Season 7
Number 8
Writer Sarah Goldfinger
Director Jean de Segonzac
Original Airdate November 16, 2006
Previous Episode: Post Mortem
Next Episode: Living Legend

Happenstance is the eighth episode in Season Seven of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


The CSIs investigate the death of two identical twins within a two hour time frame on opposite sides of town. When the team discovers that the twins knew nothing of each other, they begin to wonder if the two cases are connected or just a very bizarre coincidence.


Victims: Amanda Sinclair, Jill Case (both deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Gil Grissom, Greg Sanders, Nick Stokes, Warrick Brown, Jim Brass, Sofia Curtis

Two women go through their nightly routines; the viewer sees that they're identical twins. One woman appears to live alone, while the other has a family. Both listen to the same types of music and even use the same dry cleaners. As one woman (woman #1) goes to pick up dry cleaning, the other (woman #2) is shown putting on a black dress, seemingly getting ready for a date. Outside of the dry cleaners, woman #1 notices that her husband's shirt has a lipstick mark on it. Soon thereafter, woman #1 is shot to death; across town, woman #2 is found in her apartment hanging from the second floor.

Outside of the dry cleaners, David Phillips tells Catherine that the body of woman #1 has been dead for less than four hours. Due to the noise of the steam machines, the owner of the dry cleaners didn't hear anything; however, he does recognize the woman as a regular customer. Catherine sees that the car the woman was driving has been keyed and finds the keys and a cell phone, but no purse. A mugging is ruled out since the mugger didn't take the car, which happens to be a Lexus. Inside, she finds that the car is registered to a Dr. Gary Sinclair. Nick goes through the woman's cell phone, finds that "Gary Home" has called her six times in the last hour, and figures that Gary is the woman's husband. A car seat in the back shows that she was a wife and mother.

At the house of woman #2, Warrick can immediately tell that she didn't have kids. There are photos on the wall of the woman with famous people, including Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton. Grissom finds the woman's driver's license and identifies her as Jill Case, Editor-in-Chief of the Las Vegas Globe. He adds that Jill was one of the youngest women in history to run a newspaper. There's no sign of forced entry and a suicide note is found that simply reads "I apologize to everyone." Aluminum foil in the shape of a swan indicates that Jill ate at Joie de Vive, a restaurant famous for their swan-shaped doggie bags. Warrick wonders why someone planning to kill themselves would bring home a doggie bag, and Grissom replies that it's human nature to perform the routine notions of one's life up until the moment of their death.

Outside of the dry cleaners, Nick goes through the dumpsters and finds a purse. He also pulls a blue stocking, possibly worn by the killer to conceal his face. Inside the purse, Nick finds the victim's driver's license identifying her as Amanda Sinclair. There's also an envelope in the purse. Nick opens it and reads a hand-written note that reads "Please do not ever contact me again—Sincerely, Dora."

Doc Robbins ushers Catherine and Warrick down to autopsy and shows them that their victims are identical twins. They even have the same toenail polish and wore the same watch. He tells them that Jill has injuries consistent with a hanging, while Amanda was shot twice, once through the heart and once through a lung. The twins didn't die at the same time, as Amanda died a few hours before Jill.

In his office, Grissom reads a note inviting him to an entomology seminar and it's requested that he consider taking a sabbatical. Catherine walks in and believes that the two cases are now one, but Grissom thinks they could still be unrelated. Her theory is that Jill killed Amanda, then hung herself because she felt guilty. There were no photos of Amanda or her family in Jill's house, and Jill wasn't listed as a contact in Amanda's phone. Because Jill didn't leave a next of kin in her will, Catherine figures that the sisters are estranged. Catherine bets a dollar that the deaths are related and Grissom takes the bet.

The investigation's first focus is Amanda. Sofia speaks with Amanda's husband, Gary. When asked how Amanda's relationship was with Jill, Gary says that Jill was an only child and had been adopted. He believes that if Amanda knew she was a twin, she would've shared that information with him. Gary asks to see Jill and is told that she's dead, as well.

