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Undercover secrets untol.., p.19

Undercover Secrets, Untold Lies, page 19


Undercover Secrets, Untold Lies

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  “I can see a bear rug in front of the fireplace,” Gwen mused.

  “We could each decorate one of the smaller bedrooms and have our own den or workroom,” CC said excitedly.

  “This is perfect,” Gwen agreed. “I wonder if they’d accept an offer for less than the asking price.”

  “It wouldn’t hurt to try,” CC urged. “Let’s do it as soon as we get home!”

  Chapter Forty-One

  Chief Ziegler smiled when he saw Gwen. “I didn’t expect to see you back so soon.”

  “I’m feeling a whole lot better,” she said.

  “You’ve been released for full duty? I need a doctor’s release before you can come back to work,” he said firmly.

  “Well…uh, I feel well enough. I saw my doctor yesterday, and I’m released from complete bed rest. Brad called and said Wright is going to make it, so I figured I’d give them a hand with the paperwork. I promise I won’t do anything strenuous,” Gwen begged.

  “You know the rules as well as I do, Gwen. I believe you that you’re feeling better, but you still need to rest. If you overdo it now, it will take longer for your full recovery. I need you back here, but when you’re one hundred percent,” Ziegler told her.

  “I was just…”

  “No. That’s an order,” Ziegler interrupted her plea. “Give it another few days, see your physician again, and we’ll talk then about putting you back full time. It’s for your own safety.”

  “I know. It’s hard to be out of the loop. I miss my team,” Gwen said resignedly.

  “I know. You’re young and strong, so I don’t doubt you’ll be running another marathon with your crew soon. Just enjoy the time off while you can, and we’ll see you back here in a few days.”

  * * *

  Gwen’s mood brightened dramatically when she arrived home and checked her e-mails. The owner of the house they’d bid on accepted their offer. She called her agent and got the ball rolling. If all went well, the closing would take place in six weeks and they could move in shortly thereafter. Pierre was anxious for her to move, having readily agreed on the price for him to buy her out. CC’s house still was up for sale, but she had two potential buyers; they were waiting to see if the bank would approve their financing.

  Gwen tried to call CC to tell her the good news, but was told she was “who knows where” in the building. After a long nap, she woke up at three p.m. and got busy with her dinner preparations. She was about to burst with excitement by the time CC came home at four.

  “Wow, this is a nice surprise,” CC smiled, giving Gwen a kiss and hug. “Those steaks looked wonderful.”

  “I’ve got a little surprise for you.” Gwen tried to hide her excitement.

  “Hmm…you must be feeling better. I’ve been wondering how soon we could get romantic again,” CC said, nestling into Gwen’s arms.

  “That too,” Gwen said, kissing her passionately.

  “Too?” CC asked. “What am I missing?”

  “I found out this morning that our offer on the new house was accepted. We should close in six weeks!”

  “That’s great!” CC screamed. “I’m so excited!”

  “Careful, I don’t need a broken eardrum.” Gwen laughed. “I’m excited too.”

  “You could have called me at work to let me know.” CC pretended to be mad.

  “I tried, but they said you were gallivanting all over the building,” Gwen protested.

  “I certainly was not! Brad, Scott and I are working with Fred to finish detailed reports on everything that happened during the investigation. Now that it looks like Wright will be able to stand trial, we don’t want to miss anything.”

  “I’m sorry I’m not able to help you guys,” Gwen said sadly.

  “We’ve incorporated all your notes. Even Fred was impressed with how thorough you were with the documentation. I think we have everything we need, but I’ll bring home the final draft when we’re done so you can read through it.”

  “I’d appreciate that,” Gwen said, brightening. “I see the doctor tomorrow. I’m hoping they take this damn cast off my arm. It itches like crazy!”

  “I know you’ve been uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be too much longer. And I want to get professional movers so you don’t strain your shoulder. Oh, Gwen! I can’t wait to make our new home together. This is so exciting.”

  “Me too. And I’m famished. Let’s eat!”

  * * *

  Another week went by before Gwen was able to have her cast removed, and was finally released to go back to work on light duty. During the last days of her time off, she was able to get all the paperwork completed, signed and notarized to purchase their new home. CC accepted an offer on her home, and Gwen was able to handle everything for her. It seemed to CC like every night Gwen had an exhausting amount of paperwork for her to read and sign.

  By the time Gwen started back to work, they were all being called daily for meetings with the district attorney and prosecuting team. Every detail of their case against Wright, Algier and Garmer was carefully scrutinized and it was decided which member of the team would testify to each of the charges. As lead of the task force, Gwen would be testifying for the majority of the complaints filed against the men, but CC, Brad and Scott would also be called to testify. Fred’s team was still compiling evidence as they processed items found in the residences and autos of all three men. They had also found the room where Wright had slaughtered the women. It was a small office in the back of the warehouse. Spraying Luminal over the cinderblock walls and cement floor had provided them with plenty of blood splatters to be analyzed. There was some blood pooled under a table and near metal filing cabinets that hadn’t been cleaned at all. A wooden block of kitchen knives taken from Wright’s home most likely contained the butcher knives used on the women. Wright’s fingerprints were everywhere. The number of items confiscated was overwhelming, and each had to be labeled, categorized and thoroughly evaluated. Each memo, e-mail, and phone conversation recorded needed to be grouped with related items to fill in the blanks and tell the entire incriminating story of the men’s complicated and corrupt practices. Based upon the sheer volume of evidence, District Attorney Fellerman requested that all three men be tried together, so that their efforts would not be duplicated, but the defense disagreed and was arguing for separate trials.

