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Cyber
Corrupted Memory
CSI-Cyber-Corrupted-Memory
Season 2
Number 7
Writer Andrew Karlsruher,
Craig O'Neill,
Pam Veasey
Director Jerry Levine
Original Airdate November 15, 2015
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Corrupted Memory is the seventh episode in Season Two of CSI: Cyber.

Synopsis[]

When a woman is murdered during a video chat with her parents, Avery's skills are put to the test as she interviews the only other witness, an agoraphobic neighbor with PTSD from the incident.

Plot[]

Malware - software used to gather sensitive information or gain access to private computer systems.

In Tampa, Florida, Isabel Stanworth is brutally murdered during a video chat with her parents. Aside from them, there's one other witness: Isabel's agoraphobic neighbor, Tristan Jenkins. He seems to identify Isabel's killer as a man, but has trouble remembering anything about the perpetrator. Tristan was later found on the ground in the building's courtyard, where he had collapsed. He also told police then that a man killed Isabel.

A ski mask is found in a puddle outside the building; however, the water has washed away all DNA evidence. Isabel suffered several lacerations to her face and neck, as well as stab wounds to her chest and back. Defensive wounds on the arms indicate a struggle. First responders found the body posed, as Isabel's hands were on her thighs with the palms up. Her face was also covered, suggesting that the killer felt remorse and possibly knew Isabel.

Evidently, the killer slammed Isabel's laptop down after he killed her; however, the only fingerprints on the laptop's lid belong to her. Raven is tasked with recovering the laptop's hibernation file, which contains the programs and applications that were running when the lid was closed. She downloads the file and sends it to Krumitz and Nelson back in Washington.

Krumitz and Nelson see that not only was Isabel's laptop infested with malware, someone had remote access to her laptop camera. During the file download, Nelson grabs a screenshot of the masked assailant. Isabel's parents tell Russell that she had just moved to Tampa for a job, working with Neil Tomlin, a friend of the family. They recall seeing the killer approaching Isabel from behind and stabbing her repeatedly. When the deed was done, he shut the laptop, ending the video chat.

Tristan tells Avery that he saw a figure with a knife in his hand stabbing Isabel several times. He ran down to the courtyard to confront the killer, but confirms that the killer was wearing a mask. The mask was removed as the killer fled, but Tristan can't remember what his face looked like. Avery tries getting Tristan to close his eyes and visualize some defining characteristics of the killer's face, but he still claims to not remember anything. She privately tells Elijah that Tristan definitely saw something; however, he's suffering from PTSD and repressed memories as a result of witnessing Isabel's murder. Her belief is that Tristan is telling the truth, but there's definitely not something he's telling the police.

Avery tells Tristan that the way Isabel's body was posed suggests that the killer knew her personally. She accesses Isabel's FriendAgenda page and focuses on the men closest to her. Tristan identifies them: Ethan, her boyfriend; Neil, her boss; Zach, her cousin; and Larry, the building's superintendent. He doesn't recognize any of them as the killer and begins to have a panic attack. Avery encourages him, telling him that once they can access his memories, this will all be over.

Krumitz is able to get a serial number from one of the devices that put malware on Isabel's laptop; however, it doesn't match any of the serial numbers in the apartment. USB logs show that Isabel used the same flash drive for four months, meaning that someone didn't slip in an infected one in at any point. Nelson soon discovers which device loaded malware onto Isabel's laptop—a sex toy found hidden in the back of her nightstand drawer.

The toy contains technology that allows couples in long-distance relationships to share all the sensations of sex in real time, no matter how far apart they may be. Isabel was apparently using the toy to still connect with her boyfriend Ethan after she moved from New York to Tampa. Raven sees that the Wi-Fi on the devices log of a ton of information during "partner plays," including the number of devices linked. Curiously, logs show that there were three devices connected, and this third device came online every time Isabel and Ethan did the deed. The location of the third device is unknown, but it's determined that it was another sex toy. It received all of the outgoing data from Isabel and sent its own data back to her toy, allowing the third party remote participation. Avery concludes that this was cyber rape that escalated; their target was initially aroused by the online play, but he soon had an appetite for real-world contact.

