Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–…): Season 5, Episode 21 - Criminal - full transcript

When it is suspected that an expert in forensics is responsible for the rape and murder a local student, the focus of the investigation hones in on a criminology professor that Cragen ...

NARRATOR:
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.

Every day I drag
my marigolds down here.

Every day I drag 'em back...

I know you guys got a job to do,
but come on...

it's been like this for a week.



OFFICER:
Sorry, but
a crime scene

takes priority over
your flowers.

Some priority.

I haven't seen a cop
around here in days.

Mounted Sergeant to Central.

Who's on the crime scene
in the Rambles?

WOMAN ( over radio ):
Central to Mounted Post Two.

Negative on a crime scene
at that location.

Central, it's got to be,
it's still taped off.

Nothing's been reported there.

Scene's stone cold.

Killer went out of his way
to screw us on this one.

He gets points for originality.

Never seen a perp cordon off
his own crime scene.



Millions of places
you can buy police tape.

My son stuck it across
his bedroom door.

Any ID?

No.

We know how she died?

Strangled, judging by the
bruising on her neck.

Probably raped,
but she's been here awhile.

Won't know for sure
until after the autopsy.

Perp knew what he was doing.

He clipped her fingernails
after he killed her.

STABLER:
After he killed her?

How do you know that?

Same polish on her toes.

It's fresh,

no chips.

No woman I know cuts
her nails to the quick
after a manicure.

So she scratched him--
he cut her fingernails

to get rid of the DNA
underneath.

Uses crime scene tape
and he knows his forensics.

We looking for a cop?

Sure looks like it.

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Your perp has
to be an insider.

He knows too much.

No hairs, no fluids,
no prints.

So, basically,
you've got nothing.

I didn't say that.

He choked her
with one hand.

Held something over
her mouth with the other.

I found a fiber in
your victim's trachea.

Oilskin cotton.

She must've aspirated it
during the attack.

What's the fiber from?

Could be a raincoat,
or maybe a pair of gloves.

Check out
the bruise pattern.

The thumb is to the right
of the fingers,

which means the
perp strangled her

with his left hand.

And he used
a condom.

You find spermicide?

No, rubbing alcohol.

He gave her a rubdown
and a douche.

But he missed
a small piece of latex.

You can tell the condom broke
from the tear pattern.

So our perp knew he had
to clean up after himself.

I was able to match

the fragment
with the brand.

"Twisted Desire."

We got a match
on our victim's prints.

She was arrested last year
for obstruction.

Say hello
to Rebecca Wheeler.

She lived at Claremont
and 107th.

Well, if our perp's
a cop,

Cragen's going to be
all over this.

I'll call him and
have him meet us there.

You got a time of death?

Sometime last week.

But she ate right before
she was killed.

I found undigested sushi
in her stomach.

You find out when Rebecca
had dinner,

you'll know when she died.

We've got take-out cartons
and a credit card receipt

from Miss Yoko's
Sushi Restaurant.

Friday night,
8:05. $42.

That's a lot
of sushi for one person.

So she buys dinner
for two.

There was no sign
of forced entry.

She had take-out
with her killer?

Could still be a cop.

I mean, check out
these posters--

"Stop Police Brutality."

"Free Pedro Sanchez."

She's a walking crusade against
the criminal justice system.

She might have pissed off
a lot of people

in law enforcement.

Our killer is organized,
intelligent,

with a good knowledge
of forensics.

His post-offense behavior is
meticulous--

the nails, the douche,
the alcohol rubdown.

BENSON:
Found this turkey baster

in the bathtub.

He probably filled it with
rubbing alcohol

and used it to wash
away the DNA.

STABLER:
Why not just dump the body
in the river,

let the water destroy
the evidence?

HUANG:
Because he cared about her.

When he left her
in the park,

he laid her gently
on the ground.

He posed her, he covered
her with leaves.

Why use the crime scene tape to
keep us from finding the body?

HUANG:
To send us a message.

He's smarter than we are.

He could be a Police Academy
washout,

a disgraced ex-cop...

STABLER:
Or a criminology student.

Rebecca's schedule.

She was taking
graduate courses

in Criminal Justice
at Wallace University.

Find her advisor.

See if somebody had
a grudge against Rebecca.

MAN:
Nobody had problems
with Rebecca.

The whole department loved her.

She was always around when other
students needed to talk.

She was missing for a week,
Professor Vega.

No one found that strange?

