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Burn Out
Burn Out.jpg
Season 7
Number 6
Writer Jacqueline Hoyt
Director Alec Smight
Original Airdate November 2, 2006
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Previous Episode: Double Cross
Next Episode: Post Mortem

Burn Out is the sixth episode in season seven of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

Two young boys go missing. Later, a known pedophile, Carl Fisher, who lives in the neighborhood, is found to be an arson victim. In an attempt to extract his confession, Brass and Grissom ask for Fisher's help in catching the boys' abductor. Meanwhile, Brass questions the boys' families and is left to sift through their complicated family backgrounds. However, the case turns out to be much more complicated than Grissom or the rest of the CSI team ever expected.

Plot

Victims: Jason Crowley (missing), Lucas Hanson (missing)

On the case: Entire team

An Amber Alert has gone out for two missing boys - Jason Crowley, age 11, and Lucas Hanson, age 10. Brass fills his officers in on the case, telling them that Jason lives his grandfather, Terrance. Both Terrance and Lucas' mother, Dawn, assumed that the boys were staying at the others' houses. As Grissom, who has been fighting a migraine headache, listens in on the briefing, he gets a page from Nick, who is working an arson case.

At the scene, Nick tells Grissom that the owner of the house, Carl Fisher, is a Tier Two child molester; every time an Amber Alert goes out, Carl claims that somebody tries to kill him. This time, somebody set his house on fire. Carl claims to not know Jason or Lucas and says that being near them would be a violation of his parole.

In the hospital, Grissom photographs and processes Carl's burned hands. Carl tells him and Brass that his neighbors have shown a great deal of resentment towards him, resulting in broken windows, graffiti and slashed tires. Brass doesn't write any of this down, seemingly having already made up his mind about Carl.

Brass speaks with Dawn Hanson at the police station. She is convinced that her ex-husband took the kids, as her hide-a-key container is empty. Her ex, Perry, had recently been stopping by the house when Lucas was home alone; this led to her making arrangements with Terrance Crowley, having the kids stay with him after school. Because his bookbag wasn't in the hallway, Dawn is convinced that Lucas never came home. She is unaware of Perry's whereabouts and can only provide Brass with a license plate number. Brass shows her a photo of Carl, but she doesn't recognize him.

Catherine and Sofia question Terrance, who figures that the boys just ran away. He was responsible for Jason until he could move him to Houston to be reunited with his father as Jason's mother passed away some time ago and Jason's father has been looking for a new job in Houston. As he looks out the window at the search dogs, Sofia notices that he's missing a tooth.

Outside Carl's house, Greg tells Nick that the neighbors didn't see or hear anything, adding that they lock their doors and keep their kids inside after dark. Nick finds that the fire's origin was the hood of Carl's car; it then jumped to the house, leaving the back of the car intact. He also finds a full shoe impression in the concrete, indicating that the arsonist stepped in the accelerant before the car was lit.

Inside the house, Sara collects Carl's melted shoes. Warrick tells her that there is no evidence of sexual activity in Carl's bed and nothing to show that there were any kids in the house. Sara notes that there is an expensive collection of DVDs, comic books and video games along with gummy bears and chips on the floor, all of which are a perfect lure for children.

Terry's car is located, and he gets pulled over and handcuffed; he is unaware that Jason and Lucas are missing. Brass finds a hide-a-key in the car's glove compartment. There are fast food containers in the car and Jason's baseball glove is in the backseat. Terry says that he has no idea how the glove got there, claiming that kids always borrow each other's stuff. Brass arrests him and brings him to the station for questioning. There, Brass tells Terry that the key from the glove compartment is the missing hide-a-key. Terry admits that he stopped by the house the day before to see his son, but he wasn't home. He left without putting the key back in its place.

Scent dogs lead Catherine, Sofia and some officers to a gate; there, Catherine finds fabric consistent with the shorts Lucas was last seen wearing. Sofia notes that a lot of the houses in the area are vacant, which would be a perfect place for privacy. In one of the vacant houses, a scent dog leads them to a closet door; however, when opened, there's nothing inside. Catherine notices that the dog was picking up the door itself; there is broken wood that contains blood and short, dark hairs. There is a blood smear on the floor not too far from the door. Nearby, Catherine finds a dental bridge. They remember that Terrance was missing a tooth and now know that he has been lying to them.

