Karma to Burn
Season 13
Number 1
Writer Christopher Barbour,
Don McGill
Director Alec Smight
Original Airdate September 26, 2012
Previous Episode: Homecoming
Next Episode: Code Blue Plate Special

Karma to Burn is the first episode in Season Thirteen of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


The team strive to find answers following the kidnapping of Russell's granddaughter and the shooting of Undersheriff Ecklie.


Victims: Conrad Ecklie (alive), Katie Russell (missing)

On the case: D.B. Russell, Greg Sanders, Julie Finlay, Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle, Jim Brass

Finn is in the bathroom at the bar when she receives a text message from Sara informing her that Ecklie has been shot. She calls Russell to let him know where she is and tells him that she's with Det. Moreno's partner, Mike Crenshaw; she has a feeling something isn't right. Russell tells her that his granddaughter Katie has been kidnapped. He figures that McKeen's people took her for payback for the death of his son. Finn figures that Crenshaw is one of McKeen's people and decides to stick with him to see where he takes her, much against Russell's wishes.

Back at his house, Russell pulls a gun out of a hidden safe. Sara processes the bedroom, finding some shoe impressions she guesses are from standard work boots. She also collects trace evidence of some sort, which could've come from the kidnapper. A flashlight that's property of the LVPD is found under the window; it seems they're looking for a cop. Russell tells Sara that the only people he wants on the case are Brass' guys.

Sara continues to try to contact Nick, but the calls keep going to voice mail. Nick, who quit before this all went down, is busy getting drunk outside a liquor store. When two officers arrive to calm him down, Nick throws a beer bottle and pulls out his gun. The officers respond by drawing their guns, and Nick challenges them to a fight.

Despite the potential conflict of interest, Russell processes his granddaughter's bedroom. Sara finds more transfer on the floor, only this transfer has hairs sticking to it. Russell looks at the "KARMA" note and remembers Ecklie using the same words with McKeen; McKeen is sending him the same message. While Morgan laments not being able to be of more help identifying her father's shooter, Sara bails a bruised and bloodied Nick out of jail and puts him to work.

Crenshaw has driven Finn to a seedy club; both parties have left their guns in the car's glove compartment. Finn's cell phone, which is unable to get a signal, is also locked in the car. In the club, Crenshaw leads Finn to a back hallway. Before reaching their destination, he pulls out a hidden gun and points it at her. He has her open the door; inside, Katie is tied up and Det. Kimball is keeping an eye on her.

Brass and Det. Moreno arrive at Russell's house; there's still no word from Finn. Moreno reveals that Finn texted him and wanted him to follow her on the GPS; however, Crenshaw jammed the signals. Russell is upset that Moreno would leave Finn with someone he knew was dirty. Just then, Crenshaw radios Russell, then hands the radio to Finn. She tells Russell that she's okay and has Katie speak to him for proof of life. Russell is told that if he wants to see his granddaughter again, he'll have to talk to McKeen.

The hairs attached to the trace in the bedroom turn out to be bovine hairs, while the trace itself is identified as generic plaster. Meanwhile, a car is found that matches the one found fleeing the scene of Ecklie's shooting; a large shotgun is found in the back seat. When Hodges goes to the hospital to collect the bullets removed from Ecklie, he has a short talk with Morgan, who kisses him in a moment of weakness.

Russell meets with McKeen one-on-one. McKeen tells him that the CSIs were more concerned with the "who" rather than the "why"—why were Donny Price and Veronica Gilmore killed and why was Jack Gilmore framed for it? He goes on to say that Jack used his wife to steal $2 million in drug money from Donny as collateral for his stadium, which means she stole from McKeen. McKeen tells Russell to get the $2 million back from Jack in exchange for Katie's safe return; he gives him 12 hours to do so. There's a new problem, however—Jack is nowhere to be found, likely hiding from McKeen.

The team processes the "KARMA" note, finding Kimball's fingerprint under one of the letters. The reverse sides of the letters appear to be advertisements for strip clubs. Greg runs the paper stock and finds that it was discontinued a few years back. Only one business still uses the old paper—a sex club called PD7.

In the room where they're being held, Finn opens a vent in the wall that's big enough for Katie to fit through. She has Katie crawl through, telling her she'll meet on her on the other side. The escape is expedited when Crenshaw and Kimball arrive and find that Finn has jammed the door with a chair. After breaking down the door and finding nobody in the room, they both go chasing their hostages. Crenshaw doubles back to the room and is jumped by Finn. The fight escalates, with Finn escaping the room and trying to find a way out of the building. She's unable to do so and is tracked down by Crenshaw, who handcuffs her and points a gun at her. Before he can fire, Det. Moreno and his team arrive, shooting Crenshaw and killing him. They all rush outside to where Katie should be, but she's nowhere to be found. Finn calls Russell with the bad news; he's in disbelief that Finn willingly let herself get separated from a child. The immediate area is searched, but the search comes up empty.

