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Alter Boys
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Season 2
Number 6
Writer Ann Donahue
Director Danny Cannon
Original Airdate November 1, 2001
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Next Episode: Caged

Alter Boys is the sixth episode in season two of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

Grissom, Nick and Sara seem to have a clear-cut case when a young man is discovered burying a murder victim in the desert, but Grissom suspects there's more to it and that the suspect's brother is also involved. Meanwhile, Catherine and Warrick investigate the death of a young woman who died in a hotel spa and discover that the staff may have tampered with the evidence.

Plot

Victims: Oliver Dunne (deceased), Kenny Ramirez (deceased)

On the case: Gil Grissom, Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle, Ray O'Riley

While patrolling the dark desert landscape, a park ranger passes a car parked on the side of the road. He goes to investigate, falls down a hill, and comes face to face with a dead body. Nearby, a man is in the process of digging a grave. Caught red-handed, the man tries to run; however, the park ranger apprehends him and calls the police.

Grissom and Nick arrive at the scene and question the gravedigger, Ben Jennings. Ben refuses to answer any questions, but Grissom tells him that the dead body will speak for him. Lividity shows that the body was moved from the murder scene, and Grissom has Ben uncuffed so he can be processed on the spot. A single strand of hair taken from Ben's clothes could be transfer from the scene, and Nick collects some red fibers. There are no defensive wounds anywhere on Ben's body. Grissom has the body transported to the morgue, telling the officers that nobody can touch it until he gets there.

In the morgue, Sara goes over the body and scrapes something off of the victim's forehead. She believes the substance is some sort of flour, and offers to send it to trace. There are yellow fibers in the victim's neck wound made from a fabric Sara thinks could be silk. Grissom observes that the victim is wearing a dress shirt with no tie, and wonders if he was strangled with his own tie.

The deceased is identified as Oliver Dunne, a corporate lawyer and father of two. Doc Robbins notes that there are three .380 bullets in the body; however, he confirms that Oliver died from asphyxiation, likely from the tie. Grissom questions why someone would shoot a person that they ended up strangling.

Sara finds out that the flour on Oliver's head was pizza flour; it has a low gluten content, and it's a fine flour used in pizza-baking ovens. Furthermore, oregano was found in the flour sample. Under interrogation, Ben confirms that he works in a pizza shop as a delivery boy. He also happens to own a Lorcin .380, which he claims he lost. Ben says that he only works with pizza boxes and can't explain how the flour got on the victim. He tells Grissom that he doesn't have to talk, but Grissom replies that the evidence will do the talking instead. Ben soon slips up and utters the word "murders," indicating that there's more than one victim.

In the desert, Nick and Sara use ground-penetrating radar and come across another body. Grissom asks Ben if there are any more bodies and tells him that they'll radar the whole hillside if they have to. As Grissom walks away, Ben tells him that he's not a bad person. "Then, what are you?," Grissom asks.

As Nick excavates the second body from the grave, Grissom is met by Father Powell. He says that Ben is a member of his parish and needs spiritual guidance. With the body uncovered, Nick notes that there are no ligature marks on the neck, which is different from the first body they found. There's a laceration on the victim's forehead that may have come from Ben's shovel. Nick finds a wallet in the man's jacket pocket, with a driver's license identifying him as Kenny Ramirez; there are no indications that this was a robbery gone bad. Sara comments that there seems to be no connection between the two victims, and that this makes no sense. Det. O'Riley arrives and informs them that Oliver's car has been found by highway patrol officers at a gas station. Grissom asks if there was a second car there, as well; Det. O'Riley confirms this, saying that the second car belonged to a Mr. Ramirez.

Nick and Sara speak with the gas station attendant, amazed that he didn't see two men get shot and killed. The attendant admits to taking a five-minute break with his friend and his new car; when he came back, he noticed the two cars were abandoned and found blood on the ground nearby. The CSIs are once again in disbelief when the attendant says he hosed the blood away because it was freaking him out.