Under interrogation, Terrance tells Sofia that he was defending himself against the two boys. A flashback shows the boys playing in the abandoned house when Terrance entered and told them their dinner was cold. Jason told his grandfather that he was going to stay with Lucas and his family because he liked it better there and that he wishes Terrance wasn't his grandfather. Terrance responded by pinning Jason against the closet door, resulting in Lucas pushing Terrance away and knocking his teeth out. The boys then ran off after the altercation. Terrance tells Sofia that he's sure the boys will show up soon and that he acted in self-defense. She decides to let him go for the time being. Out in the hall, Jason's father, Gerald, arrives and berates his father for his mistreatment of Jason. Gerald tells Sofia that his father has a temper and was once a high school football coach, but was fired due to abusing the players.

Greg and Sara process Carl's burned car. In the backseat, Sara finds an empty soda cup and a cap from a whiskey bottle. There's also a napkin containing picked-off mushrooms stuffed into the armrest cushion. Meanwhile, Greg peels a melted gas container from the floorboards in the front passenger's seat.

With Carl coming to the station to sign off his arson claim, Grissom goes around the lab seeing what evidence they have to hold him. Nick tells him that the burned shoe impression is a size 11, the same size Carl wears. However, none of the treads on Carl's shoes matches up with the burned impression. Elsewhere, Greg fills Grissom in on the gas container and tells him that the melted plastic trapped pockets of gasoline inside. If they can identify a unique component in the gasoline, they can figure out where Carl bought it. Sara shows Grissom the empty soda cup, which she says contained fruit punch. Because of the cap she found, whiskey could have been added to the cup. She then mentions the picked-off mushrooms and says that if an adult doesn't like mushrooms, they simply don't order them.

Carl comes to the station and agrees to stay for a while in order to give his insights on the case one one condition: he gets to speak with Grissom. He tells Grissom that his older brother abused him when they were younger, which could explain why he is the way he is. Grissom hands him photos of other child molesters in the search radius, and Carl eliminates them one by one based on their M.O.'s. Based on how long the boys have been missing, Carl surmises that they're dead. This comes to fruition when Grissom gets a text from Warrick saying that a body has been found. Later, as Dawn Hanson and Gerald Crowley rush to the scene, Lucas's body is found on a golf course. Dawn is overwhelmed and collapses to the ground, stricken by the loss of her son.

In autopsy, David Phillips finds a scrape on Lucas's cheek. There's minor bruising on the right hand, which Nick figures is from self-defense. Part of the flap from the pocket on Lucas's shorts is missing, and Nick notes that Catherine found a similar fabric on a nearby fence. Finally, Lucas's shirt is inside out; since David didn't do this when removing the shirt from the body, Nick figures that it could have been a redress.

At the golf course, Warrick tells Brass that, based on the way Lucas was buried, the killer cared about him. Nearby, they find a large drainage pipe with torn wire mesh in front of it. Inside, Warrick finds a pair of kid-sized wire-rimmed glasses, the same kind Jason wears.

Back at the police station, an employee of the pizza place tells Sara that she remembers Jason because he had a fat lip. Jason told her that his grandfather was a bully, but insisted that he was okay. The employee says Jason was with a white male, but it was too dark to see what he looked like. Just as importantly, she remembers that the car was a Mercury Marquis, the same car Carl drives.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins tells Nick that, based on lack of sand in the nasal passages, Lucas was dead before he was buried. There are palm prints on the sternum consistent with someone giving CPR; when combined with air in the stomach, the doc concludes that someone tried to give Lucas CPR, but did so poorly without tilting the head back. This led to air going into the stomach and not the lungs. The preliminary cause of death is a subdural hematoma to the left front lobe of the brain. Nick notes that there was a blood smear in the abandoned house and a laceration on Lucas's cheek, but Doc Robbins says that the head injury by itself wouldn't have been immediately fatal or necessarily incapacitating.

