Lilly's social worker friend approaches her for help with a troubled teen who witnessed the 1989 murder of his mother when he was only three years old. The only thing he remembers about the night of her murder are red and yellow balloons, a train, and the name "Bobby". As they dig into his mother's past however, they soon find not all was as it appeared.
October 11, 1989 A woman comes out of the shower. She picks up her little son, and plays with him. Someone knocks on the door. She’s now lying on the floor, dead. There’s blood all around and the boy is crying, sitting in his mom’s blood.
Cut to 2004 Lilly and Scotty meet at a court building. Lilly says they’re meeting Lindsay Dunley, a court appointed child psychologist, whom Lilly went to high school with. Lindsay has the case of Sean Morgan, a 17-year-old boy arrested many times for stealing purses. Sean witnessed his mother’s murder when he was 3 and grew up in foster homes. Lindsay called them because it seems like Sean is having memories from the crime. Lindsay introduces Sean to Lilly and Scotty. The boy is really rude to them and says he forgot the memories from his mother’s murder. Scotty gets annoyed and wants to leave, but Lilly doesn’t give up. Lilly asks Sean if people always treat him like what’s he’s saying is all crap. Sean says that’s what happens. She says they’re the first people who want to listen to him and she can’t believe he’s letting them walk away. Scotty adds that if he wants his mom’s case to be looked at, they’re his chance. Sean asks Lilly why should he believe them. She faces him and says, ”Look at me. Am I lying?”. Sean doesn’t answer. Lilly is starting to walk away when Sean says, ”Red and yellow balloons, a train, and the name Bobby. That’s what I remember about her being murdered.”
At the office, Lilly, Scotty and Stillman are looking at the case’s file. They don’t have much to start on. Rebecca Morgan, Sean’s mom, worked as a waitress at a place called Boilermakers. Sean’s father was never around. Her body was found by one of her neighbors, Leon Kincaid. Will, who was running the list of all the people interviewed back in 1989, says Leon has a record for sexual assalt, and other crimes of that nature. Leon is now the president of Germantown Dorsett Bank. Lilly and Scotty go visit Leon, who tells them how he found Rebecca’s body. They ask if he was close to Rebecca, or if he ever asked her out. Leon says no. Lilly and Scotty start to pressure him about his old habits, and finally Leon admits that he peeped on Rebecca, regularly. Lilly asks if he did that the night she died. Leon says yes, but that he didn’t kill her.
Flashback to 1989 Someone knocks at Rebecca’s door. She answers and it’s a guy named Ned. He apologizes about what happened earlier and says to Rebecca that ”the ball is on her court now”. He also brings red and yellow balloons to Sean and a gift. Rebecca doesn’t want to take them, but Ned insists. Cut to 2004 Lilly and Scotty go visit Ned Ryan. He owns a store near where Rebecca lived. Back in 1989, he told the police he hadn’t seem Rebecca in a week before she got murdered. Lilly and Scotty say that they know Ned visited Rebecca the night she was murdered. Ned says he was there but he left after a few minutes. Lilly asks if he didn’t get back, because he was angry; and Scotty adds that they know he and Rebecca had fought earlier that day. Ned says that Rebecca was a regular at the store, and that sometimes he helped her, giving her pampers and baby food, because she didn’t have much money. Flashback to 1989 Ned is helping Rebecca to put her groceries in her car. Rebecca thanks him and says that she just added another shift at the bar and it shouldn’t take too long before she’s on her own two feet again. Ned says it’s not right for a woman like her to work in a filthy place like that. Rebecca says it’s a blessing to have more work, and when Rebecca is getting in the car Ned tries to kiss her. She stops him, and says she’s sorry, that she’s not the kind of woman that kisses guys casually like that. Ned says he doesn’t mean that casually, and that Rebecca needs a man in her life and a father figure to Sean. Rebecca says she already has a man in her life, from the time she lived in Virginia. Ned gets really angry and says that since Sean is already 3, he won’t be needing so much pampers anymore, and then slams Rebecca’s car door.
