“Guess what?” Greg said
“What?” Grissom asked. He didn’t look away from his reading.
“The tar is bitumen and sand.”
“And what does this tell you?”
“Well, two things it’s used for are making mummies and sealing wooden ships, but I doubt that’s the case here, so that leaves roofing and road construction. Since there was so much, chances are the suspect is in one of those professions.”
“You don’t think a homeowner could have purchased it to roof their home?”
“Do you know many homeowners that would want to?”
Grissom looked up, thinking about that. “Not really, but start with what’s easiest to verify. Call all resellers who sold large amounts of tar to homeowners, and then verify the surface area of what the homeowners say they were roofing. If that checks out—”
Both stopped when they heard Nick yell and turned. He was after Hodges again and Hodges looked terrified.
“Nick’s been like that for four days now,” Greg commented. “What is wrong with him?”
“Greg, you have a case to work on,” Grissom told him.
Greg hurried off, happy to put distance between him and Nick.
Grissom started walking toward the lab and dialing a number. He was almost to the door when Nick stormed past him and Hodges dashed out the opposite exit. Grissom looked both directions, uncertain which person he should go after first.
“Yeah?” Jim said on the other end.
“Jim, I need you to check out a missing person’s report for me…” Grissom began.
Nick walked into the A.V. lab, glad to find Archie had run off somewhere and he would have the room to himself. He pulled up the DNA files and began a comparison in CODIS. He wasn’t going to talk to the husband until he was sure the man was guilty.
“Nick,” Brass said from the door.
He turned, watching the Detective walk in and lean against the edge of the desk.
“I brought in the husband. Guess what he was doing when we found him?” Brass smiled, trying to bait him into a game.
Nick wasn’t in the mood for games. “Why did you pick up the husband? I never told you to do that. He isn’t even a suspect yet.”
“He filed a missing person’s on his wife, so I was following up on it. Hodges also mentioned that—”
“Hodges isn’t a C.S.I., Brass!” Nick bellowed.
Brass didn’t speak right away. He stared back at Nick without any expression to hint what he thought or felt.
Quietly, as if trying to soothe a child having a tantrum, he told Nick, “Grissom asked me to follow up on the missing person’s report. And while Hodges isn’t a C.S.I., his hunch was correct. When we arrived at the man’s house, he was packing to leave. He told me that he was leaving for just a few days, but there was enough stuff for a few months. Since I have a few years up on you in investigating homicides, I went with my gut that this man was about to disappear, and I brought him in for questioning. Any questions?”
Nick looked away. Brass’ calm, but angry, lecture rile Nick’s demon but kept silent. Maybe it was the logic Brass had pointed out for why he looked into the husband, or maybe it was having seen Brass face meaner and worse people, and never fluster. Either way, Nick didn't try to berate Brass for bringing in the husband.
“He’s in a room downstairs. When should I tell the officer to expect you?”
The computer beeped and Nick looked back. His anger fizzled when the match came back as the husband.
Brass glanced at the screen. “What was that from?”
“I lifted some hairs from her clothes and skin from under fingernails still on her hands. She was still alive when she scratched him.”
It took Brass a couple minutes of looking from screen to C.S.I. to make the connection.
“She was buried alive?”
Nick slowly nodded. He felt weak and sick to his stomach. What could this woman have possibly done that warranted the torture of being buried alive?
“Are you okay?” Brass asked. “You don’t look so good suddenly.”
Nick looked down. “Brass… I was wondering… Do you mind sitting in on the interview?”
“Sure. Are you okay? You look like you could throw up.”
Nick stood, collecting his files and printing out the screen. He grabbed it off the printer and pretended to be sorting his papers so he wouldn’t have to look at Brass.
“She was buried alive, Brass. She was still breathing and conscious when he put dirt and ants on her.”
“So the guy’s a bastard. We’ve dealt with worse.”
Nick forced a smile, looking him in the eye. In his mind Nick snarled, ‘You don’t fucking get it!’ Out loud, he said, “Let’s not keep the husband waiting.”
He followed Brass out of the lab.
Warrick carefully pulled items from the wallet and moved them onto a tray lined with wax paper. He carefully washed the items with sterile water, cleaning away the soap and residue.
“Got something for you,” Hodges said as he walked up. “The soil and water sample was high in alkali. That water is so hard they could clean Mount Rushmore with it.”
Warrick smiled at the joke. “Just set those there.” Warrick motioned to the spot with his head.
“This can’t be good,” Hodges said.
Warrick looked at him and then where he was looking, seeing Grissom rush past. He turned his focus back to the wallet. One of the cards he pulled out was still intact and as the water washed it clean, he realized he was holding a driver’s license.
“An I.D.” Warrick said.
Hodges leaned in also watching at the writing became visible. He chuckled a little when the name was readable.
“Edith Stuckley?” Hodges said, looking at Warrick. “The dude has a girl’s name.”
Warrick smiled. “Ed-ith, not Ee-dith.”
“That’s a girl’s name.”
“I don’t care. I have a name and a matching face.”
Hodges looked back at the driver’s license. “I dunno. He seems to have gained weight since this picture was taken.”
Warrick looked up at him and Hodges grinned. “Gotcha!” Hodges walked away laughing at his own joke that Warrick hadn’t found all that funny.
Warrick turned to a computer behind him and sat the license next to the keyboard. He pulled off the latex gloves and began working on a search.
Greg held his head up with one hand. With the other he moved the mouse and arrow keys to go through screens of people that might one day be a suspect – but so far weren’t any of his. He looked up at Catherine when she stopped next to him.
“Rough case?” she asked.
No.” Greg thought about that answer. “Yes.” He thought again. “I don’t know.”
“Well, now that we have that uncertainty cleared up…” She smiled.
He didn’t return it.
“What’s going on?”
“I don’t have any leads. The storage unit manager never saw the renter; he thinks it was a man. He was wearing a scary looking bunny costume, paid cashed, and gave the name as Donnie Darko, so he doesn’t know for sure. And—”
“Did you look up that name? That’s pretty unique.”
Greg sighed. “That’s the name of a character in a movie. I’ve watched it enough times to catch the whole scary looking bunny costume the killer wore.”
“Oh. What about costume rentals?”
“None in Las Vegas. And all the feathers came from two related chickens, which doesn’t narrow anything down. So I searched for homeowners who had purchased tar for roofing their homes. None bought more than was expected for their home size, none have previous records, and none are missing. So I got lists of construction workers. There’s over two hundred, half have some kind of a record, half of those have records that would normally flag them. Except that none of them are missing, none have gone missing, and none have quit since the mystery man rented the unit. Since I don’t even know what this guy looks like or who he is, I have no connections.” Greg looked back at the screen. “I really hate this case.” He looked down at his cell when is started ringing. He opened it and hit speaker. “Yeah?”
“Greg, we’re done,” Robbins said.
Greg sat up, smiling. “Really? I’ll be right—”
“I meant we aren’t going to try getting any more tar off this corpse, Greg. We’re destroying the body at this point.”
Greg stared at his phone. “But… Nothing came back on his DNA. The X-rays aren’t giving me anything. I can’t solve this without prints or a face.”
“I’m sorry.” Robbins did sound sorry. “We did the best we could. Do you want to make the funeral arrangements? I wouldn’t normally ask but…”
“No. Go ahead. Thanks, Doc.” Greg tapped his phone to end the call. He sank back in his chair, staring at the screen. “Dead end. I lost.”
Catherine patted his shoulder. “Tough luck, Greg.”
She walked out, leaving him to sulk over his failure.