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Authors: Rick Mofina

Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Crime, #Murder, #Crime Fiction, #Thrillers

Blood of Others (22 page)

BOOK: Blood of Others
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FORTY-ONE

 

“I’m sorry,
Officer Syd -- Syd-o-whiff --”

“Sid-dow-ski. Inspector Walt
Sydowski.”

“I’m sorry, sir. Mr. Dooley is
still on another line. Would you like to leave a message, or continue holding?”

Evan Dooley was the vice
president of passenger services for Five Star Skyways, headquartered in Miami.
Dooley had promised to get back to Sydowski when the two men had first talked
and Sydowski had made his request. Now Dooley was avoiding him. Sydowski’s six
subsequent calls to Miami had not been returned. He tightened his grip on his
phone, refusing to hold a second longer.

“He knows why I am calling. I’ve
been holding for five full minutes. I want you to get a piece of paper and
write down the words:
urgent, homicide, police.
Go to him and hold it in
front of his face.”

“But sir, he knows you are
calling I --”

“Please, right now. Please.
Homicide.”

“I’m just, he’s, oh, he’s clear.
I’ll transfer you”

The line clicked.

“Evan Dooley.”

“This is Sydowski, San Francisco
Homicide.”

“Inspector, yes, I’m sorry.”

“Got the lists?” Sydowski had
called and faxed his request for complete passenger manifests for all Five Star
Skyways flights to San Francisco originating, or connecting to Baltimore, for
one week prior to the date Iris Wood was murdered.

“You wouldn’t reveal the nature
of the request.”

“Police business.”

“So you said. Yes, Inspector,
after I got your request in writing, I passed it to our legal department. This
concerns our corporate information, so I wanted to be certain everything was in
accordance --”

“Mr. Dooley, are you going to
give me the information? Or do we send a pissed off FBI agent over there with a
subpoena?”

“We can FedEx the lists to you,
fax them, whatever you like, Inspector.”

“Both.”

“We’re talking about forty-two
flights. That is going to be a lot of pages.”

“My machine’s loaded and ready.”

“It’ll take at least an hour to
prepare.”

“If I don’t have them in that
time, I’ll call
my
legal department known as the district attorney’s
office.”

“That won’t be necessary. I
assure you we are cooperating, Inspector. I’m sorry for the delay. And if I can
help you further, just call. Here are my cell and home phone numbers.”

“I’ll be in touch.”

Sydowski slammed down his phone.
That was an unprofessional performance. But to hell with it. He was doing his
job. Dooley had been an arrogant, officious prick until Five Star’s lawyers had
told him to give up the lists.

Sitting at his desk at the Hall
of Justice, Sydowski admitted he was in turmoil over Louise. He had left
several messages on her cell phone and on her machine in San Jose. She had not
returned his calls. He did not blame her. It was his doing. He had hurt her
when she was just trying to help him. And she was right. He
was
feeling
guilty about seeing Reggie haunting the streets like a ghost. Wyatt was a
different story and he did not apologize for that. He let everything get
tangled up in this case. And he had taken it out on Louise. Maybe he was afraid
he was betraying his dead wife with Louise?

Just turn it off and get back
to work.
He studied the enlarged photographs of the shoe impressions and
the tattered airport sticker:
BWI.
At least now he had a handle on the
case. Something he could sink his teeth into. It was by no means conclusive.
The shoe impressions went from the abduction point to the murder scene, which
was usually the case in most homicides, tying a suspect to a crime scene. But
that sort of thing usually comes
after
a suspect is identified. The
added find of the BWI sticker and fibers was like finding a winning lottery
ticket. The odds were astronomical. They had to capitalize on it, work it to
their maximum advantage in their pursuit before they could cash it in. What
they had was strong enough to stand up in court. It was hard physical evidence,
but it was only a beginning.

He popped a Tums into his mouth,
grimacing as he crunched, his gut lurching, images of the case blurring in his
mind, hanging his fury on a single thought for the killer.

We’re gaining on you.

Sydowski checked his watch.
Turgeon was following up on the shoe and should be back. He glanced at the fax
machine. Still no action. He tried Louise’s cell again.

“You’ve reached Louise. Please
leave me a message.”

“Louise, it’s Walt. I was a jerk.
Please call.”

“That’s so romantic. Every woman
wishes for a call like that.” Turgeon had returned from Hunter’s Point with a
file.

“Anything more on the shoe
stuff?”

