A man who was wrongly convicted for the 1987 rape and murder of his six year old son, before being released on a technicality throws a registered sex offender off a roof to his death, promising to kill another everyday until detectives find his son's true killer.
In the summer of 1987, six-year-old Clayton "Clay" Hathaway was found dead with signs of physical and sexual abuse at a construction site his father, Mitch, was developing. His parents were desperately looking for him since his disappearance two days earlier from their typical quiet neighborhood while riding his bike. Later on, Mitch was accused of his son's rape and murder, and though he firmly protested his innocence, he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. In the process, he lost his wife, who immediately divorced him after his arrest and never showed up for his trial.
This was the situation until a month ago. Hathaway was released since the original evidence had been contaminated and the judge had ordered a new trial. Now, he becomes determined to bring his son's killer to justice even if it means pushing off every "last piece of garbage" (Mitch's name for pedophiles) from the building roofs of Philadelphia.
D.A. Alexandra Thomas is constantly keeping up with Lt. Stillman's team, which is working on the case to find Clay's murderer and stop Hathaway. While they're discussing the case, Hathaway calls Scotty on the phone. He's read of Scotty's brother, who was also the victim of pedophilia when he was a child, on the newspapers. He urges them to solve his son's case or he'll continue his killing spree.
Detectives Jeffries and Miller talk to Tara, Hathaway's ex-wife. They explain the situation to her and ask her to tell them whatever she recalls about the day Clay disappeared. In tears, she describes the people she saw in the neighborhood, including their friends, the Burrells, who helped them to search for Clay. She also remembers seeing a postman. Jeffries immediately picks up on this: Clay disappeared on a Sunday when no mail is delivered. Detectives Vera and Valens go talk to the postman, Ernie Grabowski who's a known pedophile and registered sex offender under house arrest. He denies ever having touched Clay. He points out at Adam Murdoch who, at that time, was the boyfriend of Tricia, the Hathaways' careless babysitter. He once saw Adam in the kitchen, washing off blood from Clay's underwear while the kid was weeping.
Adam Murdoch is questioned next. He tells the detectives he was raiding the liquor cabinet but accidentally dropped a bottle on the kitchen floor. Clay entered the room all of a sudden, stepped on the glass and cut his feet. Adam grabbed the first thing he found in the laundry basket to clean up the mess and asked Clay to keep the incident a secret. He was out of town on the day when Clay disappeared. Then he tells the cops he once saw Clay showing Johnny Burrell, his best friend, a pocketknife someone named "Scarecrow" had given him.
Johnny, now a young man in his 30s, tells the cops "Scarecrow" was the nickname of an older boy, Damon Childress, who also lived in the neighborhood. He was a complete freak, an emotionally unstable kid who used to hurt cats and bully younger children like Clay and Johnny. The night Clay disappeared, Johnny saw him burying something in his back yard. The cops dig out Damon's back yard and find Clay's missing bike. Just then, Hathaway calls Scotty, who tries to calm him down to make him stop the killing, but Hathaway coldly tells him that he's done talking and says he has already "taken out the trash" before hanging up.
Indeed, the next morning the cops find another pedophile dead over a car: it's Grabowski, the postman. This means Hathaway is following them. Lilly questions Damon Childress, showing him a photo of the bike they unearthed on his back yard. He says he wanted to sell it, but when the boy went missing, he panicked and buried the bike. He thought that Mitch had killed Clay and that Tara knew it, long before anyone else did. He heard her telling so to Johnny's mother at Clay's funeral.
Tara is brought in again and tells Miller and Jeffries that she found some compromising photos of Johnny in her bathroom cabinet one day. It was in that moment she knew Mitch had done it. While the cops take in Johnny for questioning, an angry Mitch phones Scotty again and tells the police to leave his wife alone (stating she has alreadly been through enough). Thinking that Mitch had been playing him from the beginning, Valens loses his temper and accidentally tells him about the photos Tara had found. At first, Hathaway appears surprised, but it quickly turns to shock then enraged fury as he shuts off the call. In the questioning room, Johnny tells Rush and Valens it wasn't Mitch who took the pictures: it was his father, Cliff Burrell. But, Johnny says his father never abused him, just took photos of him sleeping, calling it a game they had played together. The stunned detectives reason that Johnny was "out of bounds" because he was Cliff's own son. Unfortunately, Clay wasn't that lucky.
When they finish examining Johnny, Rush and Valens are informed that Hathaway just abducted Cliff Burrell and had taken him to the roof of a building, preparing to throw him off it. Valens soon realizes his mistake, seeing that Cliff had in fact planted the photos to set Mitch up for the crime and their existence made Mitch realize that Cliff was Clay's killer.
The team rushes to the building's roof. SWAT agents are already there, ready to shoot Hathaway down. Scotty, wearing a bulletproof jacket, approaches Mitch who's keeping Burrell under fire near the building's edge. Scotty tries to reason with him, stating that they know Mitch is innocent, that Burrell killed Clay and that his son would finally have the justice Mitch wanted. But, Mitch doesn't believe him, saying he gave up in anyone believing him.
Emotionally shattered by Burrell's betrayal (whom he had loved like a brother), he tells Scotty that he'll just be sent back to prison for the pedophiles he killed, so he has decided to avenge his son himself by killing Burrell before taking his own life, informing the detectives that he lost any reason to live the day Clay died. Scotty tells Burrell to confess his crimes in an effort to calm Mitch, which he does so amid tears of remorse and fear. Nevertheless, Hathaway is determined to finish his job and starts dragging Burrell to the roof's edge
Just when it seems hopeless, Tara rushes forward with Rush, begging Mitch to stop. Stunned by the sight of his ex-wife, Mitch halts his efforts. Crying heavily, she tells him how sorry she is for not believing him and begs for his forgiveness. Mitch breaks down, blaming himself for Clay's death because he lost sight of him, but Tara assures him that it wasn't his fault. Still crying, she tells Mitch that she still needs him and that Clay would not want him to give up (words that Mitch often spoke to his son). At these words, he breaks down and surrenders.
The cops first arrest Burrell and charge him with Clay's rape and murder before placing Hathaway in custody too (it is implied that the team is determined to help Mitch avoid more jail time, stating he has already been through enough). They also give him a moment to share with his wife. Husband and wife are at last reconciled and as they embrace, they "see" Clay smiling at them.
- 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
- Tracie Thoms as Kat Miller
- Jordan Baker as Tara McClaughlin (2007)
- Gattlin Griffith as Clayton Hathaway
- Tom McCleister as Ernie Grabowski (2007)
- Mitch Pileggi as Mitch Hathaway (2007)
- Rick Ravanello as Mitch Hathaway (1987)
- Bonnie Root as ADA Alexandra Thomas
- Amy Stewart as Tara Hathaway (1987)
- Travis Aaron Wade as Johnny Burrell (2007)
- Nick Ballard as Adam Murdoch (1987)
- Lauren Champey as Tricia
- Stephanie Manglaras as Linda Burrell
- Colton Parsons as Damon Childress (1987)
- Conner Rayburn as Johnny Burrell (1987)
- Bob Rusch as Ernie Grabowski (1987)
- Unknown actor as Harold Dixon
- At 6-years old Clayton Hathaway is tied with Arnold (The Boy in the Box) as the youngest male victim of the series
- New Order "Bizarre Love Triangle"
- Johnny Hates Jazz "Shattered Dreams"
- Fleetwood Mac "Little Lies"
- The Cure "Forest"
- Melissa Etheridge "Precious Pain"
- Closing Song: Corey Hart "Never Surrender"