Chapter Five


Tuesday January 16, 2007

SVU Squad room


The doors to the fifth floor elevator opened and Elliot stepped into the corridor that led to the SVU squad room. In one hand, he held a four-cup cup holder in which stood two tall coffees; one black with two sugars, the other black with three, and in the other hand, he held a small, white bag that carried three blueberry muffins.

Aside from calling her, Elliot had no way of knowing whether or not Olivia would be at the precinct, as it was a little after six-thirty in morning, but he took a chance regardless and hoped to make up for their argument the previous night with “I’m sorry” muffins and coffee.

As he entered the squad room, he found Olivia at her desk, focused on her computer monitor, alone except for the three other officers sitting at other desks throughout the room.

“Morning,” he said softly, as he got to their desks.

“Hey,” she said brightly looking up at him.

“Brought you some coffee and a muffin,” he said handing her the bag.

She smiled. “How’d you know I’d even be here this early?”

“It’s me, Olivia,” he said taking his coffee from the cup holder. “I just knew.”

Olivia shook her head, but smiled just the same.

“So, what are you doing in so early?” he asked.

“Oh, I thought you knew me,” she teased. “It’s you, remember? You just knew.”

Elliot shrugged and popped a piece of the large muffin into his mouth with a smile.

“Well,” she continued, “seeing as how I couldn’t get any sleep last night, I figured I’d get here a little early to catch up on the paperwork from the other cases last week and look more into this latest one.”

“Why can’t you sleep?” he asked.

She shook her head. “Just stressed I guess. Anyway, I’ve been going through as many records as I could, so don’t get settled just yet.”

“What’d you find?”

“I tracked down Ricky Schrader’s birth mother. She lives in Redhook on Wolcott and I think we should talk to her since Ricky had been sneaking out to see her before he died. She might know more about it, especially since he’s kind of the odd one out from the four of them.”

Elliot nodded and put his arms back through his coat as Olivia gathered her own. “You think she’ll be up?”

“Well, by the time we get all the way out to Brooklyn…hopefully she’ll be either in or coherent. Though, reading through some of these files, there’s a good chance she won’t be. I’ve got the keys. Bring the muffins.”

He smiled at her, muffin bag in hand, as they both got onto the elevators.




Olivia sighed as they reached the mouth of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. She had been born and raised in Manhattan and she had grown up with the notion that New York, outside of Manhattan was not worth visiting, even if only for a day. Everything she ever needed rested on the island and she had many memories of her and Maya proclaiming “We don’t do borough” any time it was suggested that they cross a bridge or go too far north of Manhattan.

“I hate Brooklyn,” she announced to Elliot halfway through the tunnel’s traffic.

“That’s just ‘cause you were raised in Manhattan,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with Brooklyn.”

“I didn’t say there was anything wrong with it. I just hate it; all the boroughs. Especially the area where we’re going.”

“You come out to Queens.”

“True, but Queens is not Brooklyn and at least there’s some trees. Redhook is not my idea of a nice drive out of Manhattan.”

“I bet if you had your choice, you probably wouldn’t even leave Manhattan,” Elliot said.

“I’ll leave New York, but not for a borough. I want either countryside or beaches, not bad streets and Section-8 housing.”

Elliot smiled and shook his head. Every once in a while, bits of Olivia’s upbringing would spill out of her and he could only smile in response. An only child raised by an English professor, Olivia’s childhood differed greatly from Elliot’s with his three other siblings all raised on their father’s NYPD salary. The differences rarely came out and usually coincided when their cases brought them out of Manhattan.

A while later, they reached the dilapidated building where one Veronica Schrader lived and Olivia felt her eyebrows furrow unintentionally as she looked for a place to park. As they walked into the building, Elliot could feel Olivia tense behind him.

They knocked on the door marked “7E” and the scene before them looked like a Hollywood cliché. The woman who answered the door was wearing worn and frayed silk pajamas printed with large flowers and her poorly dyed red hair looked as though it had not been properly combed, brushed or even washed in several days. The lines in her face and the glaze over her eyes gave the appearance of someone who had not slept in a year.

“Yes,” she said in a low, gruff voice.

“Morning,” Elliot said pulling his badge from his coat pocket. “I’m Detective Stabler and this is Detective Benson. May we speak with a Veronica Schrader?”

The woman stared between both of them for a moment before replying. “Yeah, that’s me. What do the cops want? I don’t have nothing on me.”

“Has anyone contacted you about your son Ricky?” Olivia asked.

Veronica squinted at Olivia. “Who ACS? They haven’t told me nothing since I tried to get Ricky back years ago.”

Olivia and Elliot exchanged glances. There was a possibility that she had no idea that her son had been killed.

“Mrs. Schrader,” Olivia began. “May we come in?”

She stared at each of them again for a long time before stepping back and letting them into her apartment. The small apartment was stuffy and the empty boxes and bags of fast food and take-out dishes littered nearly every surface and added to the pungent odor of cigarette smoke and garbage that floated throughout the place.

Veronica closed the door behind them and took a cigarette from a box at the end of her coffee table.

“So,” she said. “What’chu need from me? ‘Cause Ricky don’t stay here no more. Not since they took ‘im from me.”

“Mrs. Schrader,” Olivia said. “Ricky was found by Tompkins Square Park. I’m so sorry, but he’s been killed.”

Elliot and Olivia waited for the normal storm of sorrow or fury from Veronica, but none came. She lit her cigarette with a near empty Bic lighter and sat down on the dirty beige couch that took up much of the living room.

“When did this happen?”

“He was found Saturday,” Olivia said, “but it looks like he might have been killed last Thursday.”

Veronica took a long drag on her cigarette. “So, you’re saying someone killed my Ricky close to a week ago and I’m just now finding out?”

“We are sorry,” Olivia said. “We were under the impression that ACS had contacted you about him.”

Veronica flicked her pinky finger and let the cigarette ashes fall directly to the floor. She was perfectly calm and was not showing the slightest reservations about the news. “Well, two years ago some lady from ACS asked me if I wanted to try and get him back. ‘Course I was high at the time and I didn’t know what I was sayin’ so when I said no, she made me sign some forms and that was that. They said that I didn’t have to…uh…‘be notified’ of anything goin’ on with Ricky. So, no, no one told me that my Ricky was dead, though it’s nice of you to show up…days later.”

An uncomfortable silence floated through the room and Olivia opened her mouth to apologize again, but thought against it. Veronica was clearly in a state, though she had an odd way of showing it, and apologizing again for not notifying her sooner would not help the situation.

“So,” Veronica continued, “are you gonna tell me what happened or what?”

“It looks like someone strangled him,” Elliot said. “And, it looks like he was raped.”

Veronica nodded and took another drag on the cigarette. “Somebody raped ‘im…Well, that’s just great. You people take ‘im from me because I hit ‘im a couple o’ times and now he’s dead. That’s a great goddamn’ system you’ve got there.”

“Mrs. Schrader,” Olivia began.

“Just Veronica,” she said. “Nobody ever calls me ‘Misses.’ Just Veronica.”

“Veronica,” Olivia said. “We spoke with the Vonnexes, Ricky’s foster parents. They said that he would sometimes runaway to come see you. Is that true?”

She nodded and stared at the floor. “Yeah, he’d come by to see me. The first few times, he’d show up crying about them people.”

“About the Vonnexes?” Olivia said.

“Yeah, those crazy people ACS placed ‘im with. Ricky said they wanted ‘im to play a bunch sports and trying to make ‘im be Superboy or something. They coulda asked me. I’da told them, Ricky don’t like all that stuff. No wonder he kept running away.”

“When was the last time you saw Ricky?” Elliot asked.

Veronica stared at Elliot a long time, as if thinking had become very difficult. “Last…Wednesday, I think. Yeah, ‘cause I remember he brung me flowers and we watched American Idol together.”

