Authors: Ann Mullen
“What did you do?”
“I hit the ground.”
I looked back down at the camcorder. “Yep, I see it all now.
Hey… where did you go?” The scene of the shootout was now playing out on
screen. After a few minutes, I turned off the camcorder, and said, “Scary. That
“It always is.”
Billy pulled up to the entrance of
’s driveway. The wrought iron gates
“That’s strange,” I said, looking at Billy. “We didn’t even
have to push the call button.”
“Considering what’s going on, I’m sure
has probably been standing at her
window waiting for us to arrive.”
His response triggered a question. “How could someone dump a
body in her garage if the gate was closed? Doesn’t it automatically lock when
it closes? They’d have to have the code.”
“Good question. I’d like to know the answer to that.”
Billy pulled up to the garage just about the time
came running out the back door. She
was covered in blood.
“Oh, my God!” I screeched. “Look at her! She’s all bloody.
How did she get covered in blood? I don’t think this is just a case of a body
being dumped. There’s more going on here.”
We jumped out of the truck and hurried to
. She was still in a fit. She looked
“What happened?” Billy asked. “Are you hurt?”
“Whose blood is that?” I asked, confused and concerned. “Is
“Some… of it… is,”
managed to say in between her sobs.
Billy and I stared at each other for a second, and then
looked back at her as he said, “Maybe we should go inside before we have a look
at the body,” Billy said. “This isn’t just a body dump, is it? You’ve been
attacked. You need to tell us what happened here.”
“It gets worse,”
added. “There’s blood everywhere!”
I reached over and put my hand on
’s back, hoping there wasn’t any
blood there. “Let’s have a look,” I said as soothing as I could muster. “Tell
us everything, and start from the beginning. Don’t leave anything out.”
The three of us walked inside. To our horror, she wasn’t
stretching the truth. Bloody handprints were smeared on the wall and droplets
of blood could be seen on the floor. The place looked like a scene from a crime
show on television.
house was a typical mountain home very much like Mom’s. It was big, but not
oversized, and normally it was immaculate. But not now. Now, it was a wreck.
Furniture was askew, lamps were knocked over, and broken glass littered the
,” I said, trying not to overreact
and upset her more than she already was. “How awful! This must have been
horrifying for you. I’m so sorry.”
“Let me look at you,” Billy said as he motioned to her,
sizing up the situation. “Is that your blood on you, or is it someone else’s?”
held out her hands and unfurled her
fingers, blood ran from them and dripped on the flood. Small, but continuous
drops were seeping from her wounds, and the flow didn’t seem to want to let up.
“Defensive wounds,” Billy stated. “Someone attacked you with
a knife, and you fought back.”
“This is the worst of my injuries,” she cried. “Other than
the one on my leg. I have a decent cut there.”
Billy immediately went to the counter drawer, pulled out a
couple of dishrags, and then came back and wrapped both of
I looked down and saw her ripped jeans. A huge bloody patch
the size of a saucer had soaked through her pants. I bent down and pulled apart
the torn opening and examined the injury to her thigh. “You’re going to need
stitches,” I said, and then looked up at Billy. “We need more dishrags. She’s
got a nasty little cut on her leg.”
He grabbed another one, handed it to me, and then I wrapped
it around her leg. I tied it as tight as I could, but, hopefully, not enough to
cut off circulation.
was a small woman. It wouldn’t take
much pressure to do that.
“Come over here and sit down at the kitchen table,” Billy
said, escorting her as he spoke. “I know this must be difficult for you, but
you have to tell us everything.” The two of them sat down at the table. Billy
reached over and put his hand on top of hers and continued. “Then we have to
call the police and the rescue squad. You’re going to have to go to the
“No! We can’t call the cops! They’ll put me in jail! I don’t
want to go to jail. It wasn’t my fault!”
I walked over to her and said, “Of course, it wasn’t your
, but we have to call the sheriff.
You have a body in your garage.” I thought for a second, and then asked, “How
did the body get there?”
