Editor's Note: As this story deals with the tracking of a serial killer, it contains couple of scenes of violence necessary to the plot. If this offends you, please read no further.
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The phone rang and startled him from a sound sleep. Wearily, he reached for the receiver, "Hello?" and he adjusted his eyes to the dark room.
It was the station, "Lieutenant, we need you to go to 415 Bowers. We have a homicide," and he fought to wake up and come to grips with the information being fed to him as he scrambled for a pen to write it down.
"Yeah, be there as quick as I can," he said and hung up the phone, looking at the Big Ben clock on the nightstand, 3:53 AM. He pulled his clothes on and made himself a cup of instant coffee before grabbing his keys and heading out the door, it was a 15-minute drive to the address he was given and he hoped the coffee would make him coherent by the time he got there. It had been a rough couple of months, his wife had left him, and the caseload was getting to be too much.
He slapped his blue bubble light on the dash and turned it on as he neared and the patrol officers waved him through as he pulled up alongside the usual parade of police and rescue vehicles that had come to symbolize the crime scene. His partner Vince met him at the curb, "Young woman, early 20's, Caucasian, pretty," Vince rambled on as they approached the front door, "But this one is a little off Frank," and Vince got suddenly quiet
"Odd, how?' Frank asked as he made his way to the upstairs bedroom, "The killer removed certain trophies from the body. Unusual trophies, Frank," and he stopped dead in his tracks. Serial killers often took trophies of their victims, sometimes a necklace, or even their panties, what could be so unusual? Vince nodded towards the open door and Frank walked through, he saw a young white female who looked to be about 22 years old, long blonde hair, pretty face and an exceptional body, but then Frank's eyes locked on her breasts, her nipples were missing!
"What kind of a sick fuck would take someone's nipples as trophies?" he asked Vince and Vince just shook his head, "Dunno, Frank. And that's not all; she had a lot of bleeding from her vaginal area as well. We'll have to wait for the autopsy results to find out what that's all about," and Frank stared at the pretty young girl, his thoughts turning to his own daughter. Vanessa was 25, just a couple of years older. He made the rounds; trying to gather what information he could from everyone on the scene before he headed back to his car, the night sky giving way to daylight. Frank drove home, the scene etched in his mind as he tried to rationalize what had happened, 'A rape maybe, or maybe a burglary that turned into a sex crime,' his mind thought, but he would have to wait and see.
He showered and dressed and headed to the station house, the images of his early morning investigation running through his mind. He plopped down behind his desk and Vince deposited some papers in front of him, "Ginger Franklin, age 23. Moved here 4 months ago from Muncie, Indiana. Parents are being contacted right now; she worked at Lerner Technologies, over in the office park, secretary. No kids, no known boyfriends, well liked at work, not much else Frank," and Vince sat in the chair beside Frank's desk as Frank rubbed his eyes.
His phone rang and he picked it up, it was his wife, "Get me a cup of coffee, will you Vince?" and Vince took that as his cue to get lost, he hated it when Marilyn called Frank at work, it made him hard to be around for hours. "I have retained a lawyer Frank, we need to settle this so we can move on with our lives," and Frank could feel the burning anger deep in his gut as he listened to her try to sound like she was doing him such a favor, "Look Marilyn, I'm not the one who went out and found some fucking pill pusher to fuck!" heads turned as his voice raised, but everyone knew that he was not one to deal with when he was angry and they all returned to their work.
"Bernie is not a pill pusher Frank, he is a physician and maybe if you had found a little time for me, I wouldn't have had to go out looking," and there it was, the guilt had come home to roost. She was right, 70-80 hour weeks had destroyed their marriage, he just wanted to blame it on the good doctor, "Whatever Marilyn, look, I have work to do. When I get an attorney, we'll exchange numbers, ok?" He drummed his pen on the desk, "I loved you Frank and to a certain extent, I still do, but I was dying inside. Please take care of yourself and look for an attorney, ok?" and he felt his heart sink once again, "I will, got to go," and slammed down the phone.
