Catherine stepped off the elevator heading for trace.
“Miss Willows?” the receptionist called.
She stopped and came back to the desk. “Yes?”
“I have a Detective Mac Taylor from NYPD CSI on the phone. He’s asking for Greg, but I can’t find Greg anywhere.”
“He’s in ballistics today, probably can’t hear his phone ringing. Did the detective say what it was about?”
“He said it has to do with information his CSI found on a Petra O’Connor.”
Catherine hid her disapproval. Grissom had told her that he’d ordered Greg to abandon his theory; clearly, Greg wasn’t listening.
“I’ll take it in my office. Give me two minutes.”
“This also came for him. Do you want me to put it in his box?” The receptionist held up an internal mail envelope.
Catherine took it. “No. I’ll take care of that too. Thank you.” Catherine hurried to her office and sat down as the phone rang. She picked it up, hitting the line.
“This is Catherine Willows, Greg’s supervisor.”
“Hi. Greg isn’t available?”
“We’re in the middle of a big case right now; I'm afraid I don't know where he is at the moment. You said you had information on a Petra O’Connor.”
“Yes. He had contacted us four days ago with a low priority investigation. A couple of my CSI had time yesterday and found some information for him. They contacted her manager. She’s been in Las Vegas for the last two months. Also, her manager never spoke to a Greg Sanders with the Las Vegas Crime Lab. She said she’d remember a call like that.”
Catherine leaned on her desk. “Greg told me that he spoke to a man that said he was Petra’s manager.”
“Petra’s manager is a woman.”
“That’s very interesting.” Catherine grabbed a notepad and jotted down notes. “Was there anything else?”
“Yes. He sent us a court order to obtain a handwriting sample. We didn’t need it though. My detective found a manager who Petra fired when she went to Vogue. He gave us a copy of her contract. I can fax it over if you can give me a phone number.”
“Sure. The number here is 702-556-5556.”
“I’ll send it over as soon as we hang up.”
“Can I ask how Greg convinced you to do all this?”
Mac Taylor chuckled. “He has a cousin in our lab and we had time. I hear you have your hands full with a serial killer. Any chance this is related?”
“It may be.”
“Good luck catching your guy.”
“We need all the luck we can get. Thank you.”
“Good bye, Miss Willows.”
Catherine hung up the phone, looking at the envelope on her desk. She grabbed it and hurried to the fax machine. She knew if Grissom saw any of this Greg could easily end up on suspension, and she’d rather talk to him about this since it appeared he might be onto something. Despite working behind their backs.
Catherine strolled into the lab carrying an internal mail envelope and a print out of something in her hands. She stopped next to Greg. He looked up from the microscope.
“Any luck?” she asked.
“No. We’ve seen the same fabric at the other scenes. A mixed cotton nylon cloth could be used in any type of clothing and sold in any retail store across the state. All the hair and skin evidence matches the elimination samples and the victims.”
Catherine looked in Hodges’s direction on the other side of the room.
“Hodges,” she said.
“Yeah?” he muttered.
“You need a ten minute break.”
“No I don’t.”
“Yes. You do. And shut the door on your way out.”
Hodges glanced from Greg to her. He smiled and stood.
“I guess I do.”
She flashed him a smile and waited until he shut the door.
“Didn’t Grissom tell you to drop your theory?”
Greg sat back on the stool. “I did.”
“No. You didn’t.” She sat the envelope and print out down at his elbow. “This was sent over from the DA’s office and it’s marked as a juvenile record. We aren’t working any cases that require a juvenile record. And I just got a call from a Detective Taylor from the New York Police Department. You have a cousin in his lab?”
Greg sheepishly grinned.
“You don’t?” she asked.
“No. I do. I asked him if he could do me a favor. He owes me about a dozen.”
“If Grissom finds out about this, Greg, he will hang you!”
Greg sat up. “I came up with a theory about the killer’s motive. If this killer is Petra O’Connor, I think she’s avenging her father’s death because the killings started the day he committed suicide, just like the letters promised. I think she’s killing off anyone who helped convict her father and that’s a long list of EMS personnel.” Greg looked past her, watching a technician pass. “And it’s me and Nick, too. So I’m sticking with it because I don’t feel like dying, and I don’t think Nick does either.”
