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Authors: Falafel Jones

Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Computer Forensic Examiner - Florida

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BOOK: Falafel Jones - Max Fried 02 - Payback's a Beach
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Ed said, “The police say Drew Fisher owned the boat. We’ve already been aboard but we’d like to know more.”

“Is Mr. Fried always this quiet when he investigates?”

Ed lifted his eyes to the ceiling. “If only.”

Forest said, “Mr. Fried, may I see some I.D. please?”

I handed him my PI license. He placed it on the machine to his left, made a photocopy and returned it. “How can I help you?”

I said, “We heard that one of your men was the first person to board the
Amante.
We’d like to talk with him.”

“Seaman Gomez, yes. I’m sorry. I can’t accommodate that request.”

Ed asked, “Why not?”

“Well, talking with you about public knowledge off the record is one thing and I’m glad to do it but Gomez may be called to testify in a criminal proceeding. I’d have to run your request past our legal counsel first. Past experience tells me they’ll say no.”

I heard wood creak as Ed shifted his weight in his chair before he said, “Well, maybe I should follow procedures too, issue a subpoena and depose Gomez. Of course, then I’d have to question him on the record regarding his compliance with Coast Guard procedures. Then to follow up, I might have to question the procedures themselves…”

Forest had a glum expression. He shook his head and then said, “If this is a social call, I’d hate to do business with you. If I let you talk to Gomez, will it be off the record?”

I said, “Yes, we won’t even take notes. We just have some basic questions. We’re not looking to make any trouble.”

Forest stared at Ed for a while and then reached for the phone on his desk. “O’Reilly, send in Seaman Gomez.”

A voice came through the phone speaker. “He’s at sea now sir. Do you want me to radio him?”

Forest shook his head and said, “No. No thank you.” Then he withdrew his hand from the phone and told Ed, “You can interview him when he returns at the end of his shift…” Forest looked at his watch, “in about five hours.”

Ed said, “Thanks but no. I haven’t got that much time.”

“You have a report on the boat?” I asked.

“Sure.” Forest opened a drawer in his desk and removed a file.

“Maybe that will do. How did you first learn of the vessel?”

“We got a call from the 911 dispatcher about an obstruction to navigation. Then when we saw the blood, we called the police.”

“Isn’t that unusual? I mean the call coming into the 911 center instead of coming to you over the marine radio?”

Forest shrugged. “It happens. Some smaller vessels don’t have a radio or a boater can’t raise us or maybe they’re low on battery power so they use a cell phone.”

“You know who made the call?”

“No, but you should be able to get that from the 911 folks in the Sheriff’s office.”

“What did you mean, ‘obstruction to navigation’?”

“Best we can tell, the
Amante
was adrift near the entrance to the inlet just about the time the tide came in. Currents brought her into a navigation channel and she got in the way.

“Anybody on board when you arrived?”

“No, nobody.”

Ed said, “I noticed the
Amante
has a radio equipped with a GPS device. Do you have the MMSI number?”

Forest asked, “You mean the ID number for locating vessels in distress? Why do you want that?”

I said, “We can use it to track where the boat’s been.”

“Of course.” Forest ripped a page from a pad on his desk and copied something from the file. “Here.”

I took the paper. “Did you find any floating debris? Perhaps an aluminum pole?”

Forest looked through his file. “No. No debris. No floating poles. We also performed a standard underwater search. No weapons, No bodies.”

I hit a dead end so I looked at Ed to see if he had any more questions. He gave me a blank stare so I stood and said, “Thank you, Senior Chief. We appreciate your help.”

Forest stood and held out his hand. “I’d like to say it was my pleasure but…”

We shook, said our goodbyes and left.

 

Back in the car, I asked Ed. “You and Forest gonna be OK?”

Ed stared off into space with his hands on the steering wheel. “Geez, dunno. I didn’t mean to push so hard. I don’t know what happened. I like Forest. Hope he doesn’t hold this against me.”

I gave Ed a moment alone with his thoughts but when he continued to stare, I asked, “Where to now?”

He shook his head and sighed. “People saw Brenda and Fisher together in a public place. The police found her earring on Fisher’s bed. Her clothes are bloody. She fled the scene and she has no alibi.”

I gave him another moment to himself and then repeated my question.

Ed slowly came back to life. He started the car. “M.E.‘s office.”

We rode in silence and I tried to piece things together. “Ed, Brenda said the first thing she remembered was the police pounding on her door. How did she get home?”

“She says she doesn’t know.”

“How’d she get into her apartment?”

“She had her keys and her purse, her wallet too. Everything was wet.”

“With all they have against Brenda, why did Torres release her?”

“He had enough probable cause for an arrest but not enough proof for a conviction.”

“I’m surprised he didn’t keep her and sweat her.”

Ed turned to give me a look. “You kidding? With my local influence? I once ran for mayor here.”

I shook my head. “It’s not like Torres to bend to political influence.”

“No, it’s not. He leveraged me.”

“Huh?”

“He knew he couldn’t keep her, so he released her into my custody and made me promise to produce her when asked.”

“That way, he either gets Brenda or he gets you.”

“Yup.”

“Someone must have known she was on that boat or the police wouldn’t have come for her.”

“Yeah, but who?”

“Maybe the person who made the 911 call?”

“We need to hear that call.”

“One of my Ham radio buddies is a 911 dispatcher.” I took out my cell phone. “He can’t talk because he’s working now but I can text him.”

“Then what?”

“After the M.E., I think we should take a look at Brenda’s footprint.”

CHAPTER FOUR
 

Ed looked down at the young woman sitting behind a desk in the building lobby. “Hi, I’m Ed McCarthy. We’re here to see Linda Davis.”

“Who?”

