"Where the hell's Ray?" Captain Brodersen growled. He was having dinner with the mayor at the Country Club by the new golf course when he got the call to come for an emergency meeting about a new lead in the investigation.
Carl flinched. "He's on his way. He was making copies at the library," he answered.
"WHAT? He calls an emergency meeting and he's at the library!" the Captain said in disbelief.
Sam and Charlie lounged in their chairs sipping coffee while the Captain pinned Carl with a glare. Sam didn't care if Ray was late, it gave them time to take a break, after the nonstop schedule they'd been keeping. He had just returned from interviewing Cynthia Carter, the real estate agent who handled the lease on the medical office where the third victim was found. Talking to her was like talking to a nonstop motorized robot. Whatever he said, she would talk around it, and launch into how she could be next since she was the same age as the victims, then started on the commission she would be losing on that rental, and who could she sue to make up for it.
The only thing he learned was that she had left the key with the receptionist at the office adjacent to the vacant one. He left Charlie to interview the receptionist, and it turned out she was a flaky nineteen-year-old who handed the key out to anyone, not paying any particular attention to the person asking for it or when it was returned. She couldn't even remember if she had given the key to anyone the day of the murder. Which left them back at square one.
So far, their efforts had been useless, no witnesses, no new evidence has turned up, and thankfully no more bodies either. George was still waiting for the report on the fingerprint. The husband had been of little help to them, still in a state of shock. The poor devil had really been in love with her. They still hadn't found out how the couple met, or how long he had known her before the marriage.
The only thing they did confirm was that Catherine Eddowes was her name before she married Frank Conners and she was forty-three. The third victim was not Elizabeth Stride but in fact Carol Strudder, age forty-five, a lawyer from Ohio. The I.D. in the name of Stride, found with the body, was the same type of phony state I.D. as the first victim.
"I really don't know why he called for the meeting, Captain. He just sounded excited, like he really hit a breakthrough in the case . . . except I don't know when it could've happened, since I've been with him while we looked for witnesses," Carl said, while he silently fumed. He was gonna have Ray's ass if this was a fluke. He was always talking about motives and shit, driving him nuts with his theories. He should lay off reading those mystery novels.
The door opened and Ray came in with a big grin, carrying a stack of papers in his arms. He looked like a school kid who had just discovered sex.
"This better be good," growled the Captain before Ray had cleared the doorway.
Ray ignored the remark. Putting the papers on a side table, he turned and faced the others. Looking like a professor addressing his students for a lecture, he said. "I have solved the mystery of the clues."
"What the hell are you talking about? Is that all? You got another theory?" Carl exclaimed.
"Not a theory . . . proof!" He picked up the papers and passed them out to the others.
"Jack the Ripper? What are you tryin' to pull, Caylen? We know he's calling himself that!" the Captain said irritably.
"Not just calling himself that . . . but the victims too! Look at that sheet of the Ripper's victims back in 1888. Look at the names and the AGES of each. They're the same as our victims, not just women in their forties, but exactly the same age. Look at the DATES of their deaths. Look at the CAUSE of the deaths. It all matches . . . names, dates . . . and cause. Right down to the fact that Nicholls and Chapman's deaths were instant from the cut throat, while Stride and Eddowes bled to death," Ray said with a smug look, as he watched the men read the information he had copied from the library.
"I'll be damned," the Captain said softly.
"This means he wasn't waiting for me to come back. He had already planned the dates. The last two were on the same day back then. September 30th, 1888," Sam said feeling a weight lift from his soul. He couldn't stand the burden that he might have been the cause of the last two dying on the same day.
"Because of the phony I.D. being used on the first victim, and since she was a prostitute, we would expect an alias instead of her actual name. Then the second victim's name was real. There wasn't any reason to look into the use of the names," Charlie said, trying to justify the oversight.
"And that's odd too," said Ray, "because he could have picked actual persons by the name of Nicholls and Stride as he did the other two. I checked the telephone books at the library, and the Internet directories. The Internet gives you a list of names, addresses, and phone numbers throughout the U.S. in a matter of seconds. There are plenty of them listed. Maybe he didn't have time to find any the correct age or was unable to get them to our town at the right time."
"You think that's how he found them? On the Internet?" asked Charlie in amazement. To him, computers and the Internet were too perplexing, and he used the one at the station with great reluctance.
"You surprise me, Sherlock. Your sleuthing paid off," Carl said, smiling now. It looked like his partner had come through after all.
"I doubt if there's any of us not familiar with Jack the Ripper's M.O.. It's been copied enough," said the Captain, leaning back in his chair. "Even this killer said he was going to copy him, but this is the first time that I know of that a copycat bothered rounding up women with the same name, same age, bring them all to the same town, for Christ sake, and kill them on the same date as the original Jack. What's the purpose? Why our town? How did he know he'd have an opportunity on that particular date for each victim?"
"And why in the Hell would he send me the notes!" Sam exclaimed. Still, upset over the fact that the killer had picked him out of four detectives and a captain.
