Grissom Versus the Volcano
Season 4
Number 9
Writer Josh Berman,
Carol Mendelsohn,
Anthony E. Zuiker
Director Richard J. Lewis
Original Airdate December 11, 2003
Previous Episode: After the Show
Next Episode: Coming of Rage

Grissom Versus the Volcano is the ninth episode in Season Four of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


When the new sheriff is witness to a car bombing that kills an air marshal and two others, he puts pressure on Grissom to find the murderer. Nick puts the bomb back together, finding out it was a pipe bomb connected to to a timer in the dashboard. Remains of the bomb lead Grissom, Catherine and Nick to a high school science fair. Meanwhile, Sara and Warrick look into the death of the wife of a popular singer.


Victim: Adam Watson (deceased)

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

Outside of the Orpheus hotel, a valet goes to get a bag out of the trunk of a car when the car explodes, killing him and the driver. Among the witnesses is Sheriff Rory Atwater, who was just leaving the hotel. Catherine and Grissom arrive and, as they go over the events with the sheriff, gunshots start ringing out causing everyone to take cover.

After the shots cease and the CSIs examine the crime scene, Grissom sees that the bag in the trunk had bullets in it. The heat from the explosion ignited the gunpowder, causing the bullets to explode. As Grissom looks over the car, he finds the driver's feet still on the floor in front of the seat. The VIN number is attached to the car. While placing evidence markers around the scene, Catherine finds a melted gun that she presumes belonged to the driver. Nick arrives and offers to start bagging evidence and separating out the bomb components.

In the CSI garage, an eager Greg offers to help Grissom examine the car. Grissom determines that the bomb was attached to the gas tank and asks Greg to find the initiation switch. Under the car, Greg finds a stray wire that leads to the center of the dashboard. Grissom surmises that the digital clock in the car was the switch and that it was time-activated. Meanwhile, Nick separates out the parts of the bomb and deduces that it was a pipe bomb initiated by a light bulb filament. Concerned that he has nothing to go to the press with, Sheriff Atwater asks Grissom for information about the bomber and his/her motive. Grissom replies that they're only learning about the bomb and that there's nothing distinctive about it like a signature.

Bobby Dawson tells Catherine that the melted gun she found was nondescript. There was a blue substance on it that he thinks was from a bag that melted in the explosion, a sample of which was sent to trace. However, he informs Catherine that the bullets from the trunk of the car are unique—they're designed to enter a target but not exit it. He concludes that the victim of the explosion is likely a Federal Air Marshal, as these are the types of bullets that would be used on an airplane if it was being hijacked.

Brass speaks to the manager of the place the car was rented from. The manager confirms that the car was rented to Adam Watson, who was irate when he couldn't rent a compact car and flashed his air marshal badge to the manager. Adam chose the Camaro; the manager tells Brass that the car arrived on the lot at 9:31 PM and Adam drove it out nine minutes later. Brass relays this information to Grissom, but Grissom is puzzled. The bomb went off 30 minutes after Adam drove the car off the lot, and it takes a lot longer than that to hard-wire a bomb. They guess that the bomb was already in the car when it was returned to the rental place, meaning that they need to find out who rented the car before Adam.

It's found that the previous renter of the Camaro was a Roger Dunbar. Brass and some uniformed officers break down the door to Roger's apartment, but find nobody inside. The interior is barely decorated, with only an air mattress on the floor. Catherine and Grissom enter the house; Catherine finds a paper shredder with shreds inside, while Grissom collects a bloody band-aid from one of the garbage cans. There appear to be no signs of bomb-making materials. As Catherine examines some magazines on a table, she notices writing on one of the covers. She dusts the cover and sees that the writing reads "Dr. Amerian, 4:00 PM" and that the date is today.

Roger is found and brought in for questioning, upset that he was pulled out of his dentist's office and accused of planting a car bomb. After a few questions, he refuses to answer further without an attorney present. Catherine has him remove his clothes as evidence. Meanwhile, Nick discovers that the explosive used was ammonium perchlorate (rocket fuel) and the GCMS identified the other half as gasoline. He points out to Grissom that ammonium perchlorate can be purchased at any chemical supply store, so this doesn't necessarily narrow down the list of suspects. Sheriff Atwater interrupts with a few questions, one of which asks why a bomb tied to a digital clock would go off at the wrong time. Nick shows him that there was a short in the wire, which would cause the bomb to go off at any time, making it unpredictable.