She was taking time off
to finish her thesis.

Did Rebecca
have a boyfriend--

maybe an angry ex?

I don't think Rebecca
dated much.

Whatever free time she had,
she spent doing research.

Her police record said
she was arrested last
year for obstruction.

Those charges were dropped.

She was interviewing an ex-con
and got caught in a drug sweep.

She hang out with
a lot of ex-cons?

You say that like
they're lepers.

Not at all.

Just wondered
what attracted her
to this line of work.

Her thesis was on
convict re-entry--

How most ex-cons end up back
in prison

because the system
sets them up to fail.

Yeah? How so?

Well, you should
see them

when they're discharged
from Rikers, detective.

Five bucks in their pockets

and all the whores and dealers

lining up to take it from
them...

Rebecca thought they deserved
a better chance.

STABLER:
She ever deal

with any sex offenders?

Rapists are practically
impossible

to rehabilitate.

She was interested
in uneducated screw-ups

who wanted to get their lives
together.

Mostly junkies.

She helped them get clean,
stay clean.

STABLER:
They ever give her trouble?

Well, if they did,
she never told me.

We're going to need
the inmates' names.

Kyle Luhrmann was working
on the research with her.

He'll give them to you.

Crackheads, speed freaks,
muggers--

Rebecca interviewed
every inmate at Sing-Sing

within six months
of their release.

Are these their
current addresses?

For those who aren't
back in jail or dead.

Can you tell us where
you were Friday night?

At a department party.

Got so trashed a couple
of friends

had to drive me home
and pour me into bed.

We're going
to need their names.

Sure.

Is this Rebecca's desk?

Yeah.

I haven't touched it.

Mind if I take a look?

Good luck
finding anything.

STABLER:
Did you interview
the inmates with Rebecca?

No. I got my share of sob
stories

interning at Probation
last summer.

That's why I crunch the numbers

and Rebecca did all
the people work.

Any sob stories

in particular that
got to Rebecca?

There was one guy

who found out his kid had cancer
the day he gots out.

Went straight for the needle.
Got wrecked.

Rebecca helped him
go cold turkey.

She even crawled into bed

with the guy to help him
through the DTs.

Where's the guy now?

Dead.

Idiot OD'd a week later.

Did Rebecca get close

with any other junkies?

She said there was one
guy that definitely

wanted to get close.

Freakin' crackhead.

Every time she went out
to Sing-Sing,

he'd throw his arms
around her,

tell her he loved her.

Creeped me out.

Rebecca feel

the same way?

She was fine till
he tried to kiss her.

She walked out.

Two days later she was back
there talking to him.

What's the
guy's name?

Rudy something.

Last I heard

he was still
in prison.

BENSON:
Rudy Lemcke-- burg two,
ten months.

Assault, 18 months.

Possession with intent,
two years.

This guy's been using the
revolving door at Sing-Sing

for the last ten years.

And Rebecca wanted
to take care of him
like he was a stray cat.

Her research partner said that
she gave Rudy her phone number

so he could call
her day or night.

Sounds like she got off
talking to bad boys.

Hey, warden at Sing-Sing
says our friend Rudy

was paroled two weeks ago,

with a doting wife waiting
for him on the outside.

Find her, and bring Rudy in.

I ain't seen Rudy since
he got out.

Coming around looking
to hit it,

I told him I was
with Dre now.

You told the parole board
that Rudy could live with you.

What else was I suppose to say?

Keep my husband in jail
for another two years?

I'm a good wife.

BENSON:
Lying about his place
of residence

is a violation
of Rudy's parole.

Now, when we find him,
he's going back to prison.

I don't know where he's at.
I was just trying to help him.

STABLER:
You know, if Rudy
committed a crime

while you were
covering for him,

that makes you an accessory.

You playing me?

You want
to find out?

Or you want to tell me
where I can find Rudy?

Like I said, I kicked him out.

Told him he had to find a job
or sleep with the bums

down at St. Anne's.

STABLER:
Sister Peg, I've never seen you

in the kitchen
like this before.

You get tired of handing out
condoms to the hookers?

I go where my girls go.

A lot end up homeless.

City won't let
convicted drug users

into public housing
anymore.

This guy been
around here?

Name's Rudy Lemcke.

He was paroled a
couple weeks ago.

Why are you looking for him?

We think he raped
and murdered

a woman who's
pretty much like you--

just trying
to help out ex-cons.

To your right.

