tagNon-EroticThe Ensigns of Detection Ch. 03

The Ensigns of Detection Ch. 03

byWifeWatchman©

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

Feedback and
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 12 - The Crime Scene

The railroad tracks that come out of the west with the highway begin their curve before reaching the River, and as they straighten out to go south they pass by BigPharmaCorp's plant on the side opposite the River, bracketing the property. The north side of the plant is the 'front', with a parking lot for employees fed by a drive leading to the highway. The plant stretches alongside the River for a distance, and a railroad siding branches to the BigPharmaCorp complex near the plant's back fence.

It was Monday morning, November 23d, and it was near the front of the plant and the parking lot, between the plant and the tracks, that the body had been found. A steep incline led up to the fence that protected the BigPharmaCorp plant, and the body was at the bottom of this hill. There was a line of myrtle trees along the side of the railroad tracks and a dirt road between the trees and the tracks.

"That's a steep hill." Joanne Cummings said. "It looks like they built it on purpose. I wonder why..."

"When they built the plant," I replied, "they looked at the maps for the 500-year and 1000-year flood plains of the River, then built the ground up higher than that. So if the River floods that much, half of the Town will be underwater, and this plant will be an island in the middle of a lake."

"If it floods that much," Joanne said, "they'll be looking for Noah's Ark to come get them." I chuckled.

"Who called this in?" I asked out loud.

"BigPharmaCorp's Security Office." said Martin Nash. "They saw it on their first patrol after shift change. Which means the night shift didn't catch it."

"Good thing I'm not their boss." I said. "Heads would roll."

We were watching Martha the Medical Examiner and the Crime Lab at work. The dead man was tall and large. He'd once been very muscular and powerful, but was now getting a bit of fat here and there. His skin was not dark enough to make him Hispanic or Black, but was more of an Italian 'olive-skin' color. His hair was black and wavy, and oily. He had a thin mustache and beard, somewhat reminiscent of the now-dead 'Skinny Beard'.

His clothes looked ordinary: brown work pants, work boots, faded orange-ish shirt with thin white stripes in a criss-cross pattern, and a worn brown leather jacket.

"No ID on him. No cellphone, either." said Martin Nash, coming up to me, Joanne and Cindy. "But we've taken fingerprints on the app and sent them to the FBI, as well as a photo of his face, for what it's worth. The M.E. thinks he's been dead a while, at least 24 hours, maybe 36 or more."

"Think he's an employee here?" asked Joanne. "His clothes look like what a factory worker might be wearing. I'll check with the company when I do follow up interviews today."

"Tell you what." I said to Joanne. "I want you to talk with Mrs. Wilkins and keep your focus on the Wilkins case, as well as beginning to look harder into connections with the Grayson case. Martin, this case here will be your priority, and I'll tell Lt. Perlman I've egregiously interfered with her job again."

"That's okay, Commander," said a voice behind me, which turned out to be Tanya Perlman herself, "you can do my job, and I'll go twiddle my thumbs in your office today."

"Believe me, my friend," I said, "there are times I wish I could swap our places like that. You have no idea how fortunate you are to be able to work these cases and not have to worry about the overhead crap." Cindy was nodding vigorously in agreement.

"So how did this man die?" I asked.

"Blunt force trauma to the head." said Martin Nash. "Someone hit him very hard on the back of the head, crushed in his skull halfway to his forehead. M.E. Martha thinks it was a baseball bat."

"And not a crowbar?" mused Tanya. "No respect for our Commander, there."

"Thank goodness for small favors." I replied right back.

Martin said "Martha said that if it had been a crowbar, it would've split his head in two, taken off the top, such was the force of the blow. But the fat baseball bat just crushed in his skull."

I could feel the tension amongst some of my Officers: I did not need to say out loud that we'd seen examples of both crowbar blows to heads and baseball bat blows to heads. I'd done the first to the aforementioned 'Skinny Beard'. While none of them saw that in person, a couple of 'anonymous' photos showed the damage.

And no one who saw it could ever forget the Corporal Peter M. Feeley crime scene provided by the Black Widow. I again thanked God and the Universe I'd kept Tanya Perlman from seeing that firsthand.

