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Authors: David Hosp

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BOOK: Among Thieves
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As they approached the back of the building, toward the bays where the cars were dismantled, a uniformed sergeant in his early
fifties broke free from a group of officers and strode to meet them. She reached into her pocket and fished out her badge,
holding it up for the sergeant.

He nodded to her. “Detective,” he said. He looked at Stone and said nothing.

“Sergeant…” Sanchez scanned her memory and the tag on the front of the man’s shirt for a name, “McAfee.” She squinted at him.
“We’ve worked together before.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied. “Two years ago.”

“Right. The Darvos case.”

“That’s correct, ma’am.”

She said nothing more about it. “What have we got?”

“Nothing good. You just missed the doc, but he said he’ll be in the office writing up some notes later if you want to talk.
He’s gonna do the autopsies once we get the bodies to him this afternoon. He got a good first look, but we put the bodies
back the way we found them. I figured you’d want to see them the way they were found.”

She nodded. “Good.” She looked around the room and noticed a tall black man in the corner talking on a cell phone. He was
dressed in a dark blue suit, white shirt, and a dark tie. He was wearing sunglasses. “Feds got a line on this?” she asked.

McAfee looked over his shoulder and grunted in distaste. “Yeah. He showed up about ten minutes after we got here. Don’t know
how he found out about it.”

“What’s he been doing?”

“Just looking. We haven’t let him touch anything, but I didn’t know whether we could kick him out. He’s got a badge.”

She nodded and walked toward the man. He saw her coming and closed his phone. As she got nearer, he took off his glasses.
“Detective?” he said.

She nodded. “Sanchez. And you are?”

“Special Agent Hewitt.”

“Special Agent Hewitt, what are you doing at my crime scene?”

He stared at her. “Looking,” he said after a moment.

“For anything in particular?”

“I’m on a task force that deals with organized crime. I heard there was a murder down here at the Body Shop.”

“Do you have any specific reason to believe that this case is federal in nature?”

The agent sucked slowly at his teeth. “Murphy was a well-known gang leader. He was involved in everything from guns to drugs
to prostitution to extortion. I don’t have any reason to believe that this wasn’t related to his racketeering activities.”

Sanchez folded her arms. “Let me ask the question a different way, Special Agent Hewitt: are you asserting federal jurisdiction
here? Because if you are, I’ll have our people out of here in about five minutes and you can take over. Then if something
goes wrong, it’s your ass in a sling, not mine.”

It took him a moment to answer. “No, I’m not asserting jurisdiction,” he said.

“Good,” Sanchez said. “In that case, I’d appreciate it if you’d clear out until my people are done. I’ll get you a report
as soon as one is ready, but until then, I have control over the crime scene, and I can’t have my people working with someone
looking over their shoulders.”

“Detective Sanchez, I’m a special agent with the FBI,” Hewitt began in protest. She cut him off.

“So was John Connolly, and he’s still got three years left in supermax out at Allenwood for tipping off Whitey Bulger and
his mob, right? For years, your federal boys ran interference for these guys whenever we tried to put them away, so you’ll
pardon me if the ‘Special Agent’ mystique doesn’t cut a whole lot of shit with me. I’ll keep you informed as appropriate,
but I need you out so we can do our job. Either that or you take the lead yourself. Which is it gonna be?”

Hewitt put his glasses back on. “I’ll expect a full report, complete with pictures, by the end of the day,” he said.

“You can expect whatever you want,” Sanchez replied. “No skin off my nose.”

Hewitt stood there for a moment, then walked past them, out toward the front door to the garage.

“Cocksucker,” McAfee said under his breath as he watched Hewitt walk out of the Body Shop.

“Maybe he’s just doing his job,” Stone offered.

“Maybe,” Sanchez said. “I’m not taking any chances, though. We have a job to do, too. And I don’t want the feds fucking up
one of my cases.” She looked at McAfee. “Let’s get to it. What are we looking at?”

