Authors: E. H. Reinhard
Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Police Procedurals, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Crime, #Murder, #Serial Killers, #Thrillers
The metal freezer door reopened. I caught the time at the bottom of the screen: 3:28 a.m. The man walked from the back of the building. He still held the gun in hand. We fast forwarded the footage. No one else entered the building. There was nothing but darkness recorded for hours.
“It’s pretty good quality. We need to get a copy of this and take it to Tech. They should be able to enhance the footage and get us a printout of this guy,” Hank said.
“Yeah, we will.” I sat quiet and rewound the footage to watch it again. I wrinkled my brow as I watched.
“Your wheels are turning. What are you thinking?” Hank asked.
“I think they might have witnessed this guy doing something outside. He wasn’t in here for anything.”
“The guy was dressed like he was up to no good. Black hoodie, pantyhose over his head, gloves,” Hank said.
“I’m going to round up some of the uniforms outside and get them talking with the other businesses here. We’ll check for signs of forced entry and get the business owners looking for anything missing. Talk with the owner and get us a copy of this.”
I slid my chair back and left the office. Outside, I rounded up a few uniforms and gave them my instructions. I went back to the freezer. Rick and Pax were working with Ed to remove the bodies from the floor. Ed walked over. He pulled the blue latex gloves from his hands and sat them on the shelf at the door. He ran the back of his hand against his gray eyebrows.
“Got ourselves a mess here,” he said.
I looked past him to Pax and Rick trying to roll one of the bodies. “Yeah, looks like it.”
“These guys were in here for a while—twelve hours or so. Bodies are frozen in blood to the floor. Limbs are frozen. Rigor is just starting. It’s making them hard to move. We’ll get them out though.”
I took the time from my watch. “Almost twelve hours to the minute. We have some video.”
Ed nodded. “We should have the bodies out in a bit here. I’m pretty sure you can see the cause of death—one in the computer, one in the ticker on both.”
“Yeah.” I nodded. “It’s hard to miss.”
“I’m going to give the owner some information on who to call to clean this up.”
“Thanks Ed. I’ll talk to you later.”
I walked from the back of the building. Callie still sat on the hood of her car. I went to her.
“Hey,” she said.
“Are the guys looking around inside?” I asked.
“Yeah, I guess they are looking to see if someone broke in here. I didn’t see anything that looked like it but the alarm didn’t beep when I opened the door. It didn’t do anything actually. The owner Ron is on his way in. He’s going to have someone come out and look at it or something.”
“Good. Nothing looked missing though?”
“No. Everything is normal.” Callie slid off the hood of her car. “I guess I should go get the bar open. We have some regulars that usually start filing in around now. Ron doesn’t like to let down the regulars.” Callie gave me a quick hug and kiss.
“Think I’ll come back over here after I get off work and stay with you until you close up.”
She grabbed my hand. “Babe, you don’t have to do that. Ron said he would be here until close. There will be people around. Don’t worry about me.”
“Two people were killed next door. Of course I’m worried about you.”
She smiled. “Thank you. I appreciate it, but I want you to go home and do some thinking. I’ll meet you after work tomorrow and we can have dinner and talk about it.”
“If that’s really what you want,” I said.
“I do. I dumped a lot on you today. Take the night and sort through it.”
I let out a breath. “OK.”
She smiled and walked inside.
My phone buzzed in my pocket. I slid it out. It was the captain. I gave him the highlights of what we had. He needed Hank and I back at the station by five. Reggie Robinson’s boys were coming in for interviews.
Hank and I grabbed chairs at the captain’s desk. It was twenty to five. We needed to switch gears from the two employees in the freezer to Reggie Robinson’s homicide. The captain called us in before the interview with Mister Robinson’s sons. He had new information.
“You got something from Forensics?” I asked.
The captain opened a file on his desk, pulled a sheet of paper out and handed it to me. “Here’s the complete shoe print from the bits and pieces of bloody tracks in the house.”
I looked it over. It appeared that it belonged to a hiking boot. “What about the murder weapon?”