She didn’t say anything.
Billy got up and walked over to the kitchen sink. He pulled
out a bottle of whisky from underneath the counter, grabbed a glass out of the
top cabinet, and then filled it with the liquid. He walked back over to
and handed the glass to her.
“Here, take a big drink.” He sat the bottle down on the
table. “I have a feeling you’re going to need it before this is over. It looks
She did as he said without balking at his demand. She wasn’t
much of a drinker, but you’d never know it by the way she downed the alcohol.
She held the empty glass back up to Billy and said, “I’m going to need another
one of these, please.”
Billy poured a little more in the glass.
guzzled the liquid.
I’d never seen her drink like that before, but that was then,
and this is now. She’d probably need a lot more to recover from this mess.
Under the circumstances, if it had been me, I would be demanding much more.
We gave her a few minutes to try to calm down, and then Billy
proceeded with his questions. “What happened,
? Who’s in your garage? I’m not here to judge. I’m here to
help. So tell me everything… and start at the beginning.”
She sighed, and then began her tale of horror. “I went out
shopping today, and when I got home…” She started crying again.
,” Billy said in a soft tone. “Try to
calm down. Take a deep breath.”
She took a deep breath.
Watching him try to comfort her warmed my heart. No wonder I
love this man so much, I thought to myself. He’s so kind and understanding. He
was raised well. My mind drifted for a minute. I thought about the other
members of his family. They were all just like him. Poor
was covered in blood, had just gone
through what must have been the worst moment in her life, and all I could think
about was what a wonderful family I had. I guess maybe my mind had wandered off
to something good, because dealing with what had happened here was difficult.
Seeing our friend in such a bad state was heart wrenching. I brought my
attention back to the present situation.
“Did you leave the gate open when you left?” he asked her.
“No!” she exclaimed. “I’d never do that. That was the whole
purpose of putting up the fence—to keep people out… and… to have security.
After what happened last year…”
Billy and I glanced at each other. We knew exactly what she
was talking about. Her stalker! That was a scary ordeal that could have turned
out badly. Fortunately, we fixed that problem, but this problem was a whole
“Then he must’ve had the access code,” I interjected, looking
at her and then back to Billy. “How else could he have gotten past the gate?”
“That’s not as hard as you might think,” Billy said.
“Electronic gates aren’t without their glitches. I’ve seen my fair…”
“It wasn’t a man,”
interrupted him, her voice just a whisper. “I never said it was a man. I said
there was a body in my garage.”
“I got the impression that a body had been dumped, and you
just stumbled onto it,” I said. “You didn’t say anything about being attacked.
I had no idea. I’m sorry we didn’t get here sooner. Did you know her?”
Billy stood up and said, “Okay. That’s it.” He reached out
and calmly took
’s dishrag bandaged hand. “I hate to
seem insensitive and abrupt, but you’re going to have to snap out of it… and
fast. Show me the body. We’re going to the garage, and on the way, you can
explain what happened. We’ll look at the body, size up the situation, and then
call Sheriff Hudson. We have to do it quickly. The longer we wait, the worse
it’s going to appear.” Billy glanced at me and said, “Call Russell Shank. Tell
him to get over here as soon as he can.” He looked back at
. “You’re going to need a lawyer.
are called in, it’ll be like a feeding frenzy here.”
asked, not understanding his Cherokee
“Snakes,” I explained, cracking a smile. “I haven’t learned a
lot, but a few words do stand out. I’ve heard them repeatedly, especially when
he talks about the cops or the press.”
Billy continued with his questions as he ushered us out the
back door. I pulled out my cell phone, made the call to Russell, and then put
the phone back in my pocket.
“When did this happen?” Billy asked. “In other words, how
long has she been dead?”
“Not more than two hours,”
“Two hours!” I repeated. “Why did you wait so long to call
She just shook her head. She didn’t have an answer for me,
but I didn’t press the issue. She’d been through enough already without my
badgering her. We walked down the steps onto the graveled driveway. Our feet
crunched under the tiny pebbles as we made our way to the garage. The moon was
out in all its brilliance. Everything seemed normal.
