D.B. Russel & Jim Brass - S14 E8 Helpless (1)
Season 14
Number 8
Writer Tom Mularz
Director Karen Gaviola
Original Airdate November 13, 2013
Previous Episode: Under a Cloud
Next Episode: Check In and Check Out

Helpless is the eighth episode in Season Fourteen of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


When a man is found dead inside a human-sized hamster ball, the CSI team is brought in to investigate. Also, the team collaborates with a swing shift CSI on a case involving a serial rapist.


Victim: Zack Fisk (deceased)

On the case: D.B. Russell, Julie Finlay, Jim Brass

A bloody human-sized hamster ball rolls up to a house in a subdivision; inside is a dead Caucasian male in his 30s. Russell guesses that the ball couldn't have traveled too far, but the couple who called the police don't recognize the victim. David Phillips examines the body from the outside, noting the presence of severe blunt force injuries to the victim's head and face. Russell states that the entire crime scene is inside the ball, and he tasks David with bringing it back to the lab as is.

In the morgue, Doc Robbins determines that the victim died from an intracerebral hemorrhage caused by blunt force trauma. The victim was beaten with some sort of hard implement that left semicircular lacerations on the his forehead. Finn notes that there were brown paint flecks on the outside of the ball, placing the assailant outside of it. The thin vinyl of the ball got caught between the weapon and the victim, and the weapon left behind distinct tool marks at the point of impact.

Hodges is able to identify all 37 different plant trace exemplars that were on the outside of the ball. Every sample matches a landscaping map from the subdivision. With this, the ball is able to be tracked back to the house of Zack Fisk—who also happens to be their victim.

Finn and Russell check out Zack's house, finding that the back door is open and wide enough for the ball to fit through. Scuff marks on some furniture match the height of the ball, and a tipped-over vase helps show the CSIs the route the ball took. Finn finds a statue that matches the color and shape of the supposed murder weapon, but its texture isn't conducive to fingerprints. However, she does find some trace in the statue and photographs it.

Russell makes his way through the house and finds Zack's romper room, which is full of oversized freaky items, such as cages and chests. When opened, Zack's laptop is on the website ConfinedBliss.com, a site dedicated to those aroused by tight spaces. The site is run by Zack himself, and one of the items shown is the hamster ball. Russell plays the video; in it, Zack describes the ball's advantages, which include claustrophobia bringing the inhabitant to a "full sensory nirvana." A woman (or "playmate") is modeling inside the ball, and Russell says that they should start trying to identify her. Soon thereafter, a package is dropped off for Zack; when opened, the playmate's dead body is found inside.

The woman's lividity is fixed, indicating that she was inverted during transit. Doc Robbins guesses that asphyxia was the cause of death, as gravity causes the organs to impede the diaphragmatic movement, leading to suffocation. Evidence points toward the woman being put into the box at will, which is in line with her claustrophiliac fetish. She's eventually identified as Melody Davis, and it's revealed that the package was shipped from her residence across town 36 hours ago. Prints on the label match Zack.

Melody's husband, Roy, is brought in for questioning. Brass tells him that Melody's death was accidental, caused by her claustrophiliac pursuits that she indulged in with Zack. Roy was aware of his wife's fetish, but was told that her and Zack were just "playing." He also knew about her shipping fantasy; however, he forbade it because he thought it was too dangerous. Melody ignored the her husband's concerns and shipped herself across town. Roy tracked the package on his computer to Zack's address, but he denies confronting him and killing him.

When asked, Roy tells Brass that he works on a ranch with horses. Brass reveals that a kernel of Roy's special blend of horse feed was the trace found on the murder weapon. Roy relents and admits to confronting Zack in his house. From inside his bubble, Zack mocked Roy and told him how much excitement he was giving his wife. In a rage, Roy grabbed the murder weapon and struck Zack several times in the head. The hamster ball then made it's way out of the house and down the street.

Roy is arrested and told that he'll be sharing his wife's love of enclosed spaces.

