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Undercover secrets untol.., p.5

Undercover Secrets, Untold Lies, page 5


Undercover Secrets, Untold Lies

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  When no one spoke up, Gwen continued, “First thing tomorrow morning I’m going to pay another visit to Captain Wright. Let’s find out what he has to say about Cyndi’s murder. And why he lied to me about Kathy’s boyfriend. See you all tomorrow.”

  Chapter Nine

  Gwen took a long hot bath when she got home and settled into her bed wearing her flannel pajamas. With a cup of hot tea on her nightstand, she started reading the two notebooks she’d taken from Kathy’s apartment. It was painful to know she was reading the diaries of a woman she had once loved who was now dead.

  Trying to get some timeframe as to when they were written, Gwen noticed tiny lettering on the bottom of every ninth or tenth page showing the date. The second notebook was only half filled, so she started with that one, reading the most recent entries first and going backward in time.

  On the day before her murder, she had been struggling with telling Jerry about the pregnancy. If she decided to abort, she wouldn’t have to tell him at all. She liked the idea of entering into motherhood, but knew she could not afford to support the baby on her limited income.

  Kathy wrote several pages about how furious her father would be when he discovered her pregnancy. Surely there would be no more handouts of twenty-dollar bills when she begged for money, and the occasional dinner she was treated to when his mood was hospitable. His reaction would certainly be one reason to opt for abortion.

  Keeping the baby meant visiting an obstetrician regularly and starting on a regimen of vitamins and calcium. There was no way she could do that without Jerry’s financial support. She’d learned she was expecting from the results of cheap, drugstore urine tests. She wondered if they could be giving her false readings, even though she’d tested herself three times, on three consecutive days. Thus far, she’d only had minimal nausea in the morning, and nothing like the violent morning sickness she’d heard others talk about. The thought of drinking milk made her want to vomit. She missed her vodka tonics, but needed to be strong and stick to her program, regardless of the pregnancy.

  She wrote pages and pages about what a nice guy Jerry was and how much she enjoyed being with him. She wasn’t in love but wondered, given the right circumstances, if she could fall in love and be with him “till death do us part.” He was great in bed, and liked the same music, TV programs and movies as she did. Never before had she dated someone so “squeaky-clean.” In her journals were notes on every date they’d had in the past year—movies, parties, long walks, in-depth conversations about life and what their fondest hopes and dreams were. She admitted he was more than a brotherly figure, but less than her knight in shining armor. Maybe, she had pondered, there wasn’t such a thing, at least not for her.

  Many of the writings were assignments from her stay in rehabilitation. She wrote daily about how great she felt and how staying off the drugs had opened her eyes to the value of a clean and sober life. Every day she vowed to make it through whatever she came up against without getting high. She needed to find a Narcotics Anonymous meeting soon, as she had promised to do upon release from her inpatient stay. She already had a sponsor who, she wrote in her journal, was “keeping her strong.” She called Lisa every day, whether she was feeling up or down, and Lisa was the only one she had confided in about her pregnancy. Gwen made a note to try to find “Lisa,” but knowing the anonymity of the program, that was sure to prove difficult.

  Gwen felt guilty reading some of the entries she was sure Kathy would never have divulged to anyone, least of all a former lover like herself. And the more she read, the more Gwen realized she hadn’t known Kathy at all. During their night of lovemaking, Kathy had asked a million questions of Gwen; she had asked about all her former lovers, what she liked and didn’t like about her life, and about things that had happened as she was growing up. She had wanted to know how Gwen had reacted and how it had affected her life afterward. Kathy had revealed little about herself. She was wrapped up in a cocoon of her own emotions and trying to learn how to act by following the direction of those people she admired. Had Gwen not been so stupid, had she seen the signs of depression she’d studied since joining the police force, perhaps she would have been able to make a difference in Kathy’s life and things would have turned out differently. Gwen berated herself for not keeping in touch. She wiped the tears from her eyes and returned to the notebooks. Most of the earliest writings were gibberish that Gwen couldn’t decipher. Clearly, she had been high when she had started keeping her logs.

