Sunday evening and the weekend was almost finished. All four detectives were tired from the long hours of checking and rechecking people that had reservations on weekends for the previous two months. The patrolmen had been cruising the streets continuously, especially all lonely dark sections of town. So far, it had been as quiet as the preceding three weeks.
"At least the news media doesn't have wind of the note yet. They've been covering everyday events without a hint there's something brewing," Charlie said, throwing down the pencil he was using to make notations on his copies of names. He pushed back his chair and headed for the coffee maker, poured himself a cup, and strolled past Sam's desk. Sam was talking on the phone and doodling on his list of names. The doodles ranged from people to cars, little squiggly lines and a few tic-tac-toes. Sam hung up the receiver and looked up at Charlie.
"Isn't that how Dr. Seuss got started? Doodling?" Charlie said, pointing with his cup at the drawings.
"You got me there. The only thing about Dr. Seuss I remember was his Green Eggs and Ham, and that's my knowledge of cartoonery," Sam said with a shrug, leaning back in his chair.
"Cartoonery? Is there such a word?" Carl looked up from his list.
"Shit, who the hell cares? I don't know what I'm talking about any more. This guy's got me antsy waiting for the note to appear on my desk like the first time. I'm afraid to go to the head, in case he shows up when I step out," Sam said, getting up to refill his cup.
"You want me to check the windshield of your Porsche?" Ray asked with a grin.
"Yeah, and if you find a note, don't come back . . . I do not want to hear he's touched my car again. I ran it through the carwash twice after the last time," Sam said dryly.
Carl laughed and picked up the phone as it rang. "Detective Morgan."
Startled, he glanced at the others, then said into the phone. "We're on the way, don't touch anything. Guard the entrance," he commanded before replacing the receiver with a shaky hand.
"Jack is back. That was the security guard at the professional building on Pelican Way," Carl said, on his way to the door with the others right behind him.
The guard led them to a vacant medical office on the third floor.
"This has been vacant for six months now, and I wasn't even gonna check it. Then I noticed the door wasn't quite closed. God Almighty! I never saw such a mess in my life . . . not even in my war years! There's blood all over the place. I didn't go near her . . . just closed the door and called you," he said as they reached the third floor.
The guard stepped aside and pointed a shaky finger to the office on the left. "She's in there . . . the last room in the back."
The men entered cautiously, with guns drawn. They checked all corners and closets as they progressed through each room off the hallway that ran the length of the office suite.
Nothing was disturbed. The rooms were furnished with standard medical furnishings. An examination table, a large hutch type cabinet with a small sink. Other equipment would be brought in by whoever rented the unit. A bathroom at the end of the hall had the door open. The last room was next to the bathroom, the door closed. Charlie was in front of the others, so he took a deep breath, let it out, then opened the door.
"Ah shit," Charlie groaned, and pushed the door all the way open stepping just inside, keeping out of the blood puddles on the floor.
The others followed and stood silent, staring at the body tied to the examination table. A note lay on her face . . . that was the only part of her body that wasn't mutilated and bloodied.
"There's the note, Sam. I wonder if the clue is any more help than the other?" Ray mused.
"Well, whatever's in the note, it'll have to wait until George gets here with his lab man. I'm not walking over there to pick it up," Sam said, swallowing back the bile that was in his throat. He turned and walked back out and leaned against the wall. Sam silently cursed this butcher for picking him for the notes. Who is he? Why me?
George, the coroner and his lab man along with Ralph, who doubled as the crime photographer this evening, arrived escorted by the guard, just as the four detectives had moved out to the front office. They kept the guard with them to question, while George did his job. A short time later, Ralph, looking pale and sick, came out with the envelope in a plastic bag and handed it to Sam.
Charlie told the guard to wait downstairs and keep everyone out, especially news reporters. They waited until the guard had left the room, then Sam put on his latex gloves and opened the envelope.
"The poor woman . . . she didn't die instantly from a throat cut like the others. She bled to death," Ray said grimly.Clue No. 3You now have Elizabeth Stride
So stupid to think she could hide
She struggled when found
And was forced to be bound
As the blood drained away till she died.