"There is one more victim to go before the original Jack stopped," Ray said grimly, as the others fell into a silent contemplation.
"It says here, Mary Kelly, attractive, blue eyes, age twenty-five, murdered November 9th," Carl said reading from his copy.
"Does this mean we'll have until November 9th to find him?" Charlie asked.
"It mentions there were others during that time in 1888 that they discarded as not being Jack's victims. Maybe this Jack will add some more to his list. The second note did say . . . from the list of so many," Carl suggested.
"Well, whoever or whenever is the next one, we still need to find him fast," the Captain said.
"We ought to find this Mary Kelly. Maybe she's already registered here even though her time isn't 'til next month. Shit, that's exactly a month from today!" Sam said.
"The bastard did give us the clues, too bad it took this long to figure it out," the Captain said. He looked at Ray and smiled, "Thanks, I owe you, Ray. You might have saved us on this investigation. Especially if November 9th came and went and some asshole reporter discovered our mistake."
The Captain took his copy of the Ripper information, shuffled the papers together put them in a file, and looked at each one of his detectives.
"Okay, all of you get busy, and continue checking for people who knew the victims." Glancing at his watch, he continued, "Carl and Ray, work another hour checking the area around where the first and third victims were found. They were just about a block apart. He must have had a reason to pick that area for two of them. Then go home, get some rest for tomorrow.
"Charlie, contact the husband of the last one, and get his story . . . he's had nine days to get over his shock. Then check the area by his apartment again.
"Sam, get George to put a rush on the I.D. of that print. We need to know if it really is the killer's or just some maintenance man working in their unit. Then go back to the beach cottage where the second one was found.
"It looks as if we only have about four weeks. He may have used the same names in the clues, but two were real and two were phony. What will the last one be? She could be any girl the same age as this Mary Kelly and that covers a lot of territory in a resort town like this. Every weekend there must be at least a hundred blue-eyed blonds hanging around the pools of those two big hotels, not counting the ones on the beach, with this great weather we've been having lately."
The men nodded silently, thinking of the prospects of trying to track that one down. A woman in her forties like the rest would have been easier. They got up and left the office, each in their own thoughts.
Charlie sat down at his desk, reading the Ripper information again. He looked over at Ray as he and Carl were getting ready to leave on their search of the areas.
"Hey, Ray! What's all this bull crap about Queen Victoria's grandson in this thing?" Charlie asked.
"That's true stuff, Charlie. Queen Victoria's grandson, the Duke of Clarence, was one of the prime suspects. He never had an alibi for the night of the murders except one, when he said he was in Scotland hunting. The Queen even insisted on being informed how the investigation was going. The case was always considered an open file after the last victim, until 1892 when the police officially closed the file still unsolved. It was in 1892 the Duke of Clarence had died. If he hadn't died at that time, he would have eventually been King of England, for he was the first son of King Edward and next in line."
"Hell, it must have been tough in those days, trying to investigate a bunch of gruesome murders, when you had to worry about involving the Royal Family!" Charlie said, shaking his head.
"Yeah, at least we don't have to worry about our killer being a famous person . . . at least I hope not!" Carl answered, following a chuckling Ray out the door.
Sam called George regarding the print, then headed for the parking lot. He took a deep breath of salt air blowing in from the ocean on an evening breeze. To discover the last two murders had nothing to do with his returning to town . . . how good that felt! Now, if I could only discover why I've been singled out by the killer for the notes, Sam thought, as he settled in the Porsche, and drove to Beach Drive and the cottage of the second victim.
After circling a four-block area, Sam climbed back in his car and headed down Coconut Drive to the restaurant on Park Road to show the employees Annie Chapman's I.D. photo he obtained from the Reno Police. Halfway down Coconut, Sam saw a familiar figure get out of a red Nissan Sentra and stroll up the walk to the house a few yards ahead on the right. Impulsively, Sam tapped his horn, and pulled over to the curb by the walkway.
Kelly turned, and seeing the blue Porsche, walked back to the curb. Sam got out, walked around his car, then leaned against it with his arms folded, appreciating how good she looked, as his eyes skimmed the two-piece suit the color of lime sherbet with a lace top peeping through the neckline, her tanned legs and the creme-colored high-heeled shoes. She had a matching purse tucked under her arm and carried a briefcase.
"Just in the neighborhood again, Detective Knight? Or are you here to give me an exclusive?" Kelly asked, smiling. She was elated to see him, but hoped it didn't show.
Sam smiled and shook his head. "Just working, Ms. Daye, canvassing the area." With a nod at the house, he asked, "Yours?"
"Yes . . . all mine, and the best part of it is, the value keeps going up. Can't beat that for an investment," she answered.
"The best kind, especially in this town. Had it long?" Sam asked.
"No, only six months, but my equity has doubled in that short time . . . can you believe it?" Kelly asked, still amazed at her good fortune at finding this place.
"Well, I'm not surprised . . . but I'm not too happy to see this rapid growth. I liked the town the way it used to be . . . before those two large resorts moved into it," he said wryly.
