Cold Case S03E05 Committed

Season : 3
Episode: 5
Directed by: Alex Zakrzewski
Written by: Liz W. Garcia
Production Number:
Airdate: 23 October 2005
Date of Crime: 28 December 1954
Previous: Colors
Next: Saving Patrick Bubley

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In 1954, 8 year old Otis Petrowski last saw his mother in a mental institution. Now over 50 years later, after the death of an elderly woman who had been using Otis' mother's identity, Det. Rush sets out to discover what happened to the boy's real mother.


June 24, 1954. Betty and her son Otis are in the kitchen having just completed a cake. After the finishing touches are put onto the cake, she asks him, seriously, what they should make next. Otis tells her he wants them to make every kind of sweet imaginable. The camera pans out to reveal that they have indeed made every kind of dessert imaginable. Betty takes out another cake, pours liquor all over it and sets it on fire. She stands back and admires the beauty with Otis. Soon the other dishes catch on fire; Otis tells his mother to get some water to put it out, but she assures him the fire cannot hurt them. On the snowy ground lies the body of Betty. A sketch of her face is put into a Jane Doe file. December, ’54.

Present Day. Scotty tells Josie that there is this old lady Betty Petrowski who died of natural causes. The son was found and contacted as next to kin, only when he arrived in Philadephia he realized it wasn’t his mother. The real Betty Petrowski hasn’t been heard from since 1954, so Lily has the son, Otis, looking through the Jane Doe files. He hasn’t heard from his mother since he was 8 years old: she was a mental patient with bi-polar disorder and almost burnt down the house with him in it so after that episode his father shipped her off to the city asylum. They visited a few times, but Otis figured that she forgot about them soon after that. He comes across the sketch of Betty and tells the team it’s his mother. Killed in winter of ’54; they only committed her that summer. Then who does Frannie have over there?

Roll Intro

At the station Scotty and Josie come across a colleague. He privately informs Scotty that Sergeant White was the one that was chasing Josie and not the other way around. She was lucky to get transferred out and leave all that behind. In the vault Stillman, Vera and Sutton are going over the Jane Doe file. She was found in Fairmont Park on Dec. 28, 1954 with no i.d. Blunt force trauma to the head; theory was that Jane Doe was a drifter killed by another drifter. Records show that Betty Petrowski had been signed out of the city asylum two days earlier by a Nurse Olsen. Lily and Scotty talk to Otis and his daughter who came along on the trip to learn more about her grandmother. She read on the internet that people with bi-polar disorder can have 185 hallucinations. That seemed to fit in the situation: the day that Betty was committed, she wasn’t able to see the other crazy people already in the institute. Flashback Nurse Olsen assures Otis that his mother will be well taken care of. Betty is excited at meeting all the different kinds of people; she’s sure to come home with all kinds of stories. Just then a woman named Carmen races down the hall and grabs Otis. Not another step or she’ll show her painting to the kid! Betty asks to see the work and Carmen shows it to her: a painting of a woman with a zipper for a mouth. The painting saddens Betty and she drops it. Carmen is dragged away kicking and screaming ”I hate you!”

Flashback to Present After seeing Carmen with that painting, Otis was sure that his mother would meet her end at that place. Jeffries and Vera meet up with Nurse Olsen for questioning. She was the one-woman security check for the Philadelphia City Asylum. The day that Betty left, she was in good spirits despite the fact that no family was there to meet her. She admits that Carmen was explosive, but Betty was truly afraid of a girl named Zelda. Flashback In a small group Betty talks about her son: she’s certain he’s the only thing she’s done right. Betty also discovers that Zelda has stolen the little toy cowboy Otis gave her. In her eyes Betty has everything, while Zelda is stuck with a crippled husband and a baby that didn’t even make it past 2 months. She pushed him down the stairs because her husband had ”irked” her, maybe she should do the same thing to Betty!

Flashback to Present Zelda somehow persuaded the Chief of Medicine to let her go. Nurse Olsen signed her out herself, the same morning that Betty was released. Outside a supermarket, Scotty and Vera catch up to Zelda. She didn’t hate Betty; because Betty stuck up for her and made everyone else realize Zelda wasn’t as crazy as they thought. Flashback At a painting session, everyone gushes over Carmen’s painting. Carmen once had private lessons with famous artists due to her family’s wealth, which they now use to keep her in the asylum. Zelda suddenly tells everyone to shut up: she can hear him, and all she wants to do is dance. Everybody ignores Zelda because they all know she hears Elvis Presley in her head. But Betty can hear the music too. The door opens and an orderly by the name of Anton steps through with the radio blaring and the group begin to dance. Flashback to Present Zelda tells the two detectives that Anton would never have stood a chance with Betty Petrowski: a young black man having the hots for an older married white woman in 1954. That wouldn’t have been possible. Lily and Jeffries interrogate Anton. He didn’t realize that Betty had been bashed just over her right eye in an act of rage. He knew that Betty was devoted to her husband and her son: they were what kept her going. A few weeks after she got checked in they gave her the hydro bath treatment: the women would have to soak in bathtubs full of ice. He was the one that looked after them and learned about them.