Lab results show that Roger had rocket fuel on his t-shirt. When questioned about this, Roger tells Catherine and Brass that he was helping his son Timmy with a science project for Mesquite Elementary School; he built a volcano and some of the chemicals spilled onto his shirt. There's still visible confusion about his apartment, and Roger explains that he needs his space from his family, so he rents an apartment and tells them that he's out of town on business.

Catherine and Brass get Roger's "real" home address and she and Grissom pay his family a visit. Inside the Dunbar house, they find a model volcano on the dining room table along with three chemicals, one of which is ammonium perchlorate. Catherine questions Roger's wife, Beth, who says that Roger is largely inept and didn't help build the volcano. Beth informs Catherine that Roger works for the state department and once accidentally revealed that he actually worked for the CIA.

Grissom brings the model volcano back to the lab as evidence. Nick tells him that the tool marks on the bomb's end cap are consistent with pliers or a vice grip; however, there was no vice grip present in the Dunbar's toolbox. Grissom removes the end cap used in the volcano and compares it with the bomb's end cap; the tool marks are completely different, meaning that the tool used to build the bomb was not used in the volcano.

Catherine speaks to Ronnie Litre about the paper shreds found in Roger's secret apartment. There are five bills laid out on the table and two of them are credit card bills. However, one of the bills is addressed to Roger A. Dunbar, while the other is for Roger B. Dunbar. There are three different gas bills—one for the apartment, one for his house in Mesquite, and another for a house in Henderson. Greg interrupts and informs Catherine that the blood found on the band-aid in Roger's apartment came back as female with seven alleles in common with Roger, indicating a relative. Since Catherine was told that Roger's parents are deceased and that he's an only child, this means he has a daughter. It appears he's living a secret life with a family in Henderson.

Catherine and Grissom pay Debbie Dunbar a visit. Catherine shows her a photo of Roger, and Debbie confirms that Roger is her husband. They tell Debbie that Roger is in police custody, which is why he hasn't been in contact with her recently. Grissom looks through the trash can outside and finds the same chemicals used in the volcano. Debbie confirms that she has a daughter named Amy who just entered the science fair. Inside the house, they find a model volcano identical to the one they found in the other house. Debbie tells Catherine and Grissom that Roger built the volcano and used the pair of vice grips that they discovered.

Under interrogation, Roger admits to having two wives, saying he spends the weekdays with Debbie and Amy, and the weekends with Beth and Timmy. He rented the apartment to give himself a little personal time every once in a while, as well as using it as an address on his bank statements. As for the bloody band-aid, he claims that Amy gave it to him to throw away, which he did in his apartment. When pressed, he admits to borrowing pliers from Beth's house in Mesquite and using them to build Amy's volcano in Henderson, knowing how to do so after watching Beth build the first one. Roger realizes he messed up when he remembers that he never returned the pliers to Beth in Mesquite.

Catherine goes to Beth's house and lines up the tool marks from the bomb with the tool marks left on a garden hose pipe that she had fixed the week before. Beth is arrested and brought in for questioning. In interrogation, she admits to Catherine and Grissom that she suspected Roger was seeing another woman. However, she snapped when she realized he actually had a whole other family. She built the bomb and put it in the rental car, admitting that it was supposed to go off at 8:30 PM when Roger was on his way to the airport. However, it went off later and killed three innocent people. Grissom asks Beth why she chose a bomb as the murder weapon; she replies that it's not much harder to build a bomb than it is to build a volcano.

Victim: Amelia Reuben (deceased)

On the case: Sara Sidle, Warrick Brown, Louis Vartann

Sara and Warrick are called to a hotel room where Amelia Reuben, the wife of famous singer Myles Reuben, is found lying face down in a bubbling hot tub. Sara discovers a wine glass in the tub, while Warrick finds an almost empty wine bottle on a table. Sara wonders whether the wine made Amelia too relaxed, causing her to drown. Doc Robbins arrives and puts the time of death at less than an hour ago. Meanwhile, Sara lifts fingerprints from the hot tub buttons. They speak to Myles' manager, Sam Hopkins, who wants to be the one to relay the news to Myles. When he's unable to do so, Sara breaks the news instead.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins tells Sara and Warrick that Amelia didn't die from drowning, but from cardiac arrest. Warrick finds this odd, as Amelia was only 25 years old. The doc confirms that Amelia's heart was in perfect condition and says that he can't explain why this happened to her. Sara runs the prints recovered from the hot tub buttons and finds that they come back to Sam Hopkins. As she and Warrick wonder what Sam was doing in the room, Greg interrupts and tells them that hydroflouric acid was found in Amelia's system—she was poisoned.

