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Undercover secrets untol.., p.16

Undercover Secrets, Untold Lies, page 16

 

Undercover Secrets, Untold Lies
 


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  Gwen explained about the telephone book and that Kathy and Meg had been meeting at Tina’s Pub before they disappeared. She told him everything the waitress had said about seeing Kathy and the captain arguing in the bar, and showed him the pictures she’d taken of Wright and Algier. “Chief, something smells rotten here, and I’ve got to find out what it is.”

  He was staring at the photos. “I have to agree there may be more to this than meets the eye, but I want you to back away from Wright. Let me know where and when you expect him, and I’ll put someone else on the case to watch him. It’s too dangerous for you to get near him. You can still call the shots, but I don’t want you within striking distance of him, understood?”

  Gwen filled the chief in on the new recruit, Sammy, who had been following Wright since his release.

  “I know the young man. Very pleasant and professional. He’ll go a long way. I’ll have someone team up with Sammy to cover Wright’s movements. Does that work for you?”

  “I appreciate it,” Gwen said.

  “Just remember, Gwen. This is getting very dangerous and Captain Wright is gunning for you. Keep your eyes and ears open, but be safe. Now that’s an order!” he said, smiling.

  “Thanks, Chief. And I appreciate you believing in me. I think we’re getting closer. We’ve got a good team.”

  “I know you do. Now get back to work,” he said, slapping her on the shoulder.

  Gwen hurried back to her office, anxious to let the others know about the latest with Wright and his accusations.

  “He must have something he’s hiding to get so upset by you being at that bar,” Brad said thoughtfully.

  “And he’s getting desperate, because you’re always just one step behind him, Gwen,” CC added.

  “It doesn’t make sense that he’d lie,” Scott chimed in. “He knows you work for Ziegler. Does he really think anyone will believe him over you?”

  “Actually, when I went into the chief’s office, he believed Wright’s story. Without those photos he’d still believe Wright over me. Let there be no mistake, Wright is a liar and he’s good at it. He’s been covering his tracks for years with his corruption and alliances with the underground. He believes he can outsmart us all and has the upper hand. Those are the weaknesses we need to capitalize on. We need to move one step ahead of him and watch him hang himself on his cocky attitude.”

  “What do you suggest?” CC asked.

  “Well, the chief doesn’t want any of us following Wright. Scott, make sure Sammy tells you about every move Wright makes and report back to the rest of us. I think the rest of us should cozy up with his alliances. And Scott, see if DA Algier wants to have a beer with you. You can boast about how your cases always get priority in the lab and how you work hand in hand with the chemists. I’m sure someone like Algier would love to have someone on the inside to phony some of his results,” Gwen said, walking back and forth as she talked. “Brad, isn’t your daughter the same age as Judge Garmer’s granddaughter? Find out what activities he goes to with his family and enjoy doing the same with yours…paid for by the department. CC, you and I will look up a few old cases. We’re looking for anything connecting Wright, Algier and Garmer. And DA Fellerman owes me a few favors. Somehow, we’ve got to find probable cause to get into the trunk of Wright’s car and snip a few fibers.”

  They all got busy with their assigned tasks, and the rest of the day flew by. It was after six p.m. when Gwen looked up from her stack of files. “CC, what do you think about stopping by the house for a bite to eat? That way we can check in with Pierre and the pups before we head out to The Dive.”

  “Yeah, I’m famished. We haven’t eaten since breakfast,” CC said, rubbing her belly. “If I drink one more cup of that rotten coffee on an empty stomach, I’m going to puke.”

  “Okay, let’s get you some food.”

  Peanut and Cashew were waiting at the door for them, wagging their tails and full of energy. They jumped up on Gwen’s and CC’s legs and danced around their feet with excitement. Getting down on her knees, CC was smothered with kisses.

  “Sure is nice to be missed,” Gwen said laughing.

  “Gosh, you’d think we’d been gone a week. Just look at those little tails wagging and their kisses are so sweet,” CC said, cooing to the boys.

  Pierre came to the door and smiled. “So there are your little monsters. I was wondering where they’d run off to.”

