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Kathryn Morris stars as Philadelphia homicide detective Lilly Rush, who investigates long-unsolved crimes, cold cases. In the pilot episode, Lilly investigates a 1976 case involving a teenage girl who was beaten to death on a tennis court during a party at a plush estate. A maid to a wealthy family, Bonita Rafaela (Lillian Hurst), claims she witnessed the murder of teenager Jill Shelby (Kate Mara). Now dying of cancer, the maid who remained silent wants the killer brought to justice. Rush reopens the case, in which two brothers were originally suspected but not charged due to their powerful society family.

Lilly interviews several witnesses: Jill's best friend Melanie (Lisa Waltz), and her boyfriend, Todd Whitley (D.W. Moffett) (who is now married to Melanie) and his brother Eric (Michael Reilly Burke). The evidence points mostly to Eric, now a troubled alcoholic, but lawyer Todd has secrets of his own. Determined to uncover the truth, Lilly must force the Whitleys to confront their dark past despite resistance from everyone involved in the case, including the victim's mother (Elizabeth Franz).

Full Recap[]

Philadelphia, 1976 ("More than a Feeling", by Boston, plays in the background). Two teenage girls are walking on the street, headed for a house party. One of them, Jill, is a bit reluctant. As her friend touches up Jill's makeup, Jill suggests they go back to Tim's room later. At the house, the maid, Bonita, tells the two brothers who are throwing the party that their parents wouldn't want that. One of the boys asks his brother if Jill is coming. The brother is confident she will. The girls arrive at the party and Jill kisses one of the brothers, Todd. Next thing, we see Jill's body laying on a tennis court, covered with blood.

Cut to 2003 ("Soul Searching", by Soul Hooligan, plays in the background). Credits roll as the scene goes on. It's a crime scene. Detectives Lilly Rush and Chris Lassing arrive to check out a brutal triple homicide. They survey the scene along with Detective Nick Vera. Nick informs Lilly that a civilian wants to talk to her at police headquarters. She asked for "the lady in homicide." Lilly seems a bit annoyed.

At police headquarters, Lilly meets with her boss, Lt. Stillman. Lilly asks about the civilian and Stillman says he told Nick to take care of her. Lilly says Nick's a pain in the ass. Stillman tells Lilly to talk to the woman and calm her down. Outside headquarters, Lilly meets with an old woman. The woman asks if Lilly "does murders", and Lilly confirms she investigates them. The woman's name is Bonita Rafael. She saw the murder of a girl on a tennis court in Chestnut Hill. Flashback to 1976 - Bonita is in her bedroom. She hears a noise and looks out of the window. She sees a man beating Jill with an object. Cut to 2003, Lilly asks if she called the police, but Bonita thought it wasn't her business at the time. When Lilly asks when it happened, Bonita answers 1976. Lilly is stunned, wondering why she's only saying this now. Bonita explains she had a son and needed to work but now that she has cancer, she wants to end this.

The girl killed was Jill Shelby, beaten to death in 1976, and the case was never solved. Stillman asks Lilly if she really wants to reopen a 27-year-old case. He warns that the witnesses will be pretty shaky. Lilly points out that time can be on their side — people who weren't willing to talk then might talk now, like Bonita. They take the box to the office and ask Detective Will Jeffries about the assigned detective on the case, Britt. Will recalls Britt was an excellent detective before his death. The main suspects at the time were the two brothers throwing the party: Todd and Eric Whitley. The older one, Todd, was Jill's boyfriend. He was supposedly violent towards the girl but the boys belonged to a very rich family, and no one could really talk about it. Lilly wants Will and Nick to take the case but Stillman suggests she should take the case. Lilly doesn't like it very much, but Stillman doesn't give her a real choice.

