Gentle, Gentle
Season 1
Number 19
Writer Ann Donahue
Director Danny Cannon
Original Airdate April 12, 2001
Previous Episode: $35K O.B.O.
Next Episode: Sounds of Silence

Gentle, Gentle is the nineteenth episode in Season One of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


The CSI team investigates the kidnapping of the infant child of a rich family. However, when the evidence shows that the family is hiding something, the case takes a darker turn.


Victim: Zack Anderson (missing)

On the case: entire team

In the middle of the night, Gwen Anderson wakes up in an agitated state. She goes to her infant son's room and discovers that he's missing from his crib. The window is wide open with a ladder leaning against the side of the house. She also finds a typewritten ransom note in the crib saying that the kidnapper will call with instructions in six hours. Grissom arrives at the scene and asks for the note, telling Gwen and her husband, Steve, that whoever touched the note before them has their son.

The following morning, Catherine arrives at the house and is informed that the Andersons have a security system they never put on. Inside, Grissom becomes interested in the open soda bottle on the kitchen counter; Steve recalls opening it after he called 911. Grissom requests an unopened soda bottle, a piece of Zack's (the baby) clothing, and blood samples from the entire family. Outside, he tells Sara to have the ransom note examined and to take every computer and printer from the Anderson house with her; it's possible the note was typed from inside the house. Nick is given the soda bottles and told him to take them back to the lab and open the unopened bottle at 72 °F. Warrick is tasked with canvassing the entire property in the hopes of finding some signs of the kidnapper.

Warrick photographs a footprint in the dirt near the ladder; upon climbing the ladder, he spots a spiderweb in the corner of the window of Zack's room. He believes that it would be hard for someone to enter the room without destroying the web, but Grissom informs him that spiders can build a web in just a few hours. Grissom finds two separate and distinctive hairs in the crib, and he notices a pine smell emanating from a specific spot in the carpet. The spot tests positive for blood, and he and Warrick conclude that Zack was killed before he even left the room.

Documents expert Ronnie Litre shows Sara three vertical dots on the ransom note; the dots indicate that the printer's drum has a spot on it. Sara examines the paper from the Andersons' printer and sees that there are no dots; the paper is also inconsistent with the ransom note. She relays this information to Grissom, and he tells her to check all of the printers at Steve's company. It's possible one of his coworkers or a disgruntled employee could be behind everything.

Back at the house, Warrick determines that the shoeprint he lifted is from the gardener's boot; however, the gardener has been out of town for three days. He and Grissom are soon alerted to the barking of the scent dogs. They run to the neighboring golf course, where Zack's body is found wrapped in a blanket and placed under a statue. Distraught and angry, Grissom insists on snapping the photos and taking the body to the coroner.

The autopsy reveals that Zack died due to asphyxiation from being smothered to death. Curiously, though, there are no hand marks on the body, nor is there trauma around the nose and mouth. Grissom notes that he found the baby wrapped in a blanket and questions whether the abductor wrapped the baby too tight and suffocated him by mistake. Doc Robbins says that this is a possibility; however, he believes the crime was too violent to have been accidental. A fiber is extracted from the baby's throat and he has a freshly-cracked sternum. Someone manhandled poor Zack.

Catherine and Grissom speak with the Andersons, noting that Zack was found 500 yards from the house. He was wearing clean clothes, was wrapped in a blanket, and was carefully laid under a statue. All of this is inconsistent with how a stranger would treat a victim. Grissom also mentions that the Andersons never got a ransom call. What kind of kidnapper forgets to call a wealthy family for a ransom? Signs point to the kidnapping as being an inside job, and the Andersons are incensed that they're suspects. Warrick arrives at the house and reveals that the blood in Zack's room belongs to Tyler, the Andersons' oldest son.

Under interrogation, Tyler claims that he accidentally broke Zack's window playing baseball. When he tried to replace the window, he cut himself on the glass and attempted to clean up the blood using pine cleanser. Tyler also confirms that he babysat his two brothers last night, as his parents were up the street at a homeowners' meeting. The oldest Anderson boy has quite a temper on him, as records show he was expelled from school twice last year for physical altercations. However, he insists that he would never hurt his baby brother.

Catherine and Grissom return to the Anderson house and search it from top to bottom. While Catherine comes across an empty plastic storage wrapper for an Egyptian cotton baby blanket, Grissom finds a pair of green-stained nylons in Steve's closet and roll of white plastic trash bags in the kitchen.

Back in the lab, Nick recreates the conditions the open bottle of soda was exposed to and logs his findings. He tells Grissom that he picked up the faint smell of alcohol from Steve's bottle. Meanwhile, a third set of fingerprints from the ransom note belongs to Needra Fenway, Steve's secretary. Sara determines that Needra's printer was used to print the ransom note, as the same three vertical dots appear on a sample page.

When questioned, Needra is surprised when told her printer was used to print the ransom note. She explains that anyone in the office could've used her printer. One of the hairs from the baby's crib is a match to Needra, and she admits that she and Steve had an affair; however, they ended it. The CSIs theorize that the affair ended when Gwen became pregnant, and kidnapping the baby would be a good way to get even and end Steve's marriage. Catherine also wonders if Steve is the one who set everything up in order to get out from underneath the obligation of a newborn.

Grissom questions Steve privately, and the grieving father and husband confirms his affair; however, he's certain Needra wouldn't kidnap and kill a baby. He says that he ended the affair the day he found out Gwen was pregnant and, one week ago, he took Needra up to watch the baby sleep and "accept the reality" of things. Grissom is skeptical, and he tells Steve that he's lied before. Nick's lab test on the soda shows that it was opened six hours before Steve claimed it was. Grissom's thought is that the Andersons caught Needra suffocating Zack and tried to cover it up. During the conversation, a reporter arrives and shows Steve private photographs of him and Needra that have gone public. Gwen catches wind of this and stares down her husband.

