Sounds of Silence
Season 1
Number 20
Writer Josh Berman,
Andrew Lipsitz
Director Peter Markle
Original Airdate April 29, 2001
Previous Episode: Gentle, Gentle
Next Episode: Justice is Served

Sounds of Silence is the twentieth episode in Season One of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


Grissom, Sara and Warrick investigate the death of a deaf man who was run over by a car. However, more investigation shows that he died before the car even struck him. The team's encounters with the dean of the deaf man's school reveals a secret about Grissom. Meanwhile, Catherine and Nick investigate an apparent mob hit that leaves five dead in a coffee shop and discover that the victim they thought was the target may only have been collateral damage.


Victim: Brian Clemonds (deceased)

On the case: Gil Grissom, Sara Sidle, Warrick Brown, Ray O'Riley

Two young girls run over a body, thinking they have killed him. When Grissom and Sara meet Warrick at the scene, they see a broken taillight in the street. Warrick also shows them a plastic bag with a six-pack of beer in it that was found on the nearby sidewalk. Grissom lifts the victim's shirt and sees that he has two distinctive tire tread marks over his chest. Based on the extensive bruising from the wider tread mark, Sara believes the victim was actually killed by a larger vehicle. Grissom stops Sgt. O'Riley from arresting the two girls, saying that they ran over a corpse.

At the autopsy, Doc Robbins informs Grissom, Sara, and Warrick that the victim, identified as 22-year-old Brian Clemonds, was deaf. Grissom notes that there's a school for the deaf less than a mile from where Brian's body was found. The thought is that Brian crossed the street and didn't hear a car coming; however, Doc Robbins shows them the dried blood on Brian's knuckles. Brian got into a fight that ended in murder.

After Grissom notifies Brian's mother, Sara and Warrick travel to the school for the deaf to meet with the school's president, Dr. Jane Gilbert. Sara angers Dr. Gilbert by bringing a translator along without her permission and only speaking to the translator. Dr. Gilbert lets everyone know that she has a hearing aid and can read lips. Insulted, she kicks Sara, Warrick, and the translator out of her office, telling them they can't investigate the crime if they can't understand the victim and his circumstances.

Sara and Warrick return to the school with Grissom who, to their surprise, can speak in sign language. He is able to get into Dr. Gilbert's good graces and informs her that he will keep her in the loop during the investigation if she cooperates. Grissom finds out that Brian had filed six complaints against his roommate, Paul Arrington. Paul had recently become deaf and had trouble adjusting to his new circumstances, taking his frustrations out on Brian. Brian requested a new roommate, but was denied.

Paul is brought in for questioning; he doesn't sign or read lips. Grissom attaches a device to Paul's head, and Warrick tells Sara it's called "brain printing." The plan is to show Paul pictures of the crime scene with his brain waves giving him away, should he recollect the event. However, the result is negative. Grissom writes down an apology to Paul, but he shoves the paper away and exits. Before leaving, an angry Dr. Gilbert tells Grissom to look outside the school to catch Brian's killer.

Sara runs the tire treads from Brian's torso through a database; there's only 11,000 patterns to sift through. Warrick, meanwhile, finds lice on Brian's shirt. The CSIs remark that Brian was clean; therefore, the lice must've come from his attacker. Sara also examines the broken taillight from the scene and finds a partial serial number on it.

Greg finds Pyoverdine, a bacteria that forms fluorescent blue dots in the blood, in the blood on Brian's knuckles. This means that the murder suspect also has the same bacteria in his blood. Sara, meanwhile, informs Grissom that the tire tread in question belongs to a Ford Explorer, and only one vehicle with the same partial serial number from the taillight is registered in Vegas. The vehicle is registered to 18-year-old Adam Walkey.

The vehicle in question is located, and Warrick confirms that there's lice in the driver's seat. Sara also sees that the broken taillight is a match. Adam is brought to the station for questioning; a warrant is produced for blood and a scalp search. However, it's determined that Adam doesn't have lice, and Grissom notes that a delousing agent would take days to kick in. The good news is that Adam's blood tested positive for Pyoverdine, but Grissom tells Sara and Warrick that this alone won't be enough to get a conviction.