“Who is she?” I asked.
“This is where it gets kind of sticky.”
“We can do sticky,” Billy lightly joked, trying to lighten the
“She’s McCoy’s secretary, Andrea Holt.”
sighed. “She’s worked for him for a
good while. It’s a long story.”
“Give us the condensed version.”
stopped, folded her injured hands across her chest as if to protect herself
against what we were about to see, and waited for Billy to be the first one to
enter the garage. Billy opened the side door, stepped in just far enough to
turn on a light, and then stood back and looked around. I stepped up next to
him and peered in. On the concrete floor of the garage, by the front end of
’s green convertible, lay the body of
Andrea Holt. Next to the body lay a bloody shovel. That sight said it all.
had been attacked, defended herself
with the shovel, and now the attacker was lying dead on her garage floor. No
jury would ever convict her. Thank goodness! I took one step to go inside when
Billy stopped me. He held out his arm and said, “Nobody goes inside.”
After what had happened to Billy earlier with the drug sting,
I knew precisely why he didn’t go inside the garage, and why he wouldn’t let me
enter either. For one thing, he didn’t want to contaminate the scene, which I
already knew, but more importantly, he didn’t want us to go down for something
we had nothing to do with.
Too bad it never works out the way you think it will. We
didn’t have anything to do with the death of McCoy’s secretary, but we were
about to become tangled up in the aftermath.
Billy pulled out his cell phone
stepped away for a minute, and made the call to Sheriff
Hudson. He must’ve been on hold, because it seemed like a long time before I
heard him speak to anyone. I tried to listen to his conversation, but it was
hard to do because
had continued with her explanation
of what happened.
“She came here to kill me,”
said to me, coming to her own defense. She detailed the
day’s events as calmly as she could. “She was furious that I had forced McCoy
to give up his law practice to move here with me. She said I ruined everything,
and that I had to die.”
Billy was talking on the phone and listening to us at the
“That’s crazy. She is… was a secretary for a prominent
lawyer. I’m sure she could’ve gotten another job. McCoy would’ve given her a
good reference, wouldn’t he?”
“I’m sure he would have,” she replied. “He always said she
was the best secretary he’d ever had. He was glad she worked for him. He liked
her a lot. He could always count on her.”
comment brought another thought to mind. “I hate to ask this, but were they having
“No!” she stated emphatically. “McCoy isn’t the kind of man
who would do something like that.” She looked over at Billy. “He’s a good man
like your husband, and Billy would never cheat on you. Would he?”
“He knows I’d harm him if he did,” I replied, smiling coyly.
I blew him a kiss.
Billy shook his head as if to ignore me.
“I must admit I had a moment when the thought crossed my mind
after some of the things she said, but no, there was no affair. She wanted his
money. That’s all there was to it. Money makes the world go around.”
“As crazy as it sounds, money was the bottom line. Money
makes people do really bad things. Andrea had been stealing money from McCoy
for four years. Over two-hundred thousand dollars! When McCoy closed his law
firm, she was out of a job. Her money tree had been cut down. She hated me for
doing that to her, and she wanted me dead.”
“I can’t believe…” I started to say, but changed my mind.
Instead, I asked, “What did she think she was going to accomplish? She’d kill
you, and then McCoy would return to his law practice as if nothing had
happened? That’s insane!”
“That’s exactly what I told her, but she wouldn’t listen. She
went nuts. She was convinced that if she got rid of me, everything would go
back to normal. That’s when she started attacking me.”
“Nothing’s normal about this,” I said, peeking back at the
body. “She must’ve been crazy. Was she on drugs? I mean, people do things like
this when they’re strung out.”
