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Undercover secrets untol.., p.2

Undercover Secrets, Untold Lies, page 2


Undercover Secrets, Untold Lies

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  “I’m going to take the notebooks with me. Maybe I can make some sense out of them later,” Gwen said wearily.

  “I’ll drop the laptop off on my way home. Maybe the techs can have something for us from the hard drive by morning,” Scott volunteered.

  “Thanks. I appreciate it.”

  “No problem. Goodnight.”

  “’Night. See you in the morning.”

  Chapter Three

  Gwen woke up bathed in sweat. She’d been dreaming about the last time she’d been with Kathy. It was the three-day weekend of Halloween, and they’d returned to Kathy’s dorm in the wee hours of the morning. Hot and sweaty after parading around in her costume all day and half the night, Gwen had announced she was going to hit the showers before bed. She’d walked down the hall to the spacious bathroom shared by the occupants of the dorm’s fourth floor, stripped, and stood enjoying the steady stream of hot water easing her muscles. Suddenly she realized she wasn’t alone and Kathy’s soapy hands had started washing her back, buttocks and legs. It had felt fabulous and she had luxuriated in the soft touch of her fingertips, never wanting her to stop.

  Gwen had let it be known from her junior year of high school that she was gay, but Kathy, being the party girl and popularity queen, had never shown an interest in another woman. Feeling Kathy behind her, putting her hands on her, was a pleasant surprise she wouldn’t soon forget. Gwen remembered turning and putting her hands on Kathy’s breasts, kneading the firm, soft skin, and erect nipples. Their lips had met and they had hungrily taken in each other’s passion.

  Back in the dorm room they had made love for hours. In fact, Gwen had called police headquarters and said she’d had car trouble and couldn’t make it in, which made their weekend three days instead of the planned two.

  And that was it. The first and the last time she had been with Kathy. In rationalizing it, Gwen had felt that Kathy wanted to keep up appearances, and being branded a lesbian was not the image she had intended to project. Shortly afterwards Gwen heard that Kathy had married one of the popular football players from high school. Six months later, rumor had it that Kathy was already divorced. The next time Gwen heard about her was from a colleague, who had kept Kathy’s name out of a sting operation from which they’d confiscated thousands of dollars in illegal drugs.

  Kathy, who seemed to glide effortlessly and fit into any situation easily, was really more like an innocent and frightened animal, starved for affection. Adding to her troubled mind, Kathy found the comfort she was seeking in substances that could only cause her harm.

  Gwen forced herself to remember everything Kathy had told her. Her grandmother had been an addict, and her grandfather resorted to stealing to support his wife’s habit. For most of his young life, Captain Wright had grown up fatherless. His father was in and out of jail and his dazed mother mostly remained locked in her bedroom. They were poor except for the brief periods when the elder Wright found work as a plumber. Kathy’s father learned at an early age how to steal to put food on the table for his family. After learning of his background Kathy told Gwen she was surprised her father joined the police force, but it was one of the few jobs available at the time that provided a decent income. She was proud of her father in that respect—he’d been able to turn his life around. Gwen surmised that it was Captain Wright’s rough childhood that made him so protective of his daughter. He was strict and wanted the best for her at any cost, even when it made Kathy stubborn and rebellious.

  Gwen forced herself out of bed and moved to the far end of the room to her exercise equipment. Lost in thought, she went through her hour-long exercise routine of pushups, exercise bike and weight lifting, and the time flew by. After a long hot shower, she put on thermal underwear under her gray flannel pants and donned a bulky, hunter green sweater so she would be warm enough to be able to stay outdoors as long as necessary to once more scour the crime scene.

  Traffic was light at six thirty a.m. The sun was just rising and she was able to cruise easily along the county roads at a fast pace before rush hour traffic began. It took her only twenty minutes to reach the scene. Gwen parked near the point at the ravine where Kathy’s car had left the road, ducked under the yellow crime scene tape, and carefully walked down to the spot they’d found Kathy’s body.

