|Original Airdate||April 8, 2009|
|Previous Episode: Communication Breakdown|
|Next Episode: The Past, Present and Murder|
"Prey" is the twentieth episode in the fifth season of the American crime drama CSI: NY.
When a man is shot to death inside an empty theater, Stella soon realizes that the strangely familiar crime scene has been staged. "American Idol" contestant Katharine McPhee guest stars.
An NYPD tip line receives a picture of the body of Marshall Baxter, who is found dead in the vocal studio at the theater where he gives lessons. Dr. Hawkes determines the man's body temperature was 86 degrees, putting his time of death at midnight the previous evening.
Stella notices an indentation in the wall left by a fist, and Mac and Flack discover the theater director, James Copeland, has a bruised, red hand. Copeland admits to scuffling with Baxter because he always took his parking space, but he denies killing him.
The team pores over the evidence, including volcanic ash and a ceramic tile, while Sid determines that Baxter died of exsanguination from a gunshot wound, but notes that the killer pulled the bullet out of Baxter's body. Sid is perplexed by the fact that the body is still in rigor, and theorizes it was exposed to a cold temperature of some sort.
Danny finds a spoke card from a member of the Brooklyn Bruisers, a local bike polo team, with a number written on the back of it in Baxter's pocket. When Stella calls the number, she reaches a "rejection hotline," leading her and Danny to question the spoke card's owner, Gavin Skidmore.
Gavin tells them that he got the number from a cute Chelsea University student named Odessa, but that he never called the number. As soon as she walked away, an angry guy approached him claiming to be her boyfriend and ripped the card out of his hand.
Back at the lab, Adam is able to determine that the photo of Baxter's body was taken with a Blackberry phone, and he finds traces of CO2 on the ceramic shard. Mac realizes that the body was exposed to dry ice which let off CO2 gas as it melted and altered Baxter's body temperature, putting the time of death at 5 AM rather than midnight.
Mac assembles the team to discuss the bizarre evidence, and Stella puts it all together: the connection is her. Two months ago, she gave a lecture at Chelsea University, discussing past cases and what evidence led the team to various murderers. Stella goes to her old professor to get a list of students in the class while Flack and Hawkes scour Baxter's messy apartment for clues.
Hawkes discovers a hidden box filled with photographs of two women, who were clearly unaware they were being photographed. Hawkes realizes Baxter was a stalker, striking a nerve with the doctor and bringing back memories of the assault on his ex-girlfriend, Kara.
Flack is able to track down a record on Baxter, who was arrested four years ago for aggravated assault. The woman Baxter stalked in Rhode Island, Carrie Langdon, committed suicide six months ago. Flack pays a visit to her bereaved brother Phillip, who blames Baxter and the police that failed to protect Carrie for her death.
After telling Flack about how he witnessed his sister's fatal jump, Phillip gives Flack his alibi and tells the detective to contact his lawyer if he wants more. Back at the lab, Stella is unable to tie any of the nineteen students from the Chelsea University class to Baxter, though she is able to tie the planted evidence to a museum near the university.
Danny and Hawkes investigate the other woman who accused Baxter of stalking, Dana Melton. They obtain an MP3 of her testimony from the Boston Police Department and listen to the young woman relate how Baxter followed and terrified her. Hawkes matches the picture of Dana the Boston PD sent to the ones he found in the box beneath Baxter's bed.
When shown the pictures of Dana, Gavin Skidmore confirms she's the woman he knows as Odessa, and recalls that she had a singing gig somewhere nearby. Stella overhears Mac listening to the MP3 of Dana's testimony and recognizes that Dana's voice is from the Q&A session of her guest lecture at the university.
Going through Baxter's receipts, the CSIs canvass a neighborhood that he frequented in the hopes of finding Dana. They get lucky when a mailman recognizes her and points them in the direction of the building where she lived. The building manager shows Mac, Flack and Hawkes to her apartment, but they find it completely cleaned out.
Mac and Hawkes turn back to Baxter's possessions, which unsettles Hawkes further, leading him to point out that Dana was driven to kill Baxter. Hawkes finds a flier for the Lemon Drop Room, and Mac recalls that Dana had a singing gig.
Mac and Hawkes go over to the Lemon Drop Room and find Dana finishing up her gig. When she steps off the stage, Mac flashes his badge. Even though Dana begs him to let her go, Mac tells her he has to arrest her. Hawkes points out to her that without a formal confession from her, it will be very hard to win a conviction.
- Emmanuelle Vaugier as Detective Jessica Angell
- Eddie Mills as Phillip Langdon
- Tim Fields as Marshall Baxter
- Sam Ball as James Copeland
- Michael Trevino as Gavin Skidmore
- Marlana Carter as Lisa
- Tony Amendola as Professor P
- Katharine McPhee as Odessa Shaw/Dana Melton
- Wayne Lopez as Manager
An instrumental version of MGMT's "Electric Feel" is played in this episode.