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Misleader

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"Misleader"
SVU, Episode 1.17
Production number: E0902
First aired: 31 March 2000
  th of 366 produced in SVU  
th of 366 released in SVU
  th of 1106 released in all  
BensonMisleader
Teleplay By
Nick Kendrick

Story By
Nick Kendrick & Nick Harding

Directed By
Richard Dobbs


Plot Edit

The pregnant daughter-in-law of a prominent religious figure is found murdered in her hotel room.

SummaryEdit

When a housekeeper arrives to clean the messy hotel room, she finds a woman's body in the bed as she pushes the sliding glass door open. When Benson and Stabler arrive, a CSU tech comments on the number of fingerprints in hotel rooms. Stabler notes the condition of the room. The tech informs them the victim did not have any valuables anywhere in the hotel. Benson notes the victim's purse does not contain money or jewelry. After noticing marks on the victim's neck, Stabler guesses she died of asphyxiation. The ME puts time of death from 4 to 10 in the evening. Since the arms are crossed, they guess it was personal.

Benson and Stabler arrive in the middle of a discussion on rape between Munch and Jeffries. Cragen interrupts their banter for the team meeting. Benson and Stabler inform them the initial cause of death is presumed to be strangulation early in the evening. Their guess is it was a Robbery-Rape-Homicide. There was no sign of forced entry. If she fought back, she did not fight for too long. When they cannot rule out a type of suspect, Stabler informs them they are doing exclusionary prints and DNA of all the hotel staff before Cragen asks about the victim. The victim is Sylvia Hadley. She is married, but her husband is in Baltimore. She is in New York with her father-in-law, Dr. Benjamin Hadley, and his wife to attend the National Conference of Christian Colleges. Dr. Hadley is the president of Midvale College. Her husband has been notified and is on his way. When Stabler informs Cragen they need to speak with the in-laws again, he tells them to be direct, but discreet because he can smell the politics.

ME Rodgers informs Munch and Jeffries she has confirmed the cause of death as manual strangulation and narrowed the time of death to between 6:30 and 9. The rape kit was positive for semen as well as the sheets and it is a good sample.

Benson and Stabler are told by the Hadleys that Sylvia decided to skip the mixer stating she was tired from walking around the city. They inform them Brad Weber, their financial guy, and Sylvia have been working late on the annual report. They deny she has any enemies.

The head of security tells them they have separate cameras watching the guests and the staff. They also have electronic locks that register whenever a door is opened. He gives them the logs to her room as well as any other activity. He warns them the video is not time stamped, but they can have it. He informs them the Baxter Arms was burglarized. As they leave, Benson reads the printout and relays the information to Stabler. The maid cleans her room at 9:25 and she did not have any room service during the crucial time on Sunday. After Stabler notes she got to her room at 5, he suggests the perp was waiting on her and left when he would not be seen.

Benson and Stabler meet with Brad Weber at his office. He confirms he and Sylvia met Sunday night to go over the report stating they had a meeting scheduled for later today. He worked late at the office, went window shopping on Fifth Avenue, and returned to the hotel around 9 and crashed. The only ones that may be able to confirm his story would be the front desk if they were awake.

When Munch asks Sylvia's husband, Ben, if they were having any problems, he tells them she was not having an affair. When Jefferies asks if they were having financial trouble, he asks if they have to put their private lives under a microscope claiming it was a New York psycho that killed her. After Jefferies assures him they are doing everything they can, Munch introduces Benson and Stabler as they walk in as the detectives on the case. Once they tell him they are working on some leads, he excuses himself stating he needs to see his parents. While Stabler places a call, Benson informs them Brad Weber left the office around 6 and did not return to the hotel until around 9. Munch informs her the only staff in the room so far were a maid and a room service guy with an alibi. When Benson tells them about a burglar hitting pricey hotels, Stabler informs them there is a task force on it. Benson hands the security videos to Briscoe to view and warns him they are not time stamped. Stabler tells them the latest burglary victim is Lana Hoffman, a guest at the Sussex.

Lana informs Benson and Stabler that not only was her safe cleaned out, but the burglar masturbated in her underwear. The other detectives dismissed it. She tells them of a thin, creepy guy always sitting in the lounge wearing a red baseball cap and wire-rimmed glasses. She adds he rode the elevator up once.

Benson and Stabler tell the burglary detective they could have helped him on this case by telling him he is wasting his time looking for the property, the perp stalks his victims for a few days first, he likes blondes, and he gets half of his rush from being in plain view in the hotel. The detective tells them no one wants to call them because of the perversion they deal with and they are afraid they will catch it. Benson receives a call from Cragen informing them the victim was pregnant, making it a double homicide.

