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I-15 Murders
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Season 1
Number 11
Writer Carol Mendelsohn
Director Oz Scott
Original Airdate January 12, 2001
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Previous Episode: Sex, Lies and Larvae
Next Episode: Fahrenheit 932

I-15 Murders is the eleventh episode in season one of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

When a woman is abducted from a supermarket, Grissom finds a message on a bathroom door that leads him to believe that four other women have been murdered. Meanwhile, Sara and Warrick have to put personal differences aside to investigate the apparent murder and robbery of a man who has been found by his brother. Nick has to come to the rescue of his friend, Kristy Hopkins, again when she gets into a scuffle with a hotel security guard.

Plot

Victim: Margaret Shorey (missing)

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

Margaret Shorey is kidnapped from a grocery store, and Grissom and Brass arrive to investigate. They see that Margaret's purse is still in her vacated shopping cart; however, her wallet is missing. Grissom notices a smear of mustard on the bottom of the shopping cart and confirms that one of the workers cleaned up a spill earlier in the day. Upon recreating the spill, he realizes that Margaret must have dropped the bottle of mustard and gone to the restroom to clean up.

In the restroom, Grissom notices that a toilet stall door has been scrubbed to remove any graffiti. When the door is unhinged and brought back to the lab, he and Brass use a black light to unveil what was written underneath. A message reads, "I've killed five women. Catch me if you can?". A graphologist analyzes the handwriting and determines that the writer was a poorly educated, left-handed female with a criminal tendency.

Based on the message, Catherine figures there were four other victims, and she's able to find out where they were taken from. The four other crime scenes were at grocery stores in three different states; at each scene, a bathroom stall door bore a message declaring that the killer had murdered one to four women. Similar to the site of Margaret's abduction, there was no physical evidence indicating that the women were killed in the store. This would seem to point towards the women still being alive when the messages were written, making them messages of intention, not fact. Grissom shuffles the doors around, and both he and Catherine realize that the stores are all along Interstate 15.

Catherine, Grissom and Brass are called to the town of Moapa, where a driver making a pit stop along I-15 found more than just a place to relieve himself. A female body has been dumped on the side of the road; her attributes do not match Margaret's description. The body is blue and cold to the touch, which is quite odd since they're in the middle of the desert.

In autopsy, Dr. Williams identifies the victim as Joan Sims, who was last seen at a grocery store in San Bernardino, California—the first of the crime scenes. Her cause of death is labeled as strangulation, and there are ligature marks on her wrists and ankles. Dr. Williams discovers that the decomposition of Joan's body is backwards—her organs are in better shape than her skin. Tissue samples of her heart contain ice crystals, and Dr. Williams says the body was on ice until approximately 12 hours ago. Catherine and Grissom realize that the body was transported in a refrigeration truck and that they have a mobile crime scene. Brass provides the CSIs with a list of all the refrigerated trucks that made a delivery to the store on the day Margaret was kidnapped, and there's only one female trucker on the list.

The police pull over a female trucker fitting the description of being left-handed and poorly educated. When her handwriting sample doesn't match the ones on the bathroom doors, Grissom shifts his focus. He points out to Catherine and Brass that only 3% of multiple killers are female; furthermore, a woman wouldn't need a trophy. The thought is that they should be looking for a man traveling with a woman who would do anything asked of her.

Catherine and Grissom speak with a dispatcher at the trucking main office. They have her eliminate trucks based on different criteria until the search field is narrowed down to one. Brass arrives at a truck stop with police backup and takes the driver and his girlfriend into custody. Catherine and Grissom then inspect the trailer and find the refrigerated bodies of three women; however, none of them is Margaret.

When the driver refuses to cooperate, Grissom lays out the duo's plans of attack. A flashback shows the girlfriend ushering Margaret out of the store under the false pretense that she had locked her baby in the car. Upon arriving outside, the man kidnapped Margaret and had his girlfriend go back into the bathroom and write the message on the door. When faced with the possible consequences, the girlfriend admits that she was forced to partake in the crimes and reveals that Margaret is locked in the truck's cab. Catherine and Grissom tear apart the cab and find Margaret alive in a locked compartment underneath the bed.

Victim: Jeff Berlin (deceased)

On the case: Sara Sidle, Warrick Brown

Sara arrives at a house where Jeff Berlin lies dead in the living room. His brother Kenny says that he arrived at the house just after it had been burglarized and found Jeff's body, along with a ransacked living room and a broken window. There have been several burglaries in the area recently; however, upon noticing the cash and the electronics still in the house, Sara concludes that something isn't right. There's no evidence of blood spatter on Kenny's clothes, but Sara finds glass in the cuff of his pants.

In interrogation, Kenny claims that the broken glass came from someone breaking into his car the weekend before. However, he's told that the glass on his pants has the same density as the glass from the broken window. Kenny revises his story, telling Sara and Warrick that he walked into the house after it had already been burglarized. After calling 911, he went heard a noise and went to the window. When he brushed up against a table, broken glass fell from it into the cuff of his pants. Kenny is released, but not before he tells Sara that he's a day trader, and financial records show that he lost a lot of money in the stock market.

