Cold Case Wiki
Please, don't let our case left unsolved again!

Can you help us solve this article case? You may help us resolve this case by adding pictures or content, every piece of information helps complete the puzzle and maybe solve the case. Please be a part of Cold Case Wiki and help us create a better article and give justice to the victims. Please feel free to edit it.


A car is found at the bottom of a lake with the remains of a woman missing since 1999 inside. The detectives learn the woman had endured dire financial straits after her husband's death and was forced to live in the car with her two young daughters. Meanwhile, Jeffries confronts the hit and run driver who caused his wife's death.


An environmental group finds a car while testing the bottom of a lake. The Philadelphia police department takes over the case when a female skeleton and a bullet are found inside the car, together with some household stuff. From the car's registration plate, the detectives trace back the victim's identity. She was Marlene Bradford, mother of two girls, Abby and Natalie. After the girls' father died of cancer, they lost everything, including their home, to pay the medical expenses. Marlene and her daughters started living in their car. Then on Abby's tenth birthday, on November 17, 1999, Marlene disappeared; she dropped her daughters off at school and never came back. The girls were placed in foster care and soon separated.

The team starts the inquiries from Abby and Natalie. They had lost contact after being separated. Abby, the younger one, was lucky to land with a good family, but Natalie, since she was older, was bounced from one family to another, never landing a permanent placement. Besides, Natalie always thought her mother was a failure and was angry at her for supposedly abandoning them. Natalie also tells the team that at a homeless shelter, Marlene angered a woman named Vita who had tried to claim the bed they were assigned. The young woman had threatened Marlene and stormed off.

Marlene had a job at a local convenience store. Her boss, Mr. Patel, had given her a gun – the same with which she was shot – to protect herself and her kids. At the store, Marlene had met a homeless man called Vincent Hopper, who told her about a place in a nearby park where many homeless people lived. There was also a lake at the park; the same lake her car was found in over seven years later.

Marlene moved to the park with her daughters and their car. One night at the park while lamenting her situation, Hopper gave Marlene a lottery ticket he called the Hope Ticket. He told her that they would split the winnings evenly if they hit the $1 million jackpot. They were sharing their dreams when Natalie came screaming to her mother that their car, with Abby sleeping inside, was gone. Marlene panicked, and then realized it had been towed. Marlene and Natalie managed to find Abby and the car. Abby was quite scared but safe and sound. Marlene tried, without much luck, to convince the tow driver to give her the car, at least for the night. The driver wouldn't give it away without money but as she couldn't afford it, he made her understand he accepted other forms of "payment." Marlene wanted to keep her daughters safe so she agreed.

Later in the car, Marlene and Natalie had a tiff over what she had done. Natalie gave her mother some harsh words to which Marlene replied by slapping her daughter. Natalie ran away and Marlene couldn't stop her. Still, she went looking for her and found her at their old house. They apologized to each other. Marlene decided to try her luck with the lottery ticket. It came out to be a $25 win. They were happy because they could now afford a cake for Abby's birthday. Marlene told Natalie they would have a decent celebration for Abby's birthday when they came back from school but first, she had to pay a "finder's fee." Because of that detail, the police realized that Hopper was the last person to see Marlene the day she disappeared.

The cops realized that Hopper was lying all along and started questioning him. He confessed the crime; Marlene came back to the park saying the ticket was a winner and handed over his half of the money. He couldn't believe it was only a $25 win and all he got was $12. He wanted more; he wanted the remainder of the half-million dollars he thought they won and his dreams of reuniting with his family to come true. Marlene tried to remind him that it had been years and his son was now an adult but Hopper refused to listen. He started searching her car for the rest of the money, crushing the cake Marlene had just bought for Abby. She tried to stop him and make him see reason. Instead, Hopper lost control and shot Marlene with the gun he had found in the car.