In the squad room, Jeffries informs them Briscoe is sorting the videos using the hotel's schedule so it will take time. The team works through what they know about the burglaries. They started four months prior with the Baxter Arms from a little over a week ago being the most recent. Each hotel is hit once or twice. There are no signs of forced entry, the occupants are never there, and the perp did not use a staff card. Only hotels with electronic key card access to the rooms are hit. Munch wonders if he is using something to crack the lock codes speculating he may be former FBI or CIA. Cragen interrupts them to play part of a press conference Dr. Hadley is holding. When Cragen asks where they are, Stabler tells him they have the description of a burglar with a similar MO.

The team goes to Ralliston Hotel. While Munch and Jeffries share an elevator with their suspect, Benson and Stabler wait patiently for the room number. When John Fenwick gains access to the room, Jeffries calls the others to join them. When they arrive, Munch slides the electronic key card giving the team access. They are able to arrest Fenwick without incident. As they escort him to the car, the burglary detective tells them it is their collar since their investigation has been going on longer. Benson and Stabler inform him their captain spoke with the mayor and he did not like their unwillingness to cooperate. When the detective grabs Stabler, Stabler fights back. As they put Fenwick in the car, he tells Munch and Jeffries if Stabler is the one to question him then he wants his lawyer present.

Fenwick tells Munch and Jeffries he created the device he used to gain access to the room with his knowledge of electronics and computers. The items stolen are in his apartment neatly cataloged so they can be returned. He was doing it to prove the point of it being too easy to get by electronic locks. When his lawyer tells him to shut up, he reminds him that his job is to get him the best deal. Munch and Jeffries give them time to talk when they hear a knock on the one-way. They tell Benson and Stabler their next round will be bad cop. Benson and Stabler asks their opinion on whether to tell Sylvia's family about her pregnancy. Munch and Jeffries agree they should withhold the information before heading back in. They ask Fenwick about his alibi for Sunday night. He tells them he stole a diamond-studded collar from a terrier at Soho East. Benson and Stabler tell the Hadleys they do not have the guy. Stabler tells them it does not help them to get the press riled up. Ben wonders what is so hard about it when his wife died in a hotel.

Jeffries verified the theft of the dog collar and is working on a search warrant for Fenwick's apartment. Benson suggests Sylvia had not told her husband about the baby because she was having an affair. Jeffries thinks she may have just wanted to be sure first. Benson wonders if someone else could have been stalking Sylvia the same night. Cragen thinks she knew the guy. Munch thinks she may not have been family oriented. Cragen tells Munch and Jeffries to stick with Fenwick and Benson and Stabler to check out Sylvia at the hotel.

At the Versailles Hotel, Benson and Stabler speak with Room Service. They are told Sylvia would order something and then when it was delivered she would think of something else she wanted. The night before she was killed, they told her they could not restock her mini bar so she went to the bar. They never saw another person in the room, but there could have been. In the bar, the bartender tells them Sylvia was there on Friday and Saturday night. On Saturday night she was with Brad Weber. She was trying to lose control while he was trying to keep it. The two left together.

Benson and Stabler call Weber in for questioning. He claims the account is high maintenance and they are his biggest clients. When he denies having an affair with Sylvia, Benson tells him the bartender saw more than an investment meeting. She hit on him and he felt she could ruin his life. Stabler informs him that is called a motive for murder. Even though he drank the beers slowly they still went to his head. He found himself walking her back to her room. They kissed outside her room. He realized he just changed his relationship with his wife forever so he went back to his room. He sticks with the fact he was in his room Sunday night. When he tells them he did not watch any paid movies, they tell him that does not look good for his story.

Dr. Hadley tells Benson and Stabler he has known Weber for a long time and he is good with the endowment's money. He informs them Weber was usually drunk at their functions and hitting on the women. With Ben standing behind him, he implies Weber was sleeping with Sylvia stating Ben just did not want to see it.

Benson and Stabler meet with Weber and his attorney in an interrogation room. He admits to drinking often at Midvale functions because of the stress involved. He explains the extra time with Sylvia saying Dr. Hadley made a bad deal when he bought the college and now there is a balloon payment due on it that requires a lot of planning. He agrees to a blood test to get him off their suspect list.

Jeffries informs the team Midvale was censured by the American Academy of Academic Professors because Dr. Hadley fires anyone who disagrees with him. Benson verifies Dr. Hadley's degree stating he earned it from Lutheran Ministry College in Jackson, Mississippi. Stabler thinks they can get more information from Ben so Cragen sends him and Benson to the memorial service. Cragen sends Munch and Jeffries to track down one of the fired professors.