Cut to 2004 Ned says that he felt horrible for blowing up that way; but after visiting Rebecca that night, he left for good. They ask Ned where he was the rest of the evening. Ned says that he lived in an apartment building that night, and he wouldn’t know if anyone saw him. Lilly says they’ll look into it. Ned adds that he wanted to find a girl like his mother, from a better time; and Rebecca was that girl. At the office, Nick says that Ned’s story is true. A guy at his building saw him there at night. Lilly says now they have to investigate that man in Rebecca’s life, maybe Sean’s dad. Will, who was looking into Rebecca’s past in Virginia, has found out that Rebecca Morgan died in 1982, which is four years before Sean was even born. At the office, the detectives talk about why Rebecca could be using an alias. Nick says women in that situation are usually running from abuse. Lilly notes that Rebecca did tell Ned she was in a mixed up relationship. Stillman says that shows them Rebecca was probably on the run. He tells Scotty to go to the coroner’s and see if there are any prints so they track down Rebecca’s real identity. Lilly asks Scotty to call her if he has a name, because she’s going to see Sean now. After Lilly leaves, Stillman asks Scotty about Elisa. Scotty says she’s fine and that she liked meeting him, and that she’ll always come to First Thursdays. Stillman asks if she’s someone serious. Scotty says they were engaged before everything happened. Stillman says he hopes they’ll get back together, and Scotty says he hopes that too. Lilly is now with Sean. She tells him the balloons were real, and asks him to tell her more about the train and Bobby. Sean says he’s not sure the train was even real, that maybe it was a sketch or a drawing, and that’s all he’s got. Lilly says she thinks his mom was running from something, and that she’s not even sure who his mother was. Sean says she was Rebecca Morgan. Lilly says that the name she was going by, but she was actually somebody else. Sean says he doesn’t care if Lilly solves his mom’s case or not. Lilly’s cell phone rings. After she hangs up she asks Sean if he wants to know his mother’s real name. Sean answers no, thanks. Lilly leaves.
Scotty and Will are now visiting Linda’s mom (Rebecca’s real name was Linda Frandsen). She tells them Linda wasn’t a bad girl, but she never really liked her. She just wasn’t maternal. They ask Mrs. Frandsen about the last time she saw Linda. She says it was on the spring of 1987, when Linda showed up at her house unannounced. Will asks what was the occasion. She says the reason was Vic, Linda’s ex-husband. Flashback to 1989 Linda shows up at her mom’s door with baby Sean. Mrs. Frandsen is not pleased to see her and asks what she’s doing there. Linda says Vic is a freak and he won’t let him hurt Sean. Mrs. Frandsen says Linda should go the police, but Linda doesn’t want to do that. Linda asks her mom to let them stay there for that night, and then she’ll be out of her life forever. Mrs. Frandsen is not happy, but agrees. Cut to 2004 Mrs. Frandsen says that Linda and Sean were on the road early. Will asks if Vic didn’t call or show up. Mrs. Frandsen says no, and that Vic would never expect her to know 80 Cold Case Episode Guide where Linda was. Scotty asks if she ever heard of Linda again. Mrs. Frandsen says no. Lilly and Scotty are now talking to Vic Lake, Linda’s ex-husband. He is crushed to learn about Linda’s death. They say that according to Linda’s mom, she was on the run from him. Vic says he never met Linda’s mom, even though he wanted to. He adds that Linda had a lot of rules, for instance, she never wanted to really marry him. Scotty asks why he kept her around if she was like that. Vic says that his life with Linda was different, he was happy. Lilly interrupts and says she’s not buying his story, because they’ve been there for 5 minutes and Vic hasn’t asked about his son. Vic says he and Linda never had a kid. He says Linda’s biggest dream was to have a baby, but that he couldn’t give her one.
