October 11th

The identification of the fingerprint was successful, and the four detectives had received copies of the suspect's identity. Carl and Ray had spent the day canvassing the hotels and bars, showing the picture of the suspect, without results.

Sam leaned back in his chair and studied the report. The person was identified as Oliver Galensky, a white male, age 43, hair originally blond now gray, brown eyes, medium height, weight 210. Convicted of child pornography in Ohio seven years ago. Suspected of abduction and murder of at least four children, but no evidence linking him to the murders. He had served time in a correctional facility located in Ohio. Out on Parole last year. Had not reported to parole officer, and no current address on file. His driver's license had been revoked for D.U.I. charges two years before his arrest and sentencing. No new license issued. No doubt he's using a false name and phony license by this time, Sam thought. Probably from the same place he obtained the I.D.'s for the two victims.

There were no recent photos of Galensky. The picture attached, taken at the time of arrest when he was thirty-six, was of a belligerent man staring into the camera, with squinting, puffy eyes. He had a round face with an average nose, heavy jowls, and lips pursed in a pout. A clipping was also attached of the newspaper report of his arrest. That picture was in front of a courthouse. A full-length shot of a heavyset man wearing handcuffs, being escorted by police. He had a startled look on his face as if taken by surprise by the camera, and wore horned-rimmed glasses.

Galensky was a professional photographer in a small suburban town outside of Cincinnati, and contracted by the local high school to photograph the graduating seniors for the school yearbook.

Apparently a high school student had accidentally discovered the pornographic photos of children in the back room of the photographer's studio, and reported it to school officials.

Sam flipped the pages back, and reread the newspaper article. Reaching to the stack of files on his desk, he pulled out the file on the Stride/Strudder victim, and read the information on her background. With a loud whoop Sam laid down the file, and grinned over at Charlie. Charlie raised his head from his copy of the report and stared at Sam with a quizzical look.

"Charlie, we have a connection with our man and one of the victims. Ms. Strudder, our third victim, was the prosecuting attorney at his trial," Sam said, still grinning with the elation he felt.

"No shit!" Charlie exclaimed. He walked over and leaned down, tilting his head to look at the file open on the corner of Sam's desk, while Sam was busily pulling open another one.

"What did you find out when you talked to the husband of our last victim?" Sam asked.

"He said he met her at the hotel where he worked as assistant manager. She was a guest at the hotel, and it was love at first sight. The reason she was here was that she had a message to meet an agent for an interview. Conners said she was a fashion model, and this agent had sent her the plane ticket and hotel reservation all paid in advance. He doesn't remember the agent's name or if he showed up for the interview, because he was too smitten to think of anything except marrying her. Conners took three days off from work and they flew to Tahoe for a quickie marriage and honeymoon. Then he rented that apartment on Swallow Drive. Before that, he was living with a roommate in Braxton. I interviewed the roommate, and he said he had never met the woman, and was surprised at how fast it all happened. He said Frank Conners was never the impulsive type, so this gal must have really been something," Charlie said.

"According to the report she was a showgirl at a casino in Las Vegas, not a fashion model. Pretty lucky to still be doing that type of work at her age," Sam said wryly.

"Maybe she had a little plastic surgery. She sure was in good shape in that wedding picture. Too bad Conners didn't take her on a longer honeymoon. She might still be alive now," Charlie said.

"Yeah . . . that must have thrown the killer for a loop . . . having his plans messed up because she fell in love and married when he had her all nicely tucked away at the hotel," Sam said, closing the file and picking up another.

"Did you get anything else on that first one?" Charlie asked looking at the name on the file Sam had picked up.

"No . . . but wait a minute . . . what's that address again on our suspect? Didn't he live in Kentucky?" Sam asked, as Charlie picked up the copy of the I.D. report.

"Covington, Kentucky, it says here. I thought he was from Ohio," Charlie mused, reading the report.

"Covington is across the Ohio River, but his photography studio was in Ohio. It's only a short drive over the bridge to where he worked. But look here," Sam said, holding the other file up. "That's where victim number one lived before moving to L.A......Covington......same apartment building . . . same unit number. They were roommates!" Sam said triumphantly.

"I'll be damned," Charlie murmured, looking at the file.

