Late Returns
Cold Case S01E19 Late Returns

Season : 1
Episode: 19
Directed by: David Straiton
Written by: Jay Beattie and Dan Dworkin
Production Number: 176718
Airdate: 4 April 2004
Date of Crime: 3 November 1992
Previous: Resolutions
Next: Greed

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The shooting death of a man in his driveway is connected to the unsolved 1992 murder of a Democratic campaign worker whose lifeless body was thrown into a nearby river on election night. The investigation centers on the relationship the dead woman had with a present-day congressman. Apparently, the victim in the current homicide probed into the earlier slaying and discovered damning new evidence. Elsewhere, Lilly spies Kite flirting with a new ADA and gets jealous.


It’s a Clinton-Gore election party. Two girls, one blond and one brunette, are talking. The blond one talks about David Lake, the campaign coordinator. He’s with his sister, who seems to work for him. The four talk and Lake’s sister ask about some drunk guy that supposedly came to the party with Vanessa, the blond one. Lake takes Vanessa’s side and says it wasn’t her fault. Vanessa complains to Lake that they never talk and he says they’ll talk later. Lake leaves and Vanessa invites her friend to take a walk outside. Next thing we see, Vanessa’s being thrown off a bridge. Her dead body floats. Next, someone files the box for ”Prosser, V.”.

Cut to 2004: The team meets at a crime scene, in the middle of the night. A guy is dead, inside his car, in front of his house. His name is Darren Kleeman. They go inside, and find lots of pictures and newspaper articles about the death of Vanessa Prosser, whose killer was never found. And whose case is now being reopened. Roll Credits Lilly, Scotty and Stillman take a look at the case’s file. Vanessa Prosser was a college senior working in the Clinton campaign, whose body was found in the Delaware River, with a broken neck. She was found with a love letter in her pocket. At the time, the main suspect was Aaron Dutra, Vanessa’s ex-boyfriend. He had just came back from the Gulf War and Vanessa had dumped him. Aaron had been kicked out from the election party on the night of the murder. Later, the team is talking. Vera says that Darren Kleeman had many information and things about Vanessa is his house, but apparently, there’s no connection between the two of them. Lilly says they’ll talk to Vanessa’s parents, to see if they know anything about Kleeman. At the Prossers’ house, Lilly and Scotty show Kleeman’s pictures to Vanessa’s parents. They don’t know who he is. Scotty says that Kleeman had some of Vanessa’s stuff with him and that maybe they were involved. Vanessa’s dad says that this may explain something that happened a few weeks before Vanessa died.

Flashback to 1992: The Prossers are in the kitchen, making dinner and discussing politics. Someone delivers flowers to Vanessa. She reads the card and smiles. Their parents ask if it’s from Aaron and Vanessa says is just a thanks for her work in the campaign. Then, Vanessa cuts herself and everyone forgets about the flowers. Cut to 2004: Vanessa’s dad tells that when Vanessa cut herself they all got distracted. They never knew who sent the flowers. Scotty notes that they didn’t notice that Vanessa was missing until the next day. Vanessa’s mom explains that they figured out Vanessa had gone back to campus with her friend Beth Reardon, who drove that night. Now, Lilly and Scotty are talking to Beth Reardon. She’s now an architect. Beth doesn’t know who Darren Kleeman was either, but she tells that Vanessa had something going on, but was being secretive about it. Scotty asks who could know who Vanessa was seeing, and Beth says Vanessa’s ex, Aaron Dutra, would certainly know, because he was stalking her at the time. Flashback to 1992: Vanessa and Beth are at the election party. Aaron shows up, and tells Vanessa she was supposed to be waiting for him after the war. Vanessa tells Aaron that it’s over. Aaron says he saw Vanessa with ”him” that day, and asks about the guy. A security guard comes to take Aaron out. Vanessa tells Aaron to leave it off and leaves with Beth.