Flashback to 1989 Vic tells Linda he set up an appointment for them at the adoption agency. Linda says they’ll never approve their application. Vic says they might get lucky. He adds that they could slow down, and get married, what would increase their chances. Rebecca is annoyed and finally confesses that she’s pregnant. Vic is surprised and happy but Rebecca tells him the baby’s not his, and runs out of the room. Cut to 2004 Vic says that he thought he and Rebecca could talk and work things out, but one day he came home from work and she was gone. Scotty asks when was this. Vic says it was April in 85. They ask if Vic knew who was the baby’s father. Vic says that once he found a name, and thought it could be the guy. Scotty asks if the name wasn’t Bobby. Vic says it was Kyle Silver. Lilly and Scotty are now talking to Kyle Silver. He’s a doctor. He tells them he almost lost his marriage because of Linda. Scotty asks about the baby, and Kyle says that wasn’t really the problem, because Linda had a miscarriage. Scotty and Lilly are really surprised with that information. Lilly asks if Kyle knows about other guys Linda might have had after him. Kyle says he doesn’t know, but that it wasn’t easy to say goodbye to Linda. They ask why, and Kyle says it was because Linda was ”so sexy it was silly”. Flashback to 1989 Linda comes to see Kyle at the hospital. She’s dressed in a very sexy way, differently from what we’ve seen. She’s all over Kyle, and he’s trying to get away from her. He drags her to a hidden place. She begins to unbutton her shirt and to kiss him. He says it can’t be that way, and that they have to break up. Linda says she’s not giving up on him. Kyle says it’s all wrong and leaves her. Cut to 2004 Kyle says that after that, he walked back to his office and never saw Linda again. Lilly asks if that’s how Linda was, sexually speaking. Kyle nods and says that makes two secrets he keeps, and that his wife would’ve never forgiven her if she knew the particulars.
At the office, Scotty says that the hospital confirmed that Linda had a miscarriage in September of 1985. Lilly says that Sean was born in October of 1986, so Linda got pregnant again really fast. Scotty says that by Kyle’s account of Linda, it would’ve taken her all of an hour. A doctor - Frannie - that they called about the case, arrives. Lilly thanks her for coming so late. Frannie jokes she’s hasn’t got anything else to do at 10 p.m. Lilly and Scotty say that they want to establish exactly when Linda got pregnant the second time. Frannie asks if they mean the Rebecca Morgan, now Linda Frandsen case. Lilly says yes. Frannie says that according to the autopsy, there’s no indication of dilatation in the bone structure of her pelvis. Meaning: Linda never gave birth at all. At the office, the detectives talk about their new information. Nick has done a search on the records from missing children in Virginia and nearby states, and they’ve got two possible matches: John Barrett from Aberdeen, Maryland; and Robert Gordon, from Richmond, Virginia. Lilly says that Robert could be ”Bobby”. Scotty says he’ll go after the Gordons’ DNA, and Lilly says she’ll get a sample from Sean. Stillman tells them to head South as soon as they get a match. Lilly and Scotty are now with the Gordons, Sean’s real parents. Lilly says that Sean has lived in foster homes all his life, and that he’s had it rough. Mr. Gordon asks if he’s been arrested. Lilly says Sean was arrested several times, but until now the court has bailed him out. Scotty asks if they ever met someone named Linda Frandsen. They say that was the name of their landscaper's wife. Mrs. Gordon remembers Linda came by with Vic once.
Flashback to 1989 Vic’s working on the Gordon’s garden, and Linda is sitting in the car. Mrs. Gordon comes with baby Bobby. Linda plays with him. She tells Mrs. Gordon she’s expecting a baby. Cut to 2004 The Gordons say that Linda and Vic seemed decent people. Scotty says he knows, they’ve met Vic. Mrs. Gordon wants to know when they’ll be able to see Bobby. Lilly explains that Bobby goes by Sean now and that he doesn’t know about them yet; but that Child Services will be in touch with them to facilitate things. As Lilly and Scotty are ready to leave, Mr. Gordon asks why are they investigating Linda’s murder. He leaves, pissed off, saying Linda should go to hell. Lilly meets Lindsay outside court. Lindsay tells Lilly that Sean got another chance, but that it’s probably his last one. As she leaves, Sean comes out. Lilly walks to him. Sean says that Lilly is his shadow. Lilly tells Sean not to screw up again. He thanks for her advice and starts to walk away. As he’s going, Lilly says that his mom’s name was Linda Frandsen, and that she kidnapped him when he was 2. She also tells that she found his parents. Sean says Lilly can have them. Lilly says they don’t want her, they want him. Sean says he doesn’t want a family. Lilly says she’d settle to have one parent looking after her, and he’s got two and he’s snubbing them. She turns to leave and Sean says he didn’t realize she was such a hot head. Lilly says to Sean that he can be the kind of kid his parents want, or he can be a thug. It’s up to him.
