Beckett’s Mother’s Murder
In the “bad old days”, organized crime owned the New York justice system. A trio of cops formed a gang that kidnapped mobsters for ransom. These three officers were John Raglan, Gary McCallister, and a young rookie cop, Roy Montgomery.
While attempting to kidnap a mobster named Joe Pulgatti, Roy’s gun went off accidentally. The mobster he killed was actually an undercover FBI Special Agent, Bob Armen. The three escaped, and Raglan and McCallister later framed Pulgatti for the murder.
Montgomery rechanneled his guilt at having killed Bob Armen into becoming the best police officer he could be. But he also worked to cover up his secret, by secretly altering arrest records to conceal his association with Raglan and McCallister.
Later, Assistant District Attorney William Bracken figured out what had happened, and confronted the trio. He blackmailed away all the ransom money and used it to finance his first congressional campaign, and eventually rose to a position of great power in the U.S. Senate. This dirty money left a paper trail, though, that threatened to destroy Bracken if it ever came to light. He went to great lengths to cover up his crime; most of his subsequent criminal activity appears to have been aimed at covering up this first crime.
Pulgatti continued to proclaim his innocence. He realized that the only people who knew he was with Bob Armen when he died were the kidnappers themselves, and they must therefore be with the NYPD. Although he wrote dozens of letters, only one attorney agreed to look into his case.
Johanna Beckett took up Pulgatti’s cause and began investigating the case herself. Working with her on the case were Diane Cavanaugh and Jennifer Stewart. Realizing that solving the Armen murder would eventually lead back to him, Bracken hired hit man Dick Coonan to kill the three, plus documents clerk Scott Murray, who could testify about the evidence that he’d provided them.
Raglan, the investigating detective, covered up the four murders at Bracken’s request, and to conceal his own role in Armen’s death. He passed the crimes off as random gang violence to close their cases and stop any further investigation.
Roy Montgomery, now a Captain, meets Johanna Beckett’s daughter. A newly-fledged patrol cop, she had no authority to review the case records, but had launched a private investigation of her own as a personal crusade. Rather than stop her, he took her under his wing, out of a combination of guilt and a desire to make amends for his role in her mother’s death. Knowing that Bracken would have her killed if she got too close to solving her mother’s case, he makes a deal with the Senator: he would keep Beckett from investigating her mother’s death and Beckett won’t be killed.
Beckett’s obsession with her mother’s murder and her lack of progress in solving it eventually leads to her abandoning her quest, lest it lead to a total emotional breakdown.
Richard Castle eventually learned of the cold case. Partly out of curiosity, and partly out of romantic interest in Beckett, he began secretly investigating the Johanna Beckett murder. He enlisted Dr. Clark Murray, who confirmed that Johanna’s murder was a professional hit, expertly disguised as a random stabbing. Murray also discovers the other three victims and their connection to Johanna.
During an unrelated investigation by Beckett and Castle, they discovered that the victim, Jack Coonan, had died in precisely the same distinctive way as Johanna Beckett and her colleagues. The killer is eventually identified as Dick Coonan. Coonan revealed himself when he let slip knowledge of Johanna Beckett’s murder. He took Castle hostage and attempted to talk his way out of the precinct, offering to share with Beckett the identity of the man who hired him. However, when he attempted to kill Castle, Beckett was forced to shoot him. Through the publicity surrounding the highly public shooting, Bracken discovered Beckett’s progress and began taking steps to protect himself.
John Raglan discovered that he was dying of leukemia and, plagued with guilt, he contacted Beckett to talk to her about her mother’s murder. However, before he could reveal anything, he was killed by a sniper.
Under questioning, McCallister at first tried to implicate drug lord Vulcan Simmons. However, Castle and Beckett eventually discovered the connection to the Pulgatti case and confronted McCallister with it. McCallister confessed to the broad outlines of what happened, but does not name Montgomery or Bracken. Referring to Bracken as “The Dragon”, McCallister claimed that he was far too powerful for Beckett to handle. McCallister was jailed for accessory to murder.
Meanwhile, Ryan and Esposito eventually identified the sniper, Hal Lockwood. He and his team had been tracking Beckett, attempting to discover how far along her investigation was. When Lockwood himself was compromised, his team ambushed Ryan and Esposito and tortured them for information. The two were rescued by Castle and Beckett. Beckett killed most of Lockwood’s team, and Lockwood was arrested. He kept silent after his arrest, and Beckett visited the jail weekly to interrogate him.
Lockwood kills McCallister behind bars and breaks free at his official court hearing. His mission is to come after Beckett. Ryan and Esposito eventually discovered that Raglan and McCallister’s accomplice was in fact Montgomery, but too late to warn Beckett. Montgomery lured Beckett to an airport hangar, in an effort to double-cross Lockwood. He confesses everything to Beckett and sacrifices himself for her. His last act before dying is killing Lockwood. Castle, Beckett, Ryan and Esposito agree to cover up Montgomery’s role in the conspiracy.
Senator Bracken hired yet another hit man, known by the alias Cole Maddox, to make an attempt on Beckett’s life. She was shot at the funeral of Captain Montgomery. She survived, but was incapacitated for several months, during which Smith and Bracken came to their arrangement.
In this time Castle, Ryan and Esposito were tracking the money of Montgomery, Raglan and McCallister, but the evidence was destroyed in a fire in 1998. Beckett doesn’t want to believe this, and only after Castle has a long talk to her does Beckett decide to let it go again and see her therapist. Smith contacted Castle, and explained the terms of the deal. Castle began subtly distracting Beckett from the murder investigation, even as he secretly began one of his own.
Cole Maddox, the man who shot Beckett, returns in the season four finale and tries to find the man who is blackmailing his employer. Castle tries to talk Beckett out of everything, but as soon he reveals the existence of his mysterious informant, Beckett breaks off her partnership with him. Castle is more willing to go than ever before, but he just can’t let Beckett throw her life away again. Beckett and Esposito trace down Maddox alone, who defeats both of them and leaves Beckett hanging on the edge of a tall building. In this moment she realizes that Castle is more important to her than justice for her mother. After Gates suspends her and Esposito, she quits and goes directly to Castle. While the two are spending their first night together Maddox visits the mysterious man and threatens him.
In the season five premiere, Castle, Beckett and Ryan manage to trace down Michael Smith, the old friend of Montgomery. When Beckett and Castle find him he is in very bad shape: Maddox had tortured him to learn where the files are. One of them is burned in Smith’s fireplace, another one is hidden in an old storage building. Castle and Beckett head there, but Maddox was waiting for them. Esposito turns up and frees the two out of their hostage situation. Meanwhile, Maddox tries to open the safe with the files, but he is killed by a booby trap and the file is destroyed. The team attempts to reconstruct the files and discovers an account number belonging to Senator William Bracken. After they are told Smith is out of surgery, Beckett and Castle go to see him, but he refuses to help. He is then murdered by one of Bracken’s men, though it is made to look like a heart attack.
Beckett goes to Bracken and threatens him with the bluff that she has a third copy of the files, and that she is going to publish them if he goes near her or anybody she cares about. This continues for the next two seasons until Bracken realizes that Beckett was bluffing and attempts to frame her for murder of his own associate, Vulcan Simmons, with the goal of capturing her and staging her death to look like a suicide. However, the team manages to discover a crucial hidden piece of evidence in the form of a tape recording of Bracken making plans with Montgomery and the others involved in the original abduction scheme, resulting in Beckett arresting Bracken during a televised interview as he announced his plans to run for the presidency.