Law and Order
"Double Strands"
SVU, Episode 13.04
Production number: 13004
First aired: 12 October 2011
First aired (US): 12 October 2011
First aired (UK): 1 April 2012
First aired (CAN): 12 October 2011
First aired (AUS): 9 February 2012
  {{{nNthProducedInSeries}}}th of 502 produced in SVU  
{{{nNthReleasedInSeries}}}th of 502 released in SVU
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RollinsSmith DoubleStrands.jpg
Written By
John P. Roche

Directed By
Fred Berner

When a beautiful dancer is raped, the suspect's M.O. reminds Detective Amanda Rollins of an unsolved case from Atlanta.


A dancer is followed home and raped by a man with a distinctive tattoo and the details of the attack remind Rollins of a serial rapist she was tracking back home. The detectives arrest Gabriel Thomas, a family man who maintains his innocence, but his description and DNA match this assault and the string of rapes across multiple states that Rollins had been investigating match Thomas' movements. Although the evidence supports the arrest, the more Detectives Olivia Benson and Nick Amaro dig into Thomas' past, the more they begin to believe his story.


The scene, unlike most SVU episodes in the past, opens up with the attacker before he strikes. An unidentified white male follows a young woman on her way home and tries to get her to smile before pulling out a knife and attacking her physically and sexually. SVU appear onsite the same evening, as Benson is questioning her about what happened, she comes across a piece of information that catches Detective Rollins's ear. The victim stated that the perp told her over and over, "Tell me you love me, Mommy."

Back at the squad room, Detective Rollins reports that this followed the same motive as a serial rapist she tracked but couldn't catch while on duty in Georgia. Benson, still unbelieving that a serial rapist would suddenly jump from Georgia to New York, hires a detailed sketch of the perp, who has a distinct yin-yang tattoo on his neck. Upon release to the media, a couple of women in the park find a man matching that description and text a picture of him to the NYPD intake line. By then, a second victim had come forward and identified her attacker upon seeing the picture sent in.

Amaro and Benson arrive at the home of Gabriel and Janey Thomas, and upon questioning appeal to his sense of family and ask him to come along quietly. He does so, believing he is innocent until both victims pick him out of a lineup. Rollins assumes his immediate guilt and is forced to watch as Benson and Amaro question Thomas until DNA testing from the previous rapes come back. Former ADA Sherri West arrives as Thomas's attorney, also believing her client's innocence.

The DNA comes back a match and Thomas is shocked, and remanded without bail. Detective Amaro, not feeling like Thomas is his perp, tries to talk him into confessing to get a better plea bargain but Thomas swears he will not admit to something he didn't do. Upon transfer to The Tombs, Thomas attempts suicide by slashing both wrists. He is barely saved, and at the hospital Benson talks to Janey Thomas. She tells detectives that she couldn't believe it and that he was the sweetest man in the world, stating that when she miscarried several years ago, he didn't leave her side for the whole weekend.

She also mentions that he was an only child, both parents dead within months of each other while he was in college, and that she and their six year old son were all that he had in the world. Amaro digs deeper into the miscarriage story and finds signed affidavits from doctors, nurses and Janey's mother stating that he was at her side all weekend, not even leaving to take his pirate makeup off from a Halloween party. Amaro then discovers that he was 100 miles away when one of the attacks occurred, and insists that they may have the wrong guy (especially since a victim along the Atlantic coast described a chipped tooth and a scar along her attacker's stomach).

Cragen instructs them to dig into Thomas's past. Upon questioning, the detectives discover that he is adopted, and his parents were good people and he never made contact with his birth mother. When Benson and Amaro find her, she tells them about giving up identical twin boys 36 years before.

When prompted, she tells them how one of the boys, Brian Smith, found her and wanted to reconnect. She told him about having a twin, and shortly after their visit he was forced to testify against his adoptive mother because he watched as she drugged her husband and set him on fire. She states Brian wanted her in his life, as the detectives ask her on the answer while she states her disinterest 'I gave him up once, he should have taken the hint'.

Upon this newly found evidence, the detectives discover Brian Smith is identical to Thomas in every way and find he had been tailing his brother for years. With this, the detectives and the ADA conspire to 'release' Gabriel Thomas, knowing well that his brother won't attack again as long as he was in custody. All the paperwork is done for Thomas to be released but he is to remain in the tank (so they can be sure they have the right person), as the detectives set a trap. All of the previous victims were blond and athletic.

They find that Brian Smith works as a janitor for Central Park and Rollins poses as a jogger for four days until she finally baits him enough to where he follows her on bike as she jogs through to a deserted area with Amaro and Fin on foot. Amaro arrives just in time, as Smith held a knife to Rollins's throat and punches him in the face several times.

Rollins states she is fine, she just wants to get her collar on Smith. However, ADA Novak, trying this case, states that since Rollins was both victim and witness, she couldn't talk to her attacker. Smith tells Fin and Munch that unless he talks to the blond, he wants a lawyer. Rollins goes in, and gets her confession after poking holes in the story that Smith attempted to give her about how his brother was the rapist, not him.

She mentions that he left a fingerprint, and that twins have matching DNA but nobody has matching fingerprints. He eventually breaks down, and confesses everything; that he followed his brother every time he moved so that he could rape as much as he wanted without ever having to worry about being caught, even going as far as to getting the same tattoo on his neck.

Brian is charged, and when Gabriel is released, he asks who did it. He tells everyone he didn't know when he sees that it's his own twin brother, identical in every way. The episode ends with Detective Amaro telling Thomas that his brother knew, and did it all anyway.


Main Cast

Recurring Cast

Guest Cast



Munch to Amaro: What's bugging you, new guy?

Amaro: Look I get it. His life dovetails with the rapist, but does anyone think it's weird that he just offered all that up?
Novak: Is he always like this?

Gabriel: Who is that?
Benson: Your twin brother.

Gabriel: My..?I didn't know that.
Amaro: He did.

Background information and notes

  • Rollins mentions letting her old captain know they captured who they thought was the The Atlantic Coast Rapist. That captain, Sam Reynolds, is introduced on screen in the episode "Strange Beauty".

Episode scene cards

1 2 3 4

Home of
Gabriel and Janey Thomas
428 West 51st Street
Tuesday, September 20

Arraignment Court
Part 18
Thursday, September 22

Medical Examiner's Office
433 East 26th Street
Saturday, September 24

Halfway House
150 Walnut Avenue
Trenton, New Jersey
Sunday, September 25

Previous episode:
"Blood Brothers"
"Double Strands"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 13
Next episode:
"Missing Pieces"
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