Down the Drain
Season 5
Number 2
Writer Naren Shankar
Director Kenneth Fink
Original Airdate October 7, 2004
Previous Episode: Viva Las Vegas
Next Episode: Harvest

Down the Drain is the second episode in Season Five of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


The CSIs investigate when a thunderstorm washes up a body in the city storm drains. Murder is soon ruled out, but the team makes another disturbing discovery: human bones that may have come from a murder. The only problem is finding the location where the body was dumped.


Victims: Calvin Berkowitz and Travis Giles (both deceased)

On the case: Entire team

A severe rainstorm washes a body up against a storm drain grate. Grissom looks over the body and notes that the victim "lost all his points"—his nose, elbows, and toes have been scraped away due to being thrown around in the drain. David Phillips arrives; he finds no wallet on the victim, but does find a vial of white powder in one of the pockets. They observe a wooden spike that's impaled the victim's neck; it's unknown whether this was caused by water pressure or a person. Upon arriving, Warrick fills Catherine and Grissom in on his neighborhood canvassing—nobody recognizes the victim and there have been no abandoned cars found in the area.

Grissom has Catherine and Warrick traverse the storm drain to find out where the victim may have come from. They eventually come across another dead body. To their surprise, however, the homeless man awakens, upset that his nap has been disturbed. The man doesn't recognize the victim from his photo, telling Warrick that bad things can happen to people who don't belong down there. As she wades deeper into the drain, Catherine finds a pair of aqua socks. She notes that the aqua socks are a bit upscale for a homeless person and wonders if they belong to the victim, who was barefoot. The question still remains: why was the victim down in the drain in the first place? Catherine and Warrick travel further into the storm drain. At another junction in the storm drain, they find a bottle of sunscreen tied to a lanyard; Catherine notes that it ties in with the aqua socks.

Meanwhile, Grissom and Greg visit Doc Robbins in autopsy. Greg, attending his first autopsy, stands as far away as possible; Grissom looks at him and smirks. Doc Robbins removes the victim's rib cage and heart, then cuts into the neck to expose the trachea. When asked, Greg says that it looks like there's foam in the trachea, comparing it to a head on a beer. The doc says that the victim has a pulmonary edema and fluid in the airways, which would indicate drowning. Grissom notes that the same thing can happen with heart failure or a drug overdose; however, based on the size of the heart, a clean tox panel would mean the cause of death was likely drowning.

Catherine and Warrick finally reach the end of the storm drain. There, they find a helmet with the victim's ID tucked into it. The victim is Calvin Berkowitz, a lifeguard at the Tangiers. Warrick finds a black inner tube stuck in the wall and pulls it out. His guess is that the victim went surfing "Vegas style"—during a torrential rainstorm, a thrill-seeker straps a helmet on, gets into an inner tube, and jumps into the channel, riding the current. They guess that Calvin hit his head, drowned, and was carried by the current to the storm drain grate.

As Catherine and Warrick exit the channel, they're stopped by a sewage worker. The worker shows them that, during some construction work, they pulled some bones out of the main. Warrick examines the bones and guesses that, due to their flaky texture, they're likely a few years old. They end up flushing the line and Catherine gathers some more bones, one of which looks like part of a rib. She believes that, due to the deep costal groove, the bone is likely from a human.

In the lab, Catherine, Warrick and Brass look over a sewage map of the city. Warrick notes that bones were found in a sewage drain, which is separate from the storm drains. This means that the bones were flushed down a toilet, sink, or tub, or were just tossed down the manhole directly. Catherine and Warrick dread their next assignment—there are over 1600 miles of pipe that they're going to need to go through to try to find the source of the bones.

As Doc Robbins lays out the recovered bones in the lab, Catherine and Warrick head back to the sewers. Warrick watches the cameras, while Catherine flushes the drains. They eventually find a pelvis fragment and two humerus bones. Warrick notes that the residential sewer lines are only four inches in diameter and they make a 90-degree turn before they reach the main; therefore, there's no way the bones could've come from one of the nearby houses. They figure they're getting close and check another vault down the street. There, they hit the jackpot, finding most of a human skeleton. Warrick climbs down the sewage vault; halfway down, he notices a stain on the walls that looks like it came from a waterline. He sprays Florazine on the walls and finds a positive reaction, indicating blood or feces. They guess that a whole body was thrown down the vault, which blocked the pipes. This caused the water to rise, leaving the waterline. As the body decomposed, the water receded and passed through the pipes, taking some of the smaller bones along for a ride. The previous theory of a grave robber disposing of his bones is ruled out; they're looking for a murderer.

