In Silver Spring, Maryland, Keri Derzmond searches through her purse for her dry cleaning ticket as the line behind her grows. The clerk would be happy to look up her phone number, but Keri seems reluctant to give it out, finally whispering it to the clerk quickly. She snatches her cleaning from the rack and hurries out of the store.
"Keri Derzmond!" The pharmacist's voice rings through the small store as Keri hurries forward to pick up her prescription. Other shoppers stand impatiently nearby as the pharmacist confirms Keri's contact information – the spelling of her last name, her address – even as Keri tries to hurry her along.
As she walks towards her front door, Keri notices a small bouquet of flowers and an envelope addressed to her on the sidewalk. She crouches down and pulls a hand-written letter from the envelope, and then notices a snapshot enclosed. She pulls the picture from the envelope – it shows a well-developed man's bicep. This picture triggers something in Keri, and she drops it and races back to her car. After locking all of the doors, Keri dials her cell phone, saying "He's back – he's found me again."
SSA Rossi and Hotchner are just finishing up a Terrorism Seminar in Boston. Speaking to a room full of law enforcement personnel, the two profilers assure their colleagues that they are willing to consult on any cases where their expertise could be of assistance. One person is ready to take them up on their offer right away – DA Eve Alexander has a file in her hands and opens it to reveal crime scene photographs of a current murder case. Audrey Henson shot her husband of twenty years while he was sleeping and then confessed while she sat next to the body. Mrs. Henson's lawyers are now claiming that she was the victim of systematic abuse and that she "suddenly" had no other option than to shoot her husband. The DA's office has found no documented record of any domestic disturbances, and no medical records documenting any injuries. No witnesses have been found that even suspected abuse, let alone saw anything violent happen in the Henson family. DA Alexander wants the BAU's help to determine that Mrs. Henson does not fit the profile of a battered wife. "What if she isn't lying?" Rossi asks. DA Alexander is entirely confident that the two will be able to clearly show that Mrs. Henson was not abused. Hotchner is honest – he cannot guarantee that what they will find in their investigation will help the DA's case, but he is willing to give it a shot.
Emily Prentiss paces as she reads a letter in JJ's office at the BAU. JJ is impatient for Prentiss to finish, calling the letter "powerful." From what she has read, Prentiss is not surprised that JJ wants to meet with the woman. Agent Anderson steps into the office to announce JJ's 10:30 appointment has arrived, but the woman has not waited – she is right behind Anderson and barges into JJ's office, introducing herself as Keri Derzmond. Keri wrote that letter for the Silver Spring Police Department – after begging and pleading for help, she had to take matters into her own hands and demand help from the BAU. She hasn't slept well in two years, ever since her stalker first announced himself to her in Atlanta, Georgia. She moved to Maryland six months ago and just received another letter from the stalker. The police were sympathetic, but told her that they were unable to do something until something happened to her. When JJ explains that she will have to present the case to the team for their assessment before promising anything, Keri picks up a pad and pen from JJ's desk and scribbles down names and phone numbers. "Those are the people who you'll be calling when you find me dead."
His walls are covered with snapshots of Keri walking down the street, having coffee, shopping. He hangs up a new one showing Keri coming out of the pharmacy, and strokes one finger down her image longingly.
Reid and Morgan are already waiting in the conference room when JJ and Prentiss walk in with Keri Derzmond's file. Even though Rossi and Hotchner are still at the seminar in Boston, JJ doesn't believe the team has time to wait for their return. Keri began receiving notes in Atlanta two years previously which meticulously described her actions throughout the day. When she moved to Maryland, the stalker came with her. They believe it is the same man as he includes pictures of different parts of his body with his letters. Reid notices that the photographs never reveal the stalker's face, which may signal that he's uncomfortable with his appearance – he controls the parts of his body that he shows to Keri. These letters detail his "future" with Keri, a future full of children, marriage, and growing old together. Morgan acknowledges that the stalker is delusional, but is unconvinced that the BAU should be involved in this case. Prentiss feels that this stalker is unique – he was willing to follow his victim 600 miles. That, coupled with the fact that local authorities have told Keri that they cannot help her, makes a strong argument for BAU involvement. JJ, clutching the paper on which Keri scribbled her emergency contacts, makes the connection more personal – with the case in her hands she will feel ultimately responsible if something happens to her. As Reid looks on with concern, Morgan reluctantly relents.