"The bastard's got to be a depraved lunatic! He had to have written the poem after she died . . . since he describes it. How can anyone sit and write poetry after doing that?" Carl said, shaking his head.
"I hope to hell we catch him soon. Where do we start? Are we going to divide the block up between us and start checking witnesses?" Ray asked.
"The guard said there wasn't anyone left working in any of the other offices. He started his rounds right after the front entrance was locked up, and didn't see anyone, or hear a scream," Charlie said.
"This is a vacant office for rent. The door was open without forced entry. Someone had unlocked it," Carl said.
"I'll ask the guard who the rental agency is that's handling it," Ray said.
"Well, let's get started. I could use some fresh air," Sam said, leaving the office and heading down the stairs to the front entrance. He didn't want to wait for an elevator or be cooped up in a closed-in space. He needed to get out and clear his head.
Sam hated to see his name printed on those envelopes. It gave him a feeling of being too close to the killer. As if the man's thoughts were on him as he addressed and sealed it. Did he smile when he put my name on it? Sam wondered, as he pushed open the front entrance door.
He halted in his tracks and stared at Kelly standing by the Channel 12 van, her arms crossed with the microphone resting on her forearm.
Sam looked to the left and the cameraman was on the sidewalk a few feet away with his video camera. There were no other reporters around. She was the first on the scene . . . again.
Why? Where does she get the information?
His mind was reeling, but he couldn't take his eyes off her. This was the first time he had seen her in person since he left for Reno. She looked even better than she did on television, Sam thought. Looking at her, and how beautiful she was, erased the vision he had of that gruesome scene upstairs. As if in a dream, they both stared at each other as they started slowly walking, closing the gap between them.
"How do you manage to always be the first one here?" he whispered quietly. He had taken her wrist and moved her hand with the mike behind her back, holding it against her, so it would not pick up what he said.
Kelly didn't struggle as he held her wrist behind her back. The scent of his aftershave, his breath touching her cheek as he whispered, made her weak in the knees, and she leaned in closer. She had been mesmerized by his look when he saw her. It was a look of awe . . . as if he couldn't believe she was here.
"We were just cruising around as we always do on weekend evenings . . . then we saw the coroner's car leave Civic Center and . . . we followed him. The guard said no one could enter, that it was a crime scene . . . so I waited," Kelly whispered back.
Sam watched her lips move as she spoke. He liked the sound of her soft whisper . . . the way a person would sound while making love. That exotic fragrance she wore filled his senses when she leaned closer. He felt the heat of her body and wanted to pull her against him. He was about to say something else when he heard a snickering sound from one of the detectives emerging from the building behind him. Releasing his grip on her wrist, he stepped back.
"Is this another murder like the others, Detective Knight?" Kelly asked in a clear voice, changing her expression to one more becoming to a professional. Bringing the mike between them, she started to raise it up to him, paused with a hint of a smile, and lowered it so it was not in his face.
Appreciation flickered in his eyes, and he said, "Yes, Ms. Daye, we do have another homicide, but as I've said before, it is an ongoing investigation and I cannot comment on it. But, when we do have our killer in custody . . . you will be the first to know."
Kelly's mouth opened in surprise. "Does that mean you'll give me an exclusive?" she asked, amazed.
"Why, Ms. Daye . . . it only stands to reason you'd be the first to know . . . after all . . . has there been a crime scene where you weren't the first reporter to arrive?" Sam smiled, watching the dawning of his remark show in her face.
Before she recovered to ask another question, he quickly turned and
walked away, leaving her standing there. The others stepped around her
and proceeded to spread out in different directions to cover the area in
search of witnesses.
Kelly was still staring after Sam when Jay asked her what Sam had said in the whisper.
"He wanted to know how we managed to always be the first to arrive on the scene," she answered, still looking after Sam
"And what did you answer?" Jay asked with a smirk.
Kelly finally turned and looked at him, puzzled.
"Why, I told him the truth . . . we were riding around when we saw the coroner and followed," Kelly answered.
"Hell, Kelly, you could've at least made him think you had ESP," he quipped, as he loaded his equipment in the van.
