tagNovels and NovellasBadge of Dishonor Ch. 21

Badge of Dishonor Ch. 21

byD.C. Roi©

Passion In James County X: Badge of Dishonor

Chapter twenty-one

Fifteen minutes after they got the phone call from Eileen Frenett, Tim and Heidi were in her motel room and she was telling them what happened.

"It's too bad you took a bath," Tim said after the sobbing woman finished talking. "I understand why you did it, but it probably destroyed a lot of evidence."

"I...I'm sorry," Eileen sobbed. "I...I just had to get the feel of that...that man...I had to get it off me!"

"Tim understands, Eileen," Heidi said.

"I better call Alex," Tim said. "He needs to know about this, especially since we've got a cop involved. I need to get the crime scene people over here, too." He looked at Eileen. "Eileen, did you get back in the bed after he left?" he asked.

The woman shook her head. "N...no. I...I couldn't...not...not after what...what happened there," she stammered.

"Good," Tim said, "the lab guys ought to be able to get evidence from the sheets."

"He...he tore up the speeding ticket he gave me, and he...he threw it on me," Eileen said, and again dissolved into sobs.

Tim got up, walked to the bed, and saw the torn fragments of paper lying there. He put on a pair of rubber gloves, carefully picked up the pieces of paper, carried then to the desk along one wall of the motel room and sat down at the desk. "Eileen," he said, "did the guy who raped you use the phone while he was here?" he asked.

"N...no," she replied.

Tim picked up the phone and dialed the county emergency operations center. "This is Lieutenant Jackman," he said when the dispatcher answered. "I'm at the Jamestown Motor Inn, Room 201. There's been a rape here. I need the duty detectives, lab, and an ambulance," he said. "Also, contact the sheriff and ask him to meet me at the hospital."

While he talked to the dispatcher, Tim was rearranging the pieces of the torn-up traffic citation. When he had them assembled properly, he looked at the officer's signature. "Trooper 1/C Rod Billingham," the signature read. "Son of a bitch!" Tim exclaimed.

"Excuse me, Lieutenant?" the dispatcher said.

"Sorry," Tim said, "I wasn't talking to you. You got what I wanted?"

"You want the duty detectives, lab, and an ambulance at your location," the dispatcher said, repeating Tim's instructions. "And you want the sheriff to meet you at the hospital, right?"

"You got it," Tim said. "And do it all land-line. I don't want this over the air."

"Got it, Lieutenant," the dispatcher said.

"Eileen," Tim said after he put the phone down, "the officer who raped you, was his name Rod Billingham?"

The woman sniffled and nodded. "I...I think that was it," she sobbed.

"Isn't he the one whose wife works for the sheriff?" Heidi asked.

"Yeah," Tim said. "That's him. Jesus! I don't believe this." He hadn't told his wife that earlier in the day they'd learned that Rod was cheating on his wife. He shook his head. What would make a cop do something like this?

The ambulance arrived a few minutes later. Heidi went with her friend and Tim stayed behind to make sure the scene was secure until the duty detectives and lab got there. Once his investigative team was on the scene, he briefed them, then headed for the hospital.

Alex was just walking into the emergency room when Tim arrived. "Tim, what's up?" the sheriff asked. "Operations said you wanted to meet me here, that you had a rape case."

"A helluva rape case," Tim said. "I've got the victim inside being processed. My wife's with her."

"You ID the perp by any chance?" Alex asked.

"Yeah, I did," Tim said. "It's a cop. Trooper first class Rod Billingham, State Patrol."

"Jesus H. Christ!" Alex exclaimed. "Tim, are you sure about that?"

Tim nodded. "Victim says that's who he was," he told his boss. "She says he stopped her for speeding earlier today. And after he raped her, the stupid asshole tore up the ticket he'd given her and left the pieces in the motel room. His signature's on it. Our victim took a bath after the perp left, but it looks as if there might be fluid and hair evidence on the bed. We should have enough for DNA testing."

"Damn!" Alex exclaimed. "I think we better get the prosecuting attorney and Patrol IAD people down here."