The guy with
the shopping cart.

Rudy Lemcke?

( grunts )

I didn't do nothing!

Then what are you
running from?

Hey, that's my cart!

Yeah, use it to carry bodies
around, do you?

What bodies?

Hers.

I never seen her before.

"Elements of Criminology"
by Javier Vega.

That's Rebecca's advisor.

You doing a little
light reading, Rudy?

I'm trying
to educate myself.

About how to cover up
your crime scene?

Maybe wash away your DNA?

You take him.

I'll wait for CSU
to go through his crap.

Just put the cherry
on the sundae.

Found the sushi delivery guy.

Says he remembers
seeing Rudy

at Rebecca's apartment.

Go give him the good news.

You like sushi, Rudy?

What?

Eyewitness puts you
at Rebecca's apartment

the night she died.

Says that you smelled.

She bought me dinner.
She was my friend.

She was a student--
you're a crackhead.

You're not friends.
She wanted to help me.

Yeah, but you wanted more,
didn't you?

You get out of prison,
your wife's got

a new man, so you figure

you'll take what you need
from Rebecca, right?

No!
She resists,
you choke her.

Maybe you didn't
mean to kill her,

but next thing you know
she's not moving...

You got it all wrong, lady...

You're scared.
You panicked.

Then you remember
the book.

That'll tell you exactly how to
clean up the mess you've made.

Come on, Rudy.
Everything that you did
is in Professor Vega's book.

Chapter 11-- "Crime Scene
Forensics," remember?

I didn't mean
to hurt anybody.

Write, Rudy,
just write.

Maybe you'll see
the world again

before you die.

( knocking )

Olivia, bring me that book.

Did you talk to this man?

BENSON:
It's Rebecca's advisor.

His name's is Javier...

Vega.

I collared him in '76

for killing a woman named
Joanna Lewis.

He was coming off a three day
heroin bender,

looking for some cash
when she surprised him
ripping off her place.

BENSON:
Doesn't mean
that he's our guy.

Vega strangled her
with his left hand.

Rudy's right-handed.

CRAGEN:
And so high that
he would confess

to killing
his own mother.

Vega's our killer.

He tried to cover his ass
with that crime scene gag.

Been laughing at us ever since.
Bring him in.

BENSON:
I'll call Novak,

ask her to get a warrant.

He's destroyed
enough evidence.

Don't give him the chance
to do it again.

Professor?

Hit it.

Clear.

Closet's empty.

Nothing's in the dresser.

This guy cleared out
of here in a hurry.

Elliot.

Condoms.

Twisted Desire.

We canvassed Rebecca's
neighbors.

One of 'em remembers
seeing a 2003 Lexus RX

parked outside her place
the night of the murder.

Same car Vega drives.

What, this guy has
a photographic memory for cars?

He's a mechanic.

Talked about that car
like it was Paris Hilton.

Now, the same guy
saw a man

in a black coat
and a red scarf

stuffing a large bundle
into the back of a Lexus.

He said "it looked like
big-ass bag full of crap."

This poet make
a positive I.D. on Vega?

No, it was too far away
to see his face.

Let's get his car out
on the teletype

and advise Narcotics.

If Vega gets rattled enough,
he could be looking to score.

Prison records says
he's been clean since '88.

You think he's
gonna relapse after
all that time?

I think he's gonna
go back

to being who he really is,
a thug and a junkie.

It's the only way
he knows how to survive.

Did he rape this woman
that he killed in '76?

Don't know.
He stuffed her in a steel drum.

By the time we found the body,
it was partially decomposed.

He's come a long way
since his junkie days.

He's a professor,
for crying out loud.

I mean, you know,

why is he going
to screw everything up

and kill again?

Maybe Rebecca
dug up something
about his past

when she was doing her research
about him at Sing-Sing.

He killed her
to protect his
reputation?

Go back through Rebecca's files.

There's got to be something
that points to the Professor.

All her research
is in those containers.

But if Rebecca ever found out
about Vega's past,

she didn't mention it.

Vega ever mention
it to you?

Not a word.

No wonder
he was such a great teacher.

He knew so much
about prison life,

I should've guessed
he'd done time.

How'd Rebecca get along
with him?

Great.

She came here
to study with him.

The three of us used
to get together for drinks

at his place every week
to talk about our research,

but then...

Then what?

Well, last month,
she started

backing out,
making excuses.