I heard M.E. Martha call out "Okay, Commander, you can examine him now!" I went over to do so, inviting my Detectives and their leaders to do the same.

"Okay, the Crime Lab said his pockets were empty." I said. "But they lied to me in saying that, because there is lint here in his pants pockets. Hey, J.R.! Come bag this lint! May be nothing, but it may have some chemicals on it." Barnes hurried over and took lint samples, then did the same for the rest of his pockets.

"Belt is fairly new, and not scuffed or worn in specific places." I said. "Pants are old, but there are no specific areas of wear or fading." I said. "His shirt is likewise old, but about as clean as he was going to get it. So I'd suggest these are not clothes he would routinely wear to work, but maybe to go to a bar to pick up a woman on a Saturday night."

"He wore work boots to a bar?" Cindy asked.

"Steel-toed boots, too. They'd be good if he got into a fight." I said, knowing that brand. "Good quality leather, don't look all that bad, and maybe the best shoes or boots that he owned."

"We've already taken samples from the bottoms of his boots, sir." said J.R. Barnes.

"Good." I said. "And guys, when I say he's going to a bar to pick up women, I mean women of his general economic class. We're not exactly talking the Cattleman's Club, here." There was a murmur of understanding running through the crowd as I said that.

"J.R." I said. "When you get the clothes from the M.E. at the morgue, check them carefully for chemical stains, dirt or dust stains, and specific places of wear and tear that I might not be seeing here."

"Yes sir." said Barnes.

"Okay, anyone see anything I've missed?" I asked. I only saw Detectives with dumbfounded looks on their faces, except for Lt. Tanya Perlman.

"No wedding ring, hasn't had one is quite a while, if ever." Tanya said. "No oil or grease under his fingernails. Has a gold necklace with a rectangular emblem on it; that must be why you think he was going out, Commander. That's his idea of 'dressed up', I suspect."

"You're on the ball, Lieutenant," I said, "and giving away my secrets. Anything else?"

"Just that he's a big man." said Tanya. "I'd hate to run into this guy in an alley, at least without my service weapon and a crowbar backup."

"Yep." I said. "And whoever hit him was also a powerful man. What else? Anyone?"

"Oh!" said Joanne Cummings. As we looked at her, she said "No bruising on his face! He didn't lose a fight; he was ambushed!" I vigorously nodded and gave Joanne the 'thumbs-up' signal.

"Blondes with brains!" exclaimed Cindy, giving Joanne a fist bump. This was an inside joke they'd shared a number of times over the past few months.

"Martin, anything?" I asked.

"He was obviously brought here, sir." said Nash. "Technically we're on BigPharmaCorp's property. They own this field for another kilometer west; the railroad has an easement through it. They're pretty alert at night about prowlers, and their security does patrols along the fence and looks out constantly. So whoever brought him here either knows their routines, or could possibly be an employee who would not be particularly noticed for being out here."

"Good information, and observations, too." I said. "You're not going to give the Chief too much to teach you, if you keep this up."

"Ohhhh, I don't know about that." said a gravelly voice. I looked up to see Chief Moynahan behind me. I needed to be more aware of my surroundings, I thought to myself, and not let people sneak up on me.

"For example..." said the Chief. "De-tec-tive Nash, how much blood do you see around this body?"

"Top of the back of his shirt is stained pretty badly." said Nash. "Which you'll see if you roll him over. But not his jacket."

"Ah, instructive." said the Chief. "Miss Martha," he said, addressing the middle-aged M.E., "would you say he bled out here, or elsewhhherrrre?"

"Oh, certainly somewhere else, Chief." Martha said. "And he was probably somewhere else for a while, then brought here much more recently. No animals have attacked the body yet."

"So, everyone... except the Commander and Lt. Perlman," said the Chief, "how could he be brought here without BigPharmaCorp's excellent Security people noooo-ticing?"

I looked around and saw the reason, but the Chief had forbidden me from giving the answer. Cindy and Nash seemed to just be waiting to be told, but Joanne was looking around... and figuring it out.

"I think the answer is coming now, guys." I said. A train was coming up out of the west. With a blast of noise, the screech of brakes and steel-on-iron as the train wheels grabbed the curve, the train whizzed by us as it headed south, just 100 feet away from our position.

