Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Season 7 Episode 15


Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Feb 07, 2006 on NBC

Episode Recap

Uniform police officers respond to a 911 call and, at first, accidentally go to the wrong apartment, where students are filming a horror movie. In the real apartment, they find the body of lawyer Vicki Riggs, who has been raped and murdered and her engagement ring stolen.

Detectives Benson and Stabler initially suspect Vicki's fiancee, as the 911 call reporting the body was made by a male. However, a voice-print comparison shows that he did not make the call.

Benson and Stabler then talk to Vicki's boss, wheelchair-bound Tessa McKellen, who says that none of Vicki's cases really would have put her in danger, except for a pro bono case involving dancers at a strip club run by the mob, who were claiming for insurance.

The detectives do not suspect a mob hit, but they speak to the manager of the Foreplay Club, only to be told that he and Vicki had come to an arrangement to allow the dancers to have insurance. Part of this arrangement, he reveals, was to give Vicki a job dancing at the club herself!

Benson and Stabler talk to Josie Post, another stripper whom Vicki danced with. Josie gives them a lead in the form of Tim, a street vendor who frequents the club and who seems to have an obsession with Vicki.

Stabler and Tutuola go to talk to Tim, who tells them that Vicki is his girlfriend and shows them the ring which he intends to use to propose to her. This is Vicki's stolen engagement ring, but Tim denies stealing it. He says that Vicki threw it away behind the club, after her fiancee dumped her.

Benson talks to the fiancee, who admits that he knew about her stripping and had called off the wedding, but says that he only lied to protect Vicki's reputation.

When Tim's voice also doesn't match that of the 911 caller, they seem to be at a dead end, until Munch shows up with photographs taken of Vicki's building by the film students. The photographs show Vicki entering her building on the night of her murder with another man; her lover.

Using a database of driver's licence photos, they compare the facial features of the man in the photo and come up with a match: Linus McKellen, Tessa McKellen's husband.

Benson and Stabler go to the McKellen's house where they try to question Linus, but Tessa interrupts. It becomes clear that Tessa, paralysed from a car accident for which Linus feels responsible, is totally reliant on Linus for her care. Stabler notices blood on the jacket that Linus wore in the photograph, but Tessa claims it was a nose bleed. The detectives invite Linus to the squad, and Tessa wants to go with him as his lawyer, but he agrees to go alone.

Linus admits to having an affair with Vicki, and to being with her in her apartment the night she died. He says that he left the apartment, but returned five minutes later to retrieve his watch, and found her dead. He called 911.

The detectives do not believe that someone else could have killed Vicki in those five minutes, and so Novak says there is enough evidence to indict him. However, Linus' lawyer argues that the ID the detectives made is inadmissable.

The lawyer argues to Judge Petrovsky that the method of making IDs based on driver's licence photos is unreliable and not well enough tested to stand up in court. She agrees, and as a result all evidence obtained since that ID (including Linus' confession of being at the scene) are out.

The detectives go back to the beginning and look and the McKellen's phone records. They notice that one cell phone records calls to both Vicki Riggs and Josie Post late at night. Benson and Stabler go to Josie's apartment to talk to her about the calls, and break down the door of her apartment to find her raped and murdered.

With the door still chained from the inside, the only way the killer could've entered the apartment was through the very high window. The CSU techs determine that the killer entered through a neighbouring building, climbed to the roof, climbed hand-over-hand along a wire to the roof of Josie's apartment building, then sort of abseiled down the side of the building and climbed into Josie's apartment through the window.

Although the DNA from Josie's rape kit matches Linus, he denies ever having slept with her but says that he and Vicki sometimes used her apartment to get together. Benson and Stabler start to believe that Linus is innocent, and has been set-up, possibly in an attempt to hurt Tessa, who is reliant on Linus.

They go to see Tessa, who is in hospital with pneumonia, and ask her if any of her clients might have a grudge, but she won't break privilege. They delve into her cases anyway and find that she lost a case for a military contract firm called Silverhammer, which was forced to fire employees due to the expense of their loss.

Silverhammer give them a list of all the fired employees, one of whom, Walter Inman, has a criminal record for domestic violence and assault. When they attempt to talk to Inman at his apartment, he makes a run for it and abseils out the window, down to the street where Munch and Tutuola are waiting. They manage to arrest him, but not without a struggle.

Inman is not about to talk, but Warner reveals that in running extra tests on the DNA from Josie Post's rape kit, she found saliva matching Tessa McKellen mixed with Linus' semen. They realise that Tessa has probably orchestrated the murders. However, Tessa's lawyer argues that her saliva was transferred to Josie by conversion.

When they discover that Inman spent his money earned from the two hits on his daughter's college education, Novak is able to get him to talk by promising to allow him to transfer enough of the money to continue to pay his daughter's fees before the money is taken away. He admits to killing Vicki and Josie for Tessa, although he made a mistake in assuming that Linus was having an affair with Josie, also. He also admits to stealing bacteria from a lab for Tessa, too, and has a list in her handwriting of what she wanted. He says that she willingly injected herself with it.

Benson and Stabler arrest Tessa, and Huang interviews her. He comes to the conclusion that Tessa has Munchausen's Syndrome, a mental illness where a person pretends to be sick or even makes themself sick to gain attention. This diagnosis gives rise to Tessa's defence, which is that she is psychologically unfit to stand trial. When Tessa gives herself a seizure in the courtroom during the competency trial, the judge agrees with the defence and Tessa is sent to a private hospital.

In a bid to expose Tessa's lies and manipulation for what they are, Benson and Stabler visit Linus at their house and ask him whether he had been to the doctor with Tessa recently, and he admits that Tessa hasn't let him go with her in years. Finally realising the truth, Linus grabs Tessa in her wheelchair and pushes her into the indoor swimming pool. She swims to the edge and climbs out, not paralysed after all. Her lies exposed, she can now stand trial for ordering the murders of Vicki Riggs and Josie Post.