Couple of weeks ago

she said she had concert
tickets,

but when I came here
after talking to Vega,

I found Rebecca crying
at her desk.

BENSON:
You ask why?

Yeah, but she wouldn't tell me.

I told her if she had a problem
with Vega,

she better deal with it,
but then she got really upset.

So what did you do?

I told her to talk to the dean.

Javier Vega
is a brilliant teacher.

His life in prison gives him

a unique perspective
on criminology.

So you knowingly hired
an ex-con.

Who's better qualified
to teach criminology

than a former criminal?

Well, then why keep
his past a secret?

Unfortunately, parents and
donors aren't so open-minded.

I wouldn't want my children
being taught by a murderer.

Vega's a changed man.

Prison is for rehabilitation,
detective.

It's to keep
our children safe.

Rebecca Wheeler didn't know
how dangerous her advisor was.

Look what happened to her.

Vega couldn't have killed her.

He was her mentor.

Rebecca had no reason
to be afraid of him.

That's not what

her research partner said.

Kyle Luhrmann told her
to talk to you. Did she?

Rebecca had
an appointment

for next week.

What about?

She wanted to change advisors.

Because she found out
that he was a murderer

and didn't want her career tied
to a convicted felon.

I don't believe that
Vega murdered her.

But someone did find out
about him.

I received this anonymous letter
last week,

demanding that
I fire Vega

for covering up his past.

We'll take this and a copy
of his personnel file.

You really think
it's impossible

to rehabilitate
murderers?

I don't know,
but why risk it?

Once a killer
always a killer.

You're a good Catholic.

I thought Jesus taught
forgiveness?

Jesus was perfect;
I'm not.

Hey, hold on a second.

Vega's got a daughter,
Gabrielle.

Where is she?

Here. She's a law student.

She gets free tuition
'cause daddy's a professor.

I don't know
where my father is.

But I do know
he didn't kill anyone.

So why would he run?

Because he knew
the moment you would
find out about his record,

all you would see
is an ex-con.

Gabrielle, your dad
is a convicted murderer.

I don't know
that person,
detective.

My father found out
about me

after my mother died.

I went to see him in prison.

That's why he got clean
and he started going to school.

STABLER:
So now he's a saint.

He wrote to me every day.

After he got out,
he worked his ass off

so that we can have a good life.

He made a stupid mistake
when he was a kid,

and he paid for it.

Murder is not a stupid
mistake, Gabrielle.

He was
a different person

when he was high.

He's been clean
for 16 years.

But you don't care
about that, do you?

You want to know
what we care about?

We care about the truth.

And if your father
didn't kill Rebecca Wheeler,

then we need to find him
so we can clear him.

I'm a law student,
Detective.

I know how cops lie
to get information.

Even if I knew where he was,
I wouldn't tell you.

Maybe your colleagues will be
a little more cooperative.

Listen up.
Has anyone seen this man?

Name is Javier Vega.

Bastard.

Search all you want,

He left the country.

STABLER:
Gabrielle's lying.

She loves her dad.

She's not going to give him up.

She says he left the country,
and thinks what,

we'll just stop looking?

No reports of him
at the Canadian border,

he's not on any
passenger manifests

for flights leaving
the tri-state.

My gut, he's still in the city.

Why the hell would he stay here
when he knows

we're looking for him?

Because he and Gabrielle
seem pretty tight.

Probably didn't want
to leave her behind.

You think she'd
he dumb enough

to hide her father?

I think she would do anything
to protect her father.

Then she's an accessory.

Bring her in.
I'll talk to her myself.

You sure
that's a good idea?

There something you
wanna say to me?

Just that you seem
a little involved.

Vega raped
and murdered

an innocent young woman.

Of course I'm involved.

BENSON:
Captain,

sector car out in Queens
just spotted Vega's car.

Vega driving?

No sign of him.

STABLER:
Captain, we can handle it.

So can I.

Engine's cold.

Nothing.

( sniffs )

He was traveling
with an older woman.

How you get that?

Take a whiff.

Lilies and roses.

No woman one under 60
wears this perfume.

Maybe Gabrielle has
old-fashioned taste.

Gabrielle wears

sandalwood and bergamot.

Women notice these things.

You notice that?

STABLER:
What?

Bus stop.

You're thinking Vega
dumped the car

and hopped the bus
with his lady friend?

You live in Queens.
Where's this bus go?

No idea. Let's find out.

We go right on Van Dam
along 48th Avenue
to Sunnyside,

then cut through
the cemeteries to Maspeth.