Cut to 2004: Beth says that Aaron was an idiot, but not a killer. Scotty asks Beth if she and Aaron ever compared who the guy could be, and Beth says that she and Aaron never compared anything, because Aaron got sick after that, with Gulf War Syndrom. Later, at the Police Headquarters, Jeffries tells that he talked to Walter Sparr, the original detective. He told that Darren Kleeman came to talk to him about the murder, bringing many theories about Vanessa’s death. Kleeman believe it was a political conspiracy. And, the relation between Vanessa and Kleeman seems to be explained. Kleeman was a hemophiliac, like Vanessa. It seems like Kleeman is Vanessa’s father. Later, Lilly is talking to Vanessa’s mom. She admits that Darren is Vanessa’s dad. She says it was a one time thing and that her husband doesn’t know, and neither did Vanessa. She tells that Darren was never around, until after his wife died and he started looking into Vanessa’s murder, trying to ”fill the void”. Lilly asks if Darren ever told who he suspected. Vaness’s mom says no, that she just let him go through Vanessa’s things and asked him never to come back. Outside the Police Headquarters, Lilly and Stillman are talking. Lilly says she believes that maybe Kleeman was dead because he found out the truth about Vanessa’s murder. Scotty arrives with a picture of the committee on election day. Lilly spots Kite leaving the building across the street with another woman. The woman is very young and she and Kite look quite intimate. Lilly is clearly annoyed by that scene. Scotty asks who Kite is with. Lilly says she doesn’t know, and Stillman says ”I thought you and him were...” Lilly interrupts, ”Yeah... I don’t know”. She says they should see if Aaron is feeling better to talk to them, and quickly leaves. Scotty and Stillman share a look.

Later, Lilly and Scotty are talking to Aaron. He’s not really pleased to be talking about Vanessa again. He tells that before he went to the Gulf War, Vanessa and him got engaged, and she was supposed to be waiting for him when he came back. Lilly asks Aaron to identify Vanessa’s boyfriend from the committee picture. Aaron points out to a guy with glasses, sitting in the front row. Flashback to 1992: Vanessa finishes voting, and so does David Lake. They start to talk, pretty intimately. Aaron is watching them. Cut to 2004: Scotty and Lilly go talk to David Lake. He’s in Washington, but they talk to his sister Abbey, who’s his chief of staff. Lilly asks if she knew anything about David and Vanessa being involved. Abbey says she’s sure they weren’t. She tells that a lot of girls were charmed by David during the campaign, and that Vanessa was a lot like the other girls. Flashback to 1992: Vanessa and David are talking at the voting booth, and Abbey interrupts then. She reminds David he’s got a conference in one hour. Vanessa wants to talk to David, but Abbey doesn’t let, and takes him out. Cut to 2004: Abbey tells that Vanessa was a sweet girl, but young and na¨ıve. She says that her job was and is to keep David focused. Scotty says that they still want to talk to David. Abbey says that they can as soon as David is back in town. Later, at the office, the team watches a tape from the election party. The letter found in Vanessa’s pocket is being checked to see if the handwriting matches with David’s. Stillman warns Scotty to be careful, because if Lake talks to his friends in the city hall, Stillman will be the one who gets a call. He asks what else they know about Lake. Lilly says Lake has been in Washington since 1992, and has been elected to Congress 2 years ago. Scotty says Lake went to Columbia Law School and was raised in Reading. Vera notes that Kleeman made a couple of calls to Reading on the day he got shot, to a guy named Marvin Dobey. Vera and Jeffries go to Reading to talk to Marvin Dobey. He’s a contractor. They ask him if he knew Darren Kleeman or Vanessa Prosser, he says he doesn’t. He’s not friends with David Lake either. A couple of blueprints on the backseat of his car call Vera’s attention. Vera asks if that’s his handwriting, and Dobey says that it’s the architect’s — they all write like that. Later at the office, the team compares the blueprints with the letter found in Vanessa’s pocket — the handwriting looks almost the same. It’s a standard handwriting used by all architects. Lilly notes that they only have one architect in that investigation: Beth Reardon. Now, Scotty and Lilly are back with Beth Reardon. Beth admits that she was in love with Vanessa. She says it’s her fault Vanessa died. Scotty asks why.

