Season 4
Number 12
Writer David Rambo
Director Richard J. Lewis
Original Airdate January 15, 2004
Previous Episode: Eleven Angry Jurors
Next Episode: Suckers

Butterflied is the twelfth episode in the Fourth Season of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


The double murder of a young nurse and her boyfriend makes Grissom question his workaholic lifestyle. To make matters worse for Grissom, the nurse bears a striking resemblance to Sara.


Victim: Debbie Marlin (deceased)

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

As the episode opens, Grissom is already in the house of Debbie Marlin. He carefully makes his way through the house, hugging the walls as he goes. Among the many things he fixates on in the house are two empty wine glasses and a bottle of wine. As he makes his way down the hallway, he sees brush strokes from a vacuum cleaner along with footprints leading to and from the bedroom. Grissom eventually makes his way to the bathroom. There, Debbie's body is found slouched over in the shower with a blood pool formed around her head. Grissom looks closely at the victim and sees that she bears a striking resemblance to Sara. He eventually works his way back outside, where officers and his CSI team are waiting for him. With his gaze fixed upon Sara, he tells Brass that no one is allowed in the house except for CSI.

Grissom hands everyone their assignments—Warrick will process the two vehicles in the driveway (one belongs to the friend who found Debbie's body), Sara will process the perimeter of the house, and Catherine will talk to Debbie's friend, then work inside the house with Grissom.

Catherine speaks to Debbie's friend, Kelly McNeil. Kelly tells Catherine that she and Debbie are both nurses at Desert Palm Hospital. They had made lunch plans the day before, but Debbie had canceled in order to spend time with her new boyfriend Michael Clark, a surgical intern at the hospital. When Debbie didn't show up for work, Kelly called her multiple times and got no response. She stopped by the house and entered using the key Debbie gave her. Upon seeing the body, she ran out of the house, which explains the footprints on the carpet in the hallway. Kelly also tells Catherine that she doesn't recall seeing Michael at the hospital that day.

Sara examines the side of the house and finds a white, powdery film covering the concrete. Across the street, Brass questions Jeff Pike, who had been seen earlier chatting it up loudly with his neighbors. Jeff tells Brass that he's running for captain of the neighborhood watch and knows a lot of things about everyone on the block. He says that Debbie was an attractive single girl who constantly got visits from male doctors and other male medical personnel. Brass asks him if he remembers any specific vehicles parked at Debbie's, and Jeff remembers seeing a 2004 black Mercedes E320 for the last month. The car would roll up to the house at all hours of the day, and Jeff recalls last seeing it two days ago.

After not finding much around the perimeter of the house, Sara meets up with Warrick. He tells her that the backseat of Debbie's unlocked car was filled with groceries, leading Sara to wonder if Debbie was interrupted after returning home from shopping. Inside the house, Grissom is crouched next to Debbie's body as Catherine walks in. He says that he smells something, and Catherine believes it's some kind of bleach or cleanser. Catherine looks at the arterial spray patterns on the shower door and walls and concludes that Debbie was standing up when she was attacked. She remarks that despite all the blood present, there are no signs of bloody hand prints or footprints left behind by the killer. Grissom becomes fixated on the unusual position of the body, thinking that Debbie was staged this way.

Sara and Warrick enter the house and look through the refrigerator. There are some groceries that Debbie was able to get into the house; however, Sara can't find a receipt. Based on the expiration date on the milk, they conclude that Debbie visited the supermarket two days ago, which is also the last time Michael's car was seen in front of the house.

Catherine and Grissom continue to process the bathroom, where they find evidence of blood and bleach in all four drains. They guess that the killer murdered Debbie, then washed up in both sinks and the bathtub. When asked why, Grissom says that the answer is in the pipes. Sara is sent under the house to collect evidence from the pipes and collects red-stained water that ties to the bathtub drain. Back in the bathroom, Catherine and Grissom spray luminol all around the room. It becomes clear that the killer wiped away the blood and cleaned everything with bleach; the only place he left blood was in the shower next to Debbie's body. Catherine remarks that they're going to have a hard time finding out where the blood ends and the bleach begins, while Grissom wonders where all the blood is coming from.

Brass goes to Desert Palm Hospital and speaks to Dr. Vincent Lurie, who tells Brass that Michael Clark is on his surgical rotation. However, Michael didn't show up that morning despite being on call to assist. According to Dr. Lurie, Michael is a gifted surgeon who also has an active social life that he doesn't let interfere with his work. Meanwhile, back in Debbie's house, Catherine notes that there are no cleansers, rags, sponges or paper towels present. Warrick finds this odd, as Debbie had clearly been shopping recently. Catherine figures that the killer used up all of the supplies, while Grissom sees that the wastebasket is empty and guesses that the killer disposed of everything. Catherine, Grissom and Warrick head outside the house and into the alleyway, where there are a bunch of trash bins lined up on both sides of the road. After coming up empty on the first few bins, Grissom notices flies buzzing around another bin. When he opens it, he finds an empty bottle of bleach, bloody towels, and a plastic bag with flesh in it. He figures that there has to be more bags like that in the other bins.

