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Buzz Kill
Buzz Kill.jpg
Season 15
Number 2
Writer Andrew Dettman
Director Frank Waldeck
Original Airdate October 5, 2014
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Buzz Kill is the second episode of the fifteeth season of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

The CSI team investigate a robbery and a fatal shooting at a medical marijuana dispensary.

Plot

Victims: Allison Ball (deceased), Dina Bryant (missing), two Bryant children (missing)

On the case: D.B. Russell, Greg Sanders, Morgan Brody, Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle, Kevin Crawford

A woman nervously enters a medical marijuana dispensary owned by Lloyd Bryant. When Lloyd's cell phone rings, the woman demands that he answers it. The phone contains a video of the man's wife and kids being held hostage. With the security guard paying little attention, the woman has Lloyd empty the cash register's contents into a bag. Instructions on the phone will tell him what to do next, and the woman seems apologetic as she collects the money. As she backs up, she knocks over a jar of cannabis, which alerts the security guard. She tries to leave, but ends up getting shot once and is killed.

The kidnapping is legitimate, as neither the wife, Dina, nor the kids made it to work or school. Whoever sent the video and text used Dina's phone, so nothing can be traced. The woman has no ID, car keys, or phone on her, and David Phillips soon finds that she also has no fingerprints.

When questioned by Sara, Lloyd says that he's never seen the woman before, nor has he noticed any strange activity around his house recently. Meanwhile, Nick collected the victim's shoes, noting the presence of a sticky substance on the soles. The source of the substance doesn't appear to be in the dispensary, so she could've picked it up on the way in; this might tell the CSIs how she got to the dispensary and/or where she came from. Nick and Sara observe nearly $300,000 in cash on the floor and are told by Det. Crawford that banks won't take money from the marijuana businesses due to the fear that it might be seized as drug money. The dispensary is cash only, which would explain the vaults, security cameras, and security guard on the premises.

Dina's car is located on the route from her house to the kids' preschool. A neighbor claims to have heard squealing tires and saw a van fleeing the scene. Greg finds blue paint transfer on the rear bumper and theorizes that the kidnapper bumped the back of the car. When Dina got out to exchange insurance information, the kidnapper took her and the kids.

Back at the lab, Sara watches surveillance video from the dispensary, noting that the woman seemed nervous and hesitant. Despite the robbery being well-planned, the woman appeared to be out of her element. Nick downloads footage from a check-cashing place down the street from the dispensary. He and Sara spot a double-parked black Mustang that drove off seconds after the security guard fired his gun. The CSIs figure that this is the woman's partner; however, the license plate is obscured, making identification difficult.

Hodges informs Nick and Sara that the substance on the soles of the woman's shoes is bootstrap molasses. As it turns out, molasses is used as a common soil additive to cultivating cannabis. This would seem to indicate that the mystery woman was a grower.

Lloyd tells Det. Crawford that he hasn't been in trouble with anyone, but explains that his business is like operating in the Wild West - growers are technically outlaws and his main competition is street dealers and delivery services who think he's stealing their business. Crawford believes the culprit could be anyone who knows how much cash is involved with this line of work.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins finds no surgical or cosmetic implants in the victim, so there's nothing with a serial number that can be traced. The absence of fingerprints is due to a drug called capecitabine, which the woman was taking to aid in her recovery from colon cancer surgery. Her tox report came back positive for THC, which Morgan believes was medicinal marijuana from the cancer. The doc notices that the woman's axillary lymph nodes are discolored. When he opens her up, he finds that the node is filled with ink. The woman had a tattoo in the past that was laser removed, and when put under an ultraviolet light, it reveals that she was part of a gang called the Bridge Rock Devils.

Greg pulls the arrest records on every female gang member arrested in the last ten years and eventually identifies the victim as Allison Ball. She has an address in Boulder City, and the police go to check it out; unfortunately, they find the house devoid of hostages. Greg and Nick search the house, finding that Allison is a well-respected teacher. Nothing in the house points to her being a kidnapper. Greg finds Allison's cell phone, and it contains another unknown male being held hostage. Photos in the house indicate that it's either Allison's brother or boyfriend. The CSIs conclude that she didn't go to the dispensary to rob it, she was trying to save this guy. There's now one more hostage to find.

