Risky Business Class
Season 13
Number 10
Writer Elizabeth Devine
Director Frank Waldeck
Original Airdate December 12, 2012
Previous Episode: Strip Maul
Next Episode: Dead Air (LV)

Risky Business Class is the tenth episode in Season Thirteen of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


When five people are killed in a small plane crash a mile off the Vegas strip, the CSI team is called to investigate. Also, Sara feels the strain of having a long-distance relationship with Grissom when a former lover of hers is involved with the crash investigation.


Victims: Keith Mannheim, Charles Harrigan, Grant Abbott, Jordan Lowell, Thurston Mayfield (all deceased)

On the case: entire team

It's a slow night in the lab until Russell rounds the team up for an emergency meeting. A small charter plane flew out of Las Vegas heading for Chicago, but the pilot reported trouble 18 minutes into the flight before turning back toward the airport. The plane crashed less than a mile from the Strip, nearly striking the Mediterranean casino on its descent. From the moment the plane turned around, it headed right for the Strip, so the thoughts go toward a possible terrorist attack. The team must figure out whether this was an accident or foul play.

NTSB investigator Doug Wilson leads the investigation; he and Sara have worked together in the past when she was a CSI in San Francisco. Finn enhances the pilot's audio recording, which reveals that there was someone else in the cockpit, potentially a hijacker. One body is found from the cockpit wreckage, and it's assumed to be the pilot, Keith Mannheim, who co-owns the charter company with Dalton Burke, his partner of 15 years.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins determines that there were at least three passengers, one female and two male. One of the male victims has radioactive shrapnel embedded in his vertebrae, which could help identify him. Finn and Nick question Dalton, who is under the impression that this was just an unfortunate accident. He claims that Keith was flying to Chicago alone to visit his family and is surprised to hear there were three other people on the plane. Keith must've booked some passengers on his own; however, since there's no passenger manifest, Dalton can't identify the other people on the flight.

Morgan unwraps a section of airplane carpeting and finds a gun melted into it. The gun, a 9mm Beretta, has three rounds left in the magazine. Russell enters with the name of a suspect—Charles Harrigan, a military veteran, who's been identified from the shrapnel. Charles made headlines last year when he got into a fight and was tossed out of the Mediterranean. He gambled away everything he had, blamed the casino, and camped out in front to keep people from going in. Russell believes hijacking the plane and trying to fly it into the Mediterranean could've been his form of revenge.

Sara and Doug look at the plane’s data recorder, noticing a decrease in cabin pressure before the pilot turned back to the airport. A subsequent, complete loss of pressure in the cabin would've killed everyone inside the plane—the plane was only continuing on its set flight path until it crashed. They determine that neither a gunshot nor a bomb would cause the depressurization, as a bullet hole would be too small and a bomb would've knocked the plane off course. Sara guesses that a window or door blew out, and she believes she can zero in on where the object in question landed.

The missing door is located and fitted into a plane replica that's been built in the lab. Sara and Doug theorize that Charles hijacked the plane and forced it to turn around and head back to Vegas. One of the passengers struggled with him, causing the gun to go off and hit the cabin door. However, no bullet hole is found in the door upon closer inspection. Instead, Sara finds tool marks on the door, indicating it was sabotaged before takeoff. The motive might not be hijacking, but, rather, murder.

The saboteur tampered with the cabin door seal, and the door blew out when the pressure increased. Russell and Doug question which one of the passengers was targeted, and Russell wonders if the plane itself was the focus. When processing the door seal, Hodges finds green paint trace and collects it as evidence. Sara makes a cast of the tool mark and guesses that it came from a two-pronged tool. She and Doug believe they're dealing with someone who has intimate knowledge of the plane—too much damage would've prevented the plane from pressurizing (thereby alerting the pilot), while too little damage would've had no effect.

Finn and Nick talk to the plane's mechanic, Hal. He admits that LVN Charter hasn't paid him in four months, but says that he wouldn't sabotage a plane over a relatively insignificant amount of money. His tools all have green tape around their handles, which matches the trace Hodges pulled from the cabin door seal. Hal claims he was out of town for the last few days, but Nick packs up his tools and brings them back to the lab.

While processing some charred luggage, Morgan comes across a box addressed to I.T.S Labs, a DNA lab in Dallas that specializes in do-it-yourself DNA analysis in paternity suits. There's no return address on the label, but the serial number on the box should identify the client. Paternity suits can get quite hairy, and it's now possible the female Jane Doe was the target.

Sara matches the tool marks to one from Hal's set, and the green paint chips match a void in the tape on the tool. However, Hal's alibi checks out, as he was gambling at a casino in Laughlin the last three days. Whoever helped themselves to Hal's tools had access to the airport. In the meantime, the team has a lead on the other John Doe. The gun recovered isn't registered to Charles Harrigan; it's actually registered to Jeffrey Forsythe, a partner in a law firm downtown.

Jeffrey identifies the John Doe as Grant Abbott, a colleague of his at the firm. When asked why Grant would have a gun, Jeffrey explains that he's the go-to criminal attorney at the firm and he represents numerous clients who have proclivities to violence. Grant had a misunderstanding with one client, who subsequently fired the firm and made veiled threats. Brass asks for that client's name.

The DNA kit traces back to Jordan Lowell, who has a Chicago address. Jordan had requested a kit from the lab two weeks ago, and the thought is that she was looking for proof of identity in a potential child support case. If Jordan used the kit, they might have the killer's DNA. The suspects are piling up, and Nick reveals more surprising information—Keith's body has been found floating in someone's pool in Henderson. If Keith is the pilot, who's the victim they found in the cockpit?