Author Christian Nestell Bovee once wrote, "No man is happy without a delusion of some kind. Delusions are as necessary to our happiness as realities."
Hotchner and Rossi listen as Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia gives them some disturbing information: Audrey Henson has no document trail. She has no bank accounts, passport, driver's license, credit cards – her name is not on anything, including mortgages and car titles. When Hotchner asks about medical records reporting potential abuse, the news is even more surprising: the only medical records on Audrey Henson surround the birth of her children. There also doesn't appear to be any financial motive for murdering her husband – although Mr. Henson had life insurance, his wife is not listed as a beneficiary on any of his policies. Sitting back in his chair, Rossi nods perceptively.
The team arrives at the Police Department in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Det. Steve Berry shows Reid and Morgan to a work area he's had cleared for them. When the detective wonders that the BAU would be interested in a case like this, Reid explains that their team constructs behavioral profiles for many types of crimes, not just for serial killers. The detective is apologetic – he wanted to help Keri, but he just does not have the manpower to do so. Morgan sympathizes, and assures Det. Berry that they are only there to help.
Outside Keri's office, JJ is just hanging up. Sometimes the bureaucratic red tape involved in taking a case can be frustrating as she is required to justify every expenditure and every resource. Prentiss understands, especially when the case could have been handled by local authorities. JJ reacts immediately, stating that the lack of a dead body shouldn't keep them from a case, and Prentiss is just as quick to agree, and to criticize a law enforcement establishment that requires that a woman be harmed before she can get help. Stopping, JJ explains her very personal reaction to this case – the BAU didn't take a stalking case in Denver the previous year. That woman finally received a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend three days after he threw acid in her face. "Right now I don't care about limited resources," she tells Prentiss, "I cannot make that same mistake again.
The case files state that Keri received her first contact from the stalker at work in Atlanta, and then the notes became more personal and were delivered to her home. Reid notes that the first contact had to be very significant; likely an anniversary of some event that the stalker finds momentous. The initial card was dated March 21, 2006, so the investigators will try to trace events in Keri's life on that date in previous years, or on that day of the week in previous months.
The move to Maryland, Keri explains, made sense for her in a number of ways: her boyfriend Ryan Scott lived in Maryland, and her firm just opened an office there. She didn't move because of the stalker, but the police in Atlanta felt it would diffuse the situation. She had just started feeling secure, she tells JJ and Prentiss, when she received this note. The two agents insist that Keri make a list of all of her friends, relatives, and acquaintances, both in Maryland and Georgia. In order to find the tracks of her stalker, Keri will have to be completely honest with them, and include any indiscretions or secrets she may have. Keri wishes that she knew what attracted the stalker so that she could "quit doing it." Prentiss and JJ explain that they have no idea what the stalker's fantasy is – it could have been as simple as smiling at him when they met – but they do know that Keri is the star of his fantasy. A secretary interrupts to tell Keri that Ryan is calling and it is an emergency. Keri quickly picks up the phone to learn that Ryan has found another note and a box at their home. JJ and Prentiss head off.
Morgan has discovered that Keri's firm in Atlanta had a staff meeting every Tuesday, and that it was catered by many different restaurants in the area. Reid sits quietly at the conference table, intent on the photographs that Keri received. He's noticed that there have been some changes in the stalker's body over the past two years – his muscle-tone is better, and he's tanner. He's making improvements to his appearance that he believes will impress Keri. And he's probably basing his decisions on Keri's boyfriend.
Tan, well-built, and short-haired, Ryan Scott is grateful that Prentiss and JJ have brought Keri home, and are willing to take an interest in this situation. Wearing gloves, the agents carefully open the box and the note that were left at the door. The box contains a pair of antique earrings and the note explains that they once belonged to the stalker's grandmother. A picture enclosed shows the back of the man's head, and the note hopes that Keri will soon give him a gift as well. The agents collect all of the evidence to take back to the station, and JJ tells the worried couple that a patrol car will be making frequent checks of their neighborhood. As they leave the home, JJ and Prentiss are also worried – worried about what the stalker will do when he realizes that Keri has no intention of giving him anything.
