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Caged
Caged.jpg
Season 2
Number 7
Writer Elizabeth Devine,
Carol Mendelsohn
Director Richard J. Lewis
Original Airdate November 8, 2001
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Previous Episode: Alter Boys
Next Episode: Slaves of Las Vegas

Caged is the seventh episode in season two of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

Grissom and Nick investigate the death of a book restorer who was found dead in a locked library cage. Her autistic co-worker turns out to be a very reliable eyewitness—and a potential suspect. Meanwhile, Catherine and Sara handle the case of a young woman who was killed when her car was hit by a train and appears to have been pushed in its way.

Plot

Victim: Megan Treadwell (deceased)

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

A woman drives frantically through empty streets and is alarmed when she hears the sound of a train whistle. She screeches to a halt at the grade crossing as the gates go down; however, her SUV soon starts inching forward despite her jamming on the brakes. The SUV creeps onto the tracks and is slammed by the oncoming train.

The deceased is identified as Megan Treadwell. Grissom examines the front of the train and finds a door handle wedged in it. The train collided with the passenger's side door, but why did Megan try to cross the tracks? Grissom gets a call from the sheriff instructing him to clear the train from the tracks, as the accident is holding up other train routes. Catherine is given two hours to resolve the issue, and Grissom puts Sara on the case to assist when he's called away to another scene.

As Catherine and Sara search the scene, they're greeted by a small dog. Sara checks the address on the collar and sees that the dog lived nearby. Meanwhile, Brass speaks with the train engineer, who says he only saw a car trying to beat the signal. The next thing he knew, the car was stopped in the middle of the tracks. When the questioning is done, Sara shows Brass the dog and confirms that it belonged to Megan.

The CSIs photograph the grade crossing, and Catherine comes across a piece of filament. The thought is that the filament is from the headlight on Megan's SUV. Sara, however, discovers that there are two distinct tread marks in the pavement—one going forwards and one going backwards. The darker composition of the tread marks by the tracks indicates that the tires were spinning in place.

When Catherine and Sara look over crunched SUV, they find that the filaments in the headlights are intact. Catherine spots paint transfer on the rear bumper and notes that the rear tires burned a lot of rubber. Meanwhile, Sara finds Megan's discharged cell phone on the floor by the driver's seat and sees that she had engaged the emergency brake. All of this suggests the involvement of a second vehicle, something the train engineer neglected to mention.

Sara discovers that there's no glass in the filament found at the scene. Both she and Catherine know that if someone is driving at night with their headlights on and got into an accident, broken glass would fuse to the filament. This would indicate that the mystery vehicle was driving with the headlights off. Combined with the black paint transfer from the rear bumper of Megan's SUV, it seems that someone didn't want to be seen. It would also explain why the engineer only saw one car. The only question is whether the incident was accidental or intentional.

Megan's phone is plugged into a charger and her last call to 911 is played. In the call, she frantically tells the operator that someone is following her. When Archie separates the track, Catherine and Sara can hear an engine revving. The thought is that Megan was flooring it with the emergency brake on, something that doesn't make sense. They're soon able to hear two distinct engines, one of which Archie identifies as a turbo engine.

Catherine and Sara go through Megan's personal belongings. Sara notes that Megan purchased a special brand of dog treats that are only available at one place in Vegas. An employee of the store recalls seeing an argument between Megan and a man, which occurred after Megan almost backed into him when he was walking through the parking lot. The story is corroborated by an employee of the neighboring coffee shop, who identifies the irate man as a Mr. Croft. An argument between Megan and Mr. Croft ensued, after which Megan left. Mr. Croft soon followed, peeling out of the parking lot.

Under interrogation, Mr. Croft claims that he sold his car; however, Brass soon locates it at a repair shop. The vehicle is a black Excursion with a diesel engine, a broken headlight, and silver paint transfer on the front bumper from Megan's SUV. Evidence suggests that the paint on the bumper is from sustained contact, not a fender bender. Catherine looks in the car and finds coffee spilled all over the dashboard along with a coffee cup on the floor—with a lipstick mark on the lid. When she rolls up the window, she finds that there's also coffee on the outside. The quick conclusion is that Megan threw her coffee at Mr. Croft after their earlier argument continued.

