Tabula Rasa

Chapter 2

Tabula Rasa

Chapter Two

Once their captain had given his two best detectives orders to be discreet with the people they were going to have to speak with at the college, Travis noticed that Wes' mood had become more foul than usual, as he had been silent ever since they walked out from the office and started to drive toward the UCLA campus.

Travis finally broke the silence as he said, "So, Wes, I am getting the sense that you don't like talking to the authority figures on a college campus, or is it that you just don't like the ones at this campus? I thought you went to Berkeley."

Wes shook his head in frustration and answered, "No, Travis, I went to Stanford and no, it isn't that I hate talking to the authority figures. I hate that we are expected to tip toe around the students and faculty like nothing bad happened. I get that we can't just blurt out to the press, who our suspects are or what all of the facts are in the case. That's the same as any case and besides, I would never do that. I hate the press. What I mean is, the faculty members in charge always expect us to tread lightly in order to keep up the school's precious image. Whenever something like this happens, the cases usually get dropped because the people involved are paid off for their silence."

"And you know this how?" Travis asked as he was finally beginning to understand his partner's reluctance in taking this case.

"I'd rather not get into it," Wes replied solemnly.

Travis looked over at him again and responded seriously, "Something bad happened to you while you were at law school. Didn't it?"

Wes kept his face forward as he continued to drive and answered, "Nothing bad happened to me, but I knew a woman from a more private law school that something bad did happen to. I didn't know her that well, but she was best friends with a friend of mine. We all hung out together. One night, we all went to one of her school's parties and her boyfriend brought her into a room upstairs in the house where the party was at and he raped her, along with four other guys."

"She was gang raped," Travis said sadly.

"She was too afraid to go to the faculty to file charges against the guys that hurt her, as her boyfriend was the dean's son, but eventually my friend convinced her to go to the police," Wes continued. "I found out a few weeks later that the dean and probably a few other members of the school board blackmailed and then paid her and her family off to keep quiet. She moved away soon after that. I never heard from her or my friend again and as far as I know, the school is still open and a real success."

Travis shook his head in disgust and then replied, "Damn, I see what you mean. Did you ever try to look her up to see what became of her after you became a cop?"

Wes shook his head as he responded, "No, I guess I haven't really thought about her since it happened. There's nothing I can do for her now, but I suppose it would be good to know if she's doing all right now."

"Well, we're here now," Travis said as they pulled up to the front doors of the dorm where the student's body had been found. "Are you ready find out what happened here and then let the dean and board members know that we don't take crap from anyone that tries to impede our investigations?"

"You're damn right, I'm ready," Wes answered firmly. "Let's get this over with."

As Wes and Travis walked inside and headed up to the room, where a number of students were standing around, behind the crime scene tape, as two officers, three members of the school's security, as well as a couple of staff members were working to keep people away from the body.

The detectives pushed through the crowd and then walked into the room, to find that the body looked like it was still in its original position on the floor, covered up by a blanket out of respect. As Wes pulled the blanket away, he and Travis saw that the younger man was stripped down to his boxers and that whoever killed him had used a knife to stab him brutally over and over.

Travis was the first to speak up again as he whispered so that only Wes could hear him, "It looks like somebody hated this poor kid. What do you want to bet that he was killed by a scorned lover?"

Wes replied softly, "We can't make that assumption, Travis. However, we can say that whoever killed him would have gotten his blood all over his or herself. Look at the blood splatter. This was a brutal attack. Surely, someone would have noticed someone covered in blood trying to sneak around the campus."

"You're right," Travis agreed as he looked around at the large amount of blood that covered the walls, furniture, and floor. "There are always students, as well as some of the faculty members awake in the middle of the night. I know I certainly partied in college. Also, surely someone had to have heard the attack when it happened, even if our victim was unconscious before he was stabbed. I mean, this kind of brutally takes a lot of rage. The killer must have made some kind cry as he or she killed him."

"Yeah, well I doubt we'll get cooperation from any of these students, but let's have his roommate brought in here so we can talk with him to see what he knows and where he was that made it so that it wasn't until this morning that he found his friend's body," Wes responded. "We can search the room to see if there's something here that might help us. Then, we can have a chat with the dean and anyone else the guy invited to help deal with this mess."

As he headed toward the door, Travis spoke up saying, "Sounds good to me. Why don't you get started on the search. I'll get the kid. I'm assuming he's just outside the room like all of the other students that are hovering around."

A few minutes later, Travis walked back inside the room with their victim's roommate, as Wes was searching the closet. The student appeared shaken up, as he should be after finding his friend dead, but he had told Travis out in the hallway that he wanted to help them in any way he could.

Travis quickly spoke up as he entered, "Jeremy, this is my partner, Detective Mitchell. He's cool. Wes, our friend here is Jeremy Walker and his roommate was Ryan Conway."

"What can you tell us about him?" Wes asked after nodding at Jeremy in acknowledgement. "Do you have an idea as to why somebody would want to kill Ryan like this?"

"Ryan was a good guy and a good friend," Jeremy answered sadly as he tried to avoid looking down at his friend's body that was once again covered up by the blanket. "He wasn't nearly as social as I am, as he preferred to stay in, even on the weekends, but occasionally he would come out with me to get a few drinks. A few weeks ago, he met a girl at one of the bars downtown and he went home with her. He's been happier than I've ever seen him, that is, until two nights ago. Apparently, she dumped him, but that was all I could get out of him. He was pretty upset, but he kept to himself and stayed here in the dorm."

Travis asked, "Did you find out this lady's name by any chance, or anything about her that could help us to track her down?"

Jeremy shook his head and replied, "All I know was that her name was Jacqueline. I never met her and Ryan didn't talk about her much. She never came around here. He always went out to see her. It was like she was some big secret; kind of weird."

"All right, that's a start," Wes responded. "Where were you last night around two- thirty? How come you didn't find your roommate until late this morning?"

"I met a girl last night and I went back to her place to, you know, I slept with her," Jeremy answered. "I woke up late this morning and had to rush right to class. I came back here after it was done. That's when I found Ryan."

Wes nodded and then said, "We're going to need the name and address of the woman you went home with last night so that we can rule you out as a suspect. Was there anyone else that can verify your alibi? The more information we have, the better."

Jeremy looked away sheepishly and then turned back as he replied, "Yeah, you can talk with her boyfriend. He walked in on us with his own woman. Apparently the two are into some pretty funky things."

"Was this the same bar where Ryan met Jacqueline?" Travis asked in curiosity as the more deviant side of him suddenly peaked.

"Yeah, actually it is," Jeremy responded. "A few of my friends told me about it. It's full of strange people, but they're great if you're into the kinky kind of stuff. I didn't think I was until…"

Wes suddenly cut him off as he quickly said, "Thank you for your help, Jeremy. We'll be in touch."

Travis only smirked at his partner's discomfort as the conversation had turned weird. After Ryan's roommate finished writing down the information they had asked for, Wes and Travis walked out and headed off to go and speak with the dean, who was strangely not waiting around near the crime scene to speak with them. From their conversation with Jeremy, neither one of them got the sense that the kid was guilty of killing his friend, but it did bring up a strange list of new, possible suspects.

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