Still Life
Still life
Season 6
Number 10
Writer David Rambo
Director Richard J. Lewis
Original Airdate September 29, 2005
Previous Episode: Dog Eat Dog
Next Episode: Werewolves

Still Life is the tenth episode in Season Six of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


A boy disappears from a public park in broad daylight while his alleged mother is nearby. However, evidence reveals that the boy might not actually be her son and that the alleged kidnapping might actually in fact be a rescue.


Victim: Jesse Matthews (missing)

On the case: entire team

In Mesa Valley Park, Karen Matthews realizes her son Jesse is missing and begins to frantically call out for him. She's unable to find him. Grissom and Warrick are called to the scene, and Brass fills them in—Jesse is six years old, his father was killed in Afghanistan, and Karen hasn't had contact with her in-laws since. The only photo of Jesse that Karen has is an old one taken two years ago. They speak to Karen, who refuses to leave the park until her son is found.

The rest of the team is called to the scene. Sara dusts the jungle gym pipes and finds what look to be some adult-sized prints. Brass speaks to another mother who was at the park, and she tells him that she saw a Caucasian male with a blue baseball cap hanging around; however, she doesn't recognize Jesse from the photo. Karen also confirms the mystery man's presence to Brass when asked. Scent dogs are brought to the scene, but this turns into a dead end, as Karen provided the police with a brand new jacket never worn by Jesse.

In the park's bathroom, Warrick finds a bloody toilet paper holder on the floor along with a pair of boy's underwear. Karen recognizes the underwear when it's shown to her. Meanwhile, while searching the park's parking lot, Nick catches a glimpse of Kelly Gordon, the daughter of his abductor, Walter.

In Karen's house, Catherine looks at the family photos and finds a more recent picture of Jesse. Karen tells her it was taken a month ago, and Catherine borrows it in order to better aid the search. As Catherine looks at paintings on the wall, Karen tells her that Jesse was homeschooled and that they do everything together, including art and music. Catherine asks her for something that contains Jesse's scent, as well as something containing his DNA. Out in the garage, she finds unopened presents addressed to Jesse from his grandparents.

Greg talks to one of Karen's neighbors, Ken McCracken. He tells Greg that Karen and Jesse kept to themselves and that he was always throwing balls over the fence into their yard. As his dog snarls at Greg, Ken says that his old dog died four years ago, but he suspects Karen was responsible, as she told him his dog was "scaring her boy." He adds that Karen went off the deep end after her husband was killed and curiously assumes that Jesse is dead.

Back in the house, Karen hands Catherine a toothbrush to be used for DNA evidence, as well as a stuffed animal to be used for tracking Jesse's scent. When confronted with the fact that there are unopened presents in the garage, Karen says that she hasn't been in contact with her husband's parents and refuses to have Jesse raised by them because her father-in-law, a colonel, would run the house like an army barracks. After seeing what happened to her husband, Karen didn't want her son being raised the same way. Catherine asks for their contact information, and Karen guesses that they took Jesse.

Brass speaks with Jesse's grandparents, Warren and Faye Matthews. They tell him that they haven't seen Karen or Jesse since their son's funeral four years ago. There, Karen snapped when Warren handed him a toy solider. After Faye leaves to use the bathroom, Warren secretly tells Brass that he visited Karen the week before in order to see his grandson and give him some dog tags. She refused to let him see Jesse and slammed the door in his face. He reveals to Brass that he has early Alzheimer's and only wanted to see his grandson before it was too late.

Warrick lets Sara know that the K9 search didn't turn up anything. The prints Sara recovered from the swing in the park were also unhelpful. In the DNA lab, Wendy tells Warrick that the exemplar from the toothbrush didn't match the blood from the park's bathroom. The underwear that was found didn't have many exemplars, but she found that it tested positive for urine. They guess that the kid wearing them wet his pants, ditched them in the bathroom, and went back outside to play. Wendy is able to find that the blood from the bathroom came back to Connor Daly, who had previously been convicted for having sex with a dead body.

