamant. He met his wife over this case – Sela lost her only daughter to the Angel Maker. After the sheriff's gesture, two front-end loaders start up, noisily lifting their shovels to bring the coffin out of the ground. Hotchner immediately clamps his hand over his right ear, trying to withstand the onslaught of pain that the loud noise brings. He stumbles away from the gravesite and Prentiss follows, anxious to help him. He can barely hear her words of concern through the piercing shriek in his ears. As the machines are stilled, Hotchner insists he is okay, and the agents approach the plain wooden box. Peering inside, the agents see the coffin is empty. Dr. Hagen, the physician present at Ryan's execution, is completely sure that Cortland Ryan had been dead after his execution. Rossi wonders why the doctor resigned from the Corrections Department immediately following this execution. Hagen admits that "Ryan went hard." He did not die when the drugs were administered because the catheter dislodged. Although the doctor had re-inserted the catheter, Ryan began to suffocate and it took him almost an hour to die, "almost as if something were keeping him here." Ryan's last words were that he would come back. "You may think you've seen the last of me, but death cannot take me from you. I will be born again. Today you make me a legend." Hotchner, Rossi and Sheriff Dobson watch the video of the Angel Maker's last words. They know they have to debunk this myth or the entire town will panic. They know the copycat killer is the probable grave-robber, but this person needed help from someone on the inside. In her office in Quantico, Penelope Garcia is staring at a copy of one of notorious killer John Wayne Gacy's clown paintings and wonders aloud to Prentiss and Morgan why anyone would want to own the work of a serial killer. When Prentiss jokes at her coulrophobia, Garcia explains a strange clown had groped her once at a birthday party, so her fear of clowns was completely rational. Garcia is able to track down a number of Angel Maker items in on-line auction rooms, including autographed panties and screwdrivers, and origami figures he had made from cigarette boxes. Although most of his customers were from overseas, the largest dealer in Angel Maker memorabilia was Sid Ruttledge, prison guard. When the two agents arrive at Sid Ruttledge's home, the door is unlocked and the place is a mess. Guns drawn, the two proceed into the home only to find Ruttledge's dead body. His killer shot him once in the head and twice in the groin. The unsub is covering his tracks. The overpowering smell of cheap cologne fills the air and Prentiss is not surprised to find an open bottle of Aqua Velva on the medicine cabinet shelf. The prescription bottle on the sink, however, amazes her. Hotchner and his team begin the profile briefing for the Lower Canaan officers by asking them to not to abandon reason in their investigation. Hotchner announces the unsub is a woman. Sid Ruttledge had smuggled items out of prison and sold them to the highest bidder – and one of his best customers was the copycat. She had killed him because he knew her identity and because he was blackmailing her. Going through Ruttledge's record they find he was transferred out of a female prison for trading sex for favors, and the team believes he had tried the same thing with the unsub. The gunshots to the groin were personal, but the open bottle of Viagra on the sink told them specifically that the unsub was a woman – most probably a white woman in her mid-thirties. She is probably attractive, well-educated and successful, and suffers from hybristophilia – a sexual attraction to men who commit violent crimes. She is using an instrument to simulate sexual assault and keeps that and the murder weapon in her "rape kit." JJ has a list of possible groupies from the Angel Maker's visitor logs, but the list is extensive and they need the officers' help. Outside one possible groupie's home, Prentiss asks Rossi if he ever had strange fans at his book signings. He mockingly replies that it had happened, but "only when Barry Manilow wasn't in town." They are going to interview Shara Carlino, a very beautiful woman. Rossi wonders what would make a woman go through the long wait and mandatory strip search that a prison visit includes. She had clearly moved to the area to be close to Ryan because she had taken a huge pay cut and her business has a great view of the prison. Shara describes her relationship with "Cortland" as one of lovers – a love that wasn't about physical interaction, but about the soul. On the night of Delilah Grennan's death, Shara was out of town with the company. Although she insists there re witnesses who can back up her alibi, Shara is also positive the Angel Maker had no other women in his life. Prentiss offers to show her the logs, pictures, letters, but Shara interrupts and claims the other women meant nothing to him. The two agents try to tell her that her connection with Ryan ended with his death, but not his connection to the killer. Her killings reinforce their love, so any help she might be able to give the agents would eliminate this other woman's connection. Narrowing her eyes, Shara tells the two about a letter she received shortly