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Dead Ringer
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Season 4
Number 20
Writer Elizabeth Devine
Director Kenneth Fink
Original Airdate April 29, 2004
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Previous Episode: Bad Words
Next Episode: Turn of the Screws

Dead Ringer is the twentieth episode in season four of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

The CSIs have to drop out off the annual 120-mile 24-hour Marathon Baker to Vegas relay race when Grissom finds a dead contestant next to the track. Meanwhile, Sara and Warrick investigate what appears to be a murder-suicide when a male and a female cop are found dead in a hotel room.

Plot

Victim: Tim Coleman (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Gil Grissom, Nick Stokes, Jim Brass

The CSI team, sans Grissom who is driving the poll car, is running the Law Enforcement Desert Relay. As he is driving alongside Catherine, Grissom spots a flashing light in the distance and drives to it. Catherine eventually catches up to Grissom and berates him for throwing away all of the training they went through for the last few months. However, Grissom has found a dead body; it is another runner whose flasher Grissom saw from the road. The victim has a fresh cut on his forehead and his corneas have glazed over; Grissom notes that it usually takes days for that to happen to the eyes. Catherine looks at the victim's jacket and sees that he is from the L.A. County Police Department Special Enforcement Squad (SES). The victim has cuts on his knuckles that also appear to be recent. Grissom sees a red fiber barely attached to the victim and collects it without any gloves before it blows away.

It is now daytime. A strong wind blows, erasing the footprint Catherine was trying to take a photograph of for evidence. Grissom spots what looks like blood on a nearby rock and bags it. The only thing found on the body is an ATM receipt, which David Phillips bags and hands to Greg, who has just finished running. There is no ID or cash on the victim. Meanwhile, Brass interviews Lt. Mendez, who was teammates with the victim. Lt. Mendez identifies the victim as Tim Coleman, who had only been part of the SES for two months.

In the morgue, Doc Robbins tells Grissom that the victim was in excellent physical condition and the head would may not necessarily be part of what killed him. There are no obvious indicators of cause of death, so Doc Robbins goes to his default - cardiac arrest. Grissom is surprised that a physically fit 25-year old could die from cardiac arrest, but Doc Robbins shows him the liver, which is unusually dry. Paired with dark brown urine, the cause of death could be dehydration. They guess that the race wasn't the only thing Tim did in Vegas; a heavy dose of partying mixed with the run could have led to his demise.

Catherine stops Grissom in the hallway and informs him that the toxicology report came back on Tim. He had a very high, but not lethal, dose of blood pressure medication called furosemide in his system. Grissom notes that the drug is a diuretic, which could help explain the dehydration. Catherine points out that the drug can cause dizziness, confusion, blurred vision, and restlessness - all of which could explain why Tim ended up where he did. Grissom wonders how Tim got furosemide in his system in the first place.

Catherine heads back to the race's finish line, where she finds Lt. Mendez getting in a verbal altercation with Will Warshall, an opposing runner. She collects Tim's bag to bring it back to the lab to be processed. Meanwhile, in the lab, Greg stops Nick and tells him that he ran Tim's ATM card on a hunch and found that he made a $300 withdrawal....nine hours after he died. They pull up the ATM's surveillance video and see that the person making the withdrawal is certainly not Tim. Nick notices that the thief is wearing a shirt from Fast 'n Fresh Burgers, the burger joint that is right across the street from the ATM.

The red fiber Grissom pulled from Tim's jacket is placed under a microscope. David Hodges tells him that the fiber is a mercerized cotton - cotton fibers are placed in a caustic solution, splitting the fibers apart and providing an increased surface area to absorb a dye. The cotton then becomes exponentially stronger. Hodges says that this type of thread is used in machine quilting and embroidery; Grissom points out that sports uniforms would use this type of material.

