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Let the Seller Beware
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Season 3
Number 3
Writer Carol Mendelsohn,
Anthony E. Zuiker
Director Danny Cannon
Original Airdate October 10, 2002
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Previous Episode: The Accused is Entitled
Next Episode: A Little Murder

Let the Seller Beware is the third episode in Season Three of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

Catherine, Grissom, Nick and Warrick investigate when a wealthy couple is murdered at their house, which was up for sale. Meanwhile, Sara is sent to a local high school where a cheerleader was found eviscerated on the football field, her organs having been ingested by her killer.

Plot

Victim: Cal and Monica Newman (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Gil Grissom, Nick Stokes, Warrick Brown, Jim Brass

Peter Berglund and his girlfriend, Janine Wood, sneak into a house for sale and give themselves a private tour. After having sex inside the house and trying on the owners' clothes, the two go outside into the backyard. As Janine stands admiring the pool, blood drips down on her; it's revealed that there's a dead body on the awning above.

The house belongs to Cal and Monica Newman, with Monica's body being the one on the awning. She has has a gunshot wound to her head, and Catherine finds a .380 shell casing on the floor that appears to match the gun next to the body. Catherine and Grissom note that a woman doesn't usually shoot herself in the head, as such a wound would do a number on the face. The case appears to be a murder-suicide, and Cal is still missing.

While Nick and Warrick get Monica's body down from the awning, Grissom observes some cigarette butts in a flower pot; the pot is right under a window that has a torn screen. Brass tells Grissom that the Newmans have a 15-year-old son named Max from Cal's first marriage. Like his father, Max is also missing, and there's no evidence that he was at the house recently. The conversation is interrupted by realtor Augie Heitz, who's upset that the upscale house he's trying to sell is now a murder scene. He admits to giving out the combination to his lockboxes to people he trusts, which Brass tells him is illegal.

Catherine questions Peter and Janine; the two admit to making their way through the house, but are unaware of the powered-on laptop that was on the vanity. Near the pool, Nick spots a red substance on the walkway that appears to be too thin to be blood. Warrick breaks protocol and tastes it, saying it tastes like sugar. Their attention turns to a nearby bird feeder filled with Red Dye III, which is used to attract hummingbirds. Nick uses the ALS to reveal two sets of footprints—a size 10 going to the pool, and a size 12 coming from it.

Warrick checks the cabana and finds that Cal inexplicably left his clothes, wallet, and keys behind. The CSIs are soon alerted to a sound coming from the pool, which had been cleared by a responding officer. It sounds as if the pool is clogged, and the water certainly isn't clear. Grissom has one of Nick or Warrick go into the pool to see what's going on. Nick is the unlucky loser in his bet with Warrick, and he soon finds Cal's body floating near the bottom of the pool.

The pool is drained, revealing Cal's body at the bottom. Cal's ex-wife, Jeri, arrives with Max, and she positively identifies her ex-husband's body. Grissom estimates that the body was in the pool no longer than 12 hours and he finds an anti-vortex filter that's missing some screws. He explains to Brass that the filter is designed to keep body parts from entering the piping. Back in the lab, Archie goes through the hard drive of the computer found at the crime scene, which contains a walkthrough of the house. When comparing "before" and "after" photos of the house, he and Catherine see that a sculpture is missing from a dresser.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins confirms that Cal drowned. Marks on his right hand came from it getting caught in the pool filter; lack of bruising and no bleeding wounds lead the doc to conclude that the injury was postmortem. Cal has perimortem abrasions on his chest along with several broken ribs and a bruise on his forehead. Grissom wonders if someone beat Cal to death. Meanwhile, Monica's findings are negative for sexual assault. The depth of her bruising shows that her neck and wrists were assaulted first, and the bruise on her hand indicates that she instinctively reached for the gun being pointed at her head.

Catherine, Nick and Archie watch a video of Monica Newman giving a virtual tour of her house. Suddenly, the video cuts to her stripping down and posing for the camera. When a still of the video is blown up, Augie is seen in the background. Brass reveals that there have been six robberies in houses that Augie has listed, mostly thefts of artwork and antiques. When questioned, Augie insists that he did nothing wrong and is only guilty of having "lust in his heart." He doubles down on his innocence and willfully provides a DNA sample.