  “Oh-oh,” Gwen said. “Did they do something wrong?”

  “Found the dog door between our two places in no time flat. Maybe they watched Max going through. Anyway, I had a pile of papers on my den floor I was going to shred…they saved me the trouble. Then they headed to my bathroom and made confetti out of my toilet paper.”

  “We’re so sorry, Pierre. Do you want me to close the dog door during the day?” Gwen asked.

  “Nah. After I got everything cleaned up, I went through and puppy-proofed the place. Been a long time since I did that! Actually, it’s a lot of fun having them around…they are a couple of characters. And Max is much more active, keeps him from sleeping all day. He’s enjoying the little guys too.”

  “Well, sorry about the mess, Pierre. Let me know if there’s anything we can do to make it up to you,” CC said.

  “Tell you what,” Pierre said with a twinkle in his eyes. “Next time you make another one of those superb roasts, you can invite me for dinner again.”

  Chapter Thirty-Four

  The following day it seemed as if everything was going at a whirlwind pace. They were all working overtime on their assignments, and Gwen and CC had brought a stack of files home to go over in the morning before they went into the precinct. They decided to make it part of their evening routine to go home and check on the dogs before heading to The Dive, so they wanted to make sure they had plenty of work on hand after eating dinner, feeding the boys, taking them on their walk, and before heading out again. Going through the old case files was slow and tedious work, and so far they hadn’t found anything linking the three men together.

  At their task force meeting, everyone was hopeful that they were onto something and that the case would be solved soon. There was a nervous tension in the air, as if everyone was expecting the investigation to crack wide open and the perps exposed.

  Brad laughed. “Last night my daughter Angela and her two friends needed a ride out to Fairfield High to watch a big soccer match. Turns out there’s a big rivalry between Fairfield which my daughter attends, and Oakridge, where I found out Garmer’s granddaughter goes to school. I decided to do some surveillance and sat right behind Judge Garmer and his daughter. About halfway through the game, who shows up but that scumbag Algier. I couldn’t hear all they were saying, but Gwen, you were right about some of that money finding its way into Garmer’s hands. First thing Algier did was hand him the magic envelope.”

  Scott was bursting at the seams for his turn to share with the group. “I called Sammy and asked him to meet me at the game. He was sitting on the other side of Garmer’s daughter. He caught Garmer saying ‘the situation hasn’t been sufficiently satisfied.’ Sammy thinks they’re trying to extort more money from Wright. From the look on his face, Algier wasn’t happy about it, but told Garmer he’d get back to him.

  “Algier didn’t stay for the whole game, and I followed him to The Brat Stop when he left,” Scott continued. “I sat next to him and ordered a beer. After he was settled and chomping down on his brat, I told him he looked familiar. He straightened up and gave me the ‘holier than thou’ routine about how important he was in the DA’s office. I told him I worked as a liaison between the detectives and the laboratory. His ears perked up and he bought me a beer, but didn’t ask for any help. At least not yet.”

  “That’s great work, Scott,” Gwen said. “Keep on it.”

  “I just found a file before the meeting which might be of interest,” CC said next. “It’s a case that came up before Judge Garmer about a month ago. Algier was the district attorney as
signed to the case, and a businessman by the name of Viceroy was claiming extortion by a patrolman named Finley. Sorry guys, this gets murky in the file, but I checked the roster, and Finley worked for Wright. Of course, all charges were dropped quickly. In fact, it looks like most of the proceedings are missing from the file.”

  “What happened to the patrol officer…Finley?” Gwen asked.

  “I called one of my contacts at the North Precinct,” CC replied. “As far as he knows, it’s business as usual. Finley is still on the job.”

  “Brad, can you see if you can find Viceroy? See if he can fill you in on the details,” Gwen asked.

  “Umm…I did a quick search,” CC cut in. “He died of a heart attack two weeks after the hearing.”

  “Damn,” Gwen whistled under her breath. “Okay, then see if he has any family, or maybe a business partner, who knows anything about the case. If he was angry enough to take it all the way to court, he must have let off some steam with someone.”