This time, it's Grissom visiting the race's finish line, where a member of the LAPD SWAT team barely defeats a member of the SES. As Grissom looks on, he sees that the winner has a black eye and notices a piece of red fiber ripped from the runner's jacket. Grissom and Brass question the runner, who says that Tim was a new runner, but was extremely cocky. He admits that the two got in a verbal altercation and Tim punched him the face. Since the runner was SWAT, he quickly subdued him without throwing a punch in retaliation. Grissom asks to take the runner's jacket and the runner complies. He closely looks over the jacket's frayed embroidery.

Nick questions Clyde Grimes, the Fast 'n Fresh employee. He admits to using the ATM card, but did not know it was from a dead cop. Meanwhile, Catherine and Grissom go through Tim's gym bag, which contains a protein bar wrapper, an empty water bottle, a banana peel, and vitamins, among other things. Grissom asks Catherine what the quickest way to poison someone is; she replies that it's injection. Since there were no injection sites on Tim's body, her second guess is ingestion. Grissom tests the empty water bottle, while Catherine tests the vitamins. They find that the empty water bottle contained trace amounts of furosemide.

There is a massive afterparty happening at the Safari Inn Hotel for all race participants. Catherine and Brass talk to Will Warshall, who was seen earlier arguing with Lt. Mendez. Will is the L.A. County team medic, which means he was in charge of making sure all of his teammates were well hydrated. Brass brings up the fact that Will is currently #1 on the SES's transfer list, where he was two months prior when Tim was transferred instead. Will complains that he was at the top of the list for six months; however, he was bypassed because Tim was a better runner and SES wanted a ringer. Will has a motive, but he tells Catherine and Brass that he isn't dumb enough to kill someone with 20,000 cops around.

Catherine fills Grissom in on the information she has received - according to histology, Tim's muscle cells were hyper-hydrated; however, his body was dehydrated. Grissom points out that this is usually the case when drug abuse is involved, but apart from the furosemide, his tox screen came back negative. After looking at photos of Tim, Catherine dug deeper and found that Tim tested positive for creatine, a legal way to bulk up that doesn't involve steroids. Adding furosemide to a body that had creatine in it caused a severe electrolyte imbalance, which lead to arrhythmia and cardiac arrest. However, there wasn't enough furosemide in Tim's water bottle to cause these symptoms.

In the A/V lab, Nick and Greg are confused by the fact that Clyde Grimes withdrew $300 into his own account at the same time Tim's ATM card was being used. Greg points out that perhaps the ATM and camera clocks are out of snyc due to daylight savings time - the video is controlled by the branch office, but the ATM connects to a national network. He guesses that if they fast forward the video an hour, they will find the person using Tim's card. Sure enough, a man is seen at the ATM exactly an hour later, and he's taking out way more than $300. There are a cluster of $300 withdrawals at the same time Tim's card was used, and Nick pulls the bank statements of all customers affected. He finds that, in addition to the ATM they were looking at, customers also visited another ATM - the Silverline branch.

Nick visits the Sliverline branch and processes the ATM. There, he discovers that there is a fake card slot; when removed, he finds an electronic card reader behind it. In a nearby pamphlet holder, Nick finds a transmitter. Suddenly, a red car speeds away down the street and collides with another car in an intersection. Nick runs to catch up to the car, where he finds the driver bleeding from his forehead. Inside the man's car is all of the tools needed to make fake debit cards. Nick also finds a video receiver in the car.

The perpetrator of this scam is a Mr. Drake, who Nick visits in the hospital. Mr. Drake had worked eight years in a plastic molding factory, so he knows his way around plastics. He put the fake card slot of the ATM and put a camera in the pamphlet holder to record the PIN numbers. Nick tells him that he skimmed $13,000 off of 62 different accounts, all of which belonged to cops. Mr. Drake complains that, when he was booked, he was cited for two moving violations. He is just not a fan of cops.

