The Beckett Conspiracy was the main ongoing arc of the Castle series for the first 6 seasons: Who killed Kate Beckett's mother and why. Throughout the series there have been many murders to cover up this mystery and many secrets as to who it is that is ordering these murders. Many relevant pages have the "Beckett Conspiracy" category tag.
- In the "bad old days", organized crime owned the New York justice system. Officers in the NYPD sometimes resorted to vigilantism to keep organized crime under control. A trio of cops formed a gang that kidnapped mobsters for ransom. They were sufficiently successful that the five families called a temporary truce in response to the kidnappings. These three officers were John Raglan, Gary McCallister, and a young rookie cop, Roy Montgomery.
- During this time, Assistant District Attorney William Bracken figured out what the three cops were doing and confronted them. The kidnappers were police officers with unpopular mafia victims who were unlikely to testify. This made it a difficult, perhaps unwinnable case. Instead, Bracken blackmailed his way into the scheme to ensure a portion of the ransom money for himself. He used the money to finance his first congressional campaign.
- This dirty money left a paper trail, though, that threatened to destroy Bracken if it ever came to light. He went to great lengths to cover up his crime; most of his subsequent criminal activity appears to have been aimed at covering up this first crime. He is desperate to cover up any remaining connections to this "original sin", and is willing to commit many more murders to accomplish this.
- The scheme continued until a tragic accident: while attempting to kidnap a mobster named Joe Pulgatti, a mobster named Bob Armen appeared unexpectedly and went for Roy's gun. The struggle between Armen and Roy caused it to accidentally go off, shooting Armen. The three escaped, but found out that Armen was actually an undercover FBI Special Agent. Raglan and McCallister later framed Pulgatti for the murder.
- Montgomery rechanneled his guilt at having killed Bob Armen into becoming the best police officer he could be. But he also worked to cover up his secret, by secretly altering arrest records to conceal his association with Raglan and McCallister.
- McCallister, Raglan, and Montgomery continue to fear and dread Bracken, but they also feel great guilt because his rise to power started with their crime. McCallister once referred to Bracken as "The Dragon", a moniker that Castle fans used in place of his real name before it was revealed. Bracken goes on to eventually gain a seat in the U.S. Senate.
The Johanna Beckett Murder
- Pulgatti continued to proclaim his innocence. He realized that the only people who knew he was with Bob Armen when he died were the kidnappers themselves, and they must therefore be with the NYPD. Although he wrote dozens of letters, only one attorney agreed to look into his case.
- Johanna Beckett later took up Pulgatti's cause. She began investigating the case herself. Working with her on the case were Diane Cavanaugh and Jennifer Stewart.
- Realizing that solving the Armen murder would eventually lead back to him, Bracken hired hit man Dick Coonan to kill the three, plus documents clerk Scott Murray, who could testify about the evidence that he'd provided them.
- Raglan, the investigating detective, covered up the four murders on Bracken's instructions, and to conceal his own role in Armen's death. He passed the crimes off as random gang violence to close their cases and stop any further investigation.
- Roy Montgomery, now a Captain, met Johanna Beckett's daughter. A newly fledged patrol cop, she had no authority to review the case records, but had launched a private investigation of her own as a personal crusade. Rather than stop her, he took her under his wing, out of a combination of guilt and a desire to make amends for his role in her mother's death. He also tried to tell her to search for cassette tapes as he had given Johanna Beckett one implicating Bracken in several crimes including his blackmail scheme and plotting Johanna's murder. Kate Beckett didn't get the hint at the time.
- Beckett's obsession with her mother's murder and her lack of progress in solving it eventually leads to her abandoning her quest, lest it cause a total emotional breakdown.
Castle & Beckett's board on the conspiracy
Castle and Beckett
- Richard Castle, a writer who started shadowing Kate Beckett, eventually learned of the cold case. Partly out of curiosity, and partly out of romantic interest in Beckett, he began secretly investigating the Johanna Beckett murder. He enlisted Dr. Clark Murray, who confirmed that Johanna's murder was a professional hit, expertly disguised as a random stabbing. Murray also discovers the other three victims and their connection to Johanna.
