Chapter 3


Chapter Three

The RED CELL team arrived at the police station in downtown Charleston, South Carolina in better time than what they expected. Prophet drove the whole way and they all supposed that he was just anxious to get this case over with. The truth was they all were.

As the team walked into the building, they found that all of the photos and case files that this department had gathered together were spread out and unorganized all over the officers' desks. Several of the officers were on the phones and some of them were interviewing the neighbors of a few of the victims.

The head of the department walked over to Coop and his team as soon as he saw them come in and introduced himself to them as Captain Tyler Grayson. Sam shook his hand as the captain extended his out to him.

"It's good to meet you, Captain," Sam said in response. "My name is Sam Cooper and these are my teammates, Mick Rawson, Beth Griffith, Gina LaSalle, and Jon Simms."

"Call me Prophet," Jon added quickly. "My friends all do."

The captain nodded and replied, "It's good to meet each of you as well. Thank you for coming to assist us. We could really use a fresh pair of eyes on this. The lead detectives on this case, Agent Tim Daniels and Agent Will Franklin, have worked hard, but so far we have had no leads. We have conducted several interviews with the neighbors of our victims and made call after call, but this guy is a ghost."

"Maybe, but we will find him," Sam said. "We will need a few dry erase boards so that we can put up the pictures and details of this case in order to be better organized. It will be a lot easier to solve if everyone can see everything at once."

Agent Franklin's phone rings and after a few seconds he hung up and said, "There's been another killing, with a message on the wall written in blood just like the others. It's two young men this time."

Sam shook his head sadly and responded, "All right, we are going to split up to try to get as much information as we can. Beth, I want you, Gina, and Prophet to join with Detective Franklin and head over to talk with our other victims' family and friends. Detective Daniels, you're with me, and Mick. We're going to the latest crime scene. We'll interview anyone there, including the person who found the bodies."

About twenty-five minutes later, Coop, Mick, and Detective Daniels arrived at the home, where two young boys were found dead inside, just like all of their other victims. They looked around the scene to observe the coroner examining their bodies, while two young women, who were sitting in the back of an ambulance, were crying.

Mick headed over to talk with the coroner, while Sam walked over to speak with the girls. Tim followed after him, pulled out a notebook from his jacket pocket, and listened closely as Sam began to talk with them, while he wrote down any details that he felt might be important to their case.

"Excuse me, ladies," Sam began. "I am very sorry for your loss. My name is Agent Sam Cooper with the Behavior Analysis Unit in the FBI and this is Detective Daniels from the police department here in town. We're here to ask you a few questions if that's all right?"

"Of course," one of the girls answered. "I'm Katie and this is Tina. We're Eric and Ryan's girlfriends, or we were. I can't believe that they're dead. Who would do something like this? They never hurt anybody!"

Sam nodded and replied, "Unfortunately, they were just random victims who were in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Their killer chose them, just because he could. There was nothing personal to him about their deaths. Can you tell me anything more about them? Anything that you could tell us could help us to figure out who their killer is."

"This apartment belongs to Eric's parents," Tina responded. "They went out of town this weekend for some alone time and left Eric alone to take care of their dog. Eric invited Ryan, me, and Katie over to meet up before we headed off to dinner and to go see a movie. Me and Katie were running late because we were getting manicures and pedicures at a nail salon. When we got here, we walked in to find Eric and Ryan dead."

"If we weren't late to meet up with them, we might have been killed too," Katie added. "Is it selfish to be thankful that we weren't here? I'm so sorry!"

Coop placed his hand on Katie's shoulder and replied, "It is not wrong or selfish for you to be grateful that you are still alive. You should be. It doesn't mean that you aren't any less upset about what happened to them. Have you noticed anyone strange hanging around the four of you within the last few days? Anyone following or stalking you?"

Katie answered, "We didn't think anything of it at the time, but yesterday the four of us were walking around the mall and some guy bumped hard into Eric while he and Ryan were standing in line at the Starbucks. They were getting me and Tina some coffee."

