Benson and Stabler were investigating the death and mutilation of a college student, Tina Snow. Tina had a prior record for breaking and entering and the SVU wondered if her partner in crime could have been her killer. At time of death, Tina was carrying burglar tools.
Benson was baffled why Tina had so much alcohol in her system along with the date rape drug, but she wasn't raped. Fin suggested her attacker might have been under too much pressure. Meanwhile, they came to the conclusion the murder was personal because Tina's breasts had been sliced off. They paid a visit to her roommate, who said Tina was never home and in danger of being kicked out of college for not paying tuition.
There was dirt found on Tina's body indicating she wasn't murdered in the building she was found in. Since the dirt had no sign of plant life, Lake suggested that she was in a tunnel before her death explaining the soil with lack of plant life. With the help of a charred piece of paper, the detectives were able to narrow down which tunnel it was in New York.
The detectives raided an underground group meeting ran by an eccentric wannabe named Edgar Rabinowicz. With confiscated video, Stabler and Benson had proof that he knew Tina. Edgar denied killing her, but did say they were last together at a bar. Benson went to interview the bartender. The bartender confirmed Tina left with a strange man that night.
Benson received a call from Cecilia the bartender who said the strange man was back at the bar while she was closing. Then Benson heard screams and the phone went dead. Benson and Stabler arrived at the bar and found blood on the floor that was used as paint for art, but there was no body. The blood work looked like the Venus de Milo, but was really impressions of the artwork by jailed serial killer, Robert Morten.
The detectives discovered that Robert Morten had a fan club and questioned the Vice President of the club, Jasper Bryce. Stabler made it look like Morten sold Jasper down the river and Jasper panicked and confessed to killing Tina. Novak interrupted to say Jasper wasn't their guy and Cragen stepped in to say Benson had been receiving death threat messages in the office.
Benson and Stabler discovered that a copycat killer was emulating the killings after the artwork in a popular graphic comic by Harrison Thomas. Because the killer followed so closely to the comic, Harrison became a suspect. Using the comic as a map, they were able to find Cecilia in a dirty abandoned building, barely breathing after being stabbed.
Lake showed up with a pizza supposedly delivered for Benson. When she explained she never ordered a pizza, the box exploded from a pipe bomb. Lake was taken to the hospital for minor injuries. Meanwhile, Cragen wanted Benson off the case for her own safety. They also discovered that Cecilia had inflicted her own injuries during her "attack". Cragen allowed Benson to return to the case.
Benson interviewed Cecilia as Stabler interviewed Morten. They discovered that Cecilia and Morten had a relationship that was kept undercover when Cecilia interned at Morten's defense attorney's law firm. Benson tried to relate to Cecilia when it came to growing up in a fatherless home. Cecilia then denied killing Tina for Morten.
Lake was busy studying the surveillance video to find out who delivered the pizza box to the unit. He was talking to Benson as she was arriving home and both realized the deliveryman was Harrison Thomas. Just then, Benson was attacked from behind in her apartment. She was stabbed once, but fought back. Her attacker was another Morten follower.
Cecilia testified that Robert Morten told her to kill somebody to free her pain. In order for the defense to prove that Cecilia was insane, they asked her to show off her physical scars of where she stabbed herself in the chest. Later on, a shaken Novak paid Morten a visit in prison and asked him to testify for the prosecution and say that Morten never asked Cecilia to murder Tina Snow.
In exchange for a different prison, Morten agreed to testify against Cecilia. But, when he was called to the stand, he told the jury that he did coerce Cecilia into committing murder. He did admit that he never told Cecilia how to commit the crime.
Chaos hit the courtroom when Morten began to critique Cecilia's crime scene. She leaped forward and hugged him on the stand while other ladies of his fan club in the courtroom began to voice jealousy. Cecilia was carried away by the police and later found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity. Morten's plan had worked to make Cecilia look insane.
Novak waited for Morten outside the courthouse. He gloated on how Cecilia wasn't going to pay for her crime and now was prepared for Novak to back out on their agreement. She said he was still switching prisons, but this time, it was to a maximum-security prison with even stricter rules then the ones he was used to. Including no human contact with the outside world in any way, shape or form.