Based on Haeckel marks, Sara and Warrick determine that the window was broken from the inside of the house. Kenny is questioned again, and he once again denies any involvement in his brother's death. The CSIs are stonewalled when Kenny asks for a lawyer. They know they have a motive, as Kenny needed money. Sara figures that Kenny spends all day on his computer, and that any relevant information would be there. She gets a new warrant to search the house and the computer.

When Sara has trouble booting up the computer, Warrick opens it up and finds a gun stuffed into the CPU. There are scratches all over the butt of the gun, and Warrick spots a shard of glass wedged in it. Back in the lab, they determine that the glass came from the broken window. Warrick's call to the county clerk revealed that Jeff was the executor of the parents' estate; with Jeff out of the way, Kenny became the sole beneficiary. A flashback shows Kenny holding his brother at gunpoint and shooting him when he was "only" offered $20,000 to help solve his money problems. After the shooting, Kenny staged the burglary, hid the gun, and called the cops.

Victim: Kristy Hopkins (alive)

On the case: Nick Stokes

Nick is called to the Bellagio, where the victim relays that she's a "friend" of Nick's. Upon arriving at the casino, Nick finds out that the woman who asked for him personally is Kristy Hopkins. She says that she was shopping in the upscale store when the security guard started harassing her, telling her that "her type" wasn't welcome. The two got into an argument, whereupon Kristi claims that the guard grabbed her arm and spit on her. She retaliated by punching the guard. The guard denies this, which leads to another shouting match between the two. Nick asks Kristy to take her shirt off so he can bag it as evidence.

Greg runs a test on Kristy's shirt, finding amylase on it in a quantity that indicates someone intentionally spit on her. This means that Kristi was telling the truth, but it still needs to be confirmed that the spit came from the security guard. Getting the guard to give willingly give up his DNA might be tough, especially if he knows he's guilty.

Nick fills Grissom in on the case, informing him that the guard refuses to give up a DNA sample. Per Grissom's subtle suggestion, Nick convinces the guard to write a formal statement against Kristy and seal it in an envelope. He uses the DNA from the saliva to prove that the guard did spit on Kristy. When told that all charges against her have been dropped, Kristy thanks Nick enthusiastically and declares that she owes him.

----

Grissom asks Warrick why he missed his court date and confronts him with the surveillance footage from the casino that Sara gave him. Tensions run high between Sara and Warrick when the latter shows up at her crime scene to help process evidence. She tells him that she has a problem with his being reinstated and soon expresses her dissatisfaction to Grissom. Grissom advises her to look at the "whole puzzle" and asks her to have faith in his decision.

Sara and Warrick continue to work their case together, but Sara remains hostile towards him the entire time. Later, Warrick tells her that he went to the casino to collect a debt in order to pay a friend’s bail, and says that the next time she has questions, she should ask him instead of going behind his back.

 Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast 

  • Krista Allen as Kristy Hopkins
  • Eric Szmanda as Greg Sanders
  • Judith Scott as Dr. Jenna Williams
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Travis Fine as Kenny Berlin
  • Tony Amendola as Dr. Al Rambar (Handwriting Expert)
  • Julie Ariola as Brenda Shorey
  • Amanda Carlin as Margaret Shorey
  • Ray Proscia as John Himmel
  • Kirk Trutner as Steve Smith
  • Paul Terrell Clayton as Kane
  • Julius Ritter as Jason
  • Mike Muscat as Security Guard Taylor
  • Jamie McShane as Jeff Berlin
  • Sandy Martin as Female Trucker
  • Stacy Solodkin as Girlfriend
  • Zylan Brooks as Dispatcher
  • David Paladino as Officer Pratt
  • George Miklos as Detective (uncredited)

Episode Title

  • I-15 Murders refer to the kidnapping and murders of multiple women from several different grocery stores located along Interstate 15.

Goofs

  • When Nick comes in to Grissom's office, setting off Grissom's "Big Mouth Billy Bass", the fish on the wall alternates positions in between shots and can be singing when no song is heard and can be still when he's singing and there is music.
  • When Nick and Kristy are in the parking lot, Kristy is leaning against the door to her car as Nick explains DNA. As Nick leaves the scene after Kristy kisses his cheek, the sound of a car door opening is heard, but the door was already open, as Kristy was leaning on it while she was outside with Nick. She did not have time to close it in between the shot of her leaning on the door and kissing Nick's cheek as she thanked him.
  • When Warrick meets Jason, Sara is leaning against the reception desk with her left side. When she exchanges words about him collecting an old debt to pay off Jason's bail, she doesn't seem to move off the desk, yet Warrick leaves her to her left side.

Notes

  • This episode marks the final appearance of Judith Scott as Dr. Jenna Williams. After this episode, it is unknown what happened to her.

Trivia

  • I-15 Murders was produced as the third episode in the season but aired as the eleventh.[1] 

References

  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
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