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Deep Fried and Minty Fresh
Deepfried
Season 9
Number 13
Writer Corinne Marinan,
Sarah Goldfinger
Director Alec Smight
Original Airdate February 12, 2009
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Previous Episode: Disarmed and Dangerous
Next Episode: Miscarriage of Justice

Deep Fried and Minty Fresh is the thirteenth episode in Season Nine of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis[]

Langston and Nick are called to investigate the murder of a fast food restaurant manager and have quite a task ahead of them when they discover that much of the evidence is coated in cooking oil. Elsewhere, Catherine and Greg investigate when a woman is found chained to a bed and killed by toothpaste; her husband is the prime suspect.

Plot[]

Victim: Bob Graham (deceased)

On the case: Raymond Langston, Nick Stokes, Riley Adams, Jim Brass

It is a bad night at fast food restaurant Choozy's Chicken: the signature chicken statue crashes through the restaurant's window and Bob Graham, the head manager, is found dead in the kitchen. Langston and Nick examine the area, with Langston noting that the floor is covered in oil. They also discover that someone has been living in the kitchen of the fast food joint; a pair of jeans is too small to belong to the victim. The two find a blood pattern that indicates a body was dragged outside, suggesting that there's a second victim. They follow the blood to the dumpsters and grease containers, finding a large amount of blood on the ground by the grease container. However, the container is empty and has been replaced by one for a Chinese restaurant. They also discover skid marks and a side mirror broken off from a vehicle.

Riley looks in the drop safe in Bob's office to see if the restaurant was robbed and discovers that there's $200 missing. The surveillance camera in the office has also been unplugged. Meanwhile, Brass talks to Kiwi Long, the usual night manager, who says Bob was covering her shift. She mentions an employee named Elizabeth Martin was closing up the night before, but that she hasn't been able to reach her. In the kitchen, Nick finds a smudged handprint on the fryer along with a bloody fingerprint. He also finds blood on a "wet floor" sign.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins determines that a strong blow to the head that severed Bob's spinal cord was the cause of death. There's a circular mark at the base of Bob's skull, leading Nick to think that the "wet floor" sign could've been the murder weapon. Nick and Langston get a lead with the side mirror, leading them to a frat boy named Max Stanton, who has a prior for assault against Bob. A former Choozy's Chicken employee, it quickly becomes evident to the two CSIs that the only thing Max is guilty of is theft: he was attempting to make off with the Choozy's Chicken mascot in his truck but failed. He claims that he didn't see anyone on the night of his attempted theft and that the restaurant was closed.

The team prints all of the Choozy's Chicken employees, but two are missing: Elizabeth Martin and Gary Comstock. Brass finds evidence that "Elizabeth Martin" is an assumed name, while Wendy finds Gary, a former drug addict, is in the system—and that his epithelials were on a razor found at the restaurant, indicating he was the one living in the kitchen. A flashback shows Bob finding out that Gary was crashing in the restaurant and getting killed for his discovery. Brass wonders why a drug addict would leave all the loose cash behind.

Mandy runs the fingerprints found next to the broiler but doesn't get a match to Bob or any of the employees. She matches prints on Elizabeth Martin's closing receipt to prints on the "wet floor" sign, but without Elizabeth's prints for a comparison, she can't say for sure that they belong to her. Meanwhile, it's revealed that the blood Riley found in Bob's office is menstrual blood, but there's no sign a sexual assault or struggle took place. The blood doesn't match any of the female employees, but they still need a sample from Elizabeth.

The team turns to surveillance footage from the nearby Chinese restaurant's camera and sees several people getting out of a van and stealing a grease container. The plates are registered to one Timothy Rand. Langston and Brass go to his house in the desert and find him distilling grease into biodiesel fuel. Langston opens up the container from Choozy's and finds a male body inside; the man is identified as Gary Comstock.

In the autopsy room, Doc Robbins determines that Gary met a rather unpleasant end; he was asphyxiated in hot chicken grease. There are also antemortem abrasions on his knuckles and a blood stain on his boxer shorts. This suggests that Gary was the one who attacked Bob. Riley adds that Gary's tox panel came back clean, meaning that he wasn't using anymore and had a second chance at life. Elsewhere, Hodges finds the melted remnants of what were once a pair glasses alongside nine 20-dollar bills, all of which were found in the grease Gary was dumped in. When added to the $20 that was found in Bob's pocket, all of the missing money from the restaurant is accounted for, which means that there was no robbery.

