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Iced
Iced.jpg
Season 5
Number 23
Writer Josh Berman
Director Richard J. Lewis
Original Airdate May 12, 2005
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Previous Episode: Weeping Willows
Next Episode: Grave Danger, Part 1

Iced is the twenty-third episode in season five of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

With Grissom in court, Sara and Greg investigate the death of two students in a dorm room. Meanwhile, Catherine, Nick and Warrick investigate a man found dead in a crop circle. Elsewhere, Ecklie is forced to investigate the death of a man from New Jersey whose body disappears from the morgue.

Plot

Victims: Paula Levine (deceased), Tripp Wilmont (deceased)

On the case: Greg Sanders, Sara Sidle, Jim Brass

Two college freshmen, Paula Levine and Tripp Wilmont, are going at it hot and heavy in Tripp's dorm room. We flash forward to the next day, where Brass tells Grissom, Greg and Sara that the two freshmen were found dead. They enter the room and find the two students dead on the floor in their underwear. David Phillips examines the bodies and sees that their bodies have a pinkish hue to them, which could indicate carbon monoxide poisoning. Vomit next to Tripp's body is also consistent with the diagnosis.

Grissom gets a call to go to court and testify on a case, leaving Sara in charge. He tells her that since there is no common source for the carbon monoxide, she will have to use a detector. Meanwhile, Brass talks to Zack Capola, who lives next door to Tripp. Zack admits that he and Tripp weren't really friends, but they took a Spanish class together. He had also jimmied open Tripp's door on a few occasions when Tripp would get drunk and lock himself out.

Greg and Sara process Tripp's room. She finds no evidence of carbon monoxide, while Greg finds evidence of semen on some door handles and explains that males put their used condoms on door handles to display as trophies. Just then, an explosion and screaming is heard from down the hall. In the bathroom, Greg and Sara find an exploded toilet and water on the floor. Thinking it might be part of their case since it isn't far from Tripp's dorm, Sara has Greg process the bathroom.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins tells Sara that both kids were in perfect health and adds that two things can turn a body pink postmortem - carbon monoxide (which has been ruled out) and cyanide. He says that not everyone can smell cyanide; the ability to do so is a genetic quirk. To Sara's surprise, Hodges enters and reveals that he has said quirk. He sniffs the stomach contents of the two victims, but finds no evidence of cyanide.

Greg processes the toilet from the bathroom and finds no evidence of explosive powders or a detonation device. Sara enters and informs him that she spoke to maintenance and that the exploding toilet is an isolated incident. She hypothesizes that it could be methane gas that caused a pressure buildup, but Greg says that he already checked and has ruled it out.

In the lab, Mia Dickerson tells Sara that the semen found on both Tripp's doorknob and his neighbor Zack's doorknob belonged to Tripp. She theorizes that Tripp put his trophy condom on Zack's door and then transferred the semen to his own door when he opened it. Greg interrupts and tells Sara that he found out that Zack had filed several grievances against Tripp in the past.

Greg and Sara speak to Zack, who is surprised that his grievances weren't confidential. He tells them that he had problems with Tripp playing loud music, banging on the walls and leaving used condoms on his doorknob. When asked why he didn't mention this earlier, Zack says that he didn't want to badmouth the dead. This time, however, he states that Tripp was an ass.

Sara gets a page from Henry Andrews, who she notes usually works the day shift. Henry tells her that Paula and Tripp were drunk at the time of their death, something Sara already figured. However, he adds that the found blood in Tripp's vomit and that the carbon dioxide levels were at eight percent, which is lethal. Sara points out that carbon dioxide would replace oxygen in one's system causing them to suffocate to death. Henry says that the carbon dioxide doesn't explain the pink color of the bodies, as only carbon monoxide would have that effect.

Greg and Sara pay another visit to Tripp's dorm room. There, Greg finds a sex journal that Tripp kept that lists all of his conquests. Wondering how carbon dioxide could have been pumped into the room, Sara moves Tripp's bed away from the wall and finds a hole in the wall. The splinters around the hole indicate that the hole was drilled from the room next door. They head next door to Zack's room; there, Sara finds a matching hole in the wall. Zack insists that he didn't know there was a hole there and Sara has him escorted from the room as it is now a crime scene.

