tagNon-EroticThe Ensigns of Detection Ch. 02

The Ensigns of Detection Ch. 02


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 8 - Scene of the Crime

Friday morning, November 20th. Getting to the home of Dr. Laramie Wilkins, I was stopped at the outer cordon by Patrolman Culver.

"Troy, Commander, TCPD badge 1-6-4-0." I said.

"Yes sir." he said, then said "Sir?" I stopped and looked back at him.

"Sir, the new Chief doesn't have a badge yet." said Culver. "I... I let him through, since Detective Cummings and Detective Nash vouched for him."

"That's okay." I said. "As long as you did your job and didn't just let him walk past."

"Oh, no sir." said Culver. "I just wondered what to do in situations like that."

"Fortunately, they happen rarely. Good job, carry on." I said.

As I got to the front door, I heard behind me "Ross, Captain, TCPD badge 1-0-6-9". Turning around, I saw my platinum-haired partner, wearing her light blue uniform shirt today, long sleeves, leather sash belt, metallic Captain bars instead of soft shoulderboards, which was correct. No jacket, though. Quelle suprise.

I waited for her and she came up to me. "Good morning, Captain." I said. "No workout at the gym?"

"I worked out at my gym this morning." Cindy said. "Since you're not around for me to beat up on, I worked out with Melina."

"How is she with crowbars?" I asked.

"Better than you want to know." Cindy replied. "Good thing you didn't have any fights when you were married."

"I daresay. I didn't even have a crowbar then." I said. Of course, the red crowbar was in my hands now as we went inside.

"Back room, sir, ma'am." said Patrolman Johnson as I looked around the living room. A Crime Lab team was working on two walls. Cindy and I went back into what looked like a den study, with windows to the backyard.

"Ah, Commander, Captain," said the Chief, who was near the doorway. "Glad you could join us." He swept his hand towards the scene.

It was not clear if Dr. Laramie Wilkins was a very light-skinned black man, or a dark-skinned white man. But what was clear was that he was a dead man. He was lying near the chair on his desk, as if he'd shot himself and had fallen out of it. The bullet had entered the right side of his head, exited the left, and traveled towards the front of the house. Indeed, only the brick of the living room wall, that was the outside front wall of the house, had stopped the .40 S&W bullet.

A Beretta Model 96, which was .40 S&W in caliber, was lying on the floor near his right side. The Model 96 Brigadier version just happened to be my service weapon, so I was very familiar with it.

Joanne Cummings and Martin Nash were examining the body. I did not approach it, but asked the Chief "Was he married?"

"Er, yes, he was." said the Chief, perhaps surprised at my first question. "His wife is in the den, or whatever that room is, near the kitchen. Her pastor is with him. Commander, I did not fully realize that Councilman Westboro was a man of the Cloth."

"Yes, he is." I said. "Head Pastor of First Baptist Church. Excuse me a moment." I went into the other room, where a sobbing middle-aged woman was sitting next to Pastor Westboro.

"Ma'am?" I said, kneeling down in front of her. "Are you Mrs. Wilkins?" she just nodded. "Hello, Pastor." I said to Westboro.

"Hello, Commander." Westboro said. "Abby, this is Commander Donald Troy of the Police Department, their very best officer."

"I'm sorry for your loss, ma'am." I said. "May I ask you a couple of questions."

"Yes, of course." Abby Wilkins said. She was a white woman, medium height, brown hair, beginning to put on weight but not obese yet.

"Did your husband seem upset or agitated in the last few days, weeks, or even months?"

"No sir." she said. "He was always what he was."

"And how would you describe that?" I asked, taking my time with her and letting the questions lead to the answers.

"He... he was a caring man, but he was very much into his work." she said. "He'd spend long hours, sometimes all night, in his labs, working on things. When he was here, he was usually still working on research paperwork. We would sit and watch TV, but he'd have those papers in his lap..."

"I see." I said. "So he didn't show any signs of distress, of agitation recently?"

"No, not that I could tell. Everything was fine." she said.

"Did he receive any strange phone calls recently, or have visitors you didn't know?" I asked.

"No sir." she said. "That was the one thing he demanded... he did not permit his staff to call him at home, unless it was a dire emergency. The only time I remember him getting a call recently was when Mr. Donolan was killed in that explosion at the plant."