- During an unrelated investigation by Beckett and Castle, they discovered that the victim, Jack Coonan had died in precisely the same distinctive way as Johanna Beckett and her colleagues. The killer is eventually identified as Dick Coonan, who killed his own brother to cover up his own heroin-smuggling operation.
- Coonan revealed himself when he let a slip knowledge of Johanna Beckett's murder. He took Castle hostage and attempted to talk his way out of the precinct, offering to share with Beckett the identity of the man who hired him. However, when he attempted to kill Castle, Beckett was forced to kill him. Through the publicity surrounding the highly public shooting, Bracken discovered Beckett's progress and began taking steps to protect himself.
- Montgomery realizes that Beckett is now in danger. Knowing that Bracken will try to have her killed if she gets too close to solving her mother's case, he makes a deal with the Senator: he would keep Beckett from investigating her mother's death (or at least making progress on the investigation) and Beckett won't be killed.
- John Raglan discovered that he was dying of lymphoma. Plagued with guilt, he contacted Beckett to talk to her about her mother's killing. However, before he could reveal anything, he was killed by a sniper (Hal Lockwood).
- Under questioning, McCallister at first tried to implicate drug lord Vulcan Simmons, as Johanna once tried to remove him from Washington Heights, thereby incurring Vulcan's wrath and holding a grudge against Kate's mum. Kate was aware of this endeavour and believed Vulcan to be involved in Johanna's murder. However, Castle and Beckett eventually discovered the connection to the Pulgatti case and confronted McCallister with it. McCallister confessed to the broad outlines of what happened, but does not name Montgomery or Bracken. Referring to Bracken as "The Dragon", McCallister claimed that he was far too powerful for Beckett to handle. McCallister was jailed for accessory to murder.
- Meanwhile, Ryan and Esposito eventually identified the sniper, Hal Lockwood. He and his team had been tracking Beckett, attempting to discover how far along her investigation was. When Lockwood himself was compromised, his team ambushed Ryan and Esposito and tortured them for information. The two were rescued by Castle and Beckett. Beckett killed most of Lockwood's team, and Castle subdued Lockwood with his bare hands. Lockwood kept silent after his arrest, and Beckett visited the jail weekly to interrogate him.
- Eventually, Lockwood was mysteriously transferred out of administrative detention and into the general population. He immediately killed McCallister, who offered no resistance. When Lockwood was arraigned for the murder, he uses the court appointment as an opportunity to stage a well-planned, well-financed escape. Lockwood was later discovered to have been in regular contact with his employer via coded messages in very brief phone calls.
- Beckett and Castle identified a prison administrator, Chuck Ryker, as the man who gave the unauthorized transfer order. He seemed an unlikely conspirator, but did receive a mysterious payoff from a maze of banks in Dubai. When they went to question him, he was found murdered. Ryan and Esposito eventually discovered that Raglan and McCallister's accomplice was in fact Montgomery, but too late to warn Beckett.
- Meanwhile, Lockwood visited Montgomery at his home and reminded Montgomery of his agreement with Bracken. Having failed to do stop the investigation, he says Beckett must die. Roy's role was to lure Beckett to an airport hangar, where she could be killed by Lockwood and his team. Lockwood threatened the lives of Montgomery's wife and children if he refused.Montgomery agreed and got Kate to go to the hangar, but he had arranged a double-cross with Castle. Montgomery ambushes Lockwood and his team. Castle carries Beckett clear, but everyone else, including Montgomery, is killed.
- Castle, Beckett, Ryan and Esposito agree to cover up Montgomery's role in the conspiracy.
- Just before leaving to make his final stand against Lockwood, Montgomery created a package of mysterious and highly sensitive papers, which he sent to "Mr. Smith" in Washington, DC. Smith owed Montgomery an unknown debt, and was aware of the Dragon's true identity. Smith used these papers to resume the old agreement: protection for Beckett as long as the investigation of her mother's murder continues to be fruitless.
- However, during the time that the papers were in the mail, Senator Bracken hired yet another hit man, known by the alias Cole Maddox, to make an attempt on Beckett's life. She was shot at the funeral of Captain Montgomery. She survived, but was incapacitated for several months, during which Smith and Bracken came to their arrangement.