The man tied up in the video is identified as Allison's younger brother, Stuart; he has no criminal record. His cell phone was used to send the text and the video, just like what was done with Lloyd's family. Text message instructions are found on Allison's phone; they told her go to the dispensary at exactly 10:15 AM, get the money, and drop it near the Palermo. Allison was a pawn in all of this, and the culprits used her to distance themselves from the crime. But why were Allison and her brother chosen? It's possible Allison crossed paths with the kidnappers through her job or maybe she met them when she was undergoing her cancer treatments. A bag of marijuana is found hidden in the house, and Nick notes that it's the only thing tying the cases together.

A sample of every strain of marijuana from the dispensary is brought to the lab for analysis, but it's discovered that none of them match the marijuana found in Allison's house. She wasn't buying her stuff from Lloyd, but it had to have come from somewhere.

While Morgan goes through Allison's personal belongings, Greg tells her that Stuart's apartment was way too nice for someone who apparently doesn't have a job. Morgan sees that the cancer basically emptied Allison's bank account; however, a $50,000 cash deposit was made into the account six weeks ago.

Hodges shows Greg and Russell a website called "Us-2-U Wellness," which is an online marijuana delivery service that guarantees it can deliver product to someone in two hours. It's found that the Feds recently raided the site, and one of the strains recovered matches the marijuana found in Allison's house. The guy behind Us-2-U is a Calvin Reynolds, and DMV records show that he owns a black Mustang, just like the one seen in front of the dispensary.

Molasses is found on the Mustang's carpet, placing Allison inside the vehicle. Under interrogation, Calvin tells Det. Crawford that he and Allison were both members of the Bridge Rock Devils; however, she got out and made a life for herself. The two of them kept in touch, with Allison calling him every time she got into a jam. Calvin says that he got Allison marijuana when told it would help with her cancer, and he admits to giving her $50,000 when the medical bills started piling up. He goes on to say that Allison called him that morning in a panic because someone kidnapped her brother. She was too freaked out to follow the instructions alone, so she enlisted Calvin's help. However, after hearing the gunshot and not seeing Allison come out of the dispensary, he left the scene. Calvin finishes the interrogation by saying that Allison should've "let her brother rot," as Stuart had gotten into trouble running numbers for a bookie. Unfortunately, he doesn't know the bookie's name.

Sara heads back to the dispensary and tells Lloyd that they'll just have to wait for the kidnappers' call. He doesn't recognize Stuart from his photo, but a detective soon relays that he's been located. Greg and Morgan soon find Stuart shot to death in the blue van used earlier in the kidnapping; however, there's no sign of Dina Bryant or the kids.

It turns out that the van was stolen, and it's brought to the CSI garage for processing. The shot that killed Stuart was made from close range, indicating that the shooter was in the van. There's high-velocity blood spatter on the front passenger's seat, but luminol reveals that there's also a void present. This leads Greg and Morgan to conclude that the shooter was in the back seat and reached between the front seats to fire. The bullet is soon found in the A-pillar, and an IBIS hit reveals that it matches a round fired five years ago in a fatal carjacking attempt. Remi Volero, the car's owner, shot the carjacker in self-defense, but his rap sheet shows that he's been arrested on charges related to bookmaking and racketeering. The CSIs may have just found the bookie Stuart was working for.

Under interrogation, Remi tells Sara that Stuart "ran errands" for him. Sara informs him that Stuart was killed with his gun, but Remi replies that he gave the gun to Stuart a few years ago. After getting the run-around, Sara angrily asks Remi where Dina and her kids are. Remi claims to be unaware of anything going on, but Sara theorizes that the real-estate mogul was losing on his investments and decided the dispensary was an easy target. Remi ends the conversation by asking for his lawyer.

Due to the lack of evidence, Remi will only be kept in custody for 48 hours. He owns at least 25 properties, and the CSIs figure any one of them would be a good place to hold hostages. In the meantime, they still have the van used in the kidnapping; if the team can figure out where it's been, they might be able to find Dina and the kids.

Nick gets a call that Lloyd has ducked out on the cops who were babysitting him. Nobody can find him, and it seems likely he got a call from the kidnappers and went to go pay the ransom. Lloyd's cell phone places him in a park, where Nick and Det. Crawford find him. He admits to dropping off the ransom money at the tennis courts across the park, but says that he didn't have direct contact with the kidnappers. Lloyd is told that he may have just gotten his family killed, as the kidnappers have their money and their hostages aren't worth anything anymore. When the tennis courts are searched, the money is long gone.