"Ah yes." I said. "Thank you for talking with me. Other officers will have to talk with you as well, and I'd appreciate you giving them any information you can. Pastor, can I speak with you for a moment?"

"Of course." he said. "Abby, I'll be back in one moment." We went to the front room.

"Pastor," I asked quietly, my voice barely above a whisper, "were the Wilkinses regular attendees of your church?"

"Yes." he said, also quietly, as he looked at me through his spectacles over his beak nose, nearly as tall as myself. "She was in church every Sunday. He would come about half the time. Sometimes two or three Sundays in a row, then not be there for two or there."

"I see." I said. "Are you aware of any issues he might have had, any problems?"

"No, can't say that I was." Westboro replied.

"How about their marriage?" I asked. "I don't expect you to violate the sanctity of pastor-flock relations, but were there any issues that you can tell me about?"

"No, there were no problems of which I was aware, and neither ever came to me for counseling." he said. "I'm sure you've gleaned from her comments that she might've been a bit lonely, as he was absorbed in his work. But they seemed to be a loving couple and happy enough together."

"I see." I said. "I appreciate your time, Pastor. If she tells you anything that you can tell us, and that can help us, I'd appreciate you letting us know."

"Of course, Commander." said the Pastor. "I will pray for your success, though I believe this appears to be a simple suicide. Please let me know when your work is done, so that I may make the proper arrangements for him."

"Certainly, Pastor." I said. "Oh! Sorry, I forgot to ask: did Mrs. Wilkins call you, or did one of the first responders?"

"She called me." said Pastor Westboro. "I told her that I would come immediately, but that she should call the Police right away."

"Ah." I said. "Thank you, Pastor." I took my leave of Westboro and went back into the back room, where I heard Chief Moynahan teaching his Detectives.

"So what you want to do, Ms. Cummings," said Moynahan, "is treat this first as a homicide, and work back to suicide. That is why the Crime Lab is treating this as a homicide and collecting evidence that is legally defensible in Court, and it's why we will collect personal records and other data, and look for anomalies as if it werrrre a homicide."

Good advice, I thought to myself. This man knows a lot of stuff.

"Ms. Cummings, why don't you give the Commander, Captain and MCD Lieutenant your report?" said the Chief.

"Sure, sir." Joanne said. "The firearm only had Dr. Wilkins's prints on them. His prints are on file with the FBI as he holds a Top Secret clearance. He is right-handed, and it appears he put the gun to the right side of his head and fired it. He would've been facing left, as we look at the desk here, so the bullet traveled from the back of the house to the front. He fell forward, the gun dropping out of his hand and landing at his side. Everything appears consistent, sir."

"So what happened, chronologically speaking?" I asked. "How did the Police find out about this?

"The Third Precinct Duty Desk got the 9-1-1 call just after 5:00am, sir." said Joanne. "It was his wife who called it in, from her cellphone. Lt. Perlman called me and said I would be leading the investigation of it, so I came right over. He was already dead, so I did not call for an ambulance."

"Have you talked with the wife yet?" I asked.

"Not extensively, sir." Joanne said. "Sergeant Irwin talked to her right after he got here. He was first to arrive, and I was right behind him. He managed to get the story of what happened out of her, but she was pretty upset."

"I just spoke with her, and will be giving you a full writeup of my conversation." I said. "But you should talk with her first, and we'll see how our notes compare. Oh... is that his cellphone I see on the desk?"

"Yes sir." said Joanne. "We bagged it and left it in place. Only his fingerprints were on it."

"Where's the cellphone charger?" I asked.

"Uh..." Joanne said, then stopped. "Uh, I don't know, sir. I haven't seen one."

"Look around the house for one." I said. "Ask his wife if he charged his phone at the desk or upstairs in the bedroom, or perhaps at work."

"No charger on or around the desk." said Martin Nash, who was looking for one. "Only the lamp plugged into the wall socket." He then pressed the phone through the plastic. "Says 50% charged, sir." Nash had the photographer snap a photo of that. He was learning that when I asked a question, however strange, it could be... important.

"Anything else, Commander?" asked the Chief.

"Go around the horn first." I said, halfway in a reverie, knowing I was missing something. "I'm still observing."

"Lieutenant Perlman, do you have any observations?" asked the Chief.

