"Born Psychopath"
SVU, Episode 14.19
Production number: 14019
First aired: 3 April 2013
  th of 476 produced in SVU  
th of 476 released in SVU
  th of 1229 released in all  
Written By
Julie Martin & Warren Leight

Directed By
Alex Chapple


When a school nurse notices several injuries on a young girl, the SVU detectives are called in to investigate. A closer look at her family reveals a mother struggling to manage the violent outbursts of her ten-year-old son when he doesn't get his way. As the SVU squad and the visiting Dr. Huang debate an appropriate course of treatment, the situation rapidly explodes into a dangerous standoff. Meanwhile, Detective Amaro tries to establish a relationship with his newly discovered son.


The SVU squad investigates when a little girl named Ruby Mesner is discovered by the school nurse to have a bruise on her stomach and a bump on her head. When Olivia talks to Ruby, she says she was pushed by a "monster".

When Olivia and Nick talk to the mother, Viola Mesner, she says that the family's babysitter, Irina dropped Ruby off at school and she was okay when she left home in the morning. When Irina is questioned, she says that she was doing laundry in another room when Ruby fell down the stairs at home, but wasn't hurt badly which is why she didn't tell the mom.

Ruby's older brother, Henry says that he was eating waffles in the other room and didn't know that Ruby got hurt. The SVU squad discovers that Ruby has a history of multiple injuries and emergency room visits in the last year. When Henry is questioned about what happened to Ruby, he says that he saw Irina lose her temper with Ruby and pushed her down the stairs out of anger because she was being difficult.

When talking to neighbors about the Mesners, Fin discovers from one of Henry's friends that Henry dislikes Irina. At the Mesners' home, Nick discovers a wooden box hidden in Henry's closet and finds a matchbox with the tips of all the matchsticks missing & discovers the tips kept in another box.

When Irina is questioned, she says that Henry was the one that pushed Ruby down the stairs and is the "monster." When Olivia and Nick talk to Viola about it, she admits that Henry resents Ruby and they had to see a counselor because of it. When Henry is questioned again, he admits that he pushed Ruby and she didn't cry much which means that she wasn't hurt.

The father, Tom Mesner tells Olivia that the guidance counselor feels that the kids should work out the issue amongst themselves. When Fin and Rollins talk to the guidance counselor, she doesn't seem too concerned and states that Henry is making good progress under her supervision. The Mesners don't want to see a psychiatrist because they're afraid that Henry might get labeled.

The SVU squad comes to the conclusion that Henry needs help. Olivia and Rollins tell the Mesners that there will be no charges pressed against Henry if they agree to take him to see a shrink. Viola assures them that she will care for Henry and make sure he is not left alone with Ruby.

After the detectives leave, Viola goes to Henry's room to put him to bed, but Henry refuses to sleep. When Viola insists, Henry angrily takes out a knife and when Viola orders him to hand it over, he slashes her hand with it.

When Olivia arrives at the hospital where Viola's wound is treated, Viola defends her son, saying that it was her fault. At the Mesner residence, Rollins looks on as Tom reprimands Henry for hurting his mother, but Henry angrily lashes out, saying that it was Viola's fault. Henry's outburst wakes Ruby and Rollins tells Tom take her back to her bedroom while she stays with Henry. As Tom takes Ruby back to her room, Henry makes small talk with Rollins as if nothing happened at all.

When Dr. Huang evaluates Henry, he tells the SVU squad that Henry is a psychopath because he lacks any emotions and doesn't feel any sympathy or empathy for other people. Dr. Huang suggest sending Henry to a facility in Vermont for severe cases like his. At first, the Mesners balk at the idea, but eventually agree.

Later on, Olivia gets a phone call from Henry who tells her that there is a lot of smoke and is worried about Ruby. He says that Tom is at work and he locked Viola in the laundry room. Viola wanted Henry to call 9-1-1, but Henry decided to call Olivia. At the Mesners' residence, Henry is seen standing in a room filled with smoke with fire burning in a trashcan and Ruby tied up, choking on the smoke.

When the detectives arrive at the scene, a fireman tells Nick that the fire was deliberately started by Henry using the matches that Nick spotted earlier. Henry tied Ruby to the bed so she wouldn't get away. Henry wasn't in the apartment, but the doorman didn't seem him leave. When Olivia talks with Viola, she says that Henry did it because he was furious when he was told about the facility he would be sent to.

When Nick and the rest of the team arrive at Henry's friend Toby's apartment, Toby is found locked in a closet and says that Henry stole his father's gun and left but not before killing Toby's pet dog, Snowball. When Fin Tutuola makes the grim discovery in the bathroom, he knew he can't spare Toby the tragic details but advises Toby's dad not to look and exit the building. When Nick goes to the play area of the apartment building, he notices Henry has taken a 5-year-old boy hostage using the gun of Toby's father.

Nick is able to talk Henry into letting the little boy go, but Henry points the gun at Nick & asks him to stay. As Nick tries to talk Henry into giving up the gun, Henry shoots him in the stomach, but Nick is able to wrestle Henry to the ground & restrains him as Olivia arrives with backup. Because Nick was wearing his vest, he only sustains a minor injury to his stomach.

At the hospital, Cynthia and Gill arrive to meet him and Cynthia signals Nick to tell Gill that he is his father. Meanwhile, the Mesners are informed that Henry will be charged with juvenile delinquency and will be locked up until he is 18 years old. Realizing there's nothing they can do, the Mesners break the news to Henry of this. Upon hearing this, Henry becomes scared and starts to cry, but it is shown that he is not really frightened.


Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast



Dr. Huang: I'm conflicted about labeling a 10-year-old a psychopath, but...
Cragen: But?
Dr. Huang: I've had a chill like that two times in my life with death row serial killers.

Pippa Cox: [about Henry Mesner] If this kid were that troubled, there should be more of a paper trail.
Fin: If he lived in the projects, he'd have been in the system ten times by now.

Background information and notes

Episode scene cards

1 2 3 4

Residence of
Leah Thomas
272 West End Avenue
Thursday, March 14

Child Advocacy Center
207 East 130th Street
Thursday, March 14

Residence of
Adam Burke
272 West End Avenue
Thursday, March 14

The Fremont School
179 West 61st Street
Friday, March 15

Previous episode:
"Legitimate Rape"
"Born Psychopath"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 14
Next episode:
"Girl Dishonored"
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