The Swap Ch. 02byWifeWatchman©
The order of my stories to read is:
Todd & Melina series, Interludes 1-5, Sperm Wars series, Russian Roulette series, Case of the Murdered Lovers series, Case of the Murdered Chessplayer series, Case of the Executed Evangelist series.
The Swap series
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.
There is almost no sex in this chapter. However, Chapter 3 is going to be all mind-blowing sex, so stay tuned!
Part 7 - Stand By For NEWS!
My mind was too energized and I only got a couple of hours of sleep before going back down to Headquarters at 5:00am Friday morning... but it was not the crimes that had me on an adrenalin rush. But more on that later.
I began digesting data from the overnight crime scene reports, and I began the "whiteboards": the MCD room (and the Vice room as well) had large, moveable whiteboards, upon which we posted photos and made notes of the cases as we worked on them. I also emailed instructions to MCD Detectives for them to work on the next morning, and I made my "to do" list of the things I needed to accomplish today.
At 6:00am the Chief called me into his office and I briefed him on both cases. I also asked that our 7:30am conference have all Detectives in and we talk both cases at the same time. That way if an officer became ill or -- perish forbid -- something happened, then we could bring others up to speed much faster. The chief agreed.
You know what 7:00am brings: Bettina!
"This is Bettina Wurtzburg, KXTC Channel Two News!" the lovely redhead reporterette exclaimed. "Not one but two murders in Town last night have our Police Force stretched to the limit in their investigations! Channel Two News has learned that Mr. Anthony Warner, CEO of DynaCorp, was found dead in his car at the River Valley Country Club last night just after 10:00pm. He appears to have been murdered, but Town Police have not confirmed the details of how Mr. Warner was killed, citing their desire to wait for the upcoming Medical Examiner's autopsy, and the Coroner's Department has also declined to give us a statement. Channel Two News has also learned that Mr. Warner's widow, Karla Warner, and his sister, Katherine Warner Wilson, were interviewed by police officers at the Headquarters building very late last night."
Geez, Bettina, you make it sound like we hauled them in and tortured them, I thought.
"In an unrelated event, a power outage in the Kensington subdivision in the north part of Town led to the discovery of the body of Dr. Michelle Schelle, a University English professor. Sources close to the investigation have told Channel Two News that Police consider Dr. Schelle's death by electrocution in her hot tub to be suspicious. The police have not confirmed that, nor have they confirmed that the electrical shock to the hot tub was the reason for the localized power outage, but sources tell Channel Two News that a search of the Schelle home was conducted, and that police interrogated the deceased's husband, Robert Schelle, an electrical engineer and owner of S.E.E.S., LLC., an electrical consulting firm."
Way to go, Bettina, I thought. Just throw the poor bastard under the bus and raise suspicions about him, even though he appears to have an alibi. Now everyone will wonder if he did it, and if he didn't... how the hell does he get his reputation back, since I doubt 'Channel Two News' is going to do a damn thing to redeem him...
Have I mentioned that I am anything but a fan of the Press?
Bettina was not finished. "Although stretched by a shortage of Detective manpower, the MCD's recently promoted Lieutenant, Donald--"
Yeah, butter me up, Bettina, I thought as she clearly stated my name...
"-- is said to be handling both cases, giving us some hope that both will be resolved soon. Channel Two News will bring you more information just as soon as it becomes available to us. This is Bettina Wurtzburg, reporting for KXTC..."
Sheesh, I thought to myself. As I looked around the MCD room, I noted that Cindy Ross, Martin Nash, Hugh Hewitt and Teresa Croyle had quietly come into the room, making a game of sneaking in on me. They were drinking coffee as they watched the news, and at least Cindy Ross was smart enough to have my coffee mug full.
"You heard her, Lieutenant." Cindy said, her voice full of sarcasm as she handed me the mug of steaming coffee, the elixir of Life. "You give us hope." She knew as I did what Bettina was trying to do, and she was having fun with it... and me.
"She gives me heartburn." I replied, my voice a grumble. The coffee tasted very good in spite of it.
"She gives me ulcers." the Chief said, coming into the MCD room, "Don, you're off the cases."