"That's it!" gushed Joanne as the train roared on by. "Someone in a car or truck could have been behind those trees. When the train came, they quickly brought the body out and dumped it. The sound of the train would mask their sounds, and it's likely the BigPharmaCorp security people are used to trains and didn't pay much attention when it went by."

"So much for the dumb blonde theory, Chief." I said. Cindy gave Joanne another fist bump.

"In this Police Department, anyway." said Chief Moynahan, earning a 'look' from Cindy. "Just kidding, Captain Ross, just kidding. So, everyone, we're looking for the needle in a haystack of a bloody crime scene somewhere else, and a car trunk or truck bed full of blood, which likely has been washed out by now..."

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

"By the way, Tanya," I said to Lt. Perlman as we walked into Headquarters, "did you get that warrant served about the research materials?"

"Sure did." said Tanya. "I emailed you the results, but the Cliff Notes version is that nothing was found missing. Every item was either present, or had an incoming and outgoing notation on their logs."

"Hmmm." I said. "How good do you think their security and procedures are?"

"Very good." Tanya said. "They do a billion dollars or more a year on research, and industrial espionage is a top concern. So their research materials are carefully accounted for, almost like the nuclear material at the power plants."

"So you'd say that this report is accurate and reliable?" I asked.

"To the extent of my knowledge and the conversations I had with the security people," Tanya said, "I'd say it's accurate. Of course it could've been tampered with, but I saw no signs of that."

"Neither did I, when I read your email." I said. "So that just leaves one other possibility."

"What's that?" Tanya asked.

"That this sample was never entered into the logs in the first place." I replied. "No paper trail, at all."

Tanya gasped as if she had a sudden thought. "Sir, I just had a sudden thought: didn't someone say that some of their most secretive research is done in their more secure Pennsylvania lab?"

"I think that's the case." I said.

"So maybe this was shipped in from there, but no inventory record made." Tanya said.

"Good thought, Lieutenant." I said. "Keep that up, and the Chief might just replace me with you."

"And send you to the Crime Lab, Mr. Chemistry major." Tanya replied with her wicked grin.

"Don't you threaten me!" I shot back, causing both of us to break down laughing. Just then, Cindy came down the hall and saw us, wondering what the joke was...

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

"That Detective Cummings is really impressing me." said Chief Moynahan as I sat with him in the Chief's office. He was not going to formally move his things in until December 1st, citing superstition, but the desk was there and he was using it.

"Me too, sir." I said. "That's one reason I'm glad you're here. She's got a lot of talent, and your experience and teaching her can only make her better."

"She reminds me of Molly Evans when Molly first came to me in Midtown." said the Chief. "Molly was smart, and tough. Joanne is smart, and tougher than everyone would think." I agreed.

"Speaking of Molly," said Captain Moynahan, "she and her sister are not as much alike as I thought they would be. Molly has a wicked sense of humor, but Cindy doesn't have as much of one."

"True." I said. "But Cindy does have a pawky vein of humor that will show itself at unusual times. You'll start seeing it when she gets to know you and trusts you better."

"I'm sure." said the Chief. "Sooooo, Mr. Crowbar, what do you think of these cases? Think this last case is related to the Grayson and Wilkins crimes?"

"Too early to tell, sir." I said. "Did you get a copy of the autopsy and Crime Lab reports?" Moynahan affirmed that he had.

"I sent those results to the Coroner," I said, "with a note that a full Coroner's Inquest is needed. If I were a betting man, I'd bet Wilkins was murdered."

"I agree." said the Chief. "By the way, Chief Griswold told me to call you 'Crowbar', that you like it but will never admit it."

"Chief Griswold is wise beyond his youth." I said. Chief Moynahan chuckled.

"Well, then... 'Crowbar'," said the Chief, "let me tell you that I have been going over all of your cases since you arrived here. And I am absolutely amazed. I can see that you are digging very deeply into tunnels of corruption, and rooting some seriously bad things out of this County. So I know that there may be things in these recent cases of which I am not yet a-warrre. Having said that, it's clear to me that BigPharmaCorp is involved in some way in these recent cases. Too many co-innn-cidences, as you are fond of saying."

"Yes sir." I said. "Way too many. So would you be totally surprised if I said that this last killing might actually be a coincidence?"