"By God . . . I think we're finally getting somewhere," Sam said, pulling a clean sheet of yellow-lined paper in front of him. "Victim one was an alias name and yet a connection to him. Victim three was an alias name and another connection to him. Victims two and four were real names and both were from Nevada."

"What are you saying? He had a fascination with the Ripper and when he accidentally came across two women in Nevada who had identical names to Ripper's victims, he developed an elaborate scheme to do away with two other women he didn't like? He'd have to be one sick sonofabitch to go to all that trouble. Slaughter two innocent women to get at the other ones!" Charlie said, shaking his head in disgust.

"Got a better idea? Or maybe as Ray suggested, he found their names out of the many on the Internet, and since they were both in Nevada chose those two," Sam said, picking up the phone and dialing. "I'm going to get the Captain in for a powwow . . . see what he thinks."

Looking at his watch, Charlie grunted, "I can tell you what he'll think! At this hour he's not going to think kind thoughts about your waking him."

The Captain sat at his desk, reading the files while the others refilled their coffee cups and settled back into the chairs in his office. Ray stifled a yawn and rubbed his eyes.

"Hell, Charlie, you could've at least waited another two hours before you woke us up," Carl grumbled.

"I asked him to call you. Thought you two should be here, so when you start in the morning we won't have to repeat all this again," the Captain answered. "You can sleep after we catch this guy."

"The trouble is . . . no one has seen this guy in town," Ray said, exasperated. "We've spent the whole day yesterday, along with the patrolmen, showing his picture around. I can't see how he could come and go in this place so many times and not one person remembers seeing him."

All nodded in agreement to that statement.

"I faxed the info to Reno and Las Vegas Police to see what they had . . . if anything," Sam remarked.

"Yeah . . . ditto with Braxton Police," Charlie said.

"Our local newspaper will be running the picture with a hotline number starting tomorrow, as are the surrounding area papers," Carl said.

"Right. I doubt if anyone would recognize him, though. These pictures are seven years old, and neither picture is any good for identification purposes. Especially that arrest photo . . . if the guy would smile, it would change his appearance drastically. He could walk right by me and I wouldn't even know him," Ray said, studying the picture again.

"I bet the hotline will be flooded with crank calls," Charlie commented.

"Well, crank calls or not, we have to check them all out. At least we have a connection between the women and this suspect. So we can now assume the suspect is our killer. Now we have to discover why he picked our town for his dirty work," the Captain commented.

"Don't forget we still have the fifth victim to go," Ray remarked.

"Right. The young one that doesn't fit the pattern of the others victims that were all in their forties," the Captain said, leaning back in his chair.

"That's what I can't understand," Sam said. "Are we sure this was a victim of the Ripper's? She just doesn't fit the profile, and the original Ripper waited such a long time after the others to do that last one."

"I don't think we should take any chances by trying to outguess this guy. We'll have to follow up on any leads we get, and hope we find him before November 9th, just in case the fifth one is a potential victim," the Captain said, bringing his chair into an upright position. He scrutinized each of his men intently, noticing their tired and weary appearance.

"I guess that's enough for now. Good work, men . . . and sorry . . . sorry that the chief isn't in town to help, or give us his input . . . sorry we're so understaffed and can't hire anyone, or upgrade our outdated technology. It may have made a difference in this case . . . but we'll never know, I guess. And most of all . . . sorry you men are being overworked. I hope to hell I'll be able to make it up to you one of these days."

With a few awkward murmurs of gratitude for his words, the detectives rose and left the office. Ray and Carl made a hasty departure to catch another hour's sleep before reporting back on duty. Charlie and Sam headed for the coffee machine to refill their cups. After another glance through the files, the Captain set them aside, announced he would be back in after a meeting with the Mayor at ten, and made his departure.

In the quiet office, the two men settled back at their desks to give this new development more thought.

"What do you think, Sam? Think he lives here in Quainte?" Charlie asked, sitting back and propping his feet up on the desk while he sipped his coffee.

"Beats me. If he did, why bring all this death to his own doorstep? You'd think he would pick a place further away from where he lives . . . even a thief knows not to steal in his own neighborhood," Sam answered, as he doodled on an old telephone memo.

"Yeah, the killings have only been on weekends. That would more or less point to someone who comes into town when we have a crowd. He wouldn't be as noticeable as someone here all the time or during the slow week days," Charlie said thoughtfully, looking at the area map on the wall beside the bulletin board.