At the Police Headquarters, Scotty and Nick are interrogating Vic. They ask him about kidnapping the Gordon’s baby and killing Linda. Vic denies it. They pressure him until he admits he took the baby. He tells that after Linda lost Kyle’s baby, she came back to him. And since he wanted her to stay, he said he would do anything. And Linda said, ”Prove it”. Flashback to 1989 Mrs. Gordon puts Bobby in his crib. Vic gets into the bedroom through the window and takes the baby. He runs with him to Linda, who’s waiting in the car. Vic wants to leave with her, but Linda says he should go back and keep working, so it won’t look suspicious. She says she’ll go to a hotel and wait for him there. Cut to 2004 Vic says that when he got to the motel, Linda had gone. She left a note saying she was coming to Philadelphia to look for better things for them, and that she would call him. Obviously, she never called. Scotty asks if he ever told anyone that Linda was in Philadelphia. Vic says that a few years later a private investigator came asking about Linda, and that he told him that she was in Philadelphia. Later, at the office, Nick says that the private investigator who talked to Vic was Isiah Bagley. And the best part is that he worked for Dr. Kyle Silver. Scotty and Lilly are surprised since Kyle told them he wanted to get rid of Linda. Nick says that according to the detective Kyle wanted to find her at any cost.
Stillman gets a call from Lindsay, telling that Sean just got picked up for stealing a car. Lilly goes to visit Sean at jail. She’s pretty pissed with him. Sean says she’s just as full of it as everyone else. Lilly asks him what he wants, and Sean answers he wants to get out of there. Lilly asks if he gets out of there, and out of foster homes, then what he’s going to do. Sean says he’ll be on the run, without looking back. Lilly asks if he’s taking anyone with him, maybe a girl. Sean says no, he’ll still meet his woman. He adds that he wants to have 13 children. Lilly asks what he’s going to do for work. Sean answers, annoyed, that he doesn’t know. Lilly asks what he’s going to do with 13 mouths to feed. Sean says maybe he won’t have 13 kids, maybe just one. A girl. Lilly - who seems to be really affected by that conversation - asks what he’s going to do when his little girl comes home with a purple foot. Sean asks why would she have a purple foot. Lilly says it’s because it’s winter time, he has no job, his wife has a new guy and his daughter has holes in her shoes. Sean asks if he hasn’t got the right to have anything in life. Lilly answers that he does, but he’s going to need help. Sean asks how does she know what he needs. Lilly almost yells, ”Because I wanted everything too! But I was too dayumn proud to ask for help, for way too long!” It’s a pretty intense moment and Lilly is on the verge of tears. She wishes Sean good luck and leaves. As she’s leaving, Sean says that he wants to meet his family.
When Lilly arrives back at the office, Scotty tells her that Kyle is there. As they’re going to interrogate him, Mr. and Mrs. Gordon arrive. They’ve heard Sean got arrested again. Scotty explains that Sean’s situation is serious, since he violated his probation. Lilly adds that he could go to jail for the next 2 years. Mrs. Gordon asks if it would help if they showed up at Sean’s hearing, the next day. Lilly says they don’t know, but that it would be good for Sean to see then there tomorrow. Scotty and Lilly are now with Kyle at the interrogation room. They question him about the fact that he filed for divorce a month before Linda was murdered. And then he found her with a baby, and since she didn’t want him anymore, he killed her, nearly ripping her head off. Lilly says that they know he had a P.I. looking for Linda, so he can’t tell them he didn’t want to see her anymore. Kyle admits he visited Linda on the night she got murdered. He wanted to pick her up, but she didn’t want to go, so he took a train to Washington D.C., he has a ticket and they can look into it. Scotty says that there’s another problem: Linda’s son can put him in the crime scene. Kyle says that’s not even worth him calling a lawyer. Lilly says that’s worth then getting a DNA test, and with the blood and hair samples they’ve got, it’s enough evidence. Kyle laughs, and says Linda should’ve just come away with him.
