Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–…): Season 3, Episode 3 - Stolen - full transcript

The kidnapping of an infant at a grocery store leads to a scheme of snatching and selling babies for adoption which brings back a case from 12 years ago that involved Captain Cragen and his partner, the late Max Greevey.

In the criminal justice system,

sexually-based offenses
are considered especially heinous

In New York City,

the dedicated detectives who investigate
these vicious felonies are members

of an elite squad known
as The Special Victims Unit.

These are their stories.

Excuse me,
where's the baby formula?

It's around the corner.
I'll show you.

These are on sale.

My brand. Great.

No problem.


My baby!
Where's my baby?

What's wrong? / Oh, God!
Somebody stole my baby!

Stay right here.



Baby girl, six weeks,
name's Emma Daricek.

White undershirt,
one piece long-sleeve red jumper,

purple socks and sweater,
white booties.

Enough brown hair for a pink bow.

How long did the mother
leave the kid alone?

She swears it was
less than seconds.

That's all it takes.

The store have a protocol
for missing kids?

Security says it took about three minutes
to close off all the exits.

We're searching aisle by aisle now,

getting names and addresses of employees
and customers before they can leave.

Okay. How many other mothers
were in here when it happened?

Seven. Mrs. Daricek eyeballed
every one of those babies.

Where is she now?

Back in the manager's office
beating herself up.

Husband's on his way.


Nobody saw it happen.

Baby snatchers travel light.

Perp lifts the kid out of one cart,
sticks her in another.

- Two seconds, done.
- Detectives.

What's up?

Motor Vehicle office down the street.

They found something
in the ladies' room.

What do you got?

She found these baby clothes
in the garbage can here.

Snatcher probably
disguised the girl as a boy.

Afraid that the baby would
get recognized on the street.

What's all this?

We got an eyedropper
and some capsules.

- It's Librium.
- Sedative.

Perp could be an alcoholic
trying to control the shakes.

Dissolve some in water, feed it
to the baby so she doesn't cry,

calmly walk out of the store.

And then give her a haircut.

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Law & Order SVU
3x03 Stolen




I just walked away for one moment
and she was gone.

How could this happen?

Did you notice anyone
in the aisles watching you?

- I don't remember...
- Did anyone stop to talk?

Well, did anyone pay unusual
attention to Emma?

I don't know! Will you stop asking me
questions and just go find her!

Michele, you gotta try to calm down
so we can help you...

Calm down?
I left her alone!

But torturing yourself isn't going
to bring your daughter back.

Michele! / Tony.


Hang on now.

How did it happen?

I took my eyes off her.
I'm so sorry. / It'll be okay...

It's way past Emma's feeding.
I know she's hungry.

You've got to find her!

We're doing everything
that we can.

May I speak to you one minute?

I'll be right back, sweetheart.


- You're gonna find Emma, right?
- Every second counts.

That's why we need your help
to calm your wife down.

I've been trying to do that
ever since Emma was born.

And what does that mean?

One minute everything's okay,

the next Michele's crying
and throwing things.

This is the first time she's been
out of the house with Emma.

I'm worried.

Is your wife taking any medication?

I can't even get her to see a doctor.
I gotta get back there.

Mr. Daricek, I have
four children of my own,

so I can't even imagine
what you're going through, but I...

What are you saying?

I don't want to jump
to any conclusions here,

but it sounds like your wife's going
through postpartum depression.

Yeah. Okay.
She's stressed out.

Look, if I thought
Emma was in any danger,

I swear I'd take her away.

You think if Michele harmed her baby

she would be rational enough to plant
the clothes and hair in the bathroom?

- Can't rule it out.
- This was pretty well planned.

Felt more like somebody
desperate for a baby

who couldn't get one the legal way.

Well, either way,
the clock is running.

We don't find Emma soon,
she's gone for good.

That's why I called in
the mobile command post.

We'll save time
working from here, all right?

Elliot, if you think she knows something,
find out. Fast.

Michele, was she wearing
anything else besides the jumper?

It was cold. She was sleeping
wrapped in a blanket.

Emma cries when she gets cold.

You know, when my
first daughter was born,

I was working the midnight to 8:00 a.m.
Shift, my wife worked days.

So when I got home
all I wanted to do was sleep,

all my baby wanted to do was cry.

I nearly lost my mind.
I could barely function.

It's so hard.

Michele, I know
what you're going through.