"All right, suppose he does come on the weekends. We've checked the hotels, motels and rental agencies. No one had identified him from those pictures . . . but then, the pictures aren't that good. How about that camp ground outside of Braxton?" Sam said, pointing with his pen at the map. "Maybe he parks out there when he comes up for the weekends. He could have a camper or something like that."

"Yeah . . . it's a thought. I'll make a note for Carl and Ray to check with the manager out there when they come in," Charlie said, pulling a note pad in front of him and glancing at his watch. "Speaking of coming in . . . they should be here any time now. God, what a long night this has been!"

Sam pulled the Porsche into the public parking area along the beach. The area was empty except for a few cars, belonging to early morning joggers and swimmers still brave enough to get out, even though the weather turned chilly after the recent, unpredictable heat wave they've had this late in the year.

Taking off his shoes and socks, and locking up the car, Sam strolled across the beach to the water's edge and walked along the hard, wet sand. His eyes burned and he was tired. What he should do is go home and get some sleep, but too much had happened. He wanted to clear his head, and organize in his mind, all that had developed the last few weeks.

The biggest breakthrough was knowing who the killer was, and the reason for at least two of the killings. What he needed to find out was why the killer picked him to receive the notes. He did not have anything to do with this person from Ohio. He hadn't arrested him in the past. If he had, his previous record would have shown up through fingerprints and background checks.

Could this person have been acquainted with Melanie? She knew enough men, he thought wryly, as he kicked at the sand. Thinking of that, his mind flitted over that time with Linsley at that party, and he wondered if Melanie had seen him after that, and if they'd had an affair. He wouldn't put it past her . . . or Linsley, especially from the triumphant look Linsley gave him whenever they came in contact.

Then his thoughts turned to the taped segment of Linsley smiling at Kelly in that interview. A rush of angry heat went through him when he thought of that jackass asking Kelly for a date. He knew Linsley must have, or would eventually. How could anyone resist the temptation of dating Kelly? Would Kelly accept an invitation from Linsley? His stomach knotted, envisioning her in Linsley's embrace.

"Hell! How did I get off the track of solving a murder? Might as well go home and sleep," Sam muttered in disgust. He turned around and started back toward the parking lot. Walking along the water's edge, he watched the sailboats and fishing boats heading out to open waters.

Closer into shore, his eyes spotted a swimmer coming into the shallow surf and rising up in a standing position, the foamy waves breaking around her knees. Sam stopped and watched Kelly wade to the beach, pushing the wet hair away from her face. She had on a one-piece suit of shimmering silver and green, cut high on the thighs. The colors in the suit and the water breaking around her gave her the look of a mermaid. Sam stared in disbelief, feeling as if he had conjured her up just by thinking about her.

Kelly bent over and leaned her head to the side while she squeezed the water out of her hair, then tossed it back over her shoulder. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a man standing on the beach watching her. She looked over and saw the detective. Her heart skipped a beat at the sight of him. He had on faded blue denims and a tan jersey with the top buttons undone. No matter what he wore, he looked like a walking ad for a man's magazine, she thought.

Kelly waved and started across the sand toward him. After bringing himself around from staring at her like an idiot, Sam met her half way.

"Just getting off work, Detective?" Kelly asked with a smile.

"Yeah . . . another day another dollar, as the saying goes," he answered. "Do you swim every morning?"

"When I get the chance. I like to come early before the crowds. You ought to join me sometime," Kelly suggested boldly.

"I might at that . . . sometime," he answered with a smile, watching the water trickle down from her hair, along her cheek, her throat and merge with the wet suit. "Lately, I haven't had much time for leisure activities."

"I guess not. You must be going mad trying to find the person responsible. Still no leads?" Kelly asked, beginning to feel a little uncomfortable standing by him in the wet bathing suit. She wanted to cross her arms in front of her, knowing how the suit was clinging to her shape.

"As a matter of fact, we do have a suspect. His picture will be in today's newspapers throughout the county. We're hoping someone will recognize him and call us," Sam answered, looking out at the sailboats. He was having a hard time keeping his eyes off of Kelly's shape.

"Really? Did this just happen? I didn't hear anything about it!" Kelly said excited, forgetting about her discomfort.