Confused, Langston, Nick and Riley return to the crime scene and recap on what they have found so far. Gary was killed by having his face shoved in the hot oil, the burn marks on his face and the fingerprint on the broiler prove that. His body was then dragged from the kitchen and dumped into the grease container outside. There is also a second blood trail leading to the container, which matches to the blood found on Gary's boxer shorts. This blood belonged to Bob. Since both men's bodies show signs of a struggle, they know that the two men fought before the deaths. However, the question still stands, who killed whom and if Gary killed Bob, who killed him?

Langston and Nick decide to recreate Gary's murder, with Langston pretending to shove Nick's face into the fryer. Doing so illustrates how Bob's glasses and the money may have ended up in the oil; they fell off whilst he was trying to keep Gary's face submerged. Nick also notices how Langston uses his free hand as leverage during the struggle. This leads them to suspect that the killer may have done the same thing. The only problem is that the print they lifted doesn't match any of their suspects. Curious, Nick goes back to the lab and asks Mandy if she can run the finger print taken from beside the broiler again, noting his suspicion that it may have gotten distorted. Mandy checks and following a second examination realises that the print was inverted due to pressure the assailant put on it. Factoring this in, she corrects the image and runs the analysis again. Within seconds they get a match. The print is a perfect match for Bob's.

Having identified Gary's killer, Nick gets a call from Brass, who informs him that Elizabeth Martin has been found. It turns out that she went into hiding because she's been working illegally in the United States on a fake ID. Elizabeth's whole family has been brought in and Brass is about to question her about the incident at the chicken restaurant. When asked, Elizabeth reveals that her real name is Rosa Gonzales. Keeping things civil, Brass asks if she knows what happened to Bob?

Elizabeth tells him that killing Bob was an accident. After closing up, she was moping the floor when Bob confronted her, claiming Rosa's drop bag was short. Bob forced her to undress so he could do a strip search; however, Gary walked in while this was going on. Enraged, Bob went after Gary. After getting dressed, Rosa ran into the kitchen, where she saw Bob winning the fight and trying to shove Gary's face into the broiler oil . Horrified, Rosa picked up the "wet floor" sign and struck Bob in the head with it, stunning him. Gary then ordered her to flee, which she did. This story explains the blood found in Bob's office and confirms that Bob was the one who killed Gary.

A repentant Rosa ends the story by insisting that she didn't mean to kill Bob. Brass however is able to put Rosa's conscience at ease by assuring her that his colleagues have determined that the blow from the "wet floor" sign wasn't what killed Bob. Relieved to hear this, Rosa asks if that means she is free to go? Unfortunately, she isn't due to her immigration status and whilst Brass is sympathetic to her, he notes that there is nothing he can do.

With their final suspect eliminated Nick, Langston and Riley have reached a dead end. Although they have solved Gary's murder, as well as the mysteries relating to Elizabeth Martin and the missing money, the original question still hangs over them: who killed Bob? With no further leads, they sit down to eat, with Nick and Riley enjoying some chips and fizzy drinks. Whilst the others tuck in to their takeouts, Langston studies the crime scene photo's one last time. Three particular pictures catch his attention; a wide shot of the room, a picture of the wet floor sign and a close up of Bob's head. After thinking for a moment, Langston proposes a new theory. What if nobody else was involved and Bob's killer was staring them in the face the entire time?

Picking up Bob's medical records, Langston notes that their victim had very poor eyesight. Without his glasses (which they all know fell into the oil), Bob would have barely been able to see anything. This, coupled with the heavy blow to the head, may have left his balance offset. Add in the slippery floor and you get the following result: -

Bob simply slipped on the wet floor, toppled over backwards and smacked his head hard enough to sever his own spinal cord.

