ASTORIA HELEN (#CI8014)
EPISODE PREMIERE: May 31, 2009
HELEN BRAMER is a lonely single mother, so when cute bartender, JOE GALLAGHER, asks her to call him, she does. Weeks later, Helen is smitten with Joe, and so is her 9-year-old son, KEVIN. When she awakens in the middle of the night and finds Joe on her work computer, she shrugs it off. But when one of her company’s security trucks gets hit and the robbers steal millions in cash, Helen—the scheduling manager of the armored trucks—suspects that she has been set up. And when one of the robbers gets blown up trying to get into the van used in the robbery, Nichols and Wheeler are on the case.
At the crime scene, Nichols realizes it was no accident that the victim, ALEX CARLISLE, ended up dead: he had keys to the garage and the van. He was targeted by one of his partners-in-crime who wanted to keep the cash for himself. As the security truck had been robbed at the top of its run, they figure this had to be an inside job, which leads them to two suspects: one of the guards, LEO CIPRIOTTI, and Helen.
When initial questioning of Helen and Leo leads to a dead end, the detectives check out the owner of the van used to do the robbery, FRANK STROUP. Frank takes pains to say he just completed all the insurance paperwork on his stolen van, and has replaced it with a much newer model. Nichols assures him he doesn’t have to take his old van back. When asked where he was at the time of the robbery, Frank tells that he was in Florida on a fishing vacation.
Fingerprints lifted from inside the burned van lead to Joe Gallagher, who, according to records, died in an apartment fire two days after the robbery. An exhumation, however, reveals the body to be that of a homeless vet—Joe Gallagher is still alive and well.
When Frank gets shot, the detectives redirect their case. They figure he must have some connection to the robbery. They take a closer look at his business and discover he helped move Helen’s mother, Sandra Bramer, several weeks ago.
Helen acknowledges that Frank moved her mother’s things, and that he suggested she might like a bartender friend, Joe. She was lonely, she explains. She liked Joe, and didn’t want to believe he was using her. After the robbery, he disappeared, and she suspected the truth. But he died in a fire soon after, so she kept quiet. She tells them that Joe was devoted to his mother.
Nichols and Wheeler pay a visit to Joe Gallagher’s mother, and soon they’ve collared Joe. But Joe’s not talking. While being interrogated, Joe learns that Kevin, Helen’s son, has been kidnapped. The cops force a confrontation between Helen and Joe, who finally gives up Frank Stroup, who is holed up in a cabin up state.
In a tense stand-off, Nichols saves the child and subdues Frank.