Cemeteries.

Queens is lousy
with 'em.

Can I borrow
your newspaper?

There you go.

Roses and lilies.
It's not perfume,
it's flowers.

Where's he going
with them?

Rebecca's funeral was this
morning-- Avondale Cemetery.

He's going
to Rebecca's grave.

Thank you.

BENSON:
Javier Vega.

Don't move.
Now, stand up.

Passport.

Been a long time, Vega.

Do I know you?

It'll come back to you.

Javier Vega, you are under
arrest for the murder

of Rebecca Wheeler.

You have the right
to remain silent.

If you give up
that right,

anything you say

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

Cragen.

I should've known
you were behind this.

You put yourself in the jackpot.

I didn't kill Rebecca.

But you ran.

What choice did I have?

The minute your cops heard
I was an ex-con,

I went from professor
to cold-blooded murderer.

You are a cold-blooded murderer.
You killed Joanna Lewis.

30 years ago.

Not this time.

Somebody's setting me up.

He must know you
pretty well.

Rebecca was strangled
by a lefty,

raped using your brand
of condoms

and dumped by a
man driving your car.

Same M.O., same perp.

I spent the last 20 years
studying crime.

If I was going to kill somebody,

don't you think I'd cover
my tracks a little better?

You tried.

Why would I kill Rebecca?

I loved her,

she loved me.

We were going
to be married.

Wake up.

She was so terrified of you

she was going
to change advisors.

I told her to.

A student sleeping with
her professor

looks bad to everybody.

We were protecting our careers.

Then why was she trying
to end yours?

We lifted her prints
off a letter to Dean Busch

outing you as a murderer.

She couldn't have written that.

Then how'd her prints
get all over it?

You tell me.

She had no reason

to write that,

and I had no reason to kill her.

I told her everything
about my past months ago.

I remember you, Vega.

When I collared you
after we found

that poor woman's
stinking corpse,

you cried like a baby.

You denied it then,
but we had your prints
all over that oil drum.

You lied then
like you're lying now.

I will never forget what
I did to Joanna Lewis.

Her face will haunt me
until the day I die,

but my past is my past.

I'm a different man now.

Just like you.

Yeah, yeah, I remember you.

You were a drunk.

The stench of booze

was all over you.

But you changed,
didn't you, Captain?

You think you're
the only one who can.

All right. I'm listening.

I was at Rebecca's
the night she died.

When I left she was alive.

20 years studying crime,
and that's the best you can do?

Ask Rudy Lemcke.

He was at Rebecca's that night.

I dropped him off
at the Lydia Motel

to crash for the night.

Rudy will tell you--
when we left Rebecca's

she was alive.

STABLER:
Vega's lying through his teeth.

Nobody at the Lydia Motel
remembers seeing him or Rudy.

I should've known.

Why the hell did I even
listen to him?

We got to find Rudy,

shoot some holes
in Vega's alibi.

Elliot, you checked
the homeless shelter

where Rudy was staying?

No one's seen or heard
from Rudy since we busted him.

BENSON:
Fin put the word
out on the street.

Every crackhead and dealer
knows we're looking for him.

So all the evidence
we have against Vega
is circumstantial.

We've have the fiber and
the condom from inside Rebecca

that proves Vega was
the murder.

We've got means, motive,
opportunity...

And the fact that he strangled
another woman

exactly the same way
30 years ago.

NOVAK:
That's only admissible

if Judge Petrovsky allows me

to bring up
Vega's prior bad acts.

It proves an M.O.

Shouldn't be
a problem for you.

I'm not saying
I can't win.

I just wish
I had Rudy Lemcke.

You will.

Can I talk to you a minute?

Is there a problem?

Vega's priors.

June, 1975, grand theft auto.

He got probation
because his arresting officer

recommended leniency
to the D.A.

It was you.

Why'd you do it?

He was a kid.
He was high.

When he came down
he seemed serious

about cleaning up his act.

Except he wasn't.

He got high again and killed
Joanna Lewis while on probation.

What does this have to do
with Rebecca Wheeler?

Vega's already

crying frame job.

You two have history.

I just need you to tell me
there's nothing personal

going on here.

All I want is for
the bastard to rot in jail

because the evidence points
to him, because he's guilty.

Yes, I killed Joanna Lewis.

I was a 19-year-old
heroin addict.

I didn't know what I was doing.

I went to prison
and served my time.