Grissom looks at the contents of the water bottle under a microscope and asks Catherine what she sees; she tells him that it looks like backwash. Catherine examines the contents of Tim's gym bag again and zeroes in on the protein bar wrapper. Under a magnifying glass, she sees that the back of the wrapper has a slit in it like someone cut it. A flashback indeed shows someone cutting the wrapper open with a knife, sticking a pill in it, and closing it back up. Catherine fumes the wrapper and finds a print.

In Brass's office, Catherine and Brass talk to Lt. Mendez. Catherine tells him what killed Tim Coleman and reveals that the print on the protein bar wrapper is the lieutenant's. Tim was already on creatine, but the dosage of furosemide that Lt. Mendez slipped him caused him to go into cardiac arrest. He hands over his pocketknife when instructed to do so, and Catherine finds traces of the protein bar on it. Lt. Mendez refuses to say anything further and asks for his union rep.

Grissom pays a visit to Lt. Mendez, who is now behind bars. He asks the lieutenant why he did what he did. Lt. Mendez tells Grissom that, for eight straight years, he ran Leg 16 of the relay and won it every time. All of a sudden, a new transfer comes in the bosses give him Leg 16, while Lt. Mendez gets pushed upstairs. He tells Grissom that he wasn't trying to kill Tim, he was just trying to slow him down. Grissom informs him that, sooner or later, everybody gets replaced. Lt. Mendez tells Grissom to let him know when that happens to him.

Victims: Manny Senteno (deceased), Patricia Fielding (deceased)

On the case: Sara Sidle, Warrick Brown, Louis Vartann

Sara and Warrick are called to a murder at a hotel. They are greeted by Det. Vartann, who tells them that the hotel room was registered to Manny Senteno, a member of the Laughlin Police Department. Manny is lying dead in the room with blood on his hands. There is also a female victim, who Vartann identifies as Patricia Fielding, a member of the Bakersfield Police Department. Vartann says that Manny checked into the room alone two days before; however, his bill shows a lot of room service ordered for two. Warrick looks around the room and sees luggage, but find nothing that belongs to Patricia, like a purse. There is a used condom on the dresser, indicating that the two victims had sex. Patricia is still holding a gun, which is a standard police issued Glock 19. Sara removes the gun from Patricia's hand. She notices something in the gun's slide, which she removes and bags as evidence. Only two bullets have been fired from the gun, one into each victim. Warrick's hunch is that they're looking at a murder-suicide.

In the morgue, Sara and Vartann show Wendy Senteno her husband's body. She remarks that Manny doesn't usually wear his hair the way it is now. With probing from Wendy, Sara informs her that Manny was shot in his hotel room. Wendy looks over at the other body in the room, which is under a sheet. She seeks nail polish on the toes and guesses that her husband was with another woman. Wendy says that she married a cop, and with that comes alcohol and other women to take the edge off. After Manny had several flings, Wendy told him that she wished to be kept in the dark, as she wasn't going to jeopardize her family for a "flavor of the month."

Warrick tells Sara that each victim had one bullet in them, and that both bullets came from the Glock 19. The only prints on the gun belong to Patricia, so the evidence is still pointing to a murder-suicide. Sara pays a visit to Hodges, who tells her that the white fibers she pulled from the gun are from a standard tissue and that it contained gun oil residue. Sara is surprised, and wonders if the fingerprints were planted on the gun; Hodges tells her that it's possible someone else pulled the trigger.

Sara pays a visit to Jacqui Franco, who tells her that Manny and Patricia's prints are all over the room; Patricia's prints are on the gun. Sara is confused as, on top of this evidence, the sex kits on the two victims came back negative, despite condoms being present in the room. Jacqui tells her that there was a third set of prints recovered from the room. They belong to Lydia Lopez, a member of the Bakersfield Police Department - the same department as Patricia.