  At six a.m. Gwen awoke to the annoying buzzing sound of her alarm clock. Hopefully she could get into the office before the others and check her e-mails to see if the lab had found anything new. She’d fallen asleep reading Kathy’s journals. Groaning, she reached over to turn off the alarm and woke up fully while she was going through her exercise routine. She tried to put Kathy out of her mind as she showered, made a cup of instant coffee and sat at her kitchen nook to read the paper.

  The accident was front page news again. The headline read, “Police Captain’s Daughter Dead in Crash.”

  “So they haven’t figured out yet that the police are conducting a murder investigation,” Gwen mused.

  The article reported that the car sliding off the highway due to the slippery roads had caused the tragic accident. Perfect to keep the press out of their hair, hopefully for a few days or until they could catch the creep who’d put Kathy there.

  After skimming through the rest of the paper, Gwen grabbed her coat and headed out the door. Just as she slid into her car, her cell phone rang.

  “Gwen, I have the results of the tox screenings,” Doc Maynard told her. “No illegal drugs in her body, but a heap of over-the-counter vitamins.”

  “Glad to hear that,” Gwen replied.

  “Doesn’t help you much, but it will be comforting to the family to know she was clean as a whistle.”

  “Yes, Doc, I’m sure her father will be pleased,” Gwen said, smiling.

  Her cell rang again.

  “Hi, Gwen. It’s CC. Hope I didn’t wake you.”

  “No,” Gwen laughed. “I don’t have time for the luxury of sleeping in today. I’m on my way to the North Precinct to see Captain Wright now. What’s up?”

  “The cell phone I found under the couch wasn’t Cyndi’s. It belonged to Kathy. We’re getting a printout of all calls in and out from her carrier. We should have the information this afternoon.”

  “Hmm…good news. It ties Kathy with Cyndi, and proves Kathy had been to the flophouse. Odd she’d leave without her cell phone, but maybe she didn’t know she’d lost it.”

  “That’s what I thought, unless Cyndi had some reason to steal it from Kathy’s purse, then slip it under the couch to hide it.”

  “We’ll probably never know, but at least we’ll know who Kathy was in contact with on the days leading up to her death,” Gwen said thoughtfully.

  “Yeah. Good luck with Captain Grouch,” CC teased.

  “Thanks,” Gwen laughed. “I’ll give you a call when I’m done. I’d like to hit the downtown area afterward if you’re up to it.”

  “That’s a plan. I’ll be waiting in the lab, comparing notes from both scenes.”

  Chapter Ten

  Captain Wright wasn’t in his office when Gwen arrived, but he bustled in shortly after she had him paged. He had an expectant look on his face. His uniform looked rumpled, unlike the starched appearance she’d noticed during her last visit.

  “I hope you’re here to tell me the good news that you’ve arrested my daughter’s killer,” he said anxiously.

  “No sir. We’re working every angle,” Gwen added.

  “That Jerry King…Kingston…or, Kingley, that’s it. You’ve not arrested him?” he asked harshly.

  “He’s not your daughter’s killer. He has an iron-clad alibi,” Gwen said resolutely.

  “But he knocked her up and fled the state. How can you think he wasn’t involved?” Wright said angrily. “I want that man arrested!”

already been questioned. I thought you said you didn’t know any of Kathy’s friends or lovers?”

  “I have my resources,” Wright said curtly. “I was informed about him after we spoke.”

  “And I heard you’ve been harassing him. You have no right to do that, Captain Wright.”

  “I have every right to speak with whomever I please! We’re talking about my daughter here. How dare you talk to me like that! I will have you taken off this case immediately if—”

  “Captain, we’re doing everything we can to find your daughter’s murderer. All I’m asking for is a little cooperation. Do you remember telling me you’d copy the files of the recent arrests for drug trafficking?”