Victim: Amy Morse (alive)

On the case: D.B. Russell, Greg Sanders, Morgan Brody, Sara Sidle, Dawn Banks, Sean Yeager, Jim Brass

In the lab, Morgan comes in for work and is hassled by a member of the swing shift; the graveyard shift has a backlog of cases and a long night ahead of them. Morgan is soon approached by Dawn Banks, another member of the swing shift. Both CSIs worked separate home invasion rapes the week before and realized that they may be looking for the same perpetrator. The suspect has struck again, and Dawn asks if she can work the case with Morgan. While Dawn goes to the crime scene, Morgan stays behind at the station to talk to the victim.

The victim, Amy Morse, tells Morgan that she didn't see or hear her attacker. After arriving home from work, she fell asleep watching television. When she woke up, her head felt all cloudy and she was in pain. Amy mentions seeing a similar report on the news a week ago and asks Morgan if it's the same guy; Morgan silently confirms the suspicion.

Dawn processes Amy's condo and finds evidence similar with the other scenes. The intruder used a bump key to bust open a lock and knocked Amy out with chloroform. Some rubble, crushed shells, and small pebbles are also found, all of which were present at the other scenes. The intruder also likes to leave the television on when he leaves the scenes; however, Morgan notes that Amy stated she left hers on before she fell asleep.

A swab of Amy's neck found male DNA and amylase; in other words, the intruder kissed her. Unfortunately, the DNA doesn't get a hit in CODIS. Hodges runs trace on the crushed shells, which end up matching the ones found at the other scenes. He also finds the rubble recovered at the point of entry is actually smog-eating concrete used on road surfaces to turn smoggy toxins into less-harmful compounds. The substance is in limited use nationally, but due to his backlog, Hodges hasn't been able to research where it's used.

Morgan, Russell and Sara look over the three cases, noting that the victims didn't know each other, nor did they share any routines. All three victims, however, are in their early 20s, single, brunette, and living alone in a first-floor condo. In all three cases, the M.O.'s are the same. Russell notes that in the first two cases, the intruder was less prepared. In the first one, he overlooked an open window, while he woke up a neighbor's dog during his second attack. There were no missteps in Amy's house, and the intruder picked the one night a week she gets out of work early. Morgan realizes that the intruder knew everything about Amy's habits and what tools he would need to break in. He even knew that Amy fell asleep with the television on, and he recreated this at the other scenes. Morgan guesses that the first two cases were rehearsals and that Amy was his main target.

Morgan and Dawn ask Amy if anyone has recently been giving her unwanted attention. Amy mentions her ex-boyfriend, Jared Wallace, who started sending her hate emails after the two broke up a few months back. She adds that when she woke up after her assault, she thought she could smell Jared in her room. Unfortunately, she has nothing of Jared's she can provide for use as a DNA sample.

In interrogation, Jared questions Amy's suspicions and belittles her profession as a cocktail waitress. Brass asks to take a sample of Jared's DNA, but is rebuffed by the suspect and his attorney, who's also his father. As Jared and his father, Ken, leave the interrogation room, Dawn confronts Jared, berates him, and tells him to give a DNA sample to prove his innocence. She then accuses Jared of raping Amy, which leads to him getting restrained by his father. Dawn soon tells Morgan that she was hoping Jared would spit at her, as it would have given them his DNA.

When Dawn fails to show up for work and doesn't answer her phone, Greg and Morgan swing by her house to do a welfare check. The house is dark, and it looks like Dawn left in a hurry. On Dawn's laptop, Greg and Morgan read an email from the company that manufactures the smog-eating concrete; the material is only used in on one half-mile strip of road in Vegas. Just then, the CSIs are alerted to a sound in the house. They eventually come across Dawn's son, Tyler. He doesn't know where his mother is, but agrees to stay in the house in the hopes that she returns.

Morgan discovers that both the crushed shells and smog-eating concrete coexist at a trailer park. Such a location doesn't seem like a place someone like Jared Wallace would visit; however, drug activity is frequent in the area, and Jared has an ecstasy charge on his record. Morgan theorizes that Dawn figured this out first, went to follow up on it, and ended up running into trouble. Day shift CSI Sean Yeager offers to drive Morgan out to the trailer park to investigate. When they call Dawn's cell phone, they hear it ringing and find it buried under some trash. However, Dawn is nowhere in sight.

