CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

Season 4 Episode 21

Turn of the Screws

Aired Sunday 10:00 PM May 06, 2004 on CBS

Episode Recap

At an amusement park, people go on the rides, including The Pharaoh's Fever, a roller coaster. On the coaster, the kid in the front seat takes off his seat belt and turns to his younger brother and mother in the car behind him and says, "We're all gonna die!" They tell him to put his seat belt back on. The ride continues, then comes to the end. The family gets off, others get on. The family from the coaster ride goes to a kiosk in the park to get food, where they watch the coaster take a turn on the tracks, and come crashing down into the cars in the parking lot.

Grissom arrives and talks to Brass, then looks at the bodies; Brass asks him if he's ever ridden this coaster, and Grissom tells him that he has. There are six dead in the crash, and Brass says that everyone in the park saw it fly off the tracks.

Nick and Sara arrive; Grissom tells them that this is the first time a coaster has derailed in Clark County and there are huge liability issues; he wants them to keep their mouths shut around the press. Surveying the scene, Greg asks why one body is so far away from all the others; Sara comments to Greg that the body that is furthest away probably wasn't wearing a seat belt. They begin photographing the scene.

On a deserted road, Catherine and Warrick meet David, who is waiting for them by a body. Brass tells them that the deceased is a 13-year old girl, Tessa Press; her school identification was in her pocket. David tells them that the body was face-down when she died, but she's been moved from the murder scene and dumped here, and based on the insects on her body, he estimates that she's been at this site for 24 hours. Warrick comments that the rain would have washed away any evidence; David wonders why someone would just dump her, given the lengthy drive to the dump site, and not take 10 more minutes to bury her; Warrick comments that it probably wasn't worth the killer's time.

At the amusement park, Grissom's team bags evidence and takes photos of the scene; a crane arrives to move the car that was crushed by the impact of the roller coaster. Brass talks to the teen-aged coaster operator, who says he's only been operating it for a few months; he was moved up from the merry-go-round, and didn't really receive much training, as running the coaster consists of pushing a few buttons. He tells Brass that the seating in the coaster was a blonde girl in front, then a punk, an old couple behind him, and a guy in the back; Brass comments that that's only five people, but the operator says that that's all he remembers being in the coaster cars. Brass notices a camera; the operator tells him that it's a digital camera on a trigger, it automatically takes pictures as the coaster passes the trigger point, but this time, the coaster wasn't even close to that point when it left the tracks. Brass tells him that they'll still need the camera. Grissom talks to Woody, the park's chief engineer; he says that he didn't think it was possible for a coaster to go off the tracks. Grissom has a nut; Woody tells him that it secures the wheels to the track, but if one came off it wouldn't be sufficient to make the coaster leave the tracks; all eight would have to come off, and that just doesn't happen.

Grissom quotes Henry James to Sara, Nick, and Greg; he tells them that James is the author of The Turn Of The Screw, and that's what he's looking for. They examine the evidence; Grissom notes that the end threads are stripped on the screws; Nick suggests that it could be from wear, but Grissom points out that if that were the case, then the nuts would have popped off. They then notice tool marks on the screws; Sara comments that it could be from tightening the nuts, and Nick points out that it could also be from loosening them.

At the morgue, Raina Press identifies her daughter's body from a picture; she tells Catherine and Warrick that she doesn't understand how this could have happened, and begins crying. Warrick tells her that Tessa died over 24 hours ago, and wonders why she wasn't concerned about her being missing; Raina tells them that Tessa would stay over at her friend Carrie's house a couple of times a week, and there was really no schedule for it, so when Tessa didn't come home, she just assumed she was at Carrie's place. She adds that she works as a waitress, and works nights, which allows her to be home in the morning so she can make breakfast for Tessa; the last time she saw Tessa was yesterday morning at breakfast. Raina tells them that when Tessa didn't come home, she should have called Carrie's place, but didn't because she didn't want to be a nag. An officer takes Raina to see her daughter's body; Warrick asks Catherine when the last time was that she went 24 hours without seeing Lindsay; Catherine tells him that being a single, working mom is hard.

Dr. Robbins identifies the deceased bodies for Grissom: Shelly Hoffman, Nolen Newland, Gary Clodfelter, his wife May, and their son Cameron. All died of injuries from the roller coaster crash. The sixth victim is Jim Nevins, a park employee. Grissom notes that the roller coaster operator said that there were only five riders, and certainly no park employees on the coaster, then suggests that Nevins may have been hit by the falling coaster. But Dr. Robbins has more information for Grissom: the five riders all died about 10 hours ago, but Nevins died 16 hours before that, based on his body temperature and rigor mortis, which would put his time of death around 1 a.m. the night before; Grissom comments that dead men don't ride roller coasters.