"Why do you say that?" said the Chief.

"I don't, not yet anyway." I said. "But if he's not a BigPharmaCorp employee, I'll want to talk to Nash about it, and make sure he's not... 'distracted' by the other cases and their relation, or lack of it, to this one.

Part 13 - Case Work

At 10:00am, Paulina Patterson came into my office, her face looking very concerned.

"Everything okay with the baby?" I asked.

"Oh!... just fine, just fine." she said, giving a brief smile. But it vanished quickly as she said "Your Detectives were denied entry to BigPharmaCorp this morning. They stated the warrants no longer apply, because your Detectives have already talked to their people once, meeting the standard. In addition, the Coroner informed them that there will be a formal Coroner's Inquest of Dr. Wilkins's death, and they are essentially claiming their employees are protected from having to talk to us because of that. They also say this new murder case is separate, and therefore requires fresh warrants."

"That sounds bogus." I said. "At least the first part. That last part I can live with.

"It's BigPharmaCorp." said Paulina. "They are one of true 'Big Boy' companies in this Nation, one of the Oligarchs. They have politicians at every level bought and paid for. Krasney literally got sick, I mean he went to the sink and puked, when you forced him to let us get those warrants the other day. He's scared to death, sweating bullets right now."

"Damn, he really is that spineless, isn't he?" I mused, more to myself than the lovely black ADA in front of me.

"In a word, yes." Paulina said. "But it's more than that: he wants to run for Mayor in the next few years. BigPharmaCorp is one of the County's biggest employers and one of the Nation's wealthiest companies. He absolutely has to have their support."

"He'd get a lot more votes by being the D.A. that prosecutes the murderers of Dr. Wilkins and the guy we found this morning." I said. "Has he forbidden you from working with me, or from getting any more warrants?"

"No." said Paulina. "He's not going there. He's just not going to raise any stink with BigPharmaCorp over this situation. And technically, the company has complied with almost every one of the subpoenas and requests for data. It's just talking to the people that's a problem."

"Can they really stop us from going in and talking to their people?" I asked.

"At this point, they can stop us from going on their property, since they're fighting the warrants." Paulina said. "You could send in the entire TCPD, protected by the SWAT Team, to enforce the warrants... but it's likely they'll intimidate their employees and tell every one of them not to speak to you. Alternatively, you could go get and speak to the employees at their homes or bring them into Headquarters, but they can ask for lawyers, not speak pending the Coroner's Inquest, especially if they're going to be called as witnesses..."

"Am I the only one smelling something really bad coming from across the River?" I asked. Paulina assured me that I was not.

Just then a steaming mad Joanne Cummings came to my office, followed by Theo Washington. I told them that we were going to have to regroup and try again, but first I had to lay some groundwork...

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

At 1:30pm, Senior Detective Martin Nash came into my office, followed by Lt. Tanya Perlman. "Sir, I have some information for you."

"Sure, come on in." I said.

"Where's Captain Ross?" asked Tanya. She'd phoned me to make sure I was free for this meeting, and knew I'd normally call in Cindy.

"She's with our FBI friends, doing some computer work pertaining to these cases." I said. "So, whaddya got?"

Nash said "I've got some information on this morning's victim. Fingerprints came back as a 'Michael Campbell Fulton'. Thirty-nine years old. Had a number of brushes with the law while he was in his twenties: multiple arrests for disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, assault, all stemming from bar fights and similar altercations. He was also accused of rape a couple of times, but the charges didn't stick when the women recanted... and it's believed they recanted under threats of worse violence to their families.

"The Police in Hillside, in Nextdoor County to our east, thought they had him when the semen collected from a woman that had been raped in front of her husband matched Fulton's DNA." continued Nash. "An APB was put out on him, but he was never found. The Statute of Limitations has run out on that crime, since it was eight years ago. That notwithstanding, Fulton pretty much fell off the grid after that rape case, and has never been apprehended by authorities since."

Nash then said "I've already asked the Crime Lab to run the DNA workups from Mrs. Grayson's attackers against Fulton's DNA matrix on file. And while it may be a longshot, I'm having the Police sketch artists put together photos of his eyes as if they were behind a mask, and we'll see if either of the Graysons can identify that much of him."

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