  “Yes, and here’s what I have for you,” he said, pulling a thin folder from his desk drawer. “I’m sure if you look up these three hoodlums, you’ll have a better idea what the real world is like down there. It’s vicious. It makes me sick to think my daughter was ever involved with the likes of these…this scum. I did hear that she was clean when she…when she was killed. At least that’s some comfort.”

  “Yes, it appears she hadn’t started using since she left rehab,” Gwen said quietly. No thanks to you we already have that blood test result, she thought. At least Doc Maynard had drawn blood and had it shipped to the lab before the delay.

  “Well, I still think that Kingley guy had something to do with it. Have your men interrogate him again.”

  “Like I said, we’re leaving no stone unturned. By the way, do you recognize this?” Gwen asked, pulling the plastic bag with the locket out of her pocket.

  “Why, yes! It’s the locket I gave Kathy for her sixteenth birthday…put me back a pretty penny, but she begged me for it.” His face looked gray, agonized. “Where did you find it?”

  “It was taken off another murder victim. When was the last time you saw Kathy wearing it?”

  “Umm…I’m not sure. Probably the last time I saw her. Maybe a week before the accident. She never took it off,” he said, tearing up. “I’d like to keep it when you’re through—”

  “Any personal items we’ve found will be returned to you when we’ve finished our investigation,” Gwen reminded him.

  “It’s been three days. Where the hell are you on the investigation? Are you getting close?” he nearly shouted.

  “Like I said, we’re examining all the evidence closely and talking with everyone who knew your daughter. We’re making excellent progress,” Gwen lied.

  “Make sure I’m updated on that so-called progress,” he said, dismissing her.

  “Yes,” she said on her way out.

  God, that man infuriated her! He’d suffered a terrible loss, yes, but could get under her skin faster than anyone she’d ever met. She’d met many arrogant men before, but he was the king of attitude. She could feel it in the air she breathed when she was near him. It put her on the defensive, which she didn’t like one bit.

  As she drove back to the station, she forced the confrontation with Wright out of her mind and concentrated on meeting up with CC. It would be nice to have company working the street, and a special treat not to be teamed up with one of the guys for a change.

  As she pulled into the precinct parking lot, CC was ready and waiting. She ran from the building and jumped into the passenger seat of Gwen’s car.

  “Perfect timing,” she huffed, out of breath. “I just finished and came out for a breath of fresh air. I don’t know how they can work in that stinking lab all day!”

  Gwen laughed. “I suppose you get used to it when you’re in it all the time.”

  “Not me. Like my dad, my senses are super sensitive. I can only take it so long and I need some clean air. I can smell and taste a lot of things other people can’t.”

  “Oh? Like what?” Gwen smirked.

  “Well, you know, like when chemicals have spilled or something has burned then dissipated over time. I’ve found that a lot of cops can’t detect it after a couple days. I usually can. And when someone is cooking in my apartment building, I can usually tell you exactly what they’re making, while others don’t smell a thing.”

  “And for tastes?” Gwen asked.

  “I know every spice from most countries. If I don’t smell them right off, I can taste them and tell you exactly what’s in the broth or gravy on your plate. If you don’t believe me, you can devise a test. One of my friends poured six different sauces over pasta and I guessed the differences between every one of the dishes,” CC said proudly.

  “Hmm…sounds like a lot of work. I don’t cook, so I’ll have to take your word for it. I’m not a fussy eater and I can scarf down just about anything,” Gwen teased. “But tell you what, you can combine all the best spices you can come up with and cook me dinner anytime.”

  “Don’t think I won’t do it,” CC teased back, smiling.

  When they parked at one of the meters on Main Street, Gwen pushed her police vehicle ID against the windshield and pulled out the file Wright had given her.

  “Here’s what the captain came up with for the thugs that caused trouble lately,” Gwen said, opening the file for the first time.

  The three men looked menacing in their mug shots. The first was a very large black man, five feet, nine inches, three hundred and fifty pounds. The second was a tall, scrawny-looking black man, six feet, two inches, and the third was a very small Mexican man, four feet, nine inches with a deep scar on his left cheek.

