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Ms. Willows Regrets
Ms. Willows Regrets.jpg
Season 12
Number 11
Writer Christopher Barbour,
Don McGill
Director Louis Milito
Original Airdate January 18, 2012
Navigation
Previous Episode: Genetic Disorder
Next Episode: Willows in the Wind

Ms. Willows Regrets is the eleventh episode in season twelve of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

The skeletal remains of three people, a lawyer and his two employees, are found in the woods. Catherine knows the lawyer and fears that her friend, who used the lawyer to get away from her husband, has become a victim to his criminal enterprise.

Plot

Victims: Amelia Gross (deceased), Julie Blanch (deceased), Malcolm Turner (deceased)

On the case: entire team

Three people are shot and killed in the office of lawyer Malcolm Turner, including Malcolm himself. Two of the three assailants use the high-powered FN-P90 guns seen in the episode "Zippered." The victims' bodies are dumped in the woods; when discovered, they have hide beetles crawling over over the skeletons. Nick notes that the beetles usually get to work five to ten days postmortem; however, due to the recent weather, the number of insects and the amount of decomposition on the bodies is off.

The victims are identified as receptionist Amelia Gross, paralegal Julie Blanch and attorney Malcolm Turner. Upon hearing Malcolm's name, Catherine realizes that she sent her friend, Laura Gabriel, to speak with the attorney about divorcing her husband, Mark. Catherine calls Laura, but the calls go straight to voicemail. A flashback shows Laura telling Catherine that she was going to leave her husband and tell the FBI everything she knew. Laura's condo is searched, but she's nowhere to be found.

Upon hearing that his wife is missing, Mark voluntarily comes to the station to offer his assistance. He tells Catherine and Brass that he hasn't heard from Laura in two weeks and ends the questioning when he starts to get accused of murder. Catherine is sure that Laura is dead because she had some incriminating information against her husband.

Nick continues to examine the hide beetles, thrown off by the timeline. Evidence shows that the beetles had been feeding on the bodies for a week; however, Greg surprises him by telling him that Malcolm's widow talked to the receptionist 14 hours ago. If that's the case, how did the beetles pick the bodies clean so quickly? To experiment, they feed the beetles a piece of chicken to see how quickly they can pick it to the bone. The beetles complete the task in less than an hour, which explains why decomposition was inconsistent with the time of death.

Morgan, Sara and Det. Vartann arrive at the lawyer's office, which has been professionally cleaned. Though it looks like the victims were killed somewhere else, their cars are still in the parking garage. As they spray the office with luminol, they find the spots where the three victims were killed; Sara also sees that the bullet-riddled door in Malcolm's office has been freshly painted over. Based on the timeline, everything took place in less than 45 minutes. Since there's no smell of bleach, the CSIs figure that ethanol was used to destroy all DNA. The murders were professional, and it seems that the clean-up was, too.

Security footage from the office shows a water delivery guy entering the building; however, there were no scheduled deliveries for the water company that night. Additionally, movers from a bogus moving company are seen moving the same furniture into and out of the building during the time of the murders. Russell observes the footage and guesses that everyone involved has some kind of military training. He also sees that the hit squad is talking to a raincoat-wearing, cigarette-smoking man, who Russell figures is the leader. Morgan goes through the footage and sees the same man getting on an elevator; he gets off after the murders occurred.

Nick dissects a dead hide beetle and comes across an interesting discovery. He shows Catherine that the bug's "equipment" is enhanced and is actually completely useless. His belief is that the bugs have been bioengineered to eat without getting full, then die off and disappear without anyone noticing. Catherine believes that the theory isn't so far-fetched, as it seems like something Mark Gabriel and his company, Ceressus Logistics, would do. Ballistics reports show that the main caliber used in the murders is consistent with the assault rifles the team dealt with previously.

Catherine calls the FBI and gets Special Agents McQuaid and Pratt to head back to Vegas. The thought is that Ceressus has been engaged in a number of illegal activities in the United States, including gunrunning, corporate espionage and computer hacking. Russell shows the agents the surveillance footage from earlier; the agents recognize some of the faces, but have been unable to connect them to Ceressus or Mark Gabriel.

Vartann tells Catherine that Laura closed out her bank account five days ago and withdrew $28,000. Activity on her cell phone stopped the day before the murders at the law office. Catherine is surprised when her mother stops by with a birthday card signed by Laura's father - who died 20 years ago. Laura mailed the card the day before the murders at the law office and sent it directly from a post office in Pahrump. It's clear that she didn't want her husband intercepting it. The card and envelope don't turn up much in the way of DNA, but Sara finds a cell phone memory card embedded in the card.

The memory card is registered to Mark, and it contains mostly family and vacation photos. However, there's one photo that catches Catherine's attention - Laura standing in front of a house with a frightened look on her face. Catherine recognizes the house is the background, remembering that it belongs to Laura's cousin. The team heads to the house, where they find Laura's cousin and her husband shot dead. Laura, however, is found alive in a crawl space underneath the kitchen.

