Sep 21, 2005
Season 16 Episode 1
Five-year-old Jenny Clark (Scarlett G. Sperduto) is kidnapped when her mother's car is stolen. Initially, the cops thing it’s a carjacking, but when the car turns up and Jenny is gone, it's obvious she was the target. Her mother, Denise (Wendy Hoopes), is hysterical and for a minute, they think it could have been her husband, Jimmy (Patrick Michael Buckley), who was behind on child support payments. But a grainy surveillance tape allows them to send out the suspect's photo, and a patrolman recognizes him as Dwight Jacobs (James LeGros), a perp from an earlier shoplifting charge. It's tough to track him down - they find his mother's address but she is no help. Then they think his girlfriend, Charleen Dowd, could be involved. They catch Jacobs at Charleen's apartment, and he tries to negotiate a "walk" if he gives up Jenny's whereabouts. McCoy (Sam Waterston) and Borgia (Annie Parisse) are leaning toward giving in but Branch (Fred Thompson) is adamant that they don't. Meanwhile, Jenny leaves a message for her mother so they presume she is still alive, and a woman’s voice is heard in the background. The detectives search for Charleen and come up empty, until they find out that Jacobs' attorney, Charles Graham (Adam Arkin), has been in contact with her. They arrest Graham for being an accomplice to kidnapping, and trace a call on his cell phone to a sleazy hotel, where Charleen is found stabbed to death. They lift a print in the room, and it's from Bernard Heinz (Harry Prichett), a known sex offender. Heinz was supposed to buy Jenny from Charleen, but he killed her when she didn't deliver the kid. McCoy agrees to let Jacobs walk provided that Jenny is found alive, believing this to be the only way to find her. Branch runs into Judge Hellstrom (Lindsay Crouse), who's handling the case, and hints that perhaps if they give in to Jacobs, she could overturn their agreement. Even though Hellstrom gives the impression that it's out of the question, that's exactly what she does after Jacobs gives the court the girl's whereabouts - his mother's garage. They find Jenny alive, and Jacobs must now face a jury's sentencing.