Zack is questioned yet again and tells Greg and Sara that he was out of town for four days visiting his boyfriend. When he returned, Susan the R.A. was banging on Tripp's door and he jimmied the door open with his pocketknife. Sara notices a burn mark on Zack's finger and he says that, when he returned, he saw something on the floor and picked it up. Whatever it was burned his finger and he says he threw it in the garbage. Greg checks the garbage but finds nothing that could cause such an injury. After they let Zack go to class, Sara asks Greg what can burn skin but also disappear into thin air. He guesses that it's dry ice, and Sara adds that when dry ice sublimates, it releases carbon dioxide.

Greg and Sara conduct and experiment with Sara stacking dry ice up in Zack's room and Greg monitoring the carbon dioxide levels in Tripp's room. It is determined that thirty pounds of dry ice would have had to been used to get the carbon dioxide amount to a lethal level. Since carbon dioxide is one and a half times heavier than air, Sara believes that Paula and Tripp would still be alive if they were sleeping on a bed and not on the floor. Greg concludes that the bodies turned pink because the dry ice significantly lowered the temperature in both rooms, and a drastic decrease in temperature can turn a dead body pink. If Zack was telling the truth, they are still looking for the person who put the dry ice in his room. Greg says that he'll have the police run credit card checks to see if someone bought a large amount of dry ice.

Greg brings a discarded toilet to the lab and puts dry ice in it for his experiment. His theory is that the killer flushed some dry ice and it got caught in the drain trap. When the dry ice sublimated and released gas, it built up and caused the toilet to explode. The experiment is a success as the toilet does indeed explode. Sara tells him that Zack's alibi checked out and he replies that nobody in the dorm bought dry ice with a credit card. Sara wonders if the dry ice was actually taken from the university science lab, as they would have it on hand. This thought proves to be correct.

Susan the R.A. is brought in for interrogation. Greg shows her the sex journal Tripp kept and mentions that Susan's name is in there three times. Susan admits to having sex with Tripp and that she's not exactly proud of it. Sara brings up that Susan is a science grad student, so she would have access to the dry ice and would be aware of its chemical properties. Susan replies that she uses dry ice as part of her thesis, but Sara confirmed with her professor that she would only need two pounds of it for her experiments.

Sara guesses that Tripp broke Susan's heart. Knowing that Zack was out of town, she broke into his room, drilled a hole in the wall and filled the room with dry ice. Susan breaks down and says that she didn't know Paula would be in the room and that she didn't mean to kill Tripp. Knowing that Tripp only slept on the floor when he had a girl over, she figured he would be focused on his basketball game the next day and would be sleeping in his bed. Her calculations were perfect, but she underestimated Tripp's sex drive.

Victim: James Billmeyer (deceased)

On the case: Conrad Ecklie, Louis Vartann

Det. Vartann walks around the lab looking for assistance, but is unable to find anyone. He turns into Ecklie and finds out that both shifts are tapped out; Grissom and Sofia are unavailable, as well. Vartann tells Ecklie that there is a dead body at the Tangiers that has been there over an hour with nobody to process it. He then remembers that Ecklie is qualified to process a scene and asks him to lend a hand. Ecklie accepts and goes to get his kit.

Ecklie meets Vartann in the parking garage of the Tangiers to find a male victim dead on the floor with a pool of blood next to him. Vartann finds the rental car agreement that identifies the victim as James Billmeyer from New Jersey. There is a bloody footprint near the body that Vartann says belongs to Mrs. Vivoldi, the woman who found the body. They question her and she tells them that she was walking back to her car when she stepped in blood and saw the body. Ecklie notices blood on the tops of her shoes and tells her that he needs them as evidence.

