This week on Battle Creek, we get a more classic murder — and potentially some answers about why Milt is stuck in Battle Creek. That is, if Russ can bring himself to open up.
Apart from a homicide, it’s a quiet day at the Battle Creek police department. A woman has been found stabbed to death in her apartment. Milt has taken the call because the 911 dispatcher, Elaine, has given him all the calls since they met at a barbecue recently. Russ is rightly peeved that he is out of the loop, but Russ is always peeved.
At the victim’s apartment, Russ speculates that robbery wasn’t involved since 2000 dollars was found in a drawer, untouched. Milt breaks out his latest high-tech gadget, a machine that can isolate the victim’s prints from any others at the crime scene. Interestingly, despite the presence of two coffee mugs, there are no other finger prints. They do, however, discover a lone snout print. Thanks to intel provided by Milt’s FBI sources, they determine the snout belongs to a Yellow Lab weighing between 60-65 pounds.
Back at the precinct, all the detectives and Holly toss around theories about the murder, to various degrees of success. Commander Guziewicz assigns backup duties to the other detectives while Milt decides to bring in an FBI specialist and decorated war veteran Agent Frazier, a German Shepherd. This irritates Russ, of course, because, once again, the meager BCPD resources — in this case Cookie, their dog of an indeterminate, fluffy breed — are, once again, trumped by the big bad FBI. Russ claims Cookie is just as good as Agent Frazier, and proposes a wager. Both dogs take off in opposite directions. Cookie ultimately sniffs out a discarded box of chicken, a most unlikely murder suspect.
At the diner where Donna Thomas, the victim, worked, Funkhauser and Jacocks discover that she was evidently beloved by staff and customers alike, yet nobody seemed to know much about her except that there was one special customer, a big tipper, who came by like clockwork. The detectives wait for said big tipper. When he’s a no-show, they figure it’s because he’s the killer and wouldn’t bother to visit someone he knew wasn’t going to be at work.
Font’s working his angle from a veterinary office where he is trying to get a snout print from a random dog. Russ arrives, admitting that Cookie failed. While Font is unsuccessful at getting the dog to cooperate, he fares better at obtaining a list of registered Golden Retrievers, which he passes on to Russ.
At his first stop, presumably, Russ hears a dog barking around back. Despite the dog looking agitated and bitey, Russ scales the fence, because that is what Russ does. The dog’s chain comes loose and he chases our trespassing detective who manages to evade the snarling dog by vaulting a brick wall with the aid of a trampoline. He lands hard and after some cursing and grimacing, Russ spots a dog chained to a railing behind a burger joint. Milt and Agent Frazier show up moments later, but Russ, unable to admit defeat, claims that Cookie found the dog. Milt calmly accepts Russ’ word and pays off their bet.
Russ and Milt wait with dog until its owner shows up. Font strolls over to let the detectives know that the restaurant is empty except for the staff. They begin questioning when Russ notices that the men’s bathroom key is missing. They kick down the door to find a frighted little boy.
The boy, Max, confesses that he has been sick several times since stumbling across the dead body who turns out to be the his mom — or rather, his biological mom. He is currently being raised by Donna’s half-sister, and says he’s paying Donna regular visits. His adoptive Mom doesn’t know. Max and the detectives pay a visit to his aunt/mom at the church where she works. Gail fills the detectives in on Donna’s past which includes drug use and prostitution, and says that is why she’s been raising him from nearly the start. She suspects that Donna is still using and turning tricks. She confirms that Donna wanted to be in touch but didn’t know that the kid was dropping by. The boy confesses that on the days he visits, there is usually an older man leaving at about the same time except that day.
Milt suspects that Donna’s past has caught up with her but Russ assumes that the woman is still hooking, because people never change, and that is likely the cause of all the trouble. They take the kid into the back to go over mug shots and see if he can pick someone out. He recognizes his math teacher, but not the suspect. Meanwhile Jacocks and Gail work out the password for Donna’s computer. Her calendar reveals that she has an AA meeting.
Milt, Russ and Max race to the meeting hoping that maybe the kid will recognize someone there. By the time they get there, the meeting is over save for a few stragglers, but the kid does identify their suspect – an older man whose face is emblazoned on a plaque on the wall.
The detectives go to the house of Miles Whitehall to pay him a visit. Funk and Jacocks, who have determined via credit card receipts that their big tipper is one and the same, arrive nearly simultaneously. His children, Eleanor and Robert inform the detectives that not only is Mr. Whitehall not home, he is also no longer alive. Their father died of a heart attack two days prior, giving the old man, Funkhauser notes, a solid if unfortunate alibi.
With their main suspect deceased, the speculation around the precinct is that they were now likely looking at two murders, possibly related: Miles Whitehall a victim of poisoning, and Donna Thomas, possibly collateral damage. They shift the focus of the investigation towards the old man.
Russ and Milt return to the Whitehall residence to hunt for evidence of poisoning, and to follow up with his kids and Whitehall’s staff. The kids are initially incredulous about the poisoning because they believe that everybody loved their father, but the staff reveal that not everybody loved the old man.
The detectives check in at Whitehall’s country club. His two remaining golf buddies reveal Miles had fired his — and subsequently their — accountant several weeks ago. Whitehall had discovered that the accountant, Lucas, had been embezzling hefty sums of money for some time, giving the detectives yet another suspect. 9-year-old phone records – courtesy of the FBI – turn up a connection between the accountant and Donna, but before they can reel the accountant in, Meredith, the Medical Examiner, reveals that Whitehall died of natural causes, not poison.
The boys are back to one murder case, and are at a bit of a loss as to where to go next. It’s here that Russ finally gets some answers about why Milt is in Battle Creek. Russ has been preoccupied by the fact that Holly has been frequently skipping out of work early. Milt, seeing an opening, gets Russ to admit he likes Holly but wouldn’t date her because it would be dangerous and unprofessional.
Because Russ has finally said something genuine, rather than all the fake-friend BS he’s been trying out until that moment, Milt finally gives him his explanation for why he’s in Battle Creek: Milt literally slept through Tuesday, September 11, 2001, and has since dedicated himself to doing whatever was asked of him without question. Russ keys in on the “Tuesday” and has a revelation: Why would Donna schedule her two Tuesday appointments with Whitehall and Max so close together?
Russ discovers Whitehall’s will names all of his children as beneficiaries and surmises that Robert and Eleanor killed Donna so they wouldn’t have to split the fortune three ways with their new half-sister. Milt and Russ interrogate the siblings, but can’t squeeze a confession out of them and turn the two loose — but Russ has a trick up his sleeve.
The detectives return to the Whitehall house with a warrant… to search the fireplace. They find clothes, a set of men’s and women’s, being incinerated. Young Mr. Whitehall challenges the validity of the evidence and points out the fact that there won’t be any DNA left. Russ notes that no jury is going believe innocent people would take the time to burn their own clothes. The kids try to run, but the other detectives are waiting outside the door. Busted!
Russ finally gets the nerve to ask Holly what’s been going on and she tells him that she’s been inspired to pursue law enforcement and has been interviewing at law schools. There are no law schools in Battle Creek. Russ also finds out that Milt didn’t join the FBI until 2003 and that not only is Milt a better liar than Russ, he may be more interesting that Russ had suspected.
The detectives pay one last visit to the kid and his mom to let them know that not only was Donna on the up and up, but because the Whitehall siblings are in jail, young Max is going to inherit the full Whitehall estate worth an estimated $42 million.
The Detectives ride off into the sunset.
Until next week.
New episodes of Battle Creek premiere Sundays at 10/9CT on CBS.