Sara and Warrick head back to the hotel and find that Lydia's room was next door to Manny's. They enter the room and find it completely trashed, with a high-heeled shoe stuffed in a champagne glass. Sara finds that the two rooms are connected by an adjoining door, which is open. They assume that all three people involved were engaging in sexual activity until something went awry. Warrick finds a lace nightie ripped to shreds, while Sara finds a wedding ring on the bed sheets. She gets a text that Lydia showed up at the police station ten minutes ago.

In the interrogation room, Sara and Det. Vartann talk to Lydia. Lydia is surprised when told that both Manny and Patricia are dead. She admits to getting together once a year with Manny during the desert relay; they've been doing so for seven years. However, Lydia doesn't know why Patricia was in Manny's room. Lydia then admits that her husband, Archie, is the one who trashed her room and cut up her nightie. She guesses that he saw the condition of the room and went ballistic, but she is insistent that he didn't kill two people.

Lydia's husband, Archie, has been arrested and put in a holding cell for a drunk and disorderly at a bar. Warrick and Det. Vartann visit Archie; Vartann tells him that his prints were found in his wife's hotel room as well as on the doorknob to the adjoining room. Archie admits to being there to surprise Lydia with flowers, but when he found her nightie, he threw the flowers and ripped the nightie up. He also removed his wedding ring and put it on the pillow. He then went to the hotel bar, where he spotted Patricia, and he got upset knowing that Patricia knew his wife was having sex with someone else. However, despite being quite drunk, Archie swears that he didn't kill anybody. Warrick tells him that they need to take his clothes.

Sara and Warrick go over Archie's clothes and personal effects and find no traces of blood or gunshot residue. However, Warrick knows that Archie was in Manny's room because Manny's luggage tag is among the items they collected from Archie. There is a phone number on the luggage tag, and Sara asks what a drunk guy would do if he found out someone was having sex with his wife. Warrick dials the number on the luggage tag and finds that Archie dialed the number six times, with the last call lasting for twelve minutes.

Sara and Vartann interview Manny's wife, Wendy. She tells them that she already admitted that she was OK with her husband's affairs. When confronted with the fact that Archie called her, she admits that she talked to him, but couldn't understand him because he was drunk. Sara sees through the lie and Vartann tells Wendy that she was caught speeding on Interstate 15 heading southbound from Las Vegas despite her insisting that she was with her son in Laughlin. A flashback shows Wendy entering her husband's room; Patricia is standing by the door and Manny is not wearing a shirt. An irate Wendy shoots them both. Wendy says that this can't be proven; however, Sara tells her they got a warrant and found Patricia's blood on the inside of her purse. After the shootings, Wendy wiped the gun with a tissue, transferring Patricia's blood to it. She then stuffed the tissue in the purse. Sara tells Wendy that Patricia wasn't the woman having an affair with Manny and that she killed the wrong woman.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Wallace Langham as David Hodges
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Alex Carter as Detective Louis Vartann
  • Romy Rosemont as Jacqui Franco
  • Dash Mihok as Will Marshall
  • Steven Culp as Lieutenant Mendez
  • Tina Holmes as Wendy Senteno
  • Shawn Doyle as Archie Lopez
  • Kim Rhodes as Lydia Lopez
  • Tom Parker as SWAT Runner
  • Neil Giuntoli as Mr. Drake
  • Chris Coppola as Clyde Grimes
  • Jennifer Gatti as Patricia Fielding
  • Brian Johnson as Manny Senteno
  • Chad Williams as Tim Coleman

Featured Music

  • Starting Over by Crystal Method.
  • Chariots of Fire by Vangelis.
  • Are You Gonna Be My Girl by Jet.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 4
Assume NothingAll For Our CountryHomebodiesFeeling the HeatFur and LoathingJackpotInvisible EvidenceAfter the ShowGrissom Versus the VolcanoComing of RageEleven Angry JurorsButterfliedSuckersPaper or PlasticEarly RolloutGetting OffXXBad To The BoneBad WordsDead RingerTurn of the ScrewsNo More BetsBloodlines
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