Catherine and Sara stood next to each other with the basket on the table before them. The women donned gloves, preparing to sift through the basket.
Sara noticed a smell. “How does the smell of death seem to get into everything?”
“I don’t know, but the faster we get this out of here, the happier the rest of the lab will be with us.”
Catherine saw an overstuffed pouch and rolled up pouch tucked along the side, and pulled both out. Slowly and carefully, Sara sifted through the fabric.
The overstuffed pouch is a variety of sewing accessories and nothing no murder weapon. She unrolled the second pouch and found it contained a dozen of well cared for scissors for a variety of sewing projects.
On the other side of the table was the new roll of rope. Catherine pulled the roll over to her. She cut a piece of rope off with one pair of scissors, examined the cut it made under a magnifying glass, and moved to the next pair of scissors. When she made a cut with a pair of pinking shears, the cut pattern was identical.
Meanwhile, Sara had emptied half the basket when she felt something hard under her hand. She pulled layers of cloth back, uncovering a velvet-covered box and releasing a stronger scent of decay. Sara pulled the box out and sat it before her. She carefully untied the ribbon around it and lifted the lid. The object inside made Sara want to cry.
Catherine turned to tell Sara she’d found the scissors and noticed her expression. She looked down at the small, lifeless, yellow canary inside the velvet box. Sara gently lifted the small corpse from its coffin and the head flopped over the side of her hand.
“It was one of Guistina’s scissors that cut the noose,” Catherine told her.
Sara didn’t look up from the dead bird. Catherine stared at the matching rope cut. The evidence revealed a truth that neither woman was prepared to face.
Nick and Archie sat side by side before a monitor that showed five different angles of the gorilla habitat. None of the angles gave him a direct view into the habitat.
“The call came in at 2:45am,” Nick told Archie. “The witnesses said they thought it was around 2:30am when they saw Ralph with the body. Doc Robbins couldn’t get an exact time of death due to the way she was murdered, so… It had to be after everyone left.”
“The vets said everyone leaves around 9 pm. We’ll have to look from there.”
Archie began scrubbing the video to 9pm and slowed the forward down. Around the time stamp of 11pm, Nick saw something in the corner of one of the videos.
“Stop.” He pointed at the video. “Go back some. Here. On this one.”
Archie did. The angle of the camera didn’t give a good view of what was happening. All the men can see is a sliver of a shadow on the habitat floor. Archie matched the time code of the other angles but there is nothing better.
“Go forward. Slower,” Nick ordered.
Archie advanced the video. Ralph appeared suddenly and Archie stopped, playing the video at normal speed. In several cameras, they see Ralph wander into view, looking toward the windows. He spun around, staring back toward his cage. He stood on his hind legs and looked like a man yelling. Suddenly he charged out of sight.
“Aren’t there any better angles?”
“They sent another DVD-R. Let’s see what it has.”
Archie switched out the DVD’s. The angles on these cameras are different but not much better. One showed 3/4 of the bottom of Ralph’s door. Another camera was a full view of the other cage doors but only three or four bars of Ralph’s cage.
Nick pointed to those two videos. “Let try these two.”
Archie runs them to 9pm and used a slow fast forward to advance to 11pm.
Like Ralph told Grissom, his door opened and he goes into the habitat. In the other cages, two gorillas wake up and watch him, but the rest barely move. Something liquid splattered out of Ralph’s cage, drawing his attention.
The men see a pair of human legs appear and gloved hands dousing the edges of the cage with of blood. The legs and hands disappeared. Suddenly Ralph charged at the cage door.
Ralph grabbed the bars and starts tugging on them. He works himself into a frenzy as he tries to get back in the cage. The noise wakes the other gorillas. The habitat doors on all the cages open.
The other gorillas meandered out into the habitat, but Ralph ran into his. A few minutes later, he came out carrying the pieces of Takoda Red Deer. He goes from gorilla to gorilla, but they either turn away or screech at him. Eventually he sat down by himself and started looking at the pieces he has.
“Freeze it there,” Nick quietly said.
“What is he doing?” Archie asked.
The answer sickened Nick. “He’s trying to… He wants to put her back together. He… He didn’t know… That he couldn’t fix her.”
Archie looked at Nick, surprised to see him taking this discovery so hard. Archie looked back at the frozen image and understood why. The majestic gorilla was reduced to a desperate primate trying to fix a dead friend, unable to comprehend why it would never work.
Steve Perinski’s home was on a large plot surrounded by a ten-foot privacy fence. The land served as a buffer home between a residential and industrial neighborhood. The small two-bedroom house should have been condemned. Small patches of grass in the front yard struggled to survive neglect. The rest of the yard was hard packed clay. On the far side was a large tin barn with double doors. It was newer than the house and in better condition. At the back of the property, derelict cars are parked in an orderly line against the fence – save one.
A patrol car and C.S.I. SUV pulled onto the property and park in the middle of the yard. Everyone climbed out. Greg carried a field kit and Grissom had a camera hanging off his shoulder. The officers waited by the patrol car, letting the C.S.I. work.
“Whatever he tore her apart with I assume was outside,” Grissom said.
Greg looked at the house and barn. “You don’t think he did it inside? Where no one could hear her scream?”
“Robbins found a contusion on her head that would have killed her. She was likely dead when he dismembered her, so I doubt he did that inside the house. Maybe the barn.”
The two headed toward the barn. Greg looked at the line of cars and noticed something that stopped him.
“Grissom… Does that pickup look out of place?”
Grissom looked at an old, beat up pickup Greg pointed out. The vehicle was parked in front of a dump truck.
“Yes it does.”
The two walked over to the pickup. Greg pulled on gloves and opened the door. He pulled infrared glasses on and swept the inside of the pickup with a UV light.
Grissom walked to the back and found a substance on the tailgate and bumper that looked suspiciously like blood. Across the tailgate and the front of the dump truck were splatters of what also looked like blood. He photographed the spots, pulled on gloves, and then retrieved three pre-moistened swab from a shirt pocket. He swabbed the bumper, tailgate, and front of the dump truck. All three swabs turned pink.
“There’s blood on the bumper, tailgate, and grill of the dump truck, Greg. Can you test these for human or animal blood?”
Greg came back and prepared a test strip. He handed it to Grissom to wait for the result and then dropped to the ground, looking under the pickup. He saw large spot of dirt that was darker than the rest. He climbed under the pickup and shone his flashlight on the spot. The clay made it impossible to tell if it was blood or something else.
The DNA test in Grissom’s hand came back positive for human DNA. “This is human blood,” Grissom told Greg.
“The ground under here is discolored.”
“Get a sample of the dirt. Then we have to find our pig donor.”
Greg pulled his kit to him and took out a test tube and small wedge trowel. He collected a sample and climbed out.
“On to the barn?” Greg asked.
Grissom nodded. The two walked over to the barn. They pushed open a door. On their left were several pigpens with large pigs snorting and rummaging through empty troughs. To the right, the barn was setup for butchering pigs.
“If this doesn’t scream killer…” Greg quietly said.
Grissom’s attention was on blood soaked ropes hanging on a wall. He walked over and found bits of skin caught in the rope. His instincts told him this was not pigskin.
“Greg, I need another DNA test.”
Greg handed one over and then walked over to three bone saws hung on the wall. They were clean, but Greg knew blades never really came clean. He tested them and one tested positive for human DNA. Grissom’s test of the blood on the skin also comes back positive for human DNA.
Grissom made a light joke when he told Greg, “I think the defense will have their work cut out.”