The Detectives (2018) s01e02 Episode Script

Project Hitchhiker

1 A 14-year-old girl just doesn't disappear off the face of the earth.
This is stuff you read stories and watch movies of that happens down in the States.
It didn't happen up here.
In this case, we had no body.
And we had no crime scene.
But we had a suspect.
You pick her up, and then kill her.
Why? We had a lot of good evidence that pointed it towards him.
but nowhere near a smoking gun.
He plays out the exact same scenario with all the girls that he picks up.
We couldn't afford any slips.
I made a promise.
I would take the case as far as I could take it.
There was no way I was gonna let him get away with it.
14 years old, Stark! She was 14 years old.
I had no idea that it was going to end up being like this.
Not in my wildest imagination, as complex as it ended up being.
So, what's a nice girl like you doing out hitchhiking on a night like this? I was about 35 at the time, and I'd been promoted into homicide.
I was called in by the inspector in charge of Major Crime.
He says, everybody on this unit has to carry a an unsolved case.
And I remember him picking up this banker's box and saying, "Here's yours.
" Julie Stanton? Young girl who went missing last summer? Yeah.
Last seen getting into a car near her home.
Never been seen again.
It was originally treated as a missing persons, right? Yeah, it was first handled by the Youth Bureau.
By the time Major Crimes got it, days had past.
The family's devastated.
It's very common for kids to run away, but she didn't fit that mould.
She was well liked by her friends.
She was well liked by her teachers.
Her parents and her had a great relationship.
MCMURRAY: They can't understand why she was never found.
Why no one was arrested.
The prime suspect is Peter Stark.
We can't prove it, but we know it's him.
Peter Stark knew Julie.
His daughter, Kim, she befriended Julie.
MCMURRAY: The family knows it's him.
They've gone after him.
The media's gone after him.
I want this thing solved.
I'll give it everything I've got, Sir.
Welcome to homicide.
REPORTER: It happened just down the street from where she lived.
The car that Julie Ann Stanton got into is described as a faded grey car, possibly a Monte Carlo.
She was last seen wearing a dark bomber-style jacket, blue jeans and multi-colored It's a suspicious missing person, a young girl.
So how was I gonna put it together? How was I gonna look at it? When you have a cold case, you have the benefit of the initial investigation, but you have to look at it with fresh eyes.
We had the advantage of having a lot more information about Peter than the original investigators did.
The initial investigation developed a good suspect in Peter Stark, and I needed to understand how they got there.
Everyone thinks it's Peter Stark, right? We had no murder weapon, no crime scene.
And Julie was never found.
[SIGH] Walk me through it, how did we get to here? OK.
So, James Ascott, Julie's 17-year-old neighbour.
Now, as far as we know, he's the last person to see Julie before she went missing.
Now, he said that he saw her get into a late '70s Monte Carlo, ID'd the driver as a white male with shaggy hair and scruffy.
So, we look into Julie's life, turns out her best friend Kim's father matched Ascott's description.
- Hey.
STARK: I'm headed downtown, can I give you a lift? Sure.
[DOOR CLOSES] HAMPTON: Shaggy hair, scruffy, drove a '79 Monte Carlo.
CURWAIN: Peter Stark.
Kid said it looked like Peter Stark, but he couldn't say for sure.
What about his daughter, Kim? You talk to her? Yeah.
Yeah, she's a good kid.
Uh, she lives with Stark's mother now.
Neither one of them had anything much to say.
All right.
What have you got for motive? [SCOFF] He has violent tendencies and a serious past.
Nancy Nelson? Nancy Nelson.
Back in 1970, 18-year-old blonde hitchhiker.
Almost stabbed to death by Stark after he picked her up.
She barely escaped.
NANCY: I was hitchhiking.
I just wanted a ride to meet my friend.
You have to understand that back then in my neighborhood, we all hitchhiked.
It wasn't a big deal.
And he seemed nice.
He said his name was Michael.
