VANISHING ACT - Angie Bartoni Case File # 11: Angie Bartoni Case File # 11 (Angie Bartoni Case Files), page 1
Case File # 11
Vanishing Act©2014 by MW Huffman
OTHER BOOKS BY MW HUFFMAN
THE END–BOOK I of The Event Series
THE BEGINNING–BOOK II of The Event Series
THE REVELATION–BOOK III of The Event Series
The Second Civil War–BOOK I-A Nation Divided
The Second Civil War–Book II-A Nation at War
The Second Civil War–Book III–A Nation Healing
Project BlueBolt – BOOK I – American Gulags
Project BlueBolt – BOOK II - The Gulag Journal
Project BlueBolt – BOOK III – American Uprising
Sins of the Fathers
Angie Bartoni Case File # 1 - The Alphabet Murders
Angie Bartoni Case File # 2 - Frost Bite
Angie Bartoni Case File # 3 - Dead Aim
Angie Bartoni Case File # 4 - What Goes Around
Angie Bartoni Case File # 5 - Nothing to Lose
Angie Bartoni Case File # 6 - Shadow Man
Angie Bartoni Case File # 7 – The Club
Angie Bartoni Case File # 8 – Shakespeare Murders
Angie Bartoni Case File # 9 – One Too Many
Angie Bartoni Case File #10 – Weak Link
Angie Bartoni Case File #11 – Vanishing Act
Angie Bartoni Case File #12 – Victim’s Advocate
Angie Bartoni Case File #13 – Payback
Angie Bartoni Case File #14 – Dead on Arrival
The Logan Files - Blond Deception
The Logan Files - Innocence and Avarice
The Logan Files - The Deal Breaker
The Logan Files – Pain Center
Norris Files – Insurrection
Norris Files - Silver2
“So, what do you think?”
Okay. What do I think? My first thought is to take my gun out and smack him upside the head. I have no clue as to what Dan, my partner, is rattling on about. Did I fall asleep while he was spouting off about nothing or is this a new irrelevant thought that just popped up? I know a stakeout can dull your mind a bit but Dan seems to be in another world at the moment.
I have two choices; I can be subtle and explain that I don’t know what he is talking about or I could be straight to the point. I decided to be subtle this time.
“What the hell are you talking about? Did you lose your frickin’ mind or something?” I asked.
See. I can be very subtle when I want to be.
“I was talking about going to get something to eat at that hot dog stand,” he explained.
I should have known. If there is food within a ten mile radius he will locate it. My man Dan can pack it away. I honestly don’t know where he puts it all. Yeah, he is a tad over six foot and a good looking guy but he hasn’t gained a pound in the four years we have been partners. Me? My butt seems to get broader every month. I hate that crap. I work out, eat…food, and have even tried one of those exercise DVDs. What a joke. No one can move like those things tell you to. Dancers maybe, but not the average person. I wonder how many workout DVDs are just lying around the house, abandoned after the first month.
We are sitting in an unmarked car. Now there is a joke for you. No one but a cop would ride around in a car that looks like this. I doubt we could pay a carjacker to take the doggone thing, but here we are trying to be inconspicuous in it. We are looking for a guy named Jake Harmon. Jake is a real work of art. He has more tattoos than the bearded tattoo lady in the circus. Looks a little like her too. Well, maybe not as good looking. That is another thing I just can’t figure out. I see all these young girls with tattoos and wonder if they ever stop to think what they are going to look like when they are seventy? Talk about not having any long term thought process. Total dunderheads.
Oh, about Jake, I figure he is a criminal because his parents hated him. You can tell because who would name their kid Jake unless they didn’t like them in the first place. The only Jake I know is the guy from the State Farm commercials. I don’t think his parents liked him or he wouldn’t be forced to work at 2:00 a.m in the morning.
Okay, I promise, seriously back to Jake Harmon. It seems that when Jake goes off his meds he has a tendency to commit felonious acts. Things like smashing a store window, using a piece of the glass to cut a passing pedestrian, carjacking, and hit and run. You know, little things like that. He does enough damage to get people upset and that is where Dan and I come in.
My name is Angelina Bartoni. I will answer to Angie but most people just call me Bartoni. I’m right at five foot five, someplace near forty, no I will not tell you if it is over or under, and don’t even ask about my weight. I’m okay looking for the amount of effort I put into it. My hair and eyes are brown and my partner, Dan, is a lot better looking than me. That’s okay because I’m the boss so he still has to chase after the ball when I throw it. Just kidding.
Good ol’ Jake is not a mental genius by any stretch of the imagination. He goes off his meds and does a bunch of stupid stuff. Then he goes to the slammer for a short period of time before some state shrink pronounces him cured enough to enter society again. Of course he immediately stops taking his meds again and the wheel in the sky keeps on turning. Hey, that sounds like a great name for a song. So, anyway, we are here to snatch him up once again and haul his dumb butt to the can.