He picked up the file and started perusing it, no sign of forced entry, preliminary autopsy results showed that she had contusions on her wrists and ankles, indicating she had been bound, they had also found several tears in her vagina 'This is one sick fuck,' he thought as he read on and discovered that a criminal history check had shown that she had filed charges against her father for sexual assault, but dropped them before the case made it to trial.
She had made a few friends at work, guess that was as a good a place as any to start and he grabbed his coffee from Vince's hand and told him to come on and they headed for his car. He walked up to the receptionist and showed her his badge, "I need to see Ginger Franklin's supervisor," and she looked at him questioningly as she looked up the supervisor in the in-house directory and got him on the phone, "Mr. Potts would like to know what this is regarding," she smiled up at Frank, "It's personal," and she told him how to get to Mr. Potts' office and he thanked her and headed down the hall, while Vince shot a smile to the receptionist, "Control her testosterone Vince, we have work to do," and the girl giggled as Vince left embarrassed. "Do you always have to do that shit to me Frank? I am single, you know," and Frank didn't even bother to answer as they turned the corner and he saw the man's name on the door and walked in, showing his badge once again, "Oh yes, Mr. Potts is expecting you, go right in," the woman said and Frank stared at Vince, knowing that he would be hitting on this girl as well and Vince's face went blank as he followed his partner inside. "You're always thinking with your crotch Vince," he whispered as they walked across the office to the huge walnut desk and the man rose to greet them, "I'm Ralph Potts, what can I do for you? Ginger hasn't come to work yet, she isn't in any trouble, is she?" and he sat back down as Frank and Vince took seats in front of the desk.
"Mr. Potts, Ginger is deceased. She was killed approximately 2 AM this morning," and Frank watched as the color left the man's face. He sat there in silence for several minutes, "How did she die? Was it an auto accident?" he finally asked, "She was murdered Mr. Potts. We need to ask you and her coworkers some questions, "Of course," he answered, "Any thing at all," and Frank sat back in his chair, surveying the man's plush office, "Just what do you do here Mr. Potts?"
The man rose and turned to look out the window, "Lerner Technologies is a government contractor, we provide data and testing on a number of sophisticated programs. Mainly we deal with GSA computer programs, but I can only divulge so much about our operation, as I'm sure you understand," and Frank watched him nervously shift his weight on his feet as he stared out the window.
"What was your relationship with Ginger?" he asked and he watched his weight shifting abruptly stop, "I was Ginger's boss. The young lady you passed at my outer office is filling in for Ginger, since she had not shown up for work," and Frank decided to push it one step further, "No other relationship?" and he could see the man begin to perspire, "No, none."
Frank could sense that he was lying, years of interrogation could easily detect a liar and Mr. Potts was definitely lying, "Ok Mr. Potts, we'll need to talk to her co workers and he picked up the phone, "Miss Lacy, please see that the detective gets all the cooperation he needs from Miss Franklin's co workers," and Frank thanked him and walked out. "Please wait here and I'll get someone to escort you around," the secretary told them and they sat in the outer office, Frank peering into Mr. Potts' office, seeing what his nervousness would cause him to do.
He saw him pick up the phone and dial a two digit number, someone in house, and he could see beads of perspiration on his brow as he made gestures with his hands to whomever he was talking to and Frank made a mental note to check into this further.
The escort showed up and showed them to the cafeteria where some of Ginger's co-workers had been assembled to meet with them. He split the group and had Vince take half to another table, making sure that Vince got mostly men, otherwise this would take all day.
Vince kept flashing him dirty looks as he interviewed all the guys and he smirked lightly, smug in the fact that he had foiled Vine's plans at flirting and they had everyone interviewed and got up to leave just as people started to file in for lunch. They got into the car and Frank started heading for the crime scene, "What do you make of all of that?" he asked Vince, "Seems like our nice Mr. Potts had a little more to do with Ginger than he is letting on," and they looked at each other, "Yeah, that's the impression I got too. Check him out," and Vince nodded as they turned on Bowers and Frank pulled up in front of the house.
