Feeling the Heat
Season 4
Number 4
Writer Eli Talbert,
Anthony E. Zuiker
Director Kenneth Fink
Original Airdate October 23, 2003
Previous Episode: Homebodies
Next Episode: Fur and Loathing

Feeling the Heat is the fourth episode in Season Four of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


During a heat wave, Grissom and Catherine investigate the death of a baby who was found dead locked in a car. Nick and Sara look into the death of a woman who was found floating in the lake with a head wound. Warrick investigates the case of a man who died at his home of an apparent heat stroke.


Victim: Joshua Winston (deceased)

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

During a heat wave in Vegas, a woman in a mall parking lot spots a baby locked inside of a car. A passerby breaks a window with a skateboard, but they're too late. Catherine and Grissom meet Brass on the scene. The car's registration cannot be found, but the assumption is that the mother isn't too far away. Grissom takes a temperature reading of the inside of the car—it reads 145 degrees. The baby's father, Paul Winston, comes out and is horrified to find that he accidentally left his son in the car. David Phillips tells Catherine that due to the heat, it's possible that the baby has been dead for no more than an hour.

In interrogation, Paul tells Brass that both he and his wife, Vickie, work all the time. Vickie usually drives Joshua to daycare on her way to work; however, since she's out of town, Paul was supposed to do this. A flashback shows him constantly on his phone because of his job, forgetting that Joshua was in the back seat.

Catherine gets a visit from Chief Deputy D.A. Jeffrey Sinclair, who tells her that he wants to prosecute Paul Winston to the fullest extent of the law, believing this will serve as a message to all parents with infants. He wants Catherine to thoroughly document the case from the car to the infant, leaving no stone unturned. Catherine replies that she always does.

Catherine and Grissom examine Paul's car. She notes that the car seat appears to have been fastened correctly, but notices that there's no car seat indentation in the back seat. Grissom says that Paul admitted that this car wasn't the primary transport for Joshua. He spots a red liquid in the door's runner; Catherine tests it for blood, but it comes back negative.

Test results show that the red liquid Grissom found was cough syrup. Catherine and Brass interview Vickie, who says that she fed and clothed Joshua; all Paul had to do was drop him off at daycare. Vickie confirms that she was in Anaheim for business, as she works in horticulture and her company was designing a garden for a new hotel. She tells them that she had taken the car seat out of her car and put it in Paul's car before driving to the airport. When Catherine asks Vickie if Joshua had a cold, she replies that he had a slight cough and that she gave him cough syrup the night before. She confirms that she told Paul to give Joshua cough syrup that morning if the cough still persisted. After the questioning is over, Vickie sees Paul in the hallway and hits him several times in anger.

Catherine searches the car again. In the trunk, she finds a baby blanket with the name "Howard Aston Winston" on it. Brass checks the medical records and finds that Howard was the Winston's first child. He died before the age of three from Tay-Sachs disease, an incurable disease that essentially paralyzes infants over time.

Greg finds Catherine in the station locker room and provides her with lab results. Joshua had the recommended dosage of cough syrup in his system; however, disulfoton, a type of pesticide, was also found. Catherine Brass visit the Winstons with a search warrant. In the shed, Catherine finds weed killer that contains disulfoton. She shows this to Brass, and the Winstons are brought in for questioning.

In interrogation, Brass asks Vickie why she didn't mention that they had another son who died. She takes offense that Howard's name was brought up, saying that she's in mourning that she has to bury another child. Paul also wants Howard's name left out of the investigation and admits to being a negligent parent. Brass tells him that pesticides were found in Joshua's system and that they're going to have to exhume Howard's body against the Winstons' wishes.

Howard's body is exhumed and Catherine draws vitreous fluid from it. She brings it to Greg for testing. Results show no cough syrup or pesticides in Howard's system; however, minocycline was found. Catherine tells Greg minocycline is an anti-inflammatory that is sometimes used to treat Tay-Sachs. She compares it to giving marijuana to a glaucoma patient and says it doesn't cure the disease, it just buys time. But, she wonders, why would the Winstons keep a sick baby alive (Howard) and kill a healthy one (Joshua)?

Catherine visits Dr. Gardner, the physician who treated both children. He tells her that since both Paul and Vickie carry the Tay-Sachs allele, there was a 25% chance Joshua would be born with the disease. However, a fetal test was done in Vickie's second trimester, and it appeared that Joshua didn't inherit it. Dr. Gardner reveals that Vickie had called him a few days before Joshua's death in a panic. The Winstons brought Joshua in, and he says the child was exhibiting all of the symptoms of Tay-Sachs—floppiness, poor head control, the inability to turn over, decreased muscle tone. Dr. Gardner concluded that it seemed the fetal test was a false negative, the odds of which are under 1%. He tells Catherine that he sent out an enzyme test to confirm the presence of the disease, but hasn't gotten the results yet.

