Crow's Feet
Season 5
Number 4
Writer Josh Berman
Director Richard J. Lewis
Original Airdate October 21, 2004
Previous Episode: Harvest
Next Episode: Swap Meet

Crow's Feet is the fourth episode in Season Five of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


When two apparently unrelated women die under the same circumstances, Catherine and Nick discover that both women underwent various cosmetic procedures at a local spa. Meanwhile, Greg, Grissom and Sara investigate when a man is found dead in a house fumed for termites.


Victims: Julie Stern and (later) Renita Loakes (both deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Nick Stokes

Doc Robbins, dressed in a Hazmat suit, enters a hotel room to find a dead female body on the bed. The body is covered in red blotches; David Phillips, who was first on the scene, suspected Ebola and called it in. While Det. Vartann and a housekeeper fear they've come into contact with the disease, Doc Robbins is able to conclude that it's a false alarm.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins identifies the victim as Julie Stern and tells Catherine that Julie had 42 distinct laser burns on her body. Catherine says that the victim had recently booked the Safari Suite at the hotel, a place women go to heal after undergoing a secret cosmetic procedure. Doc Robbins rules out the notion that the procedure led to Julie's death; her histamine levels are normal and there are no post-op infections. He points out that she does have mees lines on her fingernails consistent with heavy metal poisoning. Doc Robbins adds that the victim had 10 cc's of urine in her system, with evidence showing that she drank it herself voluntarily.

Catherine and Nick question Julie's doctor, Tony Malaga. Dr. Malaga confirms that Julie was in his care and that he had worked on her liver spots three days earlier. He visited her a day ago for a post-op check and to apply ointment to the burns. Dr. Malaga also confirms that he lasered all of the spots in one sitting to minimize the recovery time. Due to doctor-patient confidentiality, the doctor refuses to hand over a copy of Julie's medical records; the CSIs will need a court order to do so. All of the time he's being questioned, Dr. Malaga pays close attention to Catherine, which draws ire from Nick.

Nick informs Catherine that Julie suffered from arsenic poisoning and that the poisoning began about three months earlier. Catherine adds that in most poisoning cases, the killer is usually a relative because they have the most access to the victim. None of the ingestibles found at Julie's home were contaminated. They interrogate Julie's only child, Kevin, who owns a vineyard. Kevin tells them that the last time he saw his mother was three months ago and that she left the vineyard early because she felt sick. He adds that his mother felt uncomfortable around her grandson because it made her feel old; this would help explain the numerous medical procedures. When asked why he recently maxed out three credit cards, Kevin explains that his vines had contracted black rot, which is an expensive problem to eradicate. Kevin admits that he and his mother didn't get along, saying that she would spend money on designer clothes and plastic surgery, but wouldn't lend him a dime. He confirms that he uses an organic pesticide on his grapevines, which Catherine requests a sample of. Catherine talks to lab tech Travis Watson, who tells her that, although arsenic is the active ingredient in Kevin's pesticides, it's not the source of the poisoning—it's chemically different than the arsenic ingested by Julie. However, Travis says the pesticides Kevin uses were actually outlawed by the EPA years ago and that he's actually poisoning the soil.

Doc Robbins has another victim on his table, 38-year-old Renita Loakes. During the autopsy, he noticed mees lines on Renita's fingernails and, after painting her face Toluidine Blue, also found evidence of an acupuncture facial used to reduce the signs of aging. Catherine and Nick already see the similarities to Julie's case, and Doc Robbins adds that Renita also had urine in her stomach. This is more than a coincidence. In Renita's apartment, Catherine and Nick find a bunch of creams and potions, as well as anti-aging magazines and pamphlets. In the bathroom, Nick finds a bedpan and a wine glass with some urine in it. Evidence points to Renita doing her business and then ingesting it immediately afterwards.