Connor is brought in for questioning. He tells Warrick that he went to Mesa Valley Park the day Jesse was abducted and went to the bathroom "when nature called." When confronted with that fact that his blood was found on the bathroom floor, Connor says that he gets nosebleeds. He also explains that a cut on his hand occurred when he realized there was no toilet paper to stop his nosebleed and he ripped the holder off the wall in frustration. Connor recognizes Jesse from his photo and tells Warrick that he saw him in the bathroom with a guy wearing a blue Las Vegas 51s hat. He provides more information about the abductor that's used on a news broadcast.

Thanks to the broadcast, a convenience store owner sees Jesse with two people, a man and a woman, and calls the police. The two people are arrested and brought to the station while Jesse is reunited with his mother. However, Catherine and Warrick confusedly look on as Jesse calls out for his mother, who is the woman being taken away in handcuffs. Both the man and woman refer to Jesse as "Adam" and they tell him not to talk to anybody while they're being hauled away. Brass shows Catherine and Warrick a photo of Victor and Valerie Esposito with their son Adam, who looks like Jesse; Catherine sees that he has the same scar over his eye as he does in Karen's photos.

Warrick takes Jesse into another room and is able to coax him into giving a fingerprint and DNA sample. When shown pictures of Karen and Valerie, Jesse identifies Valerie as his mother. Catherine speaks to a ticked off Valerie, who says that she's "Adam's" mother, that she gave birth to him, and that she didn't give birth to twins. She then talks to Karen and gets a DNA sample from her in an effort to clear things up.

Catherine and Warrick look at photos of the child with both Karen and the Espositos. When they blow up a photo of Karen and Jesse at the beach, they find that the pixel density in Jesse's picture doesn't match the rest of the photo. Catherine shows the picture to Victor and Valerie. They recognize the shirt Adam is wearing, but don't recognize the location where the photo was taken. Victor tells Catherine that he took Adam to Mesa Valley Park the day of the "abduction." Archie later confirms that Karen took a picture of herself at the beach and photoshopped Adam Esposito into it. A Google search leads to an Esposito family homepage that has pictures of the family from different events, including their family reunion.

Warrick fills Grissom in about what they've found so far in the case, guessing that Karen saw a photo of Adam and recognized Mesa Valley Park. She then went to the park in order to see him. Grissom says that this makes no sense, as Karen is the one who reported him missing. Catherine enters and tells them that the boy is indeed Adam Esposito and that Victor and Valerie are his parents. However, the DNA recovered from the toothbrush in Karen's house indicates that Karen actually does have a son. Based on all of the evidence in the house, Catherine believes that a boy does live there. So, they're back to square one—where is Jesse Matthews?

Brass informs a frazzled Karen that DNA has confirmed that Adam isn't her child. Furthermore, she's being arrested for stalking and possible kidnapping. Karen tries resisting arrest and frantically calls out for Jesse as Brass looks on.

Greg tells Catherine, Sara and Warrick that Karen gave birth to Jesse in 1999 and that there's no death certificate on file. Archie is able to confirm that, up until Karen's husband's funeral, all of the photos of Jesse were genuine. However, after the funeral, Karen photoshopped Adam into the pictures. Greg recalls that none of Karen's neighbors recall seeing Jesse recently and, since Jesse was homeschooled, they can't contact any teachers. They guess that her fantasy collided with reality when she saw Adam at Mesa Valley Park. When he vanished, she thought her own son was kidnapped.

Catherine interrogates Karen, who is still confused as to why she's being held in custody. Her eyes glaze over when Catherine asks her what happened after her husband's funeral. When asked if Jesse got sick or died, Karen refuses to answer the question and asks Catherine why she's being put through the questioning.

