The CSI Effect
CSI Effect
Season 15
Number 1
Writer Christopher Barbour,
Don McGill
Director Alec Smight
Original Airdate September 28, 2014
Previous Episode: Dead In His Tracks
Next Episode: Buzz Kill

The CSI Effect is the first episode in Season Fifteen of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


Finn must deal with a bomb planted in her car, while Russell gets a call from someone claiming to be the Gig Harbor Killer.


Victims: Emily Bartson (deceased), Keri Torres (missing)

On the case: D.B. Russell, Greg Sanders, Julie Finlay, Morgan Brody, Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle, Daniel Shaw

A bomb has been planted under the driver's seat in Finn's car, and the CSI is sitting patiently as the timer counts down from 15 minutes. The bomb squad determines that the detonator is wired to the car's security system, meaning that breaking the windows or opening the doors will cause the bomb to go off.

Russell, watching from a safe distance with bated breath, receives a phone call. The caller, who's using a digitally altered voice, tells Russell that he has himself to blame for Finn's predicament. When Russell declines to play the caller's game and guess who he is, the caller hangs up and the bomb's timer is reduced to one minute. As the clock ticks down towards zero and the bomb squad vacates the area, the caller gives Russell one more chance.

Three days earlier, Finn's make-out session with private investigator Daniel Shaw is interrupted when she's called to a crime scene. Upon arriving, she, Nick and Russell see that the crime scene has already been processed. The ex-Seattle CSIs have seen something like this before—at the hands of Jared Briscoe, aka the Gig Harbor Killer. Jared had murdered seven women, all of them college students. At the last three crime scenes, he took the bodies and processed the evidence as a way of mocking Russell. However, Jared is on death row in a Seattle prison, so there appears to be a copycat.

Russell watches Jared's confession from five years ago. Jared was quite proud of himself, and he mentions that his "playing CSI" was just him having fun with Russell. Jared also stalked Russell's daughter, Maya. He refused to give the locations of the last three victims, then addressed the camera directly, goading Russell on. Much to Ecklie's surprise and frustration, Russell has gotten Jared transferred to Vegas in order to ask him more questions.

Sara assists Nick at the crime scene and is amazed by the amount of detail the killer put into processing the area. Even the murder weapon, a bloody fisherman's gaff, has been dusted for fingerprints and marked as evidence. The amount of arterial spray indicates that the victim died in that spot. Nick finds a tape recorder that's also been dusted for fingerprints. Upon pressing play, he hears the killer (using the same digitally altered voice heard earlier) mapping out the scene using the same jargon the CSIs use. Before bringing the evidence back to the lab, Nick uses a drone to get a 3D map of the crime scene.

In the lab, Hodges processes the strings and markers used at the crime scene, which yields an unsettling result: the strings were made out of human tissue. The DNA from the blood got a hit in CODIS, identifying the victim as 19-year-old Seattle college student Emily Bartson, who went missing five weeks ago.

Finn confronts Daniel Shaw, telling him that she knows Emily's parents hired a private investigator to help find their daughter. Daniel insists that he had no idea Emily was dead, saying that he was in Vegas to track down his partner, Keri Torres. Emily's parents hired both Daniel and Keri, and Keri had come to Vegas to check out a lead. However, she appears to have gone missing; her last known whereabouts was at a coffee shop off the Strip.

The grainy, black-and-white surveillance photo from the coffee shop is of little help; in fact, Finn and Daniel can't even tell who anyone is in the video. Daniel is sure that a woman walking into the shop is Keri, as her credit card was used on the time and date in question. Keri had interviewed Emily's roommate, discovering that Emily was occasionally working as an escort. The person she's seen sitting down with could be the client, but he has his back to the camera. As they watch the video, Finn sees the mystery client running his hands nervously along the edge of the table while gripping the underside. The table in question is brought to the lab. Greg dusts it for fingerprints and finds one interesting one in particular—Jared Briscoe. The death row inmate is in Vegas, and he purposely left the print from his left middle finger behind for the cops to find.