In the CSI garage, Grissom processes Ben's car. He's soon visited by Father Powell, who insists that Ben is a good kid who goes to mass every Sunday. Ben's only problem, Father Powell says, is that he tries to please people. Grissom sprays the seats of the car with luminol and reveals large quantities of blood in both the front passenger's seat and the backseat. Father Powell doubts that Ben could be responsible for this, but Grissom says that he believes the evidence in the car.

Nick and Sara provide Grissom with all evidence recovered so far. It's proven that the bullets pulled from both victims were fired from the same gun: a Lorcin .380, which is the same pistol registered to Ben. Credit card receipts show that Ben frequents the gas station in question, and it can be proven that he transported the bodies based on the blood and fibers in the car. Burgundy fibers found on both victims trace back to the car's upholstery. Grissom congratulates his CSIs on a job well done, but informs them that they haven't proven murder. The evidence only shows that Ben had the bodies in the car and buried them; Grissom wants them to find the gun that was used, preferably with Ben's fingerprints on it. Either that, or they must find gunshot residue or the tie used to strangle Oliver. Sara questions whether Father Powell has had any influence on the case, but Grissom insists that he's just following evidence. Nick convinces him that evidence doesn't get any more concrete, and Grissom allows them to take it to the district attorney; however, he's clearly disturbed by this decision.

Grissom looks through Ben's criminal record, noting that he should've looked deeper into Ben's character rather than the evidence. While Ben has a few nonviolent crimes on his record, his brother, Roger, is a different story. Roger has priors for armed robbery, breaking and entering, and assault with great bodily harm. After Grissom hurriedly leaves, Nick tells Sara that they may have been wrong about Ben. Grissom visits Ben in jail and asks him if his brother threatened him in order to make him bury the bodies. Ben silently shakes his head while tears stream down his face.

At Dante's Pizza, Grissom and Det. O'Riley find Roger making pizzas. They present him with photos of the victims, but Roger denies any involvement, putting all the blame on his brother. He claims that Ben confessed to the murders; because Roger already had two strikes against him, he refused to help. His story is that something set Ben off at the gas station, which led to the shooting deaths of Oliver and Kenny. Grissom, however, believes that Kenny is the guilty party, as the perpetrator's hands left flour on the victim's face. This would point towards the murder being a little more personal than a simple gunshot. Grissom adds that for a killer to change his M.O. from shooting to strangling, there would be only two reasons: entertainment or necessity. He asks Roger which it was, but Roger insists that Ben is the real culprit.

Nick and Sara go to Roger's trailer home to look for the missing tie. Sara finds some dry cleaning and notes that dry cleaning is expensive, but the trailer home is low-rent. Examining the clothing in the bags, she finds a stain that could be blood, but Nick comments that it could just be red sauce. While she tests the stain, Nick checks the area outside the trailer and finds a barrel with ashes in it. When he pokes around, he finds a gun in the ashes. Sara comes out and tells him that the stain tested positive for blood, and he shows her his discovery—a Lorcin .380.

Roger is arrested. He's walked by his brother's cell, and their eyes meet; Ben looks rather despondent. In the lab, Grissom does a ballistics test on the gun that Nick found; after firing two shots, the gun jams. Bobby Dawson soon informs Grissom that the striations from the test bullets don't match the ones pulled from the victims. It seems that Roger altered the barrel somehow; whatever he used did the trick. Sara also hits a dead end, as the dry cleaning rendered the blood on Roger's shirt undetectable. The team has no choice: Roger is released from jail, while Ben sadly watches him from behind bars. Grissom stops Roger on the way out and asks him if the gun jammed while he was shooting Oliver. This would answer the earlier question: the strangulation was done out of necessity. Roger smiles, says nothing, and leaves.