Catherine and Brass interrogate the Winstons once again. She asks if Vickie was in the garden the past weekend; Vickie replies that she was. When asked, she says that Joshua wasn't with her in the garden, but Paul reminds her that they had a fight and he handed Joshua to her while she was gardening. Catherine tells them that an infant repeatedly being exposed to pesticides, even in trace amounts, can cause a reaction that mimics Tay-Sachs disease. She guesses that Vickie handled Joshua after gardening and that's how the pesticides got in his system. A flashback shows Paul and Vickie arguing about Joshua's disease and saying that they couldn't go through with watching another child suffer. Paul is shown giving Joshua cough syrup, then later leaving him in the car in the heat. Catherine reveals that the enzyme test on Joshua came back negative—he didn't have Tay-Sachs disease. The Winstons killed a healthy baby.

Victim: Sophia Renatta (deceased)

On the case: Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle

Nick and Sara are called to a lake where a ranger on patrol spotted a dead female body. The girl, who looks to be in her early 20's, is dressed for a day at the lake, wearing short shorts and rock soft shoes. Sara looks over the body and sees that the victim's neck is broken and her head is split. However, there are no signs of drowning.

In autopsy, they photograph the body before David Phillips arrives. Sara discovers an odd green fiber in the victim's hair, while Nick finds a locker key attached to her bathing suit. During this, they have a conversation that indicates that they both put in for a promotion. As David washes the body down, he discovers a bluish mark on the victim's hips that they're unable to identify immediately.

Nick and Sara speak to Doc Robbins, who confirms that the victim died from a broken neck and not drowning. The sexual assault kit on the victim came back positive for semen, but Doc Robbins says there were no physical findings indicating rape. He estimates that the victim ate two to four hours before her death. Nick gets a call from the ranger, who tells him that they found the locker the key belongs to.

They search the locker and find a student ID that identifies the girl as Sophia Renatta. Sara finds a man's wallet that has no credit card or ID in it; there's also a shirt that's too big to fit Sophia. They interview the owner of a waverunner rental stall who remembers the guy. The owner tells Nick and Sara that the guy paid for a waverunner and never brought it back. In addition, his credit card had a limit, costing him money. He hands the credit card to Sara; the man in question is Mark Young. The owner says that Sophia was struggling to pay for a waverunner rental when Mark swooped in and saved the day. They borrow the rental log and see that Mark checked out the waverunner at 11:45 AM, but he and Sophia didn't hit the water until 2:15 PM.

Nick and Sara talk to Mark's father, telling him that Mark was seen with a girl that is now in their morgue and that Mark himself is missing. The father is surprised Mark was at the lake since he was supposed to be at work; Sara confirms that Mark had called in sick. While Sara plays hardball and passively accuses Mark of murder, Nick takes the lighter approach and reasons with Mr. Young. Thanks to Nick's easygoing style, they get permission to take some of Mark's belongings to get his DNA and eliminate him as a suspect. Sara glares at Nick during the exchanges.

David Hodges identifies that the substance found on Sophia's hips as high SPF suntan lotion. Sara notes that Sophia had a deep, even tan and that the lotion found in her locker was low SPF. This leads to her conclude that the lotion found on Sophia's hips was transfer from someone else. The green substance found in Sophia's hair was algae that attaches itself to rocks. A flashback shows Sophia falling off of the waverunner, hitting her head on the rocks, and dying. Mark then drove the waverunner away to distance himself from the situation.

Nick and Sara look over a map of the lake and figure that algae grows everywhere, which doesn't narrow down their search radius. Greg walks in and tells them that two islands near where Sophia's body was found—Cottonwood Island and Tequila Cove—are big make-out spots. Since the case is a "boy-girl thing," Greg thinks they should start their search there.

Nick and Sara travel with a ranger via boat to Tequila Cove, where they find the abandoned waverunner. They find Mark's shoes as well as a blanket, which tests positive for semen; however, it's negative for blood. The waverunner has half a tank of gas left, leaving Nick to wonder how Mark left the area. The ranger tells him that there's an access road two miles up the hill, and Sara spots footprints leading that way. Nick and Sara follow the footprints to a cliff that they estimate has a 50-foot drop. They envision Sophia falling or getting pushed off the cliff and figure the evidence they need is at the bottom. Two divers are sent underwater to find evidence of what happened, and one of them discovers Mark's body.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins tells Nick and Sara that Mark's cause of death was asphyxia due to freshwater drowning. There are no signs of bruising or any other injuries, except for a ruptured tympanic membrane (eardrum). Doc Robbins says it was an antemortem injury, likely caused by a rapid descent leading to a sudden increase in pressure. A flashback shows Sophia jumping off the cliff into the water and not resurfacing. Mark jumped in after her, suffered the ruptured eardrum, got tangled in seaweed, and died. Nick believes Mark was trying to save Sophia, as there's no other reason he would dive into water that deep. Sara isn't so sure.