Sara and Warrick check the undercarriage of Adam's car, finding a piece of fabric wedged in the muffler. Since the muffler is in the back of the car and the taillight was knocked out, it seems that the driver backed over Brian's body. Under interrogation, Adam cops to the hit-and-run, and he confirms that his friend, Mark Rucker, was in the car with him that night. Dr. Gilbert interrupts the interrogation and angrily confronts Adam before being restrained by Grissom.

Grissom and Sgt. O'Riley interrogate Mark, who first claims that they thought they hit a dog and kept on driving. During the interrogation, Grissom combs Mark's hair and finds lice. Grissom lets Mark know that there was not only lice in the driver's seat, but also lice on Brian's sweater. This confirms that he and Adam got out of the car to see what happened. When pressed with this information, Mark changes his statement—after hitting Brian, both he and Adam got out of the car and were going to call 911. Adam, supposedly, convinced Mark not to, as they're young with bright futures.

Grissom then relates what he thinks happened: Adam and Mark saw Brian leave the liquor store with a six-pack. Since they're underage, they wanted to get Brian's attention to get him to buy them beer. When Brian, unable to hear them, kept walking, Adam and Mark exited the vehicle and started beating Brian up. When they got in to drive away, Brian appeared in the rearview mirror screaming. Mark put the car in reverse and backed over Brian. Grissom tells Mark that Brian was deaf and that the two kids were more afraid of Brian than he was of them.

Grissom meets with Dr. Gilbert to let her know they found Brian's murderers. She asks him how he knows sign language, and Grissom begins telling her by using signs.

Victims: Frankie Flynn, Al Robson, Erin McCarty, Alice Neely, Roy Hinton (all deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Nick Stokes, Jim Brass

Catherine and Nick arrive at the Vegas Grounds coffee shop where five people have been shot and killed. The victims are Frankie Flynn (former owner of the Orpheus casino) and his bodyguard, a young man wearing headphones and listening to speed metal, and two teenage girls working in the shop: Erin McCarty and Alice Neely. All bodies are found in the front of the shop except for Erin's, whose body is found in the back room near the rear exit. No money has been taken from the register, so the CSIs guess that they're looking at a mob hit due to Frankie's previous dealings. Catherine theorizes that the shooter took out Frankie and his bodyguard first, then proceeded to take out the other three victims.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins informs Catherine that Frankie had invasive colon cancer and was going to die soon, regardless of the night's events. Erin, meanwhile, was six weeks pregnant. When Catherine wants to notify the husband, David Phillips tells her that Erin is single and lives at home with her mother.

Back at the coffee shop, Nick collects the shell casings. Every one of them is a 9mm, which means Frankie's bodyguard never got a shot off. Catherine, Nick and Brass talk with the shop's owner, Brad Kendall. He's distraught when told that his two young employees didn't survive the shooting, and he confirms that the girls would stay until 10:00 PM to close up shop twice a week.

Brass discovers that Brad used to work for Frankie Flynn. Under interrogation, Brad confirms that he used to work at the coffee shop in the Orpheus, and that Frankie used to come in all the time. He also admits that he owns a 9mm Glock, explaining that he carries a concealed weapon because he makes cash deposits.

Bobby Dawson concludes that Brad's gun is not the murder weapon, as the bullet striations don't match the ones on the bullets found at the scene. However, every 9mm bullet at the scene was fired from the same gun, so the CSIs are looking for one shooter. Brass also has a tough time, as none of Frankie's known associates or enemies are talking. There are no statements or physical evidence that indicate this was a hit on Frankie, and the CSIs are puzzled as to why five people are dead.

When recreating the crime scene in the coffee shop, Nick believes that something doesn't add up. Frankie's bodyguard's handprints are found on the counter, which leads Catherine and Nick to wonder if the shooter came from the back. This is confirmed when they find a ricochet mark from a bullet, which ended up in a bag of coffee beans. The ricochet went out into the shop; since there's no hole in the door, it had to have been open when the shooting occurred. Evidence shows that the shooter fired once towards the back parking lot, then again towards the front of the store. This leads Catherine and Nick to conclude that Erin was the intended target, not Frankie. Frankie was an innocent bystander, and everyone else was damage control.