"You think that's a good idea?" Tim asked. "You think the Patrol guys are going to believe one of their guys has gone bad?"

"They damn well better believe it," Alex said. "Come on, let's go in and talk to the victim."

Three hours later, Tim and Alex were in the Sheriff's office conference room meeting with Lieutenant Elwood Wing, the State Patrol station commander, Sergeant Myron Baker from the State Patrol's Internal Affairs unit; and Prosecuting Attorney Mildred Stone.

"There's more than enough evidence to issue a warrant as far as I'm concerned," the P.A. said. He looked at Alex. "You want to go pick Billingham up?"

"I'll have some of my men do it," Lieutenant Wing said. "He's one of ours."

"Like hell," Alex replied. "It's our case, he's our perp, and we're taking him."

"Wait a goddamn minute, Sheriff!" Wing protested.

"It's Alex's case, his people make the arrest," the P.A. said. "End of argument."

Alex picked up the phone and dialed operations. "I want all of our patrol units, and the duty detectives, if they're available, to report to headquarters in fifteen minutes," he told the dispatcher. "Just tell them to report to the station, I want nothing else on the air."

"Alex," Sergeant Baker said, "you mind if I tag along?"

"No problem," Alex said.

The deputies on duty reported to the station, looking confused about why all of them had been called in for a meeting with the Sheriff.

"OK," Alex told them, "we're going to make a felony arrest on a rape case."

"Must be a real bad dude," one of the officers said, "if we're gonna need all this help."

"The suspect is a police officer," Alex said. His comment produced a room full of shocked looks. "So we can assume he's armed, and if he's whacked out enough to do what he'd done, he's probably dangerous as hell, too. Here's what we're going to do."

A half-hour after the briefing session in the Sheriff's office, they drove to Rod Billingham's house. His cruiser was still sitting out front. Seconds after they arrived, the house was surrounded by heavily armed deputies.

Alex and Tim, both wearing tactical body armor, stood at either side of the front door, prepared to enter. Alex pounded on the door. "Police, Billingham, open up!" he yelled.

There was no response. Tim and Alex looked at each other. Alex looked back to where two uniformed deputies stood, holding a battering ram. "Take the door down!" he said.

The two deputies moved forward and, while they were covered by Alex, Tim, and several of their comrades, they swung the battering ram at the front door, which flew open in a shower of splinters.

"I sure as hell hope he isn't holding his family hostage, or worse," Alex said as he and Tim carefully entered the house.

They searched the house carefully, but couldn't find Rod or his family. Alex went to the phone and called operations. "Put out that broadcast on Billingham I gave you before we came over here," he told the dispatcher. "Make sure everybody knows he's armed and dangerous and that they need to use extreme caution. And tell them there's a possibility he may have one or more hostages, too."

After he put the phone down, Alex turned to Sergeant Baker and Lieutenant Wing. "You guys have any idea where your man might be?" he asked.

"We've been trying to contact him on the air, but he's not responding," Wing replied. "Of course, since his unit's here, I guess we know why, don't we?"

Alex sent two of the patrol units back to their regular duties, while he and the rest of his little task force returned to the Sheriff's Office to figure out what they were going to do next.

"You think he might be at the Burke woman's house?" Tim asked as he and Alex drove back to the office.

"Good idea, Tim, he might be," Alex said.

"You think we ought to go over there, or should we call first?" Tim asked.

"Why don't we do both?" Alex said. He picked up the microphone and directed one of the patrol units to make a swing past the Burke home.

Once they were back at the office, Tim dialed the number of the Burke home.

After about seven rings, a grumpy-sounding man answered. "Hel...hello" he muttered.

"Mr. Burke?" Tim said.

"Yeah," the man replied, "Who the hell is this?"

"This is the Sheriff's Department," Tim said, "I'm very sorry to bother you at this hour, sir, but I need to speak with your wife. Is she home?"

"Yeah, but she's sleeping," Burke said. "How come you want to talk to her?"

"Please wake her, Mr. Burke," Tim said, "this is very important."