Ecklie pays Doc Robbins a visit and asks for information on his victim. The doc says that preliminary reports indicate that James suffered a laceration to the scalp that didn't penetrate too deeply. The laceration didn't kill James, but Doc Robbins says he'll know more when he opens the body up. However, when he goes to retrieve the body, he finds the drawer empty. He searches several more drawers and finds no evidence of James Billmeyer. Ecklie offers up some suggestions as to what could have happened, but Doc Robbins dismisses each one of them.

David Phillips is called into Ecklie's office. He runs through everything he did to prep the body for autopsy and says that he hasn't seen the body since. Despite David's insistence that he didn't do anything wrong, an angry Ecklie tells him that this will go on his record if the body isn't found and tells him to leave. Meanwhile, in autopsy, Doc Robbins has called every mortuary and funeral home in the city with no luck. He tells David that he knows that they didn't mislabel or misplace the body and theorizes that they are dealing with a body snatcher who was after this particular body.

Vartann and Doc Robbins go through James's personal effects hoping to find evidence of why someone would want to steal his body. Two pairs of clothes indicate that James was staying in town for two days. Doc Robbins finds a note written on an airplane cocktail napkin; the note was written by a Jacinda Hendler encouraging James to give her a call. Vartann offers to track down Jacinda.

Jacinda is brought in for questioning and tells Ecklie and Vartann that she met James on the flight to Vegas. She adds that James said he was flying into town to party with some friends from high school and offered to invite her; however, she doesn't know who could have killed him or would want his body in its current state.

James's body is finally found, propped up on a bench with a cigar in his mouth and wearing a party hat. Ecklie tells Doc Robbins to process the body ASAP, which the doc sarcastically says he will. Grissom, on break from court, walks by and heckles Ecklie, giving him pointers on how he should go about collecting and processing the evidence.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins tells Ecklie that James had a heart that weighed 500 grams instead of the normal 300 and that he died from hypertensive cardiovascular disease. A flashback shows James leaving his car, keeling over and hitting his head on the pavement. A tox report shows that James was taking medication for his oversized heart, so he was aware of his condition. Doc Robbins also mentions that he found evidence that James chugged a beer after he died; obviously, someone poured it down his throat.

Lab tech Neil Jensen and Hodges process the party hat and the cigar, respectively. Hodges finds that the cigar is a very high-end brand and, in an effort to suck up to Ecklie, tells him that he spoke to a cigar distributor who sold it a guy from Seven Hills. Neil interrupts and informs Ecklie that four prints were recovered from the party hat; they belong to a Preston Hayburn from Henderson. He adds that Preston is a paramedic, so he would have had access to the morgue. Ecklie tells them that Jacinda mentioned that James was going to a party in Henderson, so he'll start there.

Ecklie and Vartann visit the residence of Charlie Jackson in Seven Hills. Inside, they find evidence of a party that includes the same brand of high-end cigar that James's body was found with. Charlie admits that he and James went to high school together along with Preston Hayburn. They all knew that James had a bad heart, so they flew him out to Vegas for one last hurrah. Unfortunately, James died before that could happen, so Preston stole the body from the morgue and brought it back to Charlie's house in order to give James one last party.

Vartann tells Charlie that he's under arrest for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit theft, punishable by one to four years in prison. Charlie accepts this and says that James would have done the same for him.

Victim: Kevin Staniland (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Nick Stokes, Warrick Brown

Catherine and Warrick are called to a scene where a body has been found in the middle of a field. They meet David Phillips, who identifies the victim as Kevin Stanliand. David notes that the body is in the middle of a crop circle and tells Warrick that he might want to photograph it. The victim has a blindfold on, and lividity indicates that he died in this spot. David adds that the only path made to the body was made by the paramedics. So, how did the body get into the middle of a crop circle? David has an idea and looks to the sky; however, he offers to keep his idea to himself.

In autopsy, David mentions that there are grass stains on the victim's jeans. Warrick finds this odd, as the grass around the victim was undisturbed. The victim's underwear is also soaked in urine; it is undetermined whether it happened pre- or postmortem. Warrick glances down at the body and finds a tapeworm crawling out of the victim's mouth. Nick collects it as evidence.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins tells Catherine that he doesn't have a definitive cause of death. Cuts and abrasions on the body are superficial and there is no obvious anatomical defect. The only thing left to check is to see whether Kevin suffered from a cardiac arrhythmia.