The following day, Catherine, Grissom and Warrick go through the trash bins and find several bags containing flesh and organs from a male victim. Grissom also finds a filled vacuum bag, indicating that the killer cleaned up any evidence of themselves in the house. The victim's clothes are also found neatly folded. In the lab, Sara filters the water she collected from the pipe and finds hairs from multiple donors; however, they're unusable thanks to the bleach. Sara looks in the pipe and finds a hair that the bleach missed; luckily, this hair has a skin tag on it.

In the morgue, David Phillips is piecing the dismembered body together on one of the tables. On the other table, Catherine looks over Debbie's body with Doc Robbins, who tells her that Debbie died at least 24 hours ago. Her cause of death is a deep incised wound on the neck that transected both carotid arteries and the anterior trachea. Doc Robbins tells Catherine that the instrument that caused this was short and extremely sharp; they both guess that the killer used a scalpel. The doc notes that the killer had to have spent at least 12 hours dismembering the other body. The patella had been cleanly removed from the body and the femur was separated from the tibia and fibula. Based on the fact that the killer knew this much about human anatomy and that the tool used may have been a scalpel, Catherine thinks they're looking for a doctor.

Grissom is in Debbie's room looking at one of her butterfly trinkets, which seems to match most of the room. He looks in the mirror and pictures Debbie sitting on her bed; Debbie then transforms into Sara. A phone call from Sara interrupts his train of thought. Sara tells him she got a skin tag from a hair in the drain, but Grissom pretends to have bad reception and ends the call early to go back to being alone with his thoughts.

Sara hangs up with Grissom and meets up with Warrick in the CSI garage. Michael Clark's black Mercedes has been brought in after being found in the long-term parking lot at the airport. They figure Michael killed two people and skipped town, with Warrick noting that the best way to get a car stolen is to leave it at the airport unlocked. With nothing visible, they decide to fume the car. They find that everything except the driver's seat has been wiped down, just like in Debbie's house. Warrick finds a piece of a black trash bag wedged in the track of the driver's seat; a flashback shows the driver covering the seat with the bag, adjusting the seat, and getting the bag stuck in the track. They note that Michael was 5'9", but when Warrick gets in the driver's seat, he sees that it's adjusted for someone even taller than him (6'2").

Catherine, Sara and Warrick are sitting around the conference table with Grissom on the speaker phone from Debbie's house. They recap the case—Debbie came home from the grocery store, parked in the driveway, and unloaded her perishable items first, leaving the front door open. This explains why there was no forced entry. She got ready for her date, lighting candles everywhere and preparing the bottle of wine with two glasses. Greg interrupts and says that the hairs Sara found in the drain belong to Michael Clark. There were also no fingerprints found on the scalpel or any other instruments used in the killings. Grissom continues—as Debbie lit the candles in the shower, she was attacked from behind and her throat was slit. The body was positioned in a way so that it was the first thing Michael saw when he entered the bathroom. Michael was then killed and dismembered in the bathtub. Catherine wonders why Debbie's murder was quick, but the killer took the time to dismember Michael. Grissom guesses that Michael was the real target of the killer's rage.

Warrick empties the vacuum bag that was found earlier and separates everything out. Sara enters, and Warrick tells her that he found white carpet fibers in the bag, and only the spare bedroom in Debbie's house has a white carpet. He also found a butterfly charm, which he guesses could've come off a bracelet in a struggle. Sara surmises that the killer was in the spare bedroom at some point, even though the room wasn't on the killer's entrance or exit path.

Grissom is still in Debbie's house, testing the hallway carpet for blood. Catherine enters and notes that Grissom is on his third shift; he replies that he's only getting started, as he has yet to check the other rooms for blood. He also admits that he hasn't eaten anything. After doing so, he tells Catherine that he doesn't want to leave until he finds some evidence. They recap the case again, with Catherine saying that Debbie was "sexing herself up" for Michael's arrival. They decide to process the bedroom. No evidence is found on the sheets, but both Catherine and Grissom find red silk scarves tied to the mattress. They were used to tie Debbie to the bed during sex, and Catherine notes that Michael probably used the bed frame as leverage and dusts it for prints. Warrick calls Grissom and tells him about the butterfly charm he found in the vacuum bag. Grissom heads to the spare bedroom. After looking over all of the butterfly trinkets on the dresser, he opens a jewelry box and finds a bracelet with a pendant attached that says "Love, Dr. T" on it. He also finds another broken butterfly charm. Catherine enters and tells Grissom that she was able to recover a toe print from the bed frame and that she'll have Sara compare it to the victims. Grissom is pleased with this information, and he tells Catherine about the butterfly charm and wonders if the killer was trying to take his gift back. He also finds a strand of hair on the shelf and tells Catherine that this is why he never left the scene.