At the park, Grissom talks to Woody again and asks to see the underside of the coaster. Woody comments that the papers are saying that the coaster is going to be shut down, and that it's a death-trap; Grissom asks him to leave them alone so they can examine the coaster. They look at the tracks from under the platform; Grissom comments that it's easy access for someone to tamper with it; Sara agrees and says that anyone could have done it. She then notices some lotion on the girder; Grissom notices a loose piece of metal above them, but Woody tells him that it's okay, because there's no support beam under it, so while it looks bad, it's not dangerous. Grissom asks about repairs to the coaster; Woody says that the park cut back on his hours, so he doesn't have time for everything that needs to be done; they ask to see his pipe wrench. Nick calls and tells Grissom that Nevins's clothing was covered in red fibers of the type that would be in a car's interior; Grissom tells Sara that they're looking for a car with a red interior. They talk to Greg who tells them that there are 106 pieces of evidence, and he's found something unusual: semen in the roller coaster. Grissom comments that the adrenalin rush from the coaster might enhance ejaculation; Sara tells Greg to swab the sample and test it. Grissom notices the car that was hit by the coaster; he asks who owns it and finds out that it belonged to Jim Nevins. Looking inside, they find a pipe wrench on the floor, and evidence of blood on the carpeting which went unnoticed before because the carpet color hid it. Grissom speculates that Nevins might never have been in the coaster at all, or even killed by it when it fell; he was killed earlier and stuffed in the trunk, and when the coaster hit the car, it knocked him out of the trunk.

Brass interviews Zack Lawrence, who says that he closes up the park at night after finishing his s and doing some math tutoring; Brass asks if he saw any cars in the lot after closing on Thursday, and Zack confirms that Jim Nevins was there; he also tells Brass that Nevins would take his dates on the coaster, adding that everyone knew about it and it was no big deal. Brass asks how Nevins would get past security; Zack tells him that there is no security in the park at night as the park laid-off the night security officer a while back. He also tells Brass that the key to the men's washroom also opens up all the power boxes, which would allow him to run the coaster after closing. Brass asks who Nevins's date was on Thursday, but Zack doesn't know.

David tells Warrick that Tessa had a lacerated spinal cord, and died of asphyxia; Warrick notes that there seems to be soil inside the neck wound. David points out that the body was found outside, but Warrick says that that would put soil around and on the wound but not inside it; he swabs the wound for evidence.

Nick tests the the pipe wrenches taken from Nevins's car and Woody to see if the tool marks match the ones on the loosened nuts from the coaster; he finds that the one from Nevins's car matches. He suggests that Nevins sabotaged the coaster, then was attacked by someone else who killed him and stuffed him in the trunk of his car. Nick prints the trunk of the car and gets two sets of partial prints; one from Jim Nevins and one from an unknown person; however the unknown print matches the one found on the wrench. Greg arrives and tells him that the semen in the coaster came from Nevins, adding that Brass found out that Nevins used the coaster for sex-dates. Nick decides that Nevins couldn't have sabotaged the coaster, because no one tampers with their sex machine.

At the lab, Sara looks through the photos taken by the digital camera on the coaster; Nick asks if she can go back to the night before. When she does, they find pictures of Nevins with his date. Sara notes that the last time stamp on the picture is 12:45 a.m., and Nevins was killed at 1 a.m.

Catherine meets Warrick at a convenience store; she tells him that Tessa was at the store and the clerk remembers her, and adds that the friend, Carrie, has confirmed that Tessa would stay over a few times a week and there was no particular schedule to when she would stay. Warrick notes that there's a security camera outside the store, and secures the footage.

At the park, Sara and Grissom show the picture to Woody, who recognizes her as Cleopatra; he says she works in food services. At the food services kiosk, Cleopatra is on a break, studying math at a table. They introduce themselves; she tells them that her name is Lisa Hunt, and that she didn't know that there were cameras on the roller coaster. Sara asks if she knows that Jim Nevins is dead; Lisa admits that she does and explains that four years ago, when she was a freshman at school, she had a crush on him but he didn't know that she existed. So when she started working at the park and saw him there, she took the opportunity. She says that he asked her out and she figured, 'why not?' since she'd never done it on a roller coaster before; she points out that she's 18, so the sex wasn't statutory rape. She tells them that after the roller coaster ride, they talked, and Jim offered to drive her home, but she walked since she only lives a few blocks away. They ask if she saw anyone else around, but she didn't.

Warrick watches security camera footage from the convenience store; he finds footage of Tessa outside the store talking to a boy who seems to be trying to pull her towards a car. They find the boy, Henry and interview him with his mother. He tells Warrick and Catherine that he would sit next to Tessa on the bus for school; that the other girls would tease Tessa because of her hair and clothes, but when he was there, they'd leave her alone. He says that he had just gotten his learner's permit and saw Tessa in the parking lot at the store, and had asked her to go for slushies, and his mother was in the car with him when that happened. He adds that Tessa didn't go with him because she said she was getting a ride from someone else, and when he and his mother left, he saw her get into a truck, but didn't see the driver.