Sara and Warrick go to speak to Sam. In addition to being Myles' manager, Sam says that he was also his marriage counselor and confidant. He kept Myles happy by keeping Amelia happy. A flashback shows Sam in the hotel room while Amelia laid in the hot tub with tears running down her face. Sam offered to set up a dinner for the two of them, turned a dial on the hot tub, and left. In the present, Sam tells them that he does anything Myles asks him to and is surprised when told that Amelia was poisoned.

Greg discovers that Amelia's wine had been spiked with the hydroflouric acid. Sara and Warrick question the room service waiter who was responsible for bringing Amelia the wine. He confirms that there was nobody else in the hotel room the night Amelia died; the only person that came in was Myles, and he promptly showed the waiter the door. The waiter tells Sara and Warrick that Amelia would call him up to the room several times per night, leading the waiter to think that she was lonely. He adds that while he never saw the couple fight, he heard them; the guests in the neighboring rooms probably heard them, as well.

Sara and Warrick search Myles' residence, where they end up finding a bottle of glass cleaner that contains hydroflouric acid as an ingredient. Along with Det. Vartann, they interrogate Myles. He recognizes the glass cleaner and says that he used it to clean his windows. He would write music late at night and would use the windows as his chalkboard, wiping away the writing with the glass cleaner and a towel. Myles is surprised that Amelia was poisoned, as he says he was present when the bottle of wine was opened. He admits to loving his wife passionately, but says that they fought almost every night because she knew she couldn't have Myles to herself due to his popularity.

After Myles leaves to go perform a sound check for his show, Sara, Warrick and Vartann sum up what they have in the case. Three people admitted to being with Amelia the night she died—Myles, his manager, Sam, and the room service waiter. Vartann rules out the room service waiter, as he had left the room before the wine was opened. This leaves Sara to wonder if Myles killed his wife and Sam is covering for him or whether Sam killed Amelia and Myles doesn't know about it.

In the lab, Warrick looks over rubber gloves found in Myles' residence and sees three burn marks on one of them. Sara walks in and tells Warrick that she recovered Amerlia's fingerprints from the bottle of glass cleaner. In the morgue, they examine Amelia's right hand and find burn marks that line up with the holes in the gloves. They conclude that Amelia wore the rubber gloves, poured the glass cleaner into the wine, got in the hot tub, and committed suicide. Warrick relays this information to Myles, who blames himself and admits that he spent more time making his fans happy than he did making his wife happy.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Xander Berkeley as Sheriff Rory Atwater
  • Tom Gallop as Attorney Randy Painter
  • Alex Carter as Detective Louis Vartann
  • Eric Stonestreet as Ronnie Litre
  • Gerald McCullouch as Bobby Dawson
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Joseph Patrick Kelly as Officer Metcalf
  • Randy J. Goodwin as Myles Reuben
  • Billy Keane as Roger Dunbar
  • Susan Diol as Beth Dunbar
  • Don Stark as Sam Hopkins
  • Louis Lombardi as Waiter
  • Tricia O'Kelley as Debbie Dunbar
  • Daphne Duplaix as Amelia Reuben
  • Benny Nieves as Adam Watson
  • Benjamin Bryan as Timmy Dunbar
  • Ashley Lauren Cunningham as Amy Dunbar
  • Thianta Perderson as Debbie Beckles Maidenfaint

Episode Title[]

  • The title of the episode is likely a take on the movie Joe Versus the Volcano, a 1990 romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.   

Major Events[]

  • This episode marks the first appearance of Alex Carter as Detective Louis Vartann. He would appear in 41 episodes.


  • While in Myles' residence, Warrick plays the piano for a bit. He previously showed off his piano playing skills in the episode Primum Non Nocere.


  • While searching Myles' home, Sara mentions she will start with the west wing. Actress Jorja Fox appeared in several episodes of The West Wing.
  • This is the second episode with a main character name in the title. The previous episode prior to this was The Execution of Catherine Willows.

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