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Undercover secrets untol.., p.12

Undercover Secrets, Untold Lies, page 12


Undercover Secrets, Untold Lies

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  “There’s too much dried blood to be certain,” Brad spoke quietly, “but looks like the wound to her neck extends from ear to ear. Not deep enough to decapitate her, but clearly enough for her to bleed out. The stab wound to her abdomen was overkill. We found no purse, no ID. But it looks like Carole.”

  “Looks like he had a hell of a lot of pent-up anger against his victim,” Gwen observed. “It doesn’t look like he picked her at random. He had a score to settle.”

  “The only tie-in we’ve come up with among the three was The Dive. Maybe we should take a closer look at the people there,” CC said to no one in particular, staring off into the distance.

  “Hey, Brad, that reminds me. How far did you get with the address book you found at Meg’s?” Gwen asked.

  Standing up, he scratched his head. “Shit. I’ve been so busy I forgot all about it. It’s in my desk drawer. Sorry.”

  “Don’t worry about it. We’ll take a look when we get back,” Gwen said just as the coroner, Doc Maynard, walked up to her.

  “My dear Gwen. I didn’t think I’d be seeing you so soon again.”

  “Neither did I, Doc. It’s always a pleasure though,” she said kindly.

  “What do we have here?” he said, crouching beside the corpse with reverent interest, unlike the disrespectful mannerisms of some of the officers. He put his case down, snapped on a pair of gloves.

  “Any idea how long she’s been out here?” Gwen asked.

  “Hard to say.” He picked up a hand, pulled at the skin; it was loose. “With this weather, close to freezing at night and sunny during the day, would be difficult to say with certainty. My guess is three, maybe four days max.”

  He gently moved the woman’s head from side to side and then eased the T-shirt up to examine the stab wound to her torso. “Died from the cut to her throat. The cut to her abdomen, although it looks bad, wouldn’t have killed her quickly.”

  He pulled glasses out of his breast pocket, and scrutinized the wound more carefully. “Ahh…it was inflicted postmortem. Appears to be lacerated with a butcher knife…something with a long, wide blade. Hmm…that’s interesting.”

  He got up and crouched behind the woman’s head, and leaned over her body, waving his hand over her belly. “See here? The cut is moving up toward her head and not down as it is most often with this kind of wound. He stabbed her from this angle.”

  “What does that mean?” CC asked, confused.

  “Might have been planning on making the mark of a cross, but the knife hit the breastbone and he couldn’t cut through the hard tissue.” He lifted the blouse further to reveal her upper chest. “Yup, see this faint line dissecting the throat? I’ll know more when I perform the autopsy.”

  “When do you think you can do it?” Gwen asked anxiously.

  “First thing tomorrow. See you at six a.m. sharp?”

  Gwen groaned, and then replied, “I’ll be there. Anything more you can tell me now, Doc?”

  “No. We’ll get her fingerprinted and I want her clothes vacuumed before I move her. They’ll scour the area and I’ll advise you immediately if anything turns up. See you in the morning.”

  Gwen and CC returned to the precinct, leaving the crime scene technicians to process the area and the coroner’s people to remove the body. In the squad room, they reviewed the pictures of the three missing women which were taped next to the white board listing the evidence they’d found so far, as well as other information they thought might be pertinent.

  “It’s Carole,” CC said softly, staring at the pictures in front of her.

  “No doubt about it.”

  “I’ll do the notify if you’d like. I don’t mind,” CC offered.

  “Thanks. That would be great. Do you want to attend the autopsy?” Gwen asked.

  “If you don’t mind…uh, I’ll pass. It’s not that I’m squeamish, but if I have a choice…uh, and you’ll be there…and after talking to the family, I feel like I knew her…” CC stammered.

  “It’s okay.” Gwen smiled understandingly. “I’ll call you.” She was just about to grab CC and give her a reassuring hug when Brad walked in.

  “Here’s the address book from Meg’s apartment,” he said, handing it to Gwen.

