The Promise
Cold Case S03E02 The Promise.jpg

Season : 3
Episode: 2
Directed by: Paris Barclay
Written by: Veena Sud
Production Number:
Airdate: 2 October 2005
Date of Crime: 23 October 2004
Previous: Family
Next: Bad Night

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Lilly re-opens the case of a college freshman, Laurie Dunne who died in a fraternity house fire in 2004. The fire was deemed accidental at the time, but a cell phone photo, e-mailed from the girl's phone just moments before her death, prompts a closer examination.


The opening starts off as the victim, Laurie Dunne is singing and dancing along to a song she's listening to while getting ready for a party at her school, Pennsylvania State University. Her dad comes in without knocking and sees her dancing. Embarrassed, she sits down and uses her brush to insinuate that she was just fixing her hair. Mr. Dunne gives her a pink scarf, one that belonged to her late mother. And Laurie gets tears full of joy and takes a picture of her and her dad with her phone. Her dad tells her she looks like her mom and she would be so proud of her. Cut to a house fire and Laurie is dead on the ground. A police officer is seen typing that Laurie had died from smoke inhalation caused by the house fire. Her death was ruled as an accident.

In the present, Mr. Dunne comes into the police station and tells them about Laurie's life and how she died in the fire in his perspective. However, Lilly tells him that the fire was an accident and they only specialize in homicides. Mr. Dunne thought it was an accident too, but according to the pictures he found in Laurie's email, he now thinks otherwise. Laurie emailed the photo to herself, and the detectives assume she may have wanted evidence of what really happened the night of the party. It was taken 40 minutes before her death.

Lilly and Stillman go to the college to question Dirk Bryant, Laurie's former best friend who claims he left the party an hour before the fire. They show him the picture of Laurie being force fed alcohol. Stillman asks if he knows anything about who force fed Laurie alcohol. Dirk denies it and doesn't know. Lilly asked him if he's sure, and Dirk says he went back to his dorm room, passed out and said his roommate can vouch for him. Lilly asks him when was the last time he saw Laurie. Dirk says he saw her at the party, she wanted to stay and drink. Stillman is skeptical, and Dirk says he never invited Laurie to begin with; she invited herself.

Flash back: Manny (one of the frat boys) tells Dirk to sit down and eat his lunch with no hands. Dirk puts his head down and starts eating with only his mouth. Laurie comes to say help to Dirk and asks what he's doing. Manny asks Dirk if he can introduce Laurie to him. And Dirk introduces her to him. Laurie introduces Deidre to the frat boys too--they met in foreign film club. Deidre sits at another table waiting for Laurie. Laurie invites Dirk to an Ingmar Bergman film the next Saturday night but Dirk doesn't say anything. Manny speaks for him and says that he is committed to pledging the fraternity and the frat is throwing a party. Manny says everyone is invited and asks if Dirk even thought about inviting Laurie. But Dirk shrugs it off and says "guess I forgot" Laurie accepts the invitation. Manny says "bring your cute friend along too." And Laurie walks away smiling as the flashback fades.

In the present Dirk says Deidre did come to the party with Laurie. Stillman asks if Dirk knows where to find Deidre. Dirk says that he and Laurie drifted apart--he didn't know her friends, she didn't know his. Lilly asked how did Laurie take how they were drifting apart. Dirk says, "things change what are you going to do?" Lilly tells him, "you mean you changed" and Dirk again shrugs it off saying he wanted more than reading foreign film subtitles. Scotty goes to question Deidre who says she remembers the frat boys and they were mean. Scotty asks her if she can share in her point of view if she saw anything. They show her the photo. And Josie tells her Laurie was her friend and to help her and Scotty out. Deidre talks about how the boys blindfolded both of them. Deidre says the minute they went in, they they couldn't see what they were doing nor could they see where their super secret room was. Where the real party would be at. Deidre says she bought a new dress for the party she was going to attend, too. And Scotty asks what happened after they blindfolded Deidre and Deidre replies sarcastically that the real fun and games began.