“I don’t think so, but anything’s possible,”
said. “You should’ve seen her,
Jesse. She was like a wild woman. She came after me with a knife. She chased me
through the house! It was so awful. I was sure I was going to die, and I
probably would have if I hadn’t gotten lucky.”
a strange look, but she bounced back
with, “I didn’t mean it like that! What I meant was…”
“I think I know what you mean,” I replied. “I think lucky was
the right word. I don’t believe you would’ve stood a chance against her,
knowing you as I do. You’re not the kind of person who could kill someone
unless you absolutely had to. You don’t have it in your bones, or your heart.”
“I can’t believe I killed her,”
softly said. “I’ve never killed
anybody in my whole life, except in my books.” She looked around, and then
looked back at me. “I didn’t realize how hard it would be to take the life of a
person. Is this what it’s like?”
“I’m afraid so,” I replied. “But you had to do what you had
“It is what it is.” A faint smile returned to
Billy closed up his cell phone, walked back over to us and
said, “Sheriff Hudson and his men are on their way. I’d give them five minutes,
and the press six.” He looked at
“You’re a celebrity. This is going to get ugly.”
“It can’t get any uglier,” she said as if that were to be
I glanced at Billy and smirked. I turned to
and said, “Oh, it’s going to get
about as ugly as it can get. You’re going to see the bad side of real life… not
Never a truer sentence had been spoken.
We were still standing by the garage when we heard the first
siren. In the darkness, off in the distance, we could see through the trees the
flashing lights of
best. By the time Sheriff Hudson and his men showed up, the wail of another siren
sounded. The Greene County Rescue Squad wasn’t far behind. It was good to know
that when someone calls for help, everybody comes running… at least they do in
A while back, I remember Sheriff Hudson telling me that his
men were cross trained in crime scene investigation, so it didn’t surprise me
when so many of them showed up. They jumped out of their cruisers and went
right to work.
Once the rescue squad pulled up to the garage, they hustled
out of the vehicle, promptly sized up the situation, and then took care of
. They escorted her to the back of
the truck and started administering first aid. They examined her injuries,
bandaged what needed to be, and were ready to take her to the hospital.
The sheriff wanted to question Savannah, but it was obvious
from her state of mind that she was way past the point of being able to rehash
the events leading up to the death of Andrea Holt. She was weak, could hardly
talk, and was very close to a total collapse. So, he agreed to let her go with
a promise that she would be questioned as soon as she had been sutured up and
released from the hospital. For now, Billy could answer the sheriff’s
Savannah Kelley was a well-known and respected writer. She
had also won the hearts of the locals including Sheriff Hudson. She was down to
earth and never looked down her nose at anyone. Folks had nothing but praise
Billy and I had established a rapport with Sheriff Hudson
over the last year or so. We’ve had dealings with him far longer than that, but
it took awhile for our relationship to get on steady ground. He had surely
earned my respect when he saved my mother from certain death—with the help of
my courageous canine, Athena—and I think he finally realized that we were good
folks just trying to do a job. He had also come to learn that we were honest
and could be trusted. He knew he could get straight answers from us… pretty
I stood next to Billy and listened to him talk with the
sheriff, while I watched the scene play out. It was like something you’d see in
the movies. Tripod flood lighting had been set up, illuminating the whole yard,
garage, and house. Cops were everywhere, wearing their latex gloves and
carrying plastic evidence bags. Crime scene tape was being strung.
A female rescue squad member walked over to Sheriff Hudson
and said, “We’re ready to go, Sheriff.”
Sheriff Hudson gave the go-ahead signal.
She turned to me and said in a friendly way, “I’m Rebecca.
I’ll be helping Mrs. Kelley while we transport her. She asked to speak with you
for a moment, Mrs. Blackhawk.”
“Oh, just call me Jesse,” I replied. “Sure. Lead the way.”
