8 Years
Cold Case S03E11 8 Years.jpg

Season : 3
Episode: 11
Directed by: Mark Pellington
Written by: Meredith Stiehm
Production Number:
Airdate: 8 January 2006
Date of Crime: January 1988
Previous: Frank's Best
Next: Detention

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Four close high school friends each went their separate ways in 1980. Eight years later, in 1988, one of them was murdered. The homicide team receives a tip about the murder, prompting a re-investigation of the case and an examination of the friends' lives, hopes and dreams after high school.


June 6, 1980 - "No Surrender" by Bruce Springsteen plays. Two young couples are driving around Philadelphia, laughing, drinking and discussing how May Pierson (in the backseat with Petey) has plans to leave Philly for New York as soon as possible. She is going to be a singer. Clem Garris is driving and Sally is in the passenger seat. They have plans to have a future together in Philly. Clem and May exchange a secret glance in the rear-view mirror.

Eight years later an emergency vehicle approaches the dark street where May is sitting in the dark over the lifeless body of Clem. There is blood on May's face and the young man appears to have been shot in the chest.

A young John Stillman later places an evidence box labeled Garris, C - Jan '88 on the shelf.

Present day - (2006) An old classmate saw May working in a casino in Atlantic City last week. Valens and Vera are waiting to talk to her about Clem's shooting on the expressway in 1988. May was shot also, but she fled the scene without giving a statement about the event. She denied it was her, saying that was a lifetime ago. May is uncooperative but the detectives have a warrant for obstructing an investigation and take her in.

At the police station, Stillman's ex-wife Rita has just reported that her house got robbed and runs into John. She tells him that she has broken up with her husband Joe Hart due to his drinking.

Jeffries and Rush discuss the case. Clem was shot and killed and found on the shoulder of the highway with May Pierson, who was not his wife. May was shot in the arm and slipped out of the ER. Clem told his wife Sally he would be at a bar with male friends. If Sally knew of an affair, she would be their second suspect, after May.

Scotty and Nick interrogate May. She has a rap sheet which includes a DUI, loitering and solicitation. May states she wasn't involved with Clem and hadn't seen him in years. She ran into him in Atlantic City. He offered her a ride back to Philly. While driving, they were bumped from behind. He pulled over, got out and got shot.

Flashback - 1981 - May and Clem stand outside, looking on at a wedding. They chat. Petey is a college football star, Clem plans to marry Sally. May still plans to leave at 8:00am. May invites Clem to come to New York with her. Clem says he has to stay. They look longingly at each other and he says, "Bye, Mayflower" as she walks away.

Present - May says Clem had turned into just another disappointed working guy when she ran into him in Atlantic City. Lily meets up with Sally, who is working as a florist. Sally says Clem was not seeing May. Lilly tells her about a time she ran off with a guy she knew for two weeks. Sally says Clem and her never had any doubts.

Flashback - 1982 - Sally and Clem have just gotten married. She is pregnant and he vows to make her happy every day. A drunk Petey interrupts and states that Clem wants to be with his girl, May. Sally recals the car ride and the rear view mirror glance. Petey has been kicked out of Penn State and has lost May and everything he had. Clem and Sally get in their car and drive away from the wedding crowd.

Present - Sally states that Petey spent lots of time in Atlantic City. He could have run into May and Clem that night. He's in jail now.

Jeffries meets with Petey in prison. He had come home after failing at college ball and losing his scholarship. He apologized for the insults at the wedding. Eight years later he was thinking of someone else.

Flashback - 1985 - Sally, Petey and Clem are at a bar. There is a man at the bar that Petey knows. He tells Clem the man is someone Petey does favors for to make some cash. The group talks about high school. Petey compliments Sally and tells Clem how lucky he is. Sally leaves and Clem tells him that he and Sally are having marital problems. They were too young to get married and Sally cries every night.

Present - Petey tells Jefferies that things grew between him and Sally after that.

The detectives discuss the favors Petey did: breaking legs, stealing cars, "thug stuff." Clem didn't participate when Petey offered to cut him in.

Stillman's ex-wife comes in to talk to him. He tells her the police have caught the local punk who robbed her home, a kid that used to live down the road from them. He asks why she didn't come to him with everything? He invites her out and the two make a date.

At the floral shop, Sally, Valens and Rush discuss Sally's affair with Petey. It was a mistake, she says, but Clem had finally given up on the marriage.