In a flashback, the frat party is in full swing and the frat boys (Including Dirk) were escorting Deidre and Laurie upstairs wearing blindfolds. Manny welcomes them to their "pen". Manny opens the door and Laurie asks if she can take off her blindfold but Manny tells her not just yet. They're going to introduce them to the other boys. Unbeknownst to the girls, the boys are wearing pig masks and puts Deidre on the "hog scale" (A meter shown to weigh overweight/obese girls in order to see who weighs accordingly) Dirk tells Manny what he's doing isn't cool but Manny could care less. He then introduces Laurie and she too goes on the hog scale. Once on, it is assumed Laurie weighs more than Deidre they are then told to take off their blindfolds. The boys humiliate them. And Manny tells Laurie she is "Queen of the porkers welcome to the pigpen porkies" Deidre throws the ribbon on him and leaves. Laurie looks at Dirk in a disappointing way and Dirk says he didn't know they were going to do this. Laurie attempts to leave but the boys drag her back inside the room and closes the door on Deidre.

In the present, Deidre says they all got out of there, except for Laurie. She is inquired why she kept it a secret. And she goes on to say "would you want to tell the world what they did to you?" Deidre goes on to say what happened to Laurie was an accident. Lilly and the team talk about how they put Deidre and Laurie on display just to humiliate them. Naya comes in and shows them the photo of the Fraternity ring and they decide to make some calls. Scotty and Nick head on over to Gamma Rho Fraternity where they knock and a new pledge guy opens the door dressed as a female maid. Scotty tells him they're looking for Manny. And the guy tells them come inside. Scotty and Nick look at each other flustered and come inside anyway. They see Manny sitting on the couch. The guy in the maid suit stays and Manny tells him to stop gawking and get lost. Manny tells the detectives that's how he disciplines the new pledges. Nick goes on to tell him that they know about his "Hog Scale party" Scotty asks him what he did after he dragged Laurie to the pen. Manny meant for the party to be a joke and goes on saying he didn't do anything to Laurie. Nick tells Manny to talk about his side of the story in his point of view and Manny does.

In the flashback, the boys grab Laurie to come back inside the room that the party is not over yet. Laurie confronts Dirk and starts calling him names of what he experienced back in school. How all the jocks made fun of Dirk. And Laurie asks if he still remembers. The frat guys laugh and one of them inquires if it that really happened. Angered, Laurie tells him that she's not talking to him and to shut up. Laurie talks some sense into Dirk about how hes being a real jerk. And how Dirk used to hate guys like that but he's already become one of them. One of the guys makes a pig sound and laughs in her face. Laurie says she knows who he is (an adult male) and she exits out of the room, and sees Deidre. Her dress is ripped and her mascara smeared as she's crying. Laurie asks her what happened and Deidre doesn't respond and is instead sobbing. Laurie she tells let's get out of here" and they do. Manny doesn't sympathize and goes back to having fun at the party.

In the present, Manny makes a rude remark about Deidre and Laurie getting emotional. And Scotty inquires that Deidre was still in the house. And agitated Manny says, "yeah so what?" Nick asks what did Laurie mean by "i know who you are" to the older guy. Manny shrugs it off as he doesn't remember and/or doesn't know. Josie And Will go over to see Deidre and to ask her why she lied. Shirley, another student and friend to Laurie and Deidre begs Deidre to tell them the truth. Deidre goes on to say she had just bought that dress and someone ripped it. Josie asked her who hurt her, but Deidre couldn't tell as it was dim litted and she barely knew who it was. She tried to find her way out but there was so many rooms. Someone just grabbed her out of nowhere. And it was over before she could even scream. Laurie found her and got her out. And then Deidre says Laurie betrayed her.

In the flashback, Shirley ask Deidre if she's okay, but she's hysterical. Laurie says, "She's not okay". Then, Dirk comes outside and wants to talk to Laurie. But the girls say to get away from them. And Dirk swears he didn't know they were going to do that. And Laurie asks him how he could have not known. And Dirk says they don't tell the pledges anything and he never meant for any of them to come if he knew. Deidre tells him hes a lying piece of crap and Dirk begs Laurie to give him two minutes to explain. And Deidre says Laurie doesn't care what he has to say. Laurie goes to say Dirk is her friend and she wants to hear what he has to say. Sadly, Laurie closes the door with time alone with Dirk. The girls say they left and tried to act like it never happened.