The kidnappers contacted Lloyd by using Stuart's cell phone. It was only on for 20 seconds, but Greg is able to find out which cell tower the phone pinged off of. Meanwhile, Morgan and Hodges process the trace pulled from the outside of the van. Hodges finds that bird droppings scraped off the van's roof contain a poison called Meríasol. The poison comes from berries that only grow in the South American rainforest; however, Morgan notes that the Mediterranean Casino has a rainforest garden.

Morgan has Greg and Sara mark the Mediterranean on the map. Noting that the birds nest within a quarter-mile of their food source, she has a circle put around the casino and the quarter-mile radius. Part of the circle intersects with the service area from the aforementioned cell tower, and it just so happens that Remi owns an old produce warehouse in the area of the circles' convergence.

When Nick and Det. Crawford search the warehouse, they come across a kidnapper's kit, as well as Dina and Duane's cell phones. They're soon alerted to movement, and they find Dina and the kids safe; they were being held in separate rooms. In the hospital, Sara shows Dina a photo lineup of possible suspects that includes Remi, but Dina is unable to identify her kidnappers, saying that they were always wearing masks.

The lab now has possession of the phones the ransom videos were filmed on, and Greg does a deeper analysis on the videos themselves. When he analyzes the end of Stuart's ransom video, he catches a reflection in a window. When he clears up the reflection, he and Morgan are shocked by what they find.

Dina Bryant is now being interrogated by Russell. He guesses that she and Stuart planned to rob the dispensary and have the money in less than an hour, a plan that went awry when Allison was killed. Dina is incensed at the accusation she was involved, but Russell shows her the photo that Greg cleaned up; in it, she's seen holding the phone that recorded Stuart's ransom video. Russell asks her what the plan was in case she and the kids were never found, adding that they know only her and Stuart were involved. There were no kidnappers and no Remi Volero. The plan was to make off with her husband's money.

Now confronted, Dina says that it was all Stuart's idea and that he forced her at gunpoint to cooperate. However, Russell reveals that Stuart's blood was found on the sleeve of her sweater; she's the one who shot him in the van. Defeated, she tries to bribe Russell, but he tells her that she has nothing. The ransom money's whereabouts are unknown, and Dina is hauled away in handcuffs while Lloyd watches in disbelief.

---

In a separate storyline, Russell continues to obsess over the complications involving the case of the Gig Harbor Killer. He doesn't want to wait for another body to drop, and Finn states that they need to prove that Jared Briscoe knew his twin brother, Paul Winthrop, before seeing him on the news. They need to find Jared's adoption records, and Finn offers to use her vacation time to travel back to Seattle and investigate.

At the end of the episode, Finn, now in Seattle, tells Russell that she's had trouble getting Jared's foster care files, but she'll keep at it until she does. Russell warns her to stay out of trouble, something she agrees to while she confirms dinner plans with private investigator Daniel Shaw.

Cast

Main Cast

Recurring Cast

Guest Cast

  • Jama Williamson as Dina Bryant
  • Andrew Fiscella as Remi Volero
  • James Ferris as Detective Keys
  • Alycia Grant as Allison Ball
  • Asante Jones as SWAT Captain
  • Christopher Poehls as Stuart Ball
  • Matthew Risch as Calvin Reynolds
  • Richard Speight Jr. as Lloyd Bryant

Music

  • Stompa by Serena Ryder

Quotes

Morgan: Well, I know Nick is the expert, but this just looks like a common crane-fly to me. They're everywhere in Vegas, I don't know how they're going help us any point to advance them. You have better luck on your side?

Hodges: You mean: am I having any better luck with the bird excrement? It's not lost on me that all of the trace you pulled, you gave me the poop.

Notes

  • Jon Wellner (Henry) is credited but does not appear in the episode.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 15
The CSI EffectBuzz KillBad BloodThe Book of ShadowsGirls Gone WilderThe Twin ParadoxRoad to RecoveryRubbery HomicideLet's Make A DealDead RailsAngle of AttackDead WoodsThe Greater GoodMerchants of MenaceHero to ZeroThe Last RideUnder My SkinThe End GameImmortality
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