The cops arrest Hopper for murder. The other suspects continue with their new jobs: Vita welcomes some customers entering a supermarket and Mr. Patel walks down to the side of the restaurant he's currently working at to give some food to a homeless mother and her two daughters who remind him of Marlene. Abby and Natalie meet each other after a long time in the park and they see the ghostly image of their mother smiling back at them.

Meanwhile, Jeffries confronts Keller, the truck driver who ran over his wife, in the pouring rain, while he is closing the diner. He puts his gun to Keller's chest and tells him about his wife, about the way she was left to die slowly and alone after the car crash. Later on, when Lt. Stillman visits Jeffries at home, he tells his boss what he did but that he couldn't kill Keller: his wife wouldn't come back even if he would've pulled the trigger. In the end, he sits in his room and listens to a Miles Davis record, his wife's favorite.

Crime Profile[]

Victim's File[]

Box Case File Number: M07-83 Date of Crime: November 17, 1999 (considered as a Missing Person case) Case Closed Date: March 2007
Identity Name of the Victim Age Occupation Last Seen Perpetrator (Motive) Cause of death Portrayer
Marlene Bradford
Marlene Bradford 35 Former housewife who later became a grocery store clerk after her husband died. at Fairmount Park Vincent Hopper (Madness because he believed that he was deceived by her hoarding the prized money) Gunshot wound in her chest using 38MM Gun Paula Malcomson

Probable Suspect/s[]

This is the profile of the following suspected people who had a close contact with Marlene Bradford before she was found dead.

Probable Suspects
Past Identity Present Identity Name of the Suspect/s Age Whereabout Status Occupation Relationship Last Seen by the victim Portrayers
Abby Bradford in 1999
Abby Bradford in 2007
Abby Bradford 9 (presumed 10 at her exact birthdate where her mother was killed)
17 (present age)
Alive Student Younger daughter Last saw the victim during a heated conversation between her and her sister, Natalie about their street life now. Darcy Rose Byrnes (1999)
Jennifer Lawrence (2007)
Natalie Bradford in 1999
Natalie Bradford in 2007
Natalie Bradford 14
21/22 (present age)
Alive Unknown Elder daughter Last saw the victim when Marlene found her at their old house after their fight the previous night, where they made up over their past arguments and misunderstandings. Natalie was the one who heard about "the finders fee" from her mother. Channing Nichols (1999)
Melinda Dahl (2007)
Vita Chacon in 1999
Vita Chacon in 2007
Vita Chacon Unknown Alive Currently a saleslady for Blue Mart. Acquaintance (one time seen) Last saw the victim with her daughters at a convenience store where Marlene worked, where Vita witnessed a heated argument between Marlene and her boss Anil Patel. Gloria Garayua
Anil Patel in 1999
Anil Patel in 2007
Anil Patel Unknown Alive Former owner of a grocery store in 1999, currently a restaurant staff from Zinger's. Former boss Last seen confronting the victim about her car. Later, he gave his gun to Marlene as her first defense after he heard from Vincent Hopper on where she would be temporarily staying overnight (Fairmount Park, where her remains and her car were found). Faran Tahir
Vincent Hopper in 1999
Vincent Hopper in 2007
Vincent Hopper Unknown Arrested Unemployed, living in Fairmount Park for 11 years. Estranged friend and fellow street dweller. He was also the killer. Last saw the victim when looking for her to give him the finder's fee he was talking about. On Marlene's first night in Fairmount Park, Vincent gave his Hope Ticket to her, which he thought would win $1 million dollars. But when he received his half of the payment from her, it was just a $12 win, since the ticket only got a $25 winning. Vincent believed that Marlene was deceiving him to keep the money for herself, which enraged him and sent him out of control. He shot Marlene using the gun which her boss gave her. Holmes Osborne
Tony in 1999
Tony in 2007
Tony Unknown Alive Towing Service employee No Relation Last saw the victim pleading him to release their car as they didn't have any place to sleep that evening, and also tried to offer him her gun in exchange. However, with no gun in sight (Abby kept it), he made a dirty proposal to her in order to release her car without any extra charges. Billy Gallo