Sara gives Grissom a top secret and urgent note from District Attorney Robin Childs. They're soon distracted by a news report that says that Ben will be arrested for the murders. Grissom talks to Robin, telling her that there's no evidence that says that Ben was even present at the murders. However, she presents him the new evidence in the case: the missing yellow tie, which was turned in by Roger that morning. Roger claimed that Ben had asked him to hide it, and Grissom says that since Roger brought it in, that would explain why his epithelials are on it. Grissom continues to insist that Roger set Ben up, adding that Ben is just a good kid who hero-worships his brother. Robin says that this doesn't explain why Ben's epithelials are on the tie, too.

In interrogation, Ben claims that he doesn't know how his skin got on the tie. He's stunned when told that Roger brought the evidence to the police, and Det. O'Riley tells him that his brother is framing him for the murders. Ben repeats that he doesn't know how his skin got on the tie, recalling that he was only asked to pick up the bodies from Roger's place. A flashback shows Ben pulling the tie off Oliver's neck per his brother's request, and he was instructed to bury the bodies deep. In the present, Ben says he buried the bodies as a favor because he couldn't say no to his brother. According to Roger, the case would blow over if nobody talked; however, Ben is told that he's facing two counts of murder with special circumstances. When told that he's facing life behind bars without parole, Ben sullenly says that he doesn't think he can do that kind of time. Grissom asks Ben if he has anything linking Roger to the murders, but Ben has nothing.

Grissom visits Father Powell in church and confesses that they arrested the wrong man. Father Powell says that he tried to help without breaking his vows, and the two men lament that they both have jobs that begin after the crime. Grissom is hopeful that in the future, they'll have technology that can put the right man in jail, while Father Powell suggests that someday, jails won't be needed at all. Father Powell then invites Grissom to come to Thursday mass; however, Grissom says that he doesn't believe in religion, he believes in science.

After a brief conversation with Catherine, Grissom sees an officer go running by towards the cells. He follows them and sees Ben on the floor, bleeding; he's bit deep into his arm using his own teeth. Paramedics try to revive Ben, but they're unsuccessful. Ben is pronounced dead; Grissom holds up his hand and looks at the blood on his fingers.

Victim: Shelley Danvers (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Warrick Brown, Jim Brass

Catherine and Warrick meet Brass at the Mediterranean Hotel, where 20-year-old Shelly Danvers has been found dead in the spa's locker room. Night Manager Kim Marita tells Warrick that she found the body; when Catherine notices that the sash on Shelley's robe has been tied by someone else, Kim admits that she redressed the body. Shelley was naked, and Kim didn't want the other guests to walk in and find her like that. Catherine and Warrick inform her that it's a crime to redress a body, as it makes the CSIs doubt the circumstances of the victim's death.

Warrick discovers that Shelley had a spa appointment for 8:00 PM. When asked, Kim claims that Shelley didn't use the jacuzzi. Both Catherine and Warrick question her truthfulness, noting that she lied earlier about the clothing. If water is found in Shelley's lungs during the autopsy, Kim will be caught in a lie once again.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins finds no fluid in Shelley's mouth or nose. Shelly didn't drown, which rules out the jacuzzi theory. He observes bright red lividity extending down the body, possibly from heat stroke. The stroke could cause multiple organ failure, which means that the hotel might be covering something up. Warrick pulls records from the hotel and discovers that Shelley was staying with Tina Kolas, her best friend from Indiana.

When questioned, Tina verifies that Shelley went to the hotel spa the previous night to use the dry sauna. Warrick finds a shirt torn in half, and Tina explains that she and Shelley got into a fight over it; the fight quickly turned into laughter after the shirt ripped. It's bagged as evidence, and Tina says that Shelley called down to the front desk using the phone in the room. The hotel doesn't tape phone calls, but Catherine spots a notepad on the nightstand. While the top page of the notepad is blank, the CSIs can figure out what was last written on it.

