Helen Newman, a gentle, soft spoken single working mom, lives in a comfortable apartment at Kensington Place in Bethesda, Maryland and works for Bethesda Nursing Service. She is the proud mother of Walter, a shy but gifted child with an active mind whose unique intellect allowed him to be accepted into college several years early. Walter's interest in computer science and shortwave radio broadcasts led him to inadvertently intercept and decipher a transmission from a number station, an archaic and essentially unbreakable shortwave radio transmission of uncertain origin which broadcasts a voice reading streams of numbers, possibly as a means of sending coded spy transmissions.
Walter believed that he had been identified and feared he was being followed, and to put her son's mind at ease, Helen reported to the authorities. She contacted the intelligence offices at the British Embassy, and she went to Langley as a walk-in, someone who reports directly to the CIA claiming to have actionable intel. Annie Walker was on walk-in duty that day, and although Helen acknowledged that her story sounded crazy, she begged Annie to look into the matter to offer them some peace of mind. After leaving Langley, Helen called Annie from her car and reported that she was being followed. Too afraid to return home or to Langley, Helen left her car in a long-term parking lot, turned off her cell phone, and went into hiding at the nearby Spruce Knob Nature Cabins.
Annie passed Helen's information on to Auggie Anderson, who determined that the numbers being broadcast in the transmissions that Walter had recorded were a complex cyclic permutation, a sophisticated encryption that could be an active spy transmission. The messages seemed to be linked to the activities of the IRA, and Annie was assigned to coordinate with James Elliot, an MI6 liaison, to investigate the case. A photo in Helen's Bethesda apartment helped Annie to track down Helen and Walter at the Nature Cabins where Walter agreed to turn over the recordings he had made of earlier broadcasts. Annie played the tapes via cell phone to Auggie in Langley who used an archaic device affectionately known as Big Bertha to decode the message. However, as Annie and Helen waited together for the tapes to finish playing, Annie realized that James Elliot, her MI6 contact, had put a tracker on her phone and had tracked her to the cabins.
James Elliot was in fact a double agent for the IRA, and he had orchestrated an elaborate scheme to deflect suspicion from himself as he coordinated with Annie to investigate Walter's case. The number station transmission was a plan for a car bomb to be set outside a British bank in DC, and as Elliot prepared to carry out the mission, he needed to eliminate Walter and his mother for having decoded the message. Elliot and two associates arrived at the cabins intending to kill Walter and Helen, however Annie created a diversion and helped them to escape safely as the authorities arrived and took Elliot into custody. Afterward, Helen expressed her pride and her gratitude as Annie and Auggie presented Walter with a reward for his role in foiling a terrorist plot, a set of reference grade Grado headphones like those used by Auggie.
Portrayed by: Rya Kihlstedt
Cross Reference: Big Bertha, Andrew Branch, Michael Cahill, James Elliot, Kensington Place, Walter Newman, Number Stations, Spruce Knob, Walk-Ins
Episode Reference: Walter's Walk