A flashback to 2009 shows Russell searching a houseboat. Inside, there are books on forensics, along with pictures of Finn, Russell and Maya. The CSI has found the lair of the Gig Harbor Killer and he radios for backup. Just then, Jared arrives, and the two engage in combat, with Russell dropping his gun in the process. As Jared goes to attack with a fisherman's gaff, Russell retrieves the gun and fires two shots into Jared's chest. The CSI refuses to finish the job when Jared asks him to.

In the present, Jared is brought into the interrogation room. Russell shows him the photo of the crime scene and tells him that the bodies of both Emily and Keri have disappeared. Jared's fingerprint was recovered from the coffee shop where Keri was last seen, but he reveals that someone bit off his left middle finger during a prison fight the year before. He claims that he has nothing to do with the most recent murder, saying that the last thing he'd want to do his share his legacy. Before the interrogation ends, Jared wonders if the person who bit his finger off sold it to "a very sick person."

Nick analyzes the 3D map of the crime scene and tries recreating the killer's movements. He finds that two different castoff patterns don't match up with the murder, leading him to wonder if the blood was planted. The fact that the killer strung it up must mean something. Greg informs Nick that Jared wrote Maya's name in blood at that last crime scene. This led to Russell requesting a protective detail for his daughter and her family.

Keri's car is found and brought to the CSI garage; however, there's no trace or fingerprints on the inside or outside of the car. The only evidence Sara finds is what appears to be high-velocity blood spatter directly above the driver's seat. Despite its presence, Sara tells Finn and Daniel that there's no other blood event in the car. It seems as if someone placed the blood drops deliberately, and their pattern could hold the key to unlocking the case. Sara notes that if the Gig Harbor Killer is involved, Keri likely found out about it.

A box containing Keri's notebook and case files is found in the trunk of the car. Most of the files are related to the Gig Harbor Killer, and her notes indicate that she found similarities between Emily and the Gig Harbor victims. Keri was onto the idea of a Gig Harbor copycat, and she was on the trail of a client in Vegas who hired Emily for the weekend. One of the notes Keri wrote was for an appointment to meet with a Mark Turner at the coffee shop where she was last seen. Finn recognizes the name and says that Mark is a local guy in Seattle who just happened to visit Jared in prison several times over the past year.

At the Winthrop International Land Group, Finn and Daniel confront Mark. He claims to have never heard the names Emily Bartson or Keri Torres. When shown the photo of him in the coffee shop, he says that he was out of town when the photo was taken and can prove it if need be. When pressed about his meetings with Jared, Mark confirms that he's been enlisted to defend a man who's been wrongfully imprisoned. The person who hired Mark reveals himself—and he's a spitting image of Jared Briscoe.

Paul Winthrop tells Finn and Daniel that he and Jared were adopted at birth and raised in different worlds; in fact, the two have never even met each other. Mark was hired as the go-between to lend support to Jared so Paul could remain anonymous. When shown the photo of the coffee shop meeting, Paul vouches for Mark's character, saying that he could never hurt anyone. Finn questions whether it's actually Paul himself in the photo, but he can see where the questioning is leading. He maintains that his brother is innocent and points out that Jared was never convicted on DNA. As a matter of fact, the killer's DNA was never found. He adds that the evidence found on Jared's boat was circumstantial at best, explaining it as an obsession with the exploits of a serial killer.

A flashback to Seattle reveals that Finn was actually the one who shot Jared twice while he grappled with Russell. In the present, she, Russell and Ecklie meet in Russell's office. After spending time with Paul, she believes that they missed something and that the brothers were partners. However, Paul has an unblemished record and has been an extremely successful real estate developer. Finn believes that Paul moved to Vegas because both her and Russell are there, his plan being to continue his brother's work and mock the CSIs. Russell notes that being in the interrogation room with Jared was different than it was five years ago, with the feeling that maybe Jared wasn't the mastermind.

Morgan interrupts the meeting with DNA results from the evidence markers and trajectory strings made out of human tissue. The DNA is a match to the last three women killed by the Gig Harbor Killer; none of them were ever found. Meanwhile, Greg examines the blood spatter from the car and determines that they form the constellation Gemini—"the twins." Nick also finds evidence pointing to Gemini, determining that the trajectory strings from the two mystery castoff patterns at the scene form the same constellation.