Bobby Dawson lets Nick know that they have the right gun, but the wrong barrel. However, each shell casing is laser etched with the manufacturer and caliber, and each casing from a given batch of ammo has the same marking. If they can match the markings from Brad's ammo and the ammo at the crime scene, then they have their guy.

Under interrogation, Brad admits that he had a one-night stand with Erin. After confirming that Brad's ammo and the crime scene ammo match, Catherine lays out the order of events. Brad approached Erin about her baby, which she said she would keep and expected Brad to support it. He shot Erin twice as she walked towards the back door, then shot Alice since she was a witness. When Frankie and his bodyguard walked in and saw Alice's body, Brad killed them before the bodyguard could draw his gun. Finally, he killed the guy with the headphones to leave no witnesses.

Brad says that he didn't mean for any of that to happen and just wanted to talk to Erin. However, Catherine points out that he brought his gun with him to the shop.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Eric Szmanda as Greg Sanders
  • Robert David Hall as Dr. Al Robbins
  • Skip O'Brien as Detective Ray O'Riley
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Gerald McCullouch as Bobby Dawson
  • Joseph Patrick Kelly as Officer Joe Metcalf
  • Tom Gallop as Attorney Randy Painter
  • Deanne Bray as Dr. Jane Gilbert
  • Mario Schugel as Brad Kendall
  • Elaine Kagan as Mrs. Clemonds
  • Jonah Rooney as Mark Rucker
  • Austin Nichols as Adam Walkey
  • Arlene Malinowski as Halley the Interpreter
  • Greg Anderson as Brian Clemonds
  • Scott Caudill as Paul Arrington
  • Caroline Barba as Lisa
  • Samantha Harris as Charlotte
  • Joannah Portman as Erin McCarty
  • Mark Ginther as Al Robson
  • Kanin Howell as Roy Hinton
  • Bonnie Morgan as Alice Neely
  • Jeff Podgurski as Frankie Flynn
  • Kelli McNeil as Deaf Girl (uncredited)
  • William Wantland as Extra (uncredited)

Episode Title[]

  • "Sounds of Silence" is a reference to the 1965 song "The Sound of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel. It was famously covered by heavy metal band Disturbed in 2015. Interestingly, the song was originally called "The Sounds of Silence".[1] The theme of sounds and silence refers to the main plotline of the episode, which centers on a young deaf man and a school for deaf.  Some of the original text was in the bible.


  • This is the first occasion we see Grissom use American Sign Language, although he refuses to discuss the reasons for his proficiency (a deaf mother) and it is only later in the series that the scene in which he wears earplugs takes on a deeper significance (his fears that he will lose his hearing).
  • While Grissom is signing with Dr. Gilbert, he tells her that his mother lost her hearing when she was eight. She loved to swim. When he asked her what it sounded like to be deaf, she told him to stick his head underwater. She considered herself blessed instead of disadvantaged, and she taught Grissom to feel the same way. 


  • The murder of Brian Clemonds was inspired by murders of Eric Plunkett and Benjamin Varner, students at Gallaudet University, in 2000 and 2001.[2]
  • The use of brain fingerprinting was applied in the case of James Grinder, a serial killer confirmed guilty in his confessions by the very same technology in four murders.
  • The coffee shop massacre appears to be heavily inspired by the Austin, Texas yogurt shop murders.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sound_of_Silence#Remix
  2. Flaherty, M. & Marrinan, C. (2004). CSI: Crime scene investigation companion. New York, NY: Pocket Books.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 1
PilotCool ChangeCrate 'n BurialPledging Mr. JohnsonFriends & LoversWho Are You?Blood DropsAnonymousUnfriendly SkiesSex, Lies and LarvaeI-15 MurdersFahrenheit 932BoomTo Halve and to HoldTable StakesToo Tough to DieFace Lift$35K O.B.O.Gentle, GentleSounds of SilenceJustice is ServedEvaluation DayStrip Strangler