For the last seven years

you've donated $500
a month to what cause?

The Joanna Lewis memorial fund.

Did the court order you
to make restitution?

No. But it's
the right thing to do.

So you've paid your debt
to society

by serving your sentence,

and now you're paying a debt
to your victim's families.

Tell us, Professor,

why do you teach
criminology?

To atone for
what I did.

I hope I can use

my mistakes to teach
others to prevent crime.

Like you taught Rebecca Wheeler?

Yes. She was
a brilliant student,

and a generous woman.

That's why I fell in love
with her.

That's why I could never
have killed her.

Thank you.
Nothing further.

Do you recognize
this photograph?

No.

This is Joanna Lewis's
neck after you raped

and strangled her in 1976.

I never raped her.

But you did
kill her, didn't you?

Yes.

NOVAK:
What about this?

I don't recognize that.

This is
Rebecca Wheeler's neck.

They look the same,
don't they?

I didn't kill Rebecca.

This is a fragment

of a condom recovered from
inside Rebecca Wheeler.

The same brand of condoms
was found at your apartment.

This is a fiber recovered

from Rebecca's trachea.

Your coat is made from
the same material.

And do you recognize this?

It's the letter Rebecca wrote
to the University

demanding that you be fired.

Rebecca didn't write
that letter.

Her prints are on it.

So if she didn't
write it, who did?

Why don't you ask the cops?

Are you implying that
the police planted evidence?

It wouldn't be
the first time.

So the police knew
your brand of condom

took a fragment and placed it
inside Rebecca.

Then they took a fiber
from your coat

and jammed it down her throat?

Yes.

You're an
intelligent man,

Professor.

Isn't the most logical
explanation

that you killed Rebecca?

I didn't kill her.

I did not kill her!

Jury took less
than an hour.

Guilty on all counts.

That's my kind of jury.

Detectives?

Is it true you're looking
for Rudy Lemcke?

BENSON:
We were.

Trial's over.

Why, do you know where he is?

Maybe.

You want to arrest him?

No, he was
an alibi witness.

Where is he, Sister?

Hiding from you.

When you interrogated him

you pushed him over the edge.

He didn't deserve that.

He was a suspect
in a murder case.

He was innocent.

Now he's terrified.

You've been telling
every drug dealer in town

you're looking for him.

They think he's a rat.

We just wanted to talk to him.

Well, he came
to me for help.

He's afraid he's going
to get killed.

We'll straighten things out
on the street

after we talk to him.

You give me your word
you're just going to talk...

I'll take you to him.

Professor ain't lying.
He gave me some money,

then dropped me off at
a motel the night Rebecca died.

BENSON:
What time?

I don't got a watch.
Maybe 7:00.

STABLER:
Well, we've got a
sushi delivery guy

who puts you
at Rebecca's at 8:00 p.m.

Okay, maybe it was

10:00 maybe 9:00.

Come on, Rudy,
you've got to think.

Oh, it was definitely 9:00,
definitely 9:00,

because that was right
after Rebecca and the Professor

they finished
duking it out.

So you heard them arguing?

About me.

Rebecca said I could crash
on her sofa.

And then the Professor says

no way he's going
to let a crackhead

sleep on his girlfriend's couch.

His girlfriend?

Yeah, you know
they were

lovey dovey.

They were going
to get married.

You're sure about that?

Well, maybe not. I don't know.

Rudy, this is important.

BENSON:
Rudy, Rudy, listen to me.

Who told you that
they were getting married?

Um, Rebecca. Yeah.

Think.

What time did the Professor
drop you off at that motel?

I don't know, man.

But I do remember that

it stopped raining
on our way over there.

Checked with
the Weather Service.

Rain stopped at 9:22 p.m.

You know, it's possible
that Vega dropped Rudy off,

and then came back
and killed Rebecca.

It's more than possible.

Neighbor saw Vega's car in front
of Rebecca's at 11:30.

So, Vega was telling
the truth about Rudy.

He'll use that
to appeal his conviction.

I don't want Vega wriggling out
of this.

Go back to the neighbor.

See exactly what time
he saw that car.

I told the other detectives.
It was 11:30.

And you're sure
about that?

Positive.

The Simpsons just ended.

I got up to close my window
before I went to sleep.

That's my apartment right there.

I seen a guy in a coat

put this big-ass bundle
in a Lexus.

He was parked right there.

Vega doubled back.

BENSON:
See that guy just

blew through
the intersection.