The first baby
is always the toughest.

I feel blessed every day
because I have Emma.

I love her so much.

Am I ever gonna see her again?

We make the proper notifications?

Airports, train and bus stations
are all covered.

Photos of Emma are going out
to every toll booth

and police department
within a 100-mile radius.

We're also checking on
any attempted snatchings

where the baby's sex was disguised.

Anything from your canvass?

Only thing we came up with is a woman
with a suitcase in her shopping cart.

Get with store security,
see what they got on the videotapes.

You have someone
watching this all day?

This isn't a Vegas casino.
Here it is.

So mom checks out
the merchandise.

Mystery shopper lifts the kid,

and it wasn't the mother.

Damn it, can't see her face.

This the only angle
you have on this?

Yeah. That part of the store, yeah.

What about the front doors?

We got cameras
on the entrance and exit.

Get the exit tape from
that time of day and hurry up.

What kind of woman would steal
somebody else's kid?

Could be maternal instinct run amuck
or maybe it's strictly business.

Not her.

Not her.

Not her.

Pause it.

Kid would be screaming
if she was in that suitcase.

Unless she's already
been doped up.

Nobody saw her
take Emma out of the store.

Why risk stopping to change
the baby's appearance?

Nobody's looking for a little boy.

Elliot's still with the Dariceks.

So let's rule Michele out for the moment.

Did our mystery lady buy the suitcase
in the store? / Thank you.

About half an hour
before the snatch.

Paid with a credit card
in the name of Susan Young.

Works downtown
at Social Services. / All right.


- My purse was stolen this morning.
- Where?

Substance abuse center
where I work.

I filled out a report
at the precinct in Chinatown.

You guys found it already?

No, but we think this woman
used one of your credit cards.

- Alicia.
- You know her?

I saw her a couple of hours ago.

She's one of my clients.

I don't believe this.

Does she have access to Librium?

She's not taking it.

She could get some
from someone at the clinic.

Alicia's a crack addict.

She was doing so well, too.
Hadn't used since she got pregnant.

When did she have the baby?

Last week.

It's a real tragedy.

Where does she live?

10th Avenue, the 50s.

I can call my office,
get the exact address.

Apartment of Alicia Brown
788 Tenth Avenue
Friday, March 9

Start in the kitchen.

Must have found herself a nice job.

- Or a sugar daddy.
- I'll take the bedroom.

No sign of a kid here.

She's back on the pipe.

Must be feeding her habit with this.

Found it in the closet.
All 100s.

There's a couple thousand dollars.

Stop! Police!

Get off me, bitch!
Get your hands off me!

Let me go!

Shut up! Shut up.

All right. Where's that baby?

My baby is dead.

You took that baby from the store.
Now where is she?

I gave her away.

You sold that baby
for crack money!

I had to. I promised him my baby,
my baby died...

Okay, Alicia.
Who did you promise the baby to?

A lawyer.
I put her up for adoption.

Give me a name.

Give me a name.

I can't tell you.

Huh? You can't tell me?
Look at me.

Now, you tell me a name.

Mark. Mark Sanford.

I took the baby to him in Chelsea.

- You hear that?
- Yeah.

- Who's down there?
- Upstairs.

Police. Open up.

The police are here.

Who was that?

The police.
I thought you were burglars.

What are you doing?

The last number you just
dialed wasn't 911. Who are you?

I take care of the babies.

You're gonna wake them.

Which one's Emma?

These children were all given up
for adoption...

One of these babies was stolen
from her mother this morning.

I didn't do anything wrong.

- Emma. Right here.
- Look, I didn't know.

Ma'am, you are under arrest
for kidnapping.

But I didn't kidnap anybody.

It's okay.

Two girls and one boy.
Six weeks to two months old.

Pediatrician says they were
well taken care of and in excellent health.

Peddling sick babies
would be bad business.

We know who the peddler is?

The brownstone where we found the babies
was rented to Adoptions Incorporated.

The lease was signed
by a Mark Sanford.

Well, I had Fin notify Michele Daricek.

Do we have any idea
who the other kids belong to?

We don't even know
if they were kidnapped or sold.

ACS is coming to take custody of them.

We'll get their photos out to the media.

You know somebody's
gonna come forward.

Yeah, every couple
who'd love to adopt them.

Where is she?

She's right here.


Got her.

Oh, baby. Oh, my baby.

I'll never let you
out of my sight again.