- Smith contacted Castle, and explained the terms of the deal. Castle began subtly distracting Beckett from the murder investigation, even as he secretly began one of his own. The only person who discovered his secret work on the case during this time was rogue CIA agent Sophia Turner, who later died.
- Mayor Robert Weldon was widely speculated to be running for Governor of New York in 2012. This apparently did not suit Senator Bracken's purposes. He arranged for the Mayor to come under investigation for financial misconduct. The real culprit was Jordan Norris, one of the Mayor's political advisors.
- When the plot threatened to come to light, Bracken contracted the murder of a woman who was unravelling the plot, Laura Cambridge. Castle and Beckett uncovered Norris's treachery, but before he could crack and spill the name of the Dragon in the interrogation room, his mysterious and expensive new attorney arrived and ordered his client not to speak.
- While the financial misconduct investigation was thwarted, Bracken's purposes were served equally well by the headline-grabbing subpoena Beckett served on the Mayor, whose name became entangled in the murder investigation. The Mayor abandoned plans to seek higher political office and decided to serve the rest of his term as Mayor before retiring.
- Castle's only clue that this involved the same mysterious conspiracy that had killed Johanna Beckett was Smith's intervention. The exact nature of the connection, other than its mastermind, remains unrevealed.
- Although he had asked Castle to keep Beckett from investigating, Mr. Smith provided crucial assistance to Castle in the investigation. He explains that, had Mayor Weldon been humiliated completely, he would have stepped down as Mayor. Castle would have been thrown out of the precinct, and Beckett would have resumed investigating her mother's murder. Senator Bracken was willing to accept Weldon as Mayor to keep this from happening.
Tracking Down Mr. Smith
- With Bracken turning his attention to a presidential campaign, Maddox was tasked with eliminating Smith; however, before he could safely do this, he had to identify Smith and secure the files. To do this, he arranged for Roy Montgomery's albums and files to be stolen. The robbery took place on a day when Montgomery's widow and children were supposed to be out; however, Mrs. Montgomery was unexpectedly there and shot the burglar with her late husband's revolver.
- Costas had been hired by Maddox, who he had met while serving in the Army in Germany. Costas had been desperate for money, but not willing to return to a life of crime working for the Cazadores criminal gang. After the botched robbery, he realized that he had become a possible link back to Maddox. He frantically called the gang and offered to join if they could save him from Maddox, but he was dead by the time his gang contact arrived.
- Ironically, the dead Costas was an even stronger link back to Maddox, because it became a homicide investigation run by Beckett. Ryan and Esposito eventually identified Maddox and traced him back to an apartment building. Beckett and Esposito went, without a backup, to confront him. Maddox killed the front desk clerk, knocked Esposito unconscious and left Beckett for dead, hanging from a ledge. Only Ryan and Gates's timely arrival with a response team prevented him from finishing the job.
- Beckett and Esposito were too late, Maddox had already used the files to identify Smith. He confronted Mr. Smith in his office demanding that he hand over the incriminating information on his employer so he could safely eliminate Beckett. Under torture, Smith revealed the location of the incriminating files. Maddox left him bound and unconscious, but could not kill him until he had the files.
- By this point, Castle and Beckett were able to track down Mr. Smith themselves. As he was wheeled away by paramedics, he gave Castle the clue he needed to find the files. Esposito, meanwhile, used his old Army contacts to discover Maddox's real name. His police contacts traced Maddox to the building with the files.
- Castle, Beckett, Esposito, and Maddox finally converged on the building. Maddox, getting the better of Castle and Beckett, was first to the safe containing the documents; however, in the confrontation he accidentally set off a booby trap. The resulting explosion killed Maddox and turned the files into confetti.
The Dragon Revealed
- Piecing together the shredded debris, Castle, Beckett, Ryan, and Esposito were able to determine that the files contained what was left of bank deposits, in the form of money orders made out to cash. The money orders were the ransom payouts given to Bracken by Raglan, McCallister, and Montgomery. It provided a clear link between the kidnapping conspiracy and Bracken. This is also the first time Bracken is identified as the man behind the conspiracy.
- As evidence, the destroyed file was not sufficient to convict Bracken. Moreover, Bracken was part of a network of political allies who were grooming him for the Presidency campaign. Even if Bracken was destroyed by the scandal, Beckett would be a target.
