Maternal Instincts
Cold Case S01E21 Maternal Instincts

Season : 1
Episode: 21
Directed by: Kevin Hooks
Written by: Laurie Arent
Production Number: 176720
Airdate: 25 April 2004
Date of Crime: 11 October 1989
Previous: Greed
Next: The Plan

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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.


The 1989 case of a woman murdered in front of her 3-year-old son is re-opened. A psychologist asks Det. Rush to look into the case again when the son, now a 17-year-old teen, suffers from intense nightmares and troubled behavior. However while investigating, they discover that the murdered woman kidnapped the boy from his real family when he was 22 months old. When Rush and Valens talk to his biological parents, they become emotional at the fact that their son is alive. His mother then remembers how Linda, the woman who kidnapped her son, took an interest to him when she came by the house once. She then got her boyfriend to kidnap the boy after his mother put him to sleep. Sean/Bobby's mother becomes excited at the thought of reuniting with her son and his father is concerned and very upset at the fact that he was in foster homes and fell into the life of crime as this would never had happened if he was brought up properly. Then his father becomes angry at the fact that Rush and Valens are solving their murder when she kidnapped their son and ruined their lives as well as his. The ending is touching as Sean is reunited with his biological family, his parents and his two younger brothers. As he is led up to them by two police officers his mother smiles and touches his cheek while his father rests his hand on his shoulder. As Sean turns towards Rush smiling with tears in his eyes, his mother mouths to Rush "thank you" and both her and his father are crying. Lily then sees the victim looking sombre because she out of shame for most likely getting caught and now seeing him reunite with his biological family.


Main CastEdit

Guest CastEdit




CC newspaper

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  • 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"

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