Nick tells Mr. Young that his son died trying to save someone. After Mr. Young leaves, Sara tells Nick that the evidence didn't support this, but Nick says he figured Mr. Young would rather know this than nothing at all. She warns him to be careful with drawing conclusions when the evidence doesn't necessarily back them up.

Victim: Wesley Jones (deceased)

On the case: Gil Grissom, Warrick Brown

Warrick is working the case of Wesley Jones, who was found dead in his apartment in his massage chair. Grissom joins the case, telling Warrick that Catherine is working the baby case. There are no signs of forced entry, and it doesn't appear that robbery was a motive. There's a small bruise on one of Wesley's fingertips, but no other signs of trauma. Grissom finds a workout schedule on the refrigerator and a bottle of fat metabolizers on the counter. The fat metabolizers contain ephedra; when combined with the heat, it leads to heatstroke. A flashback shows this happening to Wesley.

Doc Robbins tells Warrick that the cause of death was not heatstroke, drugs, or a heart attack. He has Warrick look under the microscope at a cut-off section of the bruise on Wesley's finger. The cells show signs of nuclear streaming, which is what happens when an electric current passes through tissue. There were no burn marks because it was a low-power shock. The current passed over the heart and messed with its rhythm—also called ventricular fibrillation. Warrick needs to identify the point of contact.

In the A/V lab, Warrick looks over the massage chair and sees no burn marks, meaning the current didn't pass through it. Archie examines the remote control but, again, there are no burn marks. Warrick opens up the phone and finds burn marks inside. He surmises that a heat lightning storm passed through the area. A flashback shows lightning striking a transformer, traveling through the power line, and electrocuting Wesley while he was talking on the phone.

On the computer, Warrick views a map of recent lightning strikes; however, none of them have hit Vegas in the last few days. With help from Grissom, he wonders whether the current traveled from the phone and not to it. Warrick and Archie go back to Wesley's house and recreate the scene of the accident. They wonder how the current went across Wesley's body to his right index finger and the phone. Warrick notices a bare footprint on the floor and follows markings along the floor until he reaches a power strip with a melted outlet.

Warrick shows Grissom a bunch of photos of the accident scene and tells him the stain on the floor was a water stain. The stain led to the burnt out power strip and was also found on the cookie sheet and a magazine. A bag was discovered in the kitchen garbage that reads "Ice Block." When you add in the fan, Wesley was making a homemade swamp cooler.

A flashback shows the ice block set up in front of the fan. The water from the ice dripped out of the pan, onto the magazine, down the table and pooled on the floor at his feet. As more ice melted, the water pooled and ran along the power cord all the way to the electric socket. The socket shorted, the shock ran along the cord and water, up through Wesley's feet and out to the telephone in his hand. Warrick remarks that Wesley was just trying to stay cool.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Wallace Langham as David Hodges
  • Archie Kao as Archie Johnson
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Erik Jensen as A.D.A. Jeffrey Sinclair
  • Arye Gross as Paul Winston
  • Stacy Edwards as Vickie Winston
  • Chris Mulkey as Mr. Young
  • Carlos Jacott as Dr. Gardner
  • Rick Ravanello as Stone
  • James Leo Ryan as Morris
  • Cam Gigandet as Mark Young
  • Paul Rae as Wesley Jones
  • Adrienne Smith as Mother
  • Ryan Starr as Sophia Renatta
  • Jacy King as Young Woman
  • Paula Newsome as Evelyn (uncredited)


  • The death of Joshua Winston was inspired by the increasing deaths of children abandoned in unventilated vehicles. The desrh of Howard Winston is inspired by a 70s New York Times article on Tay-Sachs disease, specifically a baby named Jennifer afflicted with the disease.
  • This is the second episode since the Pilot where the CSIs are solving three cases at once.
  • Arye Gross, who played Paul Winston, is no stranger to the CSI franchise. He was also cast in the Season 13 episode Code Blue Plate Special, an episode of CSI:NY (Admissions, Season Four), and and episode of CSI:Vegas (Boned, Season Two).

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