“You want to look at Bags first?” he asked.

“Should we?”

McAfee gave a gesture falling somewhere between a nod and a shrug. “He’s a good warm-up. He’s in better shape than Vinny.”
He pointed over into a corner behind a tool rack. Sanchez moved in that direction and Stone followed.

John Smith was known to most as “Johnny Bags.” The nickname came from his early career ferrying loads of cash to local political
bosses. His body was crumpled in a corner of the garage, tucked behind a rack of utility drawers. In life he’d been a fearsome
man, six-five with an angry face and a disposition devoid of humanity’s finer traits. In death he looked almost peaceful,
curled into a fetal position, his head resting on his left hand. Only the angle at which his right arm was twisted—straight
out from the shoulder, its palm turned upward in an impossible feat of contortion—suggested that the man was anything other
than resting. A closer look revealed the two holes in his forehead, and stepping over the body, Sanchez could see flies buzzing
around a dark pool of congealed blood spread out from his black hair.

“Not much left of the back of his skull,” McAfee commented. “Looks like they used shredders. Pretty much blew off the back
half of his head.”

“Nasty,” Stone said with a frown.

“Effective,” Sanchez replied. “Any other points of entry?”

McAfee shook his head. “Just the head, from what we can tell. Doc’ll confirm it with the autopsy.”

“Anything else? Cuts? Contusions? Anything?”

“Just the arm,” McAfee said. “Looks like it was pulled out of the socket. Could’ve happened when he fell after he got popped.”

Sanchez lingered over Smith’s body for another minute or two, drinking in the scene. Other than the body and the stagnant,
well-defined mat of blood underneath the head, the area was neat and tidy, with tools stacked in an orderly fashion on top
of the utility cabinets. She pulled back the jacket and patted it down. There was nothing in the pockets. A shoulder holster
was strapped to his torso, and a gun was tucked into it.

“Okay,” Sanchez said at last. “Let’s see Murphy.”

McAfee nodded. “The main attraction. If either of you have a weak stomach…”

“Just show us the body, Sergeant,” Sanchez said.

McAfee said nothing, but led them to a mechanics’ bay at the very rear of the building. It shot off from the main space, and
was concealed from view. They rounded the corner, and Sanchez heard Stone suck in his breath.

Murphy’s body was there. At least, she assumed it was Murphy’s body. It was difficult to tell given the amount of damage.
It looked more to her like two hundred pounds of ground beef covered in torn clothing than what she remembered of Vinny Murphy.
It didn’t appear that any spot on the body had escaped violence.

“Holy shit,” Stone whispered softly.

“Nothing holy about it,” Sanchez said. “An impressive piece of work, though.” She moved slowly toward the body, being careful
not to disturb the scene. “Are the pictures done?” she asked.

“All done,” McAfee replied. “The whole lovely scene has been recorded for posterity.”

“Crime scene?”

“They’ve done all they can do until the body is moved out. Prints, scrapings, the works. They’ll do it all again once we’ve
cleared out, but they think the place is pretty clean.” He tossed her a box of latex gloves. “He’s all yours.”

She took two gloves out of the box and passed it to Stone, who did the same. They both pulled the gloves on and advanced toward
the body.

“Jesus,” Stone said as he looked at the area that had once been Vince Murphy’s face. “What did they use?” Sanchez said nothing.

“Not sure,” McAfee said after a moment. “Could have been chains. There were a bunch of them hanging over in the corner, and
it looked like there could’ve been blood on them. The crime scene boys bagged ’em and we’ll know soon enough. Doc should also
be able to get us a read on any patterns to the abrasion, which may tell us something.”

Stone moved slowly around the corpse. Sanchez watched him out of the corner of her eye. She was annoyed at the distraction
of having him there, but said nothing. He was her partner, after all, at least for the moment, and there was no way to prevent
his participation. As long as he was careful to stay out of her way, she could live with it. “Shit, they even got the bottoms
of his feet,” Stone said.

