tagNon-EroticSix Degrees Ch. 05

Six Degrees Ch. 05


The chronological order of my stories is now listed in WifeWatchman's biography.

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constructive criticism is very much appreciated, and I encourage feedback for ideas.

This story contains graphic scenes, language and actions that might be extremely offensive to some people. These scenes, words and actions are used only for the literary purposes of this story. The author does not condone murder, racial language, violence, rape or violence against women, and any depictions of any of these in this story should not be construed as acceptance of the above.


Part 25 - The Crime Scene

"Whaddya got, Nash?" I growled as Captain Cindy Ross and I came up to the scene.

"Right back here, sir, ma'am." said Nash. He led us over to the dumpster. We were behind the Cub Club, and the alleyway was full of Police vehicles.

Inside the dumpster was Linda Farris, lying on her back, her eyes staring sightlessly upward, dressed tastefully as she had been on the day she tried to purloin baby Peter D. Feeley from me, though she was not wearing any shoes. Also inside the dumpster was J.R. Barnes of the Crime Lab, wearing a Tyvex suit over his clothes.

"Who called this in?" I asked first, as I often do.

"The Club manager called it in to 9-1-1." said Nash. "An employee came out to dump some trash and he noticed the top was open. They're constantly reminded to close and lock it, so he looked inside, saw the body, and ran back inside. You can see where he dropped the bag of trash, there."

"Someone taking his statement?" I asked.

"Yes sir." said Nash.

"I'll want to speak to him, anyway." I replied. "Whaddya got in there, J.R.?"

"Not much yet, Commander." said Barnes. "No visible wounds from the front, nor around the head area. I'd like to get the body out of here so I can examine the back."

"Make it so, Number One." I said. As Officers worked to remove the body, I asked Nash "Was Farris at the Club tonight?"

"I don't know, sir, not yet." said Nash. "Theo Washington is interviewing people inside. Morton and Hicks are helping him, and I haven't had a chance to talk to them before you came up."

"Good enough." I said. I watched as Farris's body was placed on a gurney. J.R. Barnes began quickly examining it.

"No outward sign of sexual assault." he said, as he moved her clothes around. "No stab wounds on the front. Okay, guys, let's turn her over." They did so. Barnes lifted her woolen blouse and gasped.

"Oh geez, what is this?" he asked. I looked on as he lifted her blouse up to her neck. I saw what had made him gasp: there were two punctures in her back, one between the shoulder blades, the other near the base of the spine. It looked like a long prod had been stuck into each place.

Both had large, circular areas of scorching radiating from them. Barnes used a thin wire to gauge the depths of the wounds. "Over two inches deep, at least." said Barnes. "Sealed from bleeding by the hot flash of the obvious electric shock."

"Ever seen this before?" I asked.

"No sir." said Barnes as I put on latex gloves. I took out my magnifying glass from my trenchcoat pocket and examined the base of the spine.

"Yep." I said. "Get this photographed. Two smaller punctures. I'd say she was TASERed to subdue her." I then began pressing on the flesh of her back, then the sides.

"Geez." I said. "Insidious."

"What is it?" Cindy asked. I had her and Martin put on gloves and feel the body as I had.

"Wow, really stiff, rubbery." said Cindy. "Not soft at all like normal."

"Yes." I said. "Looks like they drove prongs into her to run a very strong electric current through her body. When the M.E. does the autopsy, I expect she is going to find that this woman is literally cooked on the inside. Whoever did this... cooked her alive from the inside out..."

Just then, there was a commotion at the back door of the Club. Patrolman Culver was holding the line, and I went to see what was going on. The owner of the Club, the legendary rapper T-Square, was trying to come out."

"Let him through, Culver. And his Regiment." I said. Culver did so. The bodyguards stayed near the door, while the lawyer came up with T-Square.

"I am seeing too much of you at my clubs without paying the cover charge, I.C." said T-Square. He was in a heavy black coat and was wearing his trademark shades.

"And I hate the professional visits as much as you do, T-Square." I said. Linda Farris had been turned back over and a sheet put over her. "Do you recognize this woman?"

The sheet was pulled back and he looked. "She's the Child Protective Services woman." he said. "I saw her on TV. I never met her before, though."

"Any idea why she's in your club's dumpster?"