"What!" I said, whirling around in my swivel chair.
"I want you to work full time on discovering who the hell is giving that woman all that information!" said the Chief. "I want to know how in the hell she is getting so much stuff so soon after it's happened. You give me hope, Lieutenant!"
Then the chief broke into a grin. "I'm just kidding. Solve these damn cases first. You do give me hope on that!" Everyone else laughed, especially at my shock and having fallen for the Chief's ruse.
I just love my police buddies, I just love my police buddies, I just love my police buddies...
Part 8 - Acquisition of Information
The 7:30am meeting was a re-hash of what we knew, but it served the purposes of getting the chief up to speed and cross-informing the teams. I gave instructions to each team to verify the alibis and try to get any information as to who might have motives to kill these people. I asked Cpt. Maxwell to have her Campus Police cadets work with her to interview Dr. Schelle's grad students and other professors that knew her; it would be good training for them to work with her.
"What are you going to do?" Chief Griswold asked me.
"I am going to go interview an extremely confidential source within the University's Department of Psychology." I said. Everyone laughed, knowing that my extremely confidential source was my beloved Dr. Laura Fredricson.
"And I am also going to talk to another extremely confidential source to get some info on what the DynaCorp board was meeting about. Oh, that reminds me, Paula..." I said to ADA Paulina Patterson, who had joined our meeting in progress, "I suspect we're going to have to get a warrant to get the DynaCorp board's minutes, of last night's meeting as well as previous ones, and the financial records of the company. Might as well make it a broad warrant for everything DynaCorp-related. The Vice Chairman, Old Mr. Willoughby, was much less than cooperative when Martin and Hugh interviewed him last night."
"Tell me about that." said the Chief.
"Sir," said Martin Nash, "he was nice enough, but said he couldn't talk about the Board meeting because it was confidential and also an executive session about employees."
"He wouldn't say anything at all." Hugh Hewitt added. "Wouldn't talk about Warner, or who might have wanted to kill him. Willoughby would not even tell us who was at the meeting, nor any noticeable absences."
"And I think we know the reason why." I said. "Anthony Warner's sister is on the board, but apparently was not invited to the meeting, nor did she know about it. That's why I'm going to go 'backchannel' and try to get a hold of what happened in the meeting."
"Go to it." the chief said. "And everyone... you guys did great work last night. All of you. Two murders in two different areas at the same time... and it's not like we have the manpower of the City Police. Keep at it, and let me know what I can do to help."
"Dinner at The Steakhouse, tab paid?" Cindy chimed in. The Steakhouse was best but also the most exclusive steakhouse restaurant in the County, and very expensive. Everyone laughed.
"Solve this case, Ross, and dinner's on me." the Chief said. Everyone cheered.
Just then my cell phone buzzed. I answered it, knowing it was important.
"That was Tanya Perlman." I said as I hung up. "They've found something at the Country Club. Martin, Hugh, you're with me."
The car had already been removed to the Police impound yard when I arrived at the covered parking lot. Tanya Perlman and Pete Feeley were there, and it was obvious they'd been up all night.
"As you can see in the daylight," Tanya said, "there's a little cart path from here to the back of the building. Get in this golf cart, and I'll drive you." Pete Feeley stood on the back of the cart as Tanya drove me along the path. Martin and Hugh followed in a second golf cart provided to us by the Club.
"Okay, it goes around the side of the clubhouse here," Tanya said, "and you can see where golf players can load their carts. The path to the first tee of the course goes off to the right, and the practice range is right in front of us. But what's not easy to see is this path to the left." Tanya took the turn which led to the far end of the practice area. At the very far end, over a hundred yards later, I could see the fence that marked the property border. Nets kept golf balls from going off the property.
We drove past the practice range and Tanya resumed her demonstration. "Okay, the path slants to the right here, back towards the course over there. This is a maintenance path, and not used very much. But if go over here," she continued, suiting the deed to her words as we veered left onto the soft pine straw under the tall pine trees, "you can see as we approach the fence there is some brush here. And that's where we found this."
We drove up and saw Crime Lab personnel on the other side of a thicket of bushes. A golf cart had been well hidden there, and the Lab team were dusting for prints, finding none.