  In the evenings, Gwen and CC packed boxes and discarded things they didn’t need. Every morning on the way to the precinct they stopped at a donation center to drop off boxes of clothing and household items that were too good to be thrown away. With two residences to pack, they had their work cut out for them, but with the two of them working together they were making good progress.

  Chapter Forty-Two

  When Stanley Wright was well enough, he was transferred to the infirmary at the Wisconsin State Correctional Facility. He was mobile only with the use of a wheelchair, but at least could move from the infirmary and access the prison’s law library during the one-hour periods prisoners were allotted for free time. He came up with an elaborate plan to countersue the state for wrongful imprisonment, and he would accuse Garmer and Algier for masterminding the entire scheme. He was still working on figuring out how to finagle the evidence to implicate Algier in all the murders. He needed to contact someone who could get into the police evidence room and exchange some of the evidence. He had some ideas as to who he would recruit. There were plenty of cops he had worked with who would willingly volunteer to do a small favor, if the price was right.

  Wright contacted his attorney, Jordan Bell, who met him in the prison cafeteria. It took Wright nearly forty-five minutes to tell Bell how he wanted to be represented, and confided in him regarding the additional false evidence that would be found to turn the suspicion away from him and incriminate Algier.

  When he was finished outlining his plan, Bell said, “Stanley, I’ve known you a long time. You and I go way back…we were young men when we first met. But you’ve chosen a path I took an oath to never go down.
I have a reputation to maintain and a family who’s proud of the man I am. I’m not willing to throw away my morals for any man. I can’t represent you any longer.”

  “What do you mean? You can’t drop me! I paid you good money to represent me against the claims I killed my daughter.”

  “Things have changed, Stanley. This mess you’re involved in goes way beyond killing your daughter in an insane rage. I read through the formal complaint, and you’ve broken the law, and the sacred trust bestowed upon a public official, in just about every way that could possibly be imagined. I don’t know what possessed you to go this route, but I certainly cannot condone it. In fact, I won’t be any part of it. That’s final, Stanley. No further discussion,” Bell said sternly, getting up to leave.

  “But, you’re my friend. I’ll work it your way…just don’t abandon me,” Wright whined.

  “No, Stanley. I can’t. I’m sorry.” Bell left quickly without another word.

  * * *

  Judge John Garmer had a lot of favors to call in, or so he thought. He spent hours of his free time leaving messages for those he had helped in the past. He became increasingly infuriated as his calls were ignored. Over the years he had reduced the charges or forced acquittals for dozens of his friends and colleagues, and now that he needed a little help, they wouldn’t give him the time of day.

  Out of desperation, he finally called two of the best defense lawyers he’d witnessed representing the toughest cases in his courtroom. He knew the price would be steep, but staying in prison was a fate worse than death. He needed fresh air and freedom. He was presently sequestered from the general prison population because of his position, having sentenced many of the inmates to their present status, but he still didn’t feel safe. He doubted the guards gave a damn whether he was protected or not. He kept to himself as much as possible, but there were always occasions where he could be at risk of attack. He was alone in his cell, but was required to eat his meals in the cafeteria and shower once a week with the general populace. The only thing keeping him sane was his thoughts of freedom.

  Brian Jacoby and Carl Washington finally agreed to take his case. The two defenders were as different as night and day, but were the toughest lawyers in the city. Garmer knew part of their reasoning for representing him was the high-profile nature of this case, but they weren’t coming cheap either. Not that the money bothered him—he’d stashed plenty away in foreign accounts under assumed names. If only he hadn’t gotten quite so greedy, and quit just a little sooner. He already had a sweet little woman waiting for him in a Swiss chalet located in the Alps. He’d promised her he was retiring at the end of the year to be with her.

  Brian Jacoby was short, dark and compact. He had recently represented the Jewish Defense League in the Midwest region, and rarely lost a case. Carl Washington was black as coal, and looked like a professional football linebacker. The man had a brilliant mind and easily swayed juries over to his side with his easygoing banter and deep melodic voice. If anyone could win his case, it was these two men.

  * * *

  District Attorney Lawrence Algier was probably in the toughest spot of the three accused. In his position as middleman, he more often made enemies with his contacts, rather than foster friendships. Although he’d made a lot of money over the years, he also had expensive habits. He had lavished his girlfriends with expensive jewelry and fine dining, had been an impeccable dresser, and his hobbies included piloting his own jet and sailing expensive yachts. Traveling the world at every opportunity, he’d been to Europe, traveled extensively in the Mideast, been in every port in South America and had most recently been on an African safari. He didn’t believe in saving for the future, as he lived for the moment. In his line of work, the future was uncertain and the risks were many. Therefore, he was left working with a public defender. His chances of getting off were slim, but he agreed to testify against the others and accept a plea bargain to keep his sentence to a minimum. He could easily pick up the pieces and start over after a few years of serving time. He wasn’t worried.

