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'Cold Justice' premiere recap: Alma Hernandez

Season 2| Episode 1 | “Stranded” | Aired June 20, 2014

This recap contains adult subject matter.

Well, hey there, and welcome to my recap of the season 2 premiere of TNT’s Cold Justice. If you’re new to Cold Justice, these are the basics: Former Texas prosecutor Kelly Siegler and retired CSI Yolanda McClary have teamed up in this show, produced by Dick Wolf (insert Law & Order “dun dun!” here), to help solve cold cases. Each week they take on a new case with a dedication and skill that puts both of these ladies at the top of their respective fields.

As for me? Well, I’m GGD, and I’m a longtime forensics nerd with a love for murder/death shows. Thanks in advance for reading, and I hope you’ll stick around. Let’s get this recap started!

We’re headed back to visit “Kelly’s people” in Bay City, Texas. Kelly was born in Blessing, which is also in Matagorda County, so she’s definitely back in familiar territory. The first thing she notices is a new Tractor Supply. Yep, Kelly’s home.

Kelly and Yolanda are looking into a 26-year-old murder case from 1988. Alma Henderson, 41, was a beauty queen in Honduras before meeting her husband and moving to Texas. After she and her husband divorced, Alma works hard to raise her five kids.

Last seen at a local bar, Alma’s body was found two days later in the back of a car in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn. She was naked, appeared to have been sexually assaulted and was shot in the head. Because of the assault, they believe the perpetrator was male, but they don’t consider the ex-husband or boyfriend as suspects, because she seemed to be on OK terms with them. Which means they’re likely looking for someone she met that night at the bar.

The case went cold due to a lack of suspects and any kind of semen or other genetic material at the crime scene. So, as Yolanda muses, they have their work cut out for them.

They meet up with Sgt. Fred Wesselski of the Bay City PD, and Johnny Bonds, aka my favorite good-ole-boy investigator from season 1.

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Fred briefs them on the case. Alma was at the Oasis until around 2:30 a.m. on the night of April 7, 1988. When she left, she was with a guy she had met named TJ. TJ says they went over to the local Holiday Inn and “had a few minutes” in the parking lot before going up to his room.

That puts TJ on the suspect board. Not only does he say he was with her, but he says they had sex — and Alma was violently sexually assaulted. He also refused to cooperate and lawyered up.

Also on the suspect board: Cecil Kinerd. Cecil was also staying at the Holiday Inn. He was angry and intoxicated, and he was also accused of sexually assaulting another woman at a nearby park earlier that night.

Johnny suggests another name: hotel security guard David Wakefield, who says he saw Alma in the parking lot around 4 a.m. But Johnny is thinking Wakefield may be more than a witness. He knew Alma and, considering Alma’s car had recurring issues, he would have been someone she felt comfortable approaching for help at that time of night.

We have our suspects. Now it’s time to start investigating.

Their first stop is to visit Alma’s daughter, Kasy, who was 16 at the time of the murder. The 26 years that have passed haven’t lessened the pain for Kasy, who clearly loved her mom. Kelly and Yolanda both tell her just how committed they are to getting her mom justice after all of these years.

They then head to the Holiday Inn to get a look at the crime scene. Going on what David Wakefield said, Alma arrived at approximately 2:30, and he then saw her car again at 4 a.m. He says that he saw a large, barrel-chested man get out of Alma’s car at that time. TJ doesn’t match that description, and says he went up to his room after he had sex with Alma, so it wasn’t TJ whom David saw. Cecil Kinerd does meet the physical description; however, a police report puts him in the park around 4 a.m., so would it be possible for him to have committed both crimes?

Yolanda is leaning toward Wakefield, because he knew Alma and because the story about the other man at 4 a.m. could be a way to throw suspicion onto someone else. I’m leaning with Yolanda.

Sadly, 26 years can cause a lot of memory loss. Heck, I can’t remember what happened 26 days ago, so it makes sense. But they do get one good bit of info from a man named Roy, who was TJ’s roommate that night at the Holiday Inn. From what he recalls, TJ wasn’t acting out of the ordinary in any way, and definitely not in a way that would lead Roy to believe TJ had just killed someone.

Next up is a call to TJ, who, even after 26 years, immediately admits to feeling paranoid when they say they want to talk to him. But he agrees to sit down to talk with them at a restaurant. He says he left Alma around 3 a.m. and, while he told her he was going to go up and get his keys to give her battery a jump, he went up to his room and never came down.

Basically, TJ is a jerk, but it doesn’t look like he’s a killer. His story matches the roommate’s, so he’s ruled out as a suspect. He did say one thing I thought was interesting, but didn’t get commented on: The cops told him the security guy shined a light on the car. He told them that was bull. No one shined a light. So either Wakefield lied about that or TJ did.

Cecil is up next. The team starts calling his old buddies. Cecil was definitely a talker, and told his friends about his fetishes — most important, fisting. (Did I just write that? I did. This is why I added the disclaimer above.) Considering Alma’s vaginal injuries, Cecil’s predilections come into play. They get more info from his previous sexual partners, who say that he did try to engage them in that activity and would get mad and intimidating if they didn’t participate.

Based on that information, they speak to the medical examiner about Alma’s autopsy to see if her vaginal injuries could have been cause by that sort of activity. He confirms that the damage caused could have been caused by that specific sexual act. Kelly contacts the woman who filed the sexual assault case against Cecil the night of the murder to see if she’ll corroborate. You can tell Kelly hates having to ask, and the woman is clearly reticent, but she decides to meet with them to talk about that night.

It’s heartbreaking to watch and listen to her story, and it’s just as awful as you’d imagine, so I’m not going to say much. But she does say that when a policeman discovered them in the car, he told her he had a gun and that if she didn’t cooperate, he’d kill her and the officer. Which means we now have a gun in Cecil’s possession, and we have proof of his violent sexual tendencies.

We also know that the gun matches reports from others who saw Cecil with a .22-caliber automatic pistol — the same type of bullet that was used to kill Alma. We also know that Cecil was angry and shirtless when he left the park to go back to his hotel.

After this, they meet up with David Wakefield. After talking with him and going over the details, they dismiss him as a suspect.

Which means it’s time to track down Cecil Kinerd, who gives me the creeps pretty much immediately and — what a charmer — brings his wife out for the interview. She says she knows all about his past. However, when Johnny Bonds asks him about his sexual fetish (you know, the one he was all chatty to his friends about), he’s all shocked, appalled and “No, no, no.”

He also never had a gun. Nope. Nuh-uh. Kelly likes this lie. It’s easily checkable. BTW, I love when she starts to feel like she’s closing in. It makes her happy.

Cecil also denies ever seeing Alma or David Wakefield in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn. The only thing he does admit to was being half-dressed when the cop came up to him and the woman in the parking lot at the park. He also says he got back to the Holiday Inn around 5 a.m., but can’t account for his time between 3 and 5 a.m.

As Kelly puts it, “Cecil messed up.”

The team has their case, and the circumstantial evidence is definitely stacked up on Cecil. Between the other witness statements and Cecil’s lies, there’s no doubt in their mind who killed Alma Hernandez. The District Attorney agrees, and he’s taking the case to the grand jury.

For me, the best part of this show is always the end, when Yolanda and Kelly meet with the family of the victim, because it always shows just how committed they are to getting justice for the victims and their families. Kasy is understandably emotional, but she’s also happy to know this case has finally been solved.

Me too, Kasy. Me too.

Cold Justice airs Fridays at 9/8 C on TNT.

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