The two Henson teens, Sarah and Nathan, are appalled that their mother has claimed that their father abused her. Hotchner and Rossi conduct the interview carefully, asking if the two believe their mother was abused. Sarah paces, arms crossed, and insists that, if anyone was abused, it was their father in trying to put up with "her." "She was a lousy cook, she couldn't do the laundry right, the house was always filthy, hell, she couldn't even grocery shop without supervision," intones her brother. She would buy the wrong brands, the wrong quantities, but their father was always patient with her. Sarah bluntly states that her mother was stupid, and that now she's taken away the only real parent they ever had. Their father was the loving one and attended every single school event either of them ever had. Their mother "just couldn't be bothered." When Hotchner quietly asks why the teens believe their mother killed their father they respond that she was jealous of his father's love for them. He loved the children more than his wife, and he said so all the time.
Ryan snatches some papers out of Keri's hands and lifts her to her feet. They are going to make dinner together, and pretend that there isn't a crazy guy stalking her every move. In the kitchen, they notice that their dog, Brody, is barking outside. Ryan peers through the window to check on him, and sees that the gate to the backyard is open. They run outside, calling for the dog, and a Silver Spring Policeman meets them at the gate. The only way to open the gate is if someone climbed over the fence and did it from the inside. The officer tells the two to go back inside while he checks on the situation. Keri and Ryan haven't been inside the house ten seconds before the officer knocks and shows them Brody's collar – it had been left on the neighbor's lawn.
Beneath the wall of photos of Keri, Brody lies on a couch, whining, as the stalker pets his head and tells him, "I miss her, too."
Morgan places a photo of Ryan Scott on the bulletin board with their case notes – the stalker is clearly trying to mimic Keri's boyfriend, even to getting the same haircut. As the stalker feels better about himself, he may gain the confidence to approach Keri directly. When Det. Berry belittles the new charge of "dognapping," Morgan explains that the stalker is getting more desperate to feel close to Keri: this is a serious escalation. The team's advice is to have Keri put up posters about the dog's disappearance as the stalker will respond in one of two ways: either he will use this as an excuse to contact her, or he won't call because he's jealous of the affection Keri gives the dog. If the unsub is interested in eliminating his "competition," Ryan could be next.
At the house, Ryan doesn't seem to be taking his danger very seriously. He questions JJ and Prentiss – since the stalker hasn't tried to hurt Keri, why would he start now? They explain that, if the stalker feels that he is "losing" her, he would react violently. The profile tells them that the stalker has been rejected all his life, and, in his elaborate fantasy, Keri is the only one who accepts him. Prentiss lays out the "worst case scenario," telling Keri that, if the stalker does get her alone, it will be important for her to play along with his delusions and, within reason, do what he wants. Then, when the stalker lets his guard down, she could make a move to escape. The two agents will now focus on combing through every moment of Keri's life for the past two years – no event is too small.
The family portrait hanging on the wall of the Henson bedroom shows what looks like "the perfect family." Hotchner and Rossi, however, notice the details that give the lie to that concept: separate mattresses on the bed, and, although they were told that the house was "filthy," there is nothing out of place. Each hanger in the closet is placed a uniform distance apart, as is every pair of shoes, as if it had been measured. Standing there, looking at the bloody mattress where Henson's body lay, Hotchner realizes that there is something missing. Where is the rest of the blood?
"This man is an incompetent suitor seeking intimacy with a woman unavailable to him. He thinks he's courting a soul-mate who in reality is a total stranger to him." Giving the profile to the Maryland police, Reid explains that Keri's stalker is ill equipped to even speak with her, and is very dangerous because of it. He writes instead of calling because he is, for some reason, uncomfortable with direct contact. Their paths crossed somewhere in Atlanta, and the date March 21st is somehow significant, but they don't know how. His move to Maryland means he is completely committed to her, and the moment he believes that she is not also committed to him, he will respond with violence.
