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Stealing Home
Stealinghome.jpg
Season 12
Number 15
Writer Treena Hancock,
Melissa R. Byer
Director Alec Smight
Original Airdate February 22, 2012
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Previous Episode: Seeing Red
Next Episode: CSI Unplugged

Stealing Home is the fifteenth episode in season twelve of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

When a whole house is ripped from its foundation and stolen, the CSIs investigate and uncover a strange and long history of death related to the building.

Plot

Victims: Debbie Hicks (missing), Fred Blanchard (deceased)

On the case: entire team

Dwayne Hicks frantically tells Nick and Sara that his wife, Debbie, is missing. He claims that he saw her last night at home before he went to work. There's just one problem - the lot where the house should be is empty. Someone has stolen it with Debbie presumably inside. Her recently damaged car is in the street, somewhat supporting this theory.

A couple of neighbors tells Brass that they saw the house driving off the night before. Dwayne's brother, Jimmy, and his sister, Marla, both arrive. Jimmy and Dwayne immediately start fighting, with Dwayne accusing his brother of stealing the house, as it doesn't belong to him.

Nick photographs four distinct sets of shoe prints around the property, while Sara discovers that the perpetrators simply cut through the water pipe before stealing the house. In fact, the house-robbers didn't even turn the water off. Nick explains how easy it actually is to steal a house, and the CSIs figure that Debbie was either dead or unconscious when the house was stolen, as she definitely would've heard something.

At the station, Brass questions Dwayne, Jimmy and Marla separately. Jimmy says that Dwayne and Debbie were having marital problems, arguing mostly about money. She gambled away their savings, which led to them having to move back into the house with their now-deceased mother. No will was left behind, which is why the brothers have been fighting over ownership of the house. Dwayne denies killing his wife, while Jimmy presents an alibi for the time of the theft. Jimmy happens to work in construction and dislikes Debbie, but insists that he's not involved in all of this.

Jimmy tells Brass to question "Fred," who Marla identifies as her father's ex-business partner, Fred Blanchard. The business went under when Walter Hicks stole money and ran off ten years ago. Marla believes that Fred isn't responsible for the house theft, saying that he basically became a part of the family after her father left. In fact, he moved in with the family after getting close to Lois Hicks. When Lois died, Dwayne kicked Fred out; however, Marla believes that doing so was Debbie's idea.

Greg and Russell are called to the scene of a hit-and-run. A man has been run over several times, severing an arm and a leg from his body. He has no identification on him, and David Phillips puts the time of death at the night before. Greg notes the lack of streetlights on the street and spots a bar nearby. They wonder if the victim got drunk and simply wandered into the road. Evidence shows that the victim was already dead when he was run over, indicating that this was a dump-and-run.

Hodges tracks down surveillance videos of the stolen house being transported. Three guys are sitting in the front of the truck, but none of them are Fred or the Hicks brothers. Hodges wonders if Debbie was still gambling and the house was taken as a debt settlement. Finn provides Nick and Hodges with the police reports from the night before; the house thieves left a wake of destruction in their path. They track the path, which eventually leads to the desert. The house is found out there - with a dead body sticking out from under it.

The body under the house is identified as Dennis Hutchings. Shoe impressions from the original scene are a match to the ones Dennis is wearing, and Nick recognizes him from the surveillance video. Finn retrieves a broken jack from under the elevated house, and the team figures that Dennis tried to do the same and ended up getting crushed to death.

Inside the messy house, the team finds a large blood pool with drag marks that lead to the kitchen door. The pool is large enough for Finn to determine that someone died in the house, and they guess the blood is Debbie's. There's blood spatter on the wall that contains a single air bubble, indicating that it was expirated by the victim. Finn examines castoff on the wall and determines that there were three separate events; she guesses that the weapon used was a knife.

At the station, Dwayne and Jimmy continue to fight, with each of them accusing the other of killing Debbie. Everyone is taken by surprise when Debbie shows up alive asking where the house is. In interrogation, she tells Sara that she was out all night gambling and claims to know nothing about the blood found in the house. She has also never heard the name Dennis Hutchings before and immediately places the blame for everything on Jimmy.

In autopsy, the tip of a knife is found embedded in the "dump-and-run" victim who was found earlier. Finn enters and identifies the victim as Fred Blanchard; his DNA matches the blood pool in the house. His body was found in the road that was also a part of the route the house took on its way to the desert. Based on slide marks on the bottom of the door, Finn guesses that the body slid out when the house made a sharp turn. The victim has been identified, but the team still has a number of suspects to rule out in the case.

Dennis' phone records show a connection between him and Marla. She admits to Sara and Brass that she hired Dennis to steal the house in exchange for the two of them going on a date. Marla insists that she didn't know Fred was in the house, as she told Dennis to wait until the house was empty before stealing it. When asked why she wanted to steal the house in the first place, Marla says that her brothers started fighting over it right after their mother died. Furthermore, she's at a loss as to why they would want the house at all, telling Sara and Brass that it killed her mother when the porch collapsed on her due to termite damage. The house is now responsible for three deaths.