Lilly talks to Jill's mother, Evelyn Shelby, who works at a shelter. She says that a witness came forward and they have new direction in the case. Evelyn is reluctant to talk about it. Lilly is annoyed by that and brings up Todd Whitley. Evelyn defends that Todd was lovely to Jill, and that she still sees him and Melanie — Jill's best friend — because they are now married. Lilly says she's reopening the case. Evelyn notes that no one was able to solve it in all these years, and she doesn't want to go through that again. At the office, Lilly complains about how Evelyn is not willing to help. She asks who's this for. In response, Stillman shows her a picture of Jill. Lassing, Lilly's partner, comes around. He's annoyed that Lilly's working on a cold case and not on their triple homicide. Lilly blames Stillman; she'll only do another interview and then be back. Lilly tells Stillman she's going to talk to the Whitley brothers now. Todd is a superstar lawyer, while Eric is a little problematic - divorced, alcoholic, without a specific job. Stillman advises she should talk to Eric first.

Lilly meets Eric while he's on his way to an AA meeting. He seems to be a scared person. She asks about Jill and Eric says he can't talk to her, because his brother and him were treated like suspects back in 1976. Lilly says that is was an open secret that Todd hit Jill. Eric claims Todd loved Jill. He doesn't want to talk anymore. Lilly asks how Jill was. Eric answers she was nice — when you were alone with her. And when they were not alone, she ignored him. Flashback to 1976 ("You Sexy Thing", by Hot Chocolate, plays in the background) - A few kids at the party are playing Spin the Bottle, including Eric, Jill and Melanie. Melanie kisses a boy. Jill refuses to kiss Eric, because of Todd. Eric points out that she already kissed two other guys, but Jill says she's not into it. Melanie kisses Eric, but he's still very upset. Cut to 2003 - Lilly notes Jill was kind of a bitch to him. Eric admits that was just the way she got sometimes. As he leaves, Lilly asks if he did any sports in high school because he looks kind of athletic. Eric answers he wrestled for a year.

Lilly meets with Todd Whitley at his office. She notices his rowing awards. He thinks Lilly wants to talk about Eric, not looking surprised that his brother might be in trouble; Todd says it's "patterns of behavior". Lilly shows him a picture of Jill and asks if he recognizes her. Todd is disturbed. He insists this was painful for a lot of people, and that she should leave it alone. Lilly says she can't do it, it's an open case. Todd asks Lilly how someone like her becomes a cop. She sarcastically says it's bad education, limited talent. He believes she should be married and living a good life. Lilly snarks that no one ever asked, and there she is, working homicides. Todd says that as he told back in 1976, he spent the night with his brother. Lilly notes that it was actually a lawyer who said that, in a statement three weeks later. Todd states his father "owns half of Philadelphia". Lilly looks at him like this doesn't mean anything to her; and Todd explains that people like to see families like his in trouble, so they hired a lawyer. He adds that maybe her kind of people doesn't do that, but his kind of people do. Lilly asks if they do that even when there's nothing to hide. Todd declares he can't help her anymore, and gets up. Lilly brings up that he married Melanie. Todd says Melanie can't help her either. Lilly asks if he still has a problem with violence, and that she knows he once beat Jill up so hard she got three stitches. Todd argues she's wrong as the cops were back in 1976 - it was Jill's father who beat her regularly.

Lilly is waiting for Evelyn in front of her house - it's not the one she used to live in at Chestnut Hill. Lilly asks about all the injuries Jill had as a kid. Evelyn answers it's because she played hockey and soccer. Unconvinced, Lilly says her own ex-husband was a mean drunk, so she knows the difference between a sports injury and "a trip down the stairs". She asks Evelyn if her husband beat Jill up. Evelyn initially deflects that he was in Houston the night Jill died. When Lilly points out that’s not what she asked, Evelyn says that her husband has been dead for 9 years. Lilly mentions that Evelyn now works in a shelter for battered women and children. She shows Evelyn a picture of Jill, from the case's file. Evelyn remembers she took that picture of her daughter. Lilly says she just can't see how Evelyn can forget about Jill. Evelyn argues she still thinks about Jill every day, and that this ruined her life. Lilly insists it still matters. Evelyn admits it's too hard to go back. Lilly says she can't walk away from Jill because she's a part of her, and there's new hope now. Evelyn asks - what if Lilly doesn't solve the case? Lilly counters - what if she does solve it?