David Phillips drops Renita's purse off with Catherine and Nick. One of the items in her purse is a spray that instructs the user to spray under their tongue twice per day. The second ingredient in the spray is arsenicum and there's a label on the bottle to contact Dr. Malaga for refills. Catherine and Nick visit Dr. Malaga; while they're waiting for him, Catherine finds a pamphlet touting urine therapy. Dr. Malaga tells them that, in extremely small doses, arsenic fights premature aging by improving skin elasticity. He also assures them that even if Julie and Renita drank a whole case of the spray, the arsenic content wouldn't be lethal. As the CSIs sit in his office, Dr. Malaga tells an increasingly uncomfortable Catherine that he considers aging a disease and will do anything to fight it. Catherine responds by handing him a warrant for Julie and Renita's medical information.

In the lab, Nick reads the file results, which show that Julie and Renita weren't poisoned with arsenic. Catherine and Nick look at the vials from the decedents' blood and notice that the red blood cells haven't separated from the serum, despite the fact that the samples were taken days ago. Nick says that this means the blood cells have lysed, or popped. If a sufficient number of red blood cells lyse inside the body, the person dies. Catherine and Nick compare the medical records of Julie and Renita and find that both women underwent hydrogen peroxide therapy, where a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide is injected directly into the vein, bathing the red blood cells in oxygen and reversing the signs of aging.

They perform an experiment and find that red blood cells lyse when a 30% solution of hydrogen peroxide is added, ten times the prescribed dose—the death was in the decimal. Catherine visits Dr. Malaga and his lawyer, filling them in on what she and Nick discovered. Dr. Malaga's lawyer says that the results point to an unfortunate accident and that no A.D.A. would prosecute the doctor based on this; furthermore, the procedures were elective. The doctor adds that all procedures carry a risk. Catherine tells Dr. Malaga that she will contact the victims' families and that he should be expecting a civil suit.

Victim: Elliot Beckman (deceased)

On the case: Gil Grissom, Greg Sanders, Sara Sidle, Jim Brass

Greg, Grissom and Sara meet Brass at the residence of Elliot Beckman. Elliot's house had recently been tented for fumigation; however, when the exterminators came to clear the house, they found Elliot's body. In the house, Greg finds a pair of eyeglasses on the floor next to some vomit and several dead bugs. Sara photographs the body and sees a bruise on Elliot's cheek; meanwhile, in another room, Greg finds some bird feathers and bags them as evidence. Outside, Brass talks to two exterminators who tell him that the house was wrapped up tight and clamshell locks were placed on the doors to prevent burglaries.

Greg and Sara photograph the outside of the tented house. Here, Greg finds evidence that the tent was tampered with; behind the tent is an open window. The window isn't open very much, and Sara is able to quickly figure out that the rope in the old window has snapped, preventing it from opening very far. Greg finds a trail of sand leading from the window to the neighbor's house, which is odd since Elliot was unable to escape the house. They go to talk to the neighbor, Rory Kendell, who answers the door in the middle of a coughing fit. Rory claims that he has had the flu, but Sara requests a urine sample to see if Rory inhaled some toxic gas from next door.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins tells Sara that Elliot actually drowned—after the termite fumigate entered his system, the lungs filled with fluid. The cause of death is officially pulmonary edema and cardiac arrest, just like a drowning victim. Sara wonders about the bruise on Elliot's cheek, and the doc believes that the injury came from a blunt force trauma rather than a fall. Later, in the lab, Sara finds that the prints recovered from the clamps by the open window belong to Elliot's other neighbor, Zach Alfano. She tells Greg that Zach had been admitted to the hospital due to shortness of breath and vomiting. In the hospital, Brass questions Zach. Zach tells him that he came back from a run and heard Elliot yelling for help. He entered the tented house to try to save Elliot, but he choked on the gas and had to leave. Zach then ran over to Rory's house before vomiting in the bushes and passing out.

Greg and Sara revisit the crime scene. Greg pulls a fingerprint off of Rory's doorbell that matches Zach, and he also finds vomit in the bushes, corroborating Zach's story. In Elliot's house, Sara is fixated on the crumpled up rug in the living room. She tells Greg that the rug is facing the window, which also backs up Zach's account. However, she wonders why Rory didn't answer the door when Zach rang the doorbell, as he claims he didn't leave the house in the last two days. In the station interrogation room, Sara informs Rory that his urine analysis came back positive for the fumigate used in Elliot's house. Rory confirms that he had filed five noise complaints against Elliot in the past year and had assaulted him during an argument. However, he swears he's innocent of murder.