Hodges tells Sara that the lotion that she took from the coaster track was a skin cream for a rash; she comments that whoever loosened the nuts must have transferred it to the tracks when they leaned over; now they know that the killer has a rash.

Warrick tells Catherine that the dirt inside Tessa's neck wounds contained traces of rhino feces, and it's been traced to an industrial fertilizer called "Zoodoo"; there's only one landscaping company in the area that uses it, and that's the company that did the landscaping at the Press home a few months ago. They go to Mrs. Press's home and the truck is in the driveway; Catherine photographs it and the bag of "Zoodoo" that it in plain sight in the back; they talk to Raina Press, who is there with her boyfriend, Justin Mack, who works for the landscaping company. Warrick talks to Justin outside; inside, Catherine tells Raina that they believe that Justin picked Tessa up at a convenience store and asks how well she knows him. Raina says that they met a few months ago when he did the landscaping and they've been dating since that time. Outside, Justin tells Warrick that Raina thought that it was important for Tessa to take the bus, but sometimes, he'd pick her up and take her for ice cream; Warrick examines the truck. Inside, Raina tells Catherine that Justin is a good man, and wouldn't hurt Tessa or anyone else, then starts crying again, saying that she keeps expecting Tessa to walk in. Outside, Warrick sprays the tools in the truck with Luminol and finds evidence of blood on a shovel head.

In the interview room, Warrick tells a lawyer that her client was arrested in 1988 for a drunk and disorderly, and the prints taken then match the ones on the shovel; the prints belong to Raina Press. He tells her that Raina's prints were the only ones on the shovel; Catherine adds that the blood on the shovel was Tessa's. The lawyer points out that Justin wears work gloves, which explains why his prints aren't there. They tell her that her prints on the shovel were sufficient evidence to get a warrant, and they searched her car, and found evidence of blood in it. Warrick says that the method of death and disposal of the body suggest that it wasn't premeditated; Raina tells them that she'd bought her daughter a bus pass, but "that little slut" still got Justin to drive her home from school. She adds that they all know what Tessa was trying to do; she was trying to steal Justin from Raina. She tells them that she saw Tessa get out of Justin's truck, and they argued. When Tessa walked away from her, she picked up the shovel and hit her with it, adding that Justin was the best thing in her life. Catherine, who looks horrified, tells Raina that Tessa was the best thing in her life. Raina insists that Catherine didn't know Tessa, but Catherine simply says, "I know she was 13 years old; a child."

At the lab, Sara tells Grissom that most pharmacists hadn't even heard of the cream used for the rash as it was only recently approved by the FDA, but there were 12 prescriptions filled for it in Clark County and one of those was an employee of the park. In the interview room, Grissom and Sara interview Lisa Hunt; she tells them that she had the rash on her legs, and she thinks "we" got it from studying on the grass outside. Sara asks who "we" is; Lisa says she and her math tutor, Zach Lawrence, and admits that she gave him some of her ointment. They go to the park with Brass to talk to Zack; he's sweeping up when they arrive. They tell him that it's illegal to use someone else's medication, and he asks if they can talk about it somewhere else. They agree to take him back to the station; Sara stays behind and once Brass is gone with Zack, she begins finger printing the broom handle. At the station, Sara tells Zack that she printed the broom handle and his prints match the partial prints that they found on Jim Nevins's car and the wrench; she comments that he's a good student and wonders why he did this? Grissom asks him to be logical about it, and comments that in the last statement that Zack gave, he said that he knew Nevins was there for a date on the coaster. Zack tells them that he doesn't care about Jim Nevins; Sara asks if he cares about Lisa Hunt? Zack angrily tells them that he makes more money tutoring, and why do they think he spends his time working for minimum wage at the park? He does it so that Lisa will see him outside the books; he says that he and Lisa were hanging out and having lunch together, then Nevins showed up and took her away from him. Grissom comments that Zack loosened the wheels on the coaster, but when it didn't derail, he took matters into his own hands, and killed Jim Nevins with the wrench; he then asks why Zack didn't go back and retighten the wheels on the coaster? Zack admits that he just didn't think about it.

At the park, Woody feels guilty about not catching the loose screws on the coaster; Grissom tells him that it's not his fault. They discuss various roller coasters; which ones they've ridden, and Grissom says that he holds the record for the marathon ride on the Steel Phantom at Kennywood Park in Pennsylvania. Woody asks if Grissom prefers wood over steel, and Grissom tells him that it's not the track, it's the thrill.