Psychologist Philip Kane puts forth the theory that Gwen is actually the one who killed her baby as a way of getting back at her cheating husband. Brass supports the idea, discovering that Gwen has a 13-year-old charge against her for "shaken baby syndrome"—when Tyler was a child, she shook him unconscious and had to take him to the hospital. Gwen has a record for child abuse.

Under interrogation, Gwen claims that she shook a young Tyler unconscious because he was choking on food. Doctors found no evidence of this; by the time the food was found on the kitchen floor later, Gwen had already been branded as a bad mother. Before the interrogation ends, Grissom reveals that the golf course that neighbors the Anderson house uses vegetable dye to paint its grass green. The same dye was found on the nylons in Steve's closet, and receipts link them to Gwen. Despite this, Gwen is allowed to walk for the time being.

Catherine and Grissom watch Gwen walk to her car and observe her being repelled by her younger son, Robbie. Sara informs Grissom that Zack's time of death was around 9:00 PM. The fiber found in the baby's throat is a flame-retardant material called Metaramid that's found in things that are made to be near fire and flames. Grissom suddenly comes to a realization. He and Sara go back to the Anderson house and find an oven mitt that's the same color as the fiber found in Zack's throat.

Catherine and Warrick replay the 911 call made from the Anderson house at 4:30 AM. Steve made the call, and Gwen can be heard in the background panicking. Warrick measures the stress level of Gwen's voice and determines that her concern is genuine. No other calls were made from the house that night. Catherine still believes that Tyler is the one responsible, and she has Warrick check the oldest son's cell phone records.

At a meeting between Catherine, Grissom, and Andersons' lawyers, the CSIs are granted three questions for each family member. Grissom replies that he has no questions, as his team has interpreted the evidence. Sometime around 11:00 PM, Steve made himself a drink and formulated a plan on what to do with Zack's body. Because no dollar amount was specified in the ransom note, the thought is that a parent wrote it—it was too hard to put a price on their own child. Steve went to his office to print the note in the hopes that the police wouldn't be able to trace it. Meanwhile, Gwen wrapped Zack in a blanket from the linen closet and laid him to rest on the golf course, which is how the green dye got on her nylons. She also put down a plastic bag from the pantry to keep the body dry, showing genuine care and concern. When he returned home, Steve put the ladder against the house to make it look like someone used it to kidnap Zack. The baby's time of death was put at 9:00 PM—when he and Robbie were under Tyler's care. Confronted with the evidence, Gwen admits that when Zack wouldn't stop crying, she accidentally suffocated him with a potholder. They then came up with the kidnap story to try and save face.

When Warrick is told that Gwen confessed, he gives Grissom the recording of the 911 call Tyler made earlier in the evening. On the call, Tyler can be heard screaming at his younger brother: "What did you do, Robbie?! What did you do?!"

With his father by his side, Tyler recounts the night's events. He was babysitting Robbie and Zack, but ended up getting distracted by a phone conversation with his girlfriend. By the time he walked over to Zack's crib, the baby wasn't moving. He called 911, but got disconnected in the chaos. When his parents walked in and saw him performing CPR, more chaos ensued. Tyler admits that he performed CPR so hard, he cracked the baby's sternum. Steve says that they didn't tell the truth because they wanted to protect Robbie and didn't want him to grow up with the stigma of "the boy who killed his brother." Grissom says that Robbie is three years old and is clinically unaware of his actions; however, Steve says his wife would rather go to jail than have everyone know what Robbie did. "We won't let that happen," Grissom replies.

Gwen is released from jail and tells Catherine that Robbie didn't mean to do what he did. Catherine and Grissom escort her out of the police station and prepare her for the barrage of reporters waiting for her outside.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Eric Szmanda as Greg Sanders
  • Robert David Hall as Dr. Al Robbins
  • Eric Stonestreet as Ronnie Litre
  • Terry Bozeman as Attorney Brad Lewis
  • Paula Francis as News Anchor
  • Lisa Darr as Gwen Anderson
  • Brian McNamara as Steven Anderson
  • Reginald VelJohnson as Dr. Philip Kane
  • Jesse Littlejohn as Tyler Anderson
  • Natalie Zea as Needra Fenway
  • Wayne Thomas Yorke as CSI Tech
  • Kevin Will as Male Parent
  • Stewart Skelton as FBI Agent
  • Maureen Muldoon as Reporter Lynda Darby
  • Tyler DeFrance as Robbie Anderson
  • Jim Jenkins as Media Person
  • Kathrin Middleton as Female Parent #2
  • Susan Grace as Female Parent #1

Episode Title[]

  • "Gentle, gentle" is what Gwen Anderson told her son, Robbie, in regards to holding their baby, Zack.


  • When Grissom pulls the blanket out from under the cabinet, there is a roll of paper towels attached to the door which changes position in between shots.


  • The story of the death of Zachary Anderson was inspired by the death of JonBenét Ramsey and the ambiguity of her parents' involvement.[1]
  • Lisa Darr played Gwen Anderson in the episode. She also appears in the Season 9 episode Turn, Turn, Turn playing a different role.


  1. Flaherty, M. & Marrinan, C. (2004). CSI: Crime scene investigation companion. New York, NY: Pocket Books.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 1
PilotCool ChangeCrate 'n BurialPledging Mr. JohnsonFriends & LoversWho Are You?Blood DropsAnonymousUnfriendly SkiesSex, Lies and LarvaeI-15 MurdersFahrenheit 932BoomTo Halve and to HoldTable StakesToo Tough to DieFace Lift$35K O.B.O.Gentle, GentleSounds of SilenceJustice is ServedEvaluation DayStrip Strangler