"Yes, sir." said Tanya, her voice far more cheerful than appropriate for this grim scene. "Statistically, suicides most often occur around 5:00am. We'll have to go through his papers, his emails and such, and see if he left a suicide note anywhere; we haven't found one yet." We all nodded.

Tanya continued: "We're also going to have to touch the political sphere, Chief... we're going to have to get into what he was doing at BigPharmaCorp, ask his employees what his state of mind was, if he was acting unusually, all that good stuff."

"I'll be glad to run interference for you on that, as will the Sheriff, I'm sure." said Moynahan. "And if that doesn't work, God help them when I unleash the Iron Crowbar on them." I smiled briefly at that comment, knowing that the Chief loved having a new pitbull to sic on people...

"Yes sir." said Tanya. "Everything else that I can see would appear to line up: the brain spatter is aligned with the direction of the shot from the desk to the bullet in the front wall. That means that it was him, or someone had to stand behind him, put the gun to the right side of his head, then fire. That would be awkward for the shooter's wrist, pointing the gun sideways."

Tanya stood in front of us, her hand in an "L" like a gun in front of her abdomen, her right arm straight out but the hand pointing left. "The recoil of a 40-cal on the wrist at that angle would hurt, maybe even the gun flings out towards the desk."

Tanya continued: "And that leads to something else I was about to bring up: if he were gripping the gun, he'd have a death grip on it, pun not intended. He'd squeeze the trigger to fire, further tightening his grip. So I was going to suggest that the gun should be in his hand or near it, not down by his hip."

"You're right." I said, having observed the same thing. "The scene here suggests his grip was light, and that the gun was able to come out of his hand as he fell. It's not impossible that what we are seeing couldn't happen, but it's a... 'strangeness', I would say."

"There's that word again!" Tanya and Cindy said in unison. They broke out in giggles as Your Iron Crowbar gave them a 'look'. And after a second to realize what they were referring to, a red crowbar was waved in their general direction, making Joanne and the Chief chuckle.

"Look for marks on the desk, and maybe on the gun, too." said Tanya to the Crime Lab team.

"Ma'am," said J.R. Barnes after an examination of the desk, "you're right. There's a big scratch on the desk here, fresh. And the hammer of the pistol has something in the grooves. I'll take samples and analyze, but I'll bet you're right."

"Yep." I said. "Fired the gun, the barrel flung upwards, spinning out of the hand, the hammer hits the desk, gouges it. Perp puts the gun by the body, maybe putting it in Dr. Wilkins's hand first. Excellent work, Lieutenant Perlman!" I gave her a fist bump.

"She should be a C.S.I. in our Crime Lab." said Moynahan, with an evil grin on his face. Tanya turned and just glared at him, then said "Don't even joke... uh, sir." Everyone laughed, including the Chief.

"Heh, heh, heh, heh. Anything else? Commander?" asked the Chief.

"I have one question." said Nash. "Once the shot was fired, Mrs. Wilkins would've had to have heard it and would come down... as it appears she actually did. Does this guy have that much time?"

"Good question." Cindy said. "Something to check out."

"Detective Cummings," I ordered, "like we said earlier, find out if Dr. Wilkins has any other cellphones. If that one is a BigPharmaCorp-issued phone, see if he has another personal one, or if his wife's is their only personal phone. Of course, get the cellphone records for both their phones as well as any others you find. If BigPharmaCorp gives you grief, we'll get a warrant faster than you can say 'Cubbard'." I was referring to the current CEO of BigPharmaCorp.

I summed up: "Like the Chief said, we'll be treating this as a homicide first, and work back towards suicide."

A moment later, I went up to Joanne and said, very quietly, "One more thing: I want to know the order of phone calls from Mrs. Wilkins's cell phone, including the one to Pastor Westboro."

"I'll check," said Joanne, "but I think Sgt. Irwin said she called him right before calling 9-1-1."

"Fine." I said. "If that is not the case, I want to know about it."

As I gave the scene one final look-over, I shook my head. Cindy noticed.

"You okay, Don? Is something wrong?" she asked quietly.

"I don't know." I said. "I don't know. But something is just not right about this..."