Rossi and Hotchner grab some take-out while they discuss their case notes in Boston. On the phone with JJ, Hotchner tells her that they will need the entire team back in Quantico when they return in 24 hours. Rossi is surprised that all four team members are working a single stalking case, but Hotchner explains that JJ is passionate about the BAU's involvement. Staring at the family picture of the Henson's, Hotchner is surprised that he cannot see the turmoil within the family. Rossi jokes that pictures only take a split second, and it's easy to fake normalcy for that long – "you should see how many happy-looking photos I have of me with my exes." When Hotchner asks if Rossi was every happy in his marriages, Rossi takes a moment, and then responds that seeking his marital philosophy might not be a good idea. "I might have tried harder if there were children involved," Rossi finally admits. Hotchner's eyes narrow and he frostily insists that he tried very hard indeed in his own marriage. Rossi is instantly apologetic, not intending to imply that he was talking about Hotchner. Hotchner goes on, telling Rossi that he gave absolutely everything to Hayley, Jack, and his job, and that he will always give everything for his son. Rossi, trying to defuse Hotchner's intentness, claims that the only people he ever made happy were divorce lawyers. Hotchner slowly breathes out, allowing the tension to dissipate, before joining the joke – that with four failed marriages between them they must be experts. "Where does it all go wrong?" asks Hotchner. Rossi calmly tells his colleague that every person has a breaking point, and Hayley reached hers.
Digging through Keri's personal life has given Garcia the creeps, but JJ assures her that it must be done. Keri has already told the agents about the large cash withdrawal she made in Vegas, and who she sends flowers to every month in Wisconsin, but she hasn't revealed why, with great health insurance, she made three visits to a Women's Clinic in Atlanta. JJ joins Prentiss and Keri in the family room and puts the question to her. Keri is instantly on-edge, almost holding her breath. At Prentiss' urging, the story comes out – that, early in her relationship with Ryan she became pregnant and knew the time wasn't right. She continues to talk about her personal decision, but JJ sees Ryan enter the kitchen behind her. JJ tries to signal Keri to be quiet, but Keri continues to tell the agents that she didn't want to "trap" Ryan into a relationship through the pregnancy. When she turns, Ryan's face tells her everything – "Were you ever going to tell me?" he asks, the hurt palpable in his voice. JJ and Prentiss are horrified to find themselves in the midst of this intimate conversation, and can only sit there while Keri tries to explain. Ryan walks out, and Keri moves to follow him. Outside the front door, Ryan finds that the windshield of his car has been smashed in.
Back at the Police Department, JJ, Prentiss, Morgan, and Reid discuss the case, but JJ is taking the current situation very hard. When the other agents question her about it, she says that they came there to try to help, but only made Keri's life more complex. She feels that the team has also violated her.
Keri digs in her purse for her keys as she exits a local store. Looking up, she glances across the street and sees a familiar face. A man stands, watching her, and she has seen him before – at the dry cleaners, outside the pharmacy. Fumbling in her purse she reaches for her phone, and when she looks up he is gone.
In a darkened interview room, Rossi and Hotchner meet with Audrey Henson. Audrey doesn't even seem to notice the tears that streak her face as she tells Rossi that she killed her husband because "it's what I had to do." She explains that her husband never hit her, even when she probably deserved it. She mirrors her husband's disgust with her, with the way she let herself go, that she couldn't cook or keep house properly – the words are harsh, critical, biting, and she believes every word of it. When Rossi asks why she never attended any of his school functions, she replies that, since she was doing such a terrible job at home she didn't want to embarrass her children out in public, too.
The sketch artist is putting the finishing touches on his drawing of the man Keri has described. She is tough on herself – she should have noticed him sooner – but the agents remind her that she has done everything right and she is a strong person. "I needed to hear that," Keri sighs. The stalker may be preparing to contact her, and Reid comments that it will be a very touchy situation if he does – if he feels the least bit rejected by Keri he may turn violent. JJ hurries to get the photo out and Keri receives a call from Ryan – he will meet her at the house to talk.
DA Eve Anderson is smugly satisfied to hear from Rossi that no one ever hit Audrey Henson. She is astonished when Hotchner adds that the woman has been profoundly abused notwithstanding. The agents explain that Audrey's husband psychologically abused her, cut her off from anyone and anything outside the home, and had her believing that she deserved it. Just as with Patti Hearst and other hostages, Audrey didn't feel like she had a choice. DA Anderson rejects their assessment out of hand, sarcastically asking why men always feel that women are victims. Rossi suggests that DA Anderson come into the interrogation room with them – there is one question he hasn't asked yet.
