The episode opens with some kids riding their bikes in an abandoned lot. One falls down a hole and finds a dead body. The victim is Kevin McBride, killed by a blow to the skull. His face has been eaten away by possums. Mac and the team arrive on scene to discover the hole the kid fell through was a cellar that had been beneath a house that is being relocated.
Stella is in the actual crime scene, the missing house, while it’s being ferried down the East River on the way from Staten Island. As it turns out, McBride and his wife Annie own a home relocation business, and the house Kevin was killed in is one they were transporting from Staten Island.
The crime scene in the house has been cleaned, but traces of blood are of course visible still using forensic techniques. Although McBride was not shot, a bullet casing was recovered from the house, along with a large carrot. The investigation shows McBride was killed in the house and his body dragged down to the cellar before the house was moved.
At post-autopsy, fragments of McBride’s skull are pieced back together, and impressed toolmarks are visualized. After some searching, it is determined the murder weapon was a roofing hammer.
Lindsay identifies the carrot as a homemade marijuana pipe. The bullet casing has Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) residue inside as opposed to gunshot residue (GSR). It was used as the bowl on the carrot pipe. A DNA profile is run on the veggie pipe, and it comes back to Tanor Sommerset.
Sommerset is the son of the person who sold the house. He’s upset the house wasn’t given to him, so he went out and purchased a roofing hammer, with plans to smash up the house. Instead he leaves the hammer on the fireplace mantle, smokes some marijuana in his carrot pipe, and goes upstairs to catch a quick nap. The next thing he knows is the house is literally moving down the street. Sommerset panicked and leapt out of the window of the house while it’s being transported by truck down a busy street, and bystanders on the street corroborate his alibi.
Found at autopsy was a fishscale embedded in McBride’s arm. At some point there was analysis using the patented CSI NY DNA rare animal database that I’ve had the pleasure of writing about so many times in these reviews. I’m sure it came back to some ultra-rare fish, but I left the room shaking my head. Eventually they end up questioning McBride’s secretary, Rita Mannete. That day she’d gotten a manicure using the same ultra-rare fish in a weird exfoliating technique where the fish nibble dead skin off of the hands. Mannete says the last time she saw McBride, she stumbled down the stairs. As McBride tried to catch her, she ended up scratching his arm with her freshly manicured nails, and that’s how the transfer occurred.
A fragment of paper was also found in McBride’s hand. The rest of the paper is still wedged in the baseboards of the house. When the pieces are joined, it’s a head shot of McBride printed on a postcard, with the words “If you don’t tell her, I will” written across his face. The back of the postcard has an interesting 3D barcode in one of the corners, which Lindsay scans with her cell phone. Apparently everyone now has personal 3D barcode scanners. Once scanned, the code on the postcard opens up a gimmick-website where people mail in their secret confessions anonymously. Investigations into the registered mailing address for the website turns up a PO Box address paid with cash, an investigative dead-end. Has anyone opened a PO Box lately? The Postal Service wants more proof of identification than you need to get a driver’s license in the State of California. I find the “cash” payment investigative dead-end a cheap way to tie up the loose end. They might as well have just said the website owner is out of state or something, and they’ll talk to them in a few days.
Mac takes McBride’s computer in as evidence. McBride’s daughter Ella makes an urgent plea to Mac to please get her dad’s computer back to her mom as soon as possible, because there are important company files needed. Looking into the files on McBride’s computer indicate he was involved with someone over the internet called “Lola54”. Shortly after McBride emailed a picture of himself to Lola54, she stopped communication with McBride. McBride kept trying unsuccessfully to reestablish communication with Lola.
Eventually Lola’s identity is discovered to be Ella McBride. Mac goes to her place to talk to her, and sees hundreds of submitted confession postcards to the 3D barcode website. Ella says she figured out who her internet boyfriend was, and stopped communication with him. Even sending the photo back that said tell your wife or I will. Ella confesses McBride had been in trouble in the past for having multiple affairs.
Back at the lab, the DNA profile on the hammer was a familial match to Ella, so the Stella starts leaning on Mrs. Annie McBride as the suspected killer. But Annie has a great alibi. A video of her doing a walk through of another relocation property shot at the time of the murder. Stella catches that the shadows are off in the video compared to the time of day Annie claims the video was filmed. Through experimentation, Stella proves that the time codes on the video have been altered, and Annie’s alibi is fake.
Annie eventually admits to killing her husband with the hammer, after discovering the photograph of him in a drawer with the words, “Tell your wife or I will,” written across it. Classic Greek tragedy, I know.
During the investigation, Stella is called with a threatening phone call, telling her to stop the investigation into the death of the rat fisherman. At the end of the episode, she gets a parcel with a dead rat inside it. At which points Stella is ready to break some rules, and start going after whoever is responsible at the Greek embassy, regardless of their diplomatic immunity status.
The rest of the episode is tied up with personal relationships with Flack. First with his sister, Sam. Sam was fired from her job at a bar, for drinking on the job. She was almost run in by Det. Angell for throwing a beer bottle at patrol cars. We discover Sam is an alcoholic after Flack follows her to an AA meeting. He leaves without letting Sam know he followed her. He gives Det. Angell a big smooch, and walks home. I guess we needed some romance this episode.
Forensic Points of Interest:
Of course our good friend DNA was there. We had regular (carrot pipe), mitocondrial DNA (familial match on hammer handle), and the patented CSI NY exotic animal DNA database as well (fish scale).
Toolmarks on the Skull
Toolmarks is the general family of comparison analysis, which happens to include firearms identification. In this episode we were looking for general characteristics (impressed on the skull fragments) to identify what type of tool made the marks, as opposed to trying to identify which unique tool made the marks.
We looked at the residue left behind in the casing-bowl of the carrot pipe, to determine the pipe was used smoke marijuana.
It was a good episode overall. Even considering the time wasted on Flack’s sister Sam, and his brief romantic exchange with Det. Angell. Most of the forensic science was sound, with the exception of the rare fish scale DNA identification. But that’s CSI NY’s trademark item. Like Horatio Caine’s quips in CSI Miami.