CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

Season 5 Episode 7

Formalities

3
Aired Sunday 10:00 PM Nov 11, 2004 on CBS

Episode Recap

A tuxedo-clad Grissom stands in front of a mirror, studying a step-by-step diagram as he struggles with his bow tie. Catherine appears from behind him and smoothly ties it for him, telling him that he doesn't need a diagram. He needs a woman.

In the hotel banquet hall, Sheriff Rory Atwater stands at the podium and announces the new Assistant Director for the Crime Lab: Conrad Ecklie. Grissom is supposed to give a speech introducing Ecklie, but his pager goes off and he asks Catherine to cover for him.

As Grissom takes the VIP elevator at the Olympia Hotel, a woman in a backless red dress steps in at the last moment. He doesn't recognize her and she tells him her name: Sofia Curtis. She works for Ecklie, and she reminds him that as of tonight Grissom also works for Ecklie.

Brass meets Grissom and Sofia in the Emperor Suite, which is filled with teenagers from the McKinley High Homecoming, whose dance is downstairs. The suite is usually reserved for whales and royalty and isn't normally available to the public or to high school kids.

Nicole "Nikki" Jensen lies on the floor with vomit dried on her face and the floor next to her head. Grissom and Sofia see contusions on her neck, and the position indicates a grip from behind.

Brass tells Grissom that the room was set aside for Charlie Macklin, the casino owner, who got the room for his daughter, Janelle. Sofia is twisting around in her jumpsuit, and as she extracts her cocktail dress, she tells Grissom not to worry, she's wearing underwear.

David Phillips finds Nikki's liver temp to be 97.2, indicating she's been dead for less than two hours. The CSIs notice ligature marks on her wrists and adhesive residue, indicating she was bound. Sofia notices that there is no beer or liquor in the room, just water, yogurt and orange juice: potential mixer for drugs.

At the Interrogation Room, Miranda Holly, in a skimpy Dolce & Gabbana dress, tells Brass that she found Nikki vomiting and they called 9-1-1. Miranda says she wasn't tight with Nikki because her dad is a freelance limo driver who used to be a knee-breaker for the mob.

In the Hotel Surveillance Room, Catherine looks at feeds on the monitors of two elevators: "Tower East - VIP" and "Tower East - Service." She asks the surveillance technician, Kenny Bristol, for video of everybody who went in or out of the east penthouse.

Nick Stokes talks to Sean Paland in the hotel lobby. Sean claims he doesn't know what happened to Nikki and tells Stokes that she was a "scarf," a gold-digger, and that she wanted to get into Janelle Macklin's exclusive party in the Emperor Suite. Janelle let her into the party. Sean doesn't know where Janelle is.

In the Coroner's office, Dr. Robbins examines the body of Nikki Jensen and finds signs of sexual activity as well as traces of psilocybin, MDMA and THC in her system. Additionally, he extracts green-colored fibers from her nasal passages. She appears to have died from mechanical asphyxia.

Sofia finds a Ziplok baggie filled with mushrooms in the toilet in the Emperor Suite. She has also collected seven used condoms from the two bedrooms. Grissom examines Nikki's vomit on the floor and points out that the higher up one is, the wider the splash. The vomit pattern indicates that she was probably lying on the floor when throwing up. They also find a pillow on the sofa with vomit on its green surface. It started on the couch.

Still at the Emperor Suite, Brass interrogates the kids who were at the party. He talks to Gavin Layne, aka "Rex," short for "R-x," meaning "drugstore." He cockily tells Brass he has nothing to do with drugs. Gavin's rich, his dad owns seven restaurants, including one at the Bellagio.

Sofia finds red skin, ligature marks and traces of adhesive on one of the girls' wrists. Then she finds that all the kids have the same marks and residue on their wrists.

Grissom tells Gavin that he will match his prints to the baggie of mushrooms, and then he will be looking at murder. Gavin says Nikki dug into the mushrooms of her own accord and that he did have sex with her.

Back at the CSI A/V lab, Catherine calls Grissom and tells him that she found Janelle. Catherine is watching a plasma screen that shows two kidnappers in white masks and jumpsuits dragging Janelle towards the elevator surveillance camera.

The kids from the party tell the CSIs that the two kidnappers burst into the party, brandishing handguns. They tied everyone up and dragged Janelle out. Nikki died because she was wasted on drugs and freaking out. Gavin Layne wrestled her down onto the couch and shoved a pillow into her face to stifle her screams. They didn't mean to hurt her.

Charlie Macklin, hard-ass businessman, tells Sheriff Atwater and Catherine that he told the kids not to report the kidnapping and to leave the room. Macklin says that Janelle has pulled this kind of prank before, and that this is just Daddy's little girl begging for attention. He calls Janelle's cell phone, and on the speakerphone a digitized voice demands a million dollars wired to the Grand Caymans National Bank. Janelle's trust is set up at that bank and she knows how those banks work. Atwater points out that she is still missing so they have to investigate.

Bobby Jensen looks at his daughter, Nikki, in the Coroner's Office. He wipes his eye, turns, and walks out. Ecklie catches Grissom on shift change in the Locker Room. Ecklie tells him no hard feelings for leaving the banquet and not giving a speech on his behalf. Grissom replies that he should consider Catherine for day shift supervisor. Ecklie says he'll think about it.