Flashback to 1992: Beth and Vanessa go outside the party. It’s raining. Beth tries to make Vanessa say what’s bothering her. Beth tries to kiss Vanessa, who pulls back. Beth gives Vanessa a letter and leaves. Cut to 2004: Beth explains that she was Vanessa’s ride that night, and if she hadn’t left, maybe Vanessa would still be alive. They ask her where was at the nights of the murders, but Beth has got alibis for both nights. They ask if Vanessa ever mentioned Marvin Dobey, from Reading, and Beth tells that Vanessa took a bus to Reading a few days before the election. Later, Lilly and Scotty go talk to David Lake. Lake doesn’t seem like he wants to talk about it. They insist and David admits he and Vanessa were involved, but they didn’t want people in the campaign to know. He says that didn’t come forward at the time of the murder because he didn’t have any information, and he didn’t want his name associated with that event. He adds that he and Vanessa broke up that night. Flashback to 1992: Vanessa is reading Beth’s letter when David appears. He tells her he got a job offer in Washington, and they will have to break up. Vanessa says she thought the plan was that they would go to Washington together. Vanessa asks if it’s because of Abbey. Cut to 2004: Lilly asks what Abbey had to do with it, and Lake says that Abbey was always worried with the girls he dated. Scotty tells that Vanessa went to Lake’s hometown, Reading, to visit a guy named Marvin Dobey. Lake says he doesn’t know who that is. Later, at the Police Headquarters, Vera tells them that Lake lied about Dobey. They found out that Dobey dated Linda Lake, David and Abbey’s mom. Also, Dobey has been getting monthly checks from a trust fund set up by David Lake. The question is, how is Kleeman paying back Lake from all the financial support. Now, Dobey is with Lilly and Scotty at the interrogation room. Dobey says he’s not going to talk about Lake. Lilly asks Dobey who he thinks will end up being blamed, Lake or him. Dobey admits that Kleeman called him about Vanessa’s murder, and that Vanessa visited him once in 1992.

Flashback to 1992: Vanessa visits Dobey. She asks him why is David Lake sending him money. Dobey says he doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Vanessa says she’s David’s friend and threatens to go to the police. Dobey asks if Vanessa and David are more that just friends. He says he almost feels sorry for her. Cut to 2004: Lilly asks Dobey why he felt sorry for Vanessa. Dobey says it’s because Vanessa was in love with Lake. He adds that David and his sister Abbey were more than just friends too. After, Lilly, Scotty and Stillman talk to Kite — they tell what they’ve found out from Dobey — the affair, and the fact that Dobey called Abbey to say that Kleeman had found out something about Vanessa and the affair. Kite says that they can’t take Abbey or David Lake to court with that, they need to make Abbey confess. Later, Abbey is with Lilly and Scotty at the interrogation room. She denied having killed anyone. Lilly threatens to call all the newspapers and tell how David Lake took advantage of his little sister. And then Lake won’t have a career anymore. Abbey says she needs assurances — that certain things won’t go to the press. She says David didn’t take advantage of her, it was her. She was the older one. Lilly asks if Vanessa found out about it. Abbey says Vanessa should’ve minded her own business.