  “Great. I just want to page through it before I leave. Maybe you and CC can work on it more thoroughly in the morning. After the autopsy I have a bail hearing to attend. Captain Wright’s lawyers are trying to get him out on bail.”

  “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Brad said angrily. “The son of a bitch killed two people and nearly slaughtered a third!”

  “Innocent until proven guilty,” Gwen said firmly. “I think we have enough evidence to convince the judge to deny bail. The chief did some personal legwork and found out that Wright has some interesting connections, as well as prime real estate in Florida. We believe he’d bolt out of state if not the country in a flash if he was freed.”

  “What kind of connections?” CC asked.

  “Several phone calls on his office phone were placed to the Wisconsin State Prison. Chief Ziegler put an investigator on it. One of the jail snitches accused Wright of being on the take for a smuggling mob based out of Tampa. Seems he bungled a couple of investigations having to do with some stolen jewelry and expensive paintings. Mostly we have him nailed on the murders. When his house was searched, we found the boots with the tiny crack in the sole, and the jacket with the square of fabric missing which is an exact match to the swatch CC found on the snowmobile trail. All the evidence leads directly to him.”

  “His kind reflects on the entire force,” Brad exploded. “I hope he gets a needle in his arm.”

  “The picture we’re painting of Wright just keeps getting better and better,” CC said facetiously.

  “Like I said, I don’t think he’ll be freed. We’ll nail him to the cross at trial,” Gwen assured them.

  “I sure hope you’re right.” CC sighed.

  “Hey, look at this,” Gwen said, paging through Meg’s address book. “Kathy Wright’s name is here. I didn’t know they were friends.”

  “No kidding?” CC asked in surprise. “That’s odd.”

  “I didn’t find any chitchat between the two of them on Facebook, but I did find some odd e-mails where I hadn’t been able to identify the source. Anyone know what Kathy’s e-mail address was?” Brad asked.

  “I seem to remember years ago it was something like ‘Katydid’,” Gwen replied.

  “That could be it. I’ll go back and print them out,” Brad said, hurrying off.

  “I wonder if Carole or Amy are in here,” Gwen mumbled, paging through the book. “Hmm…there’s a CP…could be Carole. And an Amie with no last name…she could have spelled Amy wrong.”

  “I’ll leave this with you, CC,” Gwen said, turning the book over to her. “See if you can find someone who will talk to you who might know the relationships between the missing girls. Have a photo spread made up with Kathy and the three from The Dive. Throw in a couple of other mugshots and see if anyone listed in that book can connect the dots for us.”

  “I’m on it,” CC answered.

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  When her alarm went off at four a.m, Gwen was jarred out of a deep sleep.

  “I am so not ready to get up,” she mumbled, and hit the snooze button to give herself another ten minutes. She had fallen asleep again when the alarm sounded once more. She nearly tripped on Max as she got out of bed. Pierre must be out of town, she thought, making a mental note to pick up dog biscuits and dog food on the way home.

  She put on her sweats and began her exercise routine. As her head cleared from the fog of slumber, she mentally reviewed her morning. First was the autopsy, which shouldn’t last more than an hour. She then rehearsed the argument she planned to give at Wright’s bail hearing.

  She grabbed Max’s leash and ran around the block with him until he’d finished his business. A half hour later she took a long, brisk shower, dressed in her navy pants suit with a baby
blue turtleneck underneath, and made a cup of black coffee to take with her.

  * * *

  “Very good. You’re right on time,” Doc said cheerfully as Gwen stepped into the morgue.

  “I don’t know how people can be so happy at this time of the morning,” she grumbled in response.

  He laughed. “At my age, waking up to a new day is a big deal. Of course, I’ve always been a morning person. It’s the best time of the day.”

  “So they say,” Gwen huffed.

  “Ready to get started?” Doc asked.

  “Sure,” Gwen said, drinking the last dregs of her coffee and throwing the Styrofoam cup into the garbage. She donned a paper gown and smeared mentholated salve under her nose to mask the smell of decomposition that permeated the room.

