Authors: E. H. Reinhard
Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Police Procedurals, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Crime, #Murder, #Serial Killers, #Thrillers
“Well, what do you need? I don’t have too much on my plate.”
I sat up and looked over my files and to-do list for the day. “Go down by the forensics lab and see if they found our murder weapon and came up with anything else concrete from the crime scene yesterday. Pax was supposed to be working on that foot print.”
Hank stood from the couch. “Anything else?”
I handed him the sketch of our suspect. “Get some copies of that made up, check with the other departments and give them out to the guys in Patrol. I’m going to call Ed and get him to fax over that autopsy report if it’s done.”
“On it.” Hank walked out.
I scooped up my desk phone and dialed Ed at the medical examiner’s office. The secretary picked up right away.
“County Medical Examiner’s office.”
“Hey, it’s Lieutenant Kane. Is Ed in?”
“Sure Lieutenant, he’s right here. Hold on a sec.”
“Lieutenant. My crystal ball tells me you’re calling about that autopsy report.”
“Finished it up earlier, but we had family in identifying the body.”
“You have positive identification?” I grabbed a pen from my desk to write down the man’s name in the file.
“Yup. Reggie Robinson, the homeowner. His two sons came in to I.D. the remains. I guess they were in Miami and came home this morning to the scene. They showed up here around eleven. Both of the boys are covered in gang tattoos—just a little FYI there.”
“Thanks. You have the names of the two that identified him?”
“Yeah, it’s in the report. You guys heading over to get it or do you want me to send it?”
“Fax it over if you can.”
“Alright, you should see it in a few minutes.”
“You want the highlights? The report is right here.” I could hear him flipping pages.
“Cause of death was a GSW close range. Let’s see, you already know all that. We had a handful of old tattoos, all photographed. Tox screen shows THC.” The sound of him flipping another page came through the ear piece of the phone. “I have the time of death at five days prior to him being discovered—that’s about it really.”
I hung up and plugged the guy’s name into our computer system to see if he had a record, he did. A DUI two years ago and some disorderly conducts a few years back. There were a number of times over the years he had been busted with marijuana, nothing major. I printed his sheet out, tossed it into the file and took it with me to our station’s fax machine to grab the autopsy report. On my way back to my office my phone buzzed in my pocket. I pulled it out. It was Callie. I hit talk.
Her voice sounded frantic. “Carl, I just called 9-1-1 from the bar. I didn’t want you to get all freaked out, I’m fine.”
I stopped walking. “What’s going on?”
“I just got to work to open up. I was walking up to unlock the place when the restaurant owner next door came from the back running. She was screaming to call 9-1-1.”
“She said that two of her employees were dead inside. They were shot.”
“Get her, and lock yourselves inside Lefty’s. I’m on my way.”
I hung up and went to the captain’s office. He hung up the phone as I entered.
“Kane, grab Rawlings. Double homicide over at Tamboro’s restaurant and bar.”
“I just got off the phone with Callie. She’s the one who made the call to 9-1-1.”
“Is she OK?”
“I guess the owner next door came from the back of the building screaming. Callie called 9-1-1, and then called me. I told her to get the woman and lock themselves in Callie’s bar until we got there.”
“Good idea. Cars were already dispatched.”
“I’ll get Hank. I’ll call you.”
I found Hank at his desk. We were gone from the station in under five minutes.
Ray sat on the edge of the pool in a pair of black swim trunks. His cell phone buzzed—Viktor again. He’d called six times. Viktor wanted to know what was going on. He got angrier with each voice message. Ray sent the incoming call to voicemail. He needed to call Viktor back, but he needed to have something planned first.
The guys in the freezer would make it difficult, if not impossible, to take Callie from the bar. The neighboring restaurant would be full of cops. The police would talk with the other businesses and owners. They’d patrol the area throughout the night. They would figure out that the security system at her bar had been disabled.
He lifted his wine glass to his lips. Ray took in a mouthful and tried to come up with a something. He needed to know where she lived.