Flashback to 1992: Vanessa and Lake are talking and making plans for their future in Washington. Abbey overhears them. Lake leaves the room and runs into Abbey, who has checks for Lake to sign. Dobey had raised the amount he wanted for his silence. Lake doesn’t want to sign, but Abbey says that he needs to pay if he wants a career in the public eye. Abbey notices that Vanessa is watching them. Cut to 2004: Abbey tells that she threw Vanessa from hotel stairs and then dumped her in the river. Scotty asks if it was all for David’s brilliant career, and Abbey says she owned that to him, for what she did when they were young. Lilly asks about Kleeman, and Abbey tells she shot him with a 25, that’s at her apartment. Later, Vera says that they got the gun and it looks like it’s the one. Stillman says it’s better Abbey than her brother, that it will avoid problems for them. Scotty is watching the tape the tape from the election party. He says that Lake is not wearing his glasses, and since he mentioned he really needed them, he believes Lake might’ve lost them in the struggle. Jeffries says that’s a little thin. Scotty says he’s sure Lake did it. Lilly says that they got nothing on Lake and they can’t make the case. Scotty says he wants to see Lake one more time. Scotty and Lilly are now at Lake’s office. Lake says he doesn’t know who Kleeman is. They tell Kleeman was Vanessa’s real father and that he was looking into her murder, which means he was looking into him. They also tell how Abbey made a deal to confess doing both murders, in exchange that they kept David and Abbey’s affair a secret. Lake is shocked to hear that. Scotty says that without Lake’s help, Abbey will probably stay the rest of her life in jail. Lake asks how he can help, Scotty says he could tell the truth about Vanessa. Lake doesn’t say anything. Lilly’s cell phone rings and she leaves the room. Lake says he doesn’t have anything more to say. Outside the office, Lilly tells that Stillman got a call from the commissioner, saying that they should leave Lake alone. Scotty is very disappointed and angry.

Later, Lilly runs into Kite outside the Police Headquarters. He says he heard they went back to Lake. Lilly says the did until they got shut down. Kite says they got a pretty good case against Abbey. Lilly says, a little sarcastically, that it must be nice to have a different set of rules. She adds that she saw him with the new ADA. Kite says he’s on his way to meet her now. Lilly tells him to have fun and starts to leave. Kite calls her twice. She stops, but doesn’t turn back. He begins, ”I’ll cut her loose right now if it’s just you and me, but I haven’t heard that from you. So until you decide...” Lilly interrupts, ”OK! OK!”. ”OK what?” He asks. ”It’s just you and me,” she finally says. Kite looks like he can’t believe it. He walks up to Lilly and says that he’ll meet with the girl now and break up. ”Ok,” Lilly says and turns to leave, but Kite reaches for her and pulls her in for a kiss. ”Ok.” He says, and leaves. Scotty meets with Lake when he’s leaving his office. Lake says he can’t be there, and Scotty says he’s off duty, so they can talk. Lake doesn’t want to talk. He says that he and Abbey had a tough childhood and they became very close, and that he doesn’t expect Scotty to understand that. Scotty says that Lake knows Scotty won’t be able to use anything Lake says later, so he can tell him the truth. Lake says that, on that night, he thought Vanessa had left the party, and that he didn’t expect to see her again.

Flashback to 1992: Lake runs into Vanessa in the building stairs. Vanessa tells him she went to Reading on the last weekend and met Marvin Dobey. Lake asks what Dobey told her. She says he told her about him and Abbey, but that it doesn’t matter and they still can be together. Lake says he can’t. Vanessa holds him and says the she loves him. Flashbacks of Abbey come to Lake’s mind. He screams that he can’t and pushes Vanessa down the stairs. She falls dead. Lake calls Abbey. They take Vanessa’s body and throw it from the bridge. Cut to 2004: Lake leaves. Scotty looks like now he feels his job is done, after he got the truth out of Lake. Lilly puts Abbey in jail. Vanessa’s parents and Aaron learn about the arrest. Abbey is being taken out of the police headquarters. The press is there, and so is Beth Reardon. Lilly, Scotty and Stillman also watch. David Lake is at a meeting. Stillman and Scotty go into the Police Headquarters. Lilly stays outside for a while and ”sees” Vanessa. The episode ends as Lilly enters the building.


Main CastEdit

Guest CastEdit



  • This episode is loosely based on the 2001 death of Chandra Levy.
  • The Fleetwood Mac song "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" heard at the campaign headquarters in 1992 was in fact the official song for the Clinton-Gore campaign.
  • The real murderer is not arrested, which could be why there is no ending shot of the case box being put away and having "Closed" written on it.


  • Fleetwood Mac "Don't Stop"
  • The Cranberries "Dreams"
  • Gin Blossoms "Hey Jealousy"
  • 4 Non Blondes "What's Up"
  • Chris Isaak "Can't Do a Thing (To Stop Me)"
  • Closing Song: Duran Duran "Ordinary World"