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Authors: Max Allan Collins

Criminal Minds (19 page)

BOOK: Criminal Minds
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‘‘
Not
a car club,’’ Rossi said, with a puckish smile.
‘‘No,’’ Grant said, with a nervous smile in response. ‘‘It’s a gay bar.’’
Hotchner stood and gestured to an open chair. ‘‘Sit down, Mr. Grant. Join us, Detective Lorenzon.’’
Morgan knew his boss might have preferred a private meeting with Grant, but the field office was laid out so that conference rooms and interrogation rooms were not even on the same floor, much less near each other. And taking this witness upstairs and ushering him into a cubicle might create the wrong impression.
The chairs Lorenzon and the bartender took were near Hotchner. Reid and Prentiss slid their chairs down in the direction of Morgan, at the far end of the table, to give their boss a semblance of privacy. Rossi, however, stayed put.
Hotchner asked the bartender, ‘‘You know our John Doe?’’
‘‘I didn’t ‘know him’ know him,’’ the bartender said. ‘‘But I
knew
him.’’
Though the other agents had mostly moved down, they were all, of course, listening in on this interview. And that particular response made Prentiss’s eyes widen while Morgan tilted his head just a shade (the equivalent of anybody else rolling their eyes). Meanwhile, Rossi looked like he was trying hard to digest something, with only Reid seeming perfectly comfortable with Grant’s chasing-its-own-tail answer.
Hotchner asked, ‘‘Could you break that down?’’
Grant shrugged. ‘‘Well, it wasn’t like we were friends or anything. We just both knew some of the same people.’’
‘‘You knew his name, then?’’
‘‘Yeah. Sure. Of course. Stevie.’’
‘‘Do you know Stevie’s last name?’’
Grant considered that. ‘‘Pretty sure it was Darnell. Stevie Darnell.’’
‘‘You didn’t know him well.’’
‘‘No.’’
‘‘How
did
you know him?’’
‘‘From the club, mostly. You work the bar, you get friendly with regulars.’’
‘‘He was a regular, then.’’
‘‘Oh, yes.’’
‘‘Was that the extent of it, your friendship?’’
‘‘ ‘Friendship’ overdoes it. I ran in to him at a couple of gay events, once or twice at the movies, but that was pretty much it. He was one of those people you know well enough to say ‘hi’ to.’’
Rossi asked, ‘‘You say he was a regular. Was he in the club a lot?’’
‘‘Some.’’
Hotchner asked, ‘‘How much is some?’’
Grant scratched at his bushy head of hair as if that might unearth the answer. ‘‘Twice a week, maybe?’’
‘‘Pretty regular, then,’’ Rossi said.
‘‘A lot of the guys are. Not Bobby though.’’
Rossi said, ‘‘Bobby?’’
‘‘Bobby Edels,’’ Grant said, and shrugged. ‘‘The other guy that got killed. That’s why I’m here, isn’t it?’’
Prentiss moved her chair back closer; so did Morgan and Reid.
Morgan said, ‘‘So you knew Bobby Edels, too?’’
Grant nodded. ‘‘A little. Not even as well as I did Stevie. Bobby, he came into the club a couple of times, but he wasn’t out yet.’’
‘‘Still in the closet,’’ Rossi said.
Grant nodded again. ‘‘Still in the closet. It was like, you know how it is, he was still trying to put the pieces together. Stevie,
he
was out—
way
out.’’
For once the profilers were at a loss for words: a major break had just walked into the conference room and sat down at the table. Hard to know even where to start . . .
Detective Lorenzon finally spoke up: ‘‘Tell them what you told me, Mr. Grant.’’
Glancing from the cop to Hotchner, his voice barely above a whisper, Grant said, ‘‘On different nights, I saw them each leave the club with the same guy.’’
Rossi frowned. ‘‘The three were together?’’
‘‘No! The first night Stevie left with the dude, the other night Bobby left with him.’’
Hotchner asked, ‘‘Did you know the man they left with?’’
‘‘No. I saw him around once in a while, but not often. He’s struck me as kind of a creep, frankly. A user.’’
‘‘Of drugs?’’
‘‘Well, maybe. But definitely of people.’’
Hotchner nodded. ‘‘Did anybody else in the club seem tight with him?’’
Grant shrugged. ‘‘I wouldn’t know. I pick up on things, sure; but I’m also busy working. That’s something I never noticed.’’
Jumping in, Rossi asked, ‘‘Think you could you identify this guy if you saw him again?’’
‘‘Oh, yeah, sure. Absolutely. In a heartbeat.’’
Hotchner turned to glance around the room. ‘‘Where’s JJ?’’