The ominous yellow crime scene tape was draped around the house and several people were hard at work, collecting fingerprints and looking for any kind of evidence that may have been overlooked in the earlier, hasty examination. Frank and Vince split up, Frank taking the downstairs and Vince the upstairs as they wandered from room to room looking for anything that might be of importance. The townhouse was nicely furnished and Frank slipped on his rubber gloves as he leaved through the stack of bills and papers on the desk, finding one envelope particularly interesting as he read the return address, Dr. Myron Fitts, PHD and he opened it to find a bill for an office visit. From the looks of the bill, she had been a regular patient and he wrote down the address and phone number in his book before resuming his search.
He also found a phone number written on the back of one of the envelopes and copied that as well, before venturing on through the rest of the downstairs. As he walked into the kitchen, he noticed that service for two was sitting on the table, 'Must have had a dinner date,' he thought to himself as he rummaged further and the kitchen light glinted off of a piece of metal in the garbage disposal and he fished around, jerking his hand back quickly and seeing the blood from his finger pouring through the slice in the glove. He grabbed a dish towel and wrapped it around his finger as he searched for something else to probe the garbage disposal with and found a set of tongs, making several unsuccessful attempts to withdraw whatever was down there before ripping the rubber from around the drain and then he could see the razor blade as it shone in the direct light.
He grasped it with the tongs and brought it out, noticing the dried blood caked on it and he retrieved an evidence bag from his pocket and dropped it inside before checking on his sliced finger. He pulled the glove off and the slice was deep, so he applied pressure to it to stop the bleeding before he went any further, 'That was a smooth move moron,' he thought to himself.
"What the hell happened?" he heard Vince say as he appeared from the next room, "Just a stupid move," Frank said as he handed Vince the evidence bag and watched him look it over, "Where'd you find this?" and Frank pointed to the sink and they headed to the car, Vince taking the wheel. "Get that to forensics," Frank said as they entered the building and Vince headed off to the lab. Frank opened his desk drawer and pulled out a band-aid and some antibiotic ointment as he doctored his finger. He sat at his computer and searched for information on the good Mr. Potts and the doctor and then he did a reverse check on the phone number, which gave him an address uptown.
The doctor turned out to be a shrink and he made an appointment to visit him tomorrow, Mr. Potts turned out to be clean with the exception that the address the phone number had turned up just happened to be his home. He made a call to the courthouse and got a search warrant for Potts' home and he gathered up Vince, who was trying to make time with a lab worker, and they headed out. He looked at his watch, 5:30, he should be home by now and he looked at the sports car in the driveway and noted the expensive home.
Potts looked like he had seen a ghost when he opened the door and Frank flashed the search warrant, "Anyone else at home?" he asked, "No, I live alone," he said and Frank and Vince split up, making Mr. Potts sit in the living room while they rummaged through his home. "Can I ask what this is all about?" Potts said and Frank smiled at him, "You can ask, but I'll tell you when I'm ready," and went back to his search.
Frank found a hollow panel behind the books in the study, which yielded several videotapes, two of which had commercial packaging, but the third had none. They were porn tapes, he read the titles, Teen Sluts On A Mission and Lolitas 4, and he thought about good old Mr. Potts, what a 40 something man would like. Other than the tapes, they really didn't find anything else, so they bagged the tapes and left, much to Mr. Potts' delight, although he seemed nervous about the tapes. Frank wondered what was on the third tape, he would have to find out later on, it was after 7 and he was hungry. He dropped Vince at his car and headed to Antonio's for some pasta, securing the videos in his lock box in the trunk.
He hadn't realized how hungry he was as he ate the soft breadsticks, waiting for his Lasagna to arrive. He dove in as Maria brought him some more breadsticks and more wine, noting that he had never noticed how pretty she was before when he and Marilyn had eaten here. She was quite striking and he took in her body as she sauntered towards the kitchen, her ripe ass making him feel a twitch below as he looked around to see if anyone had caught him staring.
