CSI Down
CSI Down
Season 12
Number 5
Writer Gavin Harris,
Tom Mularz
Director Jeffrey Hunt
Original Airdate October 19, 2011
Previous Episode: Maid Man
Next Episode: Freaks & Geeks

CSI Down is the fifth episode in Season Twelve of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


After an apparently dead body comes back to life, Morgan hops on a Medivac helicopter with the body to collect evidence. When the helicopter is hijacked and all contact is lost, the CSIs realize that they have a hostage situation on their hands.


Victim: Frank Cafferty (alive)

On the case: D.B. Russell, Greg Sanders, Morgan Brody


Victims: Wes Aykin and Tony Malos (both deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle, Jim Brass

A burned-out helicopter is seen with a body inside. Nearby, a CSI vest lays on the ground.

Three hours earlier, Greg, Morgan and Russell arrive in the middle of nowhere to process a dead body. Instead, they learn the man is still alive. A medivac helicopter arrives to take the man to the hospital; he was shot in the shoulder, and a second bullet grazed his head. The CSIs document as much as they can before the medic gets the man into the helicopter. Marks around his wrists indicate he was bound, and there are stun gun marks on his neck. There’s no blood pool despite the gunshot wound, so this isn’t their primary crime scene.

Nick gives Russell a call, telling him that he’s pulled a double homicide and could use some help. Since they're no longer dealing with a murder, Russell says he’ll send Greg to the hospital with the wounded man, then he can join Nick at the double homicide crime scene. Morgan offers to go instead, and she hops into the helicopter before it lifts off. While in the air, Morgan locates where the original crime scene is and gives Greg a heads up.

Meanwhile, at Nick's crime scene, two gang members have been bound and shot to death in a house. Brass recognizes the victims from their criminal past, identifying them as Wes Aykin and Tony Malos. The men are now members of the Mad-10 gang, which controls the neighborhood. Based on what he sees, Nick thinks that the killings are personal. He follows a trail of metal shavings to the back door and sees that someone cut the metal door open with a plasma cutter. The cutter is in the backyard bushes; a nameplate on it says that it belongs to Ronston Welding. It's soon found that both victims were attacked with stun guns and strangled with a metal wire, leading Nick to guess that the attack was planned. The killer may have been trying to get information out of the gang members.

The victim on the helicopter begins to crash, but is stabilized once again by the paramedic. Upon being stabilized, the victim reaches out his hand and whispers the name "Samantha." Morgan grabs his hand to assure him that things are alright.

Out in the desert, Greg eventually leads Russell to the location Morgan pointed out to him earlier. There's a large blood pool on the ground and two 9mm shell casings nearby. Greg finds a second, smaller blood pool close by and two more shell casings. However, there isn't much blood, nor is there any blood or tissue on the bullets. The surrounding dirt seems to have taken the brunt of the shots. They find the victim's jacket along with wide-axle tire impressions. The theory is that the killer drove their victim out into the desert, shot him, and drove away. Because the victim's hands and knees were caked in dirt, Greg guesses that he tried to crawl to the road for help. Sure enough, there's a rock nearby with a bloody fingerprint on it.

Brass speaks to the company that owns the stolen plasma cutter, learning that an assistant by the name of Frank Cafferty stole some equipment the night before and didn’t show up for work the next morning. Frank was released from prison six months ago after doing a ten-year stint for manslaughter. In the desert, Russell finds out that the bloody print belongs to...Frank Cafferty. Seeing that Nick has entered a print of Frank's into the system, he calls him with the startling information—Frank is their suspect, and he's in the air with Morgan.

Up in the chopper, Morgan gets word that their victim is a suspect. Frank comes to and hears Morgan talking to the cops. He pretends to convulse; when Morgan goes to help hold him down, he grabs her gun and holds everyone in the chopper at gunpoint. Frank has everyone throw their cell phones out the window and orders the pilot to fly him to Mexico.

Russell finds out that Morgan is still not at Nick's scene, and he radios dispatch. He's told that dispatch has been unable to reestablish communication with the chopper, and Russell has them contact Air Traffic Control. In the morgue, Doc Robbins connects the double homicide to Frank, as all three victims have the same stun gun marks on their necks. Catherine says that Frank's apartment showed signs of a struggle. She figures that Frank killed the two gang members and ended up being attacked in retaliation.

In the chopper, Morgan asks Frank who "Samantha" is, but before he can answer, he spots the EMT making a move. He points his gun at the paramedic and orders Morgan to drug him so he doesn't make any more sudden moves. Morgan complies while Frank continues to point his gun at her.

Frank's file shows that he has no gang connections; however, he's divorced with one dependent—a daughter named Samantha. Four years ago, while Frank was still in prison, Samantha sent him a racy photo of her sitting on another man's lap. Catherine recognizes the man in the photo as one of the victims Frank killed in the house.

Russell fills Ecklie in on the situation. Meanwhile, Greg traces what was supposed to be the chopper's flight path. He tells Russell that the chopper never emerged from the mountains and that the cell phones of Morgan, the pilot, and the paramedic were found on the ground in the same general vicinity. Russell quickly concludes that Frank made everyone toss their phones and that the chopper is hijacked.