In the present, Josie asks both Deidre and Shirley what they did after that and Shirley says they went straight home. That they pretended that it never happened. Will tells Josie to come over as they I.D.'d the guy shoving tequila down Laurie's throat and they see it's city Councilman Joseph "John" Avery. Will and Lilly head on over to Mr. Dunne's house asking him if he knew Avery but Mr. Dunne says he doesn't. The conversation goes quickly to Dirk. And Mr. Dunne says what about him. And Lilly asks if they keep in touch Mr. Dunne says he comes over for a meal once a week and they watch TV together and talk. He says it helps him take his mind off things. Mr. Dunne asks why they are asking about him. And Lilly says that Mr. Dunne noticed Dirk and Laurie were growing apart by the time they reached college. But Mr. Dunne denies it. He went on to say that the time Laurie's mom wasn't coming back from the hospital, 12 year old Laurie didn't shed a tear. One night Mr. Dunne can't sleep and hears Laurie crying. That's when he sees 12 year old Dirk consoling Laurie. And Mr Dunne knew right then, Dirk was the only one she can depend on. And Mr. Dunne questions if they want to tell him about Dirk what made them ask about Dirk. Josie and Scotty confront Dirk and tell him about what he's doing either he's committed or he feels guilty. Dirk tells them his lawyer said they can' talk to him. Scotty tells Dirk Manny knows he's on the case. And tells everyone. Josie questions why Dirk brought Laurie back inside the house. And Dirk says no one made him do anything that night, no one but himself.

In the flashback, Dirk is talking to Laurie. And Laurie doesn't want to hear it but knows she has to. Dirk apologizes and Laurie gets angry and says "that's what you have to say for yourself? She says that "its not good enough." Dirk talk about the time her mother died and how Dirk remembered watching her cry. And he remembered thinking how they were just twelve years old. But those years were over. He knew that night that he was the only person she can rely on. And Laurie says he always was. And Dirk replies "with not tonight." He hands her back her pink scarf. And Laurie is in tears. They both embrace one another. But it's quickly broken up when Manny and the frat boys come inside. Manny intimidates Laurie by calling her an oinker and Laurie tells Dirk "lets go." But Dirk doesn't answer. And again Manny calls Laurie a porker. Dirk defends Laurie by telling Manny to not call her that. But Manny tells him to shut it. Manny grabs Laurie and Dirk tells him to leave her alone. But Manny punches him. And Dirk lands on the floor. The boys force her to go with them. As they take her, Dirk is calling Laurie's name, but two more frat boy come back and kick him in the stomach. Dirk sees Avery in the pig mask.

In the present, Dirk says he went back to his dorm and he was out of it and didn't know what to do. Josie and Scotty both stop questioning Dirk and leave. The next day, John Stillman tells Avery hes not convinced it was an accident and they know he was there the night Laurie died. He begins to tell his point of view on what happened.

In the flashback, the frat boys were force feeding Laurie a bottle of tequila while rap music was playing in the background. More and more being forced down her throat. Laurie snapped a picture of what they were doing to her by using her phone camera. Manny saw and came up to her and ripped her phone out of her hands. He purposely dropped it on the floor and began stepping on it breaking it. Avery said "she was taking pictures?" And Laurie says she emailed it. Manny attempts to assault Laurie. But Avery stops him and tells him to leave her alone. He tells them party's over and to get out. He tells Manny to take Laurie home and he doesn't care how.

In the present, Avery says Laurie was alive when he left. There were witnesses who saw him leave the house. He reveals it was the girls. Lilly interrogates Shirley that she started the fire. But Shirley denies it. But Lilly has a witness. Lilly is saying Deidre is blaming it all on Shirley. But Shirley says Lilly is lying and Deidre would never do such a thing. Shirley goes on to say that the boys had no right to do what they did to them. Shirley says the boys broke her and the girls and Lilly asks "why burn the house?" And Shirley says to break them.

In the flashback, one of the girls says to go home and forget about it. And Shirley asks Laurie what they should do because they can't go and tell everyone as they will be more humiliated on what they experienced because its their word against the frat boys. And it was Laurie's idea to burn the house down. And everyone agrees. Deidre grabs the matches and begins to set them on fire. But she can't because she's overwhelmed with emotion. Shirley begins to ask if Deidre's okay and Laurie says shes not. Dirk comes out and talks to Laurie. And its all puzzled together as the detectives already know what happened after that. Deidre attempts to torch the place but Shirley tells Deidre that Laurie is still inside, but a hysterical Deidre could care less. And she goes on to say Laurie is a traitor. Shirley consoles Deidre and says lets go home. Deidre doesn't hesitate and takes Shirley's word for it. But they see Councilman Joseph "John" Avery. Deidre's recognizes her as her rapist/attacker. He berates them one last time by saying "oink oink" and Deidre without hesitating, torches down the frat house The girls run and Deidre stays watching the place get burned.