  There were deep ruts in the snow where the car had been towed back up the incline and taken to the police lot where it could be scoured for evidence. Gwen walked slowly in ever- widening circles and kicked at clumps of snow to make sure nothing of significance had been left behind by the techs. At the far end of the clearing, where the incline back to the road began, and where the officer had found the deep footprints, Gwen knelt and studied the route the killer would most likely have taken. He would have needed another vehicle to make his getaway, but if Kathy was already dead, how had he managed to get here with two cars? Could he have stashed a motorcycle or snowmobile? She made a note to check Kathy’s car for a trailer hitch. She stood and started to walk up the slope again. Just then, she noticed someone walking twenty yards ahead, along the far side of the road. The person hadn’t been visible when she had walked down the incline.

  “Hey, this is a crime scene,” Gwen yelled angrily. “No one’s allowed in this area! Please leave immediately!”

  The woman turned, a startled look on her face. “I know. I’m your new partner! They sent me out here to take a look after I checked in at the precinct.” She had an identification badge around her neck over her snowsuit, the familiar yellow lanyard was blowing in the wind as she walked.

  “Oh, shit,” Gwen muttered under her breath as she trudged up the snowbank to catch up to the woman. “You’re the newbie everyone’s been whispering about?”

  Gwen studied her as she waited for an answer. The woman had hair the same color as the golden retriever Gwen once had, and the way the sun reflected on the wisps of hair from the top of her head to her shoulders made her look bathed in a halo. Her eyes were deep pools of blue with little laugh lines at the edges, but now her face showed her deep concentration and was very serious.

  The woman turned crimson and extended her hand, “Chloe Carpenter, but everyone calls me CC.” She pulled at the jacket of her bright orange snowsuit nervously.

  “Nice to meet you, CC. I’m Gwen Meyers, the detective assigned to this case. Sorry to startle you, but you know how curiosity seekers can mess up a scene. If it wasn’t still so cold, there’d be plenty of onlookers trying to discover something down here and taking a bit of evidence home for their scrapbooks.”

  “That’s okay. Officer O’Neil was supposed to let you know I was coming.”

  Gwen pulled out her cell phone and noticed she had a message. “Damn. I forgot to take it off vibrate, and I can’t feel it over this much clothing. How long have you been out here?”

  “About two hours. I wanted to scan the landscape with ultraviolet light while it was still dark to see what showed up. I didn’t find any more trace, but I found a snowmobile path just on the other side of the brush across the road. It’s been used recently. There are fresh skids moving away from this area, but not coming in. I found that odd,” CC added, running her fingers through her long blond hair.

  “So the perp must have hidden a snowmobile to get out of the area after he dumped Kathy and rolled the car! Good work.”

  “Thanks. Well, I guess I’m through here for now. What about you?” CC asked.

  “I’ve got just enough time for a cup of coffee if you’re interested, before I head back for the autopsy.” Gwen smiled, pleased she’d been assigned a partner who wasn’t afraid to dig in and work carefully and rigorously.

  “Sure. That sounds great. Jackie’s Deli should be open.”

  “Meet you there.”

  They arrived simultaneously at the deli and found a table in the back. Gwen ordered a ham and egg breakfast sandwich and small juice to go with her coffee, while CC opted for an English muffin and coffee.

  “Any suspects?” CC asked.

“No, not yet. They haven’t finished processing the car, but it looks like the perp was careful not to leave anything behind. No prints of the perp or of Kathy.”

  “I can tell you she wasn’t ejected. She was placed in that spot on the snow,” CC volunteered. “I checked the broken windows before they towed the car yesterday. No way was there enough room for a body to get through. And, though she’s got plenty of bruises, there were no scratches from broken glass if she actually went through the windshield or one of the side windows. I’m waiting for my photos. I want to enlarge what I think was a fifteen-foot mark in the icy snow. I’m guessing it was made by her ring while she was being dragged.”

  “Wow, you are as good as they say you are!” Gwen marveled.

  CC blushed again. “Just doing my job. I like it here in Scarletsville.”

  “Where are you from originally?” Gwen asked.

  “Grew up in Milwaukee, but I attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.”

