Motive Case Report #302
The Victim: Sienna, a high-end call girl, whose real name is Erica Grey.
The Killer: Stephanie Carson, a tightly wound investment manager and overbearing mother.
The Double Lives: Both Stephanie Carson and Erica Grey lead double lives that are pivotal to their stories. Erica works as a high-end call girl named Sienna, while Stephanie’s secrets are a little more complex. Stephanie is obsessed with her appearance and what people think of her, so she does whatever it takes to maintain her perfect image of rich wife and mother, which couldn’t be further from her reality.
The Families: Families are a key part of the episode. Stephanie and Erica both have daughters, Madison and Jayda, respectively, who are on the same gymnastics team. Madison and Jayda are the two best gymnasts on the team, and they are about to compete for a major scholarship. Stephanie plays the role of the helicopter mom, pushing Madison to do whatever it takes to boost her chances at getting the scholarship: from being the best on the team, to padding her resume with volunteer activities, such as working at the local animal shelter.
Erica seems happily married, and her husband Doug is totally aware of her career choice. Stephanie is going through a messy divorce from her husband, Keith, who’s suing Stephanie for full custody of Madison. Meanwhile, Stephanie is doing everything in her power to keep this all hidden from the other families.
The Investigation: When the detectives find Sienna’s dead body with “SLUT” written across her forehead in red lipstick, they look straight to her personal schedule. Right off the bat, this case seems as though it can be easily solved, and that one of the people in Sienna’s calendar would be the killer. After interrogating the men, the detectives realize that Sienna is working as a call girl, but all the men have alibis, ruling them out as suspects.
Showing her uncanny ability to see the story from a different perspective, Angie asks what turns out to be the key question: Was the lipstick on Sienna/Erica’s forehead hers, or was it someone else’s? Dr. Rogers runs a test that shows that the cells in the lipstick come from a female, but they don’t match up with Erica’s DNA. The detectives question all the wives of Sienna’s clients, whose alibis all check out… and who all leave with newfound knowledge of their husbands’ affairs.
Trying to think of a woman who would have wanted to kill Erica, Angie, Vega, and Lucas bring in some of the other moms from the gymnastics team. One mom brings up a memory of Erica and Stephanie fighting at a practice, and the detectives havr a new lead worth tracking down.
The Motive: Erica Grey has invested money with Stephanie Carson, and eventually realizes that the investment agreement is hugely ripping her off. Erica confronts Stephanie to ask for her money back and makes a threat that if she doesn’t get the money, she will go to the police. Stephanie panicks: not only had she totally lost the money in her Ponzi scheme, but a police investigation would destroy her whole façade. The world would realize that she’s a cheat and a liar, she doesn’t really have the money she appears to have, and news of her divorce would undoubtedly surface. Stephanie desperately needs to silence Erica quickly.
The Murder: Stephanie goes to Erica’s apartment to bring her a check with her investment money, and some paperwork that Erica would need to sign to be released from their agreement. While Erica is signing the paperwork, Stephanie sneaks up behind her and stabs her with a Pentobarbital injection that she had stolen from the animal shelter where Madison volunteers. Stephanie then drags Erica’s body to the bathroom and stages the scene to make it look as though she was murdered by one of her male clients.