Part 9 - Parallel Investigations

At 9:30am, I was at the County Jail. I had been called by A.D.A. Franklin Washington. If he and his brother, TCPD Detective Theo Washington, were standing together, one could see they were not identical twins. But if they were apart, one would swear they were twins. Franklin did not quite have his brother's smile, but they were both 'movie star handsome' black men.

"What's up, Franklin?" I asked as we sat in the 3d Precinct Conference Room. It was about the size of the Chief's conference room at Headquarters.

"Just wanted to give you a heads-up." said Franklin. "James and Susan Douglas's attorneys have been fighting us hard. They did not waive the preliminary hearing, and challenged everything during that hearing. The judge gave us three extra days to prepare for it, seeing that it was so unusual."

"Okay, so what's the deal?"

"We go back to Court at 1:00pm." said Franklin. "I don't mean for this to sound like an excuse, but A.D.A. Stiles was handling this and then was abducted, and I didn't pick up the ball fast enough. We're going to ask for more time due to the Stiles incident, but I don't think we'll get it."

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because the case was assigned to Judge Harry 'Spud' Nance." said Franklin.

I groaned. Judge J.B. Stone had been a bad judge, and likely dirty. Nance was barely better. He delighted in shooting down our cases, especially drug cases, and he was the one that would give low bails that allowed payment and skipping Town after we'd worked our asses off to put the perps in jail.

"Well, it's just an arraignment, right?" I said.

"Not even that far." said Franklin. "The defense is going to demand we 'show cause' for the warrant. The raid came up with drugs, and especially that refined heroin, but the defense is saying the warrant shouldn't have been issued in the first place, and therefore all the evidence should be excluded. And that pretty much would kill the case before it starts."

I nodded. "Okay, that's your fight, not mine."

"It may become your fight." said Franklin. "Nance wants the name of the C.I. that gave the information."

"Like hell!" I thundered. "Even Nance knows we don't give that up!"

"The defense is saying the defendants have a right to face their accusers." said Franklin. "At some point, we might have to give him or her up."

"But that's not until the actual trial!" I said.

"Normally." said Franklin. "But Nance is going to be very accommodative to the defense on this one."

"By the way," I said, "how do you know what Nance is going to say and do?"

"Because," Franklin said, flashing his family-inherited grin, "he has actually come out and told us. Well, let me put it this way: there are staffers in the Courthouse, and staffers in the D.A.'s office. People go to lunch around Courthouse Square, who knows who is meeting who and telling what."

He continued: "And then... there's someone, I'm not sure who it is, that finds out and correlates this stuff. This person got a message to one of the Court reporters, who just happens to be having an affair with Krasney. And the way it went down... was as if Nance was telling us himself. He wanted it that way; he was using that grapevine on purpose and with intent."

I chuckled, mostly at the thought of Krasney having a sexual affair. But I knew who was behind this: the Intendent, Mrs. Peabody. And I realized why.

"Okay." I said. "Fight the good fight, but tell them the Police will not reveal and burn the C.I., and that comes straight from the Police Commander. If Nance drops it and lets them go free, so be it."

"Okay, that's what we'll do, then." said Franklin. "The other reason I had you come here, is so that if you want to take one final shot at interrogating them, do it now."

"They haven't said a word, so far." I said. I had watched interviews of them, and listened to the tapes that had been recorded. "They've taken the Fifth, their lawyer is from Gresham & Mason, a powerful group of attorneys, and he's told us to pound sand."

"Make the attorney come in, cause them to be charged more billable hours." said Franklin. "That is one of my favorite tactics."

"Won't work here." I said. "Gresham & Mason attorneys are being paid by well-financed people and groups, people who are backing the Douglases. Stated another way: if a Gresham & Mason attorney is representing a suspect, then money is no object in defending that suspect..."

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

The Douglases were brought into the Interrogation Room at County Jail & Third Precinct Headquarters. Their attorney had been called and was present as I walked in with ADA Franklin Washington.

"Well, well, well." said the Gresham & Mason legal eagle. He was the same one that had represented Alicia Foster in the Credit Card Caper case, one of my favorite successes. "So the Iron Crowbar himself finally shows up to try to save the day."

"I appreciate your faith in me." I said, with the same degree of sarcasm that had been in his voice.

"You're wasting your time, Commander." said the lawyer. "We're going 'scorched earth' on this one. As I told this A.D.A., you will never get a conviction on this case."

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