Flashback - 1986 - Sally is waiting for Clem. She has set up for a romantic evening. He is out drinking. He comes in late and realizes it was Valentine's Day. He apologizes. They both realize the marriage is over. Sally doesn't want to be divorced but they both know they can't be together. They embrace.

Present - Sally explains that's when Petey came into the picture. It wasn't love. Pete wanted to be with Sally and Clem didn't. When May came back for her mother's funeral, Clem knew he could go see her.

Vera interrogates May. She again denies seeing Clem since high school. Vera tells he that he knows she was at the funeral. She finally admits to it. She says all the feelings rushed back.

Flashback - 1987 - She sees Clem at his car outside the funeral. Clem and May hug in front of the church. He offers to drive her to the reception. They talk on the drive over. Things did not go well in New York for her. She wants to skip the reception. They drive until night. She hasn't got a boyfriend. She has a lot of debts and has not been living right. Clem pulls over and he asks her to start over with him. They should have driven away years ago. They admit they love each other. She owes someone money. Clem knows someone who can help. They kiss.

Present - They thought they could pick up where they had left off. May tells Vera she met Clem in Atlantic City. He did a job. They left and he got shot. He said the job was a favor for a guy.

Valens investigated the man Petey did favors for. His name was Henry Mack. He had a ring of car thieves bringing cars from airports and casinos to a chop shop in Philadelphia. Mack was shot and killed in a casino parking lot the same night Clem was. Scotty thinks Petey knows something more about all of it.

Valens talks to Petey. Says Clem kept his nose clean. Petey says he's a thief, not a killer. He says Clem was the only one who was good to him when he came home a mess. Clem didn't want to be dirty, but it was his only way out.

Flashback - 1988 - Clem and Petey are stealing cars. Clem drives off in one and goes through everything in his mind. He thinks about his failed marriage and the happiness that could lie ahead. Clem tells Petey he's out. He's going to take the car he is stealing and forget about the money. Petey says Mack will be mad. Clem tells Pete to be good to Sally. He gets back in the car and drives off.

Present - Petey says he went off to get May. Valens realizes that May is still driving the '69 Chevy that Clem stole that night.

Jeffries and Vera talk to May in the interrogation room. The only person who knew where Clem was going that night was Petey. She says it wasn't Petey. It was some guy named Mack. They tell her it had to be two people because one had to drive the second car. They arrange for Petey to be brought in to talk with May

Petey and May greet each other with nicknames and a hug. Lily says that May has identified Mack from a photo spread as the shooter. They know he was one of the guys at the scene. but who was with him and who killed him later that night? The two try to catch up. He asks if she ever became a singer. She says she is just a cocktail waitress. Lily says May stated you two made a promise when Clem died. May says she will keep the promise. Pete says no, it's over for him but she can still have a good life. She says Clem and Petey found trouble, all because of her.

Flashback - May is waiting for Clem. Petey is getting beat up by Mack's underlings while Clem is driving to meet May at a motel. May and Clem embrace and leave in the Chevy. They are rammed from behind. Clem pulls over and gets out. Mack and Petey exit the car in the back an Mack shoots the couple after yelling, "You think you can steal from me?"

Mack demands Petey take the Chevy.

"You gave him up?," May cries to Petey.

Petey exclaims, "He was gonna kill me." Mack and Petey drive away in the 2 cars, leaving May and Clem bleeding on the side of the road. Later that night, Petey shoots Mack in front of a casino. He then drives the Chevy to May's motel. She has already left the hospital, as she has her arm in a sling. They meet outside and embrace. She leaves in the car.

Present - Petey is arrested but seems relieved to have the weight off his shoulders. Sally gives Lilly a bouquet of flowers. Stillman goes on the date with Rita. Lily flips through pictures of her motorcycle guy. May returns to the casino and says goodbye to Clem as she imagines him driving away.

*Every song in this episode is performed by Bruce Springsteen


Main Cast

Guest Cast



  • The production team later revealed that this was a rare case of the script being written around the music, instead of the other way around. When they received clearance for an all-Springsteen episode, they came up with twists and turns in the four friend's story based on the lyrics and subjects of the various songs.[1]
  • Paige Pratt and Jeff Kern's case boxes are visible when Lilly and Jeffries review Clem's case.


Bruce Springsteen music used throughout the episode.

  • "No Surrender"
  • "Bobby Jean"
  • "Brilliant Disguise"
  • "Glory Days"
  • "I'm On Fire"
  • "Drive All Night"
  • "Stolen Car"
  • "Atlantic City"
  • Closing Song: "One Step Up"


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