“Do you remember what time he left?”

“Sometime after the show was done, I guess.”

“Did he say he was going anywhere afterward?”

“How the hell should I know?” Veronica said, her voice growing louder. “I didn’t even know how the hell he got all the way over here. Those people ACS had ‘im placed with lived all the way across the damn city.”

“Did he take a bus or a cab?”

She shrugged. “Guess so…yeah, actually he did because the time before last he called the number for a cab company to come pick ‘im up.”

“Did you ever think to tell the Vonnexes?” Olivia asked.

“Why the hell should I? He’s my kid. They lived on the Upper West Side and probably had all the money in the world. They coulda had any kid in the world and they had to have mine.”

“You beat your son,” Elliot said.

Veronica stood up and crossed the room one step to stand directly in front of Elliot. “I hit Ricky, one time and they took ‘im away from me. Just one time and then they took ‘im away, saying I was an unfit mother. Tell me you never hit your kids once.”

“Not to the point where the government would step in and take them from me.”

“Screw you!” she said and turned to sit back on her couch. “You two can leave now!”

“We’re investigating your son’s case,” Olivia said, almost pleading with Veronica. “We just want to know if you knew anyone who might have wanted to hurt Ricky or paid him any special attention.”

“Ricky was ten when they took ‘im from me,” she said. “What the hell would somebody want with a kid that young?”

“Do you have any enemies or anyone who might’ve hurt Ricky to get back at you?”

Veronica scowled at Olivia. “You mean, do I owe any of my drug dealers any money? And the answer’s no. I stopped doing that stuff and I was all paid up before I quit.”

“Well, how about old neighbors or boyfriends?” Olivia continued not phased by the accusation. “What about Ricky’s father? Is he in the picture at all?”

“Ricky’s father?” she said with a laugh. “He ain’t been in the picture since he entered it. No idea where the hell he is.”

“Boyfriends then?”

“Haven’t had a lot of time for boyfriends lately,” she said. “You know, since I’m payin’ my way through law school and stuff.”

“Do you even care that your son’s dead?” Elliot said, having had his fill with the woman before him.

Veronica shook her head. “I care. But, what am I s’posed to do about it? Huh? Ricky was alive and happy when he was with me, then you people take ‘im away and give ‘im to this happy family on the West Side and now he’s dead. He was miserable for years and now he’s dead. That’s what I call irony.”

“Look,” Olivia said, pleading again. “If you can think of anyone. Anyone at all who paid Ricky a lot of attention, it could help us track down the person who killed him.”

She took a long drag of her cigarette and nodded again. “I guess…Only guy I can remember was an old boyfriend who used to hang around before Ricky got taken away from me. He used to take Ricky out to like, ball games and parks and fatherly junk like that.”

“What happened?” Olivia asked.

“Well, he wasn’t Ricky’s father, was he? He shouldn’ta been doing all that. ‘Sides, he kept making Ricky think that I was the bad guy, when he knew I was trying to get clean. Guess all that don’t even matter now.”

“This boyfriend,” Olivia said, reaching for the pad and pen in her pocket. “What was his name?”

Wha?” Veronica said eyes wide and eyebrows high. “That was like a hundred years ago!”

“Any name you can think of would be helpful. We just want to talk to him.”

She stood for a moment, littering her cigarette ashes onto the floor again. “Yeah, okay…um…Uh, something quick like Jordan or something.  Jordan…uh…Jordasche…no, I think it was something more like…uh…Draven…Driven…Drover? Drover! Yeah, that was it. Jeffy Drover.”

Elliot and Olivia glanced at one another and Olivia could see Elliot’s eye twitch slightly.

“Yeah,” Veronica continued. “That sack a crap! He told Ricky once to flush all my stuff, the bastard. And, when I ended up hitting Ricky because he stole and I’d told ‘im stealing was wrong and we were better than that, Ricky called the police on me. I’da known Jeffy woulda put ‘im up that. God…that was three years ago. I never even gotta chance to tell Ricky I was sorry.”




Olivia had no option but to smirk at the pure elation on Elliot’s face as they raced back to the 1-6. He looked liked a little boy who had been told Christmas was coming early that year from the news that they finally had what they needed to bring in Jeffrey Drover.

The loose affiliation of the other victims could have given them grounds to speak to Drover, but the fact that Ricky Schrader was completely out of the mix of the other victims kept the from doing so. However, with confirmation that Drover had not only a connection to another victim, but had interacted with him on a personal basis, the detectives had more than enough evidence to finally bring Drover to the precinct and probe him on the murders.

Within thirty minutes, Elliot and Olivia were walking into the precinct ready to spread the news that they needed to speak to Drover, however the moment they stepped off the elevators, Fin stopped them, shaking his head.

“There’s been another one,” Fin said. “Avenue A and East 11th.”

“Same guy?” Olivia said.

Fin nodded. “Warner and Munch are down there now. It’s the same as the others.”

“We need to talk to Drover,” Elliot said. “We just talked to Ricky Schrader’s mother and she used to date him years ago. She said Drover used to act like a father figure for Ricky.”

“You two go,” Olivia said. “I’ll look up Drover and we’ll bring him in today.”

Elliot gave her a nod and he and Fin headed back out to the street.

As they approached the scene at Avenue A, more press was present than with any of the other cases. Complete with news station vans and whole camera crews, the area outside the crime scene looked like a complete circus.

They made their way through reporters shouting dozens of questions at them and through the police barricades to find Melinda and the crime scene unit surrounding a green dumpster in the alley behind a row of apartments. Just beside the dumpster, stood a large brown box, out of which Elliot could make out tufts of brown hair crowning the box’s opening.

“Same guy,” Melinda said when she saw Fin and Elliot. “And it looks like he’s gone back to his roots.”

“He’s gone back to both the box and white kids,” Munch said.

“ID?” Elliot said. “Age?”

“Nothing so far on the ID,” Munch said, “but he looks about twelve or thirteen.”

Elliot shook his head.

“There’s something else,” Melinda said. “This boy’s been dead for probably a day. He might’ve even been killed close to the same time as Daniel Richardson.”

“You’re sure it’s the same guy?” Fin said.

“I won’t know for sure until I have a close look at him, but everything’s the same as the others, right down to the ligature marks on the neck.”

“This is crazy,” Munch said. “This makes four kids in five days! There has to be a copycat.”

“Evidence points to the same guy,” Fin said.

“But Jacob Lewendale was found a good five days before Connor Whickfield. If this is the same guy, he’s getting too adventurous and he’s wasting no time.”

“And he likes this area,” Fin said looking around at the buildings before him. “Weren’t both Jacob and Connor found in Tompkins Square Park?”

“Yeah,” Elliot said.

Fin shook his head. “Ricky Schrader was found four blocks north of here at 7th, Daniel Richardson was found at 9th and Avenue C, and here we are now. Every kid has been found within close to a mile radius of each other.”

“He knows this area,” Elliot said, nodding to himself. “He knows it really well.”

“Do we know who found the body yet?” Fin asked.

“Garbage man,” Munch said. “He was about to pick up the dumpster when he saw the box…We need to get Huang in on this. Why the hell would he go back to the box?”

“Maybe trying to throw us off track,” Fin said. “He put two kids in the park and then starts putting them in alleys leading up to the park. He’s spreading it out to keep people from noticing him going to the same place.”

“But the box,” Munch said. “It doesn’t make any sense. Pedophiles are strict and meticulous. If putting the kids in the box was what got him off, they’d all’ve been in boxes, but they weren’t. If he’d moved past the box fetish, then why go back to it now?”

“Maybe it’s like Liv said,” Elliot said as he pulled his ringing phone from his pocket and bringing it up to his ear. “What’s if he’s not a really a pedophile at all? Stabler.”