In the morgue, Sara takes toe print samples from Debbie. It's only now that she realizes the facial similarities between her and the victim. She finds Catherine and asks where Grissom is; Catherine replies that Grissom is still at the crime scene. Sara tells her that the toe prints recovered from the bed frame don't match either victim. Catherine notes the similarities between Sara and Debbie, but a visibly shaken Sara says that she didn't notice.

In the hospital, Catherine takes the toe prints of all male doctors. Dr. Howard Tripton states that there was probably a little bit of everyone in Debbie's house. Dr. Lurie tells Brass that there is a code of honor among doctors, and that a lot of them are married and wouldn't want this information getting out. Brass replies that information will only get out if necessary. Jacqui Franco is able to positively match the toe print from the bed frame to Dr. Tripton.

Catherine and Brass interrogate Howard, who says that he gave Debbie a ride home one night while her car was in the shop. Debbie didn't want people wearing shoes in her house, so he took them off. He tells Catherine and Brass that Debbie was provocative and that she came on to him. Brass mentions that Michael Clark was on Howard's surgical rotation the day he was killed. When Howard called in sick, it freed Michael up to be with Debbie, who was also off of work. Howard replies that his kids had events he had to take them to and that the surgery he was supposed to perform was elective. Catherine shows Howard the jewelry, and he positively identifies the bracelet he gave to Debbie.

The hair Grissom found in the spare bedroom is put under the microscope. Greg tells him that the oily substance on it is propylene glycol—an active ingredient in Rogaine for male pattern baldness. It also tested positive for Propecia. Grissom runs into Catherine, who tells him that Brass let Howard walk after Howard used sex as his alibi. He asks her about Howard's hair; she tells him Howard is neither going bald nor has graying hair. Catherine also says that Howard is left-handed.

Doc Robbins calls Grissom down to the morgue. With the dismembered body laid out, the doc says that Michael Clark was probably lying face up when he was killed. The killer is probably left-handed due to the angle of the cuts on the right femur. Doc Robbins says that this information would be inadmissible in court, but Grissom is way more concerned with just solving the case. He's only looking for a left-handed, Propecia-using surgeon who is probably on staff at Desert Palm Hospital.

In the hospital, the doctors who fit the description are put in a row. Greg uses the ALS on their heads and eventually finds a match in Dr. Vincent Lurie. Back in the police department interrogation room, Grissom and Brass talk to Vincent. The doctor admits to taking Rogaine and Propecia and also identifies the bracelet he gave to Debbie. They have no other evidence against Vincent, and Brass offers up his theory—Vincent killed Debbie because she rejected him and Michael Clark paid the price. Vincent's lawyer says that they don't have a case and both start to walk out of the room.

Grissom then gives his two cents—he and Vincent are not that much different. Both are middle-aged men consumed by work who only get to touch people while wearing latex gloves. They realize they haven't lived much of a life, until they're given a second chance when a young, beautiful woman enters it. Grissom says he couldn't risk his career to be with the woman, but Vincent did. Debbie showed Vincent a wonderful life, then took it away from him and gave it to someone else. In response, Vincent took her life. A flashback shows him killing Debbie, then ripping apart the butterfly bracelet he gave her. When Michael entered, he killed him, as well.

Grissom tells Vincent that he now has nothing, but Vincent replies that he's still here. "Are you?" Grissom asks. Vincent walks out of the room a free man. Meanwhile, Sara has been watching this whole exchange from behind the glass. By the look on her face, it's assumed that she heard the entire exchange.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • James Patrick Stuart as Attorney Adam Matthews
  • Romy Rosemont as Jacqui Franco
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Erinn Hayes as Debbie Marlin
  • Josh Stamberg as Dr. Howard Tripton
  • Tinsley Grimes as Kelly McNeil
  • Rich Hutchman as Jeff Pike
  • Kyle Secor as Dr. Vincent Lurie
  • Jeff Sugarman as Dr. Mulligan
  • Michael Dietz as Dr. Michael Clark (uncredited)

Episode Title[]

  • The title appears to be a play on the tattoo of the woman's corpse, coining the verb 'to butterfly' as a metaphor for murder.


  • There's no dialogue spoken for the first 2 1/2 minutes of the episode while Grissom goes through the house.
  • George Eads (Nick) is credited, but does not appear in this episode. Sara mentions that Nick is at the American Academy of Forensic Science Convention.
  • This is the first episode where the killer is identified, but lack of evidence fails to produce an arrest.


  • The episode is inspired by the murder of Christina Sanoubane and the conviction of Carlos Robinson.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 4
Assume NothingAll For Our CountryHomebodiesFeeling the HeatFur and LoathingJackpotInvisible EvidenceAfter the ShowGrissom Versus the VolcanoComing of RageEleven Angry JurorsButterfliedSuckersPaper or PlasticEarly RolloutGetting OffXXBad To The BoneBad WordsDead RingerTurn of the ScrewsNo More BetsBloodlines