Nick talks to Catherine and discusses theories that people have come up with in the past regarding crop circles. One theory that holds merit is that a "crop circle" could be caused by a helicopter hovering above the ground and pushing the grass below it outward. He brings Catherine into the A/V lab where Archie has set up the radar surveillance from the last 48 hours. They spot something holding steady in the air around the time of Kevin's death; Catherine says that they need to find the owner of the helicopter.

Catherine and Warrick visit the owner of the helicopter. He knows about Kevin's death and offers to give up everything in exchange for immunity. The host of a reality show is brought into interrogation. A video is shown where he is convincing Kevin to jump out of the helicopter blindfolded and without a parachute. Although the chopper is just four feet in the air, Kevin is under the impression that they are a thousand feet up. The host pushes him out and laughs at his prank. However, the camera pans down and Kevin is lying dead in the field.

The host and the chopper pilot leave the scene without alerting authorities. Nick tells him that he scared Kevin to death, causing him to have a heart attack. The hosts insists that Kevin signed a waiver, but Catherine says that he will be tried for second degree murder, which can put him in jail for twenty-five years to life.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

Major Events

  • This is the first appearance of Henry Andrews.
  • David Hodges has the genetic quirk.
  • David Phillips reveals he is engaged.
  • It's revealed Sara has been a CSI for eight years.
  • Ecklie is revealed to be divorced and is allergic to cats.

Episode Title

  • "Iced" is a slang term that means "murdered", and refers to the murders of Trip Wilmont and Paula Levine by carbon dioxide poisoning from dry ice that are investigated in the episode.

Quotes

Greg (while looking through Trip's dorm): Ah, a sex journal. Lists of girls, dates and sexual activities.
Sara: Boys and their conquests.
Greg: I've never even heard of some of these.
Sara (surprised): Really?
Greg: Never mind.

Goofs

  • When Catherine, Warrick and David Phillips are in the crop circle and the camera shows Warrick looking up, you can clearly see the boom mic reflected in his sunglasses.
  • The murder kills the two students by drilling a hole through the adjoining wall of the victim's room at floor level, placing thirty pounds of dry ice next to the hole and allowing the sublimating carbon dioxide to pass through the hole into the victim's room and creating a toxic atmosphere. Since the two rooms are at the same air pressure, the only possible way for the CO2 to move from one room to the next is to be pumped through. The melting dry ice would fill up the vacant dorm room where the murderer was before it would flow to the victim's room.
  • As has been noted, the problem with pressure differentials will make it impossible to flood someone's room with CO2 from sublimating dry ice anyway, but there is another problem. Dry ice sublimates at -78.5 C. That gas is going to be very, very cold and it will rapidly bring the temperature of the room down to a very uncomfortable level. Before a sleeping person suffocates, they would be woken by the freezing cold.
  • Only Zack's index finger was burned by the dry ice; however, he would have had to use more than one finger to pick it up. His other fingers and palm seem unaffected.

Notes

  • When the topic of crop circles is discussed, Nick brings up the "alien autopsy" case, a callback to the the season premiere episode Viva Las Vegas.

Trivia

  • Jon Wellner's first appearance as Henry Andrews is in this episode. He was previously appeared as Sam Tracy in the episode Unbearable from earlier in the season.
  • Billy Gardell, who played Charlie Jackson, is an actor and comedian perhaps most recognized for his lead role in the show Mike & Molly, in which he starred opposite Melissa McCarthy.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 5
Viva Las VegasDown the DrainHarvestCrow's FeetSwap MeetWhat's Eating Gilbert Grissom?FormalitiesCh-Ch-ChangesMea CulpaNo Humans InvolvedWho Shot Sherlock?SnakesNesting DollsUnbearableKing BabyBig MiddleCompulsionSpark of Life4 x 4Hollywood BrassCommittedWeeping WillowsIcedGrave Danger, Part 1Grave Danger, Part 2
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