$35K O.B.O.
Season 1
Number 18
Writer Eli Talbert
Director Roy H. Wagner
Original Airdate March 29, 2001
Previous Episode: Face Lift
Next Episode: Gentle, Gentle

$35K O.B.O. is the eighteenth episode in Season One of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


A couple leaving a restaurant on their anniversary are killed in the street and their car is stolen. The crime scene is compromised when it rains shortly after the CSIs arrive. It gets more mysterious when the car is found and it becomes a new crime scene. Meanwhile, Catherine looks into the collapse of a city-owned residence that kills three elderly women. She runs into problems with the city engineer responsible for the building.


Victims: Amy Shepherd (deceased), Kevin Shepherd (deceased)

On the case: Gil Grissom, Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle, Warrick Brown, Jim Brass

A couple, Amy and Kevin Shepherd, are walking out of a restaurant when they are attacked and killed. When the CSIs arrive at the scene, they discover that a car is missing. Nick sees that Kevin was stabbed at least five times and spots a red hair on the body; Kevin's hair is brown. Suddenly, it starts pouring rain. Grissom yells out that they have only three minutes to process the scene before the rain washes all the evidence away. Despite everyone's efforts, the rain causes them to lose everything. Grissom looks up at the sky and tells Sara that the killer got lucky.

The only witness to the murders is a man named Justin Green; the young man's jacket is covered in blood. He tells Grissom and Sara that he saw an SUV peel out and almost hit him. When he turned around, he saw a body in the street and called for help. He believes he killed Kevin because he performed CPR incorrectly, but Grissom assures him that isn't what killed him. Sara tells him they have to take his clothes as evidence because of the blood. Back at the lab, Nick gives Greg the red hair from Kevin's body. Greg peers under the microscope and determines that the hair is from a cat.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins tells Grissom that Kevin was stabbed six times—once in the back, five times in the front. Amy, meanwhile, was sliced across the neck from right to left, indicating that the assailant might be left-handed. The doc points out Kevin's defensive wounds and reveals that he was stabbed with two different weapons—one was a long, sharp double-edged blade, while the other was blunt. Since there are two weapons, the team may be looking for two different attackers.

Sara goes through the Shepherds' personal records and finds nothing suspicious. Furthermore, Justin Green's story is corroborated by other eyewitnesses. It appears that the couple lost their lives to protect their SUV, and Sara asks Grissom why someone would do such a thing.

The missing SUV is located; when Grissom opens the driver's door, a body falls out. Brass finds an I.D. that identifies the woman as Jessica Hall. He observes that her cell phone is off; if she had called 9-1-1, she would've been instructed to keep the phone on. Jessica's seat belt is unbuckled, so she was either driving without one, or someone put her in the driver's seat after the fact. When Grissom lifts a red hair from the body, Nick tells him that it's cat hair identical to what was found on Kevin Shepherd. Jessica has been stabbed to death and is in the Shepherds' SUV, so she has to be linked to the first crime scene. Nick posits that Jessica saw something she shouldn't have, and it cost her her life.

During an x-ray of Jessica's body, the tip of a knife is found embedded in her ribs. A knife expert determines that the tip came from a five-inch long, double-edged carbon steel dagger. Back at the lab, using the casts Warrick made and their new information on the dagger, they confirm that there weren't two different murder weapons. The assailant started with Kevin, then stabbed Jessica, during which the tip of the dagger broke off. After Jessica was killed, the assailant went back to Kevin to finish the job with the broken dagger.

Sara and Warrick find three distinct fingerprints on the SUV's gearshift, and it's confirmed that the prints belong to Jessica. She was the last one to drive the SUV, but the question still remains: was she driving herself to the hospital or was she under duress? Nick enters the CSI garage and revises his earlier theory.

In the layout room, he tells the team about an unusual blood pattern on the instep of Kevin Shepherd's shoe. Since Kevin was stabbed in the torso and likely curled up in the fetal position to protect himself, there's no way the blood on the shoe is his. Someone else had a flowing wound. Amy Shepherd was too far away, but Jessica was alive and bleeding. Nick has Sara and Warrick reenact the incident, and they determine that Jessica was kneeling over Kevin's body while he was being stabbed. The conclusion is that she held Kevin down while someone else did the stabbing. During the chaos, she was accidentally stabbed herself. Grissom has Nick get a warrant for Jessica's apartment in the hopes that it will lead them to the prime suspect.

The blood on Kevin's shoe is a match to Jessica. Furthermore, phone records show that Kevin called Jessica from the restaurant where he was celebrating his anniversary with his wife. Grissom, Nick and Brass search Jessica's apartment, and Nick finds the source of the red hair—a talkative tabby. Since the hair was on both Kevin and Jessica, he had to have been in her apartment before. Grissom sees that Jessica was a prolific note taker, and he collects a notepad as evidence. One of the notes contains the username and password for Jessica's bank account. When searched, they find that she recently had $35,000 sent to her—and gave it away on the same day. The person who originally sent the money? Kevin Shepherd. Did Kevin pay Jessica to murder both him and his wife?

When processed, the notepad reveals that the carjacking was planned—a blueprint for murder. Since Kevin was planning to meet Jessica three days after the murder took place, he wasn't supposed to be a victim that night. It seems that Jessica's murder was also unplanned. Kevin took a hit out on his wife, but something went wrong. Handwriting expert Ronnie Litre determines that Kevin is the one who wrote the note on Jessica's notepad, and Brass reveals the two of them were calling each other consistently for the last two years. On the night of the murder, Jessica also made another call after she got off the phone with Kevin. The call was to Justin Green.