before Ryan's death. She could tell it wasn't meant for her because it was addressed to "my dove." The letter was crude, and the tone wasn't the same as his correspondence with her. The blinds at the open window move slightly in the evening breeze. The woman is dressed in dark clothes and a cap, but the tattoo of a dove is clearly visible on the back of her neck. She lowers the sheet from the woman's dead body, revealing the woman's abdomen. Placing a sheet of graph paper indicating a number of different points over the bare skin, she uses her screwdriver to punch holes deep into the unresisting flesh. The next morning, Sheriff Dobson escorts Morgan and Hotchner into Maxine Chan's home. She ran a day-care center, and a man coming by early in the morning to drop of his child reported the murder. Again, there had been no sign of forced entry, and the coroner puts the death at 2:30 a.m. There were nine puncture marks in the victim's abdomen this time. Making a quick sketch of the wounds in her notebook, Prentiss realizes the unsub must have done exactly the same thing – the reason that paper was found in the wounds was because the unsub drew out the pattern before she entered the victims' homes. The Angel Maker did it from memory, but the copycat needed a template. Back at the station, Reid is going through every letter that the Angel Maker wrote to "the dove." The sentences are short and include cryptic descriptions of birds and gardens. Reid notices the killer worked very hard to make sure that precise words were in precise locations in his letters – he was using a code. In order to makes sense of this code, Reid jokes that he'll need a few clones of himself and some serious amphetamines. Rossi offers only coffee. The rest of the team is frustrated. Their search for common denominators among the victims is difficult in such a small town – the women's paths crossed in many ways. Hotchner mentions another problem with their search: although the Angel Maker chose victims who excited him sexually, the woman copycat only requires someone who is easy to kill, someone who has an easily accessible home. Both Delilah Grennan and Maxine Chan owned home-based businesses, and the team believes someone posing as a customer could easily go into the home and open a window in order to return later. As Prentiss drags another box of records from one of the victims' homes, Morgan, standing quietly on the front porch stares up into the cloudless sky. There are so many more stars visible there, he mentions, than are visible around Washington, DC. Looking up, Prentiss notices a distinct grouping of nine bright stars in the same pattern as the puncture wounds on Maxine Chan's stomach. Bringing up the constellation on a computer at the sheriff's station, Prentiss tells Rossi and Hotchner that the constellations belong to a group known as the "heavenly waters." The Angel Maker would open the windows after his kills to allow the women's souls to escape into heaven. Some of the constellations are named after animals – animals that Ryan made into origami sculptures. There are nine constellations in this family: the Angel Maker killed six women, and his copycat killed two, there is only one left. The only constellation left is The Dove. Standing nearby, Reid is working on the cipher he found in Ryan's letters on a large white board. Turning to the other agents he announces that Ryan and his "dove" were in love. He was able to crack the code by profiling Ryan. Ryan was on death row with a number of men from the Aryan Brotherhood. This group likes to use a cipher based on a binary code written by Sir Francis Bacon. After complex calculations that most people would run on a computer, Reid was able to crack the code. Using the sampling of letters they had written between Ryan to his "dove," he determined that he and the woman first saw each other during Ryan's trial. Their letters were very personal, with Ryan referring to her as his "secret wife" and her yearning for one touch of his hand. "Take heart, my love, I will bring a part of you back into the world," she wrote, "and forever you will watch over us from the stars." JJ suggests she might have been speaking of a child. She might have used the semen samples to get pregnant – and this might be a way for the team to track her down. Sheriff Dobson interrupts to announce that a woman called 9-1-1 claiming to have been attacked in her home. She is fine, but her neighbors heard her cries for help and subdued the woman who had been attacking her. At the scene, an officer explains the attacker had approached the woman outside her home and had asked to use the phone: once inside the house she attacked. Prentiss notes this attack method is not consistent with the other murders. and then glances at the woman seated in the back of the police car nearby. The woman is Shara Carlino. She and Rossi had already checked the woman's alibi and it had been solid. Opening the door to speak with the woman, Prentiss is shocked by the bruises and blood on her face. Shara explains that it worked for the other woman, so it might have worked for her. JJ gives the information about a possible child to Garcia over the phone. A letter dated January 7, 2007, mentions something "taking root," so