Season 4
Number 6
Writer Carol Mendelsohn,
Naren Shankar
Director Danny Cannon
Original Airdate November 6, 2003
Previous Episode: Fur and Loathing
Next Episode: Invisible Evidence

Jackpot is the sixth episode in Season Four of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


When Doc Robbins receives a severed head found by a dog, Grissom goes to the town of Jackpot, Nevada in search of the rest of the body. When he arrives, he soon finds out that he can't expect much help from the locals; even the sheriff seems to be hiding something. Meanwhile, Catherine gets an unexpected gift from her father.


Victim: Ross Jenson (deceased)

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

In the morgue, Doc Robbins opens a package addressed to him and finds a surprise inside: a severed human head. The head smells of formaldehyde, which Grissom notes destroys DNA. There's heavy decomposition, meaning the time of death will be difficult to decipher. As the head was disarticulated, it's assumed that the killer wasn't very skilled. However, the opinion is changed when Grissom observes a knife cut on the left cheek. As David Hodges helps Doc Robbins clean debris off of the head, Catherine enters the morgue. She sees that the package the doc received is from Jackpot, a Nevada town she's never heard of before.

Grissom drives out to the remote town of Jackpot, where he speaks to Lieutenant Alan Brooks and his brother, Leland. Neither of them match Grissom's level of interest in the case, with Leland believing the body to belong to a transient or to a hiker who got lost. Lt. Brooks confirms that he's the one who filed the report, but believes that wild animals are responsible. He adds that nobody in the community has been reported missing and that he doesn't have the resources to go looking for a body. Grissom informs them that they not only have the head, but that it has a knife wound on it, meaning that they're looking for a body and a killer.

In the lab, Hodges informs Catherine that due to the plant life gathered from the head, it was likely on a damp, north-facing slope at least 9,000 feet up and not recently exposed to a forest fire. Catherine calls Grissom with this information. Grissom then speaks to Sylvia Rogers, whose dog found the head. The dog became a bit lethargic after chewing on it, but any side effects eventually passed. Grissom tells her that if an animal brings back a body part, there's a good chance that the rest of the body is within a half mile radius. When asked, she confirms that she frequently sees buzzards and vultures in the area.

Next to Sylvia's house is a north-facing hill; Grissom, Lt. Brooks, and other officers search it. While Lt. Brooks complains about the many minor crimes that happen in Jackpot, an officer finds a buried headless body. Based on the insect activity, Grissom estimates that the body has been there for about four to seven days. He also believes that blood on a nearby rock lines up with the victim's carotid artery, meaning he was alive when he was buried. The cut on the neck was used to attract wild predators. "This wasn't just murder," Grissom remarks. "It was torture."

Lt. Brooks continues to get agitated as Grissom insists on following procedures. Dr. Dale Sterling, the town medical professional (who also happens to be the veterinarian) allows the body to be released and brought back to the office. As they look over the body (they don't have credentials to perform an autopsy), they're unable to find a wallet or form of identification. Grissom pulls a ball of paper from the victim's pocket and mentions that there are no ligature marks present, meaning that the victim wasn't tied up. They all speculate as to how that could happen—Dr. Sterling wonders if the murderer had a gun, but Lt. Brooks insists that there was more than one killer, since one couldn't dig a hole and hold a gun at the same time. Dr. Sterling also hypothesizes that the hole was dug earlier, which would indicate premeditation. Grissom remembers that Sylvia's dog got sick after chewing on the head, meaning that the victim may have been drugged. Dr. Sterling had sent the dog's blood work to a lab in Reno, and Grissom asks him to call them and have them do a full tox panel.

After one of the officers leaves to drive the body to Doc Robbins, Lt. Brooks and another officer retire for the night. Dr. Sterling gets Grissom a place to work. As he's working on the ball of paper to slowly get it unraveled, he hears a noise and gets his gun out. Nothing else comes of the situation. The results of the paper are sent to the Vegas lab, where Catherine tells Grissom that the paper was a receipt from the WLVU bookstore. She looks over the receipt and sees that most of the books are for freshmen classes. There's also a book listed for a sophomore-level fine arts class. A freshman taking a sophomore course narrows their search field.