The ornithological database identifies the feathers Greg collected as belonging to a hyacinth macaw. Elsewhere in the lab, Sara walks in on Grissom making two smoke bombs. They take the smoke bombs to Elliot's house and set them off. Next door at Rory's, Greg discovers that the smoke is entering Rory's house through an uncapped electrical conduit. Back at Elliot's, Sara finds a similar opening in the wall behind one of the speakers, which explains why Rory was always complaining that Elliot's music was too loud. Grissom concludes that, at one time, the two houses were on the same electrical meter. Fumigant was found in Rory's urine despite his claims that he never left his house; Grissom's experiment seems to have proven that Rory was telling the truth instead of disproving it. Outside, Grissom speaks with the two exterminators again. They tell Grissom that Elliot was staying at the local Four Aces Motel; one of the exterminators gave Elliot and his bird a lift there.

Brass relays to Greg and Sara that the manager of the Four Aces told him that Elliot tried to check into the motel with his bird; however, he was turned away because the bird needed to be in a cage. Elliot went home to retrieve the cage, but the manager never saw Elliot or the bird again. Greg and Sara go back to Elliot's house looking for the bird. In the kitchen, they find a swarm of flies flying around. Sara checks the cupboard and finds a carcass belonging to a rat, leaving the bird still unaccounted for. Grissom visits the only exotic bird store in Vegas looking for the bird. He mentions the bird to the owner and the owner immediately knows it belonged to Elliot. Grissom informs him that Elliot died three days earlier and shows him a photo of the bird's feathers. The owner is concerned, telling Grissom that macaws only molt one tail feather at a time. Since there are three feathers in the photo, this indicates that somebody yanked the feathers from the bird's body.

In the lab, Grissom is able to recover a print from one of the feathers; the print belongs to Ted Martin, one of the exterminators. Grissom, Sara and Brass pay a visit to Ted's apartment and search the premises. Sara finds drawers filled with different types of jewelry. As he looks through the apartment, Grissom hears the bird screech and he finds it in a cage in the bathroom. A flashback shows Ted rifling through Elliot's personal effects when Elliot came home with the bird to retrieve a cage. Elliot caught Ted in the act and went to call the police. Ted punched Elliot in the face, knocking him out. After retrieving the bird and putting it in a cage, Ted left and pumped the house full of gas, killing Elliot despite his neighbor's best efforts to save him.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Alex Carter as Detective Louis Vartann
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Larry Sullivan as Officer Akers
  • James Patrick Stuart as Adam Matthews
  • David Anders as Travis Watson
  • Steven Brand as Dr. Tony Malaga
  • Brad Hunt as Rory Kendell
  • Larry Joshua as Zach Alfano
  • AJ Buckley as Ted Martin
  • Eyal Podell as Kevin Stern
  • Corey Mendell Parker as Nate Allen
  • David Wells as Elliot Beckman


  • Despite appearing in the opening credits, Gary Dourdan (Warrick) does not appear in the episode.


David (appears in the doorway holding a purse): Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt... barge in.
Nick: No, no, it's all right, Super Dave. Nice purse.


  • A.J. Buckley played Ted Martin in this episode. He would later play lab technician Adam Ross in CSI: NY.
  • Doc Robbins shows Catherine a diagram from an old Chinese book claiming it shows the acupuncture points on the face. However, the diagram is from a book on physiognomy, on the significance of moles on the face. Even if it shows the acupuncture points, no physician would hit them all at once, or it would be the same as taking every medicine available to achieve a single effect.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 5
Viva Las VegasDown the DrainHarvestCrow's FeetSwap MeetWhat's Eating Gilbert Grissom?FormalitiesCh-Ch-ChangesMea CulpaNo Humans InvolvedWho Shot Sherlock?SnakesNesting DollsUnbearableKing BabyBig MiddleCompulsionSpark of Life4 x 4Hollywood BrassCommittedWeeping WillowsIcedGrave Danger, Part 1Grave Danger, Part 2