“Linda Davis. She’s a Forensic Investigator with the M.E.‘s office.”

“Oh, you mean Linda Forsythe.”

“I do?”

The woman leaned forward and mouthed words with exaggerated movements, “Divorced, very messy.” Then she shook her head and rolled her eyes. “Extramarital affair.”

Ed started coughing. I thought he was going to choke but he recovered. “Um, yes. Linda Forsythe, please. I didn’t know she was married.”

“Have a seat. Who should I say is here?”

Ed said, “Tell her Max Fried would like to speak with her.”

We sat in the row of chairs against the window and Ed stared off into space. I asked him, “Why didn’t you say Ed McCarthy wanted to see her?”

Ed looked at me as if he didn’t know what to say. After a few moments of silence, he said something I couldn’t hear.

“What?”

“It’s complicated.”

I was about to ask what he meant when Linda Forsythe appeared in the lobby so instead, I said, “Saved by the bell.”

Ed said, “If only.”

Forsythe saw us and waved us over to the door she held open. When we entered, she closed the door and smiled at Ed. He pressed his lips together. She stepped closer to him so they were toe to toe. “Ed,” she said.

“Linda, you remember Max Fried?”

Without taking her eyes off him, she said, “Do I know who freed what?”

“Max Fried. He’s a private investigator.” When Forsythe didn’t respond, Ed said, “He’s standing right behind you.”

She kept her ground but turned her head abruptly to look at me as if suddenly realizing she and Ed had company. Then she faced Ed and said, “Yes. Yes, of course, that poisoning, 13 months, 3 weeks, and 4 days ago, when I saw you last, before my divorce.”

Ed tried to retreat but stepped back into a wall. “Um, we’re here to see an autopsy report.”

Linda walked behind her desk, sat down and became all business. “Which one?”

I said, “Drew Fisher.”

She thumbed through a pile of folders in a cabinet behind her desk. “White male, 28 years old, from East End, Long Island?”

“Yes,” I answered. Ed collapsed into the chair furthest from Forsythe’s desk.

Forsythe said, “The body had a lot of damage from the water and sharks so we’ve requested dental records for confirmation, but he’s the right height and build plus he had Fisher’s credit cards.”

Ed seemed content to sit quietly so I asked, “What can you tell us about the COD and TOD?”

“Why should I tell you?”

Ed rubbed both his thumbs along his forefingers. “Um… what do you want in exchange?”

“Answers.”

“Answers?”

“Yes, you have questions. So do I.”

“Um, O.K. Shoot.” Ed sat up straight as if to brace himself.

“Why did you stop calling me?”

“I was trying to reconcile with my ex-wife.”

“Drowning around 9:30 pm-ish. Did you?”

“Yes. Any other injuries?”

“Deep laceration on the forehead, just below the hair line approximately one and a half inches above the left eyebrow. Did you really care for me or was I just a fling?””

“I really cared. So the assailant was right handed?”

“Looks that way. If you hadn’t gone back to your ex would you have kept seeing me?”

“Yes, if you wanted to. What about the clothing?”

“Tan cargo pants, boat shoes, well one boat shoe on the left foot, who knows where the other one is, no socks and a white golf shirt with an emblem. Blood on the shirt is consistent with the head wound. Why didn’t you call to say goodbye?”

“I didn’t want to say goodbye. If things didn’t work out with my ex, I was hoping it might with you. What’s the emblem?”

“Hmm, letters
EEYC
in gold thread over a white sailboat.” She looked up. “Mean anything to you?”

“Of course you did. Was he —”

Forsythe waved her hand side to side. “No, no, I mean does
EEYC
in gold thread over a white sailboat mean anything to you?”

“No, probably just his yacht club. Was he dressed? I mean pants up, zipper closed…?”

When she said, “Yes, fully clothed,” I heard Ed breathe a sigh of what must have been relief.

“What caused the laceration?”

“Well, it’s a blunt force trauma from something cylindrical, maybe three quarters of an inch around. You should have told me it was over.”

“That’s not a question. Any ideas what the weapon could have been?”

“The wound is deep and we found black metallic particles in it. I’d say something heavy like a lead pipe. You left me hanging. I didn’t know if I should stay in my marriage or not.”

“You never told me you were married. What kind of particles?

She looked through the folder. “Doesn’t say. Must still be in trace.”

Ed asked, “Trace?”

Forsythe glared at him for a moment before she said, “Yes, the lab unit that analyzes and identifies particles.”

Ed nodded. “I know what trace is. When can we get the results?”

Forsythe stared at him for a while. Then she closed the file, stood up, and said, “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask Detective Torres.”

 

Back in the car, Ed asked me, “Any ideas how to get that trace information?”

I thought about the reception we got from Torres at the
Amante
. “No, not the way Torres feels about our involvement. Wait, does your court order cover the lab too?”

“Dunno, worth a shot.”

Ed made a U-turn and drove back past the M.E. building to the forensic lab. We attempted to enter the building but found the door locked. I pressed a button under the card reader next to the door handle. We waited. Nothing happened. I pressed again and tried to see through the tinted glass. There wasn’t anybody at the reception desk but I saw a woman in a lab coat walk by inside. I tapped on the door. She seemed startled by the sound but approached and opened the door a crack.

“Yes?”

I held my PI license up next to my face. “I’m a private investigator. We’d like to speak with someone about trace found in a wound.”

The woman shook her head. “Sorry, can’t help you.” She started closing the door but Ed stopped it with his foot.

He pulled the court order from his pocket and held it up like a club. “I’m attorney Edward McCarthy and I have a court order authorizing my access to this evidence.”

BOOK: Falafel Jones - Max Fried 02 - Payback's a Beach
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