Lilly and Evelyn go visit Melanie, who says her husband doesn't want her talking to Lilly. Lilly asks if she doesn't want to solve the murder of her best friend. Evelyn tells Melanie this is important to her. She relents and lets them in. Lilly asks why Melanie came to the party with Jill but left alone. Melanie says she drank too much and had to go home. Lilly points out that back in 1976, Melanie made a big point of saying she didn't think Todd had killed Jill. Melanie replies that's because the detectives made a big point of asking it. Evelyn says that the cops were fixated on the Whitleys, and overlooked Tim, the cook who stayed in the Shelbys' guest house, and was with the girls that night. Melanie says Tim had told Jill to stop by at his house later, if she wanted.

Back at police headquarters, Lilly is telling Lassing how it's weird that no one really looked into this guy who was the mother's and best friend's main suspect. Tim is locked up in Frackville. Lassing doesn't believe he will talk to Lilly. Lilly replies she's an optimist. Lassing is not really keen on going with her, but does so. Lilly and Lassing speak to Tim. He's doing five years for forgery. Lilly asks if he was ever involved in a more serious crime. Tim says if she means Jill Shelby, no; he's a "cerebral criminal". Lilly asks if Jill came up to his house a lot. Tim confirms she and Melanie did, to get high. Lilly mentions Melanie thinks he killed Jill. Tim retorts that if Melanie married the prime suspect, she'd better point to someone else. Lassing adds that Jill's mom also thinks he did. Tim states that Evelyn lives in a certain world, and if the neighbor boy killed her daughter, that world is a lie. Lilly notes that Tim's alibi was going to bed at 10 p.m. that night. Tim realizes that Britt kept his word; he was actually having a "sleepover" that night with Bobby Jordan, a college boy from down the street. In 1976, they asked Det. Britt not to document it, but Tim believes Bobby will confirm his alibi now. Lilly asks if Jill ever talked to him about Todd. Tim says the girls told him everything, even things that they didn't tell each other; Jill complained that while Todd didn't treat her right, Melanie was sleeping with him. Lilly and Lassing are stunned.

They visit Melanie again. After sending her two daughters inside, she wonders why the police won't leave them alone. Melanie reveals that Eric showed up at their house drunk, after 6 years being sober. She already told Lilly about Tim, so she doesn't know why Lilly is still bothering them. Lassing reveals that Tim has an alibi, and that they know about her and Todd. Melanie gets defensive. Lilly warns that when Melanie tells them a lie, even a small one, it makes them think she's hiding other things. Lassing asks what Todd did to Jill that night. Melanie reiterates it wasn't Todd, and she knows it because she was with him that night. Flashback to 1976 - ("I'm Not In Love", by 10 CC, plays in the back) Todd, Eric, Jill and Melanie are sitting near the pool drinking as the party winds down. Todd notices Jill's top, which has the American flag printed on it. He says she looks like a patriotic streetwalker. Jill says it was on "Seventeen", and leaves, upset. Eric asks Todd why he has to be a jerk, but Todd only scoffs at him to go comfort Jill. Eric goes after her. Melanie flirts with Todd that he could use a good manners school, and she could give him a tutorial upstairs. Todd casually asks about Jill, but Melanie doesn't care. Cut to 2003 - Melanie says she's obviously not proud of that. Lassing notes Eric may have had strong feelings for Jill. Melanie says so what, and Lassing wonders why Eric fell off the wagon just because Jill's name came up.

At a park where people are exercising, Lilly is hiding behind a tree dressed in running clothes, watching Todd after he finishes rowing. She throws water in her face to look like she's sweating and leaves her hiding spot, to "coincidentally" run into Todd. They start talking about the case. Lilly reveals she knows Todd was with Melanie that night. He replies then she understands why he wouldn't want people to know it. Lilly says she does, but Todd could've just said he was sleeping; instead, he gave Eric an alibi. She believes Eric killed Jill, and that's why Todd can have a normal life while Eric's a mess. Todd tries to leave. Lilly continues probing, wondering if Eric's alcoholism started after the murder. Todd threatens he can make her life very difficult. Lilly presses if he's covering for Eric. Todd asks what's the point of all that, after so many years. Lilly declares people shouldn't be forgotten, even if they are her kind of people. They don't have a lot of money, they don't have lawyers, but they matter. They should get justice too. Todd mocks that Lilly is a crusader. He laughs and wishes her luck.