Ethan is eliminated as a suspect, as he has an alibi for the time of Isabel's murder. Russell focuses in on the photo of the murder and sees blood in the killer's mouth, which is arterial spray. Noting that one's first instinct would be to spit out blood, the thought is that the killer's DNA may have been left behind at the scene. Sure enough, Raven is able to find some saliva and has it sent back to the lab for processing.

Back in Washington, Krumitz buys an identical sex toy from an adult store to use as a comparison. He discovers that it has the same malware on it that Isabel's toy had despite the fact that they were purchased hundreds of miles apart from each other. The conclusion is that this was supply-chain injection, meaning the target compromised the devices where they were built. Isabel's toy was infected before she even opened the box.

Avery gets Tristan to open up and talk about his family in order to get a psychological read on him. He also mentions how much he and Isabel had in common, including having the same tastes in movies and Chinese food. During the conversation, Tristan refers to Isabel's parents by their first names despite the fact they've never met him. This strikes Avery as odd. Tristan then becomes a little agitated, mentioning that Isabel had no reason to ever mention his name since she was in a long-distance relationship with Ethan.

The man who hacked into the sex toys is arrested at the distribution warehouse; however, he's not guilty of murder. When Krumitz and Nelson go to eliminate the toy's source code from the intrusion, they uncover something much bigger. Someone hacked into Isabel's video chat program, WeDial; however, the intrusion wasn't on her computer, it was on the WeDial network itself. The target can intrude on anyone's video chat around the world.

It's discovered that the target bundled his malware with a video chat software update; whoever installed the update was instantly violated by the target and knew nothing about it. Anytime someone started a video chat, their conversations were redirected to the target's computer, allowing him to eavesdrop. Avery labels the target as a cyber voyeur who became obsessed with Isabel after watching her on his computer. As to why Isabel's body was posed despite the target not knowing her personally, Avery guesses that after hours of spying on Isabel, the target felt like he knew her. It seems that it was just a coincidence that Isabel was being hacked through two different devices.

With no digital dust found on the WeDial network, Krumitz comes up with an idea. He infects a laptop with the malware and has Nelson start a video chat with Raven; Nelson's side will be muted to mask what they're trying to do. The chat is intercepted by the target's computer, giving the team his IP address. However, it's soon found that the target is rolling his IP address, making it appear in different areas of the world. The team needs to find another way to identify their target.

Nelson points out that despite this hiccup, the target's computer does exist somewhere in the world and that it's likely connected to Wi-Fi. He gets the idea to embed a Wi-Fi sniffing program hidden in another video chat; it's purpose is to identify and locate all Wi-Fi signals in the area that aren't hidden. The locations of these networks will then be cross-referenced, allowing the team to find the unfindable computer. Krumitz gathers his underlings and has them flag the physical locations the target's computer has connected with. One connected network is named "Izzy's Crib," which is the name of Isabel's home network. This would mean that the target and Isabel are neighbors; they also share the same MAC addresses and Internet providers. The Wi-Fi's signal strength allows the team to triangulate the exact location of the target's computer, and it's found that it belongs to Tristan Jenkins.

Avery meets with Tristan again and plays him the 911 call he made during Isabel's murder. He becomes increasingly agitated, seemingly arguing with himself and repeating that he never should've come to the police station. Avery allows him to use the restroom upon his request. All the while, Krumitz has been trying to contact both Avery and Russell, but neither has picked up. He finally gets in contact with Raven, informing her that Tristan is their target and is the one responsible for the WeDial intrusion. Raven relays this to Avery, and a SWAT team storms the restroom. However, they're too late; Tristan has disappeared.

Avery and Elijah search Tristan's apartment, which just happens have a direct view of Isabel's apartment from across the courtyard. The apartment is filled with computer and television monitors. Avery realizes that everything Tristan had mentioned about his friendship with Isabel he learned through eavesdropping on her WeDial video chats. His mentions of movie nights and Chinese food all happened when Isabel was chatting with someone else. Avery compares this to a cyber version of the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Rear Window. She believes that Tristan and Isabel never even met in the real world and that his PTSD from the murder masked a more serious disorder: Technology Facilitative Social Distortion. Tristan lived his whole life in the apartment and soon became completely dependent on the technology that provided him with everything he needed. When Isabel moved into the apartment across the courtyard, Tristan became obsessed and used his WeDial exploit to find her and eavesdrop on her. As his obsession grew, he overcame his self-imposed isolation and killed Isabel. Avery concludes that Tristan didn't collapse because he witnessed a murder, he was actually overwhelmed by sensory overload when he left his apartment and committed murder.