“Elliot,” Olivia said from the other end. “I found Drover’s workplace. He works for this accounting firm, Rohlman-Hayworth. They’re on the fifth floor of the building at 3rd and St. Marks.”

“Right,” Elliot said. “Meet me there in an hour.”

“Was that Olivia?” Munch said.

“Yeah, she found where Drover works. It’s actually just a few blocks from here.”

“We’re back on this Drover again?” Munch asked with raised eyebrows.

“Some of us never left him,” Elliot said as he turned to face the crowds of shouting people and news cameras.

An hour later, Munch and Fin were working on an ID for the latest victim after the three of them had spoken to some of the neighbors around the alley. Elliot sat in his car and after a few moments, Olivia came into his view on 3rd Avenue where St. Marks Place, Stuyvesant Street and 3rd Avenue all seemed to come together.

He had only been waiting for a few a minutes when he saw her and he practically jumped out of the car, anxious to get into the building. All he could think about was how close Drover was to the entire situation. He lived and worked just a few blocks away from the mile radius in which all the boys had been found. They were finally making headway in a case that seemed to be going nowhere.

With several flashes of their NYPD badges later, Elliot and Olivia stood in the office of Viktor Hammond, Drover’s manager.

“Jeff’s not in,” the small-framed Mr. Hammond said. “I suggested he take some time off and he took it.”

“Why did you have to suggest it?” Olivia asked.

“If you saw him Friday, you would’ve too,” Mr. Hammond said resting backwards against his desk. “He was a wreck after finding that boy, and honestly, I don’t know a sane person who wouldn’t have been. I told him to take the week off. Relax and get his thoughts together. Maybe talk to a therapist. I’m not sure when the family’s going to have the funeral, but I wanted to make sure he went so he could pay his respects.”

“Do you have any idea where he might be now?” Elliot said, his eyes squinting in frustration.

Mr. Hammond shrugged. “Maybe home? I have no idea.”

“Did he leave a number where he could be reached?” Elliot asked.

“No, when I told him to take some time on Friday, he protested for a bit and then he just left. I told him to come back Monday the twenty-second, but knowing Jeff he’ll probably be back in tomorrow or Thursday. If you need to talk to him, I would start at his apartment. He lives on…hold on just a moment. I can have my secretary look him up.”

“That’s okay,” Olivia said. “We know where he lives. Thank you for your time.”

They began to leave the office when Mr. Hammond stopped them with another question.

“Just out of curiosity,” he began. “Why do you need to speak with him?”

“We just have a few more questions for him as we continue our investigation,” Elliot said and he followed Olivia out of the door.

They left Elliot’s car on St. Marks Place and took Olivia’s, as she was double-parked, to the 14th Street Loop, where Drover lived.

“He lives and works down here, Liv,” Elliot said as they were entering the building, having called the superintendent moments earlier. “I bet he’s been out here for years. He probably knows every alley on the Lower East Side like his own apartment.”

Olivia merely nodded as they knocked on the super’s door.

“I called up there,” the super said, once they were inside his apartment. “I don’t think he’s home, but I don’t see him enough to know what times he comes and goes. We’ve got a lot of tenants.”

“Can you let us into his place?” Elliot asked, but Olivia put up her hand slightly to keep the super from responding.

“We don’t have probable cause,” she whispered to Elliot. “And, we don’t have a warrant. If we find anything incriminating, we won’t be able to use it.”

“We could see his place if the super just happened to be checking in on him and we just happened to be there.”

Olivia gave him a look that immediately read “Stop,” but he continued, sardonically.

“I mean, technically, the man’s missing since no one’s seen or heard from him in three or four days. He could’ve had a heart attack and could be lying half dead up there.”

She pulled Elliot toward the super’s apartment door and stepped very close to him. “He didn’t murder those boys here, Elliot. That kind of thing takes space and privacy.”

Elliot sighed. “What if he’s got a kid somewhere, right now?”

“We don’t have probable cause and he’s not here. There’s no use in trampling his Fourth Amendment rights in the hopes of getting something that might be incriminating in his apartment. Not if some judge is just going to turn around and throw out whatever we might find. We’ll find him. We’ll bring him down to the house, we’ll get a warrant and we’ll get him if he did this.”

He stared at her for a long time before nodding and turning to the super. “Thanks. We’ll get back to you if we need you.”

The flurry of movement about the SVU squad room did not stop when Olivia and Elliot stepped off the elevator after leaving Drover’s residence.

“We got an ID on the latest victim,” Cragen said in their direction once they came into view. “Munch and Fin are notifying the parents now.”

“Who was he?” Elliot said.

“Manny Scheibley, thirteen-years-old.” Cragen sighed. “He lived on the West Side and I’m willing to bet money he played soccer at that complex on 108th. I take it you couldn’t find Drover?”

“He hasn’t been to work in a few days and his super doesn’t know if he’s been home or not,” Olivia said.

“He’s gone for now,” Elliot said. “I hope like hell he hasn’t run.”

“How sure are you that he’s involved?”

Elliot glanced at Olivia, but she spoke up first. “He’s the link between each of the victims. Three played soccer at the same place and Drover’s had close contact with two of the victims. It’s not concrete, but there’s a good chance he knows something.”

“All right,” Cragen said. “We’ll keep a look out for him, but I don’t want us to stop looking for any other links between these kids.”

As Elliot and Olivia both nodded, a tall, dark-haired woman stepped off the elevator bringing behind her a little girl, who looked no more than six, dressed all in pink.

“Excuse me,” the woman said, approaching the detectives and their captain. “I’m looking for Detective Stabler.”

“That’s me,” Elliot said. “What can I do for you?”

She pulled his card out of the black purse that hung from her shoulder. “You came by my apartment earlier today. I guess the police found a little boy behind our building and you were knocking on doors. My son was home and he got your card.”

Elliot squinted at her for a moment, before recognizing the features of her face in a twenty-something he had spoken to prior to visiting Drover’s job.

“My name’s Helena Sims and this is my daughter, Carly. When I got home, Brent, my son, told me you’d been by and that’s when Carly said she saw something, I figured you ought to hear.”

A moment later, Elliot, Olivia, Mrs. Sims and Carly sat in one of the more comfortable discussion rooms.

“Tell them what you saw,” Mrs. Sims said to Carly.

Elliot and Olivia watched intently as the little girl bounced in her seat and looked about the room with large, brown eyes.

“Um, today,” Carly said still looking all around the room as she spoke. “I saw a man puttin’ a box by the dumpster.”

“When did you see him?” Elliot asked.

“In the morning when I woke up. I was playing with Jessica on the window and I saw him outside.”

Elliot and Olivia glanced at one another and Mrs. Sims interjected. “Jessica’s this bunny doll thing she plays with all the time.”

“Do you remember the man?” Olivia said softly.

Carly nodded her head and straight, brown hair fell over her eyes. “Yup.”

 “Can you tell us what he looked like?” Elliot asked.

“Um…I think so,” Carly said, brightly. “He had…um…well, I don’t know…”

“Well, what did his hair look like?” Olivia asked.

“Uh…I think it was like mine, but it was dark outside, so I couldn’t see real good.”

“Could you see what his skin looked like?” Olivia asked.

Carly nodded her head again. “It was kinda like mine, too.”

Carly,” Elliot said. “Do you think if you saw him again, you’d be able to tell us what he looked like?”

“I think so.”

“Had you ever seen him before?”

“No. He was a stranger.”

“Did you see anything else he was doing?” Olivia said.

“He was just puttin’ the box by the dumpster. Then, he got in his car and drove away.”

“Do you remember what the car looked like?” Olivia asked.

Carly nodded her head. “Uh-huh. It was black and it was big.”

“Do you think if we should you some pictures of cars you could pick out which one it was?”

“Yup. I think so.”

Elliot and Olivia glanced at one another and then at Mrs. Sims who was wringing her hands. They stood to leave and she followed them.