Flashback to 1989 Someone knocks at Linda’s door. It’s Kyle. She’s surprised to see him. He says he’s come for her. She says he’s had his chance and that Sean is the man in her life now. Kyle says he knows that she kidnapped Sean, and says she has two options: she can come with him or she can go to jail. As they’re talking, Sean grabs a train ticket from Kyle’s jacket, which is on the chair Sean’s sitting. Linda is not taking Kyle seriously, and says he’s the worst man she had. She slaps her. She grabs a knife that’s on the table, but Kyle turns it on her. He takes the knife and stabs Linda on the neck. She falls on the floor. Kyle takes his jacket and the ticket from Sean’s hands, saying, ”Sorry Bobby. Gotta go catch a train”. Sean sits on the floor, crying, and watches Linda bleed to death. Kyle is being arrested. Vic is also being arrested for the kidnapping. Ned is at his grocery store, remembering Linda. Linda’s mom reads on the paper that her daughter’s murderer got arrested. At court, Sean comes out. In the hall, Lilly, Lindsay and the Gordons (with their other two sons) are waiting for him. Sean walks up to the Gordons. He then turns around to face Lilly, who suddenly looks up and ”sees” Linda/Rebecca. She looks down and faces Sean again. Lilly has now a big smile on her face. The episode ends as Lilly turns around and leaves the building.
- Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush
- Danny Pino as Scotty Valens
- John Finn as John Stillman
- Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera
- Thom Barry as Will Jeffries
- W. Earl Brown as Vic Lake (1985/1987/2004)
- Bahni Turpin as Lindsey Dunlay
- Channing Chase as Sally Frandsen (2004)
- Jim O'Heir as Ned Ryan (1989/2004)
- Ashton Holmes as Bobby Gordon ("Sean Morgan") (2004)
- Neal Matarazzo as Jeff Gordon (2004)
- Tracy Middendorf as Linda Frandsen ("Rebecca Morgan")
- Heidi Bohay as Sally Frandsen (1987)
- Elan O'Connor as Mia Gordon (1987)
- Stephanie Pearson as Lilly Rush (Age 17) (deleted scene)
- Debra Sullivan as Mia Gordon (2004)
- Unknown actress as Jodi
- Unknown actor as Leon Kincaid (1989)
- Unknown actor as as Jeff Gordon (1987)
- Unknown child actor as as Bobby Gordon ("Sean Morgan") (1989)
- Unknown infant as as Bobby Gordon ("Sean Morgan") (1987)
- A close inspection of the newspaper Sally reads at the end of the episode reveals some curious details. Though the first paragraph deals with an arrest being made in Linda's murder, the following paragraphs have nothing to do with this. Instead they report a convicted murder named Rory Carmichael being executed in the electric chair and his execution being televised on the WNS network. This was actually taken from the plot of the pilot episode of The Beast, a short-lived and almost-forgotten series that aired on ABC in 2001, starring Frank Langella and future Lost stars Elizabeth Mitchell and Naveen Andrews.
- This episode was loosely based on the 1982 murder of Cathleen Krauseneck.
- Indigo Girls "Closer to Fine"
- Tom Petty "Free Fallin'"
- Cowboy Junkies "Sweet Jane"
- Poison "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"
- Aerosmith "Love in an Elevator"
- Roxette "Listen to Your Heart"
- Tears for Fears "Sowing the Seeds of Love"
- Closing Song: The Bangles "Eternal Flame"