Sara and Warrick collect Justin's shirt from evidence and find what appears to be a bloody handprint from a right hand. However, Justin's arm is incapable of bending in a way that matches the print, Jessica was holding Kevin's feet, and Amy was dead several feet away. Grissom determines that the defensive wound on Kevin's hand matches up perfectly with the bloody handprint on Justin's shirt. Justin claims that he was giving Kevin CPR, but Kevin was clearly still breathing at the time. The CSIs have put the dagger in Justin's hand.

Bank records show that two hours after she had the $35,000 transferred to her by Kevin, Jessica transferred the money to Justin. The CSIs deduce that if the murder was a hit-for-hire, Jessica wouldn't have needed to be at the crime scene. It's soon discovered that she and Justin used to be married—Jessica hired her ex-husband to kill her boyfriend's wife. However, Sara finds that, one day later, Amy Shepherd sent $70,000 to Justin to take out her husband; phone records show that he tipped her off about Kevin's affair and the hit he put out on her. Justin double-crossed the Shepherds, then eliminated the person that hired him: Jessica. He killed them all so he could collect all the money—$105,000.

A flashback shows Justin killing Amy while Kevin watched. When Kevin turned to leave the scene, Justin stabbed him the back, then proceeded to kill him. Jessica tried to intervene and was purposefully stabbed in the process. She then stole the Shepherds' SUV and fled the scene. Justin threw the knife down the sewer, but soon realized that someone was watching him. He yelled out for help and pretended to give Kevin CPR to cover up his crimes.

Under interrogation, Justin is asked why Jessica was even at the scene, as someone in her position would usually distance themselves from the crime. Justin sits stoically and refuses to answer.

Victim: Three unnamed elderly women (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Ray O'Riley

Catherine arrives at the scene of a building collapse. Sgt. O'Riley assures her that there's nothing criminal here, but Catherine notes that a homicide detective has been assigned to the case. Three elderly women, all sisters, were killed in the collapse, and Catherine says that the only suspect is the house itself.

Catherine speaks with Paul Newsome, the District Engineer. When she observes that the wood in the wall is wet, he replies that it's likely because the flat-roofed structure is susceptible to leaks. Paul also reveals that the house was originally installed with 1/2-inch thick drywall; however, when it was repaired later, they used 1/4-inch. This appears to be an oversight, and Catherine is speaking to the man in charge of the error. Catherine asks to see the origin of the collapse and is told that it's in the basement's laundry room.

Catherine crawls through the basement as the house creaks around her. On her way to the laundry room, she excitedly finds a beetle that she can hand over to Grissom for analysis. As she collects the insect, an F-16 aircraft flies overhead; over the radio, Paul tells her that Nellis Air Force base is just a mile away. Upon getting to the laundry room, Catherine identifies the wooden support columns; it appears someone has taken a sledgehammer to one of them.

In the lab, Grissom identifies the beetle as an anobiid powder-post beetle. He tells Catherine that the insect feeds on soft wood, such as the Douglas Fir the house was made of. When shown the damage inflicted to the support column, he quickly determines that it was made by a human.

Catherine examines the support column, and it's determined that the sledgehammer damage to it wasn't recent. Paul informs her that five years ago, the previous tenants revolted against the city and its treatment of the building. One tenant took a sledgehammer to the column and was arrested. When asked why this wasn't in his report, Paul claims that the damage wasn't substantial enough to cause concern.

When Catherine walks out of the building and eyes a makeshift memorial for the victims, she sees that the F-16s flying overhead rattle the ground. Back in the lab, she conducts an experiment and determines that the constant flybys caused the nails in the support columns to gradually loosen over time. When combined with the beetles, sabotage, and dry rot, the building collapsed. Paul is off the hook, and he tells Catherine that she could've saved herself time by not making him a suspect.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

Episode Title[]

  • $35K O.B.O. stands for "$35,000 Or Best Offer", and refers to the convoluted hit payments collected by Justin Green. He was originally paid $35,000 to kill Jessica Hall's boyfriend's wife, Amy Shepherd. He tells Amy, who pays him $70,000 to kill her husband, Kevin, instead. Green kills Amy, Kevin, and Jessica and collects $105,000.  


  • Symphony No. 9, 2nd Movement by Ludwig Van Beethoven


  • This episode was originally titled 'Four Square.'
  • This episode was inspired by the real-life case called The Universal City Walk Murders, in which a man and his lover stab his wife and mother was they walk to a parking lot after dinner. The lover also ends up injured, and rain washes away potential evidence. A bloody handprint on the front of a victim's shirt broke the case.[1] 
  • Eric Stonestreet, who plays the lab tech Ronnie Litre, is most famous for his role as Cameron Tucker on Modern Family


  1. Flaherty, M. & Marrinan, C. (2004). CSI: Crime scene investigation companion. New York, NY: Pocket Books.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 1
PilotCool ChangeCrate 'n BurialPledging Mr. JohnsonFriends & LoversWho Are You?Blood DropsAnonymousUnfriendly SkiesSex, Lies and LarvaeI-15 MurdersFahrenheit 932BoomTo Halve and to HoldTable StakesToo Tough to DieFace Lift$35K O.B.O.Gentle, GentleSounds of SilenceJustice is ServedEvaluation DayStrip Strangler