Killer: Maddie Haskel (Heather McComb)
Episode: “The Wild and the Innocent” (10 January 1997)
Writer: Jorge Zamacona
Director: Thomas J. Wright
Quote: “I asked them not to tell Angel anything about his mother. I don’t want him knowing anything about me. I mean I doubt if anybody can love him like I do. But I had a feeling that day that a life with me wasn’t a price my baby should pay. He’d have just grown up to be another Bobby or another Jim, another man like my father. I want a clean life for him. Least I had a hand in giving him that.” –Maddie Haskel
Profile: Not all killers are driven by complex, deep-seated psychological disorders or some dark, twisted compulsion. In fact, quite the opposite is true: most homicides are perpetrated by people close to the victim and for personal reasons. Technically, Maddie is driven to commit what the FBI Crime Classification Manual would probably described under the banner of Argument or Conflict Murder.
The tragedy of Maddie Haskel’s life is one of circumstance. She has evidently been surrounded for some time by two violent and unstable men. Perhaps after her mother’s death she finds herself lost and rudderless, at their mercy as they both go on to act upon their most violent impulses. At the first opportunity her mother’s former boyfriend, Jim Gilroy – in fact wanted multiple murderer and rapist Jake Waterston, seeking to conceal his true identity and evade capture – attempts to rape her. This is a fate from which she is “saved” by her own boyfriend, Bobby Webber, only for him to go on to wreak a trail of spree killings as, led by the injured and captive but still sly Waterston, he takes to the road in a misguided attempt to reunite Maddie with her baby son, who has been sold into adoption. For his part, Webber commits what might be termed Authority Murders, wherein he feels vindicated in killing those who would – to his mind – seek to continue to keep Maddie from her child.
In the emotionally charged stand-off at the Travis home, Maddie decides that her baby, Angel, would be served best by remaining with her adoptive parents after all, a decision that Bobby finds hard to accept given all they have been through to get to this point. However Maddie believes in her conviction so powerfully that, in the heat of the moment, she guns Bobby down rather than risk further harm of any kind to her child. When visited by Frank some time later, she defends her actions, believing she has ensured a better future for her son than she herself could ever have given him. In her own way she is protecting her own even as she sacrifices her liberty and perhaps for her, amidst the pain and craziness that was her life, there is no purer motive.
Investigation: Domestic homicides are usually the simplest to solve, however in this instance there is so much more going on that Frank Black, Peter Watts and the local police take some time to focus their efforts upon the deceptively simple truth that exists beyond the other crimes being perpetrated around Maddie Haskel.
At first the team pick up a link to the wanted felon Jake Waterston, although Frank soon determines that the rash and careless killing of a cop is unlikely to have been by his hand. From a message he has written for her in Maddie’s yearbook that Frank finds at the Haskel residence in which he indicates he was about to join the armed forces to undergo basic training, he surmises Webber’s involvement. On reading her letters, Frank finally determines that Maddie’s baby lies at the heart of the mystery, knowledge that leaves him able to defuse the still volatile situation at the Travis home in the nick of time without further bloodshed, effectively saving Maddie Haskel’s life.