Greg presents Hodges with approximately two dozen gasoline samples from neighborhood gas stations to be analyzed. Meanwhile, Grissom continues to speak with Carl, and asks him what his methods are. Carl replies that it's just like courting an adult you're interested in - you get to know their interests and slowly build a rapport with them. When asked about the mushrooms in his car, Carl doesn't directly answer the question. Grissom tells him that Lucas's body was found, and Carl figures that if someone killed one of the boys, then they killed the other one, too.

Brass tells Grissom that there have a been a few "Jason sightings," one of them being on a bus in Arizona. The bus is located and, sure enough, Sofia finds Jason crouched down in the back seat. He had gotten on the bus to go to Houston to be with his father. Sofia convinces him that he's not in trouble, assuring him that his father is waiting for him at the police station in Vegas, and takes his hand. Jason gets reunited with his father at the police station later on.

Nick tells Warrick that Lucas's blood alcohol level was .16, twice the legal limit for an adult. There was also aspirin in his system, which Nick figures he took after he hit his head. Warrick guesses that whoever gave Lucas whiskey also gave him the aspirin.

Grissom informs Carl that Jason was found alive. "One of the lucky ones," he replies. Carl agrees to be put in a police lineup. There, Jason points him out, but refuses to say whether Carl was the one who kidnapped him and Lucas. A faint, distinct voice is heard in Jason's head telling him that he'll kill his dad if he tells. Sofia relays this to Grissom. After she leaves, Greg tells him that the gasoline in the container was purchased at a station near Carl's house. Security cameras caught Carl filling up the night of the fire; he paid for sixteen gallons when his car only holds fourteen. The container was holding the extra two gallons.

Grissom goes back to speak with Carl, and he accuses of him of torching is own car in an effort to destroy any evidence of the boys being in the car. Carl denies this and tells Grissom that while he was playing basketball one day, Lucas approached him looking for someone to hang out with. He then relays the events of the evening.

Carl says that the two boys got into an altercation with Jason's grandfather and ran to him when they couldn't get into Lucas's house. Lucas had hit his head during the altercation, so Carl gave him some aspirin. He didn't want to call any of the parents, thinking he would get turned in when doing so. Nervous about having the boys in his car, he stopped at the liquor store to buy whiskey before taking the boys for pizza. Instead of taking them home afterwards, he says that the boys said they wanted an adventure, so he took them to the golf course to collect golf balls. While Jason was collecting golf balls, Lucas was feeling the effects of his headache and stayed in the car. Lucas complained that he was hot, so Carl took his shirt off. Carl insists that he didn't molest Lucas.

Grissom tells him that Lucas had a concussion and was likely dizzy or slurring his words. However, Carl didn't care about that because he wanted what he wanted. Grissom says that Lucas's brain was bleeding and that a responsible adult would have taken him to the hospital. Instead, Carl gave him alcohol and aspirin, a lethal combination which prevented Lucas's blood from clotting, resulting in his death. A flashback shows Jason returning with some golf balls and finding Carl caressing Lucas's dead body. Jason then ran into the drainage pipe to hide. Carl insists that he didn't mean to kill anybody, but Grissom tells him he had choices and made the wrong ones.

Carl is arrested for second degree murder and violating his parole, while Terrance is arrested for child endangerment. As they yell at each other in the hallway and other arguing rings out through the station, Grissom, still fighting his migraine, lies down a couch and closes his eyes, trying to block everything out.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

Quotes

Terrance Crowley: I was defending myself.
Sofia: Against a pair of sixth-graders?
Terrance Crowley: You damn right.

Goofs

  • When Grissom lies down on the couch, his head is next to a lit desk lamp. Most people who have migraines can't have any source of light, as it causes the headache to be more intense.

Trivia

  • Betsy Brandt played Dawn Hanson in this episode. She is most recognizable for her role as Marie Schrader in the AMC show Breaking Bad.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 7
Built to Kill, Part 1Built to Kill, Part 2Toe TagsFannysmackin'Double CrossBurn OutPost MortemHappenstanceLiving LegendLoco MotivesLeaving Las VegasSweet JaneRedrumMeet MarketLaw of GravityMonster in the BoxFallen IdolsEmpty EyesBig ShotsLab RatsEnding HappyLeapin' LizardsThe Good, The Bad, And The DominatrixLiving Doll
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