By the end of the summer of 1925, White begins to suspect that there is a mole inside of the investigation. Two private eyes expose and apprehend one of the operation’s informants, Kelsie Morrison, and it becomes clear that agents’ reports are leaking and being stolen. White takes to meeting with his men under cover of darkness and urging them to carry weapons to defend themselves.
White realizes that his investigation is under siege and seeks to protect it—and his men—any way that he can.
The private eye called Pike—who was hired by William Hale back in 1921 to solve the murders but abandoned the case after failing to make progress—arouses the most suspicion out of anyone. When an intermediary for Pike approaches Agent Burger and alleges that Pike knows who “the third man” is—and will reveal his identity in exchange for a “king’s ransom”—agents demand that Pike himself come forward. When he refuses, agents launch a manhunt for Pike, and find him in Tulsa.
It is clear that the private eye named Pike is up to no good—and is attempting to extort money from the investigation. White will not stand for such treatment and brings the full force of his powers down on Pike.
As the agents “work” on Pike, he reveals a hidden dimension to the case—he was never really hired to solve the murder of Anna Brown, but was instead hired to conceal Bryan’s whereabouts on the night of the crime and help him “shape an alibi.” His orders, Pike reveals, came directly from William Hale. White realizes that if Pike is telling the truth, it means that Hale—the “King of the Osage Hills”—has been lying for years, and is possibly part of an “intricate, nefarious design.” Pike also reveals that when he met with Hale and Bryan, one more person was often present: Ernest Burkhart, who was careful never to discuss the case in the presence of his wife Mollie.
When Pike reveals that he was hired by Hale to conceal the truth rather than ascertain it, White is faced with a terrible possibility—that, ostensibly, the most “upstanding” and well-loved citizens of Osage County are the ones who have plunged it into this corrupt and racist reign of terror.