  “Unremarkable body structure,” Doc Maynard started dictating into the mouthpiece extending downward from his right ear. “Victim is sixty-five inches tall, weight is one hundred thirty-two pounds. Light brown hair, length just below her earlobes. Clothes transported with body: white T-shirt, black slacks, white socks, beige sports bra and white Reebok tennis shoes. Packaged and sent to lab for trace. Taking nail scrapings now…seems to be a substantial amount of soil and debris from the area where the body was discovered. Make a note with a marker if you will, Gwen, on this plastic sack, ‘Compare to soil samples taken at site.’ ”

  He continued, “Seems to be a fair amount of soil contaminating the dried blood. Let’s see how much of it we can save.” He expertly scraped the dried blood around her neck into another plastic bag.

  After meticulously cleaning the skin around her neck and torso, Doc continued, “Incision extends from ear to ear on front side of neck, approximately six and three-quarters inches long, two inches deep. Smooth cut; no jagged edges. Severed jugular vein just below collarbone. Extensive bleeding into esophageal cavity.”

  Moving to the midsection he continued taking measurements. “Stab wound four and one half inches below breastbone is three inches wide, two and one half inches deep. Smooth cut; no jagged edges. Rapid withdrawal of cutting instrument tore upper intestine. Knife continues to a lesser depth, barely breaking skin upward to a point just past throat incision. Ready to check body cavities.”

  He took a small circular saw and expertly cut the crown of the skull and weighed the brain at 1327 grams, dictating his findings into the tape recorder. He then made an incision along the woman’s torso, being careful not to disturb the wounds. He weighed her lungs, heart and kidneys and took samples of her stomach contents. “She hadn’t eaten for several hours,” Doc explained his results as he moved along. “Didn’t go down easily though. She was a fighter and was possibly thrown to the ground during the struggle. See this dark material in her stomach? It’s the probably the same soil as we found under her fingernails. We can test it to see if it matches the soil where she was found. There could have been an altercation before he started cutting her.”

  “Think we’ll find scratch marks on the guy who attacked her?” Gwen asked.

  “Don’t know. He may have worn a layer of protective clothing …possibly even gloves. Unfortunately, although I’ve seen a few fibers, nothing I’d recognize as skin tissue. Of course, that’s for the lab to confirm. I’ve been surprised more than once by what they’ve come up with which was invisible to the naked eye.”

  When he finished his examination, he carefully started sewing shut the layers of flesh he’d opened. “I’ve put a rush on the findings. Hope to get back with you soon,” he told Gwen.

  “I appreciate that, Doc. Thanks,” Gwen said, shedding her protective gear and hurrying out of the morgue.

  The courthouse was only two blocks away, but Gwen decided to park in her assigned spot at the precinct where she’d only have to walk across the street. It was already seven thirty, so she had to hurry.

  As she crossed the parking lot, CC was coming out of the Administrative Building and heading to her car.

  “Wow,” she whistled when she caught up to Gwen. “I’ve never seen you so dressed up.”

  “Well, I can look presentable if I have to,” Gwen said, blushing.

  “You look great! You have a few minutes?”

  “I’ve got to be at Wright’s hearing in a half hour. I’m on my way now,” Gwen said.

  “Mind if I walk with you?”

  “Hell no! What did you do, sleep at your desk?” Gwen kidded.

  “No, but I couldn’t sleep, so I got here early again. I’ve already made a couple calls…not making any points waking people up at seven a.m., but I found someone who knew Meg really well. Said she might have met Kathy a couple times at Meg’s place. She agreed to meet with me if I bought breakfast. And I already have the photo layout. The guys were nice enough to work on it last night.” CC beamed, showing Gwen the sheet with six women’s photographs.

  “Yeah, they did a good job,” she agreed as they reached the courtroom door. “Well, I’d better go in. Good luck and be careful.”

  “You too!”

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  The courtroom was packed to overflowing. TV cameras were positioned in a cramped space in the back and reporters, family, friends and the curious filled every available seat not reserved for the defense and prosecution.