We have been sitting here for five hours and I need to go pee but I’ve harassed Dan too many times about going before we start a stake out. I’ll just distract myself by thinking about my nonexistent social life. That should take all of two seconds. Right now I have nothing going. My one time beau, Doctor Ben Warman, had the nerve to send me a wedding invitation. That is just mean spirited.
“Go get your hotdogs.” I told Dan. “You’re starting to drool.”
“Yes, you are. Now go. I’m going to stretch my legs while you chow down. Don’t bring that stuff in the car,” I told him.
“That store over there is open. I think they have a restroom.”
“Oh give me a break. I just need to stretch my legs,” I said hurrying off.
Dan came back to the car and got in with four hotdogs. Four. I just shook my head.
“Here,” he said handing me two along with an ice cold can of Diet Coke, “I knew you were hungry and would never ask me to get you one,”
“I don’t want a hotdog,” I insisted.
“Okay, if you’re sure,” he said starting to take them back.
I wanted to hurt him but instead I snatched them out of his hand and devoured the first one. Geez, that almost looked like the way he ate. I practically shoved the whole thing in my mouth. Nothing like a good dog when you are starving.
I finally swallowed, took a big gulp of Coke and said, “Thanks. I was starved.”
He watched me eat the first one and replied, “You think.”
See. That’s why it doesn’t pay to be too nice.
I ate, thinking about nothing in particular. I had half of a dog left and knew Dan would finish it if offered. Being the lovable person I am, I held it out to him. You would have thought he was re
I looked up and saw our perp staggering down the street. He was obviously popped to the hilt. He could hardly stay upright.
“Here comes Einstein,” I told Dan.
“Sloshed to the gills no doubt.”
“This should be fun. I hope he isn’t in one of his ‘I can whip the world moods’,” I said as we climbed out of the car.
“I’ll handle him if he is.”
See, that right there is the difference between television cops and real cops. No woman is stupid enough to get into a fist fight with a perp. We don’t leave half our chest exposed and we don’t wear tight skirts and high heels. You wouldn’t last two minutes on the job like that. I just about upchuck when I see some woman beating up a big bruiser. Believe me, you get hit in the nose and it hurts like hell. Stupid television shows.
“Yo, Jake,” Dan yelled as we crossed the street and closed the distance.
“Who wants to know?”
“We already know. So how is it going Jake my man?” Dan said.
“Awe you know. So-so.”
“Do you know who we are?”
“The fuzz I guess.”
“Hey pretty sharp. That’s right. Do you have any idea what you did last night?” Dan asked him.
“Yeah, you know when it was all dark.”
“That. Any idea?”
“I had a drink or two. Went a few places. I don’t remember much,” he said looking like we had just asked him to recite the entire works of Shakespeare.
“You tried to rob a liquor store. Busted the window later with a brick. Got into an altercation with a bartender much bigger than you and got tossed out on your butt. You threw a rock at a bus because he honked at you while you were standing in the street and you tried to break into several cars. Pretty busy night even by your standards,” I told him.
“That you Bartoni?”
“Yeah it’s me Jake. Look we don’t want to get into a big knock down drag out. How about you just let us cuff you and you come and get in the car with no hassle,” I said.
“You got a guy yet Bartoni?”
“Don’t be insulting Jake.”
“Didn’t think so. What the heck, I’m pretty tired. Let’s just get this over with,” Jake said and just plopped down on the sidewalk with his hands behind his back.
Strange cookie, our boy Jake. Dan cuffed him, helped him up and we placed him in the back of the car.
“Crappy car,” he said as I was closing the door.
“Tell me about it,” I answered.
After we had booked Jake into holding, we went to report in to the captain. Our boss is Captain McGregor. As much as I hate to admit it, he is a darn good boss and a good cop. He cares about his people, even when he acts like he doesn’t. If you are in the right he will back you all the way. If you screw up, you need to be the one to tell him. Learning from someone else is not going to endear you to him.
When Dan and I do something stupid, and everyone one does, I make sure I am the first to tell him. He may chew us out but he doesn’t hold grudges and doesn’t make us eat crow. When I get hurt on the job, usually the first person I see is the captain checking on me. Overall, he is a darned good guy.
“Hey boss. We booked Jake Harmon.”
“Nope. He was too sloshed to care.”
“Good work. Get the paperwork in,” he said dismissing us.
“You gonna write it up?” Dan asked.
“Did you put the cuffs on him?”
“Oh give me a break. That is lame even for you Bartoni.”
I looked at him for a moment and leaned back in my chair.
“You know. It wasn’t all that long ago you used to quiver with fear when I said something to you. I sure miss those times,” I said.
“No you don’t. I remember you telling me I needed to toughen up if I was going to survive. Well I’m still here so I guess I just followed your suggestion. And I never quivered with fear.”