"Yes, we received the identification on a fingerprint we found at the last victim's on Swallow Drive. The pictures faxed to us have been sent to the papers for printing."

"So they get the story first. I thought you promised I would have it, Detective?" she admonished, glaring at Sam.

"And so you would have . . . but I was not on duty at the time. The Captain had given the papers the story hoping that the pictures would generate some action. I doubt if the Captain would have called your boss . . . considering the raking over the coals he received from him about my little altercation with you," Sam said wryly.

"Oh! I had forgotten about that. You're right, Blaney would have been the last person on earth your Captain would have called for a story," Kelly said chagrined. "Well, if Blaney says anything to me about it, I'll remind him that he brought it on himself by starting all that fuss over nothing! Besides it was his fault that little scene was shown on the news . . . he could have had that cut."

Seeing a towel lying in a heap with a terry-cloth jacket and shorts, a few yards away, Sam started toward it.

"Is this yours?" he asked, picking up the towel and bringing it back to her. Kelly nodded, beginning to feel the morning chill against her wet skin, and folded her arms.

Sam wrapped the towel around her and lightly rubbed her shoulders with the soft absorbent cotton. Then his hands stopped as he looked into her blue eyes. All he had to do was lean a little closer, and . . .

The squeal and laughter of children reached them, and he dropped his hands, taking a step back.

"You better go home and get something warm on before you catch cold," Sam said huskily.

"Yes . . . I think I'd better. See you around, Detective," Kelly said. She picked up the terry cloth outfit and headed off across the sand toward the beach-shower near the walkway.

Sam stood there with his hands in his back pockets watching her, as she passed four kids running toward the water. Good thing he had heard those kids, or else he might have done something he would probably have regretted later. Nothing is worse than a detective getting involved with a reporter. Especially when he is working on a case involving a serial killer.

"Damn! Why does she have to be a reporter?" Sam muttered as he headed for his car.

Kelly put her purse and briefcase down on her desk, and picked up the telephone messages. The little partitioned area was her office at the newsroom. Not very private but at least it was her own space away from the rest. Right now she just wanted to be alone and think about what might have happened if those kids hadn't come along. No man had ever affected her the way Detective Knight did when he was so near. Not even Rodney Daye, her ex. Sometimes she wondered why she had ever married him, especially when she compared him with the ruggedly good-looking detective. Next to him, Rodney was such a wimp.

"Did you see this?" Blaney barked, throwing the paper on her desk.

Kelly turned her head slightly to glance at him, and looked back at the paper. She noticed Jay was with him, leaning against the edge of the partition, with his normal smirk in place.

The headlines were large with 'Killer Identified!' written across the top. Two pictures and a story below them, about a man released from prison on parole in the Midwest coming to Quainte to murder and slaughter four women. It went on in a lengthy editorial to stress the point that legislation should be passed to prevent the releasing of prisoners on parole. It gave his name as Oliver Galensky, but police suspected he would be using an alias. There was a hotline telephone number for call-ins.

Kelly studied the two pictures. They weren't very good. The man looked menacing in one, and in the other like a startled rabbit. The name was vaguely familiar to her, but if he had been arrested and imprisoned, she had probably read about him somewhere. She slowly laid the paper back down, and calmly turned to face the belligerent Tim Blaney.

"I've seen it now. Nice story . . . bad pictures," Kelly answered coldly.

"Maybe you would like to tell me why we don't have the story?" Blaney sneered.

"My best educated guess would be that Captain Brodersen of Quainte's Police Department did not feel obligated to call you. No doubt he was remembering your previous encounter with him regarding Detective Knight," Kelly answered sweetly, with a smile.

Jay chuckled and Blaney shot him a cold look. He turned back to Kelly to say something, closed his mouth tightly and stomped off.

"Nice comeback, kiddo," Jay said, "So you think they're bad pictures, huh? I agree. I could have taken a better one than that, or at least developed a good copy. Those newspaper guys just don't have the right touch when it comes to photography. Does the guy look familiar? You sure were studying the pics."

"How could anyone that looks like that look familiar? They would have been better off just publishing a description. Can you imagine all the crank calls they're going to get?" Kelly said, shaking her head as she looked at the pictures again.

"Maybe it's just as well we didn't do the story. We would be getting the calls! Or I should say you would be getting them," Jay laughed, as he walked away.

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