“You don’t think she saw what was in that box, do you?” she asked, eyes showing morbid concern.

“We’ll have her talk to a psychologist we have with the unit,” Elliot said. “But, we’d like her to work with a specialist first. We want to see if she can pinpoint the car and give us a sketch.”

“Is this going to stress her out? I mean, she’s just a little girl.”

“If she gets tired, we can stop at any time,” Olivia said. “But, we need to act fast. The quicker we can get a statement from her, the better our case will be.”

“But, what if the guy…,” Mrs. Sims said still looking worried. “I mean, she’s just a little girl and I don’t know. What if this guy saw her and he comes after us or something?”

“We’ll get him,” Elliot said reassuring her. “Any information she gives will just help us get him that much faster.”

Mrs. Sims nodded, reached out her hand, which Carly readily grabbed and followed Olivia out of the room.

An hour later, Carly had worked with the sketch artist to give a vague description of the man she saw, and even after a break for Chicken McNuggets and apple juice, she was only able to narrow down the description of the car to a black SUV; whether it was an Expedition or a Range Rover was still under discrepancy.

“Thank you so much,” Elliot said, as Mrs. Sims and Carly were preparing to leave. “We’ll call you if we have any questions.”

The pair left and Olivia sighed looking at the sketch. “This doesn’t look anything like Drover.”

Elliot glanced over her shoulder at the sketch. “Looks enough like him to bring him in.”

“Elliot, you and I saw him and spoke to him. This isn’t going to hold up in court.”

“All I know is, it gives us grounds to bring his ass in here. All we need to do now is find him.”

“How’d the little girl do?” Cragen asked.

“Not so good,” Olivia said. “The sketch she gave is pretty vague and we still don’t know much more about the car.”

“But,” Elliot said, “this is the third time we’ve heard about this black car, truck, SUV, whatever somehow connected to the victims and the crime scene.”

“Well, we’ll sit some uniforms in front of his place for a bit,” Cragen said. “He’s gotta come home at some point.”

“You realize this is a really weak case,” Olivia said to Elliot once Cragen had gone back to answer a phone call in his office.

“What?” Elliot said. “Are you a DA now?”

“I’m serious,” she said. “Even if we can get Drover in here, we couldn’t make charges stick with what we’ve got.”

“You’re assuming that his prints won’t match, his DNA is crap and he won’t crack. He’s good for it and he’ll crack. We just need to get him in here.”

Olivia opened her mouth to respond, but was silenced by her cell phone ringing from her coat pocket.

“Benson,” she said into the phone.

“Uh…yeah, hi,” an unsteady voice said from the other side of the phone. “Um…Detective Benson…I’m not sure if you remember me or not. You gave me your card a few days ago. Anyways, my name’s Jeffrey Drover…well, Jeff.”

“Yes, I do remember you, Jeff,” Olivia said, waving and snapping her fingers to get Elliot’s attention. “What can I do for you?”

“Oh, well, I just got home and checked my messages and I saw that my boss called. Apparently, you were looking for me and had some questions for me…I assume about Connor.”

“Yes,” Olivia said. “We do have a couple questions for you. Can you come down to our precinct or would like for us to come get you?”

“Oh, well…uh,” Drover said. “I can just go over there. It shouldn’t be a problem. I don’t know where it is, though. Could you, uh, give me the address?”

Olivia gave Drover the address and Elliot clapped his hands together once she got off the phone.

“Got him!” Elliot said. “He’s coming here. Couldn’t be anymore perfect than that.”

Olivia nodded, but simply stared at her computer monitor.

“What?” Elliot said, noticing her expression. “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t like it,” Olivia said.

“What’s not to like? I thought we’d have to issue a city-wide manhunt to track him down and he’s coming here, willingly.”

“Well, I mean, honestly, how many killers would willing come up here if they were actually guilty? How many child molesters can you think of would call the police to see if we had questions?”

Elliot shrugged. “Maybe he thinks he’s got us beat. Maybe he wants to try to rub our faces in it. Most of these guys are confident bastards.”

She shook her head. “You didn’t hear him, Elliot. There was no confidence in his voice at all. He sounds like a guy who just found the body of a kid he used to coach. He still doesn’t strike me as a child molester.”

“Well,” Elliot said. “Maybe it’s like you said earlier. Maybe he’s not a pedophile at all. Maybe he’s just a freak who’s got Mommy issues or something.”

“I still don’t know.”

“Trust me, Liv. He’s good for it.”




SVU Squad room



Jeffrey Drover sat in the dimly lit interrogation room, wearing dark denim jeans and a North Face fleece pullover. His foot tapped nervously and he continuously glanced about the room expecting someone to enter the door behind him.

Through the large two-way mirror that ran across the interrogation room, Elliot and Olivia had watched Drover move about the room for close to two hours. Olivia had ushered him into the room and had told him that they would be in to talk to him in “just a minute.” Since then, Drover had stood up, sat down at the table in the room, looked out the room’s one small, grimy window, sat back down, paced around the room and had taken to tapping his feet while seated. There was no real reason in keeping him waiting; it was just an unwritten rule to see how much the suspect in question would squirm while waiting for detectives.

“How long’s he been waiting?” Cragen said inside in the small room just behind the two-way mirror.

“‘Bout two hours,” Elliot said.

Cragen nodded. “Let him stay another half hour. Then, go in there.”

Olivia gave Cragen and Elliot a slight smirk and walked into the room.

“Hey, look,” Drover said, the moment the door opened. “How long’s this gonna take? You know I’ve got things to do. I thought you said you just had a couple of questions for me.”

“We do,” Olivia said calmly. “I just need to wait for my partner because we have to ask you together.”

“There’s no way you can just do it,” Drover said. “I mean, I trust you. I know you’re not gonna twist my words or anything.”

“It’ll be just a minute more,” Olivia said and she walked out of the room, giving him a wink on her way.

Close to three hours after he entered the precinct, Elliot and Olivia walked into the interrogation room together to question Drover. Elliot sat down at the table across from Drover, spread out several manila folders and papers on the table and began sifting through them. Olivia took the seat in the corner of the room just behind Drover.

“Look,” Drover said after a moment of Elliot’s sifting. “You’ve kept me here three hours. What’s going on?”

“We’re just going to have a little chat here,” Elliot said, a smug, little smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. 

“Little chat?” Drover said, eyes wide. He glanced back at Olivia. “What’s he talking about?”

“We just need a little info from you,” Elliot continued.

“Look, I don’t even know what I’m doing here.”

Elliot just nodded. “Now, we hear that you used to date a Veronica Schrader. Is that correct?”

Drover squinted at Elliot, confused for a moment. “Um, yeah. Veronica. But that was years ago though. And besides, she was a crackhead who deserved to have her kid take away. But, what does she have to do with this? Did she say I did something to her, ‘cause I haven’t seen her in at least a year.”

“What about her son?” Elliot said. “Ricky. When was the last time you saw him?”

Drover’s expression softened and he stared at the table. “About a year, too. I hoped that maybe with a male influence around he could turn out okay after all.”

“A male influence?”

“Yeah, I mean it was just him and Veronica and she was a junkie.”

“Why’d you date her if she was a junkie?”

“Well, I didn’t know what was wrong with her at first.”

“But, you liked Ricky?”

“Yeah…I mean he’s a great kid. I took him places, you know. Baseball games, hockey games. I even landed some Knicks tickets once. He really loved it. But…you know, I was just trying to do whatever I could to get him out of that house.”

“Out of that house, so you could hurt him?” Elliot said flatly.

Drover’s eyes grow wide. “What? I didn’t hurt Ricky! I could never hurt him!”

“But you wanted him away from his mother?”

“Have you met Veronica? I when I first started dating her, she seemed fine, but then she starts shooting up right in front of her kid. He was just ten years old. No kid needs to see that.”