Ray grabbed his phone from the small table a few feet away and clicked through the prompts until he found the last photo he took, the photo of the bar’s employee schedule. Next to Callie’s name for the day, it read
open til’ close
. He grabbed the time from his Rolex: 2:36 p.m. He finished his glass of wine and dunked himself into the pool.
After a swim, he went in the house for a shower. He pulled on a white button up dress shirt and donned a gray suit and tie.
Ray left the house in the Mercedes SUV for downtown Tampa. He needed to be sure Callie was at work. He rolled past the front of the restaurant where he’d left the two bodies. A couple of police cars sat out front. Police tape circled the block. Police officers filled the sidewalk. Ray made a right at the corner in front of Lefty’s. His eyes locked on the bar. The lights were on inside. The alley behind the bar came into view. Two squad cars sat in the back next to the rear door of the restaurant. Two men in suits stepped out of a white Corvette—behind their car sat the blue BMW. A girl sat on the hood. It was her. One of the guys from the Corvette walked toward her. Ray continued past. He made two consecutive right turns and slowed to look down the alley from the other direction. The man from the Corvette was hugging Callie. Ray sped up to make the light as it turned yellow.
Hank and I pulled my Corvette into the back alley behind Lefty’s bar. Someone had parked in my unmarked cruiser in the station’s parking structure. I wasn’t about to search the station for the owner and wasn’t going to take Hank’s pink hybrid. A couple squad cars were already on the scene, two out front and two at the rear entrance of the restaurant. Callie sat on the hood of her car. I got out and went to her. “You okay?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
I looked back over my shoulder. “Hank, you want to go see what’s up in there? I’ll be there in a second.”
He went inside.
Callie reached out for a hug.
I took her in my arms. “Are you sure you’re alright?”
“I’m fine, Carl. I’m sorry I unloaded all that on you this morning.”
“Don’t worry about it. We’ll be fine.” I gave her a kiss on the forehead. “I need to go see what’s going on. We’ll talk before I leave.”
“OK.” She dropped her arms to her sides.
I headed next door and walked through the back. Officers Weston and Thomas from Patrol stood next to Hank—a pair of silver freezer doors stood open before them. The three stared inside the walk-in. I went to Hank’s side.
“What the hell.” Hank rubbed at the back of his neck.
I took in the scene. Two bodies lay at the back of the cooler. Frozen blood covered the entire rear of the room. Flesh clung to the wire metal shelves. A pool of frozen blood lay beneath the two men. I looked away.
“Did anyone go in?” I asked.
“I didn’t,” Hank said. “Weston and Thomas were first on the scene.”
“Did you guys go in?” I asked.
“No,” Weston said.
I took a single step into the room and one step to the side—I didn’t want to disturb any evidence that may have been left within. I stretched my neck to get a better look at the two bodies. One lay face down. A four inch hole was present in the back of his head. An additional gunshot wound exited the middle left of his back. I looked to the other. He faced me. He was slumped into a five gallon pail in the corner. The two gunshot wounds were the same as the other victim—a shot in the forehead and a shot in the heart. I stepped from the room.
“This was an execution. They were on their knees,” Hank said.
“Geez,” Officer Thomas muttered under his breath.
“Do we know who these guys are?” Hank asked.
“I wrote the names down.” Officer Weston fumbled through his notes. “The owner, Maria Santonio, said the two men are Greg Hart and Bryan Benson. Greg Hart was a cook, Bryan Benson the dishwasher. He just started here last week.”
“Which one is which?” I asked.
“Benson is the larger of the two.”
I wrote the names in my notepad.
“Is anything missing?”
“Not sure. The owner is walking around looking with Officer Henry now,” Weston said.
“You guys take a look around and see if anything jumps out at you. See if this place has any kind of security. I need to make a call.”
I went to the front of the restaurant’s kitchen and dialed the captain at his desk.
“Hey, it’s Kane.”
“What’s the scene?”
“An execution. Vics worked here. Shot in the cooler. They were on their knees, one in the head, and one in the chest on both.”
The captain let out a puff of air into the mouthpiece of the phone. “Professional?”