Prentiss said, ‘‘Dealing with the editors of the newspapers, I believe.’’
‘‘Would you get her, please?’’
Prentiss got up and went out.
Returning to Grant, Hotchner asked, ‘‘Does the club have video security?’’
‘‘You bet it does. Inside and out.’’
‘‘Good. Now, I want you to sit down with a forensic artist—are you willing to do that?’’
‘‘To stop some bastard who’s killing gay men? Hell, yeah. Anything. Name it.’’
No one bothered to point out that the UnSub wasn’t just killing gay men—this was a monster without prejudice.
Prentiss came back in, Jareau in tow.
Hotchner made quick introductions, then said, ‘‘JJ, we need a forensic artist ASAP. Mr. Grant is going to give us a description of a possible suspect.’’
‘‘I’m on it,’’ Jareau said with a smile and a nod, and was gone again.
Hotchner turned to Prentiss and told her, ‘‘We need the security video from the club and we need to stream them to Garcia. Once the forensic artist is finished, Garcia can scan the tapes looking for our UnSub."
‘‘Yes, sir,’’ Prentiss said. ‘‘Do you want me to interview the employees of the club?’’
‘‘Let’s hold off on that until we’ve got a suspect sketch. After that? Make it a top priority.’’
‘‘Yes, sir.’’
‘‘Morgan,’’ Hotchner said, shifting, ‘‘you and Reid stick with that Wauconda material and see if there’s anything we missed the first time.’’
Reid nodded, and Morgan said, ‘‘If there’s anything, we’ll find it.’’
Turning to Rossi, Hotchner said, ‘‘David, you and I will go back to victimology. We’ll add in the two gay male victims and see how that changes things.’’
‘‘Right,’’ Rossi said.
Hotchner thanked Grant, and Lorenzon took the witness to a break room for coffee while a sketch artist was rounded up. But the team leader would ask Tovar to check Grant out—their cooperative citizen could be the UnSub insinuating himself.
Three and a half hours later, the profilers were again gathered around the table, but now with fresh copies of the composite drawing made by the forensic artist and from Grant’s description. Detective Tovar, back from running down some stray leads, had taken the bartender home and had just gotten back again. He and the other task force detective, Lorenzon, were sitting in.
‘‘Did a copy of this sketch go to Garcia?’’ Hotchner asked.
Prentiss nodded. ‘‘She’s already working on the video.’’
‘‘Good. Nice work.’’
‘‘This was fast,’’ Rossi said appreciatively, eyebrows up, a copy of the sketch in hand. ‘‘How about the bartender’s boss? The club owner? Any fuss from him over handing over the security vids? That’s a pretty insular world.’’
‘‘Yes it is,’’ Prentiss said. ‘‘And a serial killer who might be targeting gay men is bad for business in that world.’’
Morgan said, ‘‘If the clientele is too afraid to leave home, they won’t come to the club. No patrons, no money.’’
Prentiss was nodding. ‘‘That’s what I pointed out to him. After that, the impresario behind Hot Rods couldn’t wait to hand over the videos. We got everything for the last six months.’’
‘‘Free enterprise,’’ Rossi said. ‘‘Gotta love it. Self-interest, the keystone to good citizenship.’’
Hotchner asked, ‘‘Morgan, did you and Reid come up with anything new out of the Wauconda material?’’
Tossing the file, Morgan said, ‘‘Zip. Seems for all his bluster, Denson’s investigation was stalled. For no more progress than he was making, he might as well have gone door to door asking for a confession.’’
Rossi’s brow was furrowed as he stared at the suspect sketch. ‘‘In two of the crimes our UnSub has chosen to imitate, he’s gone out of his way to find gay victims. He’s duplicating crimes on a level I’ve certainly never seen.’’
‘‘Fast and loose with details,’’ Reid said, ‘‘but the overall scenario he mimics with exactitude.’’
Hotchner asked, ‘‘And what does that tell us about him?’’
‘‘He’s obsessed,’’ Morgan said. ‘‘He wants the attention the original killers received. The closer he comes to replicating their crimes, the closer he comes to replicating their fame . . . he thinks.’’
Reid said, ‘‘He believes that if he replicates what the original serial killers did, as precisely as possible, and doesn’t get caught—and they
did
, remember, all get caught—then he’s better than all of them.’’ The young profiler shook his head. ‘‘This is a
massive
ego.’’
Rossi chuckled mirthlessly. ‘‘And yet, still an inadequate personality.’’
‘‘About the victimology,’’ Prentiss said, sitting forward. ‘‘How do we get out in front of this guy? There’s a hundred serial killers he could pick to imitate next. How do we figure out which one it will be, and try to protect the appropriate potential victims?’’
