Derek's niece went missing several years ago, and is presumed dead. Her mother - Derek's aunt - needs closure. Derek is pained by not being able to give it to her - not being able either to find his niece's body or identify her killer.
The timing could be right with this serial killer, who buries his victims off the Jacksonville coast in Florida. Derek's niece is not among them, but it's known that the killer was responsible for more deaths than there are remains. In a climactic scene, Derek questions the killer, and shows him pictures of possible victims.
The killer sees that Derek has more than just FBI interest when he shows a picture of his niece. The killer says yes, she was one of the his victims, and describes his pleasure in the killing. But, unlike with the other victims the killer says are his, the killer does not identify Derek's niece by name. Derek knows the killer was lying to him - his missing niece was not one of this killer's victims.
But when he sees his aunt shortly after, Derek tells her that the killer did admit to killing her daughter. Derek is finally able to bring her some relief.
Was it right for Derek to lie to her? I'd say no doubt it was. The moral of this story is that truth ain't all it's cracked it up to be - there are times when lying is more humane, and therefore more ethical, then telling the unvarnished truth. Sissela Bok's Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life wasn't a source of quotes in this episode, but it surely could have been.
See also Criminal Minds in Sixth Season Premiere ... Criminal Minds 6.2: The Meaning of J. J. Leaving ... Criminal Minds 6.3: Proust, Twain, Travanti ... Tyra on Criminal Minds 6.13 ... Criminal Minds 6. 17: Prentiss Farewell Part I ... Criminal Minds 6.18: Farewell Emily ... Criminal Minds 6.19: Fight Club Redux Plus ... Criminal Minds 6.20: Emily's Ghost ... Criminal Minds 6.21: The Tweeting Killer ... Criminal Minds 6.22: Psycho and a Half
And Criminal Minds 5.22 and the Dark Side of New New Media
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The Plot to Save Socrates
"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News
"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book