“So far Horace has narrowed it
being manufactured in the Caribbean, he thinks by a subsidiary of a U.S.-German
multinational. He’s still working on it with the FBI and gave me some numbers
we could try.”

The fax machine near Sydowski
began humming, giving birth to a page with the Five Star Skyways logo.

“Here we go,” Sydowski said.

Lieutenant Gonzales had a line of
sight on the fax machine and stepped from his office when he saw it churning
out pages. He picked up a few pages. Sydowski did the same. The lists seemed
endless.

“We’re looking for a needle in a
big haystack, Walt.”

“Leo, until Horace did what he
did, we didn’t even have a haystack.”

“Let’s just hope he’s in there.”

“Horace is doing more work on the
shoe and fibers seeing if he can match it with rental car models. His first go
on the car fibers is not consistent with the weight of carpet in police cars.”

“All right, Walt. Get on this
list. Records has got four bodies and some interns standing by for computer
checks, any way you want. I got two fresh bodies from General Works ready to
make calls. We’ll send everybody what you need when you’re set.”

They had requested a week’s worth
of flights on Horace’s recommendation, which he had based on the condition of
the BWI sticker. Few people knew this line of the investigation, that it was an
extremely calculated guess that the killer ever set foot in Baltimore’s
airport. The sticker could have been transferred to his shoe from anywhere. But
the shoe impressions were solid evidence, and BWI was a lead, the best lead
they had.

The complete lists totalled some
2,769 names.

Sydowski was relieved that Five
Star Skyways had provided first and last names and contact telephone numbers,
which passengers provide so they can be notified for flight delays or other
information.

 

Over the next few days, Sydowski
and Turgeon reduced the list to some 1,400 names that were male or neutral,
like Chris or Dale. The records people began running them through the
California records working with the driver’s license bureau and the DMVs of
Maryland, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Virginia and Pennsylvania,
cross-checking telephone area codes or numbers in case a person with a common name
surfaced in all jurisdictions. In most cases, the drivers’ records checks gave
dates of birth and photographs, which further reduced the list. Slim, the drug
addict thief, insisted the suspect he saw was white, about six feet aged twenty
to forty. Using those shaky tolerances, Sydowski had the records people reduce
the list further. Sydowski had the two general assignment people run that list
against the employee lists of American Federated Insurance and their
policyholders lists, in case there was any link to Iris Wood. Despite
everyone’s hard work and the reductions, it was going to take more time.

Sydowski knew they needed another
break to take that haystack down while Turgeon continued pressing him to submit
the case to VICAP.

“Walt, this could all be futile.
Our guy might not ever have been on this airline, or he might have used a
stolen card, or paid cash, or given a false name. You know that.”

Sydowski knew that. He also knew
to trust his instincts, stay the course. Keep the faith.

FORTY-TWO

 

Some twenty-eight
hundred miles east in
Toronto, Reesor and Winslow were rolling from a coffee stop at a McDonald’s
drive-through when Reesor’s pager went off.

“It’s the mad Russian. Wants us
to come to the lab now.”

“Finally,” Winslow said. “That
guy doesn’t hurry for anybody.”

The Toronto Police Service crime
lab was in the west end on Jane Street near the 401. They took Weston to Black
Creek. Traffic was moving well. Reesor enjoyed his coffee.

“The Boston Red Sox are in town
next week. If we get a break, I’ll take my boy.”

Winslow smiled as she passed
slower cars.

At the movie theater where
Belinda Holcomb’s body had been found, the lead hand from the scenes-of-crime
section was Fydor Petrov, a forensic identification specialist, who headed a
team of investigators to collect and study the physical evidence. He was a
wiry, soft-spoken marathoner who wore rimless glasses and short-cropped blond
hair. He produced impeccable scene work and analyses that always withstood the
most formidable challenges in court. He was hunched over his microscope when
Reesor and Winslow arrived.

“You made good time.” Fydor slid
from his stool “This way please.”

He led them to a large board with
several enlarged prints of shoe impressions neatly posted on it. “These are
unknown footwear impressions collected at the movie theater from the floor area
of the seat immediately behind the victim. Given their condition, and trace of
bloodstain, I conclude they were made by the killer.” He said the hard smooth
floor with its polished surface was excellent for receiving shoe impressions.
“The surface, sticky from spilled drinks, worked well to take an impression,
especially when the killer stood behind the victim pressing his weight into the
floor.”

