Timothy Hartley has been discovered in a field one hundred miles from his home, — shot in the stomach and throat slit. Dr. Steiner, the coroner, is very touchy about his job and Jane gives all information he can discern from a distance assuring its the same as if he were up close., in addition to the fact that there is a note in his pocketwhich says: “Right now, you’re wondering ‘How the hell did Jane do that?’”
Jane and Lisbon get a call; the body has been stolen from the van on its way back to civilization — and people immediately turn to look at Jane.
Steiner gives a short statement concerning the body robbery, meanwhile Grace is talking to O’Laughlin about wedding locales. They break up tasks as they usually do. Cho goes to speak with Nathan Vella, the business partner; Rigsby goes to the other two men in the van with Steiner, Grace looks for related crimes, and Lisbon and Jane go to visit the wife’s family — the Cooks.
Jane and Lisbon are ejected from the Cooks once Jane started probing into the family relations and why Peregrine Cook Hartley was frightened when they mentioned the body had been stolen. Vella is insistent that things were fine, the business was going well. The men who had been with Steiner have nothing new to report, but Grace has some news. There have been other corpse robberies in the last six months, and the case now overlaps with an FBI investigation on the sale of tissue and bone to tissue banks.
Steiner shows at CBI, and wishes to aid in the investigation. Jane brings him in to Lisbon, and tells her he’ll be tagging along now. She’s a little bewildered, but he does indeed follow along as they head to the address for Tim Hartley’s one non-descript appointment in the week — a medical office. While Cho and Lisbon debate the merits of knocking on doors, Jane pulls the fire alarm to gather the personnel. He picks out Dr. Wendelyn McCormick.
Dr. McCormick had been treating Hartley for the last four months because he believed that he had been abducted by aliens. A brief exchange about whether he’s crazy or lying occurs, and they decide to revisit the Cooks. Peregrine all knew about it and was sympathetic, while her mother less so. They begin to argue, and while Lisbon tries to referee, Jane and Steiner sneak off for a drink, and this is where Steiner reveals his secret: he’s a dying man, and he’s in it for the excitement.
Speaking to a funeral parlor manager, the team learns he’d been dealing with tissue banks. At first it had been legal, but then his cousin had said he could get bodies as long as he would provide the false paperwork. Owen Melling is his name, and a visit to his abode ends with a shoot-out, during which Grace’s gun gets jammed and O’Loughlin does nothing, so Rigsby saves her.
Lisbon and Cho, meanwhile, are dealing with Newsome Kirk, a contact of Hartley’s at the Fourth Kind Foundation, which apparently offers some kind of support to survivors of alien abduction. Anyway, word on the street is that the two had had a falling out, and while investigating they found he used to be named Garrett Roston and did time for fraud and there was a bench warrant out for his arrest. So they take him in, all while he tries to convince Cho he had had an abduction experience.
Steiner appears on television, claiming he found no body in a funeral parlor during the investigation — at first they are upset, because this shows their hand to the thieves, but of course it turns out to be one of Jane’s ploys. Steiner, under Jane’s instruction, calls up the killer to bribe them into not revealing the blood evidence that the body turned up — although in actuality, no blood evidence was found.
At the meet up, Steiner is very nervous about it but very excited. The car pulls up and the Cooks’ butler gets out, with Mrs. Cook is in the back seat. They take her in and reveal what gave her away was the cutting of the throat “a hunter’s humanity,” Jane called it.
After, Rigsby sits down with Grace and says he has a buddy who’s a ranger at this state park she wanted to get married at but had originally been denied.
Steiner invites Jane over. He is sick and before it gets worse, would like to go on his own terms, to commit suicide. If the death is witnessed by a law enforcement officer there doesn’t have to be an investigation or autopsy, and while Jane initially fearfully declines, he ends up staying with Steiner and seeing him through.
While his overdose of pills kicks in, Jane lets him in on the secret of the note in Hartley's pocket (he had a deal with the deputy) and distracts him with a disappearing coin trick: "It's here, then it's gone."