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The Most Disturbing Criminal In CSI: Miami Season 8

The late, lamented CBS procedural "CSI: Miami" is definitely no slouch when it comes to disturbing its audience. Between the sometimes-gross crime scenes and the mountains of always-horrifying forensic evidence the crew has to dig through to get their perps, it can sometimes be a stomach-churning experience for fans just to watch their favorites work together to bring in the bad guys.

That doesn't even factor in the sometimes truly evil characters the crew has to deal with. During Season 8 of the program alone, Horatio Caine (David Caruso) and his crew try to track down a perp who shoved a man into a jellyfish tank, apparently on the orders of his employer so they could collect the man's insurance; they deal with the death of a pop star who apparently spontaneously combusts while performing on stage; and they race against time to prove the innocence of a man on death row who's been accused of killing his wife before he can be executed. Calleigh Duquesne (Emily Procter) is even haunted by the ghost of a victim until she manages to crack their case. 

Considering all those grisly crimes, which perpetrator is the most disturbing villain of the season?

Bob Starling combined science with cold-blooded murder

There's nothing creepier than someone who so aspires to claim revenge that he actually uses his accumulated knowledge to become a better killer — and then targets people who are specifically trained to hunt people like him. Bob Starling's (Roger Bart) crimes affect the "CSI: Miami" team forever afterward because he claims the life of one of their own, and he does it all while taunting them with intentionally oblique clues. What makes Starling so very disturbing are his cold, unemotional ways. He comes off as a mild-mannered professor plying his trade at Miami-Dade University, but it's quickly revealed he's something much more insidious at heart. His cunning and the use of his brain power definitely make him the most disturbing criminal of the season. 

Starling is introduced in Episode 24 of Season 8, "All Fall Down." While his murders continue into the Season 9 opener "Fallen," he definitely establishes his pattern of criminality here. A professor at Miami-Dade University, he decides to claim revenge against anyone who prevented him from gaining tenure due to his support of Melissa Walls (Kristen Hager). Walls is a graduate student who was expelled after she was caught fudging the result of her thesis by Janice Potter (Justine Eyre), an attorney's wife whom she hired to help her with the program. Starling's method of murdering those in his way is chillingly distant — he uses a remotely-controlled gun to eliminate Potter, then kills Neal Brusatti (Jim Vickers) by smothering him in the university's pool with an automatic pool cover. Both murders show the almost impersonal way in which he chooses to claim revenge. Murder, to Starling, is a completely impersonal gesture that's as intimate as blowing his nose.

His machinations took the life of Jesse Cardoza

The team's curiosity is piqued when Starling shows no fear about addressing a crowded classroom at a lecture in spite of his colleague's deaths. Their suspicions about him are quickly confirmed when they find evidence on the professor that ties him to the anonymous letter mailed to the team that presaged Potter's murder. But the revelation comes too late for those working at the CSI lab, who are overcome by the release of Halon gas. Most of the crime lab's workers are saved, but Jesse Cardoza (Eddie Cibrian) dies of a subdural hematoma after collapsing. Worse, the evidence against Starling is destroyed. That this was clearly his motivation to release the gas into the lab in the first place says a lot about how he feels about his fellow humans — if they're not here to help him achieve his goals, then they're impediments to be disposed of or props to be used. In custody, Starling simply and calmly states that the murders will continue, quoting Shakespeare's Hamlet: "revenge delayed invites madness."

Starling uses his knowledge of chemical interactions in his attempt at killing fellow professor Stephen Madsen (Esai Morales). He tries to do Madsen in via a bottle of tainted cologne, which he alters with potassium and knows will combust on Madsen's skin. He nearly strangles Frank Tripp (Rex Linn) to death with the straps of his straitjacket while trying to escape, which he temporarily does. His plans for the future do not include Walls, who turns out to be his lover. Starling has little regard for his relationship with her and is happy to let her take the fall for his crimes, but she turns him in. His lack of love for her is just one last sociopathic act committed by one creepy perp.