He seemed worried for me at first.
He said, "Isn't a young girl like you afraid to be hitchhiking at night?" The knife went in from here to here.
He cut my liver, my lungs, and almost cut my spine.
The doctor said I died three times during surgery.
When I interviewed her, I felt really bad for her, because here I am interviewing her in 1991, you know, 21 years later.
And you can still see the emotion.
There wasn't too many nights that she could sleep with the light off.
HAMPTON: Stark did six months.
CURWAIN: Six months? Yeah.
Nancy was so disturbed after the attack that she couldn't testify.
So, after all that, all he got was an assault charge.
[SIGH] And then there's Maria Woods.
31 years old.
Disappeared in 1981.
And guess who was dating her just prior to that? The star of the show, Peter Stark.
He was a suspect, but her body wasn't found for five years, and by then, the decomposition was so bad that they couldn't even determine the cause of death, let alone pin it to Stark.
We had to let him walk.
Peter's married, right? Alison, Kim Stark's stepmom? Yeah.
They separated after the investigation and then Stark moved to Niagara Falls.
Peter Stark was married at the time.
Alison had been approached on the initial investigation, and she had provided information from the get-go.
I thought Alison was a very intelligent woman.
She was very, very honest.
[DOOR CLOSES] She just was not very good at picking men.
[KNOCKS THREE TIMES] [DOOR OPENS] You mentioned before that after Julie disappeared, Peter's behaviour changed.
Peter was acting strange.
Strange how? Uh, the stress and everyone asking questions.
He started wetting the bed.
Getting paranoid.
What about before Julie disappeared? What was he like then? He was frustrated by me.
He liked to play games.
What kind of games? Role play.
He liked the idea of being a stranger and uh, using a fake name.
And he wanted me to hitchhike.
He wanted me to dress up like a teenager.
I even wore a wig.
Was it blonde? [CAR DOOR CLOSES] So he'd drop me off and after he'd uh, come back and pick me up while I pretended to hitchhike.
[DOOR CLOSES] So, what's a nice girl like you doing out hitchhiking on a night like this? Isn't it dangerous? [OMINOUS MUSIC] [MUSIC INTENSIFIES] [DOOR CLOSES] Alison willingly played the hitchhiker game.
She had no understanding that what he was asking her to do was bang on with what he had done to Nancy back in 1970.
She she was completely oblivious to that.
[DOOR CLOSES] To her, it was just a sexual role-play that her and her husband were playing.
My name's Michael.
Hi, Michael.
ALISON: And after driving around for a little bit, well, we'd pull over and we'd uh Peter had very specific uh, sexual impulses.
He he needed to get violent to get aroused.
[MUFFLED SCREAMS] Did he hurt you? He knew what I'd be able to handle.
So, the day Julie disappeared, he wanted you to play hitchhiker? He had been wanting to play all weekend, and I didn't want to.
And the day that Julie disappeared, he had asked me to skip work to play.
But you went to work.
Now, you told the officers before uh, the day Julie disappeared, he came to pick you up from work, but he was late, and dirty and disheveled and all that.
Did he give you a reason? His car had broken down.
Right um, a catalytic converter.
Is that what he said? That's right.
And you believed him? Yeah.
Because Peter's car doesn't have a catalytic converter.
Were you aware of that, Alison? [SIGH] No.
If I were you, I would keep my distance from your husband.
I felt that she was conflicted.
Half of her probably wanted to believe that he was innocent, and maybe the other half believed that there was some guilt there.
We see this all the time.
We see women who are smart, intelligent, attractive, they're with people who abuse them physically, emotionally, sexually, and you wonder why are they staying with them? [ENGINE STARTS] Ever since Nancy Nelson, he's been reliving that day to get off.
He plays out the exact same scenario with all the girls that he picks up.
[SIGH] What do we know about Stark now that he's in Niagara Falls? Well, nothing really.
I mean, we sent an info pack over to Niagara as soon as we found out he moved there.