Sara's calls Russell to fill him in. Her belief is that someone else is responsible for these murders, as this crime scene is a mess; however, Russell theorizes that the killers may have been interrupted. Laura tells Catherine that she heard people break into the house. While she was in hiding, she heard the perpetrators beat and kill Laura's cousin and her husband. When pressed by Catherine, Laura admits that she overheard Mark talking with someone about cleaning the offices of Stanley Merrill, a military contractor and rival of Mark's. Stanley went missing 11 months ago, and Laura figures that Mark had him killed. Laura adds that Mark always swaps out the memory card on his phone after a business trip, and figures that there's something else incriminating amongst the pictures she sent. While the two converse, the raincoat-wearing man from earlier surveils them from a distance.

Archie goes through the photos and comes across one of a Photoshopped marlin. The photo contains a contains a bunch of numbers that correspond to transactions, recording money being wired from a subsidiary of Ceressus to a single account in a Swiss bank. As it turns out, the dates of the transactions line up with the disappearance of Stanley Merrill and the deaths of Lenny Wesson ("Zippered"), Malcolm Turner and his employees. Ceressus' CFO, Arthur Martens, tells Russell and Agent Pratt that he has no knowledge of this subsidiary of the company. When shown a photo of the hit squad from the law office, he recognizes the raincoat-wearing man as a contractor who has done work for Ceressus abroad. To his knowledge, this man has never been called for any assignments in the United States. Realizing that he's being thrown under the bus, Arthur agrees to cooperate on the condition that he gets some cover.

Catherine visits Laura in the hospital and informs her that someone else is coming forward. Just then, Mark appears and demands to speak to his wife. Agent McQuaid denies this request and Catherine verbally threatens Mark. Before departing, Mark tells them that this isn't over. A visibly shaken Laura is escorted from the hospital by Agent McQuaid and a team of FBI agents, and Catherine realizes that she's never going to see her friend again. As she leaves the hospital, Catherine passes the female assassin from the law office, who is dressed as an FBI agent.

The raincoat-wearing man is identified as Paul Obrecht, a German native who has become a soldier-for-hire. Catherine recalls that Laura heard someone speaking with an accent when her cousin's house was infiltrated. Case files on Stanley Merrill's disappearance show the same hit squad that hit the law firm. However, one face was overlooked - that of a female assassin that Catherine realizes she saw in the hospital. Catherine and Russell start making phone calls, realizing that the assassin has infiltrated the FBI protection team.

The LVPD eventually finds the transport. Evidence suggests that the transport was ambushed, as the lead car was taken out, and the car with Laura and Agent McQuaid was hit and torched. There are no witnesses, but the casings at the scene are consistent with the FN-P90s. Catherine berates Agent Pratt for allowing something like this to happen, as Laura and four FBI agents are dead. Russell sends Catherine home and has Vartann drive her.

Russell arrives back in his office and finds an email from Catherine, tendering her resignation from the crime lab. Catherine arrives home and is met with heavy gunfire, which shatters her windows and destroys most of the inside of her house. She gets her gun and fires back at the shooters before making her way outside and into the middle of the road. There, she's met by Russell, who drives up and orders her to get in. As Russell drives away, Catherine lays in the backseat, bleeding from a gunshot wound.

TO BE CONTINUED flashes across the screen.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

Notes

  • A flashback shows Catherine having a conversation with Laura Gabriel, where she's told that Laura has agreed to leave her husband and testify against him. This meeting was not shown in the earlier episode Zippered
  • Sara notes that the only through janitor she ever knew turned out to be a serial killer. She's referring to Natalie Davis, aka The Miniature Killer.
  • Catherine's resignation e-mail to Russell reads:

Dear D.B. Russell,

Effective immediately, I tender my resignation.

This is a decision I've been considering for a while, and it is with profound regret that I am submitting this letter. For 19 years I have been a proud member of this lab and this team. For 19 years, I've dedicated myself to this lab and worked to make it the preeminent forensics facility in this country. However, recent events make it impossible for me to continue as an effective member of the team.

My authority has been questioned, my decisions ignored and my professional objectivity doubted. Though I graciously accepted an unwanted demotion from Grave Shift Supervisor, I now find my lesser role unsatisfying and untenable.

I've made the decision to go away for a while. But first, I have to do something. Some of these cases never close as you hope, and I have one last bit of unfinished business to clear my desk. I hope you'll understand.

I consider many of my colleagues dear friends and wish them nothing but continued success. I take comfort in knowing my decision is what is best for the team.

Sincerely,

Catherine Willows

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 12
73 SecondsTell-Tale HeartsBittersweetMaid ManCSI DownFreaks & GeeksBrain DoeCrime After CrimeZipperedGenetic DisorderMs. Willows RegretsWillows in the WindTressed to KillSeeing RedStealing HomeCSI UnpluggedTrends with BenefitsMalice in WonderlandSplit DecisionsAltered StakesDune and GloomHomecoming
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