  “That’s a coincidence. That’s where Kathy went.”

  “Oh? I didn’t know that. Do you know when she graduated?”

  “She didn’t. She spent two years partying and then came back here. She was married a short time and worked on and off at Chuck’s Garage. She got hooked on meth and coke and it really messed her up. Her dad, Captain Wright, got her into rehab, but I don’t know if she was able to stay off the stuff. Guess we’ll find out at the autopsy.”

  CC contemplated this. “That’s too bad. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life even after I graduated from U-WM, so I went from bad jobs to worse jobs until I took a summer internship in police dispatch. I was hooked instantly and the rest is history. I’ve seen so many people destroy their lives one way or another. It’s hard to sit back and watch. Did you know her well?”

  It was Gwen’s turn to blush. “Ah…yeah, pretty well a few years back. We went to high school together.”

  “I take it you were a couple? She was gay?” CC inquired. Then seeing the pained look on Gwen’s face, she hastily added, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry.”

  “It’s okay. Nah. Nothing like that,” Gwen said softly. “We’d barely started a relationship before it was over. She wasn’t gay. Kathy was a free spirit. She was the type that went for the gusto. She was hell-bent on risk taking, whether it was bungee jumping or skydiving, whether or not she was scared shitless. If it was there to try, she did it. She told me about going to San Diego on a vacation. The Coast Guard had issued surf warnings, but Kathy had just learned to ride a body board. So, she ran out and caught a big wave and was dragged under. Her body was scraped and bruised from head to toe along the bottom of the ocean. She was finally dumped onto the beach by the wave, and she started laughing hysterically because she’d made it. She wasn’t going to stop until she’d tried it all—and I mean tried everything and anything! I can still see the far-out look in her eyes when she told her stories—daring, relentless, and satisfied.”

  “I dated a woman like that for about a year. It was heartbreaking to watch her take so many stupid risks. I finally gave up trying to save her. We can’t help people who aren’t willing to try to save themselves. It’s not your fault, Gwen.”

  “I know. Thank you for understanding,” Gwen said, choking up.

  They quit talking while the waitress put their food down and they ate in silence for a few minutes. Gwen changed the subject, they chatted about movies and books they enjoyed, and restaurants around town they both liked. When they had finished eating, CC steered the conversation back to the investigation.

  “I would have liked Kathy,” CC said thoughtfully. “Is her dad being a cop going to make this case more difficult for you?”

  “Already has.” Gwen bristled. “Scott…uh, Sergeant Richards and I searched her apartment last night. Someone had been there going through things ahead of us.”

  “That doesn’t sound good,” CC said, shaking her head. “I’ll keep looking and let you know what I come up with. I thought I’d take a hike down that snowmobile trail. Now that I’m warmed up, I can head out again for a while.”

  “Sounds great, CC. I’ve got to be getting back to the precinct. Thanks for your help,” Gwen said, throwing a twenty down on the table. “I’m going to enjoy working with you.”

  CC said confidently, “We’ll make a great team. I feel it already. Hey, I’ll pay for my own—” CC started to say before Gwen interrupted her.

  “My treat. You can get it next time. Thanks again. See you later,” Gwen said and she hurried out the door.

  Chapter Four

  Hmm, nice. Definitely my type, Gwen thought, driving to the station. We like the same movies and books, and the same kind of food. Yep, I definitely want to pursue this. She sure is hot, especially the dimple in her left cheek!

  Arriving at the station, she parked her car on the second floor of the cement parking structure, and took the overhead walkway to the massive brick Scarletsville Police Administrative Building. She rode the elevator down to the basement morgue.

  Exiting the elevator she took an immediate right and walked down the cold, granite-walled corridor, the chemical smells getting stronger every step of the way.

  Dr. Berry Maynard was sitting at the reception desk talking on the phone as she entered. She waited silently as he waved and finished his conversation.