Red-light cam caught
the whole thing.

Maybe it caught Vega, too.

MAN:
City's making a bundle.

Lot of people
run that light.

We got one at 7:46,

8:03, 8:40.

That's Vega's car.

the white Lexus.

Next photo's 9:02.

And the car's
gone.

That's when Vega said he took
Rudy to that motel.

What time does he come back?

The Lexus returns

at 11:07.

So Vega returned
to murder Rebecca.

Blow that up.

Show me that license plate.

Enhancing...

STABLER:
JMM 8120.

BENSON:
Let's double check.

Bring up one
of the earlier photos.

MAL 5047...

We got

two different cars.

It's a Lexus RX.

DMV has it registered
to this agency.

We're looking for
who rented it

on the night
of February 20.

Here you go--

rental agreement
and renter information.

Well, first of all,
the license is fake.

New York driver's licenses
have all numbers.

This has three letters--
and you can't even

make out the picture.

I'm sorry.

I don't know how
this could've happened.

STABLER:
Yeah, I bet.

You don't want us
to bust you for renting cars

to unlicensed drivers, do you?

Maybe we can work something out.

STABLER:
We're listening.

We put GPS trackers
on the deluxe models

in case they're stolen.

That way we can find 'em.

How long do you keep
those records?

Six months.

Show us the location
of the car

the night
of February 20.

This is where

we are.

He took Houston
to the West Side Highway,

got off at 96th Street,

over to Claremont and 107th.

That's Rebecca's apartment.

And from Rebecca's apartment
right into Central Park

where her body was found.

We need to know where
that car is right now.

Whoever rented that car
killed Rebecca Wheeler.

And an innocent man's
in prison.

Somebody went
to a whole lot of trouble

to frame Vega
for Rebecca's murder.

And I bought it.

And you weren't the one
who set him up.

But I was the one
who made him a suspect.

He was a convicted murderer.

All the evidence pointed to him.

Not to mention he ran.

What were we supposed to think?

Get the rental car
over to the lab.

Have them tear it apart.
I'll talk to Vega.

A mistake?!

That's the best
you can say?!

"We made a mistake"?!

I'm sorry.
I'll talk to the ADA.

Get you out of here
right away.

My hero.

I want to make
things right.

There's nothing you can do.

I can try.

Can you bring Rebecca
back to life?

Can you give me back my career?

Get out of my face.

You're using again.

Not even trying to hide it.

It makes the time
go quicker.

You need to get clean.
I can get you help.

Your help put me here.

You change your mind,
you know where to find me.

On the gate.

Who killed Rebecca?

Somebody who wanted
to hurt you.

Any ideas?

Besides the NYPD? No.

So this guy rented a car
like mine?

Yeah.

Where from?

A place on Houston.

I'll keep you posted.

I won't hold my breath.

Captain, you should've
told me you were coming.

I would've tidied up.

When is Vega getting out?

I'm on my way
to court now.

We'll have him
released first thing
tomorrow morning.

It's not soon enough.
We need to do it now.

Why, is he in
some sort of danger?

Just from himself.
He's using again.

Not much I can do.

Rikers can't qet him down
to court till morning.

I'll call in a favor,

have Vega produced
by the end of business

if you can get your motion
on the calendar by then.

Yeah, okay.

You know,

this isn't your fault.

We'll have to agree
to disagree on that one.

You didn't put the needle
in Vega's arm.

No, I just torpedoed
his career

and locked him up
with a bunch of junkies.

You were doing your job.

Maybe the brass
will give me a medal.

In light of this evidence,

the People and the Defense
are filing jointly

to dismiss all charges
against Professor Vega.

Anything you'd like to add,
Mr. Seaver?

Just how pleased we are

that the People recognize
the error of their ways.

Duly noted.

The Court hereby grants
the motion

to set aside the conviction
of Professor Vega

in the interests of justice.

You're free to go,
with the Court's apologies.

( gavel bangs )

Any leads yet?

We're working on it.

Do you own a home, Captain?

I'm sorry?

A home. Stocks.

Any assets that
we should know about?

Consider yourself served.

We're going
after the City,

the police department,
and you, sir.

We're seeking $12 million
compensatory damages.

You want to go out
the back way?

No.

( reporters clamoring )

Been working on the car
two hours now.

Dusted every surface.
No prints.

They check the rearview?

Yep. Nothing.

What about the seat-
adjustment button?