A test of the killer's saliva shows that the DNA doesn't exist in any law enforcement database. This would seem to make sense, as Tristan never really set foot outside his apartment to commit any crimes. A toothbrush is taken from the apartment to use as a comparison sample. Elijah notes that with at least ten monitors set up in the apartment, Tristan was likely watching more people than just Isabel.

Raven goes through Tristan's laptop and uncovers eight terabytes worth of recordings that translate to over 100 hours of video chats. From the saved videos, Avery determines that Tristan saw the people in them as his actual family, which is why she had deduced he was telling the truth earlier when he had mentioned them—Tristan had believed so much in his delusion that he thought he was telling the truth.

DNA from Tristan's toothbrush isn't a match to the saliva at the scene, ruling him out as a suspect in Isabel's murder. Avery amends her earlier theory, believing now that Tristan saw Isabel's killer on video while he was eavesdropping on her WeDial session. He did everything he could to get her help without leaving the apartment, which included calling 911. When he realized the police weren't going to get there in time, he overcame his fears and stepped outside to help. Avery believes that the last time she spoke with Tristan, he may have recalled the killer's face. Her fear is that Tristan has set out to exact revenge, and he's soon seen stuffing a gun into his pocket and approaching his target.

Raven does further digging into Isabel's laptop and finds a deleted video journal entry. In it, she said that she was going to go to the police to report a sexual assault; however, she didn't identify the person responsible or where the assault took place. This would be motive for her murder, as whoever this person is would be scared of getting turned in.

Russell analyzes the video of Isabel's murder again and zeroes in on a bracelet the killer was wearing; the bracelet has an infinity symbol on it. He gets the idea to crop out all unique characteristics of the killer and write a script to search all FriendAgenda photos. There are 52 photos in the Tampa area that contain the bracelet; however, none of the people are friends with Isabel. Russell changes course and recalls that the DNA left behind at the crime scene revealed evidence of Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disease the killer had a 50% chance of inheriting. Of the 52 results on FriendAgenda, two have a parent that belongs to a support group on the site—and one of those people is recognized as the killer.

Tristan heads to Isabel's place of employment and runs into her parents. He draws his gun and aims it at Neil Tomlin, Isabel's boss. As Isabel's parents back away, Tristan reveals that he finally remembered the killer's face when the ski mask was removed. Avery, Elijah, and Raven arrive at the office building, but soon find that the elevators are down, the stairwells are chained off, and the elevator shaft itself won't open. While Raven attempts to hack the elevator and get in electronically, Avery realizes she can get through to Tristan the same he way he got through to Isabel—over the Internet.

Tristan keeps his gun pointed at Neil, repeating that Neil "took Isabel away from him." Avery connects to the building's Wi-Fi and appears on every computer monitor in the office. She convinces Tristan to drop the gun and keep living for his "family," as that's all Isabel would want. Tristan obliges and is arrested by Elijah, who has gained access to the building along with his SWAT team. Just then, a gunshot goes off; Isabel's father picked up the gun and shot Neil in the chest, killing him.

As he's escorted outside in handcuffs, Tristan tells Avery that he was the one who was supposed to kill Neil, not knowing that Isabel's parents would be there. Avery informs him that he's going to be brought up on charges, too—something he might not be fully able to comprehend. Before being taken away, he tells Avery that Isabel would've liked her.

Cast[]

Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Matt Lanter as Tristan Jenkins
  • Kathleen Early as Georgia Stevens
  • Arjay Smith as Jordan Nelson
  • Bruce Nozick as Gil Stevens
  • Marc Fajardo as CSI
  • V.J. Foster as Charlie Roth
  • Lak Rana as Neil Tomlin
  • Kimberly Whalen as Isabel Stanworth

See Also[]

CSI:Cyber Season 2
Why-FiHeart MeBrown Eyes, Blue EyesRed CroneHack E.R.Gone in 6 SecondsCorrupted MemoryPythoniWitnessShades of Grey404: Flight Not FoundGoing ViralThe Walking DeadFit-and-RunPython's Revenge5 Deadly SinsFlash SquadLegacy
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