The Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp
Season 8
Number 4
Writer David Rambo,
Jacqueline Hoyt
Director Alec Smight
Original Airdate October 18, 2007
Previous Episode: Go to Hell
Next Episode: The Chick Chop Flick Shop

The Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp is the fourth episode in Season Eight of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


The CSI team investigates the suspicious hanging death of a young man whose body looks like a woman. Meanwhile, a skeleton found in the ruins of Sam Braun's casino turns out to be a murder victim.


Victim: Brian Towne (deceased)

On the case: Gil Grissom, Nick Stokes, Warrick Brown, Jim Brass

In the town of Verdant Glen, the body of a young man is found hanging from a rope tied to a tree by the river. Tire tracks show that the victim may have had some help getting up there. He has lacerations to his chest and rope burns on both hands, indicating that he tried to pull himself up. Grissom and Nick are shocked to find that the victim has breasts, but full male genitalia. The initial thought is that their victim is transsexual and that this is a hate crime.

Nick places markers at the crime scene. He finds broken beer bottles along with the victim's shoes. Inside one of the shoes, he finds a cell phone that contains text messages between the victim and a "PCYDEN." In autopsy, Doc Robbins tells Grissom that the lacerations didn't kill the victim and the official cause of death is suffocation from hanging. Grissom finds the victim's driver's license that identifies him as 18-year-old Brian Towne, a resident of Verdant Glen. Brian shows no signs of Klinefelter Syndrome, a syndrome where a male has two or more X chromosomes. Doc Robbins notes that Brian's mammaries are swollen and sends out for a tox panel.

Warrick searches Brian's bedroom, finding a half-empty tray of bullets and some vials of water. Under the mattress, he finds two boxes—one box contains a document outlining the annual water analysis for the local water treatment plant, while the other box contains a large wad of money. In the kitchen, Brian's mother tells Brass that Brian worked at the water treatment plant and was depressed. She recognizes the name "Cyden," saying that Paul Cyden was like a father to Brian after his biological father died. Warrick comes into the kitchen and mentions the money he found. When confronted with the fact that Brian may have been saving up for a sex change, his mother gets upset and kicks everyone out of her house.

Henry informs Grissom that Brian's estrogen level is five times higher than that of an adult male, which is consistent with a pre-op transsexual. However, Grissom notes that there are no other pre-op drugs in Brian's system. Elsewhere, Catherine and Brass speak with Paul Cyden. Paul tells them that he's a retired hydrologist and that Brian was helping him with a project. Brass guesses that Brian was the project and asks Paul to submit his fingerprints and DNA.

Wendy finds epithelials from multiple contributors on the rope, and one of those contributors also drank from one of the bloody beer bottles. The suspect is Larry Ludwig, who has priors for aggravated assault and a DUI. He also works at the same water treatment plant as Brian. At the plant, Larry reluctantly shows Nick and Warrick his palms; they're covered in rope burns.

The tire treads from the scene are a match to a Chevy Colorado truck, the same vehicle that Larry drives. Under interrogation, he admits that he and his friend Tony picked up some girls at a bar and drove out to the lake, where they found Brian sitting by himself drinking beer. The girls wanted to "play Tarzan," swinging from a rope into the lake; Larry backed his truck up under the tree and hung a rope from it. When Brian got in the water, everyone saw his breasts through his t-shirt, leading him to run off. Larry doesn't remember the name of the girls he was with.

Catherine pays Paul a visit at his house and finds him dead in his living room. There's a large-sized carp on the floor next to the body. Paul has been shot three times, and David Phillips believes he's been dead for at least ten hours. Gunshot residue around the wounds suggests that Paul was shot at close range and likely knew his killer. On the floor nearby, Catherine finds a torn up piece of paper; it's for an offer to buy Paul's house. The purchaser is Jonah Quinn, Brian's boss at the water treatment plant. Nick finds a notebook charting hormone levels, while Catherine finds vials of water similar to the ones found in Brian's bedroom. Inside a nearby freezer, Catherine finds dozens of carp, each of them numbered and dated. The numbers correspond to the notebook.

Larry's alibi checks out, as the motel and the girl he was with have been located. Warrick theorizes to Nick that Brian killed himself, as his prints were found on the broken beer bottle. A flashback shows Brian stabbing himself with the beer bottle; when that didn't work, he climbed up into the tree and hung himself with the rope.

Catherine brings the carp from Paul's house into the lab for Grissom to process and analyze. He finds that the the carp have both male and female organs and, thanks to Hodges, realizes that the water from the lake is responsible.

Grissom tells Catherine, Nick and Warrick about the history of Verdant Glen—the town used to be allowed to drink well water, while waste water was cleaned at the water treatment plant. The cleaned, or "grey," water was used for secondary purposes and stored in the local reservoir, where people fished and swam. Grissom reveals that the carp in Paul's freezer had the same levels of estrogen in their systems as Brian had in his. With Brian's help, Paul collected water samples from the reservoir, the tap, and the water treatment plant. He was convinced that the ground water was contaminated and discovered that the reservoir was improperly lined, allowing the grey water to leech into the ground water. This discovery is likely what got Paul killed, and Grissom believes that Brian wasn't the only person physically affected by the contamination.

Jonah Quinn, the manager of the water treatment plant, is brought in for interrogation. He tells Nick and Brass that they can't prove where Paul got his water samples from and that Brian's condition could've been from a "faulty gene pool." When asked why he offered to buy Paul's house, Jonah admits to trying to buy Paul off, but denies killing him.