Warrick speaks with the Newman's pool guy, Jack Jarvis. Jack recalls that Cal had a temper and frequently argued with his son. When Warrick finds three screws in the cab of Jack's truck that match the missing ones from the filter, Jack says that he purposely removed them so he had an excuse to come back later (a "leave-behind"). He was hoping Monica would see him more, which could lead to something else. Jack volunteers a DNA sample and his fingerprints, saying he has nothing to hide.

Aside from some leaves, Nick finds hairs, a piece of fabric, and a tooth filling in the pool filter. The chemicals in Cal's lungs match the chemicals in the pool water, and trace from his head wound matches the side of the pool. Grissom discovers that there was mildew next to the pool; sugar water from the bird feeder got spoiled in the desert heat and mildew grew when human came in contact with it. Nick guesses that their killer, who wore a size 12, transferred mildew from the pool to the house. Greg provides DNA results that show that there were two sperm donors inside Monica Newman. One of the donors is Cal, while the other one is unaccounted for. Nick believes that Monica was cheating on her husband.

When Nick and Warrick go back to the house to recreate the circumstances of Monica's video, Warrick finds a cardboard still of Augie in the closet; this is why he was seen in the background. Meanwhile, Archie spots a reflection in the video and enhances it to show that Max, Monica's stepson, was the one filming her. Since they got DNA off the cigarette butts, the DNA can be compared to the other sperm donor in Monica.

Under interrogation, Jeri Newman claims that her son was nowhere near the house when the murders occurred. She also denies that Max would be involved with his stepmother until Brass provides photographic proof. It's also confirmed that Max is Monica's second sperm donor. Brass theorizes that Monica came on to Max one day while he was in the pool. The incident led to Max drowning his father so he could have Monica all to himself; on his way out of the pool, he tracked mildew into the house. However, when Monica categorized their relationship as a "fling," Max killed her, as well. The theory is sound, except for one issue: Max can't swim. Since Cal's blood was found on the underside of the pool and abrasions on his chest suggest a struggle in the water, Max is ruled out as a suspect. The team is looking for someone who can swim.

All the prints in the Newman house are accounted for by people who had a reason to be in the house. The only other evidence is the blond hair and the tooth filling found in the pool filter. Nick is able to identify the white fabric from the filter as neoprene, leading him and Warrick to question who would wear a white wetsuit in a pool. The conclusion is that they're looking for a hired gun.

The investigation focuses in on Peter Berglund. Due to his excessive water drinking in the interrogation room, Grissom guesses that his tooth hurts because his filling is missing. Peter's hair and fingerprints were also found, but he explains that he was all over the house because he wanted to buy it. His fingerprints came back Military: Navy Seal, meaning that he's a strong swimmer. Grissom confirms that "Berglund" is a Scandinavian surname, and he comes up with an idea. In the station locker room, he has Greg, who is Norwegian, remove his shoes and socks. He then does an experiment on Greg's feet using mildew and regular tap water. When Greg comes back six hours later with mildew on his left foot, Grissom believes he has the evidence to go after Peter.

Grissom interrogates Peter again, gives him a warrant to see his feet, and tells him to take off his shoes and socks. He sees that Peter has the rash from the Aureobasidium pullulans, a mildew that induces rashes in people of Scandinavian descent. Not only does Peter have the rash, he also has size 12 feet. Grissom theorizes that Peter put on a white wetsuit, went into the pool, and waited for Cal Newman. When Cal swam by, he attacked him and killed him; during the struggle, he lost a filling. When the first job was done, he went upstairs, shot Monica, and threw her body onto the awning. But why kill two people he barely knew?

Catherine interrogates Jeri Newman, who's also in the process of selling her house. On the realty website, Catherine takes a virtual tour of the house and is able to identify a picture of Jeri with Peter. She figures out that Jeri hired Peter to kill her ex-husband and his new wife so she could get his money and Peter could get the house. Their loan application contains two signatures, which was payment for the hit. The murder left behind a paper trail that sunk both parties.

Victim: Mandy Kirk (deceased)

On the case: Sara Sidle, Cyrus Lockwood

On her day off, Sara is sent by Grissom to Tuscadero High School, where 17-year-old cheerleader Mandy Kirk lies dead on a soccer field. Mandy's abdomen has been eviscerated, possibly from a wild animal attack. Sara pulls a pink ribbon from the wound and wonders how nobody heard the girl screaming.