"From the look on his face a moment ago, I think he's under that impression already!" she laughed.
"Detective!" yelled Officer Tremwell, when he spied Sam coming out of the last building on the block.
So far there were no witnesses in this direction, and Sam hoped the others were having better luck.
"What is it, Tremwell?" he asked, not liking the urgency in the patrolman's face.
"We have another murder. Hop in, I'll take you," Tremwell said, with excitement in his voice.
"Drop me off at my car, then circle back 'til you see one of the others. Give him the location, then get word to the coroner. He should be done here by now . . . how far away is the other one?" Sam asked, getting in the passenger side of the patrol car.
"At an apartment building on Swallow Drive, unit 5-A, on the ground floor. It was called in by the woman's husband when he came home from work," Tremwell answered, losing the excitement now that he wasn't going to go with this famous detective, the one always being interviewed on TV.
"The station said you were at another crime scene. Do you think it was the same person?" he asked.
"Hell, I hope not! I'd hate to deal with two bloody messes in one night," Sam said, grimly getting out of the patrol car and getting into his Porsche parked behind the police station.
Sam had ridden with Charlie to the medical office, but it was quicker picking up his own car in case Charlie was busy interviewing a witness. Swallow Drive was only about six blocks south of the station, so he would be there in a few minutes. In fact, the two homicides were just about eight blocks apart, with the first one north of the station two blocks, Sam mused. Maybe both had been done by the same person.
Officer Hadley was standing outside the unit when Sam arrived. He motioned Sam over and spoke in a low voice.
"The husband came completely unglued at the sight. Hell, I would too. They've been married two weeks. His doctor lives in this same building, and just left with him, after giving him a tranquilizer. He took him to a brother's house in Braxton to get him away from this grisly scene, and to be with someone he knows. The doctor left his card, along with the brother's address, on the counter bar for you if you wanted to talk to him. He said he'd be back in a couple of hours. I made sure the area was secure for the investigation . . . nothings been touched . . . not even the envelope," Hadley said.
"An envelope is there?" Sam asked, dreading to walk into another bloody mess.
Hadley nodded, "It's addressed to you. God, Sam, it's in her hand . . . a hand that's laying detached on the table," Hadley looked away and said, "It reminded me of Nam when someone was blown apart."
Sam braced himself for the sight as he walked into the garden apartment. It looked like it was easily accessible for a killer. The apartment was a corner unit at the end of Swallow Drive. Sam went through the living room to the bedroom. He stood in the doorway and viewed the scene.
This was worse than the other one, the blood splashed on the walls. Not only did he mutilate the body, it was dismembered. The guy must be totally insane. The note was laying in plain sight in the hand on the table. Apparently he didn't want me to miss it, Sam thought, turning away and looking through the other rooms. It was a nice three-bedroom unit, with a fence enclosing the garden area. The fence also blocked the view of the windows, so a person walking on the sidewalk along the street would not be able to look in as they passed. Across Swallow Drive, the High School and Junior High were located, with the school playing field directly across from this unit. It would certainly be a secluded spot at night. Why two in one night? Sam hated the idea that the killer had been waiting for him to get back to commit the crimes. Doing two of them at a time, to make up for the weekend he was out of town. God, I can't take much more of this, Sam thought. Maybe if I resigned from the Department, he would stop the killing.
Sam heard voices and walked out to the front room to meet the other detectives and the coroner's men. Office Hadley had filled them in with the information, so he did not have to go into the explanation. He stepped aside so they could get through to the bedroom and the murder scene. Sam asked Ralph to shoot the area with the envelope first and bring it to him.
The other detectives did not stay long at the scene. Ray was beginning to look sick, and Carl had his mouth set in a grim line of disgust. Charlie was shaking his head, looking down at the floor.
"Did any of you have any luck with witnesses at the other place?" Sam asked, hoping to take their minds off this latest gory mess.
"Not a thing, but the other reporters were beginning to show up when we left. I warned the guard to keep his mouth shut, lock the door and keep everyone out," Charlie said.
Looking at the size of Charlie, Sam could very well believe the man would do just that.