It's discovered that the victim is Ross Jenson. Brass questions his roommate, who says he hadn't seen Ross in a week and didn't find that odd since Ross was an art student and would go off for days. As she looks around the room, Catherine finds dirt and leaf evidence that indicates Ross was in the countryside. The roommate confirms that Ross liked the scenery and traveled there frequently. Before leaving, Brass takes Ross' computer as evidence.

Back in Jackpot, Grissom (who had fallen asleep holding his gun) receives the fax identifying his victim. He speaks to Doris, the waitress at the diner he visited earlier. She recalls seeing Ross the week before when he came to the diner and she and flirted with him for just a bit. A diner patron says that he remembers Ross driving a black or blue car best suited for the city and not the mountains. Grissom speaks to Lt. Brooks, who takes offense when Grissom says that the killer could be a local. Working on this theory, Grissom believes that the car could be hidden somewhere in town and that Ross could've been abducted on his way out of town along the main highway.

As he's driving along the highway, Grissom spots tire tracks heading up an embankment and gets out of his car. He locks the car and follows the tracks, coming across the spot where Ross' body was found. As he continues to follow the tracks, he spots a barn in the distance. Grissom hops a fence and peeks through the barn's doors, finding Ross' car inside. With the barn doors locked, he walks around to the side and opens one of the windows. He finds an old screen on the barn floor, indicating that this is how the killer got out. Just then, Grissom's car alarm goes off. He walks back to the car to discover the passenger's side window smashed and his field kit stolen.

Grissom informs Lt. Brooks about the break-in and theft. He then goes to the convenience store and buys a battery, a box of storage bags, refillable pencil lead, blank index cards, and tape. As an unhelpful Lt. Brooks looks on, Grissom tells him that he found Ross' car in the barn and notified highway patrol in order to help secure the site. Using some of the supplies he bought as well as tinting film he got from Dr. Sterling, Grissom is able to lift a shoe print from the screen on the barn's floor. Inside of Ross' car, he finds a thermos and some hairs in Ross' shirts. He also lifts a fingerprint from the steering wheel using more of the supplies he purchased. Lt. Brooks shows up and continues to antagonize Grissom while leaning up against the railing of a fence. When pressed, he reveals that the person looking after the land is Marty Cooperman, who owns the local gas station. After Lt. Brooks leaves, Grissom lifts his fingerprints from the railing.

Grissom visits the gas station and speaks to Marty, who acts surprised when told that Ross' car was found in his uncle's old barn. Since the car was full of gas, Grissom knows Ross stopped by the station and filled up the tank. Marty starts acting suspiciously and tells Grissom he can fix the broken car window to help Grissom get back home, which he should do. Catherine calls Grissom and informs him that Greg discovered a series of romantic messages from Ross' computer to someone in Jackpot. Brass is working on getting the recipient's name. Meanwhile, Catherine receives an envelope that has the Rampart Casino logo stamped on it. It contains a letter and a check from Sam Braun for $250,000.

Grissom is comparing fingerprints in Dr. Sterling's office when the doc tells him that the blood work from Sylvia's dog tested positive for GHB. Though GHB is usually a party drug, Grissom notes that it could've been used as a sedative on Ross. Under the microscope, Dr. Sterling examines the hair found on Ross' shirt and says it is from an Abyssinian cat. Grissom asks him if any of his patients are Abyssinian, and the doc hands him a picture of the cat being held by Leland Brooks.

Grissom visits Lt. Brooks and relays the information he has found in the case—Ross' relationship with someone in Jackpot who owns an Abyssinian cat. When he asks if Leland is gay, Lt. Brooks responds that that is none of Grissom's business. Grissom lets him know that, like it or not, Leland is a murder suspect, something Lt. Brooks seems to have already known. The only thing the lieutenant is guilty of so far is being a caring brother. Grissom reluctantly goes for a ride with Lt. Brooks to Leland's house. As the lieutenant goes inside the house to speak to his brother, Grissom looks around the area, where he finds a single fresh tire track as well as the cat. Just then, a gunshot breaks a window. Grissom looks in the house, where Lt. Brooks is wrestling a rifle away from Leland, who had tried to kill himself. Leland collapses on his couch crying.