"Oh hell no." said T-Square. "It's supposed to stay locked so people don't dump drugs into it, and then I have your Vice Squad crawling around."

"I hear ya." I replied. There were rumors that Captain Harold Malone would have drugs planted at black-owned businesses so that he could make raids on them. I didn't play those games, and I understood T-Square's caution.

"All right, Martin, wrap this up." I said. "Expedite reports to my email inbox. A word with you, T-Square, if I may."

We stepped away from the scene so that we were out of hearing. "I just wanted to congratulate you, T-Square."

"For what?"

"Why the birth of your niece." I replied.

'Which niece is that?" asked T-Square.

"Oh, come on." I said. "This is not an SBI idiot you are talking to. I know you and Paulina Patterson have the same father. He's in prison for the murder of your mother, after getting away with murdering her mother."

"Damn, Cracker, you really are the shit." said T-Square, and I could tell he was impressed. "But don't you go telling that to nobody else."

"Nooooo, we wouldn't want to ruin your already useless reputation by having everyone know an A.D.A. is your sister." I said.

"Your reputation is about to take a dive, I.C." he said, then caught himself. "From what I hear, anyway." Too late, I thought to myself. The cat is out of the bag, T-Square. Cat is out of the bag.

"Oh I hope not." I said. "I know you wouldn't want your new niece's daddy to have a bad reputation."

"Shit." said T-Square. "First a murder at my Club, and now the I.C. is telling me he's the baby-daddy of my sister's child. This definitely qualifies as a bad night."

"Good thing you don't have to pay a cover charge to drink at the bar, here." I replied...

Part 26 - Investigation

Saturday, March 5th, 9:00am. Captain Cindy Ross entered the MCD room. Only Martin Nash was there.

"Hi, Martin." she said. "Anything new?" By that she meant the Farris murder.

"M.E.'s report and the preliminary toxicology came in." said Nash. "I forwarded the email to you and the Commander, even though you both probably got it already. I'm also consolidating a financial workup on her, a lot of which was already done after she was suspended and investigations opened upon her."

"Good." Cindy replied. "So, who did you delegate this case to?"

"Uhhh..." said Nash, "I guess myself. I didn't really delegate it to anyone."

"No problem." said Cindy. "But for the future, that's something you'll need to learn to do, and one of the hallmarks of leadership. In fairness, it's difficult to do, and I'd say it's the Iron Crowbar's biggest, maybe only weakness."

"I hear you." said Nash.

"Okay, he's in his office." Cindy said. "Are you ready to talk to him?"

"I always feel like I'll never be ready enough." said Nash. "But I guess I'm as ready as I'll ever be."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I was sitting at my desk, reading the various reports logged by the Officers at the scene. I thought they were woefully inadequate, but I curbed my irritation, knowing they'd done their jobs as well as they could. From the reports, I gleaned that Linda Farris had not been seen inside the Cub Club at all. I had talked to the employee that found the body, a young black man named Jerome, and he seemed on the up-and-up. No one had heard any commotion behind the building, no one had seen any cars go back there.

Film footage was spotty. A camera in the front parking lot barely caught a black car driving around the side of the building, but it didn't catch the license plate. There were no cameras covering the back alley. It surprised me that T-Square left that area uncovered. I thought idly that I'd have to think about that some more, then I let it go and moved on.

The preliminary autopsy confirmed what I had suspected: Farris had been connected to two prods, and a steady electric current was run through her body. She died of cardiac arrest, as her heart could not take the electric current interfering with its normal function, but the autopsy report made clear that she was alive as this was being done to her. It did not take much for me to connect the dots and see that Linda Farris had been tortured to death via this method.

What the autopsy could not show, at least not yet, was the time of death. The electricity effect on the body made the normal tests ineffective. Martha the M.E. did say that Farris had not eaten for at least sixteen hours before she died. That was of some help, I thought to myself.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Good morning, guys." I said as Cindy and Martin Nash came into my office. "Help yourselves to some coffee before you sit down." Being good and smart Police Officers, they both availed themselves of the offered coffee. As they sat down, I refilled my U.S. Army Airborne School coffee mug.

"Okay, I saw the autopsy report." I said. "It is clear that some sadistic people tortured that woman to death. Anything new?"