Catherine figures out why Frank was in the gang house—he was looking for his daughter. There’s a URL jotted down on a piece of paper from Frank’s apartment, which links to a site with a porn video featuring a drugged Samantha with some masked assailants. Frank wanted to rescue his daughter, and he tried to strangle information about her whereabouts from the gang members. Tire treads from the mountains come back to a luxury SUV, and some amateur surveillance photographs from Frank’s apartment include a picture of a Porsche Cayenne. The team gets a partial license plate number from the photo and runs it through the DMV database, finding that it's registered to an Alexander Zadian, a member of the Mad-10s. He has a long list of priors and is currently on the street, making him the main suspect for Frank's attempted murder.

Nick tells Russell that a Marine Corps base spotted an aircraft that looked like their hijacked chopper 15 minutes ago; however, by the time the message was relayed, the chopper was off radar. Russell sees that the chopper was heading south and figures that the destination is Mexico. However, he knows the chopper would need refueling before reaching the border. Henry interrupts with some information about the blood pools in the desert. The big pool was Frank's; however, the smaller pool belongs to a female identified as a Tiffany Bamford, who has ties to the gang. She's been checked in to Desert Palm Hospital.

In the hospital, Tiffany tells Nick that the gang used her in place of Samantha, making Frank think they killed her before they shot him and left him for dead. They hit Tiffany over the head and shot the ground next to her body to create the illusion. Nick asks Tiffany for the names of those responsible, but before she can answer, a gang member arrives in the doorway and stares her down. Now scared, Tiffany tells Nick to leave.

Russell sits down with Ecklie and wonders if Samantha is still alive. He believes that if they can find her and let Frank know that she's still alive, they might convince him to let the hostages go. However, they're in the dark as to Samantha's whereabouts. In the chopper, Morgan bonds with Frank, telling him about her issues with her own father. Morgan is just about to get Frank to give up his gun, but the paramedic awakens and attacks Frank. A tussle between the two results in the paramedic being shot in the abdomen.

Russell and Ecklie are surprised when Samantha voluntarily shows up at the station after seeing the news about her father on television. Samantha insists that she and her father aren't that close, and that she's more interested in the well-being of the hostages. The police send out a repeating message over the radio, telling Frank that his daughter is alive and wants to speak to him. Frank eventually responds, and Samantha tells her father that she’s fine. She starts to tell a story, but then she quickly yells for him to head to the “wishing well” because she’s sending someone to help him escape. They police drag her away, but the message has already been sent. Frank orders the pilot to change course again, but they’re almost out of fuel.

In the lab's layout room, Russell has Catherine and Sara work on who Samantha might have sent out to meet her father. They're tasked with checking Samantha's recent call history. Greg asks whether they can just let Frank go for the safety of everyone else on board, especially Morgan. Russell rejects this idea and replies that Samantha hates her father and is likely setting him up. Nick and Sara find surveillance of Samantha being dropped off earlier at the police station. The vehicle is a Porsche Cayenne, and Alexander is the driver. Greg sees the video and confirms that Samantha is setting her father up to get killed. Greg irately confronts Samantha, who says that the Mad-10s are her family and that Frank is going to pay for killing two of them.

Needing to figure out what the "wishing well" refers to, Catherine and Russell get Frank's personal belongings and search through pictures. They find one of Frank and Samantha in front of a wishing well at an old Wild West theme park. In the chopper, Frank spots the now-abandoned theme park and orders the pilot to land there. However, he spots some cars coming to greet them. Morgan orders the pilot to fly away, but a member of the Mad-10s starts firing at the chopper. The chopper is hit and ends up crashing, killing both the pilot and the paramedic.

Morgan sees that the Mad-10s are coming, runs into Frank, and tells him that they need to hide. The gang arrives and searches the area after not finding Frank amongst the wreckage. Before the gang can find Frank, the police arrive and engage them in a shootout. In their hideout, Frank realizes that Samantha set him up. He apologizes to Morgan, gives her his gun, and tells her to save herself. Morgan kills one final gang member before Brass finds her. She directs him to Frank, who has died from his injuries.

Morgan is rescued, much to the relief of her father and the team. On the way to the hospital, Russell tells her that she's going to be alright. Morgan's tough-girl exterior cracks and she begins to weep while Russell consoles her.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Marc Vann as Conrad Ecklie
  • Jon Wellner as Henry Andrews
  • Vanessa Marano as Samantha Cafferty
  • Johnny Messner as Frank Cafferty
  • Shelli Bergh as Officer Shelley
  • Heather Sossaman as Tiffany Bamford
  • Sinqua Walls as Paramedic Sam Rill
  • Chris William Martin as Pilot Kirk Harmon
  • Tony Nevada as Ranger
  • Mario Orozco as Badass
  • Kyle Marasciulo as Samuel Bautista
  • Artur Benson as Tommy Gun Guy (uncredited)
  • Omid Zader as Alexander Zadian (uncredited)

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 12
73 SecondsTell-Tale HeartsBittersweetMaid ManCSI DownFreaks & GeeksBrain DoeCrime After CrimeZipperedGenetic DisorderMs. Willows RegretsWillows in the WindTressed to KillSeeing RedStealing HomeCSI UnpluggedTrends with BenefitsMalice in WonderlandSplit DecisionsAltered StakesDune and GloomHomecoming