Ghosts of the Past
Season 13
Number 21
Writer Andrew Dettman
Director Brad Tanenbaum
Original Airdate May 8, 2013
Previous Episode: Fearless
Next Episode: Skin in the Game

Ghosts of the Past is the twenty-first episode in Season Thirteen of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


The CSI team investigates the death of a ghost hunter who seems to have gotten dangerously close to the spirit of a dead serial killer.


Victim: Doug Lasky (deceased)

On the case: entire team

Twenty years ago, Walter Simms, a security guard at a meat processing plant, abducted seven boys over a nine-month period. He brought the boys back to the plant, eventually killing them. Walter ended up dying there, as well, after getting into a shootout with the police.

In the present day, three ghost hunters search the plant, hoping to communicate with Walter and/or his young victims. One of the trio, Doug Lasky, searches the slaughterhouse where Walter murdered the boys. He puts a knife down and "entices" Walter to come out and make himself known. When Doug turns around a few seconds later, the knife is gone. Suddenly, Doug is strung up on one of the meat hooks and eviscerated, much to the horror of his fellow ghost hunters, who hear his screaming from the other room. Upon arriving at the scene, Brass notes the similarities between Doug's murder and the murders committed by Walter 20 years ago.

The knife is nowhere to be found, and Finn notes that Owen Webber, one of the other ghost hunters, slipped in the blood on the ground. She also finds a video camera nearby; there's blood on the bottom of it, but it wasn't in the blood pool. The camera is missing its memory card.

Morgan processes Owen, who is ecstatic that they caught a ghost on camera. Carrie Sinclair, the other ghost hunter, is less than enthusiastic, as her friend has been killed. She tells Greg that she felt a strong presence while they were filming and shows him the necklace she wears to protect herself. While being questioned by Morgan, Owen admits to taking the camera's memory card because it contains proof of Doug filming his killer.

Brass talks to Thomas Pope, the property manager. He says that the ghost hunters had permission to film in the plant, signing numerous liability releases before doing so. Thomas also notes the feeling of an eerie presence in the plant and tells Brass he's knocking down the facility as soon as the crime scene is cleared.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins tells Russell that this murder is an exact duplication of the original crimes. However, since the original victims were juveniles, their autopsy reports were never made public. Doug's murder has an M.O. unique enough that it couldn't just be by chance. The doc notes the S-shaped incision in Doug's torso—"S" for Simms.

Greg and Morgan continue to search the abandoned plant, noting that it seems to be a popular hangout for teenagers. Behind a closed door, they find a shrine made to the seven young boys murdered 20 years ago. Some of the items appear to be newer than others, and Morgan finds a woman's earring amongst the pile. Since Carrie wasn't missing an earring earlier, it definitely belongs to someone else.

In the slaughterhouse, Finn and Sara recreate the crime. They determine that one killer could've acted alone, jabbing a meat hook into the victim's back, hoisting him up in the air, and slicing his torso. When they luminol the place, they find the floors are covered in blood, likely from all the animals slaughtered over the years. Sara sprays luminol in the adjacent hallway and discovers one set of footprints heading down a dead end. When she searches a gap in the brick wall, she finds the bloody knife used to kill Doug.

Footage from Owen's camera shows he was alone in the plant's processing room. However, it's discovered that his camera shut off for 98 seconds, which is more than enough time needed to commit a murder. Sara comes back to the lab with the bloody knife and reveals that the fingerprints on it are a match to Owen.

In interrogation, Owen is more concerned about getting his gear back, as he has an actual ghost encounter caught on tape. He tells Nick that the knife found belongs to him; he brought it to the slaughterhouse to "excite the spirits." Ghost chasers, he says, use objects emotionally significant to the dead to provoke them. He adds that his battery pack died during filming, a result of the spirits siphoning the power away in order to get the energy to materialize. The knife provoked Walter's ghost, and the battery provided the energy he needed. Brass, however, is rather unconvinced.

In the hallway, Carrie tells Greg that Owen is no murderer. She can sense Greg entered the slaughterhouse, and she tells him that she's communicating with his Nana Olaf. Carrie is under the impression that Greg is psychic and she begs for his help in communicating with Walter's young victims. Before leaving, she gives Greg her necklace and says that he "needs" it for protection.

Russell introduces Finn to Scott Tunnicliff, an expert on Walter Simms and the slaughterhouse murders. Scott had considerable access to the investigation at the time and even wrote a book chronicling it. He theorizes that Walter had an accomplice, someone to help him lure the boys to his car. Walter was quite a horrifying-looking human being, so children wouldn't just flock to him at the sight of his face; however, witnesses to three of the abductions claim that the victims approached the car and climbed in on their own accord. Finn goes through Scott's notes and photos, noticing several photos of a woman. She's told that the unidentified woman was a trial groupie and was obsessed with Walter. Finn sees that the woman was wearing the same earrings found earlier in the shrine. Through an internet search, Sara eventually identifies the groupie as Monica Downs; her Friend Agenda page contains pictures of dead animals, so not much has changed in 20 years.

