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Anonymous
Anonymous
Season 1
Number 8
Writer Eli Talbert,
Anthony Zuiker
Director Danny Cannon
Original Airdate November 24, 2000
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Anonymous is the eighth episode in Season One of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis[]

When another staged suicide takes place, Grissom realizes he is dealing with a serial killer who has a thorough knowledge of forensic science. Meanwhile, Nick and Warrick investigate a tourist's car that fell off a cliff.

Plot[]

Victim: Stuart Rampler (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Gil Grissom, Sara Sidle, Jim Brass

Grissom and Brass are called to a disturbingly familiar crime scene: Stuart Rampler lies dead in a bathtub in an apparent suicide. The body lies on top of a sleeping bag for easy cleanup, and the window has been opened so the stench alerts the neighbors. Grissom finds a tape recorder in Stuart's right hand and plays the suicide message. Aside from having been recorded backwards and changing the personal details to reflect Stuart's name and age, the message is identical to the recorded message found at the Royce Harmon murder several months ago. Grissom realizes that the killer has returned.

Back at the lab, Grissom fills Sara in on the first case since she wasn't part of the team when it occurred. Three months ago, Royce Harmon was found dead in a bathtub, the victim of an apparent suicide. Crime scene photos from Stuart's scene are essentially identical. Catherine explains to Sara that the fingerprints from the recorder at Royce's scene came back to a rubber hand. The killer laced the hand with cooking spray and proceeded to place false prints all around the crime scene. Fingerprints belong to Paul Millander, who works in a warehouse making Halloween paraphernalia; the man even used his own hand for the mold. Grissom gives Sara a special red powder and instructs her to head back to the scene and dust everything in the room thoroughly.

In autopsy, Catherine and Grissom are shown that Stuart has a wound on his hand; he was shot protecting himself. Furthermore, Doc Robbins shows them that Stuart has a muzzle stamp on his temple, which means he was forced into the bathtub at gunpoint. This is all useful information for Grissom, as he now knows how the killer gets his victims into the bathtubs and that both deaths were homicides.

Sara is informed that Stuart was staying at the hotel for one night while his house was being fumigated. Interestingly, several of Stuart's bills are present and prepared for mailing. As Sara flips through the envelopes, she sees that one stamp is upside-down. When she dusts the bathtub for fingerprints, she's surprised to find no prints at all. Not only has the bathtub been wiped clean, the entire scene is sterile.

Catherine and Grissom talk with Royce Harmon's mother. They inform her that whoever killed her son appears to have killed someone else, and they need to confirm that the voice on the tape recorder was actually Royce's. She provides the CSIs with a talking picture frame to compare to the voice on the recorder.

At the lab, Greg tells Sara that the DNA on the right-side-up stamps belongs to Stuart; however, the upside-down stamp was licked by an unknown person. Sara says that "Anonymous" is toying with the CSIs, leaving them with unusual clues and red herrings. Meanwhile, Catherine and Grissom visit Disco Placid, a jazz producer who can hear in perfect pitch. Upon comparing the voices from the tape recorder and the talking picture frame, it's determined that voice on the first suicide tape was Royce's, contrary to his mother's belief. Both suicide recordings are played simultaneously, and they're identical except for a few minor details. Combined with the rustling of paper in the background, the CSIs realize that the killer forces his victims to read the suicide message from a script.

Sara does some digging into the backgrounds of both victims, discovering that they share the same birthday: August 17. Royce was born in 1958, while Stuart was born in 1957. Catherine mentions that the suicide tape was recorded backwards and that the postage stamp was upside-down. This leads Grissom to think that the killer is suggesting he look backwards instead of forwards for clues. He tells Sara to look at cases from August 17, 1956.

Two thumbprints are recovered from the tape recorder, one on top of the other. When separated and run through AFIS, it's found that the first print belongs to Paul Millander, who has already been cleared as a suspect. The second print, however, is identified as Grissom’s, and he realizes that "whoever it is is telling me that he's got me under his thumb." Grissom again visits Paul to ask if he kept any records of who bought his Halloween hands, but Paul can't help him, explaining that he's a wholesaler and doesn't keep track of individual purchasers.

Brass learns that Stuart has been making ATM cash withdrawals after his death. Grissom realizes that ATMs take photos every three seconds; it's quite possible the camera got a shot of their killer. The ATM is brought to the lab, and Grissom watches the surveillance footage from the security camera. Footage shows a homeless man being paid to hold up cue cards to the camera, showing a message that the killer will kill again and again until he gets justice.

Brass finds the homeless man and brings him in for questioning. He recalls that a man approached him and offered him $100 to hold the cue cards in front of the camera. When asked to describe the person, the homeless man remembers several details, including the fact that he spoke with a stutter. Grissom realizes that the person in question is Paul Millander, and he becomes angry at the fact that he let him slip through his grasp.

Grissom figures that he got his fingerprint on the rubber hand the first time he visited Paul's warehouse. Sara learns that Paul witnessed two men stage his father’s suicide when he was ten years old, and the team realizes that he's killing men born on the same day as his father's death. With a SWAT team in tow, Catherine and Grissom go to Paul's warehouse and find it empty, a stark contrast to when Grissom visited earlier that day when it was full of Paul's products. The lone remaining item is an envelope addressed to Grissom. Inside, there's a single piece of paper with nothing written on it. Grissom interprets this to mean "we have nothing."

As the CSIs search the warehouse, Paul visits the lab and waves jauntily at a security camera.