“And you were trying to do the honorable thing by getting him away from his mother?”

“Like I said, Ricky’s a good kid. I just made sure that he knew getting high wasn’t the purpose of life.”

“And what is?” Elliot said.

“I don’t know,” Drover said with a shrug. “When I’d take him to games or the park to kick a few balls to him, I’d tell him that doing all the things his mother did wasn’t good for him. That if he ever wanted to get anywhere in life, he’d have to stay away from drugs and stuff.”

“And stay away from his mother?”

“Look, why do you keep putting words in my mouth?” Drover yelled. “I didn’t do anything to pull Ricky from his mother. I was trying to help her get cleaned up, but she just wouldn’t, so I could only tell Ricky what to do.”

“Tell him what to do when you molested him.”

“No! I would never do that! I never hurt Ricky! What kind of sick freak do you take me for?”

“Oh, you don’t want me to answer that,” Elliot said, his voice deep and menacing, almost urging Drover to make an errant move on the other side of the table. “We all know just what kind of sick freak you are. We know exactly what you did to Ricky Schrader. How you raped and strangled him.”

“What? Ricky’s dead?”

“You didn’t know?” Olivia asked through furrowed eyebrows.

“No?” Drover said staring at her bewildered.

“How could you not know?” Elliot said fiercely. “It was on every news station. Every newspaper!”

“I’ve been out of it…b-because of Connor. I didn’t know that Ricky was dead. What happened to him?”

“You oughta’ know, Drover,” Elliot said. “We found him right where you left him.”

“Huh? What, are you kidding me? What the hell is all this about?”

Olivia tossed the stack of photos she was holding in front of Drover so that they slid and spread apart perfectly in front of him.

Wha…what is this?” Drover said, his face displaying disgust.

“It’s what you did, Jeff,” Olivia said. “It’s what you did to those boys.”

“What? This…this is some kind of sick joke. I didn’t kill anyone.”

Elliot leaned over the desk, pulled out a photo from Connor Whickfield’s crime scene and held it up for Drover to see.

“You did this to a thirteen-year-old boy.”

Drover shook his head. “I could…I could never hurt Connor,” he whispered. “I…he was one of my kids. I could never…I looked after him and all the other boys on the teams I coached and trained.”

“And that’s what we don’t like, Drover,” Elliot said leaning closer to him. “You have all those boys at your fingertips. You like them, don’t you? You like coaching them first as ten-year-olds because you gain their trust early on and when they’re at that perfect age…it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.”

Drover made a gagging sound and covered his mouth. “You…You’re sick man!” Tears began to shine in his eyes. “This is crazy! I didn’t kill anybody! I didn’t hurt anybody! I coach kids so…so maybe they have somebody else to look up to besides football players and rap stars.”

“And you like that they look up to you,” Elliot said softly. “All of them.”

Drover nodded and a single tear fell over the brim of his eye and made the quick path down the side of his face.

“You like to include everyone, too,” Elliot continued.

“It’s not just the rich kids who should get the opportunities,” Drover said, nodding again. “Everybody should have the chance to succeed. Everyone should get some kind of role model.”

“You’re a real equal opportunity kind of guy.”

“Yeah,” Drover said, not quite trusting Elliot’s tone. “I guess so.”

“So,” Elliot said, pulling another photo out of the array. “Is that why you strangled Daniel Richardson on Martin Luther King Day? Every boy has the equal opportunity to be raped by you?”

“No!” Drover screamed and pounded his hands on the table. “I didn’t…I didn’t…I couldn’t rape a kid. Anyone! I…I didn’t do it…”

“We have someone who can place you at our latest crime scene.”

“No.” Drover began to tremble. “This is crazy. I didn’t do anything. This has got to be some kind of mix up. I mean…you must have the wrong guy.”

“That’s the best excuse you can come with?” Elliot said with a laugh. “That we have the wrong guy?”

“But you do! You have the wrong guy!”

“A guy who just happened to find one of the victims and the one guy who used to take one of the victims on Saturday little outings while he was bouncing his mother on the side. The one guy who connects every single one of the four victims we’ve seen, and I bet if we do a little digging, we might find some deep connections with this last victim too.”

“No,” Drover said through a gasp of tears.

“Sure, we would. I bet you’ve had your eye on each and every one of them. And then you waited. Waited until they were the perfect age for you and then you took them.”

“No,” Drover said again, his voice cracking.

“You took them, and when they fought back, you strangled them. With your own goddamn belt.”

LOOK!” he yelled, slamming his hands on the table. “Fingerprint me, drug test me, DNA me, put me in a line-up, whatever! I’ll take a polygraph test even. I’m telling you. I didn’t do anything!”

Silence fell upon the room, altered only by Drover’s ragged breathing as he glanced, in a panic, back and forth between Olivia and Elliot.

Olivia stood to leave the room and Elliot gathered up all the photos on the table and followed her.

“I’m not sure he’s the guy,” a voice said once they exited the interrogation room.

“Come on, Doc,” Elliot said. “You’re kidding. He’s already said he knew two of the kids and liked them.”

Dr. George Huang stood a little straighter in the small, darkened room before responding. An agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a psychologist assigned to work with Manhattan’s Special Victims Unit, the Chinese man had seen his fair share of pedophiles, murderers and run-of-the-mill criminal masterminds. The detectives called on his expertise when cases ran outside of the general rapist and child molester operatives.

“He’s giving up this information a little too readily,” George said in a calm, soft voice. “Even if he was putting on a show, this is not the version of himself he’d want to show. He’d want to show himself as the gallant hero; the great lover of children.”

“Isn’t that what he’s doing?” Elliot said. “By bursting into tears at the sight of those photos?”

“I think that’s just a natural reaction,” George said. “Especially if he was actually close to those kids.

“Or, he’s just well-rehearsed.”

“Sorry, but he’s not setting off any alarms. Not as a murderer, anyway. He definitely needs therapy to help him cope with what he probably saw that night, but he doesn’t give off anything resembling a killer.”

“He knows we’re onto him,” Elliot said. “He’s just saying and doing anything he can think of to make us turn down the heat.”

“Let’s get him in a line-up first,” Cragen said, leaving the room. “Contact Helena Sims. If Carly Sims can make the ID, we can ‘cuff him, process him and run his prints and DNA against what we’ve got on the past victims.”




“Okay, Carly,” Olivia said, taking the little girl by the hand. “See this big mirror right here in front of us?”


“You can’t see anything, but your reflection in it, can you?”


“So, if you can’t see anything through it, then no one who stands in this room can see anything through it either. Okay?”

Carly squeezed Olivia’s hand in reply and nodded.

Olivia walked her back to the other side of the glass where Elliot, Cragen and Carly’s mother stood against the back wall. She lifted Carly and stood her on a small crate so she could see outside the window.

“So, this is the same mirror we just saw. We can see out, but no one in there can see us.”

Carly nodded again and put her hand against the glass.

“So,” Olivia said, while Carly stared out the window. “What’s going to happen, is five men are going to walk out of that door over there, and all I need you to do is tell me if you’ve seen any of them before and where you’ve seen them.”

“That’s it?” Carly said, brown eyes gleaming up at Olivia.

“That’s it,” she said smiling. “It’s really easy and I know you’ll do fine.”

“Okay,” Carly said, returning Olivia’s smile with one of her own.

Olivia turned to the uniformed officer who stood at the doorway. “Send them in.”

One by one, dark-haired men filed into the room, stood stony-faced and each holding a number.

Carly,” Olivia said. “Have you seen any of these men before?”

Carly stared at each of the face. “Um…I don’t know.”

“Look at each one carefully, Carly. Is there anyone you think you might’ve seen before?”

“They all look alike. I can’t tell them apart.”

“It’s okay, just try and see if there’s anyone who looks familiar to you. Anyone who looks like the person you saw dropping the box by the dumpster.”