The next day, Grissom speaks to Lt. Brooks, who indicates that Leland will be held in custody until he's ready to go home. An incredulous Grissom says that he was shot at and that Leland tried to kill himself, but the lieutenant simply says that his brother has always had a temper. Meanwhile, Catherine pays Sam Braun a visit on his ranch. She's enraged that he sent her the check, but Sam says that he didn't do right by his sons or Catherine's mother; he just wanted to provide for his daughter and granddaughter. In the station locker room, she considers ripping up the check, but has second thoughts.

After a discovery from Greg, Catherine calls Grissom and tells him that Ross had used MapQuest to drive up to Jackpot. There seems to be an inconsistency, as evidence suggests that this was Ross' first and only trip to the town. If this is the case, how did leaves end up in his dorm room? The investigation pivots to Ross' roommate, who's revealed to be Eric Brooks—Leland's son.

Catherine and Brass interrogate Eric, who insists that his father isn't gay. He also doesn't know if Ross was. Brass tells Eric that Ross' car was found ditched in a barn with his fingerprints on the steering wheel. Eric explains that he sometimes borrowed Ross' car because he owns a motorcycle. This lines up with the single tire track Grissom found outside of Leland's house. Catherine asks to look at Eric's shoes, and the shoe print matches the one Grissom lifted from the barn.

A flashback shows Eric riding his motorcycle up to Jackpot and finding Ross' car at his father's house. Inside, Leland and Ross were sharing an evening. He took Ross' GHB vial, poured it into the thermos, and trailed Ross for the evening until Ross passed out from the drugs. Eric then took Ross' body and buried it. When asked why he didn't just kill Ross himself, Eric says that he wanted Ross to suffer. Catherine asks Eric if he was mad that Ross was in love with his father or that he was mad that Ross wasn't in love with him. She gets no response.

Back in Jackpot, Grissom speaks to Lt. Brooks one last time. The lieutenant admits that he recognized Ross' shirt when he was buried in the hole and started protecting his brother, as he thought Leland could've been the murderer. As Grissom leaves, he notices his field kit back in the backseat. He smiles at Lt. Brooks then sets out to drive back to Vegas.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Scott Wilson as Sam Braun
  • Wallace Langham as David Hodges
  • Victoria Prescott as Judy Tremont
  • Jeffrey Combs as Dr. Dale Sterling
  • Cameron Dye as Leland Brooks
  • Nathan Wetherington as Eric Brooks
  • Alyson Reed as Doris, The Waitress
  • Michael Bowen as Marty Cooperman
  • Christina Carlisi as Sylvia Rogers
  • Henry Czerny as Lieutenant Alan Brooks
  • Brandon Beemer as Ross Jenson
  • Darcy Halsey as Kim
  • Roger Hewlett as Deputy Barry

Episode Title[]

  • The title can refer to both the town of Jackpot and the fact that Catherine received a "jackpot" from Sam Braun.

Major Events[]

  • Catherine receives a check from Sam Braun for $250,000. 


  • Though credited, George Eads (Nick) and Jorja Fox (Sara) do not appear in the episode.  
  • Grissom arranged house seats at a Celine Dion concert for assistant coroner David Phillips with the agreement that David would page him whenever Dr. Robbins is mailed something perishable.  
  • When talking with Sam Braun, Catherine mentions that he killed one of his showgirls. This was proven in the season three finale Inside the Box.
  • Additionally, Sam mentions that he has one son behind bars and another in the ground. In season two's Burked, it was discovered that Tony Braun was killed by his brother Walt in retribution for being cut out of Walt's will.


  • While examining the severed head with Doc Robbins, Grissom quotes the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar when he says, "The unkindest cut of all." The play's line actually goes, "..the most unkindest cut of all," and is a reference to Brutus' betrayal and stabbing of Caesar. 

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