Greg Sander has been analyzing the eight hours of surveillance tape and finds that the kidnappers didn't take the VIP elevator down. Based on the tapes, they also didn't take the service elevator or the stairs.

In the hotel Service Corridor, Warrick and Catherine find the kidnapper's jumpsuits and a service elevator. Warrick finds the masks and the plastic handguns as well. The fact that the abductors exposed their faces to Janelle suggests that either she knew them or they were going to kill her.

Nick finds a small black fiber in the VIP elevator.

In the Olympia's Surveillance Room, Catherine locates a digital video time-delay and confronts Kenny Bristol with it. He time-shifted the signal from the west penthouse service elevator and fed it to the east monitor. He was in on it. Kenny admits his guilt. Janelle wanted to sneak some guys up to her suite and by "TiVo-ing" the elevator footage, she wouldn't be seen with her friends. He says he doesn't know where Janelle is.

In the Trace Lab, Grissom analyzes the black fiber Nick found. He IDs it as Merino wool, dyed with aniline, most likely BASF or Dupont.

Brass interrogates Dean Tate, who is being granted immunity for Nikki's death in exchange for cooperation on Janelle's kidnapping. Dean says that Janelle got Kenny to knock out the cameras in the service areas and that it was a prank. He wasn't paid to kidnap her, as they were friends. He won't give up his partner's name, but he will tell Brass where Janelle is.

Brass and a group of uniformed cops open a door numbered 1503 in the Olympia Hotel.

Cartoons on the TV, room service food, a broken lamp and vase: evidence of someone having been there. No Janelle. Warrick does find a small bloodstain on the broken table lamp, and Nick finds traces of semen on the bed cover. Warrick dusts and finds a fingerprint in maple syrup on a plate.

Dean takes a polygraph test to clear his name. He claims not to have killed or raped Janelle and has no idea where she is. He passes the test.

Warrick tells Catherine that he matched the maple syrup print: Sean Paland.

Sean is interrogated by Brass and admits that Janelle paid him a thousand dollars to pull off the kidnapping prank. He doesn't know where she is. He adds that after the kidnapping she kissed him on the lips, so he took that as a sign to visit her in room 1503, bringing her French toast and maple syrup.

Sean thought he was going to score with Janelle when her cell phone chimed and she checked voicemail. After listening, she knocked over the lamp and vase in a fit of anger. He took off after that.

Greg Sander pulls up a list of calls placed from Janelle Macklin's cell phone and finds the last voicemail she received. It's her father, Charlie, telling her that he's disappointed in her and he knows this is a fake kidnapping. He tells her to "get her ass home."

Grissom, Catherine and Sofia talk in the CSI Break Room. Grissom tells Sofia that they are done. Catherine points out that no real crime was committed, since the kidnapping wasn't real. Sofia counters that Nikki's death is very real. Sofia gives Grissom a perfectly tied bow tie and leaves the room. Catherine warns Grissom to watch what he says, as Sofia is on Ecklie's team.

Catherine gets a page, and she and Warrick arrive at a strip of industrial highway near McCarran Airport. Brass is on the scene. A State Trooper found the car, a BMW 530i, with Janelle Macklin inside the trunk, cell phone near her head, hands bound behind her back, scarf stuffed in her mouth. Dead.

In the Wash Room, Warrick and Catherine examine Janelle's body. Warrick extracts the scarf, which is completely down her throat. Catherine cuts the scarf off of Janelle's wrists.

Hawkes finds that the second female died of asphyxiation due to strangulation. Her neck was broken postmortem. She died at around the same time as Goodman.

Brass sits across from Charlie Macklin, who is shell-shocked. He tells Brass that he got a message from Janelle a couple hours ago, saying that she was in the trunk of her car. He thought it was just more drama. Macklin says that she loved airplanes and that he took her down to see them at McCarran a couple of times when she was a kid.

Officer Brantley approaches a town car parked in an alley. Bobby Jensen sits in the driver's seat, completely drunk.

Brass interrogates Bobby Jensen, who is bitter that there is nothing in the papers about his daughter's death, but there's page-one coverage of Janelle's. Brass tells Jensen that they have a witness who says they saw Janelle Macklin get into a town car near the Hard Rock earlier this evening. A $100,000 diamond bracelet belonging to Janelle was found in his car. Jensen tells Brass he got a call for a pickup, and it was Janelle Macklin, who tried to convince him that she didn't mean for Nikki to get hurt. When she offered to pay with a diamond bracelet, Jensen told her to get out, smacking the bracelet out of her hand. Jensen tells Brass it doesn't matter what they do to him. His baby's dead.

Dr. Robbins determines that Janelle's cause of death is asphxia, as the scarf was lodged all the way down the esophagus, obstructing the epiglottis, completely cutting off her air. Catherine tells him that she tested positive or BENZODIAZEPINES, which can knock one out and suppress the gag reflex as well. She probably didn't know she was suffocating in her sleep.

Catherine studies photos of the scarf knots that were tied to secure Janelle's wrists. She has a realization. The position of the knot was only possible if she had tied it herself. Janelle called her father, leaving a voicemail, got into the trunk of her BMW, used her cell phone for light as she tied the scarf around her wrists using her teeth, and then lifted her feet over her bound wrists. She then waited, slowly losing consciousness. The saliva on the scarf confirmed this. It was a suicide. She was hoping her father would save her in time.
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