He slipped another sheet of paper from the file. “Forty-four. Rick found it in the house. It’s registered to the homeowner.”
“So he was shot with his own gun?”
The captain nodded.
I handed him the two sheets of paper back. “You got a copy of that file for me?”
“One for you.” He handed one to me. “One for you.” He handed the other to Hank.
I stood. “Alright let’s go get set. I want a couple minutes to go over everything before the interview.”
We stopped at Hank’s desk.
“We going to split these two up?” he asked.
With so much spinning in my head, I hadn’t thought about it, but it made sense. These two were gang members who were out of town after a murder at their residence. “Yeah, I’ll take interview room two, you take one.”
“Which one do you want?” Hank asked.
I looked over the information on the two men. Marques and Charles were their names. Marques was twenty-three, older by two years. Both of the two had extensive rap sheets and appeared to be on track to spend life as career criminals. “I’ll take the older of the two, Marques.”
Hank and I went over our line of questioning, making sure they would be similar enough to see if their stories meshed when we were through. Hank’s desk phone rang. He answered, said a few words and hung up. “That was Wyatt from the front. Our guys are here. I’ll bring them back over by the interview rooms.” He headed for the front of the station.
I popped into the video control room to turn on the video and sound recorders for the two rooms. It was made standard practice to record all of our interviews. I stood outside the door of interview room two until Hank walked up with the men in tow.
“Marques?” I asked.
One of the two nodded. I pointed him in. Hank took his brother into the other room.
“Take a seat.” I followed him in, closed the door and sat down.
I opened the file on the small desk, rocked back in the chair a bit and folded my hands. “Marques, what I’d like to do is ask you a handful of questions and see if we can get to the bottom of what happened to your father. Is that going to be alright?”
“Yeah, I just want to find out who did this.”
I nodded. “When was the last time you had seen or spoke with your father?”
He thought for a moment. “We left for Miami on Thursday. It had to be that morning.”
“And you didn’t talk to him after that?”
He shook his head.
“Was that a planned trip to Miami? Who all went?”
“Yeah, it was planned. My brother and Jimmy went. We went to go spend the weekend down there.”
“You got a last name for this Jimmy guy?”
I wrote Jimmy Colon down.
“Marques, did your father have any enemies?”
“My father was a good man. No.”
“What about you or your brother? Someone that may have come looking for one of you two and you weren’t there?”
“Nah. We don’t have any enemies.”
“Your father owns a forty-four caliber pistol.” I took the photo of the gun from the file and slid it over to him. “What can you tell me about this?”
“Yeah, that looks like my father’s. Only saw it a handful of times. He kept it locked up in a lock box under his bed.”
“So this was under lock and key?”
He nodded. “Yeah, he always had it locked up.”
“Either you or your brother own a firearm?”
I wrote down that the gun was normally locked up. “Where did your father work?”
“He worked a route job delivering auto parts.”
“Did he ever mention problems with anyone at work?”
I grabbed the rap sheet from the file and looked it over. “You and your brother have a little of a troubled past here. The tattoos on your arms and neck are gang ink. You sure no one was coming after one of you?”
“We have been staying away from all of that. You got our sheets there. We haven’t done anything in the last few years—either of us.”
I looked at the latest arrest for his brother from about three months back. “It says your brother got popped for marijuana with intent to distribute a couple months ago.”
“That was a bogus bust. That’s getting thrown out. He wasn’t distributing anything. He had an ounce on him and a pack of rolling papers. No money, no gun. The weed was for smoking, not selling. We don’t do any of that. Our father ran a tight ship, if we started screwing up again, we’d be out on the street.”
“OK, Marques, did your father have a life insurance policy?” The question seemed to catch him off guard.
He pulled back from the table. “Why are you asking that? You think we had something to do with this?”
“We just have to cover every angle here. Try not to be offended, we’re trying to do everything we can to find out who did this to your father. That includes having to rule you and your brother out. Now, do you know if he had a life insurance policy?”
He shook his head. “I don’t think so.”
“What about a will? Who was the house and car to be left to?”
