City of the Dolls
City of the Dolls
Season 2
Number 9
Writer Pam Veasey
Director Norberto Barba
Original Airdate November 23, 2005
Previous Episode: Bad Beat
Next Episode: Jamalot

City of the Dolls is the ninth episode in Season Two of CSI: NY.


When the body of a man is discovered buried among a pile of detached doll parts, Mac, Lindsay, Det. Maka and Danny are called to one of their most bizarre crime scenes yet. The team must piece together the clues and doll parts to discover who murdered the store's owner. Meanwhile, a beautiful waitress is found dead in a studio apartment recently bestowed to her by one of her patrons.


Two teens pelt cars with snowballs and flee when the driver of a truck gives chase. One of the teens stumbles into a doll hospital and over the body of Russell McCulley, the owner. When Danny and Mac arrive, Danny notes that an artery in McCulley's hand is sliced and Mac deduces the man died of shock before he bled out. In his other hand McCulley is holding onto a doll tightly that his assistant identifies as Secret Sophie. The assistant tells Danny and Detective Maka that McCulley filed a complaint with World Send, the company that delivered the dolls to be fixed. Mac notes that a shipment came in the night before. Across town, Stella and Hawkes are in the apartment of an extremely beautiful young woman named Lauren Redgrave who was found dead in her bed by her pregnant neighbor, Carolyn Straker. Stella and Hawkes find various pills and vitamins around her apartment as well as a to do list for the next day, which rules out suicide. Hawkes discovers that her beautiful blonde hair is actually a wig. Carolyn's husband, Dale, recalls hearing Lauren argue with a woman the evening before.

Mac tracks down Rhonda Chavez, who delivered the World Send packages the evening before. She admits to fighting with Russell about the deliveries but said when she left he was alive. Rhonda tells Mac she parked her truck in the back alley and only used the back entrance. She says she was mad, but not mad enough to kill him. One of Lauren Redgrave's neighbors, Harry Ellis, corners Flack and asks him when Lauren's apartment will be on the market. The disgusted detective asks Ellis if he heard anything the night before, but Ellis claims to have tuned it out. Dr. Hammerback informs Stella and Hawkes that Lauren had terminal stomach cancer, but that that wasn't what killed her—she died of respiratory failure, suggesting she may have been poisoned. Stella is convinced it wasn't suicide. In the lab, Mac works on reassembling a bunch of shattered porcelain shards while Danny and Lindsay take Secret Sophie apart. The pieces form a doll arm and match up with a shard Danny found in Russell's hand, making the doll arm the murder weapon. Danny recovers a print from the arm.

Stella goes over a black glove found at Lauren's apartment and then turns to a Styrofoam cup with a logo on it: Haverly Café. Lauren was employed at the café but had called in sick that day and a coworker, Darcy, had brought her soup. Darcy tells Stella and Flack that Lauren had freaked out and accused Darcy of poisoning her, citing toxins in the Styrofoam and hormones in the soup. Unable to reason with Lauren, Darcy left, dropping her glove in the process. Dr. Hammerback tells Hawkes that Lauren died of arsenic poisoning, so Stella and Hawkes head back to her apartment to find out the source. Stella finds tea bags with the staples removed and replaced and takes them back to the lab. Stella finds traces of arsenic and meteor dust in the tea and fears that perhaps Lauren wasn't the only victim of the teabag poisoning.

Danny and Lindsay track down Monica Drake, whose daughter Abby owns Secret Sophie. Monica, a high school teacher, tells the CSIs the Sophie's voice box was broken so she brought it into McCulley's shop. McCulley had called to say the doll was fixed but she hadn't yet picked it up. Back at the lab, Lindsay plays back Sophie's 'secret' and hears Abby's voice describing something she witnessed: two people kissing, naked. Mac hears a bell in the background and posits that maybe Abby was witnessing something at her school. Lindsay asks Abby about the secret, but Abby refuses to tell her. Detective Flack conducts an interrogation of his own: the poisoned tea in Lauren's apartment was from the grocery store Harry Ellis owns. Ellis admits he was angry when the previous owner of Lauren's condo left his condo to the beautiful Lauren, who was his favorite waitress, but denies killing her. Flack is skeptical—Harry wanted to buy the condo eight months ago and is apparently still interested.