Martin Nash said "I called the Electric Company this morning when I got in. I asked if they had any power surges in the previous 48 hours that they couldn't readily account for. They said they didn't, but bringing electric service back online after the big snows a few days ago might mask other surges."

"That's good thinking on your part, though." I said. "So let's open a few trains of thought. First, that much electricity can be drawn from a line leading to a house, but it's more likely from an industrial place. Second, they didn't just plug into the outlet and connect to the two prongs; they had to step up the amps on this, and control it to torture her like they did, so they needed a transformer of some kind. So... where would you expect to find something like that?"

"A whole lot of places." said Cindy. "Any place that does things like electrical welding, any place that uses ovens or kilns, even laboratories and schools..."

"Sir," asked Nash, "do you think the Shadow Man was personally involved in this? If so, we might can make guesses as to places he might have access to."

"Another good thought." I said. "You ate your Wheaties for the Brain this morning, fer sure. And to answer the question... our guy is normally a Consultant of Crime, not the hired help that does the dirty work. However... the brutality of this crime suggests his personal touch. Hired guns shoot to kill, dump the body, and move along. This method of torture... was personal."

"Retaliation for her failing to kidnap baby Pete?" asked Cindy.

"Maybe." I said. "And maybe because the FBI investigation was getting close to her."

"If that was the case," said Martin, "none of them said anything to me about it... while I've been the liaison between them and you."

"Okay..." I said, "Martin... have you been up all night working on this?"

"Yes sir." said Nash.

"I appreciate the effort you're putting into it," I said, "but right now I want you to go home and get some sleep. This is neither going to disappear nor solve itself in the next few hours. Go." Martin Nash did not argue; he made his goodbyes and left.

"Okay," I said to Cindy, "let's look a couple of things up, here." I logged into my SBI Reserve account. I began looking up what they'd been doing on the Linda Farris suspension. I dug deep into their servers, which were woefully inadequately protected from a modest hacker like myself. I'm sure Myron and Mary would be laughing at them.

"Finding anything?" Cindy asked.

"They're not exactly pushing this as a priority case." I said. "They seem to be doing more to avoid working with the FBI than anything else... oh, wait... here's something. Yep, just what I figured. That makes sense."

"As someone around here keeps saying: 'Don't keep me in suspense'.." Cindy said.

"Oh, I would never do that with you." I retorted. That was a dangerous comment, and Cindy's face made it clear to me.

"Just kidding." I went on. "What I just found is that Linda Farris was in contact with the SBI. She wanted to make a deal with them, tell them what she knew in exchange for full immunity. The hitch was that she refused to cooperate in any way with the FBI or the TCPD, and wanted to work with only the SBI. They couldn't give her that, even though they wanted to, of course. So the negotiations broke down."

"Why couldn't they give her that, or at least say they could?" Cindy asked.

"Because we locals technically still have jurisdiction of her case." I replied. "And no Court, even the corrupt ones, would allow it."

"Nothing there for us, then." Cindy said.

"Don't be so sure." I said. "This tells us a hell of a lot."

Cindy thought about it, looked at what I'd seen on the computer, then said "I'm still the Junior Troy around here. So what are you seeing that I am not?"

"Nothing." I said. "And by that, I mean I am seeing what is not stated out loud. The point here is that Farris was trying to make a deal with the SBI. The Consultant found out. He had to know how much she'd told them. Ergo, Farris becomes a brisket in the Cub Club's dumpster."

"Oh." said Cindy. "I see. But why the SBI? Why not the FBI?"

"What's your inference?" I asked, testing my partner in crime-fighting.

"She obviously trusts them in a way she doesn't trust the FBI." Cindy said. "I understand her refusal to work with us, or more specifically, to work with you, but she's still got Federal issues from those adoptions..."

I let Cindy think about it, and I re-examined the SBI information. Finally, she said "Okay, I could say a lot of things, but I don't want to waste your time, nor mine. So give me the Cliff Notes on where you are going with it."

"Sure." I said. "It occurs to me that that Linda Farris and Louise Belfort are friends, and maybe even colleagues in crime. And Farris knows Lockhart, too. Farris may or may not know that the FBI is investigating Belfort and Lockhart, and in any case she's not going to take the risk. The FBI would want her to turn on Belfort and her gang in exchange for any deals, and she was not going to do that. Instead, she goes to who she thinks she can get the most from while giving up the least she can... the SBI. That does not speak well at all for the SBI's integrity, of course. Anyway, this case got up to Deputy SBI Director Robert Gaston, and he shot down the deal. Guess who was Farris's first contact, though?"