Fingerprints on the envelope found in Amanda's purse come back to Dora Pomerantz, who happens to be in the system. Nick and Sofia pay her a visit and find out that she gave birth to twins when she was eighteen. The twins' father was killed in Vietnam and, not being able to care for the children, Dora put them up for adoption. She's been in an equine therapy program and had it recommended to her that she not contact her daughters. When questioned about the letter she wrote to Amanda, Dora asks who Amanda is. She recognizes the handwriting as her daughter Tiffany's, adding that the envelopes are kept loosely in a drawer and that she must've touched it before Tiffany sent it.

Tiffany tells Nick and Sofia that she didn't know her mother had given up a kid, but knows that there's no way she could've handled raising one. She admits to screening her mother's mail because she has a problem where she donates large sums of money to any charity that would ask. Thinking Amanda was looking for a handout, Tiffany wrote a polite letter back in response telling her to leave them alone. When asked if Jill ever tried to contact her mother, Tiffany doesn't recognize the name.

Wendy tells Catherine that she was unable to recover DNA from the blue stocking Nick found. Furthermore, she found that the lipstick from Gary's shirt collar wasn't a match to Amanda, but rather to a Natal Peled, a coworker of Gary's at the hospital. It turns out Natal bounces around from hospital to hospital looking for rich doctors to get with; an incident at a party got her arrested on a rape charge and put in the system. Nick questions her outside of the hospital; she says that she tried to get with Gary, but Amanda was always getting in the way. When she holds up her keys, Nick sees paint embedded in one of them. When tested, it's found that the paint is a match to Amanda's scratched Lexus.

Catherine informs Nick that the ballistics on the bullets that killed Amanda came back to a Baby Eagle—an Israeli military-issued gun. As it turns out, Natal served in the Israeli army. Catherine puts forward two theories—either Gary and Natal are acting in cahoots, or Natal killed Amanda because she was keeping her from being with Gary.

Sofia visits the Sinclair residence with a warrant to search the premises. Out in the street, Nick finds a bunch of cigarettes on the ground; one of them has lipstick on it. He's disappointed to find out that the lipstick doesn't belong to Natal; however, Wendy tells him that the smoker has seven alleles in common with Amanda. They're looking for another sister—Tiffany.

Under interrogation, Tiffany tells Sofia that she's unhappy with her life. She read the letter Amanda sent and was excited at the thought of having a sister. Wanting to see what Amanda was like, she would drive by her house frequently and watch her play with her son. All the while, she would be smoking cigarettes in her car. Tiffany says that she couldn't build up the courage to speak to Amanda and now will never get the chance.

The investigation now shifts to Jill. Inside her house, Warrick finds evidence of a missing laptop. As he goes through the house and Jill's car, he sees how clean and organized she was. In the bedroom, Warrick finds a drawer full of sex paraphernalia. Another drawer contains condoms, deodorant and a shaver, indicating that Jill had a man in her life. Greg, fresh on the scene, finds multiple pill bottles in the bathroom.

Grissom speaks with Jill's psychiatrist, Dr. Hoffman, who tells Grissom that Jill had OCD-related depression, which is deceiving because the sufferers are high functioning. He adds that her condition made her excel professionally but flop personally. Grissom tells Dr. Hoffman that Jill was adopted when she was a baby, which the doctor says explains Jill's abandonment-attachment issues and her feelings of not belonging. Dr. Hoffman doesn't believe Jill was suicidal. When asked why Jill would kill herself, the doctor says it was simply because the choice was there.

In the morgue, Doc Robbins shows Grissom bruise marks around Jill's neck that appeared postmortem. The bruises are consistent with manual strangulation, meaning that she was murdered.

Warrick and Brass visit the newspaper Jill worked for. In Jill's office, Warrick sees that her laptop is missing, similar to the scene at the house. He goes through the doors and finds them all organized; however, he's unable to open the bottom drawer. The receptionist tells Warrick that Jill had recently become very secretive. After yanking the drawer out, he finds a flash drive taped to the side.

In the A/V lab, Archie shows Catherine and Grissom that, based on their planners, Amanda and Jill shared many similarities. Outside of wearing the same toenail polish and having the same watch, they both used the same dry cleaners, bought at the same car dealership, and ate the same foods. Jill had even signed up to teach a university photography class that Amanda had signed up for, which means the two women would've eventually met. Security camera footage from the Joie de Vive restaurant is put up on the screen; there, Grissom sees that Jill had dinner with Dr. Hoffman.