We need eyes on him.
It's only a matter of time before he does this again.
[OMINOUS MUSIC] [RUSHING WATER] A man and his son were out fishing down in the Niagara region.
They had jumped onto what they thought was a rock, but in fact was a piece of concrete.
The concrete broke and inside that was dismembered parts of a young girl.
A guy putting his canoe in the water found the first block.
Human foot inside.
I've been pulling blocks out ever since.
Each one contains a body part.
I became nervous.
Immediately we started thinking, OK, is that Julie? And that's one of the reasons we haven't been able to find her.
CURWAIN: We've got a female, age 13-to 15-years-old.
Hair color? Blonde.
Could be Julie Stanton.
I'll let you know as soon as the dental records come in.
This was not something we have seen here in Ontario at this point.
This is stuff you read stories and watch movies of that happens down in the States.
It didn't happen up here.
So it was a whole new ballgame.
I'm gonna need help if we want to catch this guy.
Stark has attacked and presumably killed women in downtown Toronto, North York, Pickering.
Now he's living in Niagara Falls, where we find the dismembered body of a teenage girl.
And we believe all these cases are connected, but because they're in different jurisdictions, they're being handled separately, and our hands are tied.
So, all Stark has to do is keep moving around and he's not gonna get caught.
When I worked in drugs and gangs, we used to pool resources from other jurisdictions all the time.
And you know what? It worked.
Now, I'm proposing an undercover operation where we have 24-hour surveillance, wire taps.
That that's drugs and gangs.
It's not the way it works in homicide.
OK, it's never been done before.
We'd have to convince the province to give us those kinds of resources.
OK, so let's do it, because it's the only way.
I don't like leaving anything unturned.
I'll think of anything I can to solve the crime.
If we had the money, we could do this investigation.
[KEYS CLICKING] You get enough police departments coming together Yeah, you could do it.
I had to put a dog and pony show together.
We needed to impress these police agencies that this was something that they could jump on board with.
They had to give us funds.
This had to be solved.
[GULLS SQUAWKING] As the days went by, we reviewed all the information from the initial investigation.
Peter has a daughter from another relationship.
Kim was born with a cleft palate, and was shy.
Julie, she was a very nice person, she befriended Kim.
Kim? I'm detective Herb Curwain.
I knew she was torn between allegiance to her father.
and allegiance to who clearly was one of her best friends.
If this is about my dad? I already talked to cops.
I understand.
I know you all think my dad killed Julie like everyone else.
She was my best friend.
He and Julie were friends.
I mean, he wouldn't do anything to her.
He cared about her friendship.
Is it possible that your father's not telling you everything, Kim? And if you know something, you need to tell us.
I don't know what you're expecting from me here.
I- I don't expect anything.
[SOFT MUSIC] But you need to understand, we believe that your father attacks and kills young girls.
Girls your age.
Girls like Julie.
We can't let him do that again.
Dad admitted to me that he did pick up Julie the day she went missing.
We got a break here.
Now we've got a witness that can say yes, he did, in fact, pick Julie up, and he did, in fact, have contact with her the day she disappeared.
Peter was lying right from the get-go.
But Kim's statement helped us, but nowhere near enough.
to arrest Peter.
We needed hard evidence.
Dental records from the body found in Niagara.
It's not Julie Stanton.
It's a new girl.
Leslie Mahaffy.
Young and blonde.
Stark's killing again.
Looks like it.
And here's the kicker.
Stark just moved to a different jurisdiction.
He immediately moved to Napanee.
Another girl is murdered, and Stark moves again.
This had to be solved.
[TENSE MUSIC] A young teenage girl being dismembered and encased in concrete: if that was not going to influence the powers that be in the government to give us money, nothing would.
Then I get the phone call.
It happened.
They decided to fund us.
It shocked the hell out of me.
I'd like to personally welcome everyone to Project Hitchhiker.
Our goal is to build a case against Peter Stark.