Cindy shook her head, so I told her:

"Sergeant Leonard Sharples."

Part 27 - It Begins

Do I even need to say it?

"This is Bettina Wurtzburg, KXTC Channel Two News!" she blared from in front of the Courthouse at 7:00am, Monday, March 7th. "Channel Two News has learned that suspended Director of Child Protective Services Linda Farris, who was murdered Friday night, had been attempting to cut a deal with the SBI. That agency's Director, Jack Lewis, who is running for Governor, issued a statement saying that no deals with Farris had been made, and Deputy Director Robert Gaston confirmed that in his own statement.

"The Police Department issued a statement that they have few leads in the murder of Ms. Farris, and believe it may have been a professional hit. When asked how this matched with the autopsy report that Ms. Farris died of electrocution, the Police did not respond.

"In other news," said Bettina, "every former EMT that applied for Unemployment benefits was denied by the County's office of the State Labor Department, citing that they were fired for cause as a result of their illegal actions. Their appeals have been denied, and a lawsuit filed over the weekend was dismissed with prejudice by Judge Harry Nance, who stated that the EMTs have no legal grounds to sue, and no legal standing. An emergency appeal was flatly denied."

"Meanwhile, a press conference has been called for 10:00am by Assistant Fire Chief William Jefferson, who was suspended by Sheriff Daniel Allgood pending an investigation into his actions last week in attempting to re-arrest former EMT Jimmy Lawson, who surprisingly was found not guilty of murder last week. Lawson is said to have left the County with his family. Channel Two News has not been able to confirm reports that Assistant Chief Jefferson is going to announce his resignation from the Fire Department. And now let's go to Nick Eastwood for Sports..."

Martin Nash was sitting at his desk, shaking his head. "How does the Press get information like that, and so quickly?"

Vice Detective Julie Newton, a.k.a. 'The Abacus', came into the MCD room, set down a can of coffee in payment, then poured a cup of brewed coffee. "I'm not trying to be facetious when I say this, Martin," she said, "but obviously someone leaked it."

"I get that." said Nash. "But who?"

"We have to wonder," said Julie, "if the person who complains about the Press the most is actually the one doing the leaking? Like people at the top, who know the most."

"I don't think Chief Griswold was leaking to the Press." said Nash. "And if Commander Troy ever does, he usually has an ulterior motive, and is using the Press to our advantage."

"I agree on the part about ulterior motives." Julie said. "Anyway, if you need any help with data, come see me. It's getting boring in Vice these days. Lieutenant Croyle has scared off the drug gangs, it would seem."

"I hope that's not a complaint." said Nash. "But thanks for the offer to help..."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"This is Priya Ajmani, Five Alive News in the Morning!" shouted the lovely Indian reporterette as Cindy, Teresa and I watched in my office. Cindy's eyes were glowing just a little bit as she watched the beautiful reporterette deliver KSTD's version of the news.

"A major press conference has been called by Assistant Fire Chief William Jefferson for 10:00 this morning." said Priya, her face molded into a smile of pleasure. "Five Alive News will bring you the press conference alive, as we expect a major announcement. The Fire Department Union will also have comments at the press conference."

"Meanwhile," said Priya, "the Police have no idea who murdered former Child Protective Services Director Linda Farris, nor any motive for the killing. When asked if they were in over their heads and if he needed to call in the superior skills and resources of the SBI's Major Crimes Task Force, Chief Sean Moynahan said that he had much more trust in the abilities of Commander Donald Troy than the SBI."

"That's not what he said." I said to the room. I shut off the TV with the remote.

"They're pushing that press conference." Cindy said. "Any idea what it's about?"

"No." I said. "But I doubt Jefferson would call a press conference to resign. Anyway, do we have anything new on the Farris case?"

"Just a little bit." said Cindy. "Toxicology came back with results. Nothing in Farris's system. At all. Also, her car was still parked in the garage of her home. We executed a search warrant and found a house that was clean and sterile. Furniture all in place, bed made, everything clean, dishes washed and put up, no dirty clothes in any hamper. Almost like it was staged to be sold. Definitely no signs of break-in or violence."

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