In autopsy, David Phillips confirms that Mandy died from exsanguination; she bled out from the trauma to her internal organs. David turns Sara's attention to a tooth mark in the ninth rib. She guesses the bite is from a dog, but David confirms that it's actually human. He notes that wisdom teeth usually erupt between the ages of 15 and 30, and there are no wisdom molars in the bite impression. Finally, he confirms that Mandy had E-coli, which means whoever did this to her is suffering from the same ailment.

Sara and Det. Lockwood find out that every soccer player on the team had a "Soccer Bunny" that gave gifts and wake-up calls to their assigned players. Mandy was a "bunny" to a Chuck Darwell, who claims that he and Mandy hooked up after every soccer game except for the night before. It just so happens that Chuck was rushed to the hospital, and Sara guesses why. In the hospital, Chuck reiterates that he didn't see Mandy the night she died. Sara and Det. Lockwood are shut down by Chuck's father, but they're able to collect Chuck's stomach contents before leaving.

While Sara sifts through the stomach contents, Greg reads her the coroner's report, which states that Chuck had a high level of PCP in his system. Greg explains that PCP is so powerful, it causes the brain to disassociate from the body. Sara pulls a rather large piece of raw skin from the stomach contents and hopes it isn't human. In the hospital, Chuck denies eating Mandy; however, PCP would certainly cloud his memory. He can recall some things from that night, but insists that he didn't kill anyone. Despite this, Chuck is placed under arrest.

Bite plates taken from Chuck in the hospital aren't a match to the teeth marks in Mandy's ribs. Sara concludes that someone else was with Chuck that night, and that person is getting sicker by the minute. That person is Mandy's friend, Nicole Exmoor, who has been constantly throwing up. In the school locker room, Nicole says that Chuck bought PCP-laced weed, as the seller claimed it was a "really good high." The two of them hooked up on the soccer field behind Mandy's back; when Mandy found out, she and Chuck got into an argument.

As she watched the argument, Nicole explains that her blood started surging through her body. Soon, she felt like she was split from her body and wanted to "become" Mandy, which Sara says is "psychological detachment," a function of PCP. Nicole stabbed Mandy with the pin from the soccer goal, then ate her stomach and killed her, all the while not really knowing what she was doing. She's arrested for murder; what happens next is up to the district attorney.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Archie Kao as Archie Johnson
  • Jeffrey D. Sams as Cyrus Lockwood
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Chris Payne Gilbert as Peter Berglund
  • Mary-Margaret Humes as Jeri Newman
  • Taylor Handley as Max Newman
  • Nicole Paggi as Nicole Exmoor
  • Laurie Fortier as Janine Wood
  • Taylor Handley as Cal Newman
  • Monique Demers as Monica Newman
  • Edward Edwards as Mr. Darwell
  • Peter Holden as Augie Heitz
  • Chris J. Johnson as Chuck Darwell
  • Michael McLafferty as Poolman Jack Jarvis
  • Rachel Shumate as Amanda Kirk
  • Kendra Danielle Smith as Nurse

Episode Title

  • "Let the Seller Beware" is a twist on the phrase, "Let the buyer beware," a contract law principle that the buyer has less information about the goods under purchase than the seller. The buyer may be unaware of problems with or defects in the goods that the seller is aware of.[1] In the episode, Cal and Monica Newman are murdered and their bodies are found in their home that's up for sale.

Quotes

Catherine: The thing about murder for hire, there's always a paper trail.

Goofs

  • Grissom finds some cigarette butts in a flower pot in the garden. In the close-up, it turns out they can't have been smoked because there are no stains on the filters (the filters brown when being smoked from the tar they absorb).
  • When they show a close-up of the dead cheerleader at the crime scene, you can see her eyelids move and you can see her breathing.

Notes

  • Archie identifies the sculpture in the Newman house as a "Peter Croft," which also happens to be the name of the judge in the previous episode The Accused is Entitled.
  • Greg is Norwegian on his mother's side, whose maiden name was Hojem.
  • Greg tells Grissom that his maternal grandfather was kicked out of Norway for getting his grandmother pregnant before they were married.

References

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 3
Revenge is Best Served ColdThe Accused is EntitledLet the Seller BewareA Little MurderAbra-CadaverThe Execution of Catherine WillowsFight NightSnuffBlood LustHigh and LowRecipe for MurderGot Murder?Random Acts of ViolenceOne Hit WonderLady Heather's BoxLucky StrikeCrash & BurnPrecious MetalA Night at the MoviesLast LaughForeverPlay with FireInside the Box
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