Organ Grinder
Season 2
Number 11
Writer Elizabeth Devine,
Ann Donahue
Director Allison Liddi
Original Airdate December 13, 2001
Previous Episode: Ellie
Next Episode: You've Got Male

Organ Grinder is the eleventh episode in Season Two of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


The body of Bob Fairmont, a famous real estate entrepreneur, is found in a hotel elevator. It appears he died from natural causes, but the CSI team discovers that the crime scene has been tampered with and that the victim has been redressed. After tracing the cause of death to a lethal poison, the team is shocked to discover that Fairmont's organs have already been removed and donated, making the case a bit more difficult to solve.


Victim: Bob Fairmont (deceased)

On the case: entire team

At the Devon hotel, an amorous couple gets into an elevator and finds a body on the floor. The victim, identified as wealthy property developer Bob Fairmont, is still alive and has been transported to the hospital. Brass relays to Grissom that an anonymous call was made to 911 by a male voice at the same time the couple found the body. Furthermore, the body had no bullet or knife wounds. Grissom and Sara look over pictures of the scene and can immediately tell that the body was redressed.

Outside of the hospital, Bob's wife, Julia, tells Brass that her husband cheats on her with younger women who bare a striking resemblance to her. Unfortunately, she doesn't have any names to provide to the police. Grissom and Sara check out Bob's hotel room, finding two champagne glasses, neither of which have lipstick on them. There's evidence of sexual intercourse, and Sara finds a bra in the bed. She questions who the man on the 911 call was, as Bob clearly had a female visitor. Meanwhile, Catherine tape lifts some white specks from the floor of the elevator.

Back in the hotel room, Grissom identifies the most recent of many stains to be on the wall above the bed. Before leaving, he fills Sara in on the phrase "Murder Central"—the last hotel room nearest the stairwell that gives easy access to an intruder and less chance of being heard, due to there only being rooms on one side of the hallway. Both Nick and Sara have learned something new, despite Sara previously trying to play it off as common knowledge amongst CSIs.

In the lab, Greg determines that the white specks from the elevator are dandruff—whoever moved the body had a bad case of it. As Catherine prepares to collect Bob's clothes from the hospital, Warrick informs her that one of his first cases involved a call to the Fairmont House. Three years ago, Bob accidentally shot himself in his privates while cleaning his gun. When put in perspective with the current case, there might be something nefarious at play.

Brass informs Grissom that the 911 tape has been lost due to a new computer system. The dispatcher was only able to identify the voice on the tape as a woman whispering or a very old person of indeterminate gender. Grissom gets a call to head down to autopsy; Bob never woke up from his injuries.

Doc Robbins determines that Bob was brain-dead from the time he collapsed at the hotel; he had an aneurysm, likely from a genetic predisposition, as both of his parents died the same way. Grissom wonders how a seemingly healthy 38-year-old could just become brain-dead, and Doc Robbins shows him the body. Eight of Bob's internal organs were removed, all in under two hours.

Nick and Sara find a used condom flung over a light fixture in the hotel room. In the lab, Greg finds evidence of semen in the condom; however, they'll need a DNA sample from Bob to confirm that the condom was his. Likewise, Greg tells Sara that he'll need a female's DNA to compare to the DNA sample from the bra found in the bed.

Sara looks over autopsy photos and notices white bands on Bob's fingernails, also known as Mees' lines. They become present six weeks after someone has been exposed to something toxic. Grissom believes the lines could indicate livor mortis, and he cautions Sara against drawing conclusions from a photo. However, Sara believes Bob succumbed to heavy metal poisoning.

In autopsy, Grissom and Sara are surprised to find that Doc Robbins released the body. He explains that Bob's cause of death was natural (aneurysm); because of this, the body was released to a mortuary. The doc identifies the mortuary where Bob's body was transported to; however, when Nick and Sara arrive, the cremation process has already begun. They're told that Julia Fairmont approved the cremation of her husband's body—and also signed off on the organ transplants.

When questioned, Julia claims that her husband wanted to donate his organs and that she was just following orders. An analysis of Bob's ashes reveals that he was being poisoned with selenium, a heavy metal that didn't quite burn away from the heat in the furnace. Julia doesn't recall seeing any signs of her husband being poisoned, mainly because he was spending most of his time at work. Sara accuses Julia of poisoning Bob and cremating his body to get rid of the evidence, something Julia vehemently denies. She reiterates that she was following her husband's wishes, which included donating his organs and having his body cremated. Sara informs her that, based on the donated organs, they can tell how much selenium Bob was poisoned with and for how long. However, none of the donor recipients consent to being opened back up and providing a sample of their new organs.

Catherine drops by the hospital to pick up Bob's property. There, she meets Claudia Gideon, Bob's personal secretary. When asked about the incident three years ago where Bob accidentally shot himself, Claudia says she was conveniently out sick that day. During the conversation, Catherine spots dandruff on Claudia's shoulder and tape lifts it as evidence. The DNA markers from the dandruff cells are a match to the dandruff from the elevator.

Under interrogation, Claudia denies being at the hotel, but changes her story when confronted with the DNA evidence. She claims that per Bob's orders, she stopped by at 9:00 PM to pick up some papers. When she arrived, she found Bob in his bed, naked and unconscious. Remembering that Bob valued reputation over everything else, she redressed him and dragged him to the elevator. Claudia says that she doesn't know who Bob was with in the hotel room, and she consents to give her DNA to compare with the DNA from the condom.