“It was dark outside then.”

“Just try real hard, okay?”

Carly nodded.

“Do you see anyone you’ve seen before?” Olivia asked again.

“Um…I think so.”

“Okay, sweetie. Can you tell me what number he’s holding?”

Carly squinted at each of the men behind the glass again. “Number…Three? Is that right?”

“Are you sure it was Number Three?”

Carly looked nervously back at her mother and then back at the men behind the mirror. “Um…I think so. Yes…yeah, I’m pretty sure he is Number Three. Well…maybe Number…no-no…it was Number Three.”

She stared back at Olivia. “Did I do it right?”

Olivia glanced at her captain and Elliot with raised eyebrows, but smiled at Carly. “You did great, Carly.”

Carly smiled brightly, jumped off the crate and into the open arms of her mother.

Cragen sighed the moment they left and District Attorney Casey Novak entered the room a moment later.

Casey’s youthful face beheld wise, experienced blue eyes against pale skin and long, strawberry blonde hair. At close to ten o’clock at night, she was still dressed in the suit and heels that were the near uniform of district attorneys, but she showed no signs of fatigue. Disappointment registered on her face as Mrs. Sims and Carly left the room and she wished, not for the first time, that she worked simple homicides instead of cases that continuously dealt with rapists and children.

“Well,” Cragen said. “Drover already consented for us to run his DNA.”

“But, this doesn’t help any,” Casey said. “And the second his attorney learns that the ID was wrong-”

“He’s not asking for a lawyer,” Elliot said. “He’s not even in the system yet. I say we push him a little longer. We tell him that the witness picked him out and see what he has to say.”

“He hasn’t given up anything yet, though,” Olivia said. “You reduced him to tears and he still hasn’t said anything except that he didn’t do it.”

“He still thinks he’s got us beat.”

“And I’m beginning to think he’s not the guy.”

Elliot scoffed. “You’re kidding. Because the little girl couldn’t make the ID? You heard her. She said it was dark. It doesn’t mean Drover’s not the guy.”

“But combined with what Huang says about him, Elliot…” Cragen’s voice trailed off in the end.

Elliot glared back and forth between Olivia, Cragen and Casey. “He’s the guy.”

He brushed past Casey and headed back toward the interrogation room, where Drover had been brought after the line-up.

“He’s really got it in for this guy, hasn’t he?” Casey said.

Olivia shrugged. “The thing is, it’s like every time we try to take a step closer to Drover, the more it looks like he’s clean.”

“Well, let me know if he bites,” Casey said and walked out of the small room.

Cragen and Olivia stared at one another for a moment, each taking stock of the situation. Munch and Fin had returned from the Scheibley residence hours earlier with the information that Manny had indeed played soccer in the same league as three of the other four victims and his brother mentioned seeing Manny speaking to someone in a black SUV prior to his disappearance. The link between the soccer complex and Drover was well defined, but unless they had hard evidence placing him not just with the victims, but also as their killer, they would not have a case.

Elliot stepped into Drover’s interrogation room and simply stood in the corner of the room.

Drover stared at him expectantly. “Well?”

Elliot only continued to stare at him, silently weighing the options of lying to Drover to get him to confess. He had done it previously, as he and Olivia gave stunning performances in front of suspects to get them to freely confess their crimes. At times, their actions put them under fire with Casey when defense attorneys claimed that their antics pulled unwilling confessions out of suspects, but in the end, the slight twisting of the truth was always justified.

“So, you’re not going to tell me anything?” Drover asked.

“We’ve got a real problem here, Drover,” Elliot said smugly, still leaning against the wall.

“What?” Drover said, eyes wide.

“Our witness just picked you out of a line-up.”

“How? I didn’t do anything?”

“Our witness saw you dumping the body of Manny Scheibley this morning. Manny Scheibley…Does that name ring a bell?”

Drover’s breathing became ragged. “This is not happening. This is not happening!”

“Well, the name should ring a bell since he was just another kid who happened to play in the same league that you coach for. In fact, his team played against the team you train just last week.”

“I can’t believe this. I can’t believe this…I didn’t do anything. Maybe…well, there aren’t that many soccer leagues in the city, right?”

“Okay?” Elliot said raising an eyebrow.

“So…so maybe this guy just chose the one that I coach or something. But, I swear to God, I didn’t do anything. I wouldn’t.”

“Right, ‘cause you loved them all, didn’t you?”

“What? I…I don’t know. They were kids, and I cared about the ones I coached like anybody cares for their kids. I was the one they came to when they couldn’t go to their parents. They trust me.”

“And you used this trust so that you could molest them later.”

“No! I never did that! I never touched anyone! I never killed anyone!”

“Our witness says otherwise. Our witness says that you dropped off the box carrying Manny Scheibley’s lifeless body into that alley and then drove off…Drover.”

Drover stood and backed away from Elliot all the way to other side of the room. “This has got to be a dream or something. I can’t believe it.” He crouched down to the floor. “This is…this…this is not happening. This is not happening.”

Elliot, still against the wall, glared at Drover’s crouched and crying body for a moment more before leaving the room completely disgusted.

“Now what?” Olivia said once Elliot entered the side room.

“He’ll crack eventually,” Elliot said.

“El, you reduced to him to crying in near fetal position. He’s already cracked.”

“I still say it’s a show.”

“And I say,” Cragen interrupted, “we let him sit there until we get the results on his prints and his DNA. Unless…Doc, you want to take a crack at him?”

George sighed. “I could, but I’m not sure how far I could get with him. Especially while he’s this distressed.”

“Well, maybe we’ve been going at him the wrong way. Maybe you could get him to open up a little more. At least keep him coherent long enough to see if he had any relation to any of the other boys.” He glared at Elliot, who quickly walked out of the room and headed toward his desk.

George nodded at Cragen and walked into the interrogation room, where Drover still sat. He had stopped crying, but his breathing was still deep and haggard.

“Jeffrey,” George said. “My name is Dr. George Huang. I’d like to talk to you if that’s all right.”

Drover scoffed, but picked himself off the floor and returned to the chair at the desk.

“Are you here to tell me how I did something I know I didn’t do, Doctor?”

“I just want to talk,” George said.

“Sure, you and that other cop. You say you just want to have a little conversation, but what you really mean is that you want to accuse me of doing something I didn’t do.”

“I’m actually not a detective, I’m a-”

“A doctor,” Drover interrupted. “Yeah, I got it. A psychiatrist, right?”


“So, you’re here to get in my head and figure out why I did what you say I did. Well, you might as well leave too, because like I told that cop who was just in here: I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“You keep saying that, but are you sure you understand what you’re saying you didn’t do?”

“You people think I killed kids I know!”

“I thought you didn’t know all of them?”

Drover sighed. “I don’t. I didn’t. But, I still didn’t do anything to ones I did know. I was just trying to be a role model to kids like Ricky. It’s like anytime a guy tries to do the right thing, you all jump to some stupid conclusions. I know you all deal with the worst scum of society everyday and that’s why you’ve all come to expect the worst from people. But, I’m telling you, I never hurt anyone. I’m not capable of hurting someone, especially some kids I used to coach.”

“Are you aware that you deny hurting anyone?”

“That’s because I haven’t.”

“Have you done anything that maybe didn’t specifically hurt anyone, but might be construed differently by someone outside of the situation?”

Drover shook his head. “Look. I’m going to tell you again. You and anyone else who might be hiding behind that mirror! I’ll tell you all night if I have to. I did not hurt those kids. I never touched them and I never even looked at them funny! That…that detective showed me pictures of boys…dead little kids and he said that I did it. There’s just no way. And, I don’t know where you found this eyewitness who picked me out of the line-up, but they could’ve seen me anywhere. Especially if this guy’s picking out kids from my league. I didn’t do anything. I swear. I swear on my father’s life. I didn’t do anything to anybody.”