“Damn well doesn’t seem like a first timer.”
“Is Forensics there yet?” Bostok asked.
I glanced toward the back door. Rick leaned against the wall and talked with Hank. “Yeah, Rick is here. They must have just showed up. I’ll talk to you when I get back.”
I hung up and walked back over. I glanced into the cooler. Pax stood inside. I continued past to Hank and Rick.
“Does this place have video?” I asked.
Hank pointed to a back office. “Owner says equipment is in there.”
“Where is she?”
Hank bobbed his head in confirmation and went to find her.
I looked to Rick. “You get in there yet?”
“I stuck my head in but that’s it so far. I’m just about to get suited up and go give the kid a hand.”
“OK, I’ll leave you to it.”
Rick walked from the back. I headed to Pax inside the freezer and poked my head in.
“What did you find?”
Pax knelt over the two bodies in a white clean suit. “Guys were shot at the back wall. They were kneeling. I have two bullet holes here and here.” Pax pointed to two spots in the wall. They were hardly visible under the layer of frozen blood and brain matter. “Guessing the other two bullets are in the floor beneath them, but…”
“But?” I asked.
“These guys are frozen to the floor.”
“Not a one.”
“Keep looking. Rick will be in to help in a second.”
Pax nodded and went back to investigating. I found Hank with the woman at the back office. She was a short, middle aged, Hispanic woman. The woman wore a brown flowered top and a pair of black slacks.
“This is Maria Santonio, the business owner,” Hank said.
I introduced myself.
She turned a key in the door and walked through. Her thick black hair did its best to cover her face which was red and puffy from crying.
“How many cameras do you have here?” I asked.
She pulled her hair back and sniffed. “Just two hidden ones in the back area here. We kept coming up short on alcohol when we did inventory. I decided it was time to find out who was taking it. I just had the cameras put in a few weeks ago.” She sat at her desk and woke her computer. “Who would do something like this?”
“We aim to find out Miss Santonio.” Hank and I sat across from her. I put my hands up on the glass topped desk. “Did you notice anything missing?”
She shook her head. “We do a nightly drop. Our manager takes a cash bag to deposit at the bank as soon as we close the doors. We leave a hundred dollars in each register. It’s all there.”
“Have you spoken to your manager?” Hank asked.
The woman sniffed again and reached for a tissue at the edge of her desk. “I talked to him a few minutes ago. He said everything was normal when he left. He made the drop just like every other night.”
“We’ll need a list of the employees that were on last night,” Hank said.
“I’ll check the schedule and give you the employee’s contact information.” She turned her computer monitor toward us and slid over the mouse. “All the controls are at the bottom of the screen. It will start at midnight when you hit play. I’ll be outside if that’s okay. I don’t want to watch anything that those cameras caught.”
“That’s fine. We will find you when we are finished.” I took control of the mouse.
She left us in the office. Hank and I scooted our chairs closer to the monitor. I hit play. The screen was split in two. One side captured the front of the kitchen, the other view focused on the back. Employees and kitchen staff shuffled around the screen. I fast forwarded the footage until closing time. Employees exited the back of the building one after the other. We spotted the two men in the freezer at the front of the kitchen. They were the last two there. We picked them up on the camera for the back. The lights went out and the back door opened. They stood in the doorway. They exited. The door closed.
A minute later the door reopened. Bryan Benson and Greg Hart once again stood in the doorway. A shadow of a figure stood on the other side of them in the alley. The footage was dark. The only illumination came from the building lights in the alley. Bryan Benson, the larger of the two men, was pushed through the door. Greg Hart entered after and the lights came on. A third man walked in and closed the door. He was big. He held a gun. Gloves covered his hands. A stocking covered his face. He wore a black hooded sweatshirt.
Benson and Hart dropped their cell phones to the ground and kicked them over to the man. The man crushed them underfoot. He walked to the door of the freezer and opened it. He motioned with his gun for them to get in. The two employees resisted. Hart was shoved through. Benson was taken by the throat. The gun was put to his head. They went into the freezer. The door closed.