“Yup,” McAfee said, using a fingernail to pick some of his breakfast free from his teeth. He pointed to a hook hanging from
a hydraulic lift used to get engine blocks into and out of cars. “Looks like they had him strapped to that for at least part
of the time. They found a couple of torn pieces from his shirt on the hook.”

“Why?” Stone said to no one in particular.

“I guess that’s the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question, isn’t it?” McAfee said. “My guess is that he pissed off one of the
goombahs in the North End, or maybe one of the Salvadoran gangbangers over in Eastie. Who knows, could have even been one
of his own boys looking to move up in the world.”

“Doc give any thoughts on the extent of the injuries?” Sanchez asked.

“Just that the gunshots to the head were pretty clearly the cause of death. And the external injuries are mainly superficial.
There may be some broken bones, and he won’t know about any internal injuries until he splits him open to look inside. The
only other thing that sticks out is the hands.”

“The hands?” Stone said.

“See for yourself,” McAfee said.

Sanchez looked at the body. It was turned to the side, and both hands were underneath the torso. “Help me turn him,” she said
to Stone.

The two of them reached down. She placed her palms flat underneath the shoulder, and he lifted from underneath the hip. Rigor
had set in, so the body rolled easily, like a mannequin, and the arms shot upward once released from under the body.

Sanchez frowned. The skin on the hands had a ghostly white, fleshless tone to it below the wrists. Dark holes marred the palms,
and looking closely, Sanchez could see that the injuries went all the way through the hands.

“Doc picked up some ligature marks on the wrists,” McAfee said. “Looks like they tied his hands together and shot him clean
through the palms.”

“Why?” Stone asked.

“Who knows,” McAfee said. “Maybe just for kicks.”


Padre Pio
,” Sanchez said quietly.


Padre Pio
?” Stone replied.


Padre Pio
,” she repeated.

Stone looked at McAfee. “You know what
Padre Pio
means?” he asked.

McAfee shook his head. “Sorry, I’m not Mexican.”

Stone looked back at Sanchez. “What does
Padre Pio
mean?” he asked.

“It means you need to pay attention.” She moved to the other side of the body. “The message?”

McAfee pointed to the left of the head. “It’s up there. No one has any idea about it. It’s not gang-related as far as we know,
and no one has seen anything like it before.”

She bent down. It was there, though it had faded as the blood had dried. “The Storm.” She looked at Stone. “You’re the local,
you know what that means?”

Stone shook his head. “Doesn’t ring any bells.”

“Anyone go by that nickname?”

“Not that I’ve ever heard.”

“Great.”

“Maybe it’s just some sort of psycho with a flair for drama.”

She stood up. “Maybe. It’s definitely a psycho. I don’t think it’s got anything to do with drama, though.”

“What, then?”

She took off her gloves and they snapped as she rolled them into a ball. She tossed them to McAfee. “That’s what I expect
you to find out.”

Chapter Three

Back behind the wheel, Stone pulled out of the driveway to the Body Shop. “Where to, boss?” he asked Sanchez.

“Back to the station house,” she replied.

“What for?”

“I need to check something on a computer.” She looked out the passenger window as the Convention Center in South Boston drifted
by, its huge front canopy hanging over the entranceway like some great homage to the 1960s television show
The Flying Nun
.

“Right. Check something out. Good idea. Me, too, I need to check something out, too. Maybe it’s the same thing.”

She turned to look at him. “I doubt it,” she said after a moment.

“Maybe not. Of course, there’s only one way to know, right?” He drove on, his frustration building through the silence. “So,
are you gonna talk to me about that shit back there? We are partners, after all, right?”

She said nothing.

“Look, I know I’m the new guy, but how are you gonna know if I can contribute if you won’t even talk to me?”

“Fine,” she said, her tone challenging. “Why don’t you tell me about the scene back there?”

BOOK: Among Thieves
13.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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