- She's okay?
- She's perfect.

Can we take her home?

Yeah. You just sign her out
right there, she's all yours.

- Thank you.
- You're welcome.

Michele's gonna see a doctor.

That's good.

- Okay. Good luck.
- Thank you. All right.

The nurse give anything up?

Only "I'm just the babysitter" routine.

Well, Munch and Fin are
interrogating her right now.

You two check with the FBI

and the Center for Missing
and Exploited Children.

See if they have any reported snatchings
that could be our other two babies.

I'm a registered nurse.

I was hired to care for the infants.

Babies tucked away in an otherwise
empty brownstone

and you didn't think that was odd?

They're kept there until their
adoptive parents come for them.

- Who brings you the babies?
- Mr. Sanford.

The guy you called
on your cell phone.

When you lied and said
you were calling the police.

Mr. Sanford is a wonderful man

who places unwanted babies
in loving homes.

Tell us where this Sanford is
or you're an accessory.

He's a lawyer.

His office is out in Kew Gardens.

Going somewhere, Mark?

Look, I have nothing to say
without my attorney present.

We'll have him meet us at the precinct.

Mark Sanford, you're under arrest
for kidnapping.

You have the right to remain silent.

Anything you say can and will be
used against you in a court of law.

You have the right to an attorney.

I have never knowingly
put a stolen child up for adoption.

My client is a distinguished member
of the legal community.

To whom babies are just product.

Those babies were signed over to us
by their birth mothers.

And you bought Michele Daricek's baby
from a crackhead for $10,000.

Alicia Brown gave up her son
two years ago for adoption.

She contacted me
when she was pregnant again.

I had no reason to believe
the little girl wasn't hers.

And that pile of cash
you laid on her?

It's reimbursement for expenses
related to the pregnancy and the birth.

I mean, it's how it's done.

And in your role as humanitarian,

what's in it for you?

Well, Mr. Sanford receives
a modest fee for his services,

like any other attorney.

- How much?
- It's $20,000.

He is not in the business of
buying and selling children.

It's your call, Counselor.

Unless we can establish he knew
what Alicia was going to do,

kidnapping's a stretch.

Prove he sold Emma
and it's grand larceny.

Emma's a human being,
not stolen property.

Grand larceny's the best you can do?

We can hold Sanford for six days
on the kidnapping charge.

You think you can
make a case by then?

We're searching his home and office,
seizing his files and computers.

There must be something
in there that'll nail him.

If you two are done surfing the Web...

Sanford's website.

"Happy Homes."
Listen to this.

"Laura, blue eyes. A tiny bundle
of love to share with you."

Three marriages, no children.
You ever consider adopting?

The kindest thing I could ever do
for a kid is not adopt.

What do you got on Sanford?

Born and raised in Brooklyn,
graduated Buffalo State in '76,

Law School of the Ozarks in '79,

admitted to the New York State Bar in '85

and never set foot in a courtroom.

Anything in his records?

We haven't found the official
adoption papers yet,

but he kept this ledger
of his transactions for each year.

This one's 1989.

Baby boy born January 19th,

baby girls born on April 7th,
April 14th, April 23rd,

another baby boy, June 2nd.

John, give me that last date again.

1989, June 2nd.

Where are these kids' names?

There's a page number
to the right of each entry.

Each page has the pre-adoption stats
on every child.

Page 42.

What's going on, Captain?

Stephen Talmadge.

Greenwich Diner
74 West 8th Street
Saturday, March 10

Back in '89,

a woman named Jennifer Talmadge
was found murdered in her apartment,

ligature strangulation.

Her four-week-old son, Stephen,
was missing from his crib.

Case is still open.

- The murder or the missing kid?
- Both.

You didn't know Max Greevey.

He was my sergeant
when I ran the 27.

He caught the case,

worked it like his
own kid was missing,

until he was murdered
on the job in '91.

This thing's been kicking you
in the ass for a dozen years.

Stephen is still alive.

It's really gotten to you, huh?

It's not just about Stephen.

Jennifer Talmadge's parents
call once a year on his birthday

and ask if I had any news.

The calls stopped coming
three years ago.

I could use your help on this.

With all due respect, Captain...

"I don't usually work cases"?
You're right.

This is different.

Oh, my Lord.

Come in.


- What is it?
- It's Captain Cragen.

You have news?

There's been a development.

You found Stephen?
You caught Jennifer's killer?