  “I’m on it,” Brad said enthusiastically.

  “One more thing,” Scott added. “There was an unfortunate situation with Wright’s car last night. Both back tires were slashed. They were flat as pancakes when Wright tried to drive off this morning, so it’s being towed to Chuck’s Garage. They do a lot of work for the force, so the captain should get a really good deal on two new tires, and Sammy thought he’d give his buddy over there a hand. As long as he’s at it, we’ll have our fibers from Wright’s trunk within a couple hours. I have the lab standing by.”

  “We need evidence, but be careful we go through the proper channels,” Gwen warned. “I don’t want anything getting thrown out in court by sloppy detective work, or because we’ve obtained evidence by illegal means.”

  Gwen’s phone rang. She listened, staring grimly at the team around her. They’d found the body of the third missing woman.

  * * *

  Amy Farley’s body had been found by a neighbor who had been walking his dog in an empty field not far from the downtown area. The young man was clearly distraught and told them his dog had been pulling at his leash, trying to get him to go in that direction for about a week. He was always in a hurry to get the dog walked so he could get to work, and he had been ignoring the dog’s protests. The past two days he smelled something awful coming from that direction, but again, he’d been in a hurry and kept the dog on the path he was accustomed to walking him. He figured it had to be a dead bird or cat, and the last thing he wanted to do was let his black Labrador retriever bring it home. Today he had the day off, so he figured he would let the dog show him where the animal was, and he could come back later and bury it. A dead body was the last thing he’d expected to find.

  Amy was a big woman, an Amazon, the patrons at The Dive had called her. She was nearly six feet tall and weighed almost two hundred pounds. Whoever had killed her had to have a fair amount of strength. Just dragging her out of a car would have been a major accomplishment. Like the others, her throat was slashed and her belly split open.

  Doc Maynard arrived and confirmed the woman had been dead about a week, give or take a day or two.

  Just as in the other murders, CC was able to bag several green fibers from the dead woman’s hair and clothing. When she finished her examination, she stood and addressed Doc Maynard. “I guess I have to take my turn. When are you planning on performing the autopsy?”

  Gwen couldn’t help but laugh at CC’s nervous gesture, but stifled her grin as best as she could. CC was trying so hard to be a good sport, do her share, and not appear rattled by the prospect of viewing the body being taken apart piece by piece by Doc Maynard. Her posture and expression made Gwen think of one of the pups shirking away after being disciplined.

  “We can do it as soon as the crime scene techs are finished. The sooner the better, don’t you think?”

  “Uh, I guess so. I haven’t attended too many, Doc.”

  “Oh, don’t worry. I’ll be gentle with you,” he said, taking her hand and leading her away. “Now, over the years I’ve led hundreds of recruits through the fascinating process of autopsying the body. We can so often gain such a terrific insight as to who the person was and how they conducted their life. There’s such a wonderful story told by the skeleton, muscles and internal organs; I never cease being amazed at the outstanding handiwork of our Creator. Usually the bigger they are, the harder it is for them. You’re just a little thing, and I’m guessing you have a fairly strong constitution, so you’ll do just fine.”

  When they were out of earshot, Gwen let out her breath and laughed until she cried. The release felt good in the midst of so much death and gloom.

  Chapter Thirty-Five

  Gwen returned to her office and continued to go through the case files. She found two more that were suspect, although not as explicitly incriminating as the one found by CC.

  Just before three p.m. CC returned, and Gwen couldn’t resist putting her arms around her in a big bear hug. “How’d it go, hon?”

  “I saw you laughing,” CC pretended to pout. “Actually, it went really well. Doc Maynard is a gem. He’s so gentle with the dead and he taught me so much. I don’t think I’ll ever be scared again, although it is a gruesome ordeal which I hope I don’t have to go through again soon.”

  “That’s great. He is a terrific man and a wonderful teacher. You can tell he loves his work,” Gwen replied. “Did you find anything else that could help us in the investigation?”