“The house isn’t paid for, neither is his car. Bank will probably take them both.”
I wrote down what he said. Financially, it didn’t look like the two had much to gain, though I still planned to find out if he had a policy taken out. “What can you tell me about when you arrived back to the house? Did anything seem to be missing or moved?”
“It didn’t look like it—our new TV and all that was still there. Video game system was still there. Even had a jar of money up on top of the fridge that we all would stick cash in for groceries. That was still there. We didn’t stay there though, so I can’t be sure nothing was taken.”
I looked over what I had written down in the file. I pulled Pax’s composite of the boot prints left in the blood. “You know anyone that would be in your house wearing boots that could have bottoms like this?” I passed it to Marques.
He looked at the picture. He sat quiet and scratched at his goatee. Marques shook his head and passed the photo back over.
“Nah,” he said.
I looked at my notes. “How do you know this Jimmy guy and where could I find him?”
“He’s the neighbor’s grandson.”
“Tom, across the street. Jimmy’s mother sent him down from Michigan to live with him. Thought it would straighten him up to have some hard ass father figure influence or something. Guess Jimmy never knew his real dad. Died when he was young or something.”
I wrote it all down.
There wasn’t much else to go over with him so I concluded the interview. I popped the door for the interview room and walked him up front. Hank was already done and standing there with his brother. We let the two know we would keep in touch with any updates and headed back for my office.
We spent the next hour comparing notes and then headed over to the video control room to watch the footage from the interviews. The two men’s answers to our similar lines of questioning matched up. They didn’t seem to be hiding anything. Hank’s interview with the other brother, Charles, also mentioned something about the Jimmy’s grandfather. It was something that could damn Mister Hill. He mentioned that he often wore combat boots. He got moved to the top of our list. I put in the paperwork to get a search warrant for his house. With any luck it would be on my desk in the morning.
He sent the text message and waited. Two minutes later his phone rang. Ray clicked the button to answer.
“Hey, it’s Scott. I got your message.”
Ray rested the phone on his shoulder. “You interested?”
“Cash up front.”
Ray popped a cigar in his mouth and rolled it back and forth across the flame from his lighter. He pulled in a puff of smoke. “That’s fine. Can you meet me in, say, a half hour?”
“Yeah, same place?”
“Same place in a half hour. Don’t make me wait.” Ray took the phone from his ear and clicked it off. Scott was still talking as he did. Ray looked at his watch. He had a few minutes to burn to make it there on time. Scott made him wait almost an hour last time and the lack of respect wasn’t lost on Ray. Scott could sit and wait. He poured himself a glass of Scotch and carried it outside to sit by the pool. He leaned back in the deck chair and puffed his cigar in between sips of his drink. A good forty minutes passed before he had finished his cigar and decided to leave the house.
He pulled the Bentley to the front of the hotel and stepped out. A valet attendant rushed to the side of the car. Ray pointed at the area next to the front door. “Park it there.” He handed the valet a fifty.
“Sure thing, Sir.” He jumped in and pulled the car forward a few feet as Ray disappeared inside.
Ray walked into the hotel. Scott waited at the end of the bar. Ray walked up and took a seat.
“I thought you said a half hour?”
“I did.” Ray motioned the bartender over.
The bartender walked up and smiled. His face said he remembered Ray from the day before. “Same as the yesterday?”
He turned to Scott. “What about you? Scotch?”
Scott put up his hand in protest. “No, I’m fine with the soda I’m drinking, thanks.”
He poured the Scotch, slipped a receipt in an empty glass in front of Ray and headed for the other end of the bar.
Ray picked up his glass and took a sip. He looked over at Scott out of the corner of his eye. “No Scotch for you today?”
“Not for eighty dollars a glass. Thanks for leaving me with that bill yesterday though.”
Ray smiled. “I’m pretty sure you can cover it with what I’m about to pay you.”
“Alright, well, let’s get this show on the road. I have things to do tonight.”
Ray shook his head. “Not anymore you don’t. You’re working for me tonight.”