Authors: Marla Madison,Madison
Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #Police Procedural
Table of Contents
Copyright © 2013 by Marla Madison
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the author.
This book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real.
Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely accidental.
Published by Marla Madison.
Copyright 2013 Marla Madison
All rights reserved.
Cover art by Damonza
Formatting by Damonza
Edited by Red Pen Proofreading and Editing
This novel in no way attempts to duplicate the police procedures or actual police departments in Eau Claire, Wisconsin or any other cities mentioned in the story. Any discrepancies in procedure, locations, or fact, may be attributed to the author’s creativity.
I would like to thank the members of my writer’s group whose support and instruction has been invaluable. Donna Glaser, Helen Block, Marjorie Doering, and Dave Tindell, you’ve helped me accomplish this second novel despite all the pitfalls along the way.
Thanks to Terry Lee, my significant other, for understanding the time it takes to write a novel, and supporting my efforts. A special thank you to my dear pets, Skygge and Poncho, for being faithful companions during the writing process.
Interested readers, please contact me at [email protected] or on my blog at marlamadison.blogspot.com. I would love to hear from you. All emails will be answered as soon as possible.
Friday, 11:45 pm
Wakened by strange noises, ten-month-old Philly Glausson raised her head of blonde curls. She rolled to a sitting position in her crib and wrinkled her small face, preparing for a howl. Distracted by sounds she didn’t understand, the child pulled herself over the railing of the crib and slid easily to the floor as she’d done many times before to the dismay of her anxious mother. Crawling to a playhouse in the corner of the room, she took refuge inside its canvas walls and curled up with her favorite pink blanket pressed against her cheek.
Less than an hour from the first sounds of intrusion, the Glausson home was silent. A bitter draft of late November air from an open patio door chilled the rooms, congealing pools of blood on the polished wood floors.
The lifeless bodies of the family, Chelsea and Mark Glausson, their seventeen-year-old daughter Sienna, and three-year-old son Evan, lay like ragdolls tossed aside by a neglectful child. Their lifeless forms would remain in place, limbs stiffening, souls drifting to another plane of existence as their bodies awaited discovery.
The crib—and the playhouse—were empty.
Saturday, 10:00 am
Detectives Hank Whitehouse and Kendall Halsrud moved through the macabre scene in the kitchen of the Glausson house, where the bodies of an adult male and female lay on the floor, shot in the head. Whitehouse unpeeled a foil-wrapped candy and shoved it into his mouth, as he was prone to do when stressed, never mind the gore. A crime scene capable of stressing even the most seasoned law enforcement officer, CSU had already marked an area where one of the first responders had lost his breakfast.
Kendall moved away from her partner. She’d seen death many times during her career in law enforcement, but never anything like this. With a population of 100,000, Eau Claire, Wisconsin had its share of murders, although most of them tended to be drug-related or the result of domestic disturbances.
Her stomach tolerated the scene, but the extent of the violence made her want to cry out in anger. She left the carnage in the kitchen to look over the family photos adorning a wall of the family room that held the bodies of the two Glausson children, Sienna and Evan. The family looked happy in the pictures, smiling and loving, Mark Glausson’s long arms embracing his attractive wife. He’d been a tall man with angular features, brown eyes, and a smile so warm it emanated out from the silver frame.
In another shot, surrounded by football players, the teenage daughter posed wearing a red-and-white cheerleader outfit; a beautiful girl with hair a cascade of silky auburn tresses. The image of a perfect teenage princess, Sienna Glausson was the adored and popular kind of girl that Kendall, with her tall, rangy body and dull, sandy hair, had envied in high school.
Kendall took a deep breath and turned back to the room, ready to examine the visage of death spread out before her. Sienna lay on the ginger brown carpet, her lovely hair stringy with gore, her penguin-trimmed flannel pants lying next to her naked lower body. A white lacy bra dangling from her shoulders had been sliced open at the front, as had the oversized T-shirt she’d been wearing. Brown eyes stared vacantly at the ceiling, her gamine features frozen in a mask of terror, a bullet hole on the left side of her forehead. Sienna’s death, appearing to have been accompanied by sexual torture, had to be the worst of the four.
Across the room, her younger brother had been shot neatly in the forehead, like the bodies of the parents.
“Fucking nightmare,” Whitehouse growled. “Who does this kind of shit?”
Kendall held her tongue; she’d learned to let her partner vent once he started swearing. More than twenty years her senior, he was within months of retirement. Her superiors told her she’d been partnered with Whitehouse so she could learn from his many years of experience, but realistically she knew he’d been the only one willing to work with a new woman. So far, their pairing was working. They’d established a cooperative, albeit temporary, bond.
“The daughter’s the only one they messed with other than shooting them. Do you think it’s possible she was the reason for all this?” she asked.
“Too soon to tell.” Whitehouse pulled off his gloves and ran stubby fingers over his sparse, gray hair. “This is the worst break-in I’ve ever seen. Too bad it didn’t happen six blocks over, in Chippewa’s territory.”
Kendall wouldn’t admit to her partner she felt exhilarated to be a part of an investigation of such magnitude. The street, blocked off after the discovery, would soon fill with official vehicles from all branches of law enforcement. Media vans would fight their way in, reporters demanding a statement. A rookie detective of ten months, Kendall’s excitement overrode her horror.
She nodded toward the fireplace, where a portrait of Chelsea Glausson smiled charmingly down on them, her glossy red hair fluffed like a fallen halo around her soft, ivory complexion. “Don’t you think it’s strange that the daughter was raped and not the mother? Mrs. Glausson was an attractive woman.”