Under interrogation, Dr. Hoffman admits to Brass that he and Jill had had sex in the past. Brass theorizes that the two engaged in rough sex and that the doctor went too far. Knowing that Jill had a history of depression, he staged her suicide. Dr. Hoffman denies this, saying that he went to dinner with Jill and only dropped her off at her house without going inside.

Wendy tells Greg that the epithelials recovered from the dog leash used to hang Jill are male, but they don't match Dr. Hoffman. Warrick reaches the same conclusion before Greg can tell him. In the A/V lab, they look at the contents of the hidden flash drive. On the drive, there's a war photo that Warrick says was bought by the Associated Press, was on the front page of the newspaper, and won a Pulitzer Prize. It's found that the photo was a composite of other photos taken by fellow journalist Jake Lenoir a year before. Jill had printed the photo and probably didn't realize it was a fake until it was too late. Warrick guesses that before Jill died, she was trying to figure out a way to handle it. She was the only thing standing between Jake and the rest of his career.

Jake is interrogated by Brass and admits to faking the picture because, in his words, there's nothing in Iraq to photograph. Brass accuses him of murdering Jill because she was on to his scheme and was going to blow the whistle on him; however, Jake says that, if necessary, he was going to accuse Jill of sexual harassment and take both of them down. Jake also admits to having been in a relationship with Jill, but says that it didn't go very far. Brass reveals that Jake's skin cells are all over the dog leash used to hang Jill, and Jake explains this away by saying that he used to walk her dog way more than she did.

In Jake's messy apartment, Greg and Warrick are unable to find Jill's missing laptop, but Greg finds an empty box in the trash that used to contain hard-drive scrubbing software. Warrick finds a torn notepad with some apology notes on it that mirror the language used in Jill's suicide note. Near the washer and dryer, Greg comes across a blue stocking on a vent, similar to the one used in Amanda's murder. There are clothes in the dryer. Greg takes a shirt out and finds stains on them that test positive for blood.

Back in interrogation, Jake tells Brass that Jill kept an incredibly rigid schedule that included her picking her dry cleaning up every Thursday night. Unbeknownst to him, Jill had picked up her dry cleaning earlier because she had a date that night with Dr. Hoffman. Outside of the dry cleaners, he saw someone who looked like Jill and drove the same car as her, so he shot her and went back to Jill's house to get the computer files that would incriminate him. Much to his surprise, Jill walked through the door. Having been caught in the act, he strangled Jill and staged the murder to look like a suicide.

Jake says that Jill was an incredibly thorough person. In fact, she was so thorough, he had to kill her twice. Outside of the interrogation room, Catherine rips a dollar bill in half and offers it to Grissom, saying that they were both right about the case. Grissom points out that doing so is a federal offense.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]


Catherine: Well, I got a phone and keys, but no purse.
Nick: Mugging?
Catherine: Take the purse but leave the Lexus?
Nick: Yeah, that's not real savvy, is it?


  • Two of a Kind by Bobby Darin and Johnny Mercer


  • In the beginning of the episode, Grissom is looking at a letter that mentions an entomology seminar, and it suggests that he take a sabbatical. This foreshadows William Peterson leaving the show in order to star in a play for three episodes.


  • On one version of the CSI DVD sets released, this episode says it has commentary by Eva La Rue (who stars on CSI: Miami), on the inside and on the disc itself, however, on the back of the DVD case where it lists all the episodes that have commentary, this one is not included, nor does it give you that option when watching the episode.
  • Hodges refers to the victim's car as having been damaged by "the sabra's key." "Sabra" is a term used to describe a native-born Israeli (Natal, in this case); it literally means "prickly pear."

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 7
Built to Kill, Part 1Built to Kill, Part 2Toe TagsFannysmackin'Double CrossBurn OutPost MortemHappenstanceLiving LegendLoco MotivesLeaving Las VegasSweet JaneRedrumMeet MarketLaw of GravityMonster in the BoxFallen IdolsEmpty EyesBig ShotsLab RatsEnding HappyLeapin' LizardsThe Good, The Bad, And The DominatrixLiving Doll