Nine different agencies joined together.
All those agencies had unsolved cases.
where Stark was a suspect.
We're going to re-excavate the site where Maria Woods' body was discovered.
Our hopes are, with new technology, we'll be able to forensically link Peter Stark to her murder.
And we know Stark is lying, so we're going to go back through all the witness statements from Maria Woods, Julie Stanton, and the ongoing investigation of Leslie Mahaffy.
We need to bug his house, his car, tap his phones, all right? We, we want him to screw up.
We want him to tell somebody what he did to Julie or proof that he's lying about that day.
And we know this isn't going to be easy, because Stark is paranoid, reclusive, doesn't have a lot of friends, so we don't know who that person's going to be.
The good news is, we've got Stark on an outstanding fraud charge, so we can bring him in anytime we want.
From now on, Stark's life is our life.
This is a serial killer who's avoided life in prison for 20 years.
Let's catch this guy.
Thank you, everybody.
We're gonna have to talk to the Stantons.
The Stantons were known to have confronted Stark head-on.
On one occasion, they walked right up to his car and started banging on the window, screaming, "Where is Julie? Where is Julie?" We couldn't afford any slips that would tip Stark off.
I can only imagine how frustrating and challenging this whole process has been for you.
But I'm going to have to ask you to stay away from Peter Stark and anyone in the Stark family.
He needs someone looking over his shoulder.
I - I don't disagree.
I want to see Stark pay for what he's done, but I feel we are very close to cracking this case, if we have your help.
Will you give me that chance? We have a plan in place right now, but we need to keep that plan quiet.
Because the last thing we want to do is provoke Stark and have him going off and doing something rash.
We want him staying right here in town.
So like you said, we can keep our eyes on him and know his every move.
We're going to make this right.
It's a huge frustration for them.
Why haven't we arrested him? Why haven't we charged him? I made a promise that I would take the case as far as I could take it.
Peter Stark was a suspect on the suspicious disappearance of Maria Woods in 1981.
Her remains were found in 1986.
At that time, they had no idea why she died.
There's no forensics.
Our goal was to see if we could get forensic anthropologists to go back, re-excavate the site, and see if they could come up with more information.
She was shot.
There's more.
Bullet casing.
Well, we've got a cause of death and a link to a murder weapon.
Get that to ballistics right away.
We've got a break, finally.
But nowhere near enough to proceed with an actual charge.
We needed to move on to another investigative technique.
Our next best avenue was the wire tap.
The surveillance teams were telling us that they had never followed anyone as paranoid and as surveillance-conscious as Peter.
He would drive literally hundreds and hundreds of kilometres and go absolutely nowhere, just to see if he was being followed.
There's a railway track just north of the marina.
You can well imagine, it's not very easy to follow somebody there, you're gonna stick out like a sore thumb.
We clearly thought that he was trying to draw us out.
I think we have a problem.
What's up, Hampton? He's pulled over on the road and now he's just walking.
Hold your position.
Oh God! Stark is standing in the middle of the train tracks out here.
Don't get out of your car.
We're sending in a patrol.
Holy shit! Now he's walking down the railway tracks.
Is he committing suicide? We gotta get him off the tracks.
If he commits suicide, we're fucked.
And we had to act quickly.
We created this story that some person saw him walk down the tracks, they called the police.
So the police would automatically dispatch a uniformed car.
[DOOR CLOSES] [TENSE MUSIC] Excuse me, sir? Sir? You can't be in the middle of the tracks, sir.
Well, what do you suggest then? I'm going to need to see some ID.
Peter Stark, born June 15th, 1946.
Peter had committed a fraud offense.
We had not put that on the system.
We didn't want that on the system because that gave us an opportunity to arrest him.
Copy that.
You aware there's a warrant out for your arrest on outstanding fraud charges, Mr.
Stark? [SCOFFS] Seriously? That was a long time ago.
Just happened to come up now? I'm gonna need you to come with me.