There's a lead.
That's all for now.

I thought the investigation was on hold.

I thought you'd given up.

Come in, Captain.
Let us show you something.

We celebrate
Stephen's birthdays,

buy him presents every Christmas.

This is his room.

So you see, Captain.
We never lost hope.

If your client is willing to cooperate...

Where's Stephen Talmadge?


What, you forgot to tell
your new hotshot lawyer

you kidnapped a baby
after killing the mother?

- What, are you crazy?
- It's all right here in your book.

We're willing to deal
in exchange for information.

No. You can't prove
that I kidnapped or killed anybody.

- Not now and not then. No.
- Actually, we have specific...

The offer's good
for 10 more seconds.

- You don't have a case.
- Oh, really?

After I tie you to the Talmadge
kidnapping and murder,

I'm gonna nail your ass
to the wall.

What the hell was that?

Well, you weren't getting him to talk,
so I had to give it a shot.

With the macho cop routine?

I could have used
the kidnapping charge as leverage

if you'd just given me the chance.

- I gave you your chance.
- You lost your cool.

You are too emotionally invested
in this case.

Damn right.

I read all of Greevey's files.

He interviewed a lot of people
who said what a wonderful person
Jennifer Talmadge was.

Too bad none of them can
give us any leads on her murder.

What about forensics?

Only one set of prints
at the murder scene unaccounted for.

I ran them again,
no match in the system.

- Try this.
- What is it?

Max's notes.

His widow, Marie,
gave them to me last night.

You are on a mission.

I've been on this for 12 years.
I want some closure.

Where are we
on Sanford's other babies?

We talked to the couple
adopting the boy.

They're getting him tomorrow.

The baby girl goes with her
new parents the day after that.

Both adoptions are legal?

According to ACS,
Sanford followed all the rules.

Social worker sent
to do home studies,

the parents had to take medical exams

to rule out life-threatening illnesses.

The birth mothers
and fathers all consented.

The papers were signed,
notarized, witnessed,

registered in court.

As far as we can tell,

there's no indication he's put any other
snatched babies up for adoption

besides Talmadge and Daricek.

So what's his scam?

Sanford's triple-dipping.

He promises one baby
to three different families,

then he tells two of the families
that the mother changed her mind,

- keeps the money.
- How much?

$30,000 a couple.

And none of these victims
call the cops?

They're desperate.

They're afraid if they snitch
and word gets out,

no other baby brokers
will deal with them.

You get anywhere
on Sanford's files?

Found his phone bills for 1989.

Phone company's getting us
the names of all his outgoing calls.

These files are at least
a three-person job.

- This is interesting.
- What's that?

Greevey has a note in here about
Jennifer's college roommate, Rebecca.

Says he was supposed to
talk to her in England.

There's nothing in the case file
that says they ever spoke.

Well, that means Max
never talked to her.

Let's track her down.

Reiter Residence
Westchester County
Sunday, March 11

Were you and Jennifer close?

In a college roommate sort of way.

We shared a suite at the dorm.

Then you must have known
if she had any boyfriends.

Just one. Broke her heart.

Who was he?

A guy named Rob.

Met him at a party and, you know,
they dated a couple of times

before she brought him back
to the suite to stay over.

The first time I saw him,
I knew he was trouble.


Well, I warned Jen that I had seen him
walking on the campus with another girl,

but, you know...
Jen, she was a little naive.

She was in love with him, you know,

I think he was her first.

How long did they go out?

About two weeks
before he broke up with her.

He give a reason?

Guys never do.

Did you know
Jennifer was pregnant?

Not at first, but, you know,
she couldn't hide it for long.

She knew Rob
had to be the father.

What's Rob's last name?


Robert Cook.

Any idea if she told him?

Yeah. She sent him a letter.

Thank you.

Robert Cook?

Can I help you?

NYPD, Captain Donald Cragen,
Detective John Munch.

Just be a second, boys.

It's the future of baseball.

Well, you know, for now we're just
trying to win one Little League game.

But you didn't come here
to watch us play.

We're here about your son.

He's what? About 12?

The older one, Brandon, is,
but I don't understand.

- Do you have his birth certificate?
- His mother's got it.

- Where is she?
- She's up in Mahopac,

we're recently divorced.
What the hell's going on here?

We're gonna have to ask you
and your son to come with us.

Excuse me? I don't even know
what this is about.

Jennifer Talmadge.

From college?