"Yeah, sure," the man said.

"Hello. This is Nancy Burke," the soft feminine voice Tim recognized said after a few moments.

"Mrs. Burke, this is Lieutenant Jackman from the Sheriff's Department," Tim said. "I do hate to be disturbing you at this hour, but I need to know if you've seen Trooper Billingham tonight."

"Ah...no...no I haven't," the woman replied. "Why?"

"I can't tell you anything, except that we're trying to find him," Tim said. "Look, I don't want to frighten you, but I do think it would be an excellent idea if you had your husband make sure the doors were locked," he said.

"Why?" Nancy asked. "Are...are we in...in danger?"

"I don't think so, Mrs. Burke," Tim said, "but it never hurts to be safe, does it?"

"No...I...I guess not," she said.

"There will be a patrol car near your home most of the night," Tim said, "if you hear from Trooper Billingham, or if he shows up, don't let him in and call us right away."

"I...I don't understand," Nancy replied. "What...what is this all about?"

"Please, Mrs. Burke, just do as I ask," Tim said. "Why I'm telling you this should be clear in a day or so."

"All...all right," she said, and hung up the phone.

"Lise's parents said she wasn't there and they haven't heard from her all night," Alex said. He'd called them while Tim was on the phone with Nancy Burke. "They said the kids are there, though. They haven't heard from Rod, either."

"I checked with Billingham's folks," Sergeant Baker said. "They said he isn't there and they haven't seen him all night. I did pick up some interesting information, though."

"What's that?" Tim asked.

"Seems as though Rod told his parents his wife wanted to separate for a while," the patrol sergeant explained. "They said he was really pissed about that, and told them he planned to go to his house tonight and try and talk some sense into her."

"Damn!" Alex said. "Lise never mentioned any problems in her marriage when she and I talked. I wonder if anybody else in knew about this?"

"She and Luke Thomas have lunch a lot," Tim said, "maybe he'd know something about this."

A call to Luke's residence told the Alex, Tim, and the other officers that he hadn't come home after he got off duty and hadn't called his landlady, who was really worried about him.

"You don't think there was something going on between Luke and Lise, do you, Tim?" Alex asked.

Tim shrugged. "I didn't think so, but..." he said. "You never know. Maybe Luke's partner would know where he is."

That turned out to be a dead end, too. Jonas told them Luke had the cruiser, and that he assumed Tim had gone home after that. "He does stop at that little diner out near the town line on his way home sometimes, though," Jonas added.

Alex had a patrol unit swing by the diner to see if they'd seen Tim. The deputy phoned in his report from the diner.

"There's a new crew on," the deputy told Alex, "They said the last crew told them there was a fuss in here earlier. Some drunk was hassling a woman customer, and a sheriff's deputy broke it up. The guy wasn't arrested and the woman left with the deputy."

"Can you get a description of either the deputy or the woman?" Alex asked. "See if you can get hold of the people who were working earlier."

"Will do, sir," the deputy said.

"What's up?" Tim asked Alex when his boss's phone conversation was over.

"A deputy stopped some drunk from hassling a woman in the diner earlier tonight," Alex said. "I think it's probably safe to assume that was Luke. That diner is on his way home."

"You think the woman might have been Lise," Tim asked.

"It might have been," Alex said. "At least we know Billingham doesn't have any hostages."

"Jesus!" Tim exclaimed. "Yeah, I know, but if Luke and Lise are together and Rod finds them..."

Alex picked up the phone and called operations. "In addition to the broadcast on Billingham," he told the dispatcher, "I want our patrol units to look for the cruiser assigned to Luke Thomas," he told her. "If the unit is located, they are to inform me immediately, then stand by until we can get help there." He put the phone down and looked at Sergeant Baker. "Maybe you better have your units looking for our man, too," he said.

"I did it while you were on the phone," Sergeant Baker said.

"I don't like this," Tim said, "I don't like it at all."

"Me, either," Alex said. "Come on, Tim, let's get out on the road. The more cars we have out, the more likely it is we'll find them."

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