Stabler and Benson are investigating the murder of a freelance writer who was found raped, stabbed and with an "x" carved on her cheek. They also notice her computer has been stolen. Jayne Whitmore's employee tells the detectives that Jayne constantly was going undercover for her stories and her work often put her in danger.
The detectives visit a halfway house that Jayne was living in while researching a story about drug addiction. They also find out she was going to a welfare house for assistance and the chief administrator, Ned Bogdon, was notorious for not giving women their food stamps without sexually harassing them. Jayne was last seen heading to Ned's office. Cragen admits that Ned's reputation within his department is spotless and this will make their case tougher.
Benson goes undercover as a woman in need of assistance and food stamps and Ned falls for her trap as he starts inappropriately touching her. Benson arrests Ned on the spot and brings him to the SVU. Ned defends his actions and says his only purpose is to make sure his female clients get food and a warm place to sleep. He denies killing Jayne.
Cragen recognizes the killer's ammo and realizes it's the work of the "Bedroom Butcher," a killer that terrorized the Bronx in the '70s. Now, it is the SVU's turn to try to try and set Ned off and make him admit to Jayne's murder, as well as the murders from before. Every victim was tied to Ned in some way. Each victim's clothing had dandruff from the killer that matches the Ned's DNA, except one: Emily Cutler.
Ned has an airtight alibi for the time that Emily was murdered, but he's charged for all the other Bedtime Butcher murders. Warner surprises the detectives with news that Emily's killer was a woman, judging from the one blonde hair found on Emily's body. This opens up a whole new case for the SVU.
Now the detectives have to piece together a list of women in Emily's life. Cragen shows them a series of waterbed commercials from the '70s that Emily's husband Cal starred in as the "Mattress Maestro." Turns out that Cal was quite the playboy while married to Emily and it really affected their marriage. Cal died in an accident shortly after Emily's death.
Benson and Stabler pay a visit to Susan Delzio, the patrol cop who responded to Emily's calls after the domestic disturbances over one of Cal's mistresses. The retired patrol cop offers to help the detectives with their case. Susan says that the mistresses often harassed Emily, but never really issued any real violence towards her, and Cal would always do his part to calm the women down before real action had to be taken.
Susan can't remember the names of Cal's mistresses because there were so many of them. But, she remembers that the last call she took was at the studio while Cal was filming a commercial. Emily was on set and was accompanied by Cal's agent, Maude. Susan assures the detectives Maude would know the names of Cal's girlfriends because she often employed them for his mattress commercials.
Maude tells the detectives that out of all Cal's girlfriends, Jenny Coswold, Claire Lockton, and Rita Wills were the craziest. Benson and Stabler pay each woman a visit, and they all claim Emily was a terrible wife to Cal and offer to submit DNA to clear themselves of her murder.
Rita's DNA is a match with the sample of blood found at Emily's crime scene on her mattress. When Stabler and Benson go to arrest her, she snaps and tries to attack them with her martini glass. Back at the SVU, Rita keeps apologizing for her erratic behavior. Rita denies murdering Emily and tells the detectives that Cal was stuck in a loveless marriage and he wanted to be with her.
The detectives inform Rita that not only was a strand of her hair found on Emily's body, but also some of her blood was found on the mattress. Rita claims that she and Cal made love at his house and when she started her period, blood soaked into the mattress. Rita also admits to still having the bedsheets from their lovemaking at her place.
Benson and Stabler are shocked when they see Rita's apartment. The place is covered with photos of Cal. Stabler finds the bloodied sheets that Rita was referring to. Benson finds a journal entry dating back to when Emily was murdered; in it Rita admits she killed for Cal and now he will die a fiery death. Benson notes the entry was written just days before Cal died in a fiery car accident. Cragen still wants a full confession from Rita.
Rita tells detectives that the killing she admitted to in her journal was not of Emily, but of her and Cal's unborn baby and that is why she had such anger for Cal. She still denies murdering Emily, but confesses to killing Cal for making her get an abortion that left her sterile. Rita said she killed him by getting drunk with him and then let him drive home, and he ended up crashing his car.
After performing Cal's autopsy, Warner tells the detectives that Rita is telling the truth. Only problem is that the body she examined wasn't Cal's, it was a transient -- Cal must have faked his own death. Benson pieces together that Susan must have had an affair with Cal and since she was not like the other bimbos he was sleeping with, she must have been special to him.
So, having inside knowledge of the "Bedside Butcher," Cal made Emily's crime scene look like the Butcher's work. Stabler finds a badly burned Cal in Susan's apartment and brings him in. He got the burns while trying to fake the murder scene. After Susan sees Cal, she admits to murdering Emily, but Cal forgave her and they have lived a life of solitude ever since. That is, until Benson arrests her for the murder of Emily Cutler.