Mac, Danny and Lindsay puzzle over their case; Danny has found street salt on the doll's clothes, but he can't identify the print on the doll's arm. Stella spots him puzzling over it and suggests he looks at the substance that made the print rather than the print itself. He takes her advice and is able to identify the substance as an element used in jewelry making, leading him back to Monica Drake, who has used the technique in her class. When Danny and Lindsay question her, she says she was fidgeting with a doll arm on the counter after dropping Sophie off, triggering Lindsay's suspicions, because neither CSI mentioned the print was found on a doll arm. Monica claims she was at a PTA dinner the night of Russell's murder, but Lindsay finds a doll eye in her welcome mat and knows Monica is hiding something. Danny matches blood on the eye to McCulley, but Mac says Monica's alibi checks out. Danny and Lindsay go over Monica's apartment and Danny finds evidence of sexual activity in Monica's bed, while Lindsay finds a chalky white powder. Neither CSI finds any blood. They turn back to pictures of the crime scene itself and Mac spots an open window on the second floor.

Hawkes has found the key to the Lauren Redgrave case: the other substance in the tea bags is rosin, used to keep up violin bows and strings. Stella has Dale Straker, who is a violinist, brought in. She tells him she knows he had plans to use Lauren's apartment as a nursery: it was was he who poisoned Lauren's tea, and Lauren's 'to do' list is what clinched it: on the list was an entry: 'Give Dale $7.95'—the exact price of the tea. Mac and Danny return to the doll hospital with Rhonda, who shows them where she parked her truck. They realize someone must have climbed on top of the truck while Rhonda was making her delivery to get into the doll hospital. Mac finds salt on the ledge of the window as well as white shavings. Danny recalls seeing a student, Luke Fisher, sporting a cast and carrying something for Monica. Mac interrogates Luke: he and Monica Drake were having an affair, and it was them that Abby spotted and told her doll about. Monica sent Luke to steal the doll back, but Russell fought him for it and Luke sliced his hand. After he hurt Russell, Luke fled without the doll and went to Monica's apartment. Danny lays out the evidence for Monica, telling her that he knows Russell tipped her off by calling her about the secret he heard once he fixed the doll's voice box. Danny tells her the irony is that no one would have ever known that Abby was talking about her and Luke—it was only her guilty conscious that made her paranoid. She asks him if it makes any difference that she loves Luke, a question Danny doesn't deign to answer.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Robert Joy as Dr. Sid Hammerback
  • Kelly Hu as Det. Kaila Maka
  • Leila Arcieri as Darcy Sullivan
  • Kate Norby as Monica Drake
  • Victor McCay as Harry Ellis
  • Brian Gant as Dale Straker
  • Aimee Garcia as Rhonda Chavez
  • Stephanie Marie Baker as Carolyn Straker
  • Helena Mattsson as Lauren Redgrave
  • Owen Beckman as Luke Fisher
  • Kristina Anapau as Virginia Felton
  • Madison Davenporte as Abby Drake
  • Mark Mahoney as Arvin Dooley
  • Mitchell Fink as Russell McCulley
  • Zack Stewart as Lou Pugletti

See Also[]

CSI:NY Season 2
Summer in the CityGrand Murder at Central StationZoo YorkCorporate WarriorsDancing with the FishesYoungbloodManhattan ManhuntBad BeatCity of the DollsJamalotTrappedWastedRiskStuck On YouFare GameCool HunterNecrophilia AmericanaLive or Let DieSuper MenRun Silent, Run DeepAll AccessStealing HomeHeroesCharge of this Post