At the start of "The Killing," Seattle homicide detective Sarah Linden prepares for a big move to Sonoma, CA with her fiance Rick and 13 year-old son Jack. However, the disappearance of Rosie Larsen indefinitely delays her flight out of Seattle. She and her would-be replacement, Stephen Holder from narcotics, question the missing girl's parents, teachers, and friends when Rosie's sweater is found in field covered in blood.
Although her parents believed that she was staying with her friend Sterling for the weekend, her best friend reveals that she lost Rosie at the school dance and assumed she spent the weekend with her rich boyfriend, Jasper. While the parents are relieved in thinking their daughter merely disobeyed them to spend the weekend with a bad boyfriend, Linden continues to search the field for a body, until she finds out about the nearby lake. A police search of the lake turns up a car, which has Rosie's body in the truck. Her devastated father pulls up to the scene in time to find out that his daughter is no longer missing, but dead.
Holder reveals that car was registered to the Richmond campaign. Darren Richmond, a city councilman, is running for mayor of Chicago and is also having an affair with his campaign advisor, Gwen, despite being hung up on his deceased wife. Richmond agrees to delay making a press release about the campaign's tie to the murdered girl, but is extremely concerned about a possible leak in his campaign group because a local reporter is asking too many informed questions.