"There's a crowd of tenants gathering out in front of this unit. Hadley's making sure they keep their distance, but I don't think we'll be able to keep such a gruesome murder quiet for long," Carl said, picking up a wedding picture sitting on an end table. It was a full length view of the bride and groom. Both appeared to be in their forties. The dress she wore was ankle-length, in a champagne colored satin, low-cut and form fitting, emphasizing her shapely figure.
"She was pretty . . . sure had a good figure . . . what a shame to come to such an end," Carl said sadly.
"Hadley said they've been married two weeks. Which is after the killing started. Do you suppose the killer had her picked out with the rest of them before she was married?" Ray asked.
"Right . . . we better check on how the husband met her, and how long she's been in town," Sam said, glad that Ray was into sleuthing. At least someone was. The way he felt, he'd rather just walk away from the whole mess. Sam sighed heavily as he saw Ralph coming toward him with the envelope.
As long as he kept getting the notes, there wasn't a chance in hell he'd be able to walk away from this.
Ralph handed Sam a new pair of latex gloves with the note. Slipping the gloves on, Sam calmed himself to keep his hands from trembling. He hated to admit this was getting to him as he opened the envelope and lifted out the note.
The other detectives watched Sam's face as he read the sick poetry and thankful these notes weren't addressed to them.
"He must have known her before the marriage. The way he words it, it sounds as if he knew the type of person she'd been," Ray said, reading over Sam's shoulder.Clue No. 4Catherine Eddowes did incite
Rivalry that led to a fight.
Her endowments were many,
And now there aren't any,
Don't you agree, Officer Knight?
"Yeah, I agree. Especially since her married name is Conners," Carl added.
"Right, and we won't even know if Eddowes was her real name or a phony, until we can check it out," said Charlie.
George came out of the bedroom and said hesitantly, "I think we have a print. Just one finger."
The four detectives looked at him in amazement. This would be the first slip the killer had made.
"I won't know for sure until we get the husband's and doctor's prints, and any other person who had access to the bedroom," George added, watching their faces.
"Where was it?" Sam asked.
"Well, none of you had walked into the room, but there's a spot on the other side of the room . . . by the table where we found the note. The only way you can get back to this side of the room to reach the door and avoid the blood soaked carpet is to take an awkward step around it. I was the only one on that side of the room, and I had to balance myself by touching the frame of the closet door. And that's where we found the print, just above where I had touched it. That was the only print in that area, besides mine. It's not in a spot a person would normally touch when opening the closet door, and these walls have been freshly painted. I imagine it was done just before they moved into the unit."
"They probably rented the place within the two weeks since their marriage. We'll talk to the apartment manager," Charlie said.
"Carl, why don't you and Ray go on home and get some sleep. You'll have to be back on duty in the morning. Charlie and I will interview as many witnesses as we can find, and the two of you can pick up tomorrow where we leave off," Sam said.
"Yeah . . . it's been a long night. Or maybe I should say nightmare. It'll be hard sleeping after witnessing so much gore," Carl said, running his hand across his eyes as if to block out the sight they still held imprinted.
Carl and Ray left; then George and his men packed up and left the unit.
"I guess I better find the manager," Charlie said, after a moment of silence.
"Right. I'll question the tenants, then," Sam agreed.
Sam went through the gate of the fenced-in garden and stepped out onto the sidewalk of Swallow Drive. He spotted the Channel 12 van parked across the street. Sam glanced quickly in both directions before seeing Kelly standing by the wooden pillar that held the apartment sign. She was speaking into her mike while the cameraman filmed the report.
Folding his arms, he watched her thoughtfully. This deja vu has gone too far. Her source . . . or her news-boss Blaney's source, whichever it is, has too much inside information. And only when it involves me and where I am these past two months. The others on the force aren't bothered and she is rarely at their crime scenes, or not the first to show at any rate. I doubt if I've ever run across this Blaney, so why would he send her to my investigations?
Kelly had just lowered her mike and was speaking to Jay while he
checked his video camera. Before she turned in his direction, Sam ducked
around the corner to the walkway that circled the building, and proceeded
with the task of locating any tenant who might have witnessed the crime.
These were the times he cursed the department for being so short-handed
* * * *
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