Beckett arrives at the site to discover Castle already there. Lanie is examining the body in the crossbars. Ryan thinks that, taking into account the body’s frozen state, it had to have been kept close to the site. Castle disagrees: “It takes a long time for a body to thaw. Just like a turkey.”
Lanie has an ID, and we find that Melanie Cavanagh, the victim, was killed by blunt force trauma to the head. Melanie’s corpse was likely stored in a freezer. But the biggest revelation for us—she’s been missing for over five years!
[break] Castle and Beckett learn that Melanie had been a runaway bride, disappearing for weeks at a time. Her husband, Samuel, waited a day after her final disappearance before calling the police. He thought Melanie had simply run away.
Beckett and Castle decide to break the news to him, but arrive at his apartment to discover Samuel was murdered eight months before—he was robbed and shot outside a grocery store with a small caliber gun. The couple’s two kids, we’re told, are now living with Melanie’s parents in White Plains.
Our heroes travel to the White Plains home of Ben and Julie Davidson and break the bad news. They’re saddened but relieved. Even though Melanie had had a troubled past, they were sure she never would have left her kids voluntarily. Still, Ben remains angry that Samuel waited a whole day before reporting Melanie missing and laments that the detective covering the case, Clay Sloan, didn’t ask the right questions.
Beckett and Castle meet with Sloan, now a New Jersey Sheriff. He’s not surprised Melanie was found dead, considering her history of drug abuse. Also, he had reports of her in Philadelphia with a meth-head ex-boyfriend. But Beckett notes that the reports came from Samuel’s friend, Charles Wyler—hardly a partial observer. Sloan counters that he had no reason to doubt Wyler’s word.
[break] Esposito finds a homeless guy who claims that the previous night, he saw a heavy-set guy at the construction site pulling a large bag out of a dented yellow truck with “storage” written on its side. Esposito and Ryan search all the storage places on the Westside and found the one using yellow trucks.
Beckett and Castle head to the facility to talk to the owner, Albert Bolland. He readily admits to dumping the body, but claims he found it in one of his storage spaces after the renter stopped paying. He didn’t call the cops, fearing the body was a mob hit.
Bolland leads them to the unit, where they find a freezer containing remnants of the garment bag. Bolland claims a guy paid the rent every six months, in cash. The last payment had been made nine months ago—two months after Sam’s death.
At home, Alexis finds Castle staring pensively into his freezer, wondering why anyone would stash a dead body there. We hear Alexis tell him it’s because they were trying to hide it. So then why would they stop paying rent on the storage space? Alexis wonders if they stopped paying willingly or whether something stopped them.
[break] Beckett and Castle visit Sam’s best friend, Charles Wyler, who’s surprised to hear Melanie’s been found dead. He claims it was Sam who told him Melanie was in Philadelphia with her ex-boyfriend, Kevin Henson.
At the precinct, Beckett hands Montgomery a mug shot of Henson. It turns out he started serving a one-year jail term just after the last payment was made on the storage unit. Also, Henson had been on the outside when Sam got whacked. Coincidence, we wonder?
In a South Jersey jail, Beckett and Castle question Henson. He tells them Melanie did come to see him—but it was a month before her disappearance. She’d found out Sam was having an affair, so she wanted Henson to take her and the kids away and just vanish. Unable to make that commitment, he put her on a bus and sent her home.
Next Beckett and Castle revisit Wyler, who admits Sam was having an affair, but refuses to name the girlfriend. Ah-ha! It’s only after Beckett threatens to prosecute Wyler as an accessory that he folds. He was sleeping with Elizabeth Forte, a co-worker of Sam’s.
[break] Castle and Beckett question Elizabeth, who swears she broke it off with Sam six months later, after Sam started asking what she would do if Melanie were no longer in the picture. While looking at a photo of Sam and Melanie’s two daughters, Beckett ponders how Sam could have done the killing.
We watch as Beckett confides in Castle that she can’t crack the case, but feels Melanie’s family needs to know the facts. Castle suggests they try working backwards from the ending—if Melanie was home taking care of the kids that day and never left the apartment, then she must have been killed there. But how did Sam get her body to the storage facility without being noticed?
At Sam’s apartment, Castle and Beckett run through for us what may have happened the day of the killing: With their kids watching TV in the bedroom, Melanie and Sam have an argument in the kitchen; Sam bonks his wife on the head with a pan, fracturing her skull and killing her; then he hides the body in the hallway bathroom. Castle surmises Melanie must have already been in a freezer when Sam moved her from the apartment. A big, otherwise empty one?
[break] Castle and Beckett check the doorman’s ledger and find a signature for the one delivery made that day. They talk to the signer, Delores March, 70. Even though it was five years ago, Delores remembers the delivery well, because she never ordered a freezer. By the time she straightened things out with the doorman, the deliveryman had already come and gone. She told all this to the detective investigating the case.
Beckett and Castle visit the company listed on the delivery ledger, where they discover trucks identical to the ones at Charles Wyler’s store. Bingo!
We see Wyler sitting in the interrogation room, looking deflated. They’ve traced the rental of the delivery truck to him. So Wyler comes clean: Sam called him to the apartment that evening; there, he found Melanie in the tub, stuffed inside a body bag. Wyler agreed to help Sam with a cover-up because he felt bad for their two kids. So he rented the truck and the storage space, and made regular payments on Sam’s behalf.
[break] Castle next notices a telling omission in the original report: Detective Sloan didn’t list an interview with the elderly neighbor, Delores. They pay another visit to her, and she reveals to us that the detective spoke to her not five years ago, but last year. She remembers that he was older, wore plain clothes and walked with a limp.
Beckett and Castle sit inside Beckett’s unmarked car in front of the Davidson home and see Ben Davidson through the dining room window. Castle suggests they leave it be, but as she opens the car door, Beckett notes that, unlike a novelist, a cop doesn’t get to decide how a story ends. Good one!
[break] At the station, Ben admits that, upon interviewing Delores about the freezer, he came to the same conclusion they did: Sam killed Melanie. He decided not to go to the police because they didn’t have a body at the time, and he knew Sam’s defense lawyers would have put Melanie’s past on trial. While not admitting to Sam’s killing, Ben asks whether they could understand why any father might want to seek revenge.
Afterward, Beckett tells Castle that, when she was young, her mother had also been killed. The cops ruled it the result of gang violence, and just like in Melanie’s case, they never looked outside the box for a more complicated answer. Beckett’s father took it pretty hard, so Beckett wears her father’s watch to remind herself of the life she saved—and she wears her mother’s ring to remind herself of the life she lost.
In a touching moment, we see Beckett running through her morning routine at home in reverse, stashing her gun and badge, and putting away her father’s watch and mother’s ring inside the jewelry box.
Meanwhile, in the precinct record room, we’re startled to see Castle pull out a case file with the name “Johanna Beckett” on it. He sits at a table, opens it and starts to read it.