When given the bullets pulled from Paul, Warrick remembers that the same bullets were found in Brian's bedroom and that there were five missing. Catherine discovers that Brian bought a gun a few weeks before his death, and Warrick realizes that Brian's mother had access to the gun and motive.

Catherine speaks with Brian's mother, who says that she went through Brian's things trying to figure out why he killed himself. She found an email from Paul that revealed that he was taking Brian to Los Angeles and mistakenly believed that Paul killed her son. Catherine tells her that Paul was trying to save her son and presents her with an email from Paul to Jonah. His tests revealed that the water was contaminated and he was going to eventually alert the EPA. Paul tried to explain this to Brian's mother, but she shot him instead, incorrectly blaming him for her son's death. She laments the fact that she worked two jobs in order to keep her and Brian in their house; staying in Verdant Glen killed him.

Catherine and Grissom report their findings to the assistant district attorney. They're told that the town of Verdant Glen is owned by a conglomerate who will conduct their own research and keep the case against Jonah in litigation for years. Furthermore, Brian's mother won't be prosecuted for murder because there isn't enough evidence against her and because a cancer-stricken widow who just lost her only son won't be convicted. Catherine is unsettled by all of this and tells Grissom that someone needs to get Brian's story and Paul's findings out there to help protect others. When told that she would lose her job for giving information about a case to the media, Catherine replies that, as a mother, she doesn't care.

Victim: Lee George (deceased)

On the case: Greg Sanders, Ronnie Lake, Sara Sidle

Catherine and her mother, Lily, reminisce about Sam Braun at the site of his former casino, the Rampart. Another casino, the Eclipse, is being built in its place. Suddenly, a few cop cars arrive; a body has been discovered in the concrete. Catherine calls the lab and has the case transferred to the swing shift, as it's now a conflict of interest for her.

Ronnie and Sara are tasked with processing the crime scene. When Ronnie discovers an artifact containing turquoise and silver beads, Sara tells everyone to stop what they're doing, as they may have discovered an ancient Native American burial site. She's later disappointed when Doc Robbins confirms that the victim was Mongoloid and not Native American, as she was hoping Vegas would have to honor its past for once.

Sara is going over the blueprints to the Rampart when Greg walks in. Ever the Vegas history buff, he's excited to be looking at the blueprints in person, noting that Sam Braun opened the casino while it was still under construction. They determine that the victim's bones were found at the bottom of where the construction shaft would've been. At the construction site, Sara notes that it looks like every bone in the victim's body is broken. Ronnie finds evidence of a bullet wound in one of the bones, meaning that the murder could've been a mob hit. They find a piece of stitched buckskin, and Greg remembers that the casino used to have a Wild West Revue with real Native Americans that shot flaming arrows.

Sara tells Hodges that she knows her John Doe is from 1964, which is when the casino was built; however, the National Missing Persons Database only lists four persons from that year, none of who are a match to the victim. She hands Hodges one of the bones and asks him to identify the isotopes in order to narrow down what geographic area the victim may spent the last years of his life in.

Greg goes through the rubble and finds two pieces that seem to fit together; they have a void in them. Upon making a cast, he finds that the void is the victim's right hand and that the the hand is clutching something. He eventually finds a metal film canister that resembles the item the victim was holding. Archie processes the film negatives, which turn out to be from pictures taken on the Rampart's opening night. One of the negatives is from a photo taken of a piece of paper that listed the casino's take on opening night. Several groups got a cut, including something or someone called "Fergus."

The isotope test Hodges ran revealed that the victim lived in Southeast Asia—more specifically, southern Vietnam. Since they narrowed the year down to 1964, Sara wonders if the victim was a soldier in the Vietnam War or a refugee.

Greg speaks with Lily, who says that Melvin Fergus was the gaming commissioner. Based on the film negative he found, Greg believes that Melvin was on the take, something that could cost him his gaming license. He theorizes that their victim found out about this and tried extorting Melvin. When told that their victim was Native American, Lily remembers that there was reporter dressed in Native American garb at the casino's opening. His name was Lee George, and he was photographer for Life magazine. Furthermore, he had just come back from Vietnam. Lily figures that if anybody hurt Lee, it was Benny Dunbar, Sam's bodyguard.

A flashback shows Lee taking a picture of the casino's ribbon cutting. He then went upstairs and starting taking pictures of the books, but was caught in the act by Benny. Lee tossed his camera and tried to escape, but was shot in the back and thrown down the construction shaft. It will forever be unknown whether Lee was pushed or whether he jumped. Greg is fascinated by all of this and reveals that he's going to use it in a book he's writing about the unknown history of old Vegas.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

Major Events[]

  • Sara happily accepts Grissom's proposal of marriage.
  • Greg reveals to Sara that he's writing a book on old Vegas' unknown history, a plotline that continues for several seasons.


  • Keys to the Kingdom by Unkle


  • Catherine and her mother stood at the site of Sam Braun's former casino, the Rampart. The Rampart was imploded in the Season Six episode Built to Kill, Part 1.
  • Sara is no longer wearing a sling on her left arm, only a soft cast on her wrist. She incurred these injuries while battling Natalie Davis in the episode Dead Doll.
  • Grissom is shown working with his bee colony and studying Colony Collapse Disorder. He collected the bees from the Macalino's house in the previous episode, Go to Hell.


See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 8
Dead DollA La CartGo to HellThe Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp The Chick Chop Flick ShopWho and WhatWhere and WhyGoodbye and Good LuckYou Kill MeCockroachesLying Down With DogsBullGrissom's Divine ComedyA Thousand Days On EarthDrops OutThe Theory of EverythingTwo And A Half DeathsFor Gedda