  As everyone was taking their places, Gwen noticed Captain Wright walk in stiffly with his lawyer. He was wearing a blue suit, white shirt and red and blue tie. He had a smug expression on his face and carried himself with an air of authority, like he was going to a business meeting instead of a court hearing. He wasn’t cuffed, but two well-armed guards stood close by. His lawyer was a small man, but had a crooked grin and a dishonest look about him. From the rumors Gwen had heard, Jordan Bell was an expert at defending scumbags like Wright, and had an excellent record of successes.

  Gwen waved to the district attorney assigned to the case, Sydney Fellerman. She had worked with him on many other occasions, and found the man to be brilliant, dedicated and honest. He was tall and athletic, and known to spend his spare time running marathons.

  “All rise,” the bailiff announced, and Judge John Garmer stepped to the bench. Garmer was the last jurist Gwen would have picked had she had a choice in the matter. He was known for his insensitivity and quick decisions, allowing only brief sidebars between the lawyers. Once his mind was made up, it was not easily swayed, no matter how complicated the legal interpretation that the lawyers were arguing. Rumor had it he was close to retiring, and Gwen now wished he had already made that a reality.

  Fellerman summarized the charges against Wright and made it clear that he was a flight risk. He didn’t go as far as accusing the man of having ties to the mob, but made it known that some of his associates were shady and not always law abiding. He tactfully outlined the State’s contention that Wright should not be set free until his trial under any circumstances. Garmer refused Fellerman’s request to submit further evidence substantiating Wright’s crimes and present witnesses.

  Bell was quick to dispute the evidence Fellerman had presented as purely circumstantial, and made Wright sound like an innocent choirboy. He extolled his achievements on the police force and named numerous committees he had headed on behalf of the State. Another list of his volunteer work and donations depicted Wright as a man who kept nothing for himself, but gave most of his time and money to the needy.

  Gwen wanted to throw up, and felt the bile rising in her throat. She got more and more angry and disgusted as Bell’s description of this killer continued. Finally, he sat down and the judge called a fifteen-minute recess.

  Fellerman turned back and looked at Gwen, a helpless frown plastered on his face. He shrugged and turned back to face the front of the courtroom.

  When the judge returned, he quickly recited his verdict. “Bail granted pending payment of a two hundred thousand dollar bond.”

  Gwen nearly cried. For a mere twenty thousand, Wright would be able to purchase his freedom. He would only need to put up ten percent in cash. Wright smiled b
roadly and shook his lawyer’s hand.

  When she shuffled out of the courtroom with the rest of the crowd, Fellerman caught up to her and whispered, “We’ll get him at trial. I promise.”

  Gwen could only nod, wracked with fear she’d lose her composure if she spoke.

  * * *

  Back at the precinct she met with Brad and Scott and brought them up to date with the judge’s decision. CC hadn’t returned from her interview. She also informed Scott about the possible connection between Meg and Kathy.

  “I almost wish the captain does hightail it out of here and head for Florida. At least then he won’t be underfoot,” Scott commented.

  “I can’t believe he’d stick around. With the murder charges pending against him and the wealth of information backing up the fact that he was into some underhanded dealings, not to mention using his position to his own advantage, he’ll never get another job on the force…or for the city for that matter,” Brad added.

  Gwen shook her head. “Leaving will make him look guilty, and from the smug satisfaction he displayed in the courtroom this morning, I’m sure he expects to be fully exonerated. He doesn’t appear to have a worry in the world.”

  “What’s going on?” CC popped her head in. “What’d I miss?”

  “Wright’s out on bail,” Brad said miserably.

  “What? That’s incredible.” Then turning to Gwen, “I’m so sorry. You were so sure.”

  “Yeah, we’ll just have to deal with it. Scott, do you know anyone we can have tail Wright who he won’t recognize?”

  “There’s a real green recruit he couldn’t possibly pick out. The kid’s been out of the academy for only three weeks, and he seems like a real go-getter.”

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