Late that night at the office, Stillman finds Lilly working. He asks if sleeping is optional for her. Lilly insists she isn't tired, but she does look tired. Stillman reveals that Commissioner Bradley looked at her case today; he and the Whitley brothers' father went to college together. Apparently, Todd called Bradley about Lilly. Lilly dismisses Todd as a baby, and that she doesn't care. Stillman advises her to be careful. Nick shows up and announces Eric is here (joking that he's Lilly's boyfriend), having been arrested for drunk driving. Lilly runs to see him and meets Eric in the hall as he's being released. He claims it's her fault he crashed his car, to which Lilly retorts the only thing she did was bring up Jill. Eric says their lawyer called the commissioner. Lilly already knows, so Eric asks why doesn't she back off. Lilly answers that's because she feels they're "one scotch away from a good conversation".

The next day, Lilly arrives at the office and Will informs her Evelyn is already there with Lassing. In the interview room, Evelyn shows them a box full Jill's things. She was motivated to start digging due to the case reopening and Melanie coming clean about her and Todd. When Lassing tells Evelyn they're closing it on Eric, she's a bit surprised. Evelyn opens Jill's yearbook and points to a boy, Charlie Winters (the boy Melanie kissed in Spin the Bottle), who once came to Evelyn and her husband saying that the Whitleys got away with murder. Lilly wonders why that isn't on the file. Evelyn insists it should be because her husband told the police. Lilly says that if Det. Britt talked to Charlie, they would have a record. She asks Evelyn if her husband could have lied about going to the police. Evelyn recalls that when she asked John about it, he said she should stop pointing fingers at the Whitleys. She muses to Lilly that they both know how it's like to have a husband fail them. Lassing looks at Lilly, surprised, and she is very embarrassed.

Lilly and Lassing go talk to Charlie at his workplace - a meditation retreat. He's surprised that they finally want to hear about Jill. He's angry that no one took him seriously before. Lilly asks Charlie to forget it and tell them what he saw, as Evelyn is willing to listen now. Flashback to 1976, Charlie is almost passed out in a lounge chair. Eric and Todd come around, and they're arguing. A distressed Eric asks Todd why he had to use his jacket, and that now it's ruined. Todd orders him to stop thinking about the stupid jacket and leave things to him. Todd walks away holding a tennis jacket covered with blood. Charlie watches all this, shocked. Cut to 2003 - Charlie says after that, Eric and Todd took the car and left, and he got out of there too. Lilly asks why Eric was so worried about his jacket. Charlie explains that there was one year when Eric did wrestling, and Todd couldn't wrestle; it was probably the only thing where Eric was better than Todd.

Lilly now goes to see Melanie as she's picking her kids up from school and informs her that Todd was seen with the murder weapon. Shocked, Melanie insists that she was with Todd that night, but Lilly points out he could have left after Melanie fell asleep, since she was drunk from the party. Melanie is reluctant to believe it, but Lilly warns her she doesn't know Todd as well as she thinks, since he was involved in Jill's murder. Melanie suggests maybe Todd was covering for Eric, but Lilly replies that still makes him an accessory. Melanie is disturbed. She admits that she wants to tell Lilly something, but if she does, she can't go home. Lilly assures her she can help with that. Melanie reveals that Todd and Eric have been talking and arguing every night, and Todd is always telling Eric to stay away from Tabby - that's their aunt Tabatha, who lives in Chestnut Hill, close to where they used to live. Lilly tells Melanie to get her kids and come with her.

Later that night, Lilly is leaving the Police Headquarters. Todd confronts her in the parking lot, demanding to know where Melanie is. Lilly simply says she's safe. He's angry and tries to take Lilly by her arm when she's walking, asking again. Lilly taunts Todd about how he handles women he can't control, and if that's supposed to scare her. Todd says he wants to make her think. Lilly counters she's not like the girls Todd is used to; he can't charm her, and when that doesn't work, talk down to her, and when that doesn't work, get aggressive. Lilly declares she's not Jill or Melanie, she's the police and they're at the Police Headquarters. Todd furiously asks if that's how she's going to talk to him. They're standing face to face now. Lilly asks if he's really going to kill her in the parking lot of Central, and if he thinks he's getting away with it again. She warns Todd she knows about Tabby, there are officers at Tabby's right now and she'll have a warrant tomorrow morning - whatever he's hiding there, Lilly is going to find. She whispers that it's over. Todd then claims he can't protect Eric anymore. Lilly asks him to come inside and give a statement. He agrees. Inside, Lilly tells Stillman that Todd is blaming Eric for Jill's murder. Stillman asks if she believes him. Lilly doesn't know and decides she has to find Eric.

