In court, Warrick testifies about finding a knife in a car, and identifies the knife and Michael Fife, the defendant, as the registered owner; he says that the knife was wrapped in a white towel, and the blood was that of Rachel Lyford, who lived in the same apartment complex as the defendant. The defence attorney asks why the vehicle was searched; Warrick says that it was pulled over for a broken tail light, and the officer found that there was a warrant outstanding on Mr. Fife for drugs; the vehicle was towed to the CSI lot, and searched. The lawyer asks when a warrant was secured, then tells the court that neither Warrick nor Officer Watson secured a warrant, and therefore the search was illegal; he's seeking the exclusion of the knife and towel as the products of an unlawful search. The judge agrees and throws them out, then asks the DA if there is any other evidence; DA says that there's no other evidence at this time. The judge finds insufficient evidence and is about to release the defendant; Grissom speaks to the DA, who then asks for a 24-hour continuance, and is granted it. Outside the courtroom, Grissom tells Warrick that there's still more evidence to process. Officer Watson comes up and blames Warrick for not getting the warrant; Warrick says that it was up to the officer to do that; they argue, but Grissom stops them, saying that if he has a complaint then he should file a report, but right now, they're busy. Grissom then tells Warrick that in the next 24 hours, they're breaking the rules on not rushing evidence.
The Sheriff talks to Grissom about Warrick; Grissom says that Warrick followed protocol. The Sherrif says that the public will only hear that the case was thrown out because CSI conducted an improper search, and that's all that matters. He says that he's holding a press conference in an hour where he will tell the public that the case in under Grissom's purview. Warrick tells the team about the case; that he was looking for marijuana because of the drug warrant; he found the knife and swabbed it and matched it to the victim, Rachel Lyford from one of Catherine's cases, which was a rape/murder. She says that there was no DNA in that case, and when Warrick's case brought up the murder weapon, the case was fast-tracked for a prelim. Grissom tells them that the car is being brought to the lab and they need to find something that isn't 'invisible evidence' the way that the knife and towel now are. Sara points out that she's working on her own murder case, but Grissom tells her that this case takes precedence.
Nick and Sara wait for the car to arrive; Sara says that she's unhappy that some cases get priority over others; Nick points out that the ticking clock takes priority and when your supervisor tells you to do something, you do it. The car arrives; it's been compacted at the lot, and the driver who delivered it simply tells them that it must have been a paperwork mix-up.
Dr. Robbins shows Warrick the pictures of the rape case, and notes that the sister of the victim identified the body. He tells Warrick that there was no semen, but there was something around her neck that left an abrasion; David says that he prepped the Lyford body, and the foreign substance on her wrist was sent to trace. Hodges tells Warrick that the sample is still running and he'll let him know when it comes in.
Brass tells Warrick that Rita Lyford was at the station, very angry, and wanted the dog tags that Rachel always wore around her neck which weren't with the effects when they were released. Warrick notes that the dog tag chain was probably what left the abrasion on the back of the neck of the victim when the killer took a souvenir. Warrick talks to Grissom, who has gotten a print on a bottle that was in the apartment; Warrick examines the bed sheets and notes the same substance on them as was on the wrists of the victim. He also notices that the knife that he found in Fife's vehicle matches the five steak knives that Grissom has from the victim's apartment.
At the apartment complex, Catherine goes over the Rachel's apartment again; Catherine tells the female officer with her that she went over the scene and there was no semen; if the guy ejaculated then he wore a condom; the female officer notes that most guys can't wait to take off the condom, and Catherine realizes that not every guy uses the trash. She checks the bathroom and finds a semen finger print on the flush handle of the toilet.
Nick and Sara take the car apart, and un-compact it. They go over the car; Sara finds a parking placard for the Saturn Arms and Nick finds white threads with stains on it consistent with blood; he notes that even thought the towel is out, the threads are admissible.
Warrick talks to Franco, who tells him that the print on the bottle matches the suspect. Brass talks to Fife and his lawyer; Warrick tells them about the blood stained threads in the car, which will be admissible in court. Fife says that he doesn't know anything about the threads, adding that Rachel Lyford was his neighbor. They tell him about the prints on the beer bottle; he says that there was a party in the courtyard the night before she was killed, and that he threw the bottle in a trash can, it must have been hers. He says that he doesn't know how any of this happened and he didn't do it, and he's tired of everything. The lawyer tells Warrick that unless they get some evidence tying Fife to the murder, he'll be released by the judge.
Rita Lyford arrives at lab and wants to talk to Warrick; she tells him that she needs to know that Michael Fife will pay for what he did to Rachel. She tells him that she can't sleep, her mother is medicated, and then noting the coffee in his hand, comments that he's on a coffee break. She begins yelling at him that she wants answers; Warrick walks away from her, and she continues to yell. Nick talks to her and calms her down, and tells her the entire lab is on the case and they're trying to keep Michael Fife behind bars where he belongs; that's all she wanted to hear. Nick then talks to Warrick, and asks what's up? Warrick is angry, saying that the job is hard enough without having to deal with family members; he and Nick argue over this.