Whitehouse, typically a man of few words, shrugged his shoulders. “Looks like they came in through the back, found Mom and Dad in the kitchen, and hit them first. Had to silence them both fast, they didn’t have time to rape her. Must have used some kind of silencer—it doesn’t look like the kids tried to run out. They must have been in here watching TV.”
A giant flat screen, still tuned to HBO, had the sound muted. The rooms weren’t in serious disarray, but drawers and cupboards stood open. They’d have to establish what, if anything, had been taken.
Someone must have refastened the patio doors that had been standing open when they arrived. As the rooms warmed, the blood softened, and its coppery scent reached Kendall’s nostrils. She bent over the boy, hesitant to touch his small body even with her gloved hands. It looked like his only injury was the bullet hole in his forehead, a tidy death compared to that of his sister.
Whitehouse asked, “Do we know if anything was taken?”
Kendall flipped open her notebook, where she’d jotted down the little information she’d received from the officers who’d found the bodies.
“Not yet. The nanny found them. The EMTs treated her for shock and took her to the hospital. She’ll be familiar with the house; she cleaned for them, too, and said she’d know if anything was missing. We’ll take her through the house again later when the bodies are gone and she’s had a chance to calm down. She did say the family didn’t have a lot of relatives.”
“What do we know about the family?”
“According to what they got from the nanny, they were close, didn’t go out a lot, and didn’t entertain. Mark Glausson, the husband, was a doctor at Luther-Midelfort and worked in the ER. Mrs. Glausson worked from home for a local furniture store. Just a normal family.”
Whitehouse hmphed. “Like there is such a thing.”
A short, bespectacled CSU tech swathed in white protective gear came down the steps from the upper floor and approached them. “Bad news. They had another kid—an infant. There’s an empty crib upstairs, some blood on the floor, but no baby.”
The senior detective’s face reddened. “Jesus Christ! They killed a baby and took the body? How fucking sick is that?” He pulled out a freshly ironed handkerchief and wiped his brow before digging in his pocket for a lint-covered roll of candy.
“It might not be the baby’s blood on the floor—maybe the child wasn’t even here tonight,” Kendall said. “She could be with a relative or a friend of the family.” She hadn’t noticed any typical baby paraphernalia or photos of the child around the house. Not impossible the baby might not have been in the house to begin with, but it could be wishful thinking.
“Sure. The kid was out with friends,” Hank added snidely, as the tech turned to go back upstairs.
Kendall, used to her partner’s sarcasm, ignored the jab. “You referred to the perp as ‘they.’ It could have been just one assailant.”
Whitehouse hmphed again and left the room, headed for the upper level.
Was the baby dead? If so, where was its body? Did the killers take the child with them? The first responders said they’d searched the house when they came in, so it wasn’t as if they might still find the baby—or its body—in the house. Kendall couldn’t imagine perps sick enough to take a tiny child’s body with them, much less voice it aloud.
She’d never seen or heard of a case this strange. Not in northwestern Wisconsin, anyway. She turned back to the photos, wondering once more why none of them featured the baby. In the early years, parents usually covered the house with baby pictures. But the baby would have been the Glaussons’ third child. Photos diminished with subsequent children; maybe that was the easy answer.
Waiting for the medical examiner to arrive, they continued their search of the house. They avoided the baby’s room with its blood evidence, leaving it as pristine as possible for the ME. In a room obviously used as an office by both adults, Kendall picked up another photo of Mark Glausson. His ruggedly handsome face appealed to her. Why didn’t she ever meet anyone like him? She returned the photo to its spot on the desk, thinking that even if she did, he’d most likely be attracted to women like Mark Glausson’s wife: perky, petite, and feminine. He wouldn’t have given a second glance to a woman like Kendall, with her tall, rangy body, mousy hair, and tough demeanor.
The medical examiner came and went, adding nothing new to what they’d already gleaned from the scene. He speculated the time of death at sometime around midnight, a fact Whitehouse had guessed at long before the ME had arrived on the scene. Kendall knew it could be weeks before they got test results back from the state lab. They’d have a lot to do until then. First, they needed to establish whether the murders had been done by someone with an ax to grind with the family for some reason or if they were a random act by strangers. Less likely, but still necessary to consider, had Sienna Glausson been the primary target?
Kendall and Whitehouse planned their investigation schedule before leaving the house: the uniforms would do the door-to-door questioning; the techs would comb the woods behind the house. The two detectives would go back to the office to call the Glaussons’ relatives and interview friends of the family. They planned to meet the nanny back at the house for a more detailed walk-through the next day. So far, cash and credit cards from purses and wallets were the only items obviously missing.
When the CSU techs were on their way out, the short one came over to them and placed a large, plastic container at their feet. “Present for you. Too bad it can’t talk. You’ll have to call Animal Control.” He left the room before they could protest.
Hank picked up the carrier and looked inside its mesh door. “Crap. A cat. I hate cats. We won’t get Animal Control out here this late on a Saturday afternoon.” When Kendall didn’t offer to deal with the animal, he dropped the carrier, letting it clatter to the floor. “I’ll toss it in the river on my way home,” he threatened
Kendall wouldn’t put it past him. She squatted, peering into the carrier. A large, white cat with a round, gray spot centered between its eyes and nose cowered wide-eyed toward the back of the container. She didn’t particularly like cats, either, but the sight of a life remaining amid all the carnage moved her.
“I’ll deal with it,” she said. “One of the relatives may want it. If not, I’ll drop it off at the shelter on Monday.”
Whitehouse snorted but said nothing and walked to his car. Kendall followed, the container with the orphaned cat banging against her leg, wondering how she managed to get herself into these things. She had enough complications in her life right now.