The fired professor tells Munch and Jeffries he is a professor of Philosophy and began teaching at Midvale in '89 because of its c curriculum. He realized the curriculum meant nothing to Dr. Hadley other than the wealthy donors it attracted. Sylvia spent more time working with Dr. Hadley than living with Ben. While Ben got his job from his father, Sylvia was headstrong.

Benson and Stabler arrive at the memorial service in time to hear Dr. Hadley announce the establishment of the Sylvia Stone Hadley Memorial Fund. When the service is over, they inform Ben that Weber offered his DNA. When they ask if there is anyone else she had frequent contact with they should be looking at, he admits over the past several years she had changed so much he did not know her or her life.

Jeffries informs Cragen the DNA excludes the former employees. Cragen informs them Weber's DNA cleared him and he resigned as manger of the endowment. Dr. Hadley was being honored by his peers. Ben was grading papers in Baltimore. Sharon, Ben's mother, seems to be the glue that holds the family together. Cragen wants the family's DNA. He tells them to ask nicely, but get a warrant if they need to. He also wants Sharon questioned alone.

Sharon tells Benson happiness is highly overrated. When Benson informs her Sylvia was two months pregnant, Sharon tells her Dr. Hadley had been having an affair with Sylvia for the past two years.

Cragen tells the team if Sharon tries to leave, then arrest her for obstruction because he does not want her to give the men in her life the heads up that they are coming for them. He orders Ben and Dr. Hadley brought in separately. Dr. Hadley lawyers up. Benson and Stabler are called out so Briscoe can tell him what he found on the tapes. He shows them a picture of Ben on the hotel elevator around the time Sylvia was killed. They verify Ben's arrival through his credit card, ATM withdrawals, and pictures from the hotel elevator. When Benson shows the ADA the DNA test results, he decides he wants them both. Cragen tells them to put the two together and flip them both.

Cragen tells Ben they caught him in a lie. After his father and his lawyer tries to defend him, Cragen asks if he ever speaks for himself. When he sticks to his story about being in Baltimore, Cragen brings Jefferies in with the DNA results. The skin under Sylvia's fingernails belongs to Ben, but the semen belongs to Dr. Hadley. Cragen asks if Ben wants to make a statement. Ben had been suspicious for some time. When this trip came up, he followed. When it took her five minutes to answer the door, she said she was sleeping and he wanted to know who with. He started trying to shake some sense into her. When she went limp, he choked her. As Ben and his lawyer leave, Ben tells his father he cannot believe he went to him to fix this. Sharon joins them. Cragen tells Dr. Hadley Sharon knows more than he thinks. Dr. Hadley denies it. She questions if he is trying to protect her. She asks if he made up the robbery story to cover up what Ben did or to make sure he did not find out she was pregnant. She asks him if he was going to call the child "son" or "Ben the third." When he claims it is the grief talking, she explains it is her talking after watching him have an affair for two years and father his own grandchild. She implies she is filing for divorce before she leaves.

Cast Edit

Main cast Edit

Recurring cast Edit

Guest cast Edit

References Edit

Sylvia Hadley

Quotes Edit

"With you around, we're all doomed."

- Olivia Benson


"Don't touch me. I don't like to be touched."
"If that's the guy who's questioning me, I definitely want my lawyer present."

- Elliot Stabler and John Fenwick


"So we didn't call you. So no one wants to call you. Ever. You know. You guys are up to your necks in perversity twenty-four, seven. And my men don't understand why it is you picked your squad."
"It's people like you that makes our squad necessary."
"Yeah. Well, my people don't want whatever it is you got. You're tainted. Ten bucks says the only other cops you hang out with are Brooklyn SVU."
"You lose. Bronx SVU."

- Burglary Detective and Elliot Stabler


"I always carry at least a pair of earrings in my purse."
"Yeah, like you carry a purse."
"That's 'cause you carry it for me."

- Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler


"Not the Benjamin Hadley? More powerful than Pat Robertson, able to leap a tall Democrat in a single bound, President of Midvale College, which used to be a Podunk nothing; now it's suddenly a think tank for the neo-conservative movement?"
"Although that's an oxymoron."
"I love you, Olivia."

- John Munch and Olivia Benson

Background information and notes Edit

External sources Edit

Episode scene cards Edit

1 2 3 4 5

Versailles Hotel
142 East 63rd Street
Monday, February 7

Office of Brad Weber
Mondregan Weber
Investments
29 East 47th Street
Monday, February 7

31st Precinct
Burglary Taskforce
Tuesday, February 8

Ralliston Hotel
43 West 44th Street
Wednesday, February 9

New York University
Washington Square Park
Thursday, February 10


Previous episode:
"The Third Guy"
"Misleader"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 1
Next episode:
"Chat Room"
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