Nick and Riley both agree that the evidence supports Langston's hypothesis. With the killer identified, the mystery of Bob's death is finally put to rest. As Riley points out, it was "a case of blind justice." The only issue now is the paperwork. Langston asks whose name should he write in the suspect line, to which Nick responds they don't need to list anybody's. Bob's death was nothing more an karmic accident.

Victim: Melinda Tucker (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Greg Sanders, Louis Vartann

Catherine and Greg investigate the death of Melinda Tucker, who was killed handcuffed to her bed while her husband Scott, a real estate agent, was passed out drunk on the couch. A check of the mail shows that the house was being foreclosed on. David Phillips estimates the time of death at three to five hours ago, which seems to be about the time Scott started drinking. Catherine takes the wine in Melinda's glass back for processing, while Greg finds two tubes of toothpaste in the trashcan.

In autopsy, Langston joins Catherine as Doc Robbins processes Melinda's body. The doc notes that despite Melinda being handcuffed to the bed, there's no sign of sexual activity. Langston notices an advanced gastric ulcer on the stomach. When the doc removes Melinda's stomach and squeezes the contents out, a blue substance comes out, which Langston and Doc Robbins describe as "fresh" and "minty".

The substance is later tested identified as toothpaste—approximately 12 ounces worth. Henry tells Catherine that one can overdose on toothpaste if it contains fluoride and determines that, based on her size, Melinda would've had to ingest at least one tube for it to be lethal. He also mentions that there were trace amounts of diphenhydramine hydrochloride in Melinda's tox panel, indicating that someone slipped it into her wine. Diphenhydramine hydrochloride makes one sleepy and also prevents one from throwing up.

Greg and Det. Vartann question Scott, who had the key to the handcuffs in his pocket. Aware of how his business has fallen on hard times, the cops also point out that his wife had a very large life insurance policy. More than enough to settle all of Scott's death. Did the evil husband decide to get rid of his wife? Scott however insists that he is innocent and that the handcuffs are from "better times," as he and Melinda hadn't had sex in months. As for his fingerprints being all over the tubes of toothpaste, Scott notes that he and Melinda both used that particular brand. Reminding the cops that his wife was a dental hygienist before they married, Scott indicates that they both knew about the dangers of fluoride poisoning and that Melinda would've kicked him where it counted before letting him feed her a fatal amount of toothpaste. Naturally, of course, nobody believes him and by all accounts, it looks as if they are dealing with an open and shut case here.

In the lab, Greg starts squeezing out the toothpaste from the Tuckers' home, with Catherine soon joining in. They stop, however, when Hodges informs them that the toothpaste that killed Melinda contained an additional bleaching agent, whilst the toothpaste found at crime scene did not have. Catherine and Greg return to the Tucker's house, but don't find any toothpaste with whitening on the premises. In the garden, Greg notices a mark on the fence, which turns out to be shoe rubber, meaning somebody climbed into the neighbours garden. Suspicious, he goes next door, where the 80-year-old neighbor gives him permission to search her trash without a warrant. He quickly finds a plastic bag. Inside are two tubes of fluoride with a bleaching agent, a pair of latex gloves and the missing antihistamine pill. The two detectives exchange a knowing smile. All that is left is run a DNA test from inside the gloves, which they are certain will match Scott's. If it does, they have got him!

Things are not as they seem however. When the test results come back, Greg informs a shocked Catherine that the DNA from inside the gloves was not Scott's, but Melinda Tucker's. In an instant, the case is transformed from a homicide investigation to a suicide and set up. Catherine doesn't believe it at first, arguing that maybe Melinda tried to frame her husband for a poisoning and that her death was an unfortunate accident. Greg, however, reminds her that as a dental hygienist, Melinda would've known about the dangers of fluoride toothpaste and the appropriate dosage she needed to ingest for it to be non-fatal. This was a deliberate attempt to frame Scott and get him sent down for life.

With this in mind, the pair reconstruct Melinda's final hours. After spiking her husband's drink, Melinda waited until Scott had fallen asleep, before she began her final act to set her husband up for murder. Wearing gloves so as to leave no fingerprints, Melinda laced a glass of wine with antihistamine, then deliberately ingested some. She then threw two empty tubes of fluoride toothpaste into the trash before feeding herself the lethal dose of toothpaste from two fresh tubes. However, she made the mistake of using a toothpaste different from the one she had just placed into the trash can, not knowing that the police would be able to discern the difference.