Flashback Carmen, Zelda and another woman are all peering through a tiny window in which they can see Betty soaking in a bathtub. As Anton approaches Carmen asks him to go in and take her out. Zelda’s had that treatment before, and she knows it doesn’t work. Just before Anton enters the room Zelda gives him the toy cowboy. Once inside Anton shows Betty the cowboy and asks her to tell him her favourite memory of Otis. They went to the park in the spring. When it started to rain everybody ran back to their cars but not Otis so they stayed. Anton decides it’s time to get Betty out of the tub but a moment after doing that her husband Terrance rushes into the room, asking what the hell is going on and demanding Anton to put her down and scram. Flashback to Present With the look that Betty’s husband gave, Anton thought he was a dead man. While working late that night, Scotty offers Josie a ride home. He brushes off Vera’s remarks and tells Sutton that it would be easier if she set the record straight about what happened with Sergeant White because everyone here is thinking she’s something she’s not. She points out the fact that every cop she’s every worked with gets around, Scotty included, and nobody gives them grief about the choices they made. They don’t have to make a presentation about their personal lives, so why should she? She grabs her jacket and starts her walk home. When Lily and Stillman talk to Otis and his daughter, he assures them that his mother was nuts about his father. He gave her that cowboy in order to protect her. He knew his father wouldn’t have lost his head, because by that time he knew he had to move on.

Flashback At the hospital Otis hides around a corner while his parents’ talk. Terrance can’t lie to Otis anymore about when Betty is coming home. The doctor says Betty has manic depression and there is no cure, not yet. They can’t wait around for Betty any longer: Terrance has met a lady at church...he can’t raise Otis alone. It’s something Betty has done isn’t it? She’s being punished for something she and the girls did in art class...but Terrance insists that she’s no good for Otis. She makes him promise that Otis will get the best life possible. As the two leave Otis gives her the cowboy. Flashback to Present Scotty and Sutton pay a visit to Zelda and asked if she knew what the girls were being punished for around Christmas. According to Zelda, Betty had a big wacky idea that the girls needed some culture for their brains. Carmen would be their teacher for the art class, but it was Betty who had her heart on making this a real thing, and therefore ruining Carmen in the process. Flashback Down in the furnace, the girls have gathered for their next art class. Last class they focused on line drawings of the face, and Carmen announces that this time they’re moving on to drawing the body nude...with Anton being the model. Just as the women are begin to draw, Nurse Olsen rushes down and tells them the absurdity has to stop. This has been Carmen’s last chance even though Betty insists that everything was her idea.

Flashback to Present Zelda tells the two detectives that after that incident, the hospital and her family decided that it was time for Carmen to have a lobotomy. Needless to say, Carmen wasn’t too pleased: it was the end of her world. Down in the vault, Scotty apologizes for the other day. The two acknowledge there’s something going on between both of them but know they can’t afford to have something like this happen. Lily joins Vera and Frannie with the two mystery bodies. According to the hospital records, Carmen never checked out after her lobotomy and disappeared. Why? Because Carmen ended up stealing Betty’s identity and died as Betty Petrowski though dental records still label her as Carmen. However, there are no traces of a lobotomy on Carmen’s body — those traces instead were found on Betty’s remains and had been mistaken for the cause of death back in ’54. There was no way any of this could have gotten past Nurse Olsen, so therefore she must have been in on the whole thing. Nurse Olsen tells Jeffries and Scotty that she made a decision as a medical professional to lobotomize Betty. At the time, they thought it was the cure.

Flashback Betty and Carmen track down Nurse Olsen in the hallway. Betty’s the one that needs this lobotomy; she’s the one that needs to be cured. There’s nothing wrong with Carmen other than the fact that she’s trapped here by her family and can’t show the world her art. All Carmen wants to do is paint, and all Betty wants to do is to be able to get better and see her Otis again before it’s too late. Flashback to Present Nurse Olsen confessed that the snowstorm ruined their plans. Instead of going off to the private hospital that Carmen had paid for, Betty was brought back to the city asylum. That’s when Dr. Pickett, head of hospital got involved. In order to protect the hospital and his reputation, he made Anton clean up the mess. Though Dr. Pickett didn’t tell Anton to kill Betty, Anton admits to Lily that he was told to get rid of her: otherwise Dr. Pickett would use the art class against him and turn it into a sexual allegation. If he went to jail there would be nobody to take care of his sisters. He takes out the toy cowboy and gives it to Lily. That day, he tried to be merciful.

Flashback Anton’s truck rolls through the dark and snowy night until they stop in the park. After reminding her about that time she and Otis went to the park in the rain, Anton manages to get her out of the car, assuring her that it’s springtime with the warm rain so she wont’ be cold. After picking up the little toy cowboy out of the snow, Anton retreats to his car as Betty dies from the cold. Flashback to Present Lily and Jeffries escort Anton and Nurse Olsen out of the interrogation rooms. Sutton is given access to Carmen’s shed which is crammed full of paintings. The Jane Doe file is replaced with the name of Betty Petrowski. Stillman, Scotty and Sutton leave the police headquarters. Scotty and Sutton go their separate ways, each one glancing back at the other at separate times. An art show has been set up displaying all of Carmen’s paintings. Zelda comes across one painting of the four girls dancing in the hospital. On the other side of the room Otis gets dragged by his daughter to another painting: one of a smiling Betty and the words ”for Otis” painted on the portrait. Betty watches over her son and granddaughter as Lily approaches the pair with the toy cowboy.


Main CastEdit

Special Guest StarEdit

Guest CastEdit



  • Last appearance of Sarah Brown as Det. Josie Sutton.
  • Last appearance of Kevin McCorkle as Det. Gil Sherman.
  • This episode used some elements from the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
  • In CSI there is also an episode titled "Committed" and in both cases the investigation is in a Mental Institution.


  • The Crew Cuts "Sh-boom"
  • Thelonious Monk "Bags Groove"
  • Charles Mingus "Haitian Fight Song"
  • Elvis Presley "That's Alright Mama"
  • Abbey Lincoln "Let Up"
  • MasterSource Music Catalog "Midnight Serenade"
  • Messy "Sold Again"
  • Julie London "Cry Me a River"
  • Closing Song: The Platters "Only You"