Dawn's car is soon found abandoned roadside in the middle of nowhere; there are no viable prints on the outside of the car. When searching the inside of the car, Morgan finds a receipt from a truck stop at 1:00 AM on the night Dawn went missing. She also finds an evidence bag with a gray t-shirt inside. The name on the evidence bag is Tyler's, and he's now the prime suspect in his mother's disappearance.

Brass questions Tyler, revealing that the boy is a registered sex offender who has also been convicted of burglary. Tyler also happened to go to the same high school as Amy Morse; however, he claims to not know her. The interrogation is interrupted by a detective from Reno, who tells Brass that Dawn was supposed to be going to the Reno Police Department to identify her dead son.

The detective recalls that two nights ago, Reno officers found a badly decomposed male body in a warehouse; the victim had a driver's license on him identifying him as Tyler. Dawn was notified while she was at the trailer park working the case, and she told the detective that she was going to collect a DNA exemplar from her home and drive it up to Reno. However, she never showed up. This would explain why she was taking a DNA sample of her son; she thought he was dead.

Tyler's DNA is run against the rapist's, and the two samples aren't a match; Tyler is cleared. Apparently, the boy had lent his ID to a buddy of his, a homeless guy who was heading up to Reno. The buddy overdosed, decomposed beyond recognition, and the cops went off the ID in his pocket.

Morgan and Russell retrace the route Dawn took to Reno and find that instead of driving there, she took a detour south. The truck stop she stopped at is at a junction of two roads, and this is where Dawn decided to change her route. Surveillance footage from the truck stop shows that Dawn bought a bottle of vodka and some acetaminophen, indicating that she was going to do harm to herself. Morgan asks Tyler if there's a place in the area that holds a special significance for his mother. He says that years ago, they used to go camping in the area. Morgan and Sean head out to the location, where a scent dog eventually finds Dawn's body. The CSI is barely alive and taken to the hospital.

There's still a rapist on the loose with some kind of connection to the trailer park. Russell sends Henry and Hodges out there, telling them to go through every trash can they can find. If they come up with any biologicals, they're ordered to run them against the rapist's DNA. At the trailer park, Henry finds that one of the trailers has top-of-the-line locks and a security camera set up. A few wadded up tissues are found in the garbage outside, and when the DNA on them is run against the rapist's, a match is found.

The lab techs search the vacant trailer. Henry comes across pictures of Amy and Jared together, along with several other mementos of their relationship. Hodges finds Jared's varsity jacket with a bottle of his father's heart medication in one of the pockets. He also spots a gray hair on the jacket. The rapist isn't Jared; it's his father, Ken.

Brass interrogates Ken and goes over the escalation of his "relationship" with Amy. This turned into an obsession, and when Amy broke up with Jared, Ken knew he was going to lose her, too. He rented out the trailer and tried living out his Amy fantasies with brunette hookers. However, he crossed the line and started prowling around condos, stalking girls who looked like Amy. Ken admits that Amy was "a miracle" and "worth it." He adds that when he had his chance with her, he made it perfect.

In the hospital, Morgan tells Tyler that his mother is going to pull through. He laments the fact that he hasn't been there for his mother in the past and swears that he's going to change his ways.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]


D.B. Russell: All right, so we have to figure out who he is, where he came from and what in the spinning world happened to him. Our entire crime scene is inside of this bubble, David, so I want you to get this back to the coroner's office, intact.
David Philips: Seriously? Y-You want me to put that... in my van?
D.B. Russell: That'd be nice.
Jim Brass: (Patting David's shoulder) Have a ball.


  • Pilot in the Sky by Hacienda


  • George Eads (Nick) is credited but does not appear in the episode.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 14
The Devil and D.B. RussellTake the Money and RunTorch SongLast SupperFrame by FramePassed PawnsUnder a CloudHelplessCheck In and Check OutGirls Gone WildLost ReindeerKeep Calm and Carry OnBoston BrakesDe Los MuertosLove for SaleKiller MovesLong Road HomeUninvitedThe FallenConsumedKittyDead In His Tracks