The murder of an animal control worker leads to a story that details the early warning signs of a serial killer. The initial subject is an extremely bright, disenfranchised youngster, known for his cruelty to animals. Though suspicion eventually turns elsewhere, the detectives are well aware that they will have a date with the warped teen at some point in the future.
Stabler rolls into action when his wife, Kathy, tells him her friend, a nurse, treated a 14-year rape victim who refused to report the crime. Betraying his wife's confidence, Stabler begins the search for the girl, co-opting Benson along the way. After angering Kathy, the nurse, and more importantly, their boss Cragen, they indeed find the girl...and uncover a disturbing teen sex club.
A 15-year old boy's mother comes forward to police once she realizes a "friend of the family" is actually abusing her son. A sting is set up using the boy as bait and the detectives come up short getting all the evidence they need. As a result, the boy must testify. ADA Cabot prepares the boy for the trial, but doesn't realize he is succumbing to all the pressure.
A woman is attacked and left for dead in her own home, and her husband has no idea who would want to hurt her. A similar attack happens in the neighborhood and the detectives' investigation leads to a security system repairman who worked on both homes. But the detectives question whether they've got their guy when the fingerprint of the original victim's husband is found in the repairman's van.
In the season premiere, Detectives Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler (Christopher Meloni) search for an ex-con who is sexually assaulting prostitutes -- only to find their suspect murdered by one of his would-be victims (guest star Sharon Lawrence). Though it appears that the woman killed in self-defense, another homicide reveals what may be a string of brutal murders by a skillfully manipulative female serial killer.
405: Disappearing Acts
509: We Take Care Of Our Own