Doc Robbins has all of the recovered bones laid out on a table in the lab; based on femur measurements and the angle of the pubic arch, he guesses that the victim was a 5'6" male. There are also identical tool marks on two of the ribs. Dental x-rays later show that the victim hadn't had his wisdom teeth erupt yet, placing his age between 13-15. Based on the orbital bones and shape of the nose on the skull, Doc Robbins believes that the victim was Caucasian. Unfortunately, the bones were too degraded for Greg to have gotten any viable DNA from them.

Nick goes through the missing persons database, entering the necessary information. There are three matches within a two mile radius of where the body was found; however, none of the children have been missing for more than eleven months. Catherine notes that the condition of the bones suggest that the body was decomposing for two years, so Nick expands the radius to five miles. Meanwhile, Grissom is performing an experiment and asks Greg to do his business (both #1 and #2) to aid the experiment. Grissom explains to him that the ambient temperature in the sewer was 80 degrees and that the corrosive chemicals down there caused the body to decompose faster than normal; he wants to find out how much faster.

Brass talks to one of the people in the neighborhood; the guy complains that pets have gone missing and that some kids enjoy throwing fireworks down the sewer in the middle of the night. However, nobody saw a body get thrown down the manhole. Several people suggested to Brass that he talk to high school student Owen Durbin, a neighborhood bully. Brass speaks to Owen's father, Roger, and gains entry into the house by handing him a warrant to search the premises based on the fireworks usage. Sara, Warrick and Brass are reluctantly let into the house, which doesn't exactly appear to be "family friendly." Brass finds several boxes of different calibers of ammo, indicating that there are multiple weapons somewhere in the house; Warrick comes across one of them when he finds a loaded shotgun under the living room couch. Sara finds blood on the stairs, leading Brass to exit the house and amend the warrant for blood evidence. Despite being told that they can't search until Brass comes back, Sara and Warrick head upstairs. Sara opens a closet door and Warrick soon alerts her to the fact that the closet is booby trapped with a shotgun and six pipe bombs; one of the bombs is tied to a fishing rod. Warrick has Sara slowly back away from the closet and calls the bomb squad. However, Sara sees blood evidence on the door and wants to collect it before the bomb squad destroys the scene. The two of them are able to pull the door from its hinges while not disturbing the pipe bomb.

Brass interrogates Roger Durbin, who says that there are rules in his house and that his wife and son know what to do and what not to do. If someone gets blown up, he says, it's not his fault. Brass tells him that bomb possession is a felony, and that each bomb results in one to six years in prison. When confronted with the fact that blood was found in his house, Roger says that the police must've put it there. He denies knowing anything about a body in a sewer.

Sara examines the closet door and Grissom tells her that since they weren't able to get DNA from the bones, they have nothing to compare the blood to. He says that he's "concerned" for Sara, as she seemed to have a death wish; however, Sara denies this. Meanwhile, Grissom concludes his experiment and finds that body tissue in a sewer decomposes 20 times faster than normal. He tells Nick to search for missing children that have been missing for as little as five weeks. Nick searches the database and comes across Travis Giles, who has been missing for six weeks.

Nick talks to Travis' grandmother; she tells him that Travis left six weeks ago to visit his mother in Utah. However, she confirmed that Travis never made it there. The grandmother doesn't recognize Owen Durbin from his school photo, nor does she have any of Travis' personal possessions to use for a DNA comparison. Nick tries to break the news about Travis gently, but the grandmother already knows her grandson is dead. Meanwhile, Brass interviews Owen and his mother, Terry. An unhelpful Owen doesn't recognize Travis from his photo and doesn't seem to know (or care) that they went to the same school. Terry interjects and says that she knows her son's friends and that Travis isn't one of them. Brass pulls Terry aside and tells her that it might be better if she waited outside while he interviewed Owen with an advocate present; Terry refuses to do so, as it would upset her husband.

In the Durbin house, Catherine and Sara find blood spatter on the walls leading upstairs. Catherine relays this information over the phone to Brass; when he questions Owen about it, he says the the blood could've come from their dogs, as they're always fighting. Back in the house, Catherine notes that this isn't possible, as the lowest point of spatter is 46 inches off the ground at a downward angle. This makes Owen a liar. Grissom and Warrick go to the house to aid in evidence gathering. While Catherine works on the blood evidence, Sara checks out Owen's room and finds unlabeled video tapes under his bed. Outside, Warrick finds a barrel filled with ashes; the barrel contains folded clothes and a pair of shoes. In the garage, bomb squad agent Rick Dysart is clearing the scene as Grissom looks for more evidence. Grissom finds blood drops that lead to the back of the refrigerator; in the back of a refrigerator, there's a box of knives. Rick opens the refrigerator and finds a bunch of liquid explosives inside. He tells Grissom to get himself and his team out of the vicinity immediately, as they're going to detonate the liquids in place. Catherine, Sara and Warrick gather as much evidence as they can and vacate the premises. The liquids are detonated, blowing up the garage—and leaving Roger Durbin very unhappy.