The coffee incident led to a high-speed pursuit, with Megan being the pursued. She briefly lost Mr. Croft, but he soon caught up to her at the grade crossing and pushed her onto the tracks. This would explain why she engaged the emergency brake. Now stalled on the tracks, Megan had trouble turning her car over, leading to her getting hit by the train—all while Mr. Croft watched from a few feet away. Catherine offers to call Brass and place Mr. Croft under arrest.

Victim: Veronica Bradley (deceased)

On the case: Gil Grissom, Nick Stokes, Ray O'Riley

At the Western State Historical Society, the police respond to a "burglary in progress" call. Upon arriving, they find a dead woman, Veronica Bradley, on the floor of a locked cage used to secure rare books. When the cage is finally cut open by the firemen, Grissom looks over the body. He spots foam around Veronica's mouth and notes the blue-gray color of her skin, which he believes could be from a blood disease. When Grissom starts taking photographs of the body, he's stopped by the society's librarian, Aaron Pratt, who doesn't want light ruining the rare books.

Grissom speaks with Aaron, who's able to remember the exact conversation he had with Veronica before she died. He also recalls that Veronica started to sweat, doubled over in pain, then started convulsing on the floor. Because the cage was locked and he didn't have a key, Aaron was unable to help her. When Nick arrives, he tells Grissom that Det. O'Riley believes Aaron is guilty because of his body language. However, Grissom replies that Aaron is a high-functioning autistic.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins labels the cause of death as cyanosis—her blood was unable to oxygenate her tissue, resulting in the skin's bluish hue. The doc found blood in her lungs, which rules out asphyxiation. There's also vomit in her throat and blood in her stool, indicating some sort of blood-borne disease. However, Grissom believes they're looking at a homicide.

As Nick processes the scene, he's confronted by Stanley Hunter, the curator. He berates Nick for damaging the priceless items in the cage with his dust and flashbulbs. The items are one of a kind, but Grissom arrives and informs him that the crime scene is one of a kind, as well. Grissom looks over the cage and finds a pen on the floor, just like Aaron had mentioned earlier. He tells Nick that they had a camera at the scene and that they need to get the "film" out of Aaron's head.

Stanley tells Grissom that the chemicals they work with are slightly basic, which neutralize the acidity of the old book pages. He explains that special collections are kept in the vault and that Veronica would work down there when restoring the books. Det. O'Riley alerts Grissom that Aaron was caught trying to sneak a copy of Othello out of the society. Aaron responds that Stanley breaks the rules all the time, including eating lunch at his desk and getting hot and heavy with Veronica during work hours. The librarian grows silent when asked if the couple knew they were being watched.

Doc Robbins confirms that Veronica was poisoned; however, Nick is unable to find anything probative in the chemicals the historical society uses to restore books. Grissom and Nick visit Aaron's home, where they find more books taken from the historical society. Aaron says that Veronica brought them over and says that the two of them were dating. This puzzles Grissom, only because Veronica seemed to be involved with Stanley. Aaron replies that Stanley treated him like a freak; however, he claims that Veronica loved him and treated him kindly. Nick calls Grissom to the bedroom, where a makeshift shrine to Rebecca has been made on the dresser. The shrine includes a strand of Veronica's hair and a black-and-white photograph of her. Nick believes Aaron may have killed Veronica out of jealousy. Grissom, who had earlier said that Aaron was incapable of deception, may have to change his tune.

Greg determines that the toxin that killed Veronica is ricin. Grissom relays the finding to Doc Robbins, who believes the biotoxin came in contact with Veronica's tongue, which would indicate that they're looking for a powder. Nick heads back to the historical society to bag anything that could've been used to hide the poison.