“You’re right about both points. I did tell you that. And you didn’t quiver with fear either. It was more like shake at my awesomeness.”
He just looked at me with that ‘you dork’ look he gets from time to time. He learned it from me actually.
“As entertaining as this conversation is, how about doing some real police work,” McGregor said coming up behind me.
“Anything to get out of paperwork,” I said jumping up.
“Got a husband saying he came home and found his house broken into and his wife missing,” he said, handing us the address.
“On our way,” I said, grabbing my gun.
“Take the vest,”
“Come on captain.”
“Don’t ‘come on captain’ me. You know what the Commissioner said. It’s now official policy.
I wondered if the Commissioner had ever even put one on and walked around in it for a few hours. It didn’t matter, the captain was right. It had been the policy for the last three months but few of us took it seriously.
I grabbed the vest and off we went. Dan was already putting his on. What a suck up.
“You driving or am I?” Dan asked.
“You do it. I have to fight with this damn thing,” I said indicating the stupid vest.
I was somewhat surprised to see four other patrol cars already there and the infamous yellow and black crime scene tape going up. As far as we knew it wasn’t actually a crime scene yet. Missing person, maybe, B&E for sure, but that was all at this point.
Dan parked and we walked over and lifted the tape. The door looked fine, no visible marks and it looked very solid to me.
“Did someone else get called in?” Dan asked.
“Good question,” I said as we stepped inside.
“Who are you?” A patrolman said abruptly.
I looked at his name tag and said, “Gee Officer Kelly, I guess we must be the real police. Detectives Bartoni and Roberts.”
“Oh sorry. About half the neighborhood has been here to find out what was going on.”
“No problem. What is going on?”
“Better ask Sargent Connors. He is with the husband in the living room.”
The house was pretty nice, probably three thousand square feet and very well appointed. There was an expensive bricked driveway. Pictures of the wife, him and the wife, and some of him alone, lined the walls.
“Looks like a pretty expensive piece of art,” Dan said nodding his head toward a large canvas hanging on one wall with track lights illuminating it.
“Probably not paint by numbers,” I said and headed to the front room.
An officer whom I took to be Sargent Connors was standing looking down at a man sitting on the couch.
“Sargent Connors, Detectives Bartoni and Roberts,” I said.
“They said you were on the way.”
“Could I have a word with you in the hallway?” I asked.
“Dan, you stay with Mr….?”
“Milliken,” Sargent Connors supplied.
“Fine. Mr. Milliken.”
Sargent Connors followed me into the hallway. I was trying not to lose my temper and jump in his face. That wouldn’t do either of us any good.
“Sargent, you have probably been on the force as long or maybe longer than I have so what I don’t understand is why you have allowed people to trample all over a crime scene. Actually, even before that, I have to ask if you have some special authority I don’t know about that allows you to determine what a crime scene is?”
“Look detective, we got the call to investigate. We came in and I took one look and determined something bad had gone down here. I then made the decision to determine that it was a crime scene.”
“How many people have been in this house and in the
“I don’t know exactly. A few. No more than five or six.”
“And you don’t see the problem with that? I mean come on, you aren’t stupid. The first rule is to secure the ‘Crime Scene’ as you have already determined it. Letting people traipse all over the place has contaminated the scene and will give the DA fits when we turn in our report.”
“I guess I wasn’t thinking it through. You’re right. I should have kept everyone out until you got here. My fault,” he said.
“Okay. We will take it from here,” I told him and decided to let it go.
He would beat himself up for the screw up, I didn’t have to add to it.
Dan was talking with Mr. Milliken.
“What have you got?” I asked coming up to them.
“Mr. Milliken came home at 3:30 p.m. to change into his tuxedo for a formal dinner tonight. His wife was going to have everything laid out and they were going to leave at 5:00 p.m. to drive to the Ritz-Carlton. When he got home he immediately knew something was wrong. The lamp on the table in the hallway was lying on the floor, broken. That’s where we are now,” Dan said filling me in.
“Okay. Mr. Milliken, what did you do next? Go slowly. Think about everything you did and saw.”
“I stopped and looked at the lamp then went into the front room. You can see for yourself what I found. A chair overturned, a table on its side, and the television shattered on the floor. I ran upstairs and saw that the bed was all torn up. My tux was on the floor and Melissa’s dress was on top of it. I called for her and went all through the house. I got no answer. I went back upstairs and that’s when I noticed the bathroom door kicked in. The bathroom is a total wreck. I called 911 and reported it,” he told us.
“Alright Mr. Milliken. Sargent Connors is going to stay with you while Detective Roberts and I take a look around,” I told him.
“But my wife, what about her?”
“I borrowed one of the pictures from the hallway. It is going to go out over the wire as a BOLO.”
“Sorry. Be on the lookout.”
“Does that help?” he asked.
“Sometimes,” was all I could say.