“I don’t see a brand or logo,”
Reesor said.

“No. No lettering, digits,
motifs, or words to indicate any sort of manufacture or compound code. Not to
worry.”

“I don’t follow.”

“The impressions are good. The
cuts and wear characteristics make the shoe fairly unique. The edges have
channeling, with an array of lugs and polygons, indicating hiking, outdoors, or
possibly cross-training footwear. By my measurements and calculations, I am
guessing a U.S.-North American size eleven. Men’s.”

Fydor had consulted reference
books, computer data banks, and had estimated there were some one hundred
footwear manufacturers, outsole producers, importers, and exporters who might
know this impression.

“I’ve reproduced a black-ink
sketch of the impression and will contact each company with it to see if they
recognize it.”

Reesor made notes. Winslow
stepped closer to the photographs, studying the impressions.

“I will show you something
critical, something remarkable.” Fydor led the detectives to a computer
monitor. “This took me quite a lot of time.” The computer’s screen displayed a
dirty white item; a nearly black, frayed, torn, rag-like fragment resembling
paper.

“What is it? I can’t make
anything out.” Winslow squinted. “Just looks like a scrap of rag, or tissue.”

Fydor adjusted the equipment, the
backlighting and hue changing until a faded block letter emerged showing a
B.

“This is a tattered strip of
sticker tag from an airport, representing the airport code. I’ve seen this
style of item before in a drug-smuggling case where we came upon a luggage tag
from LAX. I believe that what we’ve retrieved is a fragment of a miniature
ribbon repeater portion torn from a sticker code tag. Likely balled up in the
footwear pattern and loosened when the tread was spread as the killer shifted
his weight standing to strike, allowing the sticky floor to dislodge it.”

Fydor continued adjusting until
next to the
B,
to the right of it, another character letter, or piece of
one, emerged. It appeared to be the stick or beginning of another character.
The letter
I.
But the torn and worn condition of the paper made it lean
back, touching the top of the
B.

“It could be an
I
or the
beginning of the letter
W
or
U,
even a
V.

Reesor focussed on the
characters, sketching them in his notebook. “You’ll give us a printout of
this?”

“Certainly.”

“Airport codes. It’s good work,
Fydor. Excellent. But there must be endless possibilities as to which one the
tag is from.”

“There are nine.”

“Nine?”

“Most are in the U.S. I checked
with several international databases, including the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration.”

“Nine? You know which ones?”

Fydor reached for a slim yellow
file folder and produced a single sheet of paper for Reesor. Winslow read along
with him.

 

BUF  BUFFALO, NY

BUR  BURBANK, CA

BWI  BALTIMORE, MD

ABI  ABILENE, TX

BIL  BILLINGS, MT

PBI  WEST PALM BEACH, FL

BIM  BIMINI,
BAHAMAS

BUE  BUENOS
AIRES, ARGENTINA

BUH  BUCHAREST, ROMANIA

 

Fydor’s pen tapped the list. “I
draw your attention to where the
B
meets the next letter. Those are your
possibilities.”

 

In the car, on the way to
headquarters, Reesor inventoried everything they had on Belinda Holcomb’s
murder. Fydor’s work took it all in a new direction, suggesting the killer may
be from out of town. Then, there were all the newspapers in her apartment. All
had large personal sections.
Was she meeting a blind date? Someone on-line?
Did he set her up, see her at the café? Follow her to the movie? Or was he just
there? A psycho in the dark?

Reesor pulled out his notebook,
reviewing the folded list of airport codes and corresponding cities.

“This one’s just giving me a
weird vibe, Jackie. I can’t explain it. With this list, our guy could be from
anywhere. I think we should throw everything out there now. Locally, we can
still work it hard. I just don’t think our guy lives around here at all. What
do you think?”

“She was a woman acting like she
was supposed to meet someone in a public place. A few hours later she goes to
see a romantic movie. Fydor says the guy behind her is mobile. I agree, we
should get this all out there.”

Reesor picked up a slip of paper
that had fallen from his pocket.

“When we get back, we’ll talk to
the boss. I want to complete the book, get BAS to go over it, get it to Orillia
and the RCMP in Ottawa. Maybe they can work the list with the FBI in Quantico.”

Reesor unfolded the little strip
of paper, then chuckled. It was the prediction from his fortune cookie.

You will find the truth if you
keep seeking it.

BOOK: Blood of Others
7.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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