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]


  • Verda Bridges as Social Worker


  • Paula Malcomson and Jennifer Lawrence would later play mother and daughter again in the film The Hunger Games (2012). Coincidentally, both stories are about a single mother-two daughter family who fall into poverty and struggle to survive after the death of the husband/father.
  • At 9 years old, Abby Bradford is the youngest suspect seen on the show.
  • Faran Tahir (Anil Patel) and Gloria Garayua (Vita Chacon) went on to have guest roles in Grey's Anatomy - Tahir played 'Isaac' in a season 6 episode, and Garayua played 'Dr. Graciella Guzman' from seasons 4 to 6.


Episode Scenes[]

Behind The Scenes[]


Opening Song[]

Alongside Scenes[]

Closing Song[]

Season 4 Episodes
Rampage | The War at Home | Sandhogs | Baby Blues | Saving Sammy | Static | The Key | Fireflies | Lonely Hearts | Forever Blue | The Red and the Blue | Knuckle Up | Blackout | 8:03 AM | Blood on the Tracks | The Good-Bye Room | Shuffle, Ball Change | A Dollar, A Dream | Offender | Stand Up and Holler | Torn | Cargo | The Good Death | Stalker

See More Cases[]

v - e - tCold Case Logo
Season 1
Look AgainGleenOur Boy Is BackChurchgoing PeopleThe RunnerLove Conquers AlA Time to HateFly AwaySherry Darlin'The HitchhikerHubrisGluedThe LetterThe Boy in the BoxDisco InfernoVolunteersThe Lost Soul of Herman LesterResolutionsLate ReturnsGreedMaternal InstinctsThe PlanLover's Lane
Season 2
The BadlandsFactory GirlsDanielaThe HouseWho's Your Daddy?The SleepoverIt's Raining MenRed GlareMind HuntersDiscretionBlank GenerationYo, AdrianTime To CrimeRevolutionWishingRevengeSchadenfreudeRavagedStrange FruitKensingtonCreatures Of The NightBest FriendsThe Woods
Season 3
FamilyThe PromiseBad NightColorsCommittedSaving Patrick BubleyStart UpHonorA Perfect DayFrank's Best8 YearsDetentionDebutDog Day AfternoonsSanctuaryOne NightSuperstarWillkommenBeautiful Little FoolDeath Penalty: Final AppealThe Hen HouseThe RiverJoseph
Season 4
RampageThe War at HomeSandhogsBaby BluesSaving SammyStaticThe KeyFirefliesLonely HeartsForever BlueThe Red and the BlueKnuckle UpBlackout8:03 AMBlood on the TracksThe Good-bye RoomShuffle, Ball ChangeA Dollar, A DreamOffenderStand Up and Holler •  TornCargoThe Good DeathStalker
Season 5
Thrill KillThat WomanRunning AroundDevil MusicThick as ThievesWunderkindWorld's EndIt Takes a VillageBoy CrazyJusticeFamily 8108SabotageSpidersAndy in C MinorThe RoadBad ReputationSlippingGhost of My Child
Season 6
Glory DaysTrue CallingWednesday's WomenRoller GirlShore LeaveThe DealerOne Small StepTriple ThreatPin Up GirlStreet MoneyWingsLotto FeverBreaking NewsThe Brush ManWitness ProtectionJackalsOfficer DownMind GamesLibertyvilleStealing HomeNovember 22ndThe Long Blue LineInto the Blue
Season 7
The CrossingHoodratsJurisprudenceSoulWASPDead HeatRead Between the LinesChinatownForensicsIcedThe Good SoldierThe Runaway BunnyBombersMetamorphosisTwo WeddingsOne FallFlashoverLast Drive-InBulletFree LoveAlmost ParadiseShattered