Prints and DNA confirm that Keith is, in fact, the body found in the pool. He has a distinctive, crescent-shaped head wound inconsistent with the rest of his injuries. The other injuries are consistent with a high-altitude fall. Sara and Doug recreate the events leading up to the crash, determining that when the door blew out, Keith got sucked out of the plane and hit his head on the way out.

DNA from the mystery passenger in the cockpit comes back to a former stripper named Thurston Mayfield, aka 'Thor.' The all-male revue where he danced is located just two blocks from the airport. As it turns out, 'Thor' quit last week and told his manager that he was moving in with his new boyfriend—Keith. This would explain why 'Thor' was sitting in the cockpit; he was flying to Chicago to meet Keith's parents. If Dalton found out about this, it would give him motive for murder.

Dalton is brought in for questioning, and he denies knowing that Keith and 'Thor' were in a relationship. Finn and Nick theorize that Dalton knew what was going on and that he knew 'Thor' was also on the plane. Taking the plane down would allow him to start anew—without a cheating boyfriend he had to share the company's profits with. Dalton refueled the plane and did a final check 12 hours before takeoff, but he tearfully says that he lost everything in the crash and wouldn't sabotage his own plane.

Airport surveillance confirms Dalton's story, but footage eventually shows a fuel truck pulling up alongside the plane and stopping in front of the cabin door. This is odd, as Dalton had already refueled. The person driving the truck got out and was only there for two minutes, which is enough time to sabotage a plane. When the image of the driver is zoomed in on, Sara and Doug see that the driver is wearing Hal's coveralls. With Hal out of town, somebody borrowed his clothes and his tools. However, the DNA from the coveralls isn't a match to Dalton.

Henry tells Russell that Jordan Lowell used two swabs from the I.T.S. kit, noting that three swabs are needed for a paternity suit—one for each of the parents and one for the child. Genealogist Donna Hoppe, who has been assisting with the case, mentions that some people use I.T.S. to find their own parents. Morgan confirms this thought, as Jordan's roommate mentioned that she was raised by a single mother and started looking for her father, whom she had never met. Jordan had gotten a lead in Vegas, and a search through her family tree shows that she has a sister who lives in town. The sister, Helen, has been staying at Tranquil Hours, a care facility, for over 40 years; a car accident at the age of ten has rendered her catatonic. Helen's doctor, Dr. Paula O'Keefe, confirms that Jordan visited her several times and took a DNA sample. Greg and Morgan are there to do the same.

Donna does more research and discovers that Jordan's father made a fortune in ranching, mining, and real estate. When he died, he left over $100 million in a trust fund to Helen. The trust donates several million dollars to a nonprofit home for the disabled every year—Tranquil Hours. Greg and Morgan theorize that when Jordan showed up get her sister's DNA hoping she was part of the family, the facility saw Jordan as a threat.

The DNA sample taken from Helen, however, isn't a match to Jordan; the two women aren't even related. Donna defends her findings to Russell, while Greg backs the science. Russell concludes that both parties are correct—Jordan found her sister through genealogy and visited her at Tranquil Hours. However, the woman at the facility isn't Helen Lowell. So, who's pretending to be Helen?

There's certainly a conspiracy going on at Tranquil Hours. It's theorized that the real Helen died and that another patient was put in her place. If the real Helen died, the money going to the facility would dry up, so an impostor was put in her place to keep the money flowing in. When Jordan showed up to get a DNA sample, the whole scheme was exposed. It's possible someone at Tranquil Hours got spooked and sabotaged the plane Jordan was on.

Greg and Morgan go back to Tranquil Hours to speak with Dr. O'Keefe. The good doctor has called in sick, and Helen has been transferred to a different care facility. Greg and Morgan search the room, which has been thoroughly cleaned and smells of bleach. There isn't a single fingerprint to be found in the room—until Greg realizes that whoever cleaned the room didn't clean the pulse oximeter next to the bed.

Back in the lab, Morgan rushes to Nick with some pertinent information—there's a sibling match between their killer and the fake Helen, as the swab from the impostor has multiple alleles in common with the DNA pulled from the coveralls worn by the saboteur. Prints from the woman at Tranquil Hours come back to a Marcia Forsythe, who is Jeffrey's sister. Jeffrey just happens to be the trustee in charge of Helen's millions.

Jeffrey is caught trying to load luggage into his private aircraft and skip town. His scam is foiled and his sister has been located at another facility. Jeffrey denies this, but is told that Dr. O'Keefe confessed to everything, including the fact that she was persuaded to put Jordan on a free charter flight to Chicago. He crashed the plane to kill Jordan, destroy the DNA kit, and cover up the deception so he could retain access to Helen’s money.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Pamela Reed as Donna Hoppe
  • Josh Randall as Doug Wilson
  • Kenneth Mitchell as Dalton Burke
  • Anthony Brophy as Hal
  • Mark Moses as Jeffrey Forsythe
  • Gina Ravera as Dr. Paula O’Keefe
  • Jessica Lancaster as Nurse
  • Tim Mikulecky as Pilot


  • Morgan mentions that Doc Robbins recommended Donna Hoppe to her after her work on the Robbins family tree. This occurred in the Season Twelve episode Genetic Disorder.
  • When conversing with Sara, Finn brings up her second husband, Mike, who she spent time with in Seattle in the episode CSI on Fire.


  • The episode appears to derive centrally from the Kennedy family and the deaths and disasters of their relatives associated with what's referred to as the "Kennedy curse".
  • Mark Moses, who played Jeffrey Forsythe, also appeared in the Season One episode Sex, Lies and Larvae. In that episode, he played Scott Shelton, a man accused of killing his wife and dumping her body in the mountains.

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