"Over here," Tanya continued, leading us to the fence, "you can see the fence is breached. It's been cut, and someone pushed their way out."
I examined the cut fencing closely, noting it had been held together by a metal clip after being cut, but the clip was on the ground.
"What do you make of this, Officer Feeley?" I asked, testing the young officer as I pointed to the cut links of metal. He wanted to be a Detective, let's see if he was able to detect what I had observed.
"Looks like someone cut the fence and escaped through here to the neighborhood out there. It's not a gated community, so a car could've been parked here."
"Yes, very good, Feeley, but what do you make of this metal, of the cut in the fencing?" I said. Feeley didn't see it.
"Martin, Hugh? What do you think?" I asked. The Detectives came over and looked.
"That cut doesn't look very fresh." Martin Nash said. "Looks like someone came along earlier, as in days ago, cut the fence, used that metal clip to hold it together, then came through here last night after murdering Mr. Warner."
"Exactly." I said. "Excellent, Martin." I was impressed with him. I noticed that Pete Feeley still looked blank, and Tanya Perlman looked a little downcast: she knew Pete had failed that test.
"And this fence cut days ago tells us?" I asked, letting the sentence hang.
"Preparation of the objective." Hugh Hewitt said, using somewhat military language. "This was done in accordance with a plan created days in advance, which was to murder Mr. Warner here at this location."
"Yes." I said. "And that means that the killer not only planned to strike here, but he knew these grounds well enough to plan his escape location, navigate the grounds at night, -AND- he knew Warner's schedule, that Warner would be here in the near future."
I turned to my Detectives: "Hugh, Martin, go on back and go to DynaCorp. You guys!" I said, getting the Lab Team's attention. "How long have you been on duty?"
"We came on duty this morning." the chief technician replied. "We got called out here just a little while ago."
"Good enough, keep at it. You two..." I said, pointing fingers at Pete and Tanya. "You've been up all night. I can tell. Go home. Go directly home, do not pass 'Go', do not collect two hundred dollars. If I see you at work before 3:00pm I will fire both your asses. Move out."
No, I couldn't fire them, but the message was clear. And the Crime Lab noticed that I was taking care of my people. Always a good thing to take care of one's good people.
I had appointments with Myrtle L. James at 10:30am and with Laura for lunch at noon. I left the River Valley Country Club and at 8:45 arrived at the Country Breakfast Diner, located on the west side of town, just south of the Fairgrounds. The diner had the reputation of being the best breakfast in town, and many of the farmers with farms west of the railroad tracks and the river came here, as did all the old geezers... and businessmen savvy enough to know they might pick up some good "scoop" here.
Upon entering, I was greeted with a surprising number of congratulations from people over my recent promotion. I knew I had to spend time showing my appreciation, so it took a couple of minutes of shaking hands to get to my destination. I felt like a politician as I waded along the full tables, but it was a real politician I was here to see.
John "Jack" Colby was was a member of the Town & County Council, from one of the County districts. He was no-nonsense, only ran for office to try and bring some common sense to that political body, and didn't brook stupidity very well. He had been one of my staunchest allies from the beginning, pushing hard for my hiring and for my early promotion to Lieutenant.
He was tall, slender, definitely a ranchhand in his dress, looks and demeanor. Ranching was his hobby; he'd made a lot of money over the years in cattle futures and business deals, and he was semi-retired at age 50. I knew that he owned this diner and that he owned The Steakhouse restaurant as well, which explained the excellent quality of both.
His mustache was large, like Chief Griswold's, but his was still brown and not grayed like the long-suffering police chief's. But the most surprising aspect of Mr. Colby was the shock at first of hearing the deep baritone voice that seemed to boom from his not-so-large body.
"Well, if it ain't the Iron Crowbar." he said, as if surprised, greeting me as I came up to the table. "Congratulations on your promotion, young man. Have a seat, have a seat." I took the seat after shaking his hand.
"If you don't start calling me 'Jack', I'm going to take that crowbar from you and use it on you." he said after I called him 'sir'. I acquiesced as the waitress, a heavy-set friendly woman, set a delicious breakfast of eggs, grits, biscuits and gravy, bacon, and coffee in front of me. "Compliments of me." said Jack Colby.