- Beckett confronts Bracken in person, and bluffs him into thinking there was an additional copy of the file which was now in her possession. She offers to continue the arrangement he had with Smith and Montgomery: her silence in exchange for Bracken not taking action against her or her people. Bracken agrees.
- Beckett seals the arrangement by pistol whipping Bracken viciously, drawing blood and likely leaving an ugly scar.
The Dragon Targeted
- When William Bracken started launching a new energy-effiecent campaign against the wishes of his mentor, Ben Moss, Moss started planning to take Bracken out. He hired Bracken's driver of five years to kill him and make it look like an act by a crazy man named Robert McMannus.
- Noah arranged everything but unfortunately was caught by Melanie Rogers and she tried to warn Senator Bracken before he could act. As a result Melanie was killed by Noah and Noah proceeded to remove all evidence of her identity to try and salvage the assassination.
- NYPD arrived at the scene and positively ID'd her and moved on the assumption that William Bracken was having an affair and suspected his involvement in the murder. Once the true motive is discovered NYPD rushes to find Melanie's murderer and twart Bracken's assassination.
- They find McManus and arrest him for killing Melanie Rogers but Detective Beckett still has doubts and orders the closing of the Bracken's press event to stop it. Although doubtful of any assassination attempt Beckett sees Noah flicking his light and realizes he's the killer and rushes to save Bracken before the bomb in his car explodes. Noah is arrested for murder and attempted murder, and it is soon revealed that Ben Moss hired the hitman and is soon arrested by federal authorities.
- Even though nothing has changed between them, Bracken acknowledges that he is in Beckett's debt for saving his life, and tells her that, "It's a dangerous world out there detective. You never know when you might need a friend." Indicating that, should she ask, he'd be willing to assist her if she needed some political help in the future.
- A year afterward, Captain Gates calls Beckett to the precinct for something urgent. The Head of Narcotics, Captain Fowler, briefs Beckett on the gruesome deaths of 6 drug dealers committed by a Lazarus. Fowler had found a Russian drug courier named Elena Markov. Elena tried to commit suicide, but failed, and now she is in intensive care. Capt. Fowler wants Beckett to impersonate and take Elena's place, which she agrees.
- At Elena's meeting place, Beckett is immediately held at gunpoint and abducted by a man named Harden. He takes Beckett to a compound, where she meets one of Harden's superiors, Mr. Jones. Harden grew suspicious over Beckett, and he tells Mr. Jones his suspicions out of Beckett's sight and earshot. Meanwhile, Beckett contacts Esposito and tells him that Elena is more than a courier. But she is forced to hang up before the NYPD traced the call when. Harden returns and shows Beckett her room.
- After that, Fowler, Ryan and Esposito go to visit Markov in a hospital, only to find she had escaped and killed a cop that was guarding her. They find out that Beckett's prediction was true and Elena was a contract killer, much to Castle's horror.
- Beckett finds out who Elena really was when Mr. Jones later instructs Beckett to assassinate a man named Evan Potter in order to meet Lazarus. Harden takes her to the target, Beckett fakes the killing and Evan goes to the NYPD on Beckett's orders.
- Beckett is now able to see Lazarus, and Mr. Jones escorts her to the basement where she sees a figure in the darkness. To Beckett's horror, the man turns out to be Vulcan Simmons, and he instantly blows Beckett's cover.
- Vulcan repeatedly dunks her head in a tub of ice water for information on what the cops know; the same technique used by Lockwood when he interrogated Ryan & Esposito. Beckett says nothing and Vulcan orders Harden to kill Beckett and put her “somewhere where she won't be found”, and then orders Jones to clean out the compound.
- Harden takes Beckett to the woods, where he is killed by Elena before he could kill Beckett. Elena leaves Beckett, saying Lazarus wanted Kate to live.
- The next day, Fowler and Gates tell Beckett that Vulcan had been taken into custody, and Beckett gives a clue to them about a company that Lazarus is funneling money to: Future Forward, which Beckett found in a counterfeiting room while meeting Lazarus. They find out it ties into a big political war chest.