George sat silent, studying Drover’s reactions and Drover continued. “I’m telling you, I didn’t do anything. This…this is just some kind of mix up. Some kind of bad dream. And, I think…yeah, I think it’s time to leave now.”

Drover stood and George stood with him.

“Well, you’re not under arrest, but I’d like to advise you against leaving just now.”

What, are you a lawyer now, too?”

“No, but there is substantial evidence building against you, and your leaving just now won’t look very good.”

“Well, you know what?” Drover said, crossing his arms over his chest. “I don’t care how it looks. I’ve been here for hours now, while that cop comes in here, showing me pictures and saying that I did something I know I didn’t do. I’ve been more than cooperative. I’ve stood in your stupid line-up to clear my name and everything and now, I’m tired. I’ve got work in the morning and I have to at least try to get some sleep before I have to face the day.”

Drover stepped passed George and toward door, but Olivia headed him off as he exited the room.

“You said you were willing to take a DNA test to rule you out as a suspect. Are you really leaving now?”

Drover laughed at her. “Your guy just said that somebody ID’d me. Why should I believe that you’ll stop coming after me if I give you DNA?”

“Well,” Olivia said softly. “DNA evidence is far more reliable than an eyewitness. If you’re not a match to the DNA we already have on file, then you don’t have anything to worry about.”

He rolled his eyes at her and shook his head. “I didn’t do anything and that other detective said somebody saw me. Somebody pointed me out. What’s to stop one of your people from doctoring up my DNA, so it looks like I’m your guy?”

Olivia stood silent for a moment, beginning to pity the man before her. His dark hair was standing on end in places from his hands nervously running through it and the whites of his grey eyes were pink from his previous tears. She stared up at him, weighing the pros and cons of what she was about to say and just how big of a fallout the consequence would have.

“Look…Jeff,” she said, taking a step toward him. “I want to believe you. I want to believe that you’re telling the truth when you say you didn’t do anything. And the thing is…you might have misunderstood what Detective Stabler said about the eyewitness.”

“Meaning what?” Drover said. “You mean he lied? Oh, that’s just great. No one picked me out?”

“Either way,” Olivia continued, “the best thing you can do for yourself is letting us take your DNA. If you’re telling the truth, you won’t match anything and you won’t have anything to worry about.”

Drover stared at her for a full minute before sighing and nodding his head.

“Okay,” he whispered. “Okay. Where do I have to go? What do I have to do?”




The hour was closing in on two in the morning and Olivia yawned as she typed at her computer. She glanced across her desk at Elliot, whose brown stubble that had appeared on his face gave him the additional look of general ruggedness and fatigue that his eyes could not portray. He had been going through several files of their other open cases and the fact that they had been waiting for Melinda’s results on Drover for close to four hours gave him the appearance of increased frustration.

Cragen had instructed the both of them to go home, as they could get Drover’s results in the morning, and even though they had both agreed to do so, both remained well into the midnight hours.

“Elliot, go home,” Olivia said as she continued to write her own documentation on what had occurred with Drover that night.

“You go home,” he said, playfully. “You’ve been here longer than me.”

She smiled. “Touché. But, you’re the one who actually told the Cap that you were heading out the door.”

“You said so too.”

“No, I just nodded.”

“Nodded that you were out the door, too.”

“I just nodded. That nod could’ve been about anything. It was a while ago. It could’ve been about something on my screen or maybe some voice in my head. I can’t remember.”

He laughed, but then sighed and tossed the stack of papers in his hand on his desk.

“She’s rushing it,” Olivia said returning to her own notes.

“We shouldn’t’ve let him go,” Elliot said running his hands over his head.

“We had nothing on him,” she said. “We couldn’t keep him.”

“We had enough to bring him in.”

“But, not enough to arrest him, so we had to let him go.”

“I know, I know, but if we find another kid, when we had him right here…”

“Well, he wouldn’t pull anything tonight knowing that we’re looking at him. And, if Warner calls telling us he’s a match, I’ll be right behind you on our way to cuffing his ass.”

Elliot smirked and nodded and he allowed his eyes to close halfway for a moment as he sighed again. Olivia caught another glance at her partner and could not help but notice how his long eyelashes highlighted his clear, blue eyes. Her eyes followed the lines of his jawbone and down his neck to his chest, where pectoral muscles could just be distinguished before she caught herself. She felt a girlish flutter in her stomach and immediately returned her attention on her notes, forgetting momentarily what she had wanted to write.

She mentally scolded herself for allowing that to happen as she had managed to keep those thoughts at bay for quite some time. However, as things happened, the moment she let down her guard, the urge to stare longingly at her partner would rear its ugly head.

Still tense over her indulgence, Olivia jumped when the telephone on her desk rang. Elliot snickered at her, not knowing why she had jumped, and she answered the phone quickly.


“Olivia?” Melinda said from the other end. “It’s Melinda. I figured you’d still be in. Hate to tell you this, but Drover’s not your guy.”

“What?” Olivia moaned. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Sorry,” she said. “He’s not even close.”

Elliot heard Olivia’s answer and insisted the phone from her. “His prints weren’t even a match? Nothing?”

“Sorry, Elliot. His prints don’t match either. I was hoping I could bring you two some good news this late, but he’s not your man.”

“Damn it,” Elliot said. “Okay…thanks, Melinda. Get some sleep.”

“You too.”

Elliot sighed as he hung up the phone. “I can’t even believe it. Just can’t believe it.”

Olivia saved the file on her computer and rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Well, I guess we start back from the beginning. I think we were on to something with the black SUV and also with the fact that all the boys were found in or around a few blocks of Tompkins Square.”

“That sonovabitch,” Elliot whispered.

“Look,” Olivia said, gathering her things. “This isn’t the end of it. We’ll find the guy responsible. It’s just not Drover.”

“Can’t even believe it,” he continued. “How could he not match?”

Elliot. It’s not him. Let it go.”

“I just can’t believe it. He was the connection to all the kids. He was the one. I knew it.”

“It’s not him,” Olivia repeated. “But, we’ll find the guy, okay?”

Elliot gathered up his coat and stared at his desk for a moment, eyebrows furrowed and shaking his head. “I can’t believe it.”

 He brushed past Olivia muttering on his way out of the squad room. He did not wait for her by the elevators and Olivia felt very exposed in the office that suddenly seemed quite large and oppressive.

She called for a cab and twenty minutes later she was walking out of the “all-night” corner store down the block from her apartment building. She was hungry having only eaten an apple and drunk countless cups coffee and instead of ordering something, she bought a frozen pizza instead.

On her way out of the store, she literally ran into a man several years younger and a few inches shorter than her, as her mind was completely focused on Elliot and the fact that Drover seemed completely innocent.

The tourist bounced backwards from her, looking startled and dropped the small camera he had held in his hands.

“Oh, God,” she said, stooping down to pick it. “I’m so sorry. I hope I didn’t break it.”

The man, who looked barely older than twenty appeared to be either frightened that she had run into him or overwhelmed by the possibility that his camera had probably crashed beyond repair. “It-it’s okay. I’m sure it’s fine.”

She handed it to him. “I’m really sorry.”

“Don’t-don’t worry about it,” he said and ran into the store quickly.

She sighed at the sight of him running away from her and wondered vaguely why it seemed that all men, even tourists, seemed to do the very same thing to her all the time.

When she entered her apartment, she listened to her messages: one from Maya asking, in jest, if she could make plans now to see a movie with Olivia some time in July, one wrong number yelling for someone named Hal, one hang up and one from Mrs. Fitzgivens asking if Olivia would consider having dinner with her son when she had a free night. Olivia laughed out loud at the thought of spending any free time she might have with the lanky Philip Fitzgivens and heated her oven for the pizza.