"Did either of you get a good look at this man?" Sam asked. "Can you give us any detail about what he looked like?"

"He wore a baseball cap that covered his face and he kept his head down," Tina responded. "The only thing we know is that he was tall, white, and he had muscles; not real big, but big enough."

Detective Daniels asked, "Did the guy say anything to you? Did he apologize or talk with an accent at all?"

Coop also asked, "What made you think about this guy now that makes you believe he could be the man who killed Ryan and Eric?"

"He didn't talk at all," Tina replied. "Like I said, he just kept his head down and walked on by like he did nothing wrong. It's just that when the four of us got back to Eric's, Eric couldn't find his wallet. We assumed that he just left it at one of the stores we had gone to, but we didn't want to make another trip back out there to look for it. Eric said it was no big deal because there were only a few dollars inside it and no credit cards. We figured we would come back to the mall tonight on our way out to the movie."

"Eric kept a spare key to his house inside his wallet," Katie added. "When we got here today, we knocked and rang the doorbell. When he didn't answer, we tried the door handle and saw that it was unlocked, so we let ourselves in and that is when we found them. The point is there was no sign of a break in. Maybe the guy, who bumped into us yesterday, lifted Eric's wallet. That is, if he is the killer."

Sam nodded his head, pulled a card out from his pocket, and said, "You might be right. Thank you both so much. You've helped us out a lot. If you think of anything else, please give me a call. I promise you that my team and I will do everything that we can to find the man who killed your boyfriends."

About halfway into Sam's conversation with the girls, Mick had walked over and joined them, but he remained quiet as he listened. When they were finished, Mick explained to Sam and Detective Daniels what he had learned while talking with the coroner, as they went over to take a look at the boys' bodies for themselves.

"The coroner said the boys were strangled to death by a thin rope or twine of some kind," Mick said. "He found some fibers left over from the rope embedded in the strangulation marks around their necks. It appears that the boys tried to fight back. There were cuts on their hands, probably from trying to pull the rope away from their necks as our killer strangled them. Then, it looks like our killer stabbed them both in the stomach after they were dead in order to get enough blood to spill out so that he could write the message on the wall and this message is the worst of it."

"The message is different than the rest of them," Sam replied as he looked on the wall where Mick was pointing to. "YOU"RE NEXT."

Mick nodded and responded, "It looks like whoever our guy's after, he's found him or her and their going to be dead unless we stop him."

Daniels asked as he kept his eyes on the bodies, "How did one guy manage to overpower and strangle two boys?"

Sam replied, "He must have snuck up on one of them when he was alone. Then, he hid and waited for the other one to walk in looking for his friend. As he did, our UNSUB snuck up on him as well.

"If the guy that the girls described from the mall is our killer, then he would have easily been able to overpower them," Mick added. "These boys were not scrawny, but they weren't built up by any means. One of them was even short."

"Let's get back to the police station to find out what the others learned," Sam said. "Maybe they learned something from our other victims as well."

As Mick was about to climb into their SUV along with Sam and Detective Daniels, he suddenly got a strange feeling. Sam noticed this as he watched Mick turn to scan the crowd that had gathered outside the boys' home.

Sam asked, "What is it, Mick?"

Mick answered, "It's probably nothing. I just could have sworn that I felt someone watching us, but I don't see anyone that stands out."

"Don't dismiss your instincts," Sam replied. "Your instincts are usually right. There's a good chance that our UNSUB is watching us right now in order to observe our actions. Remember, he is after one final victim and it could be anyone. Hopefully, we'll be able to find him or her, before our killer does. Do you see anyone that fits the girls' description?"

"Yeah," Mick responded. "Plenty of guys here fit that description, but he may have left the scene already if he was here. He may have noticed that I caught him watching us."

"Don't worry," Sam said. "We'll get this guy."

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