"Yes, I imagine that does make a difference to you. I mean, at your job . . . more crime comes with growth," Kelly answered. She looked at him bemused. "What are you canvassing for . . . something to do with the murders?"
Sam stared at her a moment, then looked around, before saying, "Are you asking out of curiosity or is that damn cameraman hiding behind a bush waiting to film our conversation?"
Kelly laughed. Sam liked the sound, and wished he could hear more of it.
"You might say professional curiosity, and no . . . the cameraman has gone home, I believe," she said.
"In that case, yes, it does have to do with the murders, or rather right now it has to do with victim number two. The one killed in the cottage on the corner of Beach Drive and Crestview. I've been canvassing the neighborhood with her photo, looking for witnesses. I was just on my way to the restaurant on Park to check with them, when I spotted you," Sam said. His eyes drifted over the length of her before returning to her blue eyes. He liked the shade of blue, and how expressive they were. Realizing he was staring, he looked away, then noticed a man watching from the neighboring yard. When Sam looked in that direction, the man turned and made a pretense of checking the rose bush.
"Who is that?" Sam asked, nodding toward the man.
Kelly looked over her shoulder, then back at Sam, making an exasperated face. In a low voice Kelly said he was her neighbor. She explained that when she had moved in he had come over to introduce himself in a neighborly manner, but since then he'd just been an obnoxious man who would happen to be out in his yard whenever she stepped out her door and would try to engage her in conversation.
Looking back at him, Sam noticed he was a well built man in his forties, with a nervous look about him as he kept glancing in their direction. Sam felt a jolt of anger. For some unexplained reason, he didn't like him. He thought of the many times Kelly must have paraded past that guy in her jogging shorts, her tank top clinging to her with perspiration.
"He looks like the nervous type," Sam said, staring pointedly at him.
"I imagine he thinks you're going to pick me up and set me aside again, like the time when you threw my mike on the back seat of your car. He said you're not very nice to me," she chuckled.
Sam looked back at Kelly, and was relieved to see that she was teasing him about that.
"If he gives you any trouble, call me," he said firmly.
"Oh . . . thanks, but it's okay, I'm sure he means well. It's just that sometimes it gets a little irritating . . . like when Blaney let that shot of me in my yellow dress with the sun . . . I guess you were out of town then, but it certainly caused a stir from the viewers! I got a lot of calls the next day. Some nice and some not so nice." A sudden frown crossed her face as she thought of the yellow rose and poem in the mailbox. Shaking off that thought, she smiled, "At least I know someone is watching the show."
Sam glanced away, feeling a little chagrined. He didn't want Kelly to know that he had seen it, in fact had recorded it, and still replayed that segment.
"Well, anyway, if he does give you any trouble . . . any at all . . . call me," Sam said, taking one of his cards and a pen out of his pocket. He wrote on the back and handed it to her.
"That's my home phone on the back. I mean it, call me, and keep your doors and windows locked. There's been too many break-ins and assaults lately, . . . not to mention our serial killer. And do your jogging in a crowded area where there are others around."
"Are you trying to scare me, Detective?" she teased.
"Maybe, if it helps you to be a little cautious," Sam answered seriously. His green eyes shifted to her glossy coral lipstick that made her lips look wet, as if she had just run her tongue over them. He glanced back at her eyes. She was watching him intently.
Kelly was beguiled by the way he was looking at her, with such concern. She wanted to step closer and slide her hands around his back, and feel safe in his arms. Lately she had become jittery thinking a stalker was watching her. And all these murders, wondering who would be next. When she came home late at night, she would sit in her car looking around first before unlocking the car door. There were so many shade trees on the block and in the yard, casting shadows from the corner street light.
A loud blast from a car horn caused Kelly to let out a startled "Oh!" and grab Sam's arm.
Sam whipped around and saw the Channel 12 van pull parallel to his car.
"C'mon Kelly! Got a call," Jay said, waving her over.
Kelly nodded, then looked back at Sam. Smiling, she indicated the card in her hand. "Thanks for the number . . . and the concern, Detective."
Sam watched her cross the street and get in the van, then looked at Jay, who was giving him the usual smirk.
"See ya in awhile, Detective," he called.
Sam scowled as the van sped away. He opened his car door as his cellular
phone went off. He got in before answering it. It was Ben. There had been
a shooting at the shopping center on the corner of Park and Oceanview Drive.
Pulling into the center's parking lot a few minutes later, Sam spied Kelly, already interviewing a witness.
"Goddamn her!" he swore. Not her, he corrected himself, but him . . . that cameraman. He's the one that had the information before Ben's call. Ben had said it was just called in from a store manager at the Shopping Center. A man was shot and killed in an attempted robbery in the parking lot. He said the patrolmen were on their way, so that meant the cameraman must have picked it up on a scanner. It wasn't unusual for reporters to scam police calls, but Sam was irritated because he had been talking to Kelly, and the cameraman knew that Sam had not yet received the call.
"No doubt that's why the bastard was smirking," Sam grumbled, as
he walked over to the patrolman guarding the crime scene.
* * * *
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