A wave of depression came over her as she leaned next to the stove. She was lonely and wished more than she had in a long while that she had a brother or sister she could talk to in hopes of raising her mood, even at two o’clock in the morning. While Maya’s family had been an almost surrogate to Olivia as she was growing up, Maya could not always be called on to relay a day of disappointment and “what-the-hell-was-that?” moments.

The moments had become few and far between since she had started dating Jonathan, but it was no secret as to what began the sudden slump. There were always murderers and child molesters and child-molesting murders as there were always rapists who were trying to create their own race of people and loons who collected penises as a hobby. The job, however difficult, never threw her into a spiral; spirals that nearly always coincided with her and Elliot parting on bad terms.

She knew that Elliot’s departure from the squad room that night was augmented by learning that their prime suspect was innocent, but the fact that he simply left the precinct without the thought of giving her a ride home or even a wave “good night” gave her a bad feeling that unsettled her stomach. The night previous, she left him because she was annoyed specifically with him. Tonight, he left her without even thinking about her. Often times, she found it amusing that she craved Elliot’s attention more often than that of the man she was dating, but the fact remained that she did.

Olivia pursed her lips as she glanced at the telephone that hung on her wall. She could call Jonathan, but considering that he was the one who had acted like a complete jerk, he should be the one to call. Their present tiff notwithstanding, Jonathan was normally an upstanding guy; someone she could possibly see herself marrying somewhere in the future. The thought had often crossed her mind, however, that Elliot was exactly the type of man with whom she imagined herself making a family and growing old. Determined, strong and bright, she could talk to him about anything, even though she chose not to do so, and physically, she knew where her mind stood the moment she had met him.

Deep down, she half hated Kathy for even considering leaving Elliot let alone, actually divorcing him and taking his children away from him. A few weeks earlier, Kathy had come to Olivia pleading for her to convince Elliot to sign their divorce papers. She had said she would consider it, but in reality she wanted to slap her.

As the frozen pizza’s crust began to rise in her oven, she considered calling Jillian or Sarah, but decided against it. She did not want to add the guilt of waking her friends, their husbands or their children to her descending depression.

Her leg quivered beneath her as she stood and she slowly paced the kitchen to keep it from falling asleep. She racked her brain for a friend, someone, she could talk to at that moment: Jillian, no, Sarah, no, Jonathan, being an ass, Maya, being a flake, Elliot, too angry to touch. The list continued as she pulled the pizza out of her oven: Adam was probably fighting with his girlfriend and her neighbor down the hall, Sam was up at all hours of the night, but was most likely busy making his “sculptures”…

When did I start losing people? she thought as she moved the small pizza to a ceramic plate. As she considered knocking on Mark’s door to share her pizza, the date with Mrs. Fitzgivens’ son was starting to look like a good offer, especially if he was willing to lay awake late at night to listen to her gripes about the world.

Allowing tomatoes, cheese and grease to pass her pallet, she took to flipping through the television channels as she waited for fatigue to finally overtake her. Eventually, they would find the person responsible for murdering these boys, eventually, relations between her and Elliot would be better and eventually, she and Jonathan would make up and she could fall into his arms at night instead of falling into a light depression.

Her pizza only half-touched and hoping that her heavy sigh into her pillows was just her cycle beginning to plague her, Olivia wrapped herself in the large afghan crocheted by Maya’s mother before she went off to college and fell asleep on her couch.




The faded red gloves on Elliot’s hands came into constant contact with the large, worn punching bag. Beaded sweat dripped down his neck and caused his sleeveless shirt to cling to him at the neck cuff. His only thoughts were on Jeffrey Drover.

Drover was the guy. Punch, Punch, Hit. How could his DNA not match? Hit, Punch, Kick. He was the sole connection between all the boys. Slap, Punch, Punch. He’s putting on a show. Punch, Hit, Punch. The bastard’s going to get away with this.

Elliot eased off the punching bag with that last thought. His mind swirled with hundreds of past cases where murderers nearly got away on sheer cunning and he did not put Drover past such. He and Olivia had seen criminals manage to evade immediate capture by inserting vials of other person’s blood into their arms or even allowing their DNA to be taken knowing that medical procedures had changed the cells their bone marrow produced. Drover was just the same as the others; it was just a matter of figuring out what he did.

He used the small towel near his bottle of water to wipe down his face as he looked around the nearly empty room. The only other person in the weight room was a man who was doing bicep curls with forty-pound weights in the far corner smirking at himself in the mirror.

Elliot suppressed as sigh as he wished for someone, a bartender, a priest, anyone, on whom he could bounce some of his ideas about Drover. Years ago, when a man like Drover came through his caseload, he would get up in the middle of the night, check on his children, gaze at his wife and most of his troubled thoughts would melt from mind. When things were really bad, he might even accidentally on purpose wake Kathy, who would rub his back and tell him that everything would be okay.

Now, things were different, and all he could do was attempt to pound out the thoughts at an all-night gym. At three in the morning, however, there few people around with whom he could even share complaints, let alone tell him he would get the person responsible for the murders.

The thought had occurred to him to call Olivia, but he decided against it. He figured she was probably having a great time that night with her rich boyfriend and he did not want to interrupt anything. The issue was, though, she would have been the perfect person he could swap ideas with on Drover, no matter how crazy they sounded.

“It’s not fair,” he mumbled aloud.

What isn’t?, he thought to himself. Drover or Olivia?

He shook his head and picked up his boxing gloves. In either circumstance, he hated the thought of Drover walking free and he hated Olivia was dating a total j–

Elliot gasped as he quickly reached for his phone. He said “Liv” into his phone and the autodial rang her number a moment later.

Hel-lo…?” she answered in a rough, sleepy voice.

“Hey,” he said, feeling guilty. She had obviously been in a deep sleep, as she had not even answered her phone with her last name. “I just now realized I was probably going to wake you up.”

S’ok,” she yawned and Elliot could hear another voice through the phone.

He tensed to the point that he nearly dropped the phone. He was so quick to call her he had not again considered if Olivia was even alone. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

“No,” she said and he could hear her rustling blankets over the phone. “That’s an infomercial announcing a cure for obesity. I’m actually just wrapped up in my blanket in front of the TV. In fact, if you hadn’t called, I probably would’ve slept here for the rest of the night and woken up tomorrow with deep pillow creases in my face and unable to use my left arm.”

Elliot laughed. “What’s up?” she continued.

“Oh, I…uh…just wanted to apologize for just ditching you tonight.” He left out the fact that he called to make sure she got home all right. They both knew that it was the reason he ended up driving her home most nights, but she still did not like it when he admitted it.

“You’re fine,” she said. “I know you were just upset about Drover. It’s not like I was sitting here worrying you don’t like me anymore.”

Elliot laughed again. “I know I just wanted you to know that I felt bad about at least.”

“It’s no problem,” she said with a yawn. “We’ll find the guy, Elliot.”

He shook his head. “I still just can’t believe it. What if he’s doing something to pull one over on us?”

“You saw him in the interrogation room. He’s not criminal mastermind material.”

“He was the connection, Liv. I was so sure.”

“Hey, I thought he was the one, too. It wasn’t just you.”

“He looked good for it.”

“I thought so…eventually.”

“But, you were right about him.”

“I wasn’t. I was on the bandwagon, too.”

“Yeah, but…”

“El,” she said. “Stop worrying about it tonight. Drover’s not the guy, but we’ll get the real one. It’ll be okay.”

“All right,” he said with a sigh and a smirk. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

“‘Kay. Bring those muffins again, ‘cause I know I’ll be dragging come eight o’clock.”

He laughed into the phone. “We’ll see. Get some sleep.”

“Good night.”

Having heard the words he needed to push Jeffrey Drover from his mind for the night, Elliot tossed his gloves into his bag and quickly left the gym before extreme fatigue overtook him.