A young woman has noticed a dead body floating in the river and the detectives have been called. Warner informs Stabler and Benson that the victim is a thirtysomething female who looks like she has been dead for about 32 hours. The victim has bruises around the neck, her genitals mutilated and her hands amputated to hide her identity.
Stabler and Benson bring in two guys and a girl from a nearby building who are filming an art project on the rooftop. Stabler questions the filmmakers, hoping that maybe they saw something suspicious nearby. They didn't see anybody, but they did notice the same cab driving around the area day after day, one time almost running the cameraman over.
The detectives were able to piece together that the mysterious cab was a copycat model and not a real one. The driver of the cab is also a suspect in a series of rapes in the area. Stabler and Benson decide it's time to interview some of his past victims, in hopes of finding out who the driver of the cab is.
Warner tells Benson and Stabler that their victim wasn't sexually mutilated; instead, it was the work of sea creatures feeding on a carcass. She also points out that the hands being cut off doesn't appear to have been done by a person, but instead a boat propeller. Eye examination told Warner their victim was 34, but she had the bone density of a 60-year-old.
Fin and Munch find the phony cab and also a jar of urine inside it. Using skin cells found in the sample, the detectives are able to identify their suspect as Orlando McTeer, a cab driver who previously did time for aggravated rape. They find Orlando and put him in a voice lineup with one of his victims, and she identifies him as her attacker. Orlando confesses to rape, but denies having anything to do with murdering anyone.
Orlando proves he isn't the murderer when he places himself at the scene of another rape in Pennsylvania. Orlando is booked and charged with the series of rapes, but that leads detectives back to square one with their victim. Warner discovers her name is Marga Jannsen and she was an astronaut from Belgium, which would explain her low bone density - from being in space. Cragen wants the case to be closed, fast.
Stabler and Benson visit the New York Hall of Science, where Marga was planning on giving a speech. It's there that Stabler runs into his mentor from the Marines and a legendary astronaut, Richard Finley. Richard agrees to do all he can to help the SVU out on their case. He already informs the detectives that Marga was overheard having an argument with her girlfriend in a hotel lobby.
Benson and Stabler interview Andy, Marga's girlfriend. She talks about an argument she and Marga had, but says that Marga's real problem was an incident with a fellow astronaut on the shuttle and they should look to Richard for more answers. Richard doesn't think that incident led to her death.
Stabler and Benson find out there is a teenager at a midtown gas station using Marga's credit card for gas. Richard tags along for the ride. Vince swears he's clean and he found the card. Stabler finds all types of drugs on him. As Vince tries to escape, Richard stops him with a punch in the nose.
Vince demands to know who punched him in the face while Stabler and Benson just want to find out where Vince got Marga's credit card. Before Vince can say anything else, his defense attorney shows up. Stabler is surprised to find out that Vince belongs to one of the richest families in New York. After a picture of Vince is sent to Fin, a pawnshop worker identifies him as the man who pawned Marga's necklace.
Vince insists Marga's purse was in a dumpster and that's how he found her credit card and necklace. Richard leads Stabler to Anton, a fan who collects autographs and memorabilia from astronauts. He admits to getting Marga's autograph and talking to her, but denies knowing anything about her death. Anton begins to break down, saying he and Marga were destined to be together and he wants to punish whoever took Marga away from him.
Anton is released when Vince can identify him in a lineup as the guy who threw Marga's purse in the dumpster. Richard agrees to keep an eye on Anton while he's free. Anton snaps when he sees Vince and accuses him of murdering Marda. He grabs a cop's gun and shoots Vince. Richard tackles Anton to the ground and Anton is accidentally shot.
Richard is looking like a hero for wrestling Anton to the ground. Before Benson can leave, Richard asks her to accompany him to a function. She agrees and wants to bring Stabler along. Richard assures her the two of them can have just has much fun.
Stabler begins to put together the pieces of what happened with the shootout earlier. He goes to Richard's hotel room and accuses him of setting Anton up to kill Vince, the only witness to who had possession of Marga's purse after her murder. Stabler wants answers on why Richard would resort to murdering Marga. Richard defends himself.
Stabler believes Richard murdered Marga for taking away his spotlight and rejecting his romantic advances. Richard demands Stabler get out of his hotel room, but Stabler continues to grill him, especially when Stabler points out that Richard's fingerprints were found on Marga's necklace.
Stabler and Richard begin to fight and Stabler punches him out. As he puts a handcuffed Richard in the squad car, Benson arrives all dressed up for her date. She asks Stabler if everything is okay and his simple response, is, "No."