We had Stark taken to the local police station and questioned.
[DOOR CLOSES] What we wanted to do was to put a wiretap in his car.
Unit Two, you're good to go.
We're done.
All right.
Cut him loose.
Good work, everyone.
[ENGINE STARTS] We had a plan: get into his head and maybe get him to say something or do something.
Get the wires on him, you know He's not really the one who's gonna brag to people about it, but he may say something to his mother.
He may say something to his daughter.
We listened for a month, day in and day out, we're not generating anything.
Nowhere near enough to charge him, let alone convict him.
There's nothing else we could do.
Short of abducting Peter and torturing him.
What else could you do? We gotta get a break here.
[STATIC] STARK: Hi there.
Pretty cold, huh? Why don't you jump in? I'll give you a ride.
[DOOR CLOSES] [TENSE MUSIC] Well, when we decided we were going to do wire taps, I honestly believed it was our last-ditch effort.
If we had any shot at getting him to say something, that was the way it had to happen.
it did.
It-it happened.
Get in.
It's not my fault.
It never is.
You can't keep saying you're going to make the effort, Peter, and then turn around and be late all the time.
It's Alison [MUSIC INTENSIFIES] Holy shit! What the hell is she going back with him for? Stark had convinced Alison to quit her job and move.
We needed her away from him so that she could be a compellable witness against him.
Back then, you could not compel a wife to testify against her husband, even though it may be involving a murder.
I'm pissed off that she's gone back with him.
What are you doing back with Stark, Alison? Huh? You know it's not safe.
What are you guys doing here? Do you mind if I look a quick look around? You know, we're uh we're still working the case against Peter and Yeah? Well, he's not here.
You know, we're not gonna stop till we find out what happened that day.
You have a good day now.
[DOOR SQUEAKS AND CLOSES] [SIGH] How was your day? Fine.
It was a long day, but fine.
Thank you.
It looks good.
I can smell the oregano.
Do you ever think about Julie? What really happened that day? Just drop it, Alison.
You always get so defensive around all this.
It makes me think you're hiding things.
I said drop it.
You were an hour-and-a-half late to pick me up that day.
You were covered in dirt.
Dammit, Alison, I told you, the car broke down.
It didn't.
I know it didn't.
It didn't even have a catalytic [LOUD BANG] What the hell are you saying to me here? I never even picked the frickin' kid up! I did not kill anybody! Aren't you gonna eat? Yeah.
All right, that's enough, bring him in.
Alison's not getting that confession.
Let's get it ourselves.
The best shot at getting a confession from him was we needed to give him a psychological blow.
We brought up the profilers from the FBI academy and we brainstormed.
We needed to come up with what is the best way that we can get as much information from him as we can? If we approached him the same way that they approached him in the initial investigation, he's going to see right off the bat this is the same thing as before, and all I said is I didn't have anything to do with her.
and they let me go.
There had to be no doubt in his mind that we had the goods on him.
[THUNDER] We had practiced the arrest repeatedly.
We wanted to psychologically beat him down.
We paraded Stark past the 1979 Chevy Monte Carlo.
We had purchased it from the previous owner.
It was decided that we were going to use uh, a police officer that looked like Julie.
It would be a psychological blow that the individual that was arresting him looked like the person that he was being accused of murdering.
Right this way, Mr.
It was important to keep him off balance right from the start.
We'd have an officer listening to a wiretap of his wife, who he would recognize.
Do you ever think about Julie, what really happened that day? Drop it, Alison.
I never even picked the frickin' kid up.
We wanted him to clearly know that it was over, before we even walked in to start interrogating him.
We wanted him to know the whole world was looking at him.
That it was not a matter of whether he did it or not.
It's, you did it.
Now where's Julie? [CRESCENDO MUSIC] We had a lot of evidence that pointed towards Stark, but nowhere near a smoking gun.
I was really hoping for a confession, it would have been a slam dunk with that.
The hair sample came back from the Mahaffy case.