Warrick goes to the bathroom to cool off, Catherine comes in and asks how he's doing, because he's in the women's bathroom. He laughs and apologizes and tells her that the case is twisting him; he admits that the interrogation was a bust. She tells him that they have time and they're still processing evidence and it could break any minute.
Hodges tells Grissom that he identified the substance on the victim's wrist and it's the same as on the sheet; it's wax with a low melting point; he's sent for more information on it. Grissom says that Hodges should tell Warrick as he's the lead CSI on the case.
Warrick, Catherine, and Greg wait for the DNA on the toilet to come back, it is not a match to Michael Fife. Nick tells Grissom that the Sheriff is looking for him; Warrick says that Grissom should avoid him and Nick asks why; Catherine says that there might be another suspect.
Sara asks if the semen could have come from a prior encounter; Catherine says that it was the last person who flushed, as it was a drop, not a smudge. Catherine asks how the knife got in the vehicle if the suspect didn't put it there, and they discuss the wax. Warrick says that he didn't check the knife for wax; Grissom points out that the knife could be back in evidence as an illegal search doesn't apply unless you're the owner of the vehicle. The Sheriff shows up asking about the case, but Grissom doesn't tell him anything.
Nick checks the knife for wax and finds a substance on the hilt near the blade. Sara looks at the sheets; she tells Grissom that Rachel's body left a void on the sheet and the attacker's hands left the wax on her wrists and sheets when he held her down. Sara and Grissom act out the crime, and in so doing are physically close; Sara mentions the promotion that she's applied for, and says that she hopes that anything that did or didn't happen between them won't have any effect on her application.
Hodges tells Catherine that he's identified the wax, and he can only release it to Warrick, but he tells her that it's car wax. Grissom says that it's industrial grade sold to car washes, and Fife is an electrician so wouldn't come in contact with it, unless he got his car washed. They say that if they ask him then his lawyer will know that they're going in a different direction and petition for Fife's immediate release; Grissom asks how Warrick feels about that, and he says that they should go where the evidence takes them.
Brass talks to Fife and wants to know the sequence of everything that happened on the night of the party up to his arrest; he tells them that he drank his six pack, struck out and so went home and passed out. The next morning, he drove out to Green Valley and installed a chandelier, then went home and had lunch, then stopped off at Reliant Car Wash. Brass begins asking about the car wash, if the attendant said anything about the broken tail light; Fife's lawyer becomes suspicious and ends the interview.
Warrick and Catherine go to the Reliant Car Wash; Catherine says that she thinks that Fife's tail light was fine when he arrived, and while he went through the wash someone broke the light and stashed the knife; the broken pieces would fall into the drain, and she finds out that the drain hasn't been cleaned in a month. The manager tells her that she can't clean the drain because they'd lose business; she tells him that the other option is for them to get a warrant and come back on a Saturday and shut him down for the full day, so he agrees to let them look. They check the drain and Catherine finds broken tail light pieces there. Warrick asks if there can be an accident while two cars are on the line; the manager says no, the system shuts down if the cars get too close, which means that the tail light was broken on purpose.
The employees of the car wash are at the lab to give DNA samples. Warrick and Catherine take the mouth swabs; one guy says that he has to go to the bathroom, Catherine tells him to hold on, and once she's taken the swab from him, she tells the officer to accompany the guy to the bathroom. Warrick watches him go and notes that he's wearing a chain around his neck.
They interview Quinn and tell him that the DNA from the scene matches him, he admits that he knows a Rachel, but says that he never knew her last name. He then tells them that a wax costs $60, and all the guys offer cheaper waxes before hours, and that's what he did with Rachel; he charged her $25 and when she gave him the money, she was wearing a really sexy outfit, and what was he supposed to think, adding that she threw herself at him. Catherine says she doesn't believe him; she thinks that Rachel paid him and then he pushed his way into her apartment; after he'd raped her, he realized that she knew his name and where he worked, and he freaked out and killed her. Catherine tells him that this means the death penalty. His lawyer says that the weapon wasn't found in his car; Warrick explains that it was planted in Mr. Fife's car when he came through for a car wash, and that Quinn recognized the parking tag in Fife's car, and so knew that he was a neighbor of Rachel's. Warrick shows him the dog tags with name Aaron Lyford, who is Rachel's father, and asks why Quinn tried to hide them when he went to the bathroom? Warrick tells him that he noticed them when Quinn was leaving the room, but he didn't have them on when he came back, but Warrick found them in the bathroom, in the water tank of one of the toilets. He then shows Quinn the autopsy photos showing the abrasion where the chain marked her when the tags were ripped off her neck, meaning that she didn't give them to him, the way that he'd claimed she had.
Warrick testifies in court about Quinn coming to the station, and the DNA match. The judge finds sufficient probable cause to bind the defendant over for the rape and murder of Rachel Lyford. Warrick tells Rita that he's sorry for her loss and he'll make sure that the tags get to them. She thanks him, the Sheriff comes in and says that he wants Warrick to participate in the press conference he's about to hold; Grissom points out that Warrick won't have to talk much. Warrick thanks Grissom and heads out to the press conference.