Tressed to Kill
Tressed to Kill
Season 12
Number 13
Writer Ed Whitmore
Director Brad Tanenbaum
Original Airdate February 8, 2012
Previous Episode: Willows in the Wind
Next Episode: Seeing Red

Tressed to Kill is the thirteenth episode in Season Twelve of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


Las Vegas gets a serial killer on its hands when a "hair stalker," who cuts off strands of hair from young women, escalates to murder.


Victims: Eva Byron (deceased), Paula Bingham and other unnamed victims (alive)

On the case: D.B. Russell, Greg Sanders, Morgan Brody, Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle, Jim Brass

Two young women walk through a mall. Unbeknownst to them, someone wearing a baseball cap is following them. The man gets on the elevator and stands behind the women; when everyone gets off, Eva Byron is missing a chunk of her hair, which has been cut off with a straight-edge razor.

Four days later at the police station, Paula Bingham tells Sara that someone took a chunk of her hair when she was at the movies. This makes 11 women that have reported that the same thing has happened to them. Russell talks to Paula, puts her at ease, and gives her his business card should anything else happen.

The perpetrator hasn't escalated—until Brass gets a call. He and Russell head to Eva's apartment and find her dead, propped up in a chair, wearing messy lipstick and sunglasses; her hair has also been dyed blonde. Disturbingly, the killer has also removed Eva's eyes. There are no obvious signs of trauma other than the eyes, and a hair braid is found shoved down her throat. The killer has left a calling card.

The chain to the door in Eva's apartment is broken, and there are signs that the killer busted in, pushing the door into Eva's face. There are no fingerprints in the apartment, meaning that the killer cleaned up after himself. The bathroom, however, is another story. It's covered in hair dye and makeup, and both the curling iron and blow dryer are still plugged in. Sara notes that the boxes containing the hair products are missing.

Nick talks with Eva's sister, Bridget, who doesn't recognize the clothes that Eva was found wearing; the killer dressed her up. In autopsy, Doc Robbins tells Russell that there are no signs of sexual assault and that Eva's only perimortem injuries were the facial lacerations from the door. The cause of death is labeled as a morphine overdose, as the killer injected her in the carotid artery. Thankfully, her eyes were removed postmortem. The missing piece of hair that was cut off at the mall has been replaced with blonde hair extensions that are slightly lighter in color than the dyed hair. Russell theorizes that the killer broke Eva so he could fix her.

Hodges analyzes the braid of hair stuffed into Eva's mouth, determining that it consists of hair from 26 different women, including the 11 that came forward about a previous attack. Those who came forward previously are brought back to the station for more questioning, except for one no show—Joyce Debernardi. She's later found dead in the same way Eva was, down to the style of clothes and sunglasses. However, Joyce's eyes are still intact. In autopsy, Russell and Sara determine that the killer used ammonia to blind Joyce and fed her pills to paralyze her. Based on vomit near the body (a reaction to the chemical), it's determined that Joyce was still alive when she was attacked. The vomit contained a paralytic, which would allow the killer to subdue Joyce and better apply her makeup. The killer is now taking their time and getting more confident, which means he'll be harder to catch.

Hodges informs Nick that the dresses the victims were wearing are vintage and from the late '70s. The dresses have been preserved with moth balls, meaning that they were in storage somewhere and not bought off a thrift store rack. Either the dresses belong to someone the killer knows or someone he's trying to turn the women into. In the break room, Russell and Sara discuss the case. Russell believes that the killer isn't doing this out of hate for women, but, rather, out of love. He notes that the killer is gently putting his victims to sleep and taking the time to make them over.

The hair from the hair extensions on the two victims turns out to be from the same person; however, it doesn't match any of the 26 hairs in the braids. DNA on the hair and the dresses are a match, so the killer had access to clothes and hair from the same person. While the mystery woman isn't in CODIS, Morgan is able to analyze the hair, discovering that its isotope ratios indicate she spent time in Japan, Germany, and Nevada. The hair also shows spikes in agents used in cancer medications, and Tokyo, Hamburg, and Las Vegas all have hospitals that specialize in rare cancers.

Morgan and Sara visit Dr. Bill Ryan at the hospital. The doctor is initially reluctant to give out information based on doctor-patient confidentiality, but the CSIs convince him to do so in order to help stop a serial killer. He provides them with a file that identifies the patient as Lucinda Kemp. At the station, Brass is unconvinced that the killer is using Lucinda as his muse—until she's wheeled into the station wearing the same vintage clothes and sunglasses the victims were.