He wiped his mouth with the napkin, his belly full and he watched Maria as she approached with his bill, she had a great face and a very nice chest, her slightly olive shin in contrast to her bright white teeth as she smiled, she was second generation Italian and she was hot. As she lay his bill down, she sat opposite him and began to make small talk, "So, Frank, I hear that you are a single man now," she said and he at first felt shame at his failure but then he felt flattered as he realized she was flirting with him. "Yes, back in the world of single men once again," he said and flashed her a small smile, "Perhaps we could go out sometime, if you're interested," and he got a huge smile on his face, "Sure Maria, I would like that," and he saw her smile and she touched his hand and darted off towards the kitchen and he paid his bill and left, halfway gliding as he walked to his car.
As he started his car his pager went off and he recognized the number as Vince's cell phone. He hated cell phones, they had tried to give him one, but he had steadfastly refused it and he looked around for a payphone, finding one by the convenience store. He dialed the number, "What's up Vince?" and he heard a short silence at the other end, "We've got another one Frank, same MO as the Franklin girl," and he felt a burning in the pit of his stomach, "Where at Vince?" and he wrote down the address, it was on the opposite side of town from the Franklin girl, and he jumped in the car, threw his bubble light on top and took off. Quite a crowd had gathered when he arrived, this murder being discovered much earlier than the Franklin one and he fought his way through the crowd, seeing Vince waiting for him on the front porch.
"Same thing Frank, nipples gone and I'm betting all the blood between her legs will point to some sort of violent penetration as well," and Frank rubbed his brow and then followed Vince inside. This one had been gagged, Frank looked at the panties sticking from her mouth and her wrists and ankles were still bound. It was a cotton rope, 'Looked like clothesline,' he thought and he noticed a small stain on the bed between her legs, "Have forensics test that," he said and pointed to the stain. "Who found the body?" Frank asked and he was directed to a back bedroom and a sobbing woman sat there with a policewoman.
"This is the girl's mother, she found the body," the policewoman spoke and Frank saw the woman look up at him slightly, her cheeks stained with tears. "Why don't you have the rescue people take her to the hospital, get her calmed down, we can talk with her tomorrow," Frank instructed the officer and she went out to get the paramedics. Once again Frank's thoughts went to his daughter, and he thought how awful it would be to discover your own child's corpse, especially after this maniac had finished with it. The paramedics took her out and he set about searching for the razor blade that he had found at the Franklin scene, they had no garbage disposal, so he began to check the trashcans and then moved to the bathroom.
He spied the razor blade in the curve of the commode, they had tried to flush it, but it was still there and he pointed the forensics team to it. "See what all you can find out Vince, we'll get started on it first thing in the morning," Frank said and headed for his car. This was all he needed, a panic with every young female in town, thinking that they would be next, but his expertise told him that this was not random, serial killers developed patterns and this guy had one too, he just had to figure it out. He pulled the videos out of his lockbox, tucking them under his arm as he put the key in the door and then shut the door behind him, he needed a drink bad.
He made himself a Wild Turkey and a glass of water and drank it straight up and then another one before grabbing up the videos and heading for his bedroom. He pulled off his clothes and popped the first video in before getting into bed and sitting up as a young girl came on the screen, she was made out to be a girl scout and was trying to sell cookies door to door. You were supposed to believe that she was very young, but her overly large tits killed that thought, as they seemed to burst out of her top.
An older guy answered the door and immediately invited her in and before you knew it, he had his hand up her skirt and was promising to buy all of her cookies if she would be "nice" to him. Frank couldn't believe that guys would really buy this shit and he grabbed the remote and fast-forwarded the tape as several hours of scenarios developed on the tape. He ejected that tape and inserted the Lolita one and as the film started, he saw that the quality wasn't very good, with noise lines through the bottom of the picture and he fast forwarded the tape and just as he was about to stop it, the picture changed and he recognized some of Mr. Potts' furnishings in the background as a very young girl appeared.
This girl really didn't look much over 13 or 14 and it caught Frank's eye, as she was dressed in a girl scout uniform and was selling cookies, but this one was for real. He heard a voice tell her that if she were really nice to him, he would buy lots of cookies; he couldn't swear it was Potts voice, but it sounded like it. Hands reached out and took the cookies from her and he heard the man ask her to take her uniform off and Frank watched as she nervously unbuttoned her green scout dress and the bright white bra came into view.