  Doc was old school and ran the morgue by the book, logging everything himself and meticulously examining every inch of the bodies brought to him for autopsy. He’d once told her it wasn’t that he didn’t trust anyone else to help him with his work, it was just that he so enjoyed solving mysteries; he so loved exposing the evidence he retrieved from the corpses, he was reluctant to give any of it up. He had no plans to retire. A widower at sixty-four years old, he sported a long white beard but was as agile and spry as someone half his age.

  “Good morning, Detective.” Doc Maynard smiled at her. “A fine morning it is, but I’m afraid you missed all the excitement.”

  “You’ve already finished the autopsy?” Gwen asked anxiously.

  “Not going to be one until Captain Wright’s representative gets here,” Doc answered grimly.

  “What? How could he delay…I mean…why would he want an additional person to be present at his daughter’s autopsy?” Gwen stammered.

  “Doesn’t want his little girl caught up in the so-called ‘indignity of an autopsy’,” Doc told her. “I suppose the real reason is he’s going make sure I don’t find anything he doesn’t want found.”

  “This is a damn murder investigation!” Gwen replied angrily.

  “Not only had his signature on the documentation, but he had the governor’s approval for the delay,” Doc informed Gwen.

  “You know this really pisses me off,” Gwen pouted, clenching her fists.

  “Well, Gwen, I guess it’s a good thing I did the preliminary last night,” he said, a smirk on his face.

  “You did? What did you find?” Gwen asked anxiously.

  “I don’t have all the lab work back yet, but I ordered a toxicology screening, and just on a hunch performed a pregnancy test. She was three months along.”

  “Phew!” Gwen exclaimed, delighted with him. “So everything isn’t lost!”

  “Well, I checked her skin pretty thoroughly and took pictures of the bruises. Her neck was broken at the second cervical vertebrae and petechial hemorrhages in her eyes confirmed strangulation. The bruises on both her upper arms were deep enough to indicate someone held her tightly, but I was going to measure the prints this morning. All I can say is that the hands grabbing her body were large. She had one broken fingernail on the second finger of her right hand, but again, I was waiting until this morning to get the fingernail scrapings to see if she had any of her attacker’s skin lodged beneath the nails. She put up one hell of a struggle—that I could tell you for sure. Of course, lying in the snow would have cooled her body down fairly quickly, but my best estimate is that she was killed on Friday.”

“So the killer kept her body for three days, then dumped her and her car out in a cow pasture! That’s so weird. Doesn’t make sense, does it, Doc?”

  “When someone cares for the deceased, they’re going to try to keep the body as long as they can. But then when decomposition begins, it takes a strong stomach to withstand the stench, or to hide it from others. I’m guessing that’s the case here,” Doc surmised.

  “If you could have extracted the fetus, we’d have had DNA to tie-in to the father and possibly our killer, right Doc?”

  “Absolutely,” he agreed.

  “Do you have any idea when this ‘representative’ of the captain is supposed to get here?” Gwen asked.

  “Can’t tell you that,” Doc said, scratching his chin through his thick beard. “I plan on sleeping on the cot in my office. Could be anytime after midnight.”

  “I’ll leave my cell phone on. You’ll call me if you discover anything new?”

  “Sure will, Detective. This little girl didn’t deserve what she got. I’ll be thorough no matter who’s watching me work.”

  * * *

  Gwen slept fitfully on and off, and at six a.m. she gave up, threw on her robe, padded into her kitchen in her bare feet, and flipped the switch to start a pot of coffee. When it was done, she paced until she couldn’t stand it anymore. At seven a.m. she called Doctor Maynard. Doc picked up on the first ring.

  “Were you able to autopsy Kathy?” Gwen blurted out.

  “Yep. We finished about two a.m. I didn’t want to call and wake you. Besides, I won’t know any more until I receive the lab results,” Doc said kindly.

  “Who was the surprise representative?” Gwen asked curiously.

  “Oh, just some fancy, highfalutin’ doctor from Madison. Thought he knew more than I did, but I put him in his place right quick. Don’t worry, I got all I needed.”

  “Where is she now—still in the morgue?”

  “Nope. They whisked her out of here as soon as the autopsy was finished. That damn funeral home hurried me through the paperwork like there was no tomorrow,” Doc harrumphed.

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