  Chapter Forty-Three

  At last, one of Garmer’s contacts returned his call. Garmer had been stewing, anxious to put his plans in motion, and finally this man made Garmer a very happy man. He knew that this contact could do the job required, and although his price was steep, Garmer didn’t give the money a second thought. It was a perfect plan, and now it would be finished within a few short days.

  His contact, a guard at the prison, had been to see Garmer many times during his time on the bench. He was a decent man, but had two sons who were constantly getting into serious trouble and had been arrested several times. They both should be serving long prison sentences by now, but they remained on the streets, free men, thanks to Garmer. Sure, he had accepted payment of several thousand dollars over the years, but that was only a formality in doing business. Oh yes, this man owed Garmer plenty, and he would soon collect on the guard’s debt.

  Not wanting to say anything over the phone, the man agreed to visit Garmer in his cell later in the day.

  * * *

  Wright pushed his food around the plate, not feeling at all well this morning. He wasn’t hungry, and it wasn’t just the crap they served for meals here that made him ill. He had stomach cramps and was lightheaded.

  As he sat feeling sorry for himself, he felt a looming presence behind him. A white man, well over six feet tall and with a shaved head sat down beside him. His huge arms were covered with tattoos.

  “They took Algier out,” the man said softly, shoving scrambled eggs into his mouth.

  “Huh?” Wright didn’t understand what the man had said.

  “Algier. Gone.”

  Wright just looked at the man with a blank expression. With a look that mocked Wright’s ignorance, he motioned to the television bolted to the wall. The headline news showed a man being carried out of the prison with a white sheet covering his body. The announcer was saying that Lawrence Algier had been found dead in his cell this morning with a broken neck. There were no witnesses and they were investigating his death.

  Wright turned away from the TV, vomited on his plate, and passed out. He fell out of his chair and hit the floor with a heavy thump.

  * * *

  “He’s been bleeding internally for a few days. We caught it in time, but he’ll need a few days bed rest before he’s transferred back to the prison,” the doctor was telling Gwen and Fred.

  “So he’s not critical?” Gwen asked.

  “Well, there’s always a chance for infection with these kinds of injuries. The tear is in the upper intestine, which holds a great deal of bacteria. But, we were able to clean out the area as well as possible. I think he’ll make it just fine.”

  “Is he conscious?” Fred wanted to know.

  “He’s still groggy from the anesthesia, but he’s awake now. You can have ten minutes with him. No more.”

  “Thank you, Doctor,” Gwen said.

  Wright looked terrible, Gwen thought as they entered his room. He looked like he had lost as much as fifty pounds since she had seen him last.

  He glanced up and said softly, “I’m a dead man.”

  “The doctor says you’ll recover fully,” Barzak told him.

  “No. That’s not what I’m talking about. Soon as I leave this hospital, Garmer will have me killed just like Algier.”

  “How do you know Garmer was responsible for Algier’s death?” Barzak asked.

  Wright squinted at the man through droopy eyes and said, “Give me a break. Isn’t it obvious?”

  “We can offer you protection if you talk,” Barzak told him. “But no bullshit and I want to know everything.”

  Wright closed his eyes and sighed. “Maybe. I’ll think about it.”

  “We’ll be back,” Barzak advised.

  Wright was asleep by the time they were out the door.

  “Do you think he’ll really come clean?” Gwen asked.

  “What does he have to lose? Like he said, he’s
a dead man either way you look at it. Either the judge gets to him or we crucify him in court. I’m sure he knows by now that we can tie him to the murders of Meg, Carole and Amy from the evidence found at the warehouse. My guess is that he planned to go back and clean up his mess, but we nabbed him before he got around to it. I would think that he’d be anxious to cut a deal.”

  “I sure hope you’re right. The evidence against him is overwhelming,” Gwen agreed. “I just want to know why. Do you think Garmer will ever be charged for Algier’s murder?”

  “Probably not. The guards are very tight-lipped and protect their own. It’s an entirely different community and way of life inside the prison walls. The guards and inmates have an unspoken code of conduct that’s pretty hard to penetrate. I sometimes think that the more seasoned thugs have more governing power than the administration.”

  “I’ve heard that opinion expressed before,” Gwen replied.

  “I’m sure Judge Garmer will lose his position, but without the testimony of Algier, the conspiracy charges won’t stick. All we have is circumstantial evidence on him. Remember, he let Algier do all the talking. He’s hired some high-powered attorneys and I’m sure he won’t spend another day in prison after the trial.”

  “That sucks,” Gwen said sadly.

  “At least we got Wright off the streets. He’s the most dangerous of the three in my opinion,” Fred mused. “People want to pay bribes and deal drugs, it would take an army of officers a hundred times the size of our department to clean up just the city of Scarletsville. It’s the cold-blooded killers I’m most thankful that we’re shutting down.”

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