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"Families"
SVU, Episode 5.15
Production number: E4419
First aired: 10 February 2004
  th of 366 produced in SVU  
th of 366 released in SVU
  th of 1106 released in all  
Brian Coyle & Aidan Connor
Written By
Jonathan Greene

Directed By
Constantine Makris


Plot Edit

Episode plot

Summary Edit

The body of 16-year old Shannon Coyle is found dead in an alley by pure chance after Benson and Stabler capture a rape suspect. They're able to rule out their suspect right away due to the fact Shannon's wallet was found on her with $70 and a credit card. Stabler recognizes the logo on her backpack from William Theodore Preparatory, a nearby school only two blocks from where Shannon's body is. During autopsy, Warner reveals that Shannon died of massive cerebral hemorrhage due to blunt force trauma last night. What's unexpected is that Shannnon appeared to have had sex before she had died. While there is no sign of genital trauma, there is the possibility her killer knocked her unconscious before raping her.

Shannon's mother and brother (as Benson and Stabler learn that Shannon's father, Barry Coyle has abroad on a business trip), Susan and Brian, deny knowledge of anyone bothering Shannon or her being involved with someone. The last time they heard from her was 2:30 that day when she called from her cell phone to tell them of extra choir practice. Since her phone is missing from her backpack it suggests a personal attack. The team goes to the school to conduct interviews in order to piece together what happened that day and decide to talk to the choir teacher, Steve Abruzzo, first. Rehearsal went until 5 o'clock and while he didn't know where she went afterward, he said her friend Lisa Faber might. Shannon and Lisa went for coffee and parted ways at 6:00. Shannon took a cab instead of the subway as usual due to the cold weather. She also confirmed that Shannon was not dating anyone.

Some inconsistencies arise; there are no cab rides logged from the coffee shop and Steven Abruzzo appears to have a troubling history involving a female student from his previous school. The most disturbing is what's found in Shannon's purse: a key that doesn't match the lock at home and condoms with a 10-point fingerprint matching one in pre-employment files from the Board of Education that belongs to Steve Abruzzo. Using the key to unlock Steve's apartment, Benson and Stabler open the door to see a Willian Theodore Prep backpack and hear a girl moaning. They find Steve having sex with none other than Shannon's best friend, Lisa and condoms matching the ones Shannon had. Back at the precinct, Olivia confronts Lisa with the evidence and Lisa confesses that she gave Shannon the key so she would be able to secretly meet with her boyfriend as their parents forbade them from dating. Since Steve had a meeting that evening, the three hung out and Shannon and her boyfriend had sex. Afterward, the two left together in the same taxi. The mystery boyfriend ends up being one of the friends the detectives interviewed, Aidan Connor.

At the precinct, Aidan is made an official suspect, but after Warner delivers the news that not only was Shannon 8 weeks pregnant (with a girl), but she and the baby's father had to have been related due to 62% of the DNA being the same, so Aidan is cut loose. Susan Coyle is informed of the pregnancy and Brian is brought in as a new suspect as there are no other relatives with the same genetic combination that could have impregnated Shannon. Double checking just to be sure, Barry Coyle's company confirms he's been in Africa for 11 weeks and Elliot has Brian at the ME's office getting a DNA sample, though he'll be released afterward since he's not the only suspect. Cragen is curious to know why both parents didn't want Aidan and Shannon dating and sends Elliot and Olivia to investigate the Connors. While Debra Connor had nothing personal against Shannon, she assumed that Susan Coyle thought she was better than her due to her always making excuses for her husband being away in order to avoid spending time with her and Jason. Jason Connor is more sympathetic, having spent time with Barry and met Shannon.

TARU gets a dump on Shannon's phone on a call from a blocked number that Shannon got at 8:30 after she and Aidan parted from the taxi a block from his apartment that sent her back to school. Once unblocked, the number ends up being billed to Jason Connor. Munch and Fin figure that Aidan called her and told her to meet her at school, however, they get an important note. Benson and Stabler arrive on the scene with Munch and Fin explaining that Jason Connor has been shot to death across from one of his construction jobs.

Logically, it seems to point to Aidan as the murderer of both Shannon and his own father. Olivia figures that Aidan found out Shannon was pregnant and since he used a condom whenever they had sex, Aidan must have thought Shannon was cheating on him. After he killed Shannon, he realized that the last person to see them together was his father as Jason Connor caught them with each other in the taxi, so he killed his father in order to cover up murdering Shannon. However, the twist comes when even though the gun was purchased by Jason Connor, it's registered to Susan Coyle. When they come to question her, Susan and Brian have suddenly disappeared, telling a neighbor they were leaving for Pennsylvania in order to hold Shannon's funeral. However, her body has not been released yet. After Brian's DNA is not a match to the fetus's, Warner realizes there must be one other option and it's that the fetus has a double grandparent, meaning that the Shannon and the father must share a parent: Jason Connor. Aidan Connor and Shannon Coyle are half-siblings and Aidan truly was the father.