I followed Rebecca, the
to the back of the rescue truck, stepped up into it, and then sat down next to
“What can I do for you,
Would you like for me to ride with you? I know you probably don’t want to be
alone at a…”
“I’m fine, Jesse,” she said as she tried to sit up. She had
an oxygen mask on her face and a needle stuck in the top part of her hand. She
pulled the mask down and said, “You stay here with Billy. All I need for you to
do is bring me my purse. It’s on my dresser in the bedroom. I need my insurance
card. And if you’ll find my car keys, I’d appreciate it if you’d come pick me
up from the hospital. I know it’s a lot to ask…”
“No, it’s not,
I’d be glad to. I’ll have to drive your car, because I’m sending my husband
home. He had a very busy day. He’s thoroughly exhausted.”
“I’m so sorry,”
said while the tears spilled down her cheeks. “I hate to be such a bother.
You’re a busy person.”
“Stop!” I demanded. “You’re starting to sound like my
She smiled for the first time since we arrived. I patted her
shoulder and said, “I’ll go get your purse. I’m sure they won’t wait much
, spoke up, her voice soft. “We’re in
a hurry, but Mrs. Kelley does need her purse. Perhaps you could go get it now.”
I smiled and then exited the vehicle. I would have returned
sooner, but I got sidetracked when I found
purse. It was exactly where she said it would be, and her keys lay next to it.
However, behind her purse was a pouch with several photos in it. It seemed out
of place as if someone had just tossed it aside. A couple of the pictures had
spilled out. I couldn’t help myself. I scooped up the packet and looked through
them. All of the photos were of McCoy and a woman—and it wasn’t
! The woman was the same as the one
in the garage! It had to be her! The dead woman in the garage had one distinct
feature—most of her left pointer finger was missing—just like the woman in the
photo. The worst part was when I got to the last photo. It was a snapshot of
Andrea in a hospital bed, holding an infant! It was just as I had
suspected—Andrea Holt and McCoy had been having an affair! For all I knew, they
could still be having one! However, the most startling part was that they also
had a baby together. The pictures were proof. That fact put a different slant
on things. If the cops got wind of these photos,
would have a lot of explaining to do. The cops would deduce
that she had a motive for murder.
I didn’t know whether I should put the pictures back and just
walk away, or hide them. Being the snoop that I am, it was my first instinct to
cover everything up until I got the whole story. I stopped trying to decide,
put the photos back into the packet, and then stuffed them down my pants. I
’s purse and keys, turned and walked
By the time I got back to the ambulance, Russell Shank had
arrived. He was sitting in the ambulance next to
, giving her advice. He smiled when I walked up.
“Hello, Jesse,” he said. “You’re looking good.”
“Oh, Russell, You’re such a liar! I’m tired, overwrought, and
it’s dark as a dungeon out here, but I do appreciate the compliment.”
“I’ll be following
to the hospital,” he said. “Under the circumstances, she needs an attorney
I smiled and replied, “That’s good of you.” I looked at
. “I’ll meet you at the hospital
“That won’t be necessary,” Russell added. “Since I’m going to
accompany her anyway, I might as well stay and give her a ride back… unless you
just want to be there for her.”
“Go home, Jesse,”
said, thankfully relieving me of my obligation. “You’re tired, and so is Billy.
Russell will take good care of me.”
“If you’re sure.” I reached over and handed the keys to her.
“I guess I won’t be needing these. Here you go.”
Russell crawled out of the ambulance and went to his car.
, closed the doors to the ambulance.
The flashing lights came on, and the ambulance took off down the driveway with
Russell following closely behind.
The ambulance was just out of sight when the oversized, black
SUV pulled into the driveway. The Medical Examiner had arrived. He got out,
greeted Sheriff Hudson and Billy, and then the three of them entered the
garage. I followed. I stared at the lifeless body of Andrea Holt. What did
McCoy see in this woman? She was nothing like
was petite and very, very pretty,
while this woman was probably overweight by twenty pounds, had a short, boyish
haircut, and from the looks of it, had suffered from acne. I looked down at her
left hand and wondered how she had lost part of her finger.
“If there’s nothing else I can help you with,” Billy said to
the sheriff, “we’ll be leaving. I’ll see to it that
comes into the Sheriff’s Office
tomorrow to give her statement. But for now, if we’re finished here, we’ll be
on our way.”