Grissom passed a hallway reading a file, not seeing Nick. Nick jogged to catch up with him.
“Grissom,” Nick called.
Grissom stopped and turned. Nick handed him a piece of paper with a small photo on it.
“Found Takoda Red Deer,” Nick told him. “She was finishing her doctorate in psychology at UNLV.”
The information confuses Grissom. “Nick, we already know who our victim is.”
“Yeah, but that gorilla killed her and—”
“We don’t know that he did. We follow the evidence, not jump to conclusions.”
“You don’t think he murdered her, do you?”
“I don’t have enough evidence to make a conclusive decision. Have you gone over the security footage?”
“No. They said they’ll have it to me tomorrow, which they said yesterday too.”
“Keep on top of it.”
Their cell phones rang at the same time. Grissom walked away as he answered his. Nick looked at his phone. It read WENDY, followed by the text message: Blood samples ready.
Catherine and Sara pulled the roll of rope, noose, and boat rope from individual evidence bags. Various cutting instruments had been placed across the table. Sara held up the boat rope for Catherine to see.
“The cut pattern on these ropes isn’t like anything I’ve seen before,” she told her.
Catherine picked up a magnifying glass and examined the unique cut. The cut was clean, but the outside threads are shorter than the inside strands. Catherine then compared the end from the noose and roll, and the roll to the rope from the boat. The cut pattern matched on all of the ropes.
“Let’s see if anything we have will make this cut,” Catherine told Sara.
Using an identical type of rope from a new roll, the two test the various instruments, trying to replicate the pattern. With the last cutting instrument used, they stared at the cut ropes.
“Well… It’s enough to get a warrant for Joan,” Catherine states.
“But not Elan.”
Sara’s phone goes off and she looks at the text message sent.
“Wendy has my blood sample. I’ll be right back.”
Sara left Catherine to work on the mysterious cut pattern.
Greg entered the DNA lab to find Wendy staring at several papers. He stopped next to her to read over her shoulder. She quickly flattened it against her chest casting an ornery smile at him.
Teasing she tells him, “You made a mistake, Greg. A classic, classic mistake.”
He returned her smile. “I did? What was it?”
Nick joined them. “You called?”
“Greg is in sooooo much trouble, Nick,” Wendy told him. “He goofed big time!”
That made Nick grin. “Oh yeah? What do I get to never let him live down now?”
“The blood in the gorilla cage, the stuff that Greg was so sure would seal poor Ralph’s fate, is, in fact… pig’s blood.”
Greg yanked the papers from her, staring at it. “All of those samples are pig’s blood? How… How the heck does a gorilla get pigs blood in his cage?”
“That’s your first question?” Nick asked, laughing at him.
“Just great,” Greg muttered, staring at the papers.
“What about mine?” Nick asked her.
Wendy turned and retrieved a sheet off the printer. “What two species on the planet have ninety-eight to ninety-nine percent of the same DNA markers as humans?”
“Chimpanzees and gorillas. The blood is gorilla?”
Wendy relinquished the paper. “Bingo! And not just any monkey’s blood.”
Nick frowned at his paper. “It was Ralph’s. Great. We’re back to square one.”
“Hope Grissom’s evidence gives us a lead,” Greg told them.
Sara walks into the lab. “So this is where the party is, huh?”
“It’s the DNA party!” Wendy grinned. She picked up a paper next to the printer and handed it to Sara. “The blood on the birdcage belongs to the neighbor, Elan Hale. Catherine’s sample, from the refrigerator, was the victim’s blood. And Joan Peters’ epidurals were on all the rope samples.”
“Thanks, Wendy.” Sara headed out to find Catherine.
“That’s all the good news I have for today, boys.”
The two leave the lab together.
“Grissom wants the monkey to be innocent. This will make his night.” Greg shook his head
“Primate, Greg! Gorillas aren’t monkeys.”
“Hey, was that your uncle in the next cage? He sure looked like you, especially from the backside.”
“Stop proving you’re twelve.”
Wendy turned back to her work, laughing at the two.
Grissom stopped in the door of his office, staring at the back of Anma Scotton. She sat in the chair before his desk. She had an overstuffed canvas messenger bag on her lap that she held under a weather beaten, sweat stained safari hat. Her long black hair, twisted into a single braid, almost touched the floor. Her attention was on Grissom’s collection of oddities across from her.
Grissom cleared his throat, continuing to his desk. The woman looked up at him, watching him sit down across from her.
“Doctor Gilbert Grissom. I know. I’m Doctor Anma Scotton, Ralph’s owner. What evidence have you collected that says Ralph committed a murder? Or do my lawyers need to request your findings so we can contest it?”
Grissom was a little taken back by her confrontation. “Lawyers?”
Grissom smiled. “You’re a very caring parent, Doctor Scotton. Many human children don’t have parents that would be willing to call a team of lawyers to their defense.”
“Thank you. Could answer my question?”
“The evidence is still being analyzed and collected; therefore, Ralph’s guilt or innocence has not been determined.”
“You’ve already made a decision on it, haven’t you? So far everyone else I’ve spoken to about this case has, including the district attorney, believes he is guilty.”
“I assure you, Doctor Scotton, I’m not everyone else. Until I have conclusive evidence, Ralph is neither innocent nor guilty, and I can assure you that as soon as I know, so will you.”
He couldn’t read the hard stare she held on him. She sat her hat on the desk and pulled a folder from her bag.
She skimmed it, saying, “You know sign language, I see.”
Grissom was intrigued. “Is that about me?”
“And how did you obtain it, may I ask?”
“I have friends in very high places.”
Grissom smiled and it enticed her to reflect it.
“At this point you should be mad,” Scotton told him.
“On the contrary, Doctor Scotton, I’m impressed by your thoroughness. Again, you are a very good parent. I can appreciate your concern and determination to help your child.”
“How well do you know sign language?”
Grissom’s cell phone rang and he retrieved it to glance at the screen. It displayed CORONER. He sat it aside, continuing his conversation.
“Why do you ask?”
“Ralph has the largest American sign language vocabulary of any primate ever taught.”
The news was a breakthrough for Grissom. If Ralph could help identify who really killed Takoda Red Deer and clear himself! “That will be very helpful. Thank you for telling me this. Does Ralph grasp the concept of death?”
“I can’t say. He was a couple weeks old when his mother was murdered. Since then he has not been exposed to anything that had died.”
Grissom nodded a couple times. “I will do my best to help him understand what happened to his friend. Is there anything in particular that would help my communication with him?”
“I can’t allow you to speak to him right now. It isn’t that I don’t believe you would coerce him, but if we are going to be able to use his testimony, it must be unbiased.”
Anma looked at his shelf. He followed her gaze to his well-cared for termite colony. When he looked back, she was holding out three candy bars to him.
“We have a code so he knows when I send someone new to talk to him. If you want to talk to him, you must do exactly as I instruct.”He took the candy bars and picked up a notepad and pen. “Please explain the code.”