A lot of times
perps wipe down
everything else,

forget they moved the seat.

We've done this
a couple times
before, Captain.

Hold on.

Nail clippers.

Is that a fingernail clipping?

With red nail polish.

Same color as Rebecca's.

Let's see if we have a latent.

I think we got something.

CRAGEN:
Judy, how much longer?

Done. Your guy doesn't have
a criminal record.

Sorry, Captain.

Expand the search.

Guy who did this
had to know Vega and Rebecca.

Run prison guards, cops,
anybody who works

in the criminal justice system.

You got something?

Computer doesn't make
the final match,

I do.

Same ridge line,
identical whorl.

It's only a seven-point match,
but...

Whose?

Student intern-- Probation.

Worked there summer 2003.

Name's Kyle Luhrmann.

( loud rock playing )

Bastard's gone.

Didn't even have time
to finish his coffee.

Captain, take a look at these.

What is it?

Pictures-- all of them of Vega.

With Rebecca getting
into his car, wearing his coat.

Luhrmann was stalking the guy.

He got pictures
of Vega's condoms, too?

He wouldn't need to.

Vega used to invite his students
over to his apartment

once a week for drinks.

Luhrmann could have found them
just snooping around.

And Luhrmann worked
with Rebecca.

Easy to steal a blank piece
of paper with her prints on it,

forge the letter.

Where is the
son of a bitch?

Once he heard that Vega
had been cleared, he'd run.

And so fast,
he forgot his coat and scarf.

Anybody spots Luhrmann,

I want to be the first
on scene.

Captain Cragen,
I have to talk to you, sir.

I can't.

You have
to help him.

You and your father
are suing me.

I can't talk to you
without my attorney present.

Please? He left this
note for me.

I think he's going
to kill himself.

You got to read this.

"I can't ask you
to save me again,

"and I can't save myself.

"I've made my bed,

now it's time for me
to lie down."

He's suicidal.

He's homicidal, too.

"I hope you can forgive me
one final sin

in the name of justice."

He's looking to get even.

Think he's going
to come after you?

Hold on a second.

He's talking
about Rebecca.

"Not justice for me,
but for the woman I loved."

Luhrmann didn't leave
in a hurry.

Vega kidnapped him.

How'd he figure out

that Luhrmann
killed Rebecca?

Son of a bitch.

He asked me where

the car was rented from
and I told him.

The rental agency
is only two blocks

from the Sociology library

where Luhrmann hangs out.

Vega put it together.

So why not just kill him?

Vega wants him to suffer the way
Luhrmann made Rebecca suffer.

Okay, so where'd he take him?

Some place that's emotionally
significant.

Rebecca's apartment,
Wallace University...

Too many people
around.

Avondale Cemetery?

He would never
desecrate

Rebecca's grave...

But Central Park,

where he left Rebecca's body
to rot.

Call ESU.

Tell them to set up a perimeter
around the murder scene.

I'm on my way.

Vega's got a gun
to Luhrmann's head.

He's using him as a shield
so we can't get a clear shot.

Is Vega talking?

Just to Luhrmann.
The line of fire
is that tree

to that rock.

Got it.

( siren wailing )

OFFICER ( over radio ):
SWAT team leader

to Alpha Team: Into position.

Alpha Leader to SWAT Leader:
10-4.

You gotta help me!

He's crazy!

He's gonna kill me.

I don't blame him.

But let him go, Vega.

He killed Rebecca!

I didn't do anything
to her,

I swear!

Tell him what you did

or I'll blow
your head off!

All right.

I killed her.

Why?

What'd she do to you?

I loved her,

but she told me
she was marrying you.

I went to her apartment,

gave her one last chance.

She blew it.

You're dead.

Put the gun down.

You got your confession.

You shoot him, you're dead.

You kill him,
you lose your daughter, too.

Gabrielle's better off
without me.

She came to see me.

She begged me to bring you home.

The only way I'm leaving
here is in a body bag.

Not if you let him live.

He confessed to murder.

He's finished.

Let me help you.

Nobody can help me.

You're still thinking
like a junkie.

Fine. Go ahead, kill him.

Show me
you're still a murderer too.

( sobbing )

OFFICER:
Gun!

OFFICER: ( over radio )
Swat leader to all teams.

Stand down. We are code four.

Let's go see
your daughter.

Captioning sponsored by
UNIVERSAL NETWORK TELEVISION

and NBC

( wolf howling )

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