Kim insists that she has no record of Shelley being booked for the sauna; however, the notepad from the room reveals that Shelley made an appointment for 8:00 PM. The official coroner's report states that Shelley died from a heat stroke, and since the hotel keeps the sauna at 182 degrees, a person could die if left in the sauna for more than two straight hours. This is exactly what happened, as records show that nobody checked on Shelley after 7:30 PM, despite the fact that hotel employees are supposed to a check every 15 minutes. Kim admits that she found Shelley's body at 10:00 PM, moved her to the locker room, and put the robe on her, all to protect the reputation of the hotel. Catherine tells her she was hiding negligent homicide.

The next morning, Catherine and Warrick prepare to go home and revel in another solved case; however, they find Brass waiting for them, instead. He tells them that he has new evidence: a hotel patron called to say that he'd seen Shelley and Tina fighting in the casino and they seemed to be fighting over a guy named "Jeremy." The thought is that this is how the shirt really got ripped. Catherine and Warrick go to re-examine the case.

Catherine and Warrick tell Tina that Shelley died of heat stroke; however, the stroke covered up an underlying medical condition. Shelley went into anaphylactic shock, something that was missed originally due to the fact that it presents symptoms similar to a stroke. Brass comments that the travel agency contract the girls signed lists that Shelley was allergic to shellfish. Their room service records, however, show that two bowls of "A Taste From the Sea" were ordered on the night of Shelley's death. Imprints from the notepad in the room show that she had made a date with Jeremy for 10:00 PM.

Tina admits that she answered the phone when Jeremy called the room and purposely made Shelley have an allergic reaction in the hopes that she would miss her date. Unfortunately, Shelley's allergy kicked in in the sauna under the worst possible conditions. The reaction caused her blood to stop running through her veins, and her organs shut down. Tina killed her friend over some guy they met at a bar, and she's arrested. Overcome with grief, she admits that she didn't even like the guy, she just didn't want to be left out.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Eric Szmanda as Greg Sanders
  • Robert David Hall as Dr. Al Robbins
  • Skip O'Brien as Detective Ray O'Riley
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Gerald McCullouch as Bobby Dawson
  • Paula Francis as News Anchor
  • Wayne Wilderson as Edwin
  • Dylan Baker as Father Powell
  • Corbin Allred as Ben Jennings
  • Jeremy Renner as Roger Jennings
  • Sasha Alexander as Robin Childs
  • Lindsay Price as Kim Marita
  • Nicole DeHuff as Tina Kolas
  • Craig Cady as Cell Cop
  • Tara D'Agostino as Shelley Danvers
  • Noel Gugliemi as Kenny Ramirez
  • Bill Kalmenson as Oliver Dunne
  • Ori Pfeffer as Kirk-Gas Station Attendant
  • Deborah Landis as News Director (uncredited)

Episode Title

  • Alter Boys refers to the brothers investigated in this episode, Ben and Roger Jennings, who served at their Catholic church when children as altar boys. 

Quotes

Grissom: I believe in God. In science. In Sunday supper. I don't believe in rules that tell me how I should live. 

Goofs

  • Seven minutes into the episode, we can see the "dead" body on the post-mortem table exhaling.
  • Just as Sarah finishes talking, a female voice immediately says "Sorry." Although it appears to be in answer to Sarah's question it differs to the pitch of the man who they are questioning.

Notes

  • This is one of the episodes that displays Grissom's religious views.

Trivia

  • Sasha Alexander makes a guest appearance as Robin Childs. She also starred in NCIS as Caitlin Todd from 2003 to 2005 and in Rizzoli & Isles as Maura Isles from 2010 to 2016.
  • A young Jeremy Renner plays Roger Jennings in this episode. He is now perhaps most recognized for his role as Hawkeye in the Avengers series of films.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 2
BurkedChaos TheoryOverloadBully for YouScuba Doobie-DooAlter BoysCagedSlaves of Las VegasAnd Then There Were NoneEllieOrgan GrinderYou've Got MaleIdentity CrisisThe FingerBurden of ProofPrimum Non NocereFelonious MonkChasing The BusStalkerCats in the CradleAnatomy of a LyeCross JurisdictionsThe Hunger Artist
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