Henry and Hodges go back to the plant with Owen's gear. At the time of the murder, Owen's EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) recorder was still on, so the lab techs figure they can use sound to pinpoint where Owen was. Through testing, they eventually determine that Owen was in a separate room when Doug's murder occurred. They also observe a low-frequency wave present everywhere in the facility. The wave is below the human range of hearing; when amplified, it emits a low, rumbling noise (or "infrasound"). While Henry and Hodges search more of the facility, they're alerted to a woman's screams. They rush to the shrine and find Carrie dead with a bloody baseball bat next to her.

Morgan lifts a bloody shoe impression next to Carrie's body. She theorizes that Carrie was sitting in front of the shrine when her killer surprised her and attacked her. The baseball bat was part of the toy collection in the shrine, and Morgan suggests bagging everything and giving it to Henry for processing. Greg finds Carrie's EVP recorder and listens to Carrie's last recording. As he and Morgan listen to Carrie trying to communicate with Walter's victims, they hear her get hit with the baseball bat—which is followed by the sound of children's laughter.

A disheveled and rather psychotic Monica Downs is brought to the station for questioning; the bloody shoeprint next to Carrie's body is from one of her shoes. Monica admits to being at the slaughterhouse earlier, saying that she was there to talk to "the family that Walter created." She denies killing Carrie and Doug, but says that she knows who did—one of "her and Walter's boys" who didn't know she was there watching.

Greg analyzes the sound of the children's laughter, determining that the laughter is real, but prerecorded. A high-frequency hiss from the sound clip was likely emitted by the speaker on whatever device was playing. It seems the killer played a recording of children laughing just after the murder.

Henry processes the toys from the shrine and finds DNA from a single source on every item, including the bloody baseball bat. The DNA belongs to an unknown male, and it matches one sample taken from Walter's car 20 years ago that was never identified. Whoever the killer is sat in the front seat of Walter's car back then, but the DNA from all seven victims was found in the back seat. The investigation has circled back to Walter's unknown accomplice—a male obsessed with the crimes who has enough knowledge to re-create them perfectly. All signs seem to point to author Scott Tunnicliff; however, he's crossed off the list when his alibi checks out.

Russell still likes the theory of Walter's accomplice being the killer and comes up with a theory of his own. Monica said she saw one of the "boys" kill Carrie, and Russell questions whether one of Walter's victims actually survived 20 years ago. What if Walter abducted an eighth boy and forced him to be his accomplice? The boy ran away after Walter was caught, so he could still be out there. Nick digs up missing persons reports from 20 years ago and finds three other boys that disappeared within the same timeframe. Whoever was in the front seat of Walter's car had their prints run; however, because they were juveniles, the prints weren't entered in the system. Because the kids would be of a legal age now, their prints can be legally searched.

Nick and Sara run the prints and get a hit from the glove box of Walter's car. The prints belong to Thomas Pope, who was 11 at the time; Sara recognizes him as the property manager. Meanwhile, Greg has gone to the slaughterhouse to try to communicate with Carrie and the boys—and Thomas is the one who has granted him access to the building.

Greg walks through the darkened slaughterhouse with Thomas following close behind. Unseen to Greg, Thomas pulls out a hammer. When the two enter the shrine room, Thomas' cell phone rings—the ring tone is the laughter of his children. Greg recognizes the sound, points his gun at Thomas, and forces him to drop the hammer.

Thomas' real name is revealed to be Jonathan Harris, one of the three other boys who also disappeared 20 years ago. Jonathan admits to changing his name to help escape his past. He tells Finn and Brass that he feels responsible for the boys' deaths, as he's the one who lured them to Walter's car. When asked about the ghost hunters, Jonathan says he tried to tell his boss it was a bad idea to allow them to explore, fearing they would "talk to the boys" and discover his secret. He felt he had to kill Carrie and Doug before his past was exposed.

In the station locker room, Greg tells Morgan that maybe he's crazy for thinking the case had a spiritual side. When he was in the slaughterhouse, neither Carrie's ghost nor the ghosts of the kids warned him that he had the killer standing right behind him. Morgan replies that someone was looking out for him, and Greg pulls out the necklace Carrie gave him earlier. He hangs the necklace on the inside of his locker door and closes it. As he and Morgan walk away, the door inexplicably swings back open.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]


  • Default by Atoms for Peace
  • Soothe My Soul by Depeche Mode


  • Walter Simms, the central deceased serial killer of the episode, appears to be inspired by real serial killer Dean Corll, a.k.a. “The Candy Man”.
  • Sara mentions that Monica Downs isn't the first murderer-obsessed groupie the team has dealt with. She could possibly be referring to the brides of Nate Haskell, though the CSIs have probably encountered other instances of such behavior.
  • Sara fills Russell in on the case of Lyle Brinks, a sadistic killer who posed as a cop and assaulted 17 women in San Francisco. With Lyle's parole hearing coming up, Sara asks for time off to go back to San Francisco and testify against him. This would explain her absence in the next episode, Skin in the Game; however, the Lyle Brinks storyline is never expanded upon in future episodes.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 13
Karma to BurnCode Blue Plate SpecialWild FlowersIt Was a Very Good YearPlay DeadPick and RollFallen AngelsCSI on FireStrip MaulRisky Business ClassDead AirDouble FaultIn Vino VeritasExileForget Me NotLast Woman StandingDead of the ClassShelteredBackfireFearlessGhosts of the PastSkin in the Game