Nick and Morgan search the house looking for a knife with a broken tip. They get more than they bargained for, though, when they find a skeleton hidden behind a wall. Doc Robbins examines the skeleton; the skull has been fractured, the result of a possible blunt force trauma. He concludes that it belongs to a male who has been dead for at least ten years, and Nick notes that Walter Hicks left his family ten years ago. It's possible that they just found Walter. Nick finds blowflies in the wall, indicating that the body was stuffed in the wall shortly after death and left there to decompose. Due to the fact that everyone involved in the case hated Walter, they all have motive for his murder. There are also faded pieces of paper in the wall, which the team takes to the lab to have restored.

The mummy's cause of death is confirmed to be blunt force trauma via hammer. Traces of a chemical used to mask strong odors is found on the mummy's clothes, which means it's possible the Hicks family didn't notice a rotting corpse in the wall. Henry cannot confirm whether the mummy is Walter Hicks; however, he's able to determine that he's the biological father of Marla, but not Dwayne and Jimmy. Furthermore, Dwayne's DNA is found under Fred's fingernails.

In interrogation, Dwayne tells Brass that Fred attacked him. He insists that he didn't kill Fred, and only admits to kicking him out of the house. Fred was kicked out in the morning, but was killed at night. Brass theorizes that Fred came back to get his things, which is when Dwayne killed him. Dwayne once again denies the accusation.

There are no prints in the house belonging to anyone outside of the Hicks family, and there's no sign of the murder weapon. Russell theorizes that the knife was still in Fred's chest when he fell out of the house and onto the street, breaking off when the body was run over by a truck. He sends Greg and Morgan back to the scene to search for the knife. There, they find part of a bloody blade and many broken fragments of the handle.

In the lab, they put the broken handle back together and uncover a fingerprint. The blood on the knife is a match to Fred, which means it's the murder weapon. However, the print from the handle comes belongs to a surprise assailant - the thought-to-be-dead Walter Hicks.

The mummy in the wall remains unidentified; the only thing known is that mummy is Marla's father. Nick restores the papers found in the wall and discovers that they're love letters written to Lois Hicks by a handyman named Tony Perrella. Based on the letter, its seems that Lois and Tony were in love and that Lois was going to leave Walter for him. Tony was reported missing approximately nine months before Marla was born, and Marla guesses that her mother didn't even know that she was pregnant when Tony was murdered.

Walter is located and brought in for interrogation. He pretends to not know who Tony is, but is confronted with evidence that they knew each other. Receipts from a hardware store are retrieved from right around the time Tony went missing; it contains some 2x4s, spackling, dry wall and a bottle of Stink Away, the odor-masking chemical. Walter admits to killing Tony after he found out about the affair, stuffing his body into the wall and covering it up. Russell and Brass figure that upon hearing that Lois died, Walter came back to the house, worried that someone would buy it and discover the body. While attempting to remove the body, Fred entered. He confronted Walter and threatened to call the police regarding their "financial dispute" ten years ago. Walter admits to killing Fred, as well, saying that he quickly left the house because he heard a big truck pull up outside.

Out in the desert, Dwayne and Jimmy continue to fight about who rightfully owns the house. Finn and Sara are called out there to break up the dispute. As the fight continues, Finn grabs a chainsaw and threatens to cut up the house so everyone gets a piece of it. She's stopped from doing so, and Sara gives them an alternate solution. Since the house caused over $100,000 worth of damage on its way out to the desert, the house's owner gets to foot the bill. Debbie notes that the house isn't even worth that much, and the siblings pin the bill on Marla since she's the one who stole it.

Back at the lab, Finn tells Russell that Marla will donate the house to a charity or the city so she doesn't have to pay the bill. Russell brings up the chainsaw incident, noting that Finn acted similarly when they were working in Seattle. The two agree that they don't want history to repeat itself.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

Music

  • Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice

Notes

  • In the beginning of the episode, Nick confirms to Sara that's he's dating the nurse he met in the previous episode Seeing Red (LV). Sara asks about Doc Robbins' niece, whom Nick was seeing in the episode Bittersweet.
  • During her lie detector test, Finn reveals that she was born in Philadelphia and has been married (and divorced) twice.
  • Finn brings up Hodges' tentacle porn fetish, something initially brought to light in the episode 73 Seconds and mentioned again in Tressed to Kill.
  • Upon finding the missing house, Nick asks Russell if he's going to wrap it up and take it back to the lab. Russell did a similar thing with a subway car in the episode 73 Seconds.
  • Russell admits to Greg that he fired Finn when they working together in Seattle.
  • One of the love letters from Lois Hicks to handyman Tony Perrella reads:

Dear Lois,

I never believed in soul mates until I met you. When you told me you loved me, I felt like the luckiest man in the world. I can't wait to start our life together. I know you're scared of how Walter will react when you tell him you're leaving, but you and the boys deserve better. You deserve someone who will treat you right.

Be strong. We'll be together soon.

I love you,

Tony

Trivia

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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