Going downstairs, Melinda then slipped the key to the handcuffs into the still unconscious Scott's pocket. Since she was still wearing gloves, she left no fingerprints and knew that when the police discovered the key, Scott would automatically become the prime suspect. Melinda then went into the garden, climbed the fence and disposed of the evidence in the neighbors trash, thinking that nobody would look for it there. Returning to the house, Melinda went back upstairs to the bedroom, where she handcuffed herself to the bed. With the key downstairs and no chance of escape anymore, Melinda laid back and waited for the inevitable.

Catherine meets with the now vindicated Scott and tells him what happened to Melinda. She can't help but wonder, though: what did Scott do to make his wife hate him so much that she was prepared to kill herself and frame him for it?

Scott reveals that it all goes back to their failed real estate business. He says that he and Melinda were once a very successful pair. Melinda handled the sales part of the business, while he took care of the financing. However, the one thing they differed on was how to interact with their customers. Having worked in real estate all of his life, Scott kept his distance and maintained a strictly professional relationship with his clients. Melinda, on the other hand, was much more sociable and outgoing. Despite Scott's protests, she hung out with the buyers, with Scott saying his wife went to their parties and other socials, causing these people to befriend Melinda.

This simple act ultimately came back to bite the Tuckers big time. When the laws on the NINJA loans changed, many of the Tuckers former clients could no longer afford to pay for the houses they had bought. After being evicted by the banks, the buyers blamed Melinda and Scott for what happened. This resulted in several lawsuits, leading to the downfall of their business, which left the Tuckers hopelessly in deep debt. Melinda was sympathetic to the people she had befriended, but Scott was not. He was, understandably, more concerned about their own issues, which, as he tells Catherine he made very clear he blamed on Melinda. Scott makes it very clear that he told his wife as much, stating flat out that if she had just listened to him, none of this would ever have happened.

Realizing that Melinda didn't take kindly to this, Catherine guesses that this was when their marriage started to fall apart and Melinda's hatred for her husband was born. Scott confirms this, stating that he and Melinda could barely stand to look at each other afterwards. Unfortunately though, their circumstances forced them to stay together. They weren't in any position to divorce or get themselves out of trouble. Scott notes that he never thought that Melinda would do anything as extreme as this though. He tells Catherine that he knows Melinda tried and failed to kill him a couple of times, which explains she may have tried a different approach.

With the case closed, Scott angrily cursing his dead wife for what she tried to do to him. Thanks to the investigators diligence and a small oversight on Melinda's part however, Scott is now free to go. Since Melinda's set-up scheme has failed, it can be assumed that Scott will now be able to claim her life insurance money, wipe away his debts and start his life over.

Cast[]

Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

Goofs[]

  • When the CSI team is looking at the Choozy's Chicken that crashed through the window, the scene is reversed. The CC logo is backwards and the broken glass remaining in the window frame moves from the upper left to the upper right.
  • At the beginning of the episode, when Riley puts the ruler on the tile floor in the kitchen of the restaurant, the ruler changes position on the floor from flush against the edge of the tile to crooked.
  • As Riley opens the safe, the door bolts start and stay in the deployed position. This indicates the safe door's did not start in the closed and locked position as the filmmakers would have us believe.

Notes[]

  • It's revealed by Jim Brass that he is a Vietnam War veteran.
    • It's also implied that Jim is not a big fan of the hippie subculture, since when he goes to the house of one of the suspects, he seems to have a certain disdain for things related to the hippie subculture, such as meditation, recycling, and other things.
  • It's revealed in the episode that Raymond Langston is fluent in Mandarin.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 9
For WarrickThe Happy PlaceArt Imitates LifeLet It BleedLeave Out All The RestSay UncleWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaYoung Man with a Horn19 Down...One to GoThe Grave ShiftDisarmed and DangerousDeep Fried and Minty FreshMiscarriage of JusticeKill Me If You CanTurn, Turn, TurnNo Way OutMascaraThe Descent of ManA Space OddityIf I Had a Hammer...The Gone Dead TrainHog HeavenAll In
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