The Boy in the Bin

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Lieutenant Sherman’s desk looked like a large crossword puzzle with pieces of evidence scattered all over the place. He had received several police department awards for solving major crimes. But no one could tell by a cursory examination of his workspace.

The desk became a resting place for stacks of books and publications, little notebooks, and a telephone; all shoved helter-skelter amongst used coffee cups and McDonald’s wrappers. On the wall behind him, he placed crime scene photos, lists of suspects and a clipboard containing witness statements.

“You’re a slob,” his Captain barked, “Clean this mess up.”

“Get me an assistant,” Sherman shot back, “and I’ll think about your beautification project. For the time being, I’m busy trying to solve crimes. And here you are; piling the cases on me.”

“I’m bustin’ your chops, Paul,” the Captain said laughing. “I’m quite aware you work your ass off. That’s exactly why I’m giving you this case. I believe you’ve dealt with him before.”

Sherman took the folder from his captain and reviewed the statements. The first page contained a deposition from Otto Dryanoff. He owned a tailoring shop in midtown and reported the theft of a leather coat from his store.

His statement said he recognized the thief in court wearing the jacket. Cindy Downes, a prosecutor in another case, filed the report. She marked the statement with ‘Hernandez?’ in the upper left corner.

“I know this kid,” Paul confirmed. “He’s got some kind of speech impediment if I recall. I met him last year when I investigated the stabbing of a student at Village Community School on the west side. I even went to his house.”

Sherman got up from his desk and took the clipboard from the wall. He flipped through several pages until he came to his notes marked ‘Hernandez’. He scanned through the notes and turned back to the captain.

“I remember him now,” he recalled. “He seemed like a pretty good kid except for this incident and a previous one where he caused an explosion. I considered him a victim of some older boy’s pushing him and in the assault case; self-defense seemed to be the motive. I even took him for a tour of the jails to scare him.”

“Does he live with his parents?” the Captain asked.

“His old man is some kind of corporate lawyer,” Paul stated, “and his mother works at the Rescue Mission. They employ a housekeeper who keeps an eye on him until the parents get home. He got bounced out of Village Community School and he transferred to the Dalton School. I thought a transfer would help because the older kids he hung around with were two real ZEROS. You recognize the names Lovelace and Stockton don’t you?”

“Oh,” he chuckled, “those little assholes. No wonder he got in trouble. Those two are headed for jail if I’ve got anything to say about it.”

“My thoughts exactly.”

“Well anyway, this guy Otto is convinced Hernandez is the one who stole the jacket,” the Captain continued. “Why don’t you check his statement out and try to figure out if he’s a thief too. I wouldn’t call the case a high priority though; whenever you can.”

“Will do, Captain,” Sherman assured, “and if it’s him, what should I do?”

“Paul,” he confided, “this is an old case. With no corroborating witnesses, a case like this will be a bitch trying to get a conviction without a confession; however you see fit.”

Lieutenant Sherman went back to working on current cases. He pulled one of his notebooks out and jotted down a memo saying ‘F/U on Hernandez - RE: Stolen Jacket at Otto’s Tailoring’. This would be sufficient until more time became available. Right at this moment, he had to concentrate on a new case involving a gang of youths robbing a jewelry store.

A cop’s work is never done.

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