Grissom recalls that a book from Aaron's home contains information about ricin; Aaron's fingerprint just happens to be on that specific page. Under interrogation, Aaron claims that he doesn't touch the book anymore because "it doesn't feel right." He explains that the illustration used to be smooth; however, it now has a rougher texture. Upon discovering this, he says that he informed both Veronica and Stanley, who were once again having lunch together. However, Aaron recalls that this lunch was different: Veronica and Stanley fought, which led to Stanley arguing about his reputation and slapping her. After things calmed down, the two shared lunch, with Veronica curiously stopping Stanley from adding salt to his food. Nick goes back to the historical society and finds the salt shaker in a drawer in Stanley's office.

Stanley is interrogated and accused of forgery; since Veronica knew about this, she had to go. However, Stanley denies killing Veronica and reveals that she was actually the forger, something Aaron discovered. Back at the scene of the crime, Grissom has Aaron recall the evening's events; however, the focus is now on what occurred before Aaron stopped by to say goodnight. Aaron recalls seeing Veronica looking around, as if she was deciding something. While doing this, she bit the end of her pen.

Several uniball pens are taken from Veronica's house, as well as several pieces of forgery equipment. Most of the pens have been chewed on. Nick reveals that a castor bean was also found under her refrigerator; she was making ricin in her kitchen. During the process, some of it spilled onto one of the pens, directly leading to her death.

In his office, Grissom tells Aaron that Veronica removed the original illustrations from the books, replaced them with forgeries, and left the books at Aaron's house. She figured Aaron would never find out; however, he did, and he alerted Stanley. Veronica tried to save her reputation by killing Stanley, but she killed herself by accident, instead. Aaron laments the fact that he thought Veronica loved him, but is content with the fact that he wasn't the one who killed her.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Eric Szmanda as Greg Sanders
  • Robert David Hall as Dr. Al Robbins
  • Skip O'Brien as Detective Ray O'Riley
  • Archie Kao as Archie Johnson
  • Wayne Wilderson as Edwin
  • Currie Graham as Stanley Hunter
  • David Dunard as Train Engineer
  • John Duerler as Croft
  • Tsianina Joelson as Megan Treadwell
  • María Celedonio as Melanie
  • Michael A. Goorjian as Aaron Pratt
  • Faline England as Wendy
  • Nicole Cannon as Veronica Bradley
  • DC Ford as Officer (uncredited)

Episode Title

  • Caged refers to both cases in the episode. Veronica Bradley dies in a literal cage, which is used to protect rare books at the historical society. Megan Treadwell is trapped in her SUV with her dog while Dean Croft pushes them into the path of an oncoming train.

Music

  • Hell Above Water by Curve.

Notes

  • Gary Dourdan (Warrick) is credited but does not appear in the episode.
  • It is hinted that Grissom has Asperger's Syndrome (a form of autism), although his symptoms are smaller than Aaron Pratt's. This makes Grissom's fixation with insects (which led him to study entomology) and his solitary lifestyle easier to understand.

Trivia

  • This marks the first instance of Archie Kao appearing as a cyber technician for CSI.  However, the actor first appears in Chaos Theory as a security tech under a different name.  
  • This is the first episode where Warrick Brown doesn't appear. This is because this episode was filmed concurrently with Ellie, in which Warrick and Brass are featured heavily.[1]
  • The scenes at Western State Historical Society were filmed at the Philosophy Library in Las Vilas, California.[2]
  • Writer Elizabeth Devine used her personal experience with her son, Austin, when creating the character of Aaron Pratt. Austin is credited as Technical Advisor in this episode.[3] 

References

  1. Flaherty, M. & Marrinan, C. (2004). CSI: Crime scene investigation companion. New York, NY: Pocket Books.
  2. Flaherty, M. & Marrinan, C. (2004). CSI: Crime scene investigation companion. New York, NY: Pocket Books.
  3. Flaherty, M. & Marrinan, C. (2004). CSI: Crime scene investigation companion. New York, NY: Pocket Books.


See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 2
BurkedChaos TheoryOverloadBully for YouScuba Doobie-DooAlter BoysCagedSlaves of Las VegasAnd Then There Were NoneEllieOrgan GrinderYou've Got MaleIdentity CrisisThe FingerBurden of ProofPrimum Non NocereFelonious MonkChasing The BusStalkerCats in the CradleAnatomy of a LyeCross JurisdictionsThe Hunger Artist
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