Eric is drinking at a bar. Lilly sits next to him and orders a scotch and soda. Eric says his brother has forbidden him to talk to her. She replies Todd has been talking to her a lot. Eric explains Todd puts himself in a different category. Lilly says that Todd told her Eric was in love with Jill, and he saw Eric and Jill together that night. Eric still refuses to budge. Lilly asks what happened to his jacket, and Eric answers he doesn't know. He orders another drink but Lilly tells him there isn't time for another one, because she has to arrest him; Todd told the police Eric killed Jill and then came to him for help, and that the two of them buried the racket at their Aunt Tabby's house. Eric asks why would he kill Jill. Lilly answers because she humiliated him. Eric can't believe his brother is pinning it on him. Lilly warns Eric it's Todd's word against his, so if he has anything to say to her, he should do it now. Eric reveals that Todd ruined his jacket, leaving it all covered with blood. He adds that Todd was the one who humiliated him, not Jill. Flashback to 1976: Eric and Jill are making out in the tennis court. Todd shows up, wearing Eric's wrestling jacket. He startles the two. When Eric points out Todd is wearing his jacket, Todd tells him to shut up and calls him pathetic. Jill defends Eric before she and Todd argue. Todd slut-shames Jill and insults Eric for his crush on her. Jill counters that Todd was with Melanie. Todd yells at her to shut up. Jill says, "Screw you" and gives him the finger. Enraged, Todd strikes Jill and she falls on the floor. He then throws her against the chainlink fence. When she collapses, Todd beats Jill to death with a tennis racket. Eric watches on, horrified, but doesn't intervene.

("Have You Ever Seen The Rain?", by Creedence Clearwater Revival, plays in the background.) At police headquarters, Eric is giving Lilly his statement. At Tabby's house, Lilly and Stillman find the murder weapon. Lilly arrests Todd and takes him to the station, where Eric is also being arrested. The rain is pouring and press surrounds them when they arrive. Bonita watches the brothers get arrested. Melanie and Evelyn are there too. The episode ends as a rain-soaked Lilly looks around and "sees" Jill.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]





  • First ever episode of Cold Case.
  • Thom Barry is billed over John Finn and Jeremy Ratchford in this episode, but after them in all subsequent episodes.
  • This episode has no opening credits sequence. Many of the shots in the opening come from this episode, including the case folder with the name J. SHELBY on it, a pair of hands in handcuffs, and Lilly in the rain.
  • The triple homicide in a restaurant that Lilly, Vera, and Lassing investigate at the start of this episode would later be solved in the second season episode "The Badlands."
  • This case was apparently based on the 1975 killing of Martha Moxley; brothers Michael and Thomas Skakel (Kennedy relatives) were suspects. Michael was indicted in 2000 and convicted in 2002.
  • The caption at the opening teaser only gives the place and time as "PHILADELPHIA 1976", omitting the actual date, as given in later episodes. Additionally, the first scene in the present features the place and then-present time of "PHILADELPHIA 2003", which was dropped in subsequent episodes, presumably once the structure of the show had been established.
  • The scenes where Mo McRae appears were deleted, but he would later appear in "Saving Patrick Bubley".
  • The original cut featured a character named Walter Deep, a city bureaucrat and nemesis of Lilly's, played by Gregg Henry. Lilly's line about Vera being "a pain in the ass" was originally meant to be in reference to Deep.
  • Jeffries was played by actor Mel Winkler in the original cut.
  • The episode was remade as the first episode of No Statute of Limitations.


  • When Lilly finds the three dead bodies, one of them (identified in season 2 as Della Lincoln) blinks.


Opening Song[]

Alongside Songs[]

Closing Song[]

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