Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Season 5 Episode 5

Serendipity

3
Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Oct 21, 2003 on NBC

Episode Recap

While conducting routine tests, inspectors from the Centers for Disease Control find the body of a dead newborn girl in the sewer. The umbilical cord was tied off with dental floss, suggesting a home birth. Freshly laid maggots indicate the body had been dumped no more than three hours before.



Elliot and Olivia canvass the immediate neighborhood and locate expectant mother Brianna Morris. Her landlord tells them that even when Morris' condition clearly showed, she still denied being pregnant. They find her dead in her bedroom, delivered of her child. Someone else dumped the baby.



A neighbor heard someone knock at Morris' door early that morning, then nothing. Prescription prenatal vitamins lead to obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Curtis. He tells Elliot and Olivia that while Morris had been eight months along, she had been his patient for only the past three. Although Morris underwent every medical test in the book, she had been very emotionally detached from her pregnancy. A man named Ron Wolcott paid the doctor's bills, except for the latest one on which the credit card was declined.



Ron Wolcott and his wife Kelly were to have adopted Morris' baby, after trying unsuccessfully for ten years to have a child of their own. Ron, who works at a food flavoring institute, says his credit card was declined because it was maxed out. The adoption was privately arranged by Marcy Cochran, the wife of one of Ron's colleagues. She does volunteer work, and Morris had called her hotline.



Cochran says that Morris had been considering suicide after finding out she was pregnant. Her own life was a wreck, and she feared that her child's would be no better. The father was "the man of her dreams", until she discovered the phone number he gave her was fake. Cochran had taken a special interest in Morris, talking with her on the phone every night. During their last call four days ago, they had a fight. Cochran had told her husband, in confidence, that Morris had changed her mind about giving up her baby. Mr. Cochran then told Ron Wolcott.



Warner determines that the baby bled to death through her umbilical cord. The cord wasn't tied off until after she had lost over half her blood. Morris had been injected with drugs to paralyze her first, then to induce labor. After the birth, she was suffocated to death.



Elliot and Olivia confront Wolcott, a chemist, at his workplace. He admits he stopped paying Morris' medical bills, to convince her to go through with the adoption. SVU obtains a search warrant for the Wolcotts' home, where Kelly Wolcott says her husband hadn't told her that Morris had changed her mind. A small case of pharmaceuticals is found in the kitchen. As the search continues, new SVU prosecutor Casey Novak arrives. A former white-collar prosecutor, Novak is accustomed to being very hands-on with her cases and visiting crime scenes herself.



Novak's visit to Morris' apartment turns up library books on child care, and another title "Skin Diseases of the Elderly." Library staff remembers Morris, who had been interested in a dermatologist named Archibald Newlands and how to file a paternity suit.



Dr. Newlands tells Elliot and Olivia that Morris, whom he'd never seen before, came to his office a week ago and made a huge scene. Apparently he bore a strong resemblance to an ex-boyfriend. His wife, also a dermatologist and his business partner, vouches for his alibi the day of Morris' death. He volunteers to take a paternity test.



Ron Wolcott's alibi for the day of Morris' murder is verified. The pharmaceuticals found in his home were from a sales representative, and none of them could make the drugs used on Morris. The paternity test reveals that Newlands isn't the father of Morris' baby. However, the test has cleared a cold case.



Newlands is brought in for raping young Molly Stratton some five years before. He denies being a pedophile. Novak clashes with Elliot and Olivia over their interrogation of Newlands, because the statute of limitations on the crime expired three months ago. In hopes of locating other victims, the detectives talk to the now 11-year-old Stratton. She remembers that her rapist had used honey during his attack.



SVU finds another, recent young victim of a rapist who used honey. Against Cragen's advice, Novak insists on bringing in Newlands for a lineup. Novak then learns firsthand just how ugly and emotionally draining sex crimes can be. Olivia reassures her that everyone thinks at first that they can't handle it.



Novak visits Mrs. Newlands, who stands by her husband until told that his DNA was found in the earlier victim. Archibald Newlands fails to appear at his trial, and his attorney is at a loss to explain his client's absence. Newlands is later found at his home, shot in the back of the head.



Cragen wonders if the wronged Mrs. Newlands killed her husband, when he receives word that six-year-old Courtney Jones went missing from a public park early that morning. Although his home is near the crime scene, Archibald Newlands was killed at about the same time Jones disappeared. A honey stirrer is found in a nearby trash can.



While performing the autopsy on Newlands' body, Warner finds a plastic tube of blood in his upper arm. He was the father of Morris' baby, but he wasn't the Honey Rapist. He put the tube with someone else's blood in his arm to beat the paternity test. Unfortunately for him, that someone else was a previously unidentified child rapist.



The real Honey Rapist must be one of Newlands' patients, who now feels footloose and fancy-free. To keep everyone thinking the Rapist is dead, he'll have to kill Courtney Jones. Mrs. Newlands checks their patient lists, and finds that they drew blood from only one male patient during the timeframe in question.



SVU raids the home of Peter Nestler. He isn't there, but they find jars of honey and stacks of child pornography. Novak arrives with a search warrant, and to see if she's really cut out to handle sex crimes. She sees fishing gear in a closet and realizes that Nestler is a saltwater fisherman. Olivia finds a framed newspaper photo of Nestler posing on his boat, the Honey Do, at City Island Marina.



The three of them go to the marina and spot Nestler headed for his boat slip, wheeling a large portable cooler. When Elliot and Olivia give chase, he drops the cooler and runs. Elliot catches up with Nestler and knocks him into the water, while Olivia continues on to search the boat. Back down the pier, Novak checks the cooler and finds Courtney Jones inside, unconscious but alive.



Later, Novak asks Arthur Branch to take her off Special Victims. Although she slam-dunked her first case, she's still an emotional train wreck from Courtney Jones' ordeal. Branch says that he'd had his eye on Novak for SVU prosecutor when she was still in the white-collar crime division. The Jones case proved that he made the right choice for the job; and while Novak may not want it now, eventually she will.
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