  “That’s odd,” CC said, pulling a file out of her backpack. “This is the information Brad got from his contact at the North Precinct. None of those guys show up, but he’s identified a gang of sixteen guys, most of which have been arrested at one time or another within the last six months. And these guys are all white,” she said, handing the sheets with six mug shots each to Gwen. “Look, here’s the information on all the minor drug busts during the same period. None of the names from the captain’s list match.”

  “I’m betting that Brad’s information is more accurate,” Gwen remarked. “It’s not unusual to find prejudice in the ranks, but Wright had to do some major digging to find these men of color. Our population is eighty-nine percent white, and since Scarletsville is so far north of any big city, the drug trade isn’t as lucrative. We’ve attracted mostly retirees up here with ties to the old country life, so many of the kids get the heck out of here as soon as they’ve graduated from high school.”

  “That’s interesting, but why would the captain try to throw us off, especially since it’s his daughter and time is of the essence? And it’s not like we have an army of officers to help solve this case.”

  “I think he’s underestimated us…me anyway. I don’t doubt he believes one of these men was involved in some way. I suppose he figures if I come across some big, bad boy, I’ll just assume he was the perp and throw the book at him. I don’t blame him for wanting to get the case closed quickly, but I’m not stopping until I find the right big, bad boy,” Gwen said determinedly. “Surely he wants us to get the right guy, and maybe put some of the others in the slammer along with him.”

  “I’m with you. Let’s go.”

  They talked with a couple of women standing on the corner who were trying to wave down the men from passing cars. After Gwen and CC showed their badges, the hookers clammed up and claimed to have seen nothing. They found a few other people roaming the streets, but no one who could or would offer any information. It was daylight, so the activity in the area was at a minimum. Hopefully someone from Vice could get more information during the night and early morning hours.

  When they were finished circling the block and heading back to the car, they recognized a face from the mugshots they’d memorized. The heavyset black man was sitting on a porch mid-block, but stood up as they approached. He was too heavy and out of shape to try to run, and soon CC and Gwen were flanking him on either side.

  “I didn’t do nothing,” Jaxon Thomas protested, fear evident in his expression.

  “Didn’t say you did,” Gwen replied.
“We’re investigating a murder. Just wondering if you’ve seen anything unusual in the neighborhood.”

  “Nah. Same ’ol shit.”

  “Did you know Cyndi Jeffries?” CC asked.

  “Yeah. Cyndi’s one of the nice ones. God, I hope nuttin’ happened to her,” he said, clearly alarmed. “She lived over yonder. I paid her to babysit my kids a couple times.”

  Gwen told him bluntly, “She was murdered.”

  “Oh my God,” he said, putting his large hands over his face.

  Gwen gave him a few moments to compose himself and then probed, “Did you know who she hung out with?”

  “She’d be pretty quiet, most the time. I never seen her with anyone, ’cept that blond woman from time to time. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen her around here lately neither.”

  “Do you know the blond woman’s name?” CC asked.

  “No, just that she was pretty. Tall and kinda skinny.”

  “Anyone else you see with Cyndi?” Gwen asked.

  “Nope. That asshole Wright tried to bust her ass a couple days ago. But Cyndi, she take no shit from nobody. I heard them arguing and he left. Didn’t arrest Cyndi.”

  “Are you talking about Captain Wright? From the police department? You’re saying he was down here?” Gwen asked incredulously.

  “Yep. That’s the one. He busted me a few months back. Had one of his boys take me down to the station. I was grilled for two hours, but there wasn’t enough evidence I’d been selling illegal drugs. Wright told me he could make me look really bad in front of a judge, but I didn’t fold and tell him what he wanted to hear like some of those other boys do. He likes to keep them on trumped-up charges to make his records look better, like they’re doing their jobs real good. Hey, I’m not saying I’m any model citizen. I sold the rest of my brother’s stash when I got laid off from the city. He got ten years in prison and ain’t gonna be needing it no more. I gotta feed my six babies, ya know? Two damn hours of his bullshit, then Wright let me go. I jus’ didn’t have anything to tell him, not that I would have anyways.”

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