She was murdered 12 years ago.

Yeah, I know that,
but what's that got to do with me?

Her son disappeared.
We think you're the father.

I read about Jennifer in the paper,

but I swear in a million years
I never thought that child was mine.

We only slept together a few times.

Sixth grade sex ed.
Once is enough.

So, you had a fling with Jennifer,
and then you dumped her.

It was college.

My girlfriend Linda and I
were on the outs,

so I was dating Jennifer.

But you didn't count on
knocking her up.

Jennifer showing up with a kid

would've put a crimp in your
big plans for the future.

I broke up with her,
I didn't kill her.

I didn't even know
she was pregnant.

Her roommate said
that Jennifer sent you a letter.

I never got any letter.

Mr. Cook, can you prove
Brandon is your son with your ex-wife?

Of course I can.

You think I killed Jennifer

and then somehow
adopted my own child?

I broke up with Jennifer because
Linda told me she was pregnant.

We got married as soon as
the semester was over.

Brandon is our son.

We're going to need DNA
from all three of you.

You have Brandon's birth certificate.

Is this really necessary?

I'm only complying
with the court order, Mrs. Cook.

- Linda...
- Don't.

- If you kept it in your pants...
- We were kids...

- And now we're murder suspects.
- This is not the time.

I resent being dragged in here,
having to prove my son is my son.

Mrs. Cook, you're next.

No. I want my attorney.

Your attorney is going to tell you
if you don't comply,

we're gonna be ordered
to arrest you for contempt of court.

I have plenty of contempt for this.

Make it quick.

- Done?
- Thank you for your patience.

Let's get out of here.

Mitochondrial DNA on Cook's 12-year-old
doesn't match Jennifer Talmadge's mother.

Meaning he's not Jennifer's son.

He is, however,
the son of Linda and Robert Cook.

99.9% probability.

Captain, you better
take a look at these.

Where'd you get this?

From what we found stored
in Mark Sanford's basement.

Why? / Stephen Talmadge's
adoption papers.

Signed by his mother.

It's not possible.

We have copies
of the adoption papers.

But Jennifer changed her mind.

At first she was ashamed.

You know, she thought we were, too,

but we said we would
support her financially.

We'd watch Stephen during the day
so she could finish college.

May we see those papers, please?

This isn't Jennifer's signature.

- Are you sure?
- Yes.

Do we still have Jennifer's passport.

Let me see.

Did Jennifer tell you
who the father was?

No. She said she tried to contact him,

but he never responded.

Here. See for yourself.

It's not even close.

You think this has anything to do
with Jennifer's murder?

That's what we're gonna find out.

Thank you.

Adoption papers.


Signatures don't match.

You're screwed.

I didn't forge any papers,
I didn't steal any babies,

I didn't kill anyone.

You defraud couples
desperate for children.

When we present your scam in court,

a jury will convict
you of murder and kidnapping.

What's your offer?

No jail time, he makes restitution to
all the couples he defrauded.

And you give me
Stephen Talmadge.

A woman came to me with a baby,
purporting to be the mother.

She had the boy's original
birth certificate.

I didn't know she was an imposter

and then I saw Jennifer Talmadge's
picture in the papers, and...

And you couldn't risk
going to the cops.

You give me the name of the family
that adopted Stephen. Now.

Line drive into center field.

Looks like it's over
the second baseman's head.

But Blake makes a brilliant catch,
ending up the game.


Thanks, we don't want any.

It's the cops.

Mom, the police are here.

Oh, for heaven's sake, Tyler,
where are your manners?

Come in, Officers.

Danny, Brian, Tyler, outside.

Hey, you guys looking for Tyler?

The way he played
second base was a crime.

How can I help you?

Mrs. Blake, Captain Don Cragen,
Detective John Munch.

Is Tyler your son?

Yes, of course.
What's going on?

Did you adopt him
through Mark Sanford?

Yes. How did you know
he was adopted?

Was Tyler born on June 2nd, 1989?

Why are you asking
all these questions?


Are you sure?

Sanford admitted what happened.

A DNA test will confirm
he's Stephen Talmadge.

What am I gonna tell
my husband

and Tyler?

Do you have to take him?

You can come with him.

- We didn't do anything wrong.
- We know.

He's been missing for 12 years.


I'm not going.

I don't wanna leave!

Go upstairs and get changed.

I'll call your dad at work.

We'll go together.

