Original air date: February 18, 2005 (US)
Directed by: Lesli Linka Glatter
203,900: Child kidnappings
90%: Parents responsible
56%: Children found alive
48 Hours: critical window
- Charlie did a lecture series on P vs NP "a couple years ago"
- Charlie buys the family home and pays cash
- Charlie has lived in the family home "pretty much my whole life"
- Charlie is a tenured professor
- Terry can take cases too personally at times
- Larry lives in a personally restored 1877 Victorian home (with at least 800 sq ft of free space)
Emily Burdick is kidnapped by a clown at her sixth birthday party in full view of her mother. While talking to the FBI, her father, Ethan receives a call from the kidnappers and tells the FBI and police to leave. After making sure all of the personnel have left, Ethan finds Charlie in his office reviewing his current math project, a solution to Reimann’s Hypothesis. Charlie is very interested in his work, but when Ethan finds out Charlie is Don’s brother Charlie is also asked to leave.
Don continues the case even though the family is unwilling to help, their priority is getting Emily back alive. While reviewing evidence, Terry realizes she recognizes one of the clowns as Paul Ballard, a career criminal who is responsible for two other kidnappings for which he got away with; he was eventually jailed on tax evasion. The question is why kidnap Emily, her parents do not have the resources for a large pay out. A review of Ballad’s jail record shows he was in the same cell with a man convicted of computer hacking. Charlie also shows how using Reimann, someone could create a number sieve and break internet encryption to gain access to banks, credit cards and other sensitive information.
Charlie goes back to Ethan and convinces hi to let Charlie help create an algorithm to use Ethan’s solution to computer hacking when they discover the solution doesn’t work. Since they don’t have the actual solution to offer, Don suggests faking one instead. They know from an interview with the hacker’s girlfriend hat the ring is after something big, they just have to figure out what.
Meanwhile, Alan has informed Charlie and Don that he intends to sell the house. it’s too big and the equity would go a long way in his retirement. The market is also hot for such properties right now and Alan doesn’t want to miss this chance. Charlie is not happy with the decision stating he loves the house and doesn’t want to leave. Alan is adamant the house will be sold for both their sakes.
Don figures out the ring intends to break into the Federal Reserve to find out the changes in the Prime Rate, a rate that would affect all sorts of financial transactions but would be difficult to trace as fraudulent. Working with the Federal Reserve and Amita and Larry, a false key and lock are built. When the kidnappers check the algorithm, they will think they are getting what they want, and hopefully give the FBI time to find them and Emily.
The plan works, the ring is tracked back using a combination of backtracking along their internet connection, and looking at high electricity use and freon purchase. Most of the kidnapping ring is caught in the initial bust, but Paul Ballard escapes into the basement and threatens to kill Emily. When he realizes he won’t get away or even live if he hurts the girl, he let’s her go.
Alan informs Charlie he has accepted an offer made for the house, and is surprised Charlie takes the news so well. Alan also notes the new seller didn’t even need a mortgage, he is paying in full upfront. Charlie is happy to hear Alan likes the offer and then tells his father, he is the one who bought the house.