In the present, Deidre says it spread so fast. Everyone was running and screaming. All she could do was stare and watch. She questioned why couldn't Laurie get out. She says everyone did, including Dirk. He was the last one out. Scotty and Lilly confront Dirk now that they are skeptical of his story. Dirk tells them to leave him alone. Scotty says he stayed trying to save Laurie. But Dirk continues to deny it. Dirk attempts to leave but Scotty stops him. Lilly goes on to say that Dirk was there for Laurie that he was all she can rely on. And Dirk begs them to stop talking about this. And Dirk's voice begins to break saying that Laurie made him promise. And that was the reason Dirk could never tell what happened, Mr. Dunne thinks Laurie died happy. And if Dirk told what happened, the truth would break his heart. He says he wasn't Laurie's rock, she was his. And Lilly tells Dirk to tell them the truth.

In the flashback, Dirk finds Laurie and Manny. Manny begins berating Dirk by saying its his fault because Laurie took incriminating pictures that if anybody finds out about, their fraternity will be shut down. Dirk tells Manny its over. Manny takes out his belt and Dirk right away knows what he's about to do. Dirk tells Manny not to touch Laurie and Manny begins pushing him and Dirk begins fighting back. Manny tells him "if you won't oink the oinkster, I will" He begins taking Dirk out of the room but are quickly interrupted when the fire downstairs breaks out. Manny pushes Dirk out of the room. Dirk tried to save Laurie by trying to get her out of the burning room. But Manny slams the door shut unable for Laurie to get out. Dirk tells Manny Laurie is still in there. Manny has the key in his hand and makes Dirk choose between him or Laurie. (It's implied he chose Laurie) Dirk tells Manny to give him the key but Manny throws the key and he escapes. Laurie pleads for Dirk to help her and Dirk tells her to get away from the door. He tries to kick it open, but its no use. Dirk escapes through the window, and he tells Laurie to go to the barred window to get some air, but Laurie can't breathe. He goes over to her, and tells her to keep her head where there is air. Dirk holds her hands and tells her not to let go of him. Laurie makes him promise to take care of her dad as she doesn't want him to be alone. Dirk tells her not to say that, that she will get out. Dirk tells her he won't let her go. And Laurie says she knows he won't. Her hands loses her grip with Dirk as she falls on the ground. Dirk tearfully calls out her name as she dies.

Fallen by Sarah MCLachlan plays. In the ending, Lilly and Scotty have Manny in custody and Dirk watches as he is escorted to the police car. . Shirley snaps a picture of him with her camera phone as he goes into the police car. At the police station, Deidre is getting her mugshot taken and it's likely she's going to jail too for starting the fire. Joseph "John" Avery is getting escorted out of the police car and is being questioned by press as he enters the court room. Nick writes in a case box that Laurie's case is solved and is therefore marked as closed. Mr. Dunne holds a picture of him and Laurie in his hands. And Dirk holds the pink scarf in his hand and gives it to Mr. Dunne. Dirk sits down. As Mr. Dunne looks down, Laurie's ghost shows up and Dirk sees her. Laurie smiles at Dirk a bit and nods her head as Dirk does the same. She then fades away.


Main Cast

Guest Cast



  • The opening scene is dated October 23, 2003, but the episode's flashbacks actually take places on October 23, 2004.
  • Laurie's case file reads Dunne, L M05-132 Closed
  • It is implied in this episode that Deidre was raped while her dress was being torn.
  • The Song "Here Without You" of 3 Doors Down was played later during the Live Funeral of Mexican-American Professional Wrestler Eddie Guerrero who passed away on November 13. 2005 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


  • Outkast "Hey Ya"
  • Bowling For Soup "Almost"
  • Avril Lavigne "Sk8er Boi"
  • PGM "Raise Your Hands"
  • 3 Doors Down "Here Without You"
  • 5 Alarm Music "All Flossed Out"
  • Snow Patrol "Run"
  • PGM "Talk To You"
  • Closing Song: Sarah McLachlan "Fallen"

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