When Ryan returns to the home for his meeting with Keri, he notices a man walking his dog, Brody, across the street. He rushes over, yelling at the man, but the man denies that it is his dog. Ryan has reached the end of his rope and punches the man, knocking him to the ground. He leaps on the man and hits him repeatedly, swearing and telling him to leave Keri alone. Inside the house, Keri hears the fight and goes to the front door. When she turns around, her stalker is there.
When the agents arrive, the man Ryan attacked has told his story: a man in a brown van paid him $50 to walk the dog up and down the street. The back door has been removed from its hinges, and Keri's purse and cell phone are still in the house. Ryan is close to tears, wanting do something – anything – to find her.
Keri stares at the pictures of her that line the walls of her stalker's van. "Do you like it?" he asks desperately. Scared, Keri nods her head, telling him how nice it is. She is playing along, trying to respond the way her wants. She mentions seeing him for the first time on the 21st, and he is relieved, happy to know that she noticed him, too. This is a delicate game, and the stalker is easily provoked.
Unable to find a record of any van that has transferred from Georgia to Maryland, Garcia sends pictures of all similar van drivers to the team in Silver Spring. Reid immediately identifies three men who match the sketch, and Garcia find that Mike Hicks is on unemployment, and worked on a tech support team for legal offices. Keri is a lawyer, and her firm might have used his services. Garcia finds his address and sends officers to check it out. Knowing the profile, the team deduces that Hicks would take Keri somewhere that meant something to Keri. Ryan tells them that he proposed to her on Chesapeake Beach.
Back in the interview room, DA Anderson sits at the table with Audrey Henson. Audrey is composed, quietly crying, while the Anderson exudes skepticism. Hotchner asks Audrey to go through every step of the killing. Audrey remembers finishing the laundry, and measuring the distance between the hangars in the closet to be sure and get it right. She looked at her husband's sleeping form on the bed and knew that it was her only chance. After loading the shotgun, she shot him. And then, of course, she had to clean up. She wasn't hiding anything, she says, people were going to be coming to the house – the police, others – her husband would be furious if she let them into the house to see that mess. An officer leads Audrey Henson away to a holding cell Anderson tells the agents that she'll charge her with Criminally Negligent Homicide, reducing her sentence to probation and time served. Rossi and Hotchner nod gratefully.
"Thank you for taking me away," Keri nervously tells her captor. Hicks is overjoyed to hear her say that she is happy, and releases her from her bonds. He rubs her bruised wrists, leaning down to kiss them and hold them against his face. "They're softer than I remembered," he whispers, telling her that they touched when he sat down at her desk to work on her computer. "And I knew then that you felt it, too." Hicks leans closer and presses his lips against her, kissing her mouth, her neck, and Keri tries hard to respond correctly. She asks if they could leave the stuffy van and walk along the water and Hicks agrees. Holding her tightly, he leads her from the van and then reaches inside to take a pistol from behind the seat. They walk along the pier, Hicks holding her tightly, and the BAU and Maryland police erupt from their positions, guns drawn. When Hicks places the gun against Keri's head, Prentiss motions for the agents to put their guns away, claiming that she just wants to talk. She tells Hicks that Keri wants to be with him, and Keri repeats it, saying that she is very happy now. "They think you're going to hurt me, put it down so that we can be together." Keri reaches over and touches his hand, still talking, and Hicks slowly begins lowering the gun. Morgan has been waiting for this moment and leaps out from behind a fence and tackles Hicks. He handcuffs the man, and Morgan and Det. Berry hold Hicks' back as he shouts angrily at Keri. The agents console her, congratulating her for doing the right thing. Reid has found Keri's work order for help with her computer dated March 21, 2006, their "anniversary." JJ is relieved, almost overcome as she tells Keri and Ryan that it is all over.
Susan B. Anthony said, "A woman must not depend on the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself."
Rossi turns off the lights and closes the door of his office at the BAU. Through the blinds he can see that Hotchner is still sitting at his desk, working. Prentiss asks JJ if she's ready, but JJ tells her to go ahead, she's tired. Prentiss reluctantly leaves. JJ pulls a paper from her desk and dials her cell phone. "Hey, it's me, got a minute? We need to talk...I'm pregnant."
[recap written by Finnegan77]