Russell hallucinates shooting McKeen, but Nick and Doc Robbins bring him back to reality. More bovine hairs were found in Crenshaw's car, while a fungus that causes valley fever was found in his lungs during autopsy. This narrows down Katie's location to 40 square miles in the desert, which isn't nearly good enough for Russell. He dismisses Nick and the doc, but Nick stays behind and stares him down. Nick tells him that when Veronica Gilmore was murdered, Finn got a warrant from Brass for Jack's phone. Jack's phone is still active and making calls, meaning the team knows where to find him.

Nick and Russell ambush Jack in his car on the roof of a parking garage. Both point their guns at him, demanding he pay the $2 million McKeen is asking for. However, Jack tells them he already gave the money back, having his lawyer make the drop. He tells them that $2 million for a guy like McKeen is nothing, which means Katie is likely already dead. Just then, Jack is shot in the head from a distance by an unseen assailant.

Because Brass had issued the warrant for Jack's phone, he knew where he was and didn't tell anyone. He reveals that Jack was a material witness in an ongoing police corruption investigation, which the CSIs have now screwed up. Russell accuses him of not caring about the kidnapping, but Brass replies that he let Russell process his own house and talk to McKeen unsupervised. He adds that he didn't reveal Jack's location because he knew it would end up just like this. McKeen knew he was going to get his money, but he didn't know where to find Jack; the CSIs have helped with that.

Finn visits Russell, who is lying in his granddaughter's bed surrounded by case files. He comes to the realization that both Finn and Katie should be dead, but both were kept alive for some reason. In Finn's case, Crenshaw wanted a "little extra something." Russell notes that Kimball has a daughter that's roughly Katie's age, so it's quite possible he saw Katie more as a child rather than a hostage. The only reason he would still be in town was out of loyalty to McKeen; delivering the $2 million would be his last job. But how is he going to deliver it with eyes everywhere? Russell soon comes to another realization—the hair and plaster found earlier is actually hair in plaster, used as a binding agent in old World War II-era houses. Combining this with the search area in the desert narrows things down quite a bit.

Nine properties in the area fit the description. A cartridge case in Jack's shooting is found with a fingerprint on it belonging an ex-cop named Earl Whitson. Earl grew up with McKeen, and cell phone records show that he was in the vicinity where Ecklie was shot. Furthermore, one of the houses in the desert belongs to a Mary Whitson.

Finn, Russell, Brass and some uniformed cops storm the Whitson house, finding Earl and two associates shot to death inside. Brass identifies them as cops who worked Vice with Kimball, meaning they likely worked for McKeen, too. A car is heard trying to hurriedly leave the property; it's Kimball trying to make a getaway. Upon being surrounded, Kimball exits the vehicle with a gun. He tells Brass that he's not a rat and points the gun to his chin. Before he can fire, he's shot in the shoulder.

Inside the house, Russell finds evidence that Katie is still there. In the bedroom, he and Finn find bloody bed sheets and a bloody hand on the wall. They fear the worst, but find Katie hiding behind a dresser. She tells her grandfather that "the man" told her to hide and she cut her hand.

At the police station, McKeen is happy to be going back to prison, where he's king. His joy is short-lived, however, when Russell tells him he's being transferred to federal prison in Indiana, where he'll be in isolation for the rest of his life. Furthermore, the $2 million has been donated to the crime lab in his family's name. The smile disappears from McKeen's face as he's hauled away.

Greg, Nick and Sara watch the news report about the crackdown on police corruption. The LVPD is making a comeback, and Greg wonders if Nick is, too. Nick says that he still hasn't made a decision and reminds Sara that she's also quit before and come back. The two get into a playful argument about words having consequences, with signs pointing to Nick staying on the team.

At home, Russell locks his gun back in the safe and kisses his wife, happy that everything has turned out alright.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]


  • Jon Wellner (Henry Andrews) is promoted to the main cast.
  • Sara reminds Nick that when she quit a few years back, she left a note for Grissom at reception. This occurred in the Season Eight episode Goodbye and Good Luck.
  • This episode marks the final appearance of Conor O'Farrell as Jeffrey McKeen.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 13
Karma to BurnCode Blue Plate SpecialWild FlowersIt Was a Very Good YearPlay DeadPick and RollFallen AngelsCSI on FireStrip MaulRisky Business ClassDead AirDouble FaultIn Vino VeritasExileForget Me NotLast Woman StandingDead of the ClassShelteredBackfireFearlessGhosts of the PastSkin in the Game