- Beckett watches the news about Bracken forming an exploratory committee for a run for the presidency of the United States later that night. She soon comes to the conclusion that Bracken is Lazarus, he hid behind Vulcan Simmons, and he sent Elena to save Beckett to pay off the debt he owed her from stopping Moss' orchestrated assassination. Now they are even.
The Dragon is slain
- With Bracken beginning his campaign for president, Beckett chose to go after Simmons so she could bring her mother's killer down. She started following Jason Marks, a member of Bracken's underground organization, only to discover he was killed by Simmons.
Without mentioning her covert surveillance, Beckett pulled street cam footage, confirming Marks meeting with Simmons; Beckett figured that if she proved Simmons' involvement that he'd be forced to cut a deal and implicate Bracken.
However, Capt. Gates benched her to avoid any backlash with Simmons' lawyers. Later on, Beckett learned from Ryan that they were forced to cut Simmons loose when his lawyers demanded proof that the car Marks got into belonged to Simmons. Beckett later infiltrated one of Simmons' holdings and found the murder scene with Marks' blood all over the passenger seat.She is then discovered by Simmons, who deduces that she didn't have a warrant, making her evidence inadmissible. They exchanged words before Beckett left the place.
- Simmons was soon found dead, and his wounds indicate he was slowly tortured before his death. When the bullet that killed him is matched to a weapon registered to Beckett, an internal affairs task force arrives at the 12th to arrest her. But Beckett was tipped off by her friend Lanie, and fled before the task force could grab her.
- Beckett realizes what has happened: by going after Simmons for proof, Bracken learned she didn't have any evidence against him as he previously thought. Therefore, he's now making his play to get rid of her. Castle joins Beckett in hiding while Esposito and Ryan bring Capt. Gates up to speed on the conspiracy.
- Castle is contacted by Mr. Smith, who actually faked his death to escape Bracken. He reveals that he'd convinced Marks to expose Bracken, but Bracken found out before that could happen. He also mentions that there is rumored to be one more piece of evidence against their enemy: a recording where Bracken admits to murder. He tells Beckett to go into hiding.
- Castle and Beckett plan to flee the city, but while Castle is away, Beckett is ambushed by Bracken and two assassins. After trading banter, Bracken leaves and charges his men with killing Beckett and making it look like she committed suicide. However, Beckett manages to overpower her attackers and escapes. She is later found semi-conscious by Castle.
- While asleep, Beckett dreams of the time she first met Roy Montgomery: while discussing Johanna's murder, Roy asks if she looked through her mother's personal belongings for clues to the case, and specifically mentions cassette recordings. When Beckett wakes up, she realizes Montgomery was the one who made the recording and that he'd given it to Johanna before she was killed (explaining why he mentioned he should have protected Johanna when he confessed everything to her).
- Castle and Beckett return to the city and, with Ryan and Esposito's help, get into her apartment to look for the recording. However, the task force arrives and arrests them all. Back at the 12th, Beckett sees a figurine of elephants on her desk, and realizes the recording was hidden there the whole time. She recovers the recording, and plays it for everyone present to hear
- Roy, John Raglan and Gary McAlister met with Bracken (who is still A.DA at the time) to get assurance that he won't come after them. After he reminds them he could still bust them for their mafia extortion scheme, he assures them that he can just as easily get them convicted of Bob Armen's killing as easily as he framed Joe Pulgatti for it. When Montgomery asks what will happen if someone found out (since Pulgatti knows he's been framed), Bracken says he'll deal with them. When Montgomery asks how, Bracken says he'll hire someone to kill them, since he'd done it before and prepared to do the same to Johanna Beckett (since she's investigating the case at the time).
- Her innocence proven, Beckett leads a team of officers to Capitol Hill. Beckett walks in on a live tv interview where Bracken is explaining his reasons for wanting to be president. Telling Bracken she found the tape, Beckett arrests him for numerous crimes (including her mother's murder) on live tv. Bracken is promptly dragged out, followed closely by a flood of baffled reporters, and taken into custody.
- William Bracken
- John Raglan
- Gary McCallister
- Roy Montgomery
- Chuck Ryker
- Michael Smith
- Jordan Norris
- Ben Moss
- Vulcan Simmons