Victim: Walter Banglor (alive)

On the case: Nick Stokes, Warrick Brown

Nick and Warrick are called out to Hoover Dam, where a reckless driver had his car go over a cliff. An anonymous call was made to 911, which indicates that there may be foul play. When the CSIs arrive at the scene, they find Walter Banglor unconscious in the back seat; however, the driver is unaccounted for. Nick finds an empty beer bottle nearby and speculates that the driver was drunk; beer in the bottle is still cold

At the top of the cliff, Nick measures the tire tracks in the road and estimates that the driver was doing at least 70 MPH. Grooves in the dirt from the car's frame indicate that it balanced on the edge of the cliff before it fell over. Nick believes that they're looking for a "phantom driver," as footprints point towards someone running from the scene. A second set of tire tracks nearby led Nick to guess that someone drove by, picked the phantom driver up, and drove him to the hospital. However, Warrick spots another set of footprints that indicate someone walked up to the edge of the cliff. He believes that this was a crime, not an accident. The two CSIs place a wager on theories: "phantom driver" vs. "foul play."

In the hospital, Nick and Warrick are informed that Walter is heavily sedated and won't be coming off of his medications for another 12 to 24 hours. Warrick observes that there are tan lines on Walter's finger and wrist; however, there is no watch or ring among his personal effects. The only thing collected from Walter is a wallet that has no money in it. Based on this, Nick and Warrick double their bet.

Warrick checks out six different medical centers, but finds no evidence of their phantom driver. The 911 call made at the scene comes back to a Vegas-area cell phone, but no name is connected with it yet. Nick discovers that the car is registered to Walter and that it was rented from the airport three days ago. Signs point to a Vegas vacation; however, Walter only packed one change of clothes. His ring and watch are still unaccounted for, making Warrick's theory look like the more correct one. Nick superglues the car and is able to find several sets of prints on the steering wheel and dashboard.

It's confirmed that Walter's fingerprints are the ones found in the car, but there are speckles of blue dust in the ridges of the fingerprints. Nick and Warrick take a closer look at the sample, but neither knows what the blue dust could be.

The other fingerprints in the car belong to people who rented it last, so this appears to be a dead end. Based on the tan lines, lack of money in the wallet, and Walter's bruised face, Warrick stands behind his theory that Walter was robbed. A flashback shows someone running into the middle of the road while Walter was driving. When Walter tried to avoid him, he crashed his car through the railing and stopped halfway over the cliff. The mystery person then held Walter at gunpoint, made him to give up his valuables, and forced him to sit in the back seat. After this was done, the man then pushed the car over the cliff. There's only one question: why did the mystery person let Walter buckle his seatbelt?

Warrick goes through a catalog of shoe prints and finds a match to the ones in the dirt at the scene: a size 11 Converse All-Star. Meanwhile, the mystery tire print at the scene is from a tire that is commonly used on a 1999 Bentley Arnage. Only three people in Vegas own such a car, and one of them was reported stolen the week before. However, when the car was found, it was found at a car wash having been completely vacuumed and detailed. Any evidence is long gone.

Nick processes Walter's clothes and finds the same blue trace that was found in his fingerprints. The trace comes back as silicon blue dye—pool cue chalk.

Again, Nick and Warrick compare theories. Nick hypothesizes that Walter was playing pool with his phantom driver and the drunk driver crashed the car. The driver got out of the car and ran off, leaving his friend in the back seat. Warrick agrees that Walter was drinking and playing pool, but thinks he was driving alone. He was flagged down by a man, skidded, and hit the railing, balancing on the edge. He was then robbed, forced into the back seat, and pushed over the edge. They admit that both scenarios work, but can two solid theories both backed by evidence be correct? To be sure, they must talk to Walter to find out what really happened.

Walter wakes up in the hospital, and Nick and Warrick are given two minutes to speak with him. Walter tells them that he gambled away all of his money at a pool hall, including his watch and ring, and then tried to drive home very drunk. He swerved to avoid an oncoming truck and crashed into the guard rail. Now in a tight spot, he moved into the back seat, buckled himself in, and waited for the car to go careening off the cliff. It turns out that buckling his seat belt saved his life. The stolen Bentley could've been at the scene at any time over the last week.

Nick and Warrick agree that in terms of the bet, there's no winner and no loser. However, they choose to go double or nothing when alerted about another crime scene.

Cast[]

Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Eric Szmanda as Greg Sanders
  • Robert David Hall as Dr. Al Robbins
  • Matt O'Toole as Paul Millander
  • Sheeri Rappaport as Mandy Webster
  • Aasif Mandvi as Dr. Leever
  • Mark Collver as Detective B. Evans
  • Greg Collins as Officer Arvington
  • John Churchill as Shibley
  • Barbara Tarbuck as Paige Harmon
  • Tom McCleister as Walter Bangler
  • Ricky Harris as Disco Placid
  • Howard S. Miller as Bum
  • Jonathan T. Floyd as Paramedic
  • Natasha Silver as Receptionist
  • James MacPherson as Thug
  • Douglas Bennett as Stranded Motorist
  • Sewell Whitney as Stuart Rampler

Goofs[]

  • The newspaper article Sara reads mentions that Paul Millander's father was named John. However, it's later revealed that he too, was named Paul.
  • (Possible goof) Also in the newspaper article, it's mentioned that after watching his father's staged suicide, "the boy's testimony was shaky" and it mentioned Paul by name. However, in Season Two's Identity Crisis, it's discovered that Paul was actually born a girl and was named Pauline. He got a sex change after his father was murdered, believing that a real man would have been able to prevent it.

Music[]

  • Ain't No Sunshine by Bill Withers

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
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