Fact: Johanna Beckett’s as-yet-unsolved murder will be a focal point of the Castle Season 4 finale "Always."
Longtime Castle fans probably know about all there is to know, but let’s be real: There is a lot to know. Johanna Beckett’s murder is a multi-faceted case, with some murky and some missing pieces that keep unveiling themselves over time.
Before we dive back into the case in the finale, let’s take a little refresher course on Beckett’s mother’s unfortunate (and complicated) case. Ready? Leggo!
Johanna Beckett’s Murder Details
Johanna Beckett was killed Saturday, January 9, 1999. Beckett and her father were supposed to meet her for dinner, but she never showed. Two hours later at their home, Detective John Raglan delivered the horrible news. At the time, her death was attributed to gang violence.
Weeks before her death, Johanna requested a particular court file. Unfortunately, it was never found, but we know Johanna — a civil rights attorney — was working to grant mafia man Joe Pulgatti an appeal in a recent murder case. (More on that later.)
Turns out Johanna wasn’t stabbed at random, either. Three other murders were committed around the same time — and all three victims were linked to Johanna in some way.
It All Started With the Death of Bob Armen
Back when he was a rookie cop, Montgomery, along with crooked cops John Raglan and Gary McCallister, went to kidnap a mobster for ransom. Bob Armen was an undercover FBI agent who was there, too. And in a horrible twist, Monty accidentally killed Armen. Eesh! So, to avoid spending the rest of their days behind bars, the three cops agreed to frame the crime on mafia enforcer Joe Pulgatti — also present at the time of the shooting.
Several years before she was found dead (in the same back alley where Armen was killed), Johanna Beckett and her colleagues were working to get Joe an appeal. That’s when someone hired contract killer Dick Coonan to take Johanna out to keep the NYPD’s massive secret under wraps, before she discovered too much.
Hal Lockwood was also working for the man who hired Coonan, and was instructed to off anyone who knew the truth about Joe’s innocence and Johanna Beckett’s death. He later killed almost everyone connected to the case.
Dick Coonan Was Hired to Kill Johanna
Coonan is a contract killer and drug smuggler who was hired to hit Johanna Beckett, and who also killed his own brother, Jack. Obviously, he knew who wanted Johanna dead — and why.
Unfortunately, Kate Beckett shot him in the precinct during Season 2, Episode 13: “Sucker Punch.” Although she tried to do CPR to bring him back to life, he was gone before he could divulge who hired him. Did Johanna Beckett and her team know something they shouldn’t?
Hal Lockwood Was Hired to Kill Everyone Involved
Lockwood worked for the man who ordered the hit on Johanna Beckett. He shot Raglan, another cop who was there the day Monty shot Armen.
While locked up, Beckett visited Lockwood in jail every week hoping he’d give up information on how her mother’s death was connected to all of this, but he never cracked. He eventually escaped and was later shot dead by Captain Montgomery. Beckett never found out who he was working for.
The Three Cops Who Covered Up the Murders Are Now Dead
John Raglan – Raglan admitted to Beckett that he helped cover up Johanna Beckett’s murder, moments before he was shot by Lockwood. Darn!
Gary McCallister – Another cop mixed up in the case, McCallister was killed by Lockwood in jail. Before he passed, he said, "You don't understand, detective. You woke the dragon, and this is so much bigger than you realize.” But how big? We have a feeling we’re about to find out!
Captain Roy Montgomery – Sad but true, good ol’ Monty was the one who killed Armen and led to the big cover up. Monty was also holding onto top-secret files that got shipped off to a man named Mr. Smith before his death. Lockwood was the one who shot Montgomery dead, just like all the other cops involved in the Armen murder cover up.
Mr. Smith May Be the Only (Live) Person Who Knows Anything
It looks like the only living, breathing person with information is the mysterious and kinda creepy Mr. Smith. He’s the one who ended up with Monty’s secret files, although we’d never seen him before. But he’s apparently a stealthy man with serious connections: Soon after he opened the files, Smith called both the United States Congressional Office and Rick Castle. He warned the crime writer to distract Beckett from the case to keep her free from danger.
Also contained in Mr. Smith's package was information on Rod Halstead, the fire captain who penned a report about a mysterious warehouse fire. The warehouse contained the only hard-copy evidence of a possible money trail leading to the man who ordered the hit on Johanna Beckett.
Castle seems equally important to Smith as Beckett. Smith cropped up again in Season 4, Episode 12: “Dial M for Mayor” to fill Castle in a on a few clues that led him to the real killer, so the mayor — who was being framed at the time — didn’t go to jail, which could consequently have led to Gates kicking Castle out of the precinct.
Smith needs Castle to stay in the precinct to protect Beckett from undermining evidence she shouldn’t. He also vaguely and mysteriously told Castle sometimes “a well placed pawn is more powerful than a king” — a phrase many fans believe has an underlying meaning.