"Thank you, Jack. I'm afraid I'm here on official business, and asking for a favor." I said.
"Is it about Warner?" he asked. As I nodded, he said. "I figured you might come over. That's why I told Mabel that we were expecting you, and to have your breakfast ready to go. What can I do for you?"
"I understand you are on the DynaCorp board?" I asked.
"Yep. I'm not involved with it much, but after those Enron laws were passed, Anthony Warner asked me to be an outside member of his board. He's an ass sometimes, but he's a good businessman and we'd done deals before, so we sat on each other's boards."
"Were you at last night's board meeting?" I asked.
"Sure was. You here on background?" Jack Colby asked, knowing what was coming.
"Yes." I said. "My officers talked to the Vice Chairman, Mr. Willoughby, last night. He wouldn't talk to us without a warrant. Of course I'll go through official channels and get the warrant to get the minutes and financial stuff, but--"
"But you wouldn't mind hearing something unofficially from me." Colby said, his deep voice rich and resonant in its amusement. "No wonder you get the results you do... you get the answers before doing anything. You sure you haven't been taking lessons from Bettina Wurtzburg?"
I laughed, knowing I was being tested. "Well, I don't go on TV blabbing what I find out and making the Chief have heart attacks." I said. Colby nodded, understanding fully what I was saying... about my ability to keep secrets as well as about the Chief.
"Well, as long as it stays in the background, I'll tell you what you want to know. Willoughby is a frickin' idiot, and so are the in-house lawyers. Yeah, we all know you need a warrant, we all know you'll get one, but they'll try to waste your valuable time. What exactly do you want to know about?"
"What was last night's meeting about, and who was there and not there." I said. Colby again understood.
"Who was not there is who you are interested in." he replied. "Katherine Warner Wilson, the dead man's sister, was not in attendance, nor was Beatrice York."
"The University Regent? She's on the Board?" I asked. Beatrice S. York was one of the religious types, friend of Pastor Westboro and Steven Ikea.
"Yep." Colby replied. "Anthony Warner was a fierce competitor and a hard man, definitely a dick at times, but he was an honest and fair man, gave to various church charities around here, and Beatrice York has been a benefactor of his for years. Careful you don't step on her toes."
"I appreciate that." I said. "So the meeting was about Katherine Wilson, I gather?"
"You do." said Colby. "Basically Warner called the meeting, and only the five Board members who attended were informed about it. Beatrice York may have known, but she was being honored at another function. And the reason for the meeting was that Anthony Warner wanted to remove his sister from the Board and fire her from his company. He gave us his reasons, they were sound, and we voted unanimously to do so."
"Think she might've known about it?" I asked.
"I don't know, but my guess is that she didn't."
"What about Warner's wife, Karla? She and Katherine Wilson are BFFs."
"Again, no idea, but I doubt it."
"How about the finances of the company? Anything I should know there?"
"Company was doing okay, they're sound financially. Willoughby is a decent CPA and the books are good. But you know how this economy is, and Anthony Warner wasn't happy with status quo. He thought his sister's marketing campaigns had lost their edge and he wanted to make a change, and he didn't let blood get in the way of making a business decision. I have to say, I think he was doing the right thing: she couldn't hold up to the pressure he had begun putting her under."
"Any fights between Anthony and his wife or his sister?" I asked.
"Not that I know of. Wife didn't do much with the business, just kept her nose in it enough to keep abreast of what was going on. The sister never argued with her brother; he was too overpowering and she's not all that strong-willed."
"Thank you, Mr. Colby, and thank you for the breakfast." I said, preparing to get up.
"Before you go, how about some information in return?" Jack Colby asked. As I sat back into my chair, he asked, "Tell me how things are going in the Police Department. The Chief thinks there are moles in it. Have you rooted any out?"
"Well, Sergeant Carroll and Patrolman Delmar have found it necessary to find jobs in other police departments far away from here. Right now I can see the spine of the problem, the outline of it, but I haven't gotten my head fully around it yet. I thought there might be a drug ring connection, but I haven't gotten a thread to pull on, so far."