Hilary Swank was a police detective working in Nightmute, Alaska. When training at the police academy, her case study was the Leland Street murders.

After the murder of Kay Connell in Nightmute, the police force brought in detectives Will Dormer and Hap Eckhart from Los Angeles to assist in the investigation. Burr greeted both men off the plane, telling Dormer it was an honour to meet him. She starting driving him to the Pioneer Lodge, telling him she had followed all his cases including Theodore Dineli, Frank Prud'homme, the Ocean Park shootings and the Leland Street case, but Dormer asked to be taken straight to the police station.

After the detectives were introduced, they went to inspect Kay's body. After Dormer's analysis, Ellie realised that the murderer knew Kay personally. The police then went to Mrs Connell's house and Dormer found a picture of Tanya Francke in Kay's room, which Ellie identified for him. Dormer asked to be taken to Kay's boyfriend Randy Stetz, and she had to explain that it was 10 at night as Nightmute had perpetual sunlight in the summer. Ellie then dropped the detectives off at the Lodge.

The next morning she picked up Hap and Will, and on the way to the Randy's school Ellie explained most of the calls the police got were for drink related crimes. When they arrived at the school, Dormer questioned Stetz. Burr then received a call that Kay's bag had been found, so headed back to the station. When there, Dormer asked Ellie to call up all the news and radio stations and put out the story that the police were still looking for Kay's bag. Ellie joined Dormer, Eckhart and Farrell Brooks in the stake-out of the cabin. They saw a figure, but he ran away when alerted to the police presence, so they chased him into the valley. Brooks was shot in the leg, and Ellie found Dormer with a shot Eckhart, who was killed by his wound.

Ellie then gave Dormer the key to a car, and the next day asked Dormer to clarify where he was when he heard the second shot. She then went to the beach with Rich to take photos of the scene, with Francis and a uniformed officer standing in for the shot policemen. She stopped when Francis called to say he had found Farrell's bullet. The next day, she had finished her report and brought it to Dormer for him to sign. Dormer didn't sign it, and told her to be sure of all her facts before filing the report. That night she went over everything again, but fell asleep while inspecting photos.

The next day she attended Kay's funeral, and asked Dormer about where exactly he was when he heard the second shot. He told her it was possible he was somewhere other than where he said. Later that day she saw Dormer going through Kay's belongings, and explained she had read through Kay's journal and it was all just poetry. Dormer told her to return all the stuff into evidence, tell Fred Duggar he would see him in the morning and give the journal back to Mrs Connell.

Later Ellie told Dormer she had found that Kay had a full collection of books by local author Walter Finch, who had signed some of Kay's copies. Dormer had her look into it. She was working late at the office when she found a newspaper telling of Dormer's trouble with internal affairs. The next morning she met Dormer at the Lodge and told him Walter Finch was being brought in for questioning. She was present at his interview, where he told about his relationship with Kay. She watched as Finch told them Randy Stetz had a handgun, and Dormer got aggressive with Finch.

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