the technical analyst checks for birth dates approximately 10 months later listing only single mothers. A list of nine names results. Going over the list with Sheriff Dobson eliminated some possible women immediately, and one woman's name rings a bell with the sheriff and with Reid. Snatching up a file, Reid reveals that Chloe Kelcher had been on the jury at Ryan's trial. She may have been a fan of the killer from the beginning of the trial, but the incident that turned Chloe into a killer was probably her baby's death shortly after its birth. Chloe Kelcher's home is empty when the agents break in. They know that Chloe is looking for a final victim, and may have already chosen one. They tear her home apart, looking for anything that might lead them to her victim. Morgan finds a nursery down the hall with an empty crib and stars glued to the ceiling. In a wooden chest nearby is the decomposing corpse of Cortland Ryan. Rossi has found the woman's appointment book, and it shows meetings with both of the previous victims on the days of their murders. It also shows a meeting she had with a woman named Faye Landreaux that very morning. At Faye's home the agents find Chloe's car and the engine is still warm. The windows are still closed in the victim's home, telling the team that Faye is probably still alive. They don't want to break in because Chloe is almost certainly armed and may kill Faye. Hotchner tells Morgan to look for an open window, and tells the sheriff to move all of his cruisers to face the house. Inside the home, Chloe approaches Faye's sleeping figure. Outside the home, Morgan approaches an open window, and the agents cluster around the parked police cars. Prentiss and Reid advise Hotch that trying to reason with Chloe with the bullhorn he's procured will not be wise – her profile tells them that she will not surrender. Hotchner hands the bullhorn to Prentiss and assures them that they must try to keep her talking long enough for Morgan to get Faye out of danger. Just as Chloe raises the hammer over Faye's head, the agents switch on the headlights of all of the cruisers, and startle the woman. Prentiss' voice sounds clearly in the still night air, calling Chloe by name. Faye is awakened abruptly, and Chloe threatens her with the hammer. She ties Faye's hands behind her back. Prentiss tells Chloe that she wasn't special to Ryan – that he wrote the same things he wrote to her in letters to many other women. Reid hurriedly scribbles some of the exact lines from the Angel Maker's letters on his notepad and holds it up for Prentiss to read. The words are achingly familiar to Chloe, and she stops, listening. She pulls a gun from her bag and heads out towards the lights shining through the living room windows. Chloe can hear Cortland Ryan's voice speaking the words she thought were meant only for her. Focused solely on the words Prentiss is reading, Chloe doesn't notice Morgan slip quickly into Faye's bedroom. He places one hand over Faye's mouth to keep her from screaming and loosens her bonds. Chloe hold the gun at her side, listening, and Morgan leads Faye to the open window and helps her out. Realizing that something is wrong, Chloe runs back to the bedroom and throws open the door, finding the bed empty and her victim gone. She screams in frustration as Morgan leads the frightened woman to the safety of the police cars. Enraged, Chloe throws Faye's belongings to the floor. Finally, Prentiss' words get through to her: "You have nowhere to go." Outside the house, Hotch assures the sheriff that they will not need teargas, and Chloe will not kill herself – she is not finished. A moment later the door opens and Chloe steps outside, her gun held at her side. Her face reflects the flashing lights of the police cars and her own stubborn determination. Looking up to the night sky she murmurs, "I'm coming to you, baby," and raises her gun. Standing next to Hotchner, the sheriff is the first to shoot, and the explosion of the gunfire in his right ear sends Hotchner to the ground in pain. Prentiss and the sheriff approach the body and pull up Chloe's shirt to reveal deep puncture wounds. She had finished the Angel Maker's work after all. Wendell Berry said, "The past is our definition. We may strive with good reason to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it. But we will escape it only by adding something better to it." Outside the sheriff's office the next day, Sela Dobson hands Hotchner a plate of cookies for the team's flight back to Virginia. Hotchner tells her how sorry he is that she had to relive her loss, but Sela tells him that perhaps now she can get over it. JJ, Prentiss, Morgan and JJ exchange quips about needing directions to the airport. As the agents move to get into the car, Hotchner hands the plate of cookies off to Prentiss and takes his bag from the SUV. He admits he really shouldn't be flying and he will drive back by himself. Rossi, taking a moment before he gets into the car, eyes Hotchner sensitively, and suggests that, since the country is so beautiful between Ohio and Quantico, he may consider stretching the trip out a bit. Hotchner shakes his hand and mutters, "Maybe I will, thanks." He watches as his team drives off. [recap written by Finnegan77]