Kathy Stabler's Murder On Law & Order: Organized Crime Explained

Throughout the entire run of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" there have always been a group of fans who clearly wish to see Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) together in a relationship. Despite Elliot being married to wife Kathy (Isabel Gillies) — and even having kids — the group demanding a Stabler and Benson romance has grown bigger and louder over the years. When Stabler and his wife separated in the sixth season, fans became even more hopeful ... but instead of Olivia, he became briefly romantic with his new partner, Dani Beck, before reconciling with Kathy.

When Meloni returned to "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" in 2021, the excitement from fans was deafening, with nearly eight million people tuning in to watch his first appearance on the show in 10 years (per People Magazine). Fans once again began to clamor for the pair, even though he was still with Kathy — in his return episode, "Return of the Prodigal Son," the couple were actually coming to support Olivia receiving an award. 

But then something happened that put a screeching halt to the shipping calls for Olivia and Elliot, when a car bomb killed Kathy, and kicked off Meloni's new show, "Law & Order: Organized Crime."

The car bomb was meant for Kathy

The first thought Elliot Stabler has when his wife dies is that it was his fault. He had been investigating organized crime during their time in Rome, and he was convinced that he was the real target. While mourning Kathy, he begins to get closer to Angela Wheatley (Tamara Taylor) whose son had been killed, with the two bonding over their shared grief. Angela provides comfort to Elliot, even bringing food over for his son Eli when she notices that the only thing they seem to be eating is fast food. 

It's obvious there are romantic feelings between the two of them. To complicate things, Angela is also the ex-wife of a businessman with Mafia ties, whom Stabler eventually learns has ties to Kathy's death.

Sacha Lenski (Jess Barbagallo), a mobster-for-hire, was killed in prison before he could give the name of who hired him to kill Kathy. Izak Bekher (Ibrahim Renno), the bodyguard of Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott), Angela's ex-husband, reveals that Angela had ordered the hit. Richard had made her believe that Elliot was responsible for the death of her son, and she'd decided she wanted him to suffer the way she had. In a cruel irony, she finally discovers that Richard had been the one to have her son killed, over copying his drugs.

Elliot joins the Organized Crime Control Bureau in the wake of Kathy's death

Kathy's death hits Elliot very hard, especially during the time when he thought it was his work that got her killed. His job had played a big part in his marriage troubles — and in Kathy leaving him — because of his tendency to get so involved in his cases and withdraw from her. Her death is also the catalyst for his decision to stay in New York and enter the NYPD's new Organized Crime Control Bureau, seeking justice for Kathy.

After Kathy's death, Elliot goes to work undercover, even though he is dealing with PTSD after the brutal death of his wife. At one point, while drugged, he manages to get to Olivia's place, to discuss the letter he'd given her, which said what they were to each other was never real, and they got in the way of "each other being who and where we needed to be." In his drugged haze, he tells her that Kathy had written the letter, and the only line that came from him was the part that stated, "in a parallel universe it will always be you and I." He adds, "I wrote that. I slipped it in there before sealing the envelope" (per TV Insider). 

With the mystery of Kathy's death being revealed, and the real author of the letter now apparent, fans are (of course) back to demanding for Olivia and Elliot get together. With Mariska Hargitay saying things like "Olivia's been in love with him for many years and I think we are slowly finding our way back to it..." (per US Magazine), it seems to be only a matter of time before fans get what they want.