In Karen's backyard, Greg, Sara and Warrick use soil probes to find which area was dug into. Warrick notices that one of the fence boards has been replaced and that another board has been chewed on. Greg recalls the neighbor mentioning that Karen freaked out when his dog barked at Jesse and wonders if the dog chewed through the fence. Warrick finds a density change in the soil, and the three of them start digging up the area by the fence. Inside the house, Catherine finds a prescription for olanzapine, a heavy-duty antipsychotic, that's over four years old. Grissom says that the psychosis could explain the intricate detail that Karen went through to stage the house and guesses that she even made the finger paintings herself.

In the CSI garage, Nick finds a tissue sample with some hairs under a mat in the trunk of Karen's car. Soon after, he gets a page that he has a visitor at the front desk. He's somewhat surprised to find that the visitor is Kelly. She tells him that she was released from prison a few days ago and confirms that she was at the crime scene earlier when Nick caught a glimpse of her. The purpose of her visit is to tell Nick that she thought a lot about what he said regarding not taking what happened in prison with her when she got out.

Back in Karen's backyard, Greg, Sara, and Warrick excavate the weak spot, but find no evidence of bones; However, Warrick finds a toy dinosaur and remembers that Jesse (or at least the boy Karen thought was Jesse) liked dinosaurs. A flashback shows Karen placing Jesse in the makeshift grave, placing the toy dinosaur on top of him, and burying him. The CSIs decide to take the soil to the laboratory to analyze it.

Grissom, Brass and Catherine meet to discuss the results.

The entomologist confirms that the contents of the soil indicate that a body was buried in that place in the backyard; However, it was buried too long ago to obtain DNA, but traces of olanzapine were also found in the soil. It is at that moment that Brass reveals to Catherine and Grissom that Karen suffered postpartum psychosis, and her doctors prescribed olanzapine to treat her.

Grissom darkly comments that a small dose would be lethal to a four-year-old; Catherine assumes that Karen was already in a fragile state of mind when her husband was killed. After getting into a fight with her mother at her funeral, his nerves got crossed and she killed her son with olanzapine and buried him in the backyard next to the fence. Brass doesn't understand why she then dug him up; Grissom says they have discovered evidence of the neighbor's rock digging in the yard. Catherine remembers that the neighbor maintained that Karen killed her dog, and that perhaps it was because the animal began to detect the decomposition of the corpse and burrowed there, and after this Karen had to transport the corpse to protect it. Catherine adds that Nick found the scarf and hair in the trunk of Karen's car, indicating that she transported her body. Grissom comments that if Karen doesn't tell them where to look for Jesse's body, she will probably never find it.

Brass doesn't understand how a mother can take the life of her child. Catherine concludes that Karen desperately wanted her son not to become a soldier. Although Karen was obviously deeply disturbed and thought she was protecting her son in her own mind, Brass points out that it is still murder.

Karen is shown being led away in handcuffs and taken to the cells. That's when she hears a child's voice calling her in her head. Turning around she kneels to welcome him; However, there is no one there...


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]


  • Gone Away by Steve Ripley


Warrick: So this kid has two moms?
Brass: King Solomon threatened to cut the baby in half. What are you going to do?
Catherine: King Solomon didn't have a DNA lab.


  • Though credited, Robert David Hall (Doc Robbins) does not appear in this episode.
  • Grissom's father was a botanist.
  • Grissom's father died when he was nine years old. He came home one day from work on a very hot day, fell asleep and died most likely from heat stroke on the couch right in front of Grissom.
  • Nick no longer has his mustache.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 6
Bodies in MotionRoom ServiceBite MeShooting StarsGum DropsSecrets and FliesA Bullet Runs Through It, Part 1A Bullet Runs Through It, Part 2Dog Eat DogStill LifeWerewolvesDaddy's Little GirlKiss-Kiss, Bye-ByeKillerPirates of the Third ReichUp in SmokeI Like to WatchThe Unusual SuspectSpellboundPoppin' TagsRashomamaTime of your DeathBang-BangWay to Go