Debra Connor comes to understand her husband's strange behavior and Susan's reluctance to spend time with her and realizes that Barry Coyle has been an elaborate lie all along. Regretfully, Cragen tells her they must inform Aidan in order to solve Jason's murder. Taking Aidan into an interrogation room, Elliot does his best to break the news of the secret life his father has been leading, Shannon's exact relationship with Aidan, and the pregnancy. Aidan, after hearing this, has a serious mental breakdown. When Aidan begins vomiting, Huang explains one can't fake that kind of physical reaction after killing. Olivia comes in with news that Susan and Brian were caught south of Montreal before crossing the border into Canada. When Olivia tells Susan she's under arrest for Jason's murder, Susan appears in shock and when she's back at the station, vehemently denies it.

According to her, Shannon's death was an accident. Jason called Shannon after they saw each other that night and he told her to meet him a few blocks from the school. He revealed that she and Aidan were siblings and Shannon broke down, explaining that she was pregnant. When Jason begged Shannon to forgive him, Shannon pushed him away, slipped and hit her head. Jason came to her the night it happened and told her to take Brian to Montreal and fly to Cuba as he was finally going to leave his wife, but there's no evidence of him purchasing a plane ticket. Debra Connor appears with evidence, photos of Susan at the bank stealing Debra Connor's diamonds. Because of this, the fact she had the gun and has a motive, Novak believes she has enough to make an indictment.

At trial Debra testifies to the robbery, how she didn't know about Jason and Susan, and how she didn't know about any handguns inside the house. Susan Coyle is the next witness, talking about how her relationship with Jason Connor started out as an affair, but when she got pregnant with Shannon, Jason promised to be there for the children and while she was dependent on him, she stayed with him because she loved him and he protected the children. Novak forces Susan to admit to the fact that she didn't want Shannon and Aidan dating because it would put Jason's secret in jeopardy. Showing her the gun that killed Jason, Novak asks Susan if she knows under whose name it is registered. During redirect, Susan's able to explain that she had Jason take the gun back when Shannon was a baby.

As Elliot, Olivia and Casey discuss the trial Aidan arrives with a startling confession. Susan is telling the truth about the gun, it was in his house and the reason he knows this is because he killed his father. However, he's extremely vague with the details and it's obvious the confession is fake. Because of his overwhelming guilt from the incest, Aidan confessed to the murder in order to punish himself. When Cragen wonders aloud if Aidan's also punishing his mother as well, Huang recognizes there's another reason behind Aidan's confession. Talking with Huang Aidan says there's nothing they can do to prove he didn't kill his father and when the subject switches to Shannon Aidan mentions how happy he was with her and how in love they were, but now that he knows she was his sister he wished he could have shot himself instead.

Seeing how miserable he is, Debra Connor admits to shooting her husband. After receiving the call from the bank, she knew Jason was leaving her. When she found the plane ticket to Cuba, she cancelled it. She took the gun and went to confront him at the office as he was pulling out of the parking garage. After telling her everything, she unloaded the gun into him. Giving up her rights, she begs for the detectives to help her son. Elliot goes in to talk to Aidan again, informing him that his mother is under arrest. Curious as to when Aidan became aware of fact his mother murdered his father, Aidan answers that he knew his mother was lying in court when it came to knowing about the handgun. With Shannon dead, his father dead and his mother going to jail, Aidan feels that there's no one left. However, Elliot reminds him that he has to get through this, not only for himself, but also for his brother, Brian. Realizing that he's not the only one suffering and that someone else needs him, Aidan goes to meet Brian, offering to talk, and the two walk away.

Cast Edit

Main cast Edit

Recurring cast Edit

Guest cast Edit

References Edit

References This episode is an allusion to the Sam Shepard play Fools for Love, where parents try to keep two young people who do not know they are siblings from falling in love with each other


Quotes Edit

[Benson cuffs a runaway suspect]
Benson: What's your name?
Suspect: Screw you!
Benson: Screw You, you're under arrest for attempted rape until we nail you for the other 11.
Suspect: Prove it.
Stabler: [to a witness] Does he look familiar to you?
Witness: [looks at the suspect] That's him. That's the bastard who tried to rape me!
Benson: See, Screw You? Wasn't that easy?

Stabler: Aidan, your father was also Shannon's father.
Aidan: Shannon's not my sister.
Stabler: Our DNA tests prove she is.
Aidan: How can you know this?
Stabler: Because Shannon was pregnant, and we tested the fetus's genes.
Aidan: The fetus? Oh, God.
Stabler: Aidan, listen to me. This is not your fault. None of this is your fault.
Aidan: No. No. She was my sister?! [sobs] I had sex with my sister?! [retches]

  • [Benson and Stabler find a school backpack in an apartment and hear moaning in the next room]
  • Stabler: What's that sound like to you?
  • Benson: Statutory rape.

  • Stabler: [after Jason Connor is murdered] Anybody think this is a coincidence?

Background information and notes Edit

  • Elliot mentions that the teens remind him of his daughter Elizabeth's typical high-school friends, but Elizabeth was too young to be in high school as she was not yet a teenager.

Episode scene cards Edit

1 2 3

William Theodore
Preparatory School
29 West 93rd Street
Tuesday, December 2

Crime Lab
One Police Plaza
Tuesday, December 2

Conner Residence
104 Central Park West
Wednesday, December 3

4 5 6

Technical Assistance
Response Unit
One Police Plaza
Wednesday, December 3

New York State Police
Plattsburgh, New York
Friday, December 5

Trial Part 38
Tuesday, January 13


Previous episode:
"Ritual"
"Families"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 5
Next episode:
"Home"
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