That was a question none of them had an answer for.
Their mood, uplifted by the gay bar breakthrough, turned somewhat glum at the grim reality Prentiss had pointed out. They went back to work and the day dragged along with precious little progress. The long hours of hard work and little rest were wearing down both body and spirit.
Morgan knew they needed another breakthrough, and they were all poring over material looking for it; but Morgan was wondering if Rossi’s idea of drawing out the UnSub was not the most reasonable course, after all.
He was about to say something when Garcia’s face popped up on his computer monitor via a video link.
‘‘You do not look like a happy man,’’ she said.
‘‘Girl, tell me this isn’t just a social call.’’
‘‘It isn’t. I have a little something for you.’’
He straightened. ‘‘You found something?’’
‘‘Just possibly the identity of your UnSub."
‘‘You’re a doll.’’ Morgan turned and said, ‘‘Hotch! You need to hear this.’’
The entire team huddled around Morgan’s laptop and gave their full attention to the genie in the box.
‘‘I may have found him,’’ she said, ‘‘on the security video from the bar.’’
Prentiss asked, ‘‘How could you identify him from that? Was he in the company of one or more of the victims?’’
‘‘No, but the suspect sketch gave me somebody to look for, and the face from the security video I fed into my facial recognition software, which ran those parameters against all the mug shots in the Cook County database. That’s how I came up with a less than sterling citizen named Eddie Minchell.’’
‘‘Good,’’ Hotchner said. ‘‘What do we know about him?’’
‘‘A thoroughgoing lowlife,’’ Garcia said. ‘‘Twenty-four with arrests and convictions for procurement, misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and one battery charge that got dropped when the complainant didn’t show up in court.’’
His expression perplexed, Reid said, ‘‘And now he’s imitating some of the most evil serial killers in American history? He doesn’t fit our profile.’’
Nodding, Morgan said, ‘‘Either we’re completely off base or this isn’t our guy.’’
‘‘One way to find out,’’ Hotchner said. ‘‘Garcia, do you have a current address on Mr. Minchell?’’
‘‘Last one was an apartment on Clark,’’ she said, ‘‘near the bus station.’’
She read off the address.
‘‘I
know
that building,’’ Lorenzon said, sitting up. ‘‘It’s an old hotel that devolved into a flophouse. We busted a bunch of junkies there, last few years.’’
‘‘All right,’’ Hotchner said. ‘‘You and Morgan go get him.’’
The African-American detective nodded.
Rossi said, ‘‘I’d like to go along.’’
‘‘Fine,’’ Hotchner said. Then he asked Lorenzon, ‘‘Can Chicago PD provide backup?’’
‘‘No problem,’’ Lorenzon said.
Tovar stood up. ‘‘I’m in too.’’
The two profilers and two local detectives took two vehicles: a Tahoe, with Morgan behind the wheel with Rossi riding; and Lorenzon’s unmarked, which the detectives shared.
Less than a half hour later, they pulled up and double-parked, lights flashing, at the run-down building housing Minchell’s apartment. Each man donned a bulletproof vest, Morgan’s and Rossi’s with FBI stenciled in white on front and back, while the detectives’ vests said CHICAGO POLICE. The heat today was sweltering, all four sweating profusely.
The neighborhood was busy, sidewalk heavy with pedestrian traffic going or coming from lunch. None of the four were distracted by a need for lunch: the aroma of the neighborhood was a bouquet of fried chicken, car exhaust, Burger King, cigarette smoke and urine. Of course, an old Chicagoan like Morgan felt right at home. . . .
As they checked their weapons, Lorenzon said, ‘‘Look, uh . . . you know how I told your boss backup would be a piece of cake?’’
‘‘Uh oh,’’ Rossi said.
‘‘Uh oh is right,’’ Lorenzon said. ‘‘I radioed in on the way over and got informed SWAT is wrapped up in a hostage crisis in Wrigleyville.’’
‘‘Cubs fans out of control again?’’
Lorenzon grinned. ‘‘Hey, wouldn’t surprise me; but actually I think it’s a robbery gone bad.’’
‘‘What about patrolmen?’’
‘‘Cleaning up a chain reaction accident on Lake Shore Drive.’’
‘‘There’s four of us.’’ Rossi shrugged. ‘‘One nonviolent offender, I think we can handle it.’’
‘‘He
did
have a battery charge,’’ Tovar said with half a grin.
Morgan gave him the other half of the grin. ‘‘What are you saying, Hilly? Want to wait for SWAT because the guy got frisky once?’’
BOOK: Criminal Minds
10.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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