Greg digs deeper and finds that the warehouse where the killer left the processed crime scene used to house a company called Castor Novelties, Inc. The same company used to also own a chemical plant, Pollux Petroleum. Coincidentally, Castor and Pollux are the twins who form the Gemini constellation. An address in Keri's notebook indicates that she was planning a visit to the petroleum plant.

When Nick and Russell get to the Pollux Petroleum property, they find another fully processed crime scene, complete with strings and markers. The killer even excavated three bodies and set up a field morgue. All three bodies have been laid out on slabs; the fact that they're mummified means that they're not Emily or Keri. The whole excavation has been staged, as the soil trace on the bodies doesn't match the surrounding area. Russell spots a class ring on one of the victims and immediately identifies her as Nicole Davis, one of the missing girls. He knows the other two bodies are the other two missing victims of the Gig Harbor Killer.

Doc Robbins examines the bodies, determining that they all suffered blunt force trauma to the head and multiple sharp force injuries to the torso. All three girls were beaten and stabbed, just like the other victims. The doc believes that the injuries could be consistent with a fisherman's gaff. He also points out that the killer performed his own Y-incision and removed the organs, which Russell knows were used to create the trajectory strings and markers. David Phillips informs them that he found evidence that one of the victims may have fought off her attacker, and skin between her teeth indicates that she bit him, as well.

Back at the lab, Finn and Daniel figure the next thing to do is bring Paul Winthrop in for questioning and lean on him until he cracks. Finn says that she's on her way to Paul's workplace now; however, she tells Daniel that she has to do this alone, as he's out of his jurisdiction. When she gets into her car outside, the doors automatically lock and the bomb timer starts counting down from 30 minutes.

Russell gets the call about Finn and heads back to the police department. When the killer calls Russell back and gives him a second chance, the CSI admits that the person on the line is the Gig Harbor Killer. With this victory, the killer unlocks the doors to Finn's vehicle and lets her leave unharmed.

Finn is safe, but there's now evidence that Jared Briscoe is innocent. Russell is the one in the crosshairs, and he knows that it appears he went after Jared because his daughter was threatened. Furthermore, the case was built on circumstantial evidence. It's also revealed that the DNA recovered at the excavation site came back to an unknown male, not either of the twins. Russell tells Ecklie that he believes the twins are still behind everything and that the unknown male DNA was planted. He insists that if the twins are innocent, then he'll find the right man.

While the CSIs process all the evidence, the Gig Harbor Killer is shown killing another victim. Meanwhile, Jared and Paul have finally met, and they walk through the halls of the LVPD triumphantly.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Marc Vann as Conrad Ecklie
  • Brooke Nevin as Maya Russell
  • Mark Valley as Daniel Shaw
  • Jason Gerhardt as Squad Leader Anthony Hurst
  • Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Jared Briscoe/Paul Winthrop
  • Rob Nagle as Mark Turner
  • Paul James as Bomb Tech Bob Warner
  • Ayla Glass as Female Asst
  • Bryan Cuprill as Seattle Detective
  • Arielle Zimmerman as Emily Bartson (uncredited)
  • Ana Flavia Gavlak as Girl (uncredited)
  • Stacey Bender as Junior Executive (uncredited)


  • Knock Knock Knock by Spoon
  • Come With Me Now by Kongos


  • During his conversation with Russell, Ecklie mentions that Brass has left the LVPD in order to spend more time with his daughter, Ellie.


  • Mark Valley, who played Daniel Shaw, also appeared in the Season One episode Boom. In that episode, he played Jack Willman, a pimp who framed Nick for the murder of Kristy Hopkins. This is the first of eight episodes where Mark played Daniel Shaw.
  • Mark-Paul Gosselaar played Jared Briscoe in the episode. He's most recognized for his role as Zack Morris in the television show Saved by the Bell. This is the first of four episodes Mark appears in.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 15
The CSI EffectBuzz KillBad BloodThe Book of ShadowsGirls Gone WilderThe Twin ParadoxRoad to RecoveryRubbery HomicideLet's Make A DealDead RailsAngle of AttackDead WoodsThe Greater GoodMerchants of MenaceHero to ZeroThe Last RideUnder My SkinThe End GameImmortality