It's not Stark's.
Well, it doesn't mean he didn't kill Julie.
[SIGH] Let's get a confession.
When I found out that Stark was not the person responsible for the death of Leslie Mahaffy, it was even more important getting him to confess to the crime and tell us where Julie's body is.
Our whole tactic with him in our interrogation was no longer "did you do this?" It's "You did it, where is she?" [MUSIC FADES] You saw what we had out there, right? So why don't you do yourself a favour, save us a boat load of time and just tell us what happened? Start anywhere you like, you know, Nancy Nelson, Maria Woods, Julie Stanton just go for it.
No? All right, I'll start.
You know, we talked to Nancy.
You know, she's still hurting, you know, she relives that night over and over again.
It's awful.
You know, she really wishes that she had the strength to testify and put you behind bars back then, because you know what? She knows you killed Julie, and she knows exactly how you did it.
Doesn't she? What about uh, old girlfriend of yours, Maria Woods? You remember her? Yeah.
This is exciting.
We re-investigated the whole case and re-excavated the crime scene.
And you know what? We were able to determine her cause of death.
She was shot.
And you know what else was cool, is we found a rare World War Two bullet that can only be fired from a Colt 45 automatic pistol.
The same World War Two Colt automatic pistol that your father gave you around the time Maria Woods was shot.
A pistol you later got rid of, right? On the advice of my counsel, I have nothing to say.
All right.
Then what about Julie Stanton? Huh? Now, we know the story you told, how your car broke down, that's why you were dirty and late picking up your wife.
We know that's a lie.
[SMASHES CHAIR] Julie trusted you, huh? Hm? Yeah.
She trusted you.
You pick her up, drive around [TENSE MUSIC] assault her, have your way with her.
[TRAFFIC SOUNDS] Then you killed her.
Why? Because you were mad that your wife wouldn't play your little 'hitchhiker' game that day? Huh? [POUNDS TABLE] 14 years old, Stark, she was 14 years old.
Same age as your daughter.
On the advice of my counsel, I have nothing to say.
Where'd you put her body, Stark? Did you bury it like Maria Woods? Is that it? We've got you, every which way.
We know that you like to pick up young women preferably slim blondes.
That you assault them and you murder them.
[EERIE] Now, why don't you take this chance and just clear your conscience, just let it go.
Because we're going to get you one way or another, Peter, and you know it.
On the advice of my counsel, I have nothing to say.
We weren't going to get a confession, we weren't going to find that body.
There was no way I was going to let him get away with it.
[DOOR OPENS] So we had enough to arrest him.
But didn't have all the evidence necessary to convict him.
Now what? He's going to walk again? No, no.
There's no way we let him walk.
We have one more option, I was just hoping it wouldn't come to this.
[GULLS SQUAWKING] What are you doing here? You remember what you told me last time we talked? I'm gonna need you to say that in front of a jury.
He's my father.
I know.
I'm sorry to have to do this to you.
I felt really bad for Kim.
But, we've got no body, got no crime scene, we needed to get her testimony.
And I felt anger towards Stark.
He didn't have the balls to man up and tell us where Julie was.
He let his daughter go through that in a court of law.
On December 4th, 1994, Peter Stark was found guilty of first degree murder.
Project Hitchhiker was a success.
REPORTER: Peter Stark is going to prison for life.
Stark, how do you feel about the verdict? Do you feel that you got justice, Mr.
Stark? CURWAIN: The case isn't closed.
It won't get closed until Julie's uh, remains are found.
Yes, we've convicted the guy that abducted her, but where's Julie? Very shortly thereafter, the search is continued on.
It wasn't until two years later I get a phone call saying, there's a farmer up in Manvers Township who uh, has come across skeletal remains.
We found her.
The Stantons were able to have Julie come home the night before she was buried so they could have her at home one more time before uh, before they buried her.
Stark died after 25 years in prison, and I think that's only right.
because that's 25 years that Julie didn't have.