|←||L&O, Episode 5.07||→|
|Production number: 69410|
First aired: 9 November 1994
| Written By|
I.C. Rapoport & René Balcer
Marty Willick flags an officer down at the park and tells him that his three month old daughter Emily is missing after he dozed off on park bench for a few minutes. He provides a description to a sketch artist, which someone at the park recognizes as a man, Robert Cole, who she previously saw at Riverside Park taking pictures of children with a camera that has no film. The police interview him at his apartment but he is cleared once he explains he is just a guy "trying to get busy" and meet nannies and mothers and shows them his little black book with their names and contact information.
The backpack Emily was carried in is found in the bushes near the park entrance with only Marty's prints on it. The detectives decide that the alternative scenario of a kidnapper who wore gloves, discarded the backpack and carried the baby away like a football, so they begin to suspect the baby never made it into the park into the first place. Marty is questioned at the precinct and Briscoe appeals to Marty's shared experience as a father in interrogation to get him to reveal the location of the baby.
They find the baby in a cooler wrapped in satin bedding with a crucifix and a stuffed dog. The ME suggests that the baby was well taken care of and could have died from asphyxia or natural causes. Marty insists that the baby was sick a lot and that the child died of natural causes. The detectives debate the possibility that this was a natural crib death, but Logan points out that it is strange that a parent's first instinct would be to bury their child in a cooler instead of immediately rushing her to the hospital. They go to Mt. Sinai where Eileen had taken Emily many times, only to be led to their pediatrician who tells them that Eileen has had two previous children who died at five and three months. He suggests the kids had an inherited metabolic disorder that could have resulted in sudden death. Logan expresses confusion that they didn't consider adoption given that the doctor explains their children as carrying a "death gene" and the pediatrician explains that they did and he wrote a recommendation on their behalf. They discover that they had previously adopted an 18 month old child who was removed from their care. Nothing was proven but there was allegation of abuse with false things and was suffocated.
They interrogate Eileen and she insists she is a good mother who did the best she could. Eileen talks about how much she enjoys the attention when she has a child but how it eventually stops coming, how Marty goes back to work and comes home tired, and how she is left with nothing. Logan confronts Marty with the pattern of behavior their three dead children and the adopted child present and he reluctantly admits it's possible that Eileen could have done something. Despite a conclusive cause of death from the ME, the detectives pressure Kincaid to go forward with an indictment and Eileen and Marty are arrested.
The detectives see Dr. Slavin, who is an expert on crib death, and she comments about how unlikely these are all crib deaths. They refer the detectives to a behavioral expert, who suggests that Eileen is a sympathy junkie who suffers from Munchausen syndrome. Marty's sister Theresa comments tells the detectives about Eileen's strange behavior at the wake of their previous child and how she seems to crave attention. She explains how devoted her brother Marty is to Eileen and reveals that he actually wanted a vasectomy after the death of their second child, but that Eileen manipulated him out of it by threatening divorce.
The trial moves forward as both the prosecution and the defense bring out their medical experts, and McCoy is able to portray Marty as a light sleeper and how unlikely it would have been for him to have slept through their child's death. Throughout the trial, McCoy is precluded from mentioning the deaths of the previous children as prior bad acts. The defense attorney Brolin paints her as a devoted and loving mother who is just unlucky. Nearing the end of the trial, 9 of the jurors are convinced but 3 are not, and Schiff pressures McCoy to consider a plea bargain. However, McCoy is only willing to do so with the extreme stipulation that Eileen undergo a tubal ligation. The judge is unwilling to allow this extreme request, and tells McCoy he must either offer the plea without this condition or be removed from the case, which he agrees to. While a new ADA is being assigned to the case, McCoy discovers in a report from Brolin that Eileen is 2.5 months pregnant, which shocks Marty. Confronted with this fact, Marty confesses that he saw Eileen with a pillow that she suffocated their child and that he wants her to get help. Eileen pleads out to manslaughter and begins her sentence in Bedford Hills.
- Jerry Orbach as Detective Lennie Briscoe
- Chris Noth as Detective Mike Logan
- S. Epatha Merkerson as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren
- Sam Waterston as Executive A.D.A. Jack McCoy
- Jill Hennessy as A.D.A. Claire Kincaid
- Steven Hill as D.A. Adam Schiff
- Sam Gray as Judge Manuel Leon
- Maria Tucci as Defense Attorney Helen Brolin
- Donald Corren as Medill
- Amy Hohn as Assistant M.E. Manning
- Kevin O'Rourke as Marty Willick
- Julie Boyd as Eileen Willick
- Nada Rowand as Dr. Margaret Slavin
- Joel Leffert as Robert Cole
- Brooks Rogers as Dr. Henry Royce
- Becky Borczon as Theresa Tritch
- Gibby Brand as Dr. Charles Webb
- Kim Staunton as Sally Parks
- Keely Eastley as Dr. Irene Mischler
- Eileen Galindo as Nanny #1
- Alta Withers as Nanny #2
- Floyd Vivino as Building Super
- Jackye Roberts as Yuppie Mom
- Holley Stewart as Patterson
- Michael Bias as Gillespie
- Craig Noble as CSU Policeman
- John Louis Fischer as Uniformed Policeman
- Constance Tizard-Lewis as Jury Forewoman
- Munchausen syndrome by proxy
- Nazi Germany
- New Jersey
- Skinner v. Oklahoma
- Emily Willick (victim)
- Daniel Willick (victim)
- Caroline Willick (victim)
- Gary Willick (victim)
Eileen: I didn't kill them. Can't you see how this all hurts me? All of my babies died and nobody UNDERSTANDS ME!
Background information and notes
- The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Manipulated" also deals with a woman who has Munchausen syndrome, as does the SVU episode "Pathological".
- This episode was adapted as the Law & Order: UK episode "Safe".
Episode scene cards
District Attorney's Office
Law & Order