Paula Bingham arrives home and finds her sliding door open. When someone starts violently banging on her door, she frantically calls Russell and tells him that she's scared. Russell instructs her to not answer the door and promises her that she's going to be alright. A welfare check finds her alive, and the mystery visitor turns out to be a delivery man.

Back at the station, Greg and Brass question Lucinda. She doesn't recognize the two victims from their photos, but says that the dresses they were found wearing are her style. When told that the DNA from the hair extensions is a match to her, Lucinda replies that it's impossible and reveals that she has lost almost all of hair due to chemotherapy. She insists that she remains positive due to Dr. Ryan and her wig maker, Jeffrey Fitzgerald. Not only did Jeffrey make wigs out of Lucinda's hair, he also possesses some of her old dresses as inspiration to make her beautiful again.

Nick, Sara and some uniformed officers storm Jeffrey's studio and are startled by a woman's screams. They find Jeffrey attacking a woman in a back room and place him under arrest. Greg and Morgan later find hair braids, vintage dresses, and an unmarked bottle of morphine in the studio. Under interrogation, Jeffrey insists that he was stitching acrylic hair into the woman's scalp, an affordable solution for her situation. He confirms that Lucinda's is one of the lives he's "restored" and says that he gives her a comb-out every week. When shown the bottle of morphine, he denies seeing it before. He also believes he has the law on his side, as the CSIs entered his place of work without a warrant and found an unmarked bottle of morphine.

All of the evidence points to Jeffrey, and Sara is convinced that they've got their man. Soon after, however, Russell gets a call from Paula. The killer has attacked her and left her house to get something he forgot. Before the call ends, the killer returns and smashes the phone. When Russell and Brass arrive at the scene, they find Paula in the bathroom with her throat slashed. Russell can see that the killer was rushed, killing Paula quickly because he knew the police were coming. Brass comforts Russell and tells him that there was nothing he could've done, as their best suspect was already in custody. When Greg and Nick arrive, Russell tells them to go process every inch of the scene extremely thoroughly.

None of the hairs in Jeffrey's studio are a match to any of the victims, seemingly ruling him out as a suspect. When Greg and Nick process the bathroom, they find short brown hairs in the blood pool that appear to have been pulled out during the struggle. They also find an old photo of Lucinda Kemp that was used as a reference; the photo has a fingerprint on it.

The fingerprint surprisingly comes back to Dr. Bill Ryan, who is arrested and brought in for questioning. It's revealed that the old photo is actually of the doctor's late mother; she bore a striking resemblance to Lucinda before cancer took it all away. Russell and Sara theorize that when Lucinda came into the hospital for treatment, Dr. Ryan saw it as his mother coming back to life. While she was there, the doctor washed her hair and helped her with her makeup. However, when she left Dr. Ryan and started seeing Jeffrey the wig maker, the doctor snapped and started to recreate his mother with other victims. Medical records also show that he killed his mother via morphine overdose in order to ease her pain. Hair from his victims are found in his house, complete with the date and place it was taken. Dr. Ryan is arrested.

Russell gives Catherine a call, upset that he failed to protect someone he gave a promise to. Catherine (who is unheard by the viewer) reassures him that it's not his fault and tells him not to let it affect his job.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

Episode Title[]

  • The episode's title is an obvious take on the phrase "dressed to kill."


  • The Most Beautiful Girl by Charlie Rich
  • I'd Love You to Want Me by Lobo


  • This is the only episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation where the night shift supervisor of the CSI Vegas team didn't have an assistant at the time.
  • This episode marks Nick Stokes and Jim Brass as the longest running characters on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and the only characters to appear in every opening sequence.
  • Sara quips that the only thing about Japanese culture that Hodges knows is "octopus porn," a callback to the Season 12 premiere 73 Seconds.


  • The case appears to uncannily resemble the main killer in the 1980 film and its 2012 adaptation Maniac, Frank Zeto. Zeto was abused by his mother and only found fond memories in brushing her long blonde hair. This abuse warped him into serial killing in his adulthood, murdering young, blonde women reminding him of his mother and scalping them to use their hair in wigs he places on mannequins to fill the void of his dead mother not being around.
  • The crimes of hair theft, which is a common and underrated offense, appears to be based on the "Jack the Snipper" hair theft spree in Los Angeles in 1986, the women targeted usually being Latina or Asian.
  • Bill Ryan appears to be inspired by Leonard Fraser a serial rapist and later serial murderer with a habit of keeping ponytails of the women and girls Fraser attacked.
  • Bill Ryan debatably shares similarities to the real-life serial killer Harold Shipman, who was a doctor who gave his patients overdoses of morphine, as he witnessed his mother being injected with morphine by her doctor to end her suffering because she was dying of cancer.

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