  “She chipped her tooth fairly recently, possibly when she fought her attacker. It would be great luck if we could find it at the murder site. The wounds were made with the same type of knife as with the others and were nearly identical to Meg’s. This time Doc may have found flesh under her fingernails. We were thinking that she was able to fight harder than the others. In fact, Doc suggested maybe that’s why he picked smaller women after killing Amy. The order of deaths appears to be Amy first, Meg second, Carole next and Reyna last.”

  “Tying Reyna’s death into those of the others has been puzzling me,” Gwen admitted. “The only thing I can think of is that she knew the other three, and our killer might have been worried she’d known enough from talking with them to go to the police.”

  “I still think Kathy’s business partner, Linda, is at risk. Speaking of which, I should call and check with the officer assigned to her.”

  They’d barely started on the stack of files again when Scott returned. “It’s a match.” He beamed. “Sammy got the fibers from Wright’s trunk and they’re exactly what we expected. Better yet, he found a small amount of blood on the top of the trunk. It’s out for DNA analysis.”

  “Even if it’s inadmissible, I can’t wait to get this information to the chief,” Gwen said excitedly.

  “Oh, and take a look at this,” Scott said, holding up a small plastic bag.

  “It’s a piece of tooth!” CC exclaimed. “I’ll just bet it was Amy’s!”

  “The chief is going to kill me.” Gwen sighed. “We didn’t have a search warrant for Wright’s trunk.”

  Scott looked triumphant. “That’s why I brought a copy of the disclaimer he signed for the repairs. It’s fairly comprehensive and shows that Wright more or less left the car to be examined by authorized personnel. They use the same release for the cops to sign when they impound a vehicle and have it stored at Chuck’s,” Scott told her.

  “This just might work!’ Gwen said, as relieved as she was happy. “I’m going to see if I can see the chief now. Thanks guys!”

  Gwen had to wait twenty minutes, but it was worth it to see the look on Chief Ziegler’s face when she showed him all the evidence they had collected; the files she and CC had pulled to show conspiracy between the three men, the soccer game Brad had attended with Judge Garmer, Algier showing up with Garmer’s bribe money, and Scott’s suspicions that Algier would gladly pay to have lab results falsified. She thought he’d drop his teeth when she told him about the green fibers and piece of tooth found in Wright’s trunk. Last b
ut not least, and before he could utter a word about admissible evidence she showed him the disclaimer Wright had signed when he left his car at Chuck’s.

  “This is huge, Gwen. It’s not just about a crooked ex-captain anymore. We’re now talking about pressing charges against a judge and district attorney. I’m turning this all over to Internal Affairs,” Chief Ziegler told her grimly.

  “Does that mean we’re off the case?” she asked anxiously.

  “I’m sure they could use your help with many facets of this case. I’ll have Fred Barzak meet with your team before the day is out to come up with a new strategy. He’s a good guy, Gwen. I’ve worked with him for several years and have only the highest respect for his work.”

  “Okay, Chief,” she conceded reluctantly. “I’ll call everyone together and wait for him in my office.”

  “Thanks, Gwen. Whatever happens from here on in, this is terrific work. Let your team know how much I appreciate all their efforts.”

  “I will. Thanks.”

  Brad was already in Gwen’s office when she returned. CC was still going through the files and had commandeered Scott into helping her with the remaining stack. Gwen let them know Chief Ziegler’s decision and asked them all to be patient until they learned how Internal Affairs wanted them to proceed.

  They chatted about the case and tried to envision three public servants scheming and plotting for their own benefit. They all believed only Wright had been the perpetrator of the murders, but certainly the other two had been privy to some of his actions.

  “May I interrupt?” A tall, handsome man in his late fifties knocked at the door. “I’m Fred Barzak.”

  “We’ve been expecting you, Mr. Barzak,” Gwen said curtly, introducing herself and then her staff.

  “Please, call me Fred. I’ve heard some very disturbing news,” he said, closing the door behind him and taking a seat on the edge of Gwen’s desk. “First of all, I want you to know that I’m not here to take anyone off the job. You’ve done outstanding work. All I’m asking is that you allow me and my team to assist you with some resources that you’ve not had at your disposal up to now.”

 
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