Claudia's time on the hot seat isn't over, however. Warrick shows her a digital reenactment of the shooting from three years ago. The story of Bob accidentally shooting himself doesn't seem to add up, something Warrick overlooked because he was a rookie at the time. Based on the reenactment, Warrick determines that Bob could've only been shot through his privates from four meters away—by someone sitting in a living room chair. Someone shot Bob as he entered the house, and Claudia is the main suspect since she was the one who transported Bob to the hospital that night. Claudia denies shooting Bob and can't account for Julia's whereabouts that night.

Julia surprisingly confesses to shooting her husband, saying that he had been at a "business meeting" until 2:00 AM instead of spending time with her. Hurt and neglected, she shot him below the belt just to put a scare into him. Julia claims that she wanted to confess, but Bob stopped her, valuing his career above all else. Warrick offers to present the case to the district attorney despite it being three years old. Brass points out that a woman only shoots a man for two reasons: love or hate. "Or both," Catherine wryly adds.

Lab results prove that Claudia moved the body to the elevator. Ever the wealth of knowledge, Grissom tells Catherine that the main ingredient in prescription dandruff medications is selenium sulfide. Catherine and Brass search Claudia's office, finding a bottle of selenium sulfide in a cabinet and a tub of garlic cream cheese in the refrigerator. The garlic cream cheese would explain away Bob's bad breath from the poisoning and it would also be how he could be poisoned over a long period of time. Claudia is unaware of how the medication got into the office, and she once again denies killing Bob. She and Julia trade barbs with each other before Catherine breaks them up and sends them on their way.

Nick visits the hospital, where the recipient of Bob's poisoned liver has some good news and bad news. His body has rejected the organ because of antibodies, which means he'll die soon. However, this will allow the CSIs to retrieve the organ and test it. Back in the lab, Nick tells Grissom that he's against doing this, as he believes their investigation for the dead shouldn't hurt the living.

Sara runs the partial fingerprints from the champagne bottle in the hotel room and discovers that the prints were actually upside down. Once this is corrected, the prints are run in the system. They surprisingly come back to Julia, who eventually admits to being with her husband, something she neglected to mention earlier because she wasn't asked the right questions. She claims that she and Bob tried to rekindle their marriage; when she left him, he was alive and watching the news. Brass informs her that the CSIs are testing the champagne bottle for selenium, and she hints that she knows a lot more about poisons than she lets on.

Bob's dental records indicate that he had three gold crowns that should've survived the cremation; however, they're now all mysteriously missing. In the police station parking lot, Julia doubles over in pain on her way to the car. Luckily, Nick is in the vicinity and he calls for an ambulance. Julia is soon released from the hospital after the doctor gives her a shot of hydropazeen—an antiemetic used to counteract heavy metal poisoning. It seems someone has also been poisoning Julia.

Brass questions Claudia and Julia separately. Claudia believes Julia poisoned herself and still can't explain how her medicated dandruff shampoo got into the office. She's under the impression that Julia is trying to frame her for murder. Julia, meanwhile, claims that she has nothing to hide, adding that Claudia killed Bob because he wouldn't leave his wife for her. Claudia claims that she had to clean up after Bob's disgusting habits and would never dream of asking him to leave his wife. Tired of the back and forth, Brass tells Claudia that neither woman is leaving the police station until they get to the bottom of everything.

Trying to impress Sara, Greg does some research and finds background information on Claudia. He comes across a photo of Claudia with her rich husband, who also died young. Coincidentally, John Gideon's organs were also donated and his body was also cremated. Records show that the donated liver was rejected by its recipient, and the man died a few months later. The body is exhumed and the liver is removed.

Nick finds out that the liver contained enough sodium selenite to kill someone; however, its components are different from the medicated dandruff shampoo. The components are commonly found in selenium supplements injected in livestock to make up for the lack of selenium in the soil. As it turns out, Claudia owned a dairy farm in Connecticut with her husband—and his secretary was Julia Fairmont.

Claudia and Julia are interrogated together. The two women admit to knowing each other previously, once again bringing up that the question was never asked. Catherine congratulates them on concocting the perfect scheme, guessing that Claudia killed her husband and was caught in the act by Julia. The two of them agreed to make a deal and share the dairy company's profits. Years later, they ran out of money and moved to Nevada to look for another mark. This time, however, Julia fell in love with Bob Fairmont, which would explain why she shot him when she found out he was cheating on her.

The two women seem to be caught; however, Grissom interrupts the interrogation and calls Catherine and Sara out into the hallway. He informs them that the district attorney is rejecting the case based on the lack of evidence. The CSIs have found proof of poison, but they have no way to prove which woman administered it. Sara likes either of the women for murder, but she's told that the "she said/she said" defense will never fly in court—both women will raise each other as a viable suspect just like they did with the CSIs. Claudia and Julia are allowed to walk free.

An irate Sara storms out into the parking lot. Grissom catches up with her and lets her know that, sometimes, science isn't enough. She believes that their job is fruitless, as the killers have just won, but Grissom lets her know that the job isn't a competition. "The courts are like dice," he says. "They have no memory. What works one week doesn't work the next." The only good news, he adds, is that there's no statute of limitation on murder.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]


Grissom: It isn't a competition. We don't win. The courts are like dice; they have no memory. What works one week doesn't work the next.


  • The episode is inspired by the William Marsh Rice and Celeste Beard cases.
  • Marcia Cross made a special guest appearance as Julia Fairmont in this episode. She's perhaps most well-known for playing Bree Van de Kamp on the show Desperate Housewives, which earned her various award nominations.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 2
BurkedChaos TheoryOverloadBully for YouScuba Doobie-DooAlter BoysCagedSlaves of Las VegasAnd Then There Were NoneEllieOrgan GrinderYou've Got MaleIdentity CrisisThe FingerBurden of ProofPrimum Non NocereFelonious MonkChasing The BusStalkerCats in the CradleAnatomy of a LyeCross JurisdictionsThe Hunger Artist