Hey, you're not in trouble.

Is it definite?

The DNA is conclusive, Mr. Cook.

Tyler is your biological son.

How can I ever explain to him
what happened?

Why I wasn't there for him?

When the time is right,
you'll tell him the truth.

He's almost a teenager.

There's still plenty of time
for you to get to know him.

The family who raised him,
they did a good job, didn't they?

Oh, he's had a good life,
wonderful mother and father.

I'm his father.

I never would have abandoned him.

He belongs with me.

We fed him, we clothed him.

He's like our own flesh and blood.

Mark Sanford told us it was all legal.

Tyler's biological father
never consented to the adoption.

- That nullifies it.
- For God's sake, he's our son!

You can't just take him away
after all these years.

I know how hard
this must be for you...

We are the only parents
he has ever known.

We were a happy family
until you came along.

How could you do this to us?

We can't play Solomon
and split the child.

I can't get him into a foster home
until tomorrow morning.

I hate to do it,

but I think Tyler's gonna have to spend
the night at the Laight Street Shelter.

Why put him in that hellhole
when his grandparents

have right of natural guardianship?

I don't like it any more than you do,

but the law doesn't give grandparents
automatic custody...

Just forget the law

and just for one minute think about
what's in the best interests of this child!

Don't you think I am?

Right now everybody
wants a piece of Tyler.

Maybe the best place for him
is somewhere neutral.

Why don't you tell that
to his grandparents?

Right this way. Thank you.

You know how long we've waited
for this moment, Captain.

Our daughter was taken away,

and now you're telling us
that we can't have our grandson?

I can't release Tyler to you
unless a judge says I can,

but you can apply
for temporary custody.

We have to go to court?

What about permanent custody?

Tyler's biological father is probably
going to claim his parental rights,

and as long as he's deemed fit,
his rights supersede yours.

His mother was our only child.

You gave us our hope back.

Now how can you just
take it away from us like this?

So what happens to me?

Well, you'll have to go to
a temporary home until a judge decides.

I wanna just go home
with my parents.

I know you do,

but your adoption was illegal.

So what?

They never hurt me
or did anything wrong.

They love me.

I know they do.


I'm sorry,

but what I did today is my job.

I didn't want to take you,
but I had to because the law says so.

But the law also says that I have
to protect you from anything bad

and that's a part of my job I like.

All right.


Your mother's parents,
your grandparents,

they wanna meet you.

Are you ready?

I guess.

Do I have to hug them or anything?


You just do whatever you feel, all right?


My name is Tyler.

Nice to meet you, Tyler.

Please... Please don't cry.

All right.

Got a minute?

Only if you promise not to tell me
you told me so.

You were just doing your job.

Following the lead
of a 12-year-old crime.

And now Tyler Blake's the victim

and I don't know how to fix it.

Then let me help.

You have any suggestions,
I'm all ears.

Tyler's going to need a law guardian
for the adoption hearing.

There's a three-week backlog
on court-appointed attorneys,

so I'll volunteer.

Well, that's a hell of a gesture, Alex,

but the law favors the biological parent.

The law also says that Tyler is
old enough and mature enough

to know who he wants to live with.

If I'm his attorney,
I have to fight for what he wants,

and he wants to live with the Blakes.

Family Court
Custody Hearing
Tuesday, March 12

Tyler is an articulate,
intelligent 12-year-old.

You've talked to him,
you've read the reports.

What's your conclusion
about how Tyler functions in his world?

That he's well-adjusted.

He gets excellent grades
and he has lots of friends.

And what did this indicate
to you about his home life?

That Tyler is the child
of loving parents,

the product of a happy home.

If Tyler was forced to live
with his biological father,

how do you think
this would affect his life?

That would be akin to
waking up in the morning

and learning that his parents
had been killed in a car crash.

A sudden traumatic loss.

And what could be
the consequences?

Children that experience a sudden loss
of a parent or caretaker

often suffer from
behavioral problems.

Not to mention the depression
that a child his age

often goes through
after something so traumatic.

In your opinion then, Doctor,

would you recommend that Tyler
be placed with his biological father?


That would be asking him to make too
huge a transition at a time in his life

when he's the most vulnerable.

Thank you, Doctor.

Mr. Stern?

I have no questions.

This is Tyler's first birthday.

We squeezed 100 people
into the house.

You've got a lot of pictures there.

Tyler's been the center of our lives
since the day we got him.