Later on, the team goes over the case—they believe that, at this point, the murder weapon was a knife. Catherine says that she cast the stab marks on the victim's ribs, but bone deterioration removed all individual characteristics; she can only rule out a serrated blade. Sara hasn't found anything on the video tapes, just standard home movies. Warrick says that the clothes he found are the right size to fit Travis; however, he couldn't get any blood evidence from them due to fire damage. Sara adds that, even if they had recovered blood, they still have nothing to compare it to. Despite the fact that Owen and Travis went to school together, there's no physical evidence to put Travis in the house. They don't even have a blood standard for Travis to positively identify the victim. This changes, however, when Travis' grandmother stops by the lab and gives Nick a baby tooth she had saved, saying that she used to act as her grandson's tooth fairy.

The DNA from the tooth matches the blood found in the Durbin house. Terry Durbin says that she doesn't know how the blood got there and that maybe it was from a nosebleed. Brass finds it incredibly hard to believe that a kid she's never seen that's not friends with her son would get a nosebleed in her house. Owen interrupts and says it was an accident—Travis had come over to buy a knife, took it without paying, and accidentally stabbed himself as he ran away. Catherine refutes this by saying that Travis suffered two stab wounds, which would be impossible if he just fell on a knife. Owen maintains that it was an accident, but Catherine notes that the clothes that were found were folded—something a teenage boy wouldn't do. Terry helped Owen clean up the mess, which Brass says is ironic, given that she isn't much of a housekeeper. Owen takes serious offense to this slight against his mother and threatens to kill Catherine and Brass if they talk bad about her again. They now have the confession they need.

Grissom and Brass sit in Grissom's office recapping the case—Owen will be booked for murder, his mother was an accessory, and his father gets felony explosives. They note that Owen was a disturbed child raised in a violent environment with an oblivious mother; Brass adds that no matter how the child turns out, a parent's love is unconditional (possibly a hint at his relationship with his daughter, Ellie). While the two discuss the case, Sara watches one of the home movies she found under Owen's bed. In the video (which is several years old), Roger Durbin places an explosive on a frog and blows it up while his young son watches. He then has a young Owen stir a pot with an unidentified liquid in it, telling him that the liquid is used for "blowing stuff up." It seems Owen got started at a young age.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Joseph Patrick Kelly as Officer Metcalf
  • Cristine Rose as Meryl Giles
  • Brent Briscoe as Roger Durbin
  • Gigi Rice as Terry Durbin
  • Jesse Plemons as Owen Durbin
  • Lennie Loftin as Bomb Squad Leader
  • Michael Dempsey as Calvin Berkowitz
  • Scott Lincoln as Floater
  • Steve Monroe as Marty Kessler
  • Alec Plotkin as Young Owen Durbin
  • Andy B. Dardaine as Bomb Squad Agent
  • Guillermo Jorge as Bomb Squad Agent
  • Josh Allouche as Bomb Squad Agent (uncredited)

Major Events[]

  • Greg witnesses an autopsy being performed for the first time.


  • As Catherine and Warrick exit the storm drain, Catherine says that they're near the location where she found Lindsey after Eddie's car went off the road. This occurred in Lady Heather's Box.
  • Sara admits to Greg that at her first autopsy, she puked.


Mr. Durbin: Sons of bitches! I'm gonna sue your ass into the ground. I hope you know that. Yeah. I'm gonna own you. I'm gonna own this whole place. In fact, maybe that's where I'll live. I'm just gonna move in here.
Catherine: Let me guess, he lawyered up?
Brass: Yeah. He stopped talking right after I told him we blew up his house.


  • This episode was most likely the season premiere, but production was halted when Jorja Fox and George Eads were briefly fired. The filming went ahead anyway, but when they were rehired, they were added in the middle of filming and the episode was re-shot with them in it entirely. This explains why Eads and Fox only appear about halfway through the episode.
  • This is one of the few episodes where the tag line before the opening credits isn't spoken by a series regular.
  • The episode received the 2005 Emmy nominations for "Outstanding Single-Camera Sound Mixing For A Series" and "Outstanding Sound Editing For A Series." It also received Golden Reel nominations for "Sound Effects and Foley for the Short Form" and "Best Dialogue and Automated Dialogue Replacement for the Short Form."
  • This episode is based on the real life killing of 14-year-old Tristan Jensen in Redlands, California in 1998.
  • Jesse Plemons, who played Owen Durbin, is perhaps most recognizable for his roles in Friday Night Lights (as Landry Clarke) and Breaking Bad (as Todd Alquist).

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