What kind of life
has he had with you?

We don't have a lot of money,

but he doesn't want for anything.

Especially our love.

We've tried to be
the best parents we can.

Mrs. Blake, did you know 12 years ago
that the adoption was not legal?

Did you know about the death
of Tyler's mother?

Of course not.

We did everything
Mr. Sanford told us to do.

And now that you do know?

We're terrified that we're
going to lose Tyler.

We can't imagine being without him.


don't punish our family
for someone else's crime.

Thank you.

I'm sorry for the tragedy you and
your husband are going through right now.

And Tyler. He's been
our son all his life.

And you've done
a wonderful job raising him.

Thank you.

And can you imagine
how Mr. Cook feels then,

all these years he lost
not knowing Tyler was his son?

Mr. Cook has other children.
Tyler is all we have.

Mrs. Blake,
if your child was lost,

and a nice family took him in
and raised him well,

and then you found him,
wouldn't you want him back?


I wasn't there to give Tyler
the love and attention the Blakes did,

because I was robbed
of the chance.

You're recently divorced,
you already have two sons.

How can you convince this court
that you can take care of a third child?

Just look at what I've done
with my sons.

Tyler would have a brother his age,

a devoted father who could
more than provide for him.

And he has his mother's parents.
I want them to be a part of his life.

Mr. Cook, Tyler has grown up
with a mother and father who love him.

Do you think his life
would improve living with you?

I know I am now a single parent.

I wish it were different,

but Tyler is my flesh and blood.

You've spent time with Tyler.

What do you think of the job
the Blakes have done as parents?

Just as good as I
could've ever done.

Can you imagine, then,
what they must be going through?

You can't imagine
how hard it is for me

to make them go through it.

You just finished a bitter custody
battle with your ex-wife.

She was seeking full custody
of your two sons, is that correct?


Mr. Cook, how would you have felt
if she'd won,

and you weren't able to see your
children anytime you wanted?

It would've crushed me.

I'm sorry.

How's it going?

Ripping my guts out.

These are all good people.

We finished talking to the birthmothers

who gave their babies
to Sanford for adoption. All legit.

If Sanford stole babies,
we can't find them.

Your faces tell me
there's more to this story.

His ex-wife, Linda Cook,

gave birth to her oldest son
at Long Island Jewish

a month before
Jennifer Talmadge gave birth.

Linda's hospital roommate
was a client of Sanford's.

Says she recommended
Sanford to Linda.

We compared Jennifer's signature
on the adoption papers

to Linda Cook's signature
on the release forms for her DNA.

Let's get Linda Cook in here.

Robert and I are divorced.

Whether he gets to keep his love child
has nothing to do with me.

Why am I here?

12 years ago, Jennifer Talmadge
wrote a letter to your husband

telling him she was having his baby.


Well, he never got it,

because you intercepted it.

That's how you found out
about Jennifer.

Is this some fantasy you concocted?

When you gave birth to your son,

why did you ask your hospital roommate
about her adoption attorney?

I knew Rob was fooling around on me.

I didn't know he'd
ask me to marry him.

And when he did,

you realized it would be
better for everybody

if your husband didn't know
he had a love child.

Where are you getting this from?

Jennifer's signature
on the adoption papers.

That's your handwriting.

You get the letter,
you go to see Jennifer.

Something happens.
She's dead.

And now you're gonna find
some place for the baby,

so you impersonate her

and you give Stephen
to Mark Sanford for adoption.

Now just tell me that you
didn't plan to kill her and I can help you.

I want a lawyer.

Family Court
Wednesday, March 13

Most of the children who come
through this court have nobody

who wants or loves them.

This case is so much more difficult,

because all the parties have only acted
in the child's best interest.

Mr. Cook, it's clear that you
never intended to abandon Tyler

and that you're more than suitable
to make a home for him.

Mr. And Mrs. Blake,

you're loving,
excellent model parents,

an example to follow.

But the law recognizes the right of
the biological parent as paramount

as long as that parent
is deemed fit.

Therefore, I have no choice

but to award custody
of the child to Mr. Cook.

Mr. Cook, I urge you in
the strongest possible terms

to continue to act in Tyler's best interest
with regards to his adoptive parents.

We're adjourned.


We'll see you when you come over
to get your stuff, okay, buddy?

Prosecuting's easier.

At least then you know
who the bad guy is.

You okay?

They're talking.
It's a start.

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