Catherine sighed, looking at the envelope. She leaned close, looking him in the eyes.
“Okay. But you’re going to let me in on everything from here on out. Otherwise Grissom will not be happy with you.”
She stood. “Now get that sample to Ronnie and then come to my office. If I’m going to cover for you, I want to know what’s in her juvy record.”
Greg stood, taking them as he left. “Thanks, Catherine.”
Greg hurried out. She turned, watching him. Sometimes she felt like she had several children instead of one.
Henry Andrews read the results from trace as he walked through the halls. He felt like he was reading the same results for one case, instead of one a dozen cases later. Ultimately that meant they were no closer to uncovering the identity of the EMS Killer.
“Excuse me?” someone said.
He looked up, turning until he found the speaker. A man his age held out a piece of paper.
“I’m looking for a Greg Sanders or Nick Stokes. Their boss gave me a message to give them.”
“Oh. I know where Nick is. He’s in ballistics.”
The man smiled, holding up his hands. “I’m so new I don’t even know where that is.”
“I’ll take it to one of them.”
“Well… I don’t know…”
“Grissom won’t mind.”
“Thanks.” The man handed him the paper.
Henry took it and walked away. Had he turned back he would have seen the man’s lips crease into a sadistic, evil smile.
Nick slowed the SUV to a stop at the curb in front of a dark house. Several minutes passed that he and Greg stared at the house, not speaking or moving. Any other time this wouldn’t be such a foreboding sight, but given current events, this was uncommonly terrifying.
Nick decided to break the silence and involuntarily hint at his fear by asking, “Where’s the units?”
“Why aren’t the lights on?” Greg asked back.
Nick shook his head. “Let’s go see what’s up.”
Nick got out and grabbed his field kit. He looked up, finding Greg staring at him.
Greg looked like he wanted to say something, but in the end he grabbed his own field kit and got out. The two men started up the sidewalk toward the front door. For both of them, every step made the sidewalk seem longer than it really was. They were half way up it when fear stopped them both in their tracks and neither was willing to move without the other.
“Maybe now would be a good time to tell you about my theory,” Greg said.
“Catherine already told me.”
Silence passed for several minutes.
Nick finally voiced what had stopped them both, “What if the killer is in there?”
“We’d be walking right into a trap,” Greg said.
They were silent for several minutes. Nick shook his head, looking at Greg.
“I don’t like this. I believe your theory and I don’t like this at all.”
“All of it. I’m double checking this call.” Nick pulled out his cell phone, half expecting Greg to argue.
Greg didn’t. It was a little comforting for Nick to know his co-worker was as uneasy about the situation as he was.
The phone clicked twice and he looked at the phone. It showed ‘Connecting…’ He put it back to his ear and heard it ringing. The phone on the other end was picked up.
A man answered, “Las Vegas Dispatch. How may I direct your call?”
“Hey,” Nick started. “This is CSI Nick Stokes. We were given an address to report to, but there’s no cops, no lights. Can you confirm the address of our last dispatch?”
There was a pause and he could hear the man tapping keys.
“I’m showing your last dispatch is to 14652 Gunnison Way.”
“So where are the uniforms, man? We’re out here alone. With this crazy killer on the loose, there’s no way we’re going into this house alone.”
“I’m showing units were dispatched. Let me check on their location. Please hold.”
“What?” Greg asked.
“He says units were dispatched here.”
“I think his computer has a glitch.”
Nick smirked. He had to agree to that. The line softly popped and he looked at his phone again.
“Why do you keep looking at your phone?”
“This connection is awful! Must be working on the tower or something.”
There was a soft rustle and the dispatcher was back. “The call came in about thirty minutes ago, but the units that were supposed to be dispatched didn’t get it. We’re having some issues with lag tonight. Let me dispatch them again. They’ll be there in ten minutes.”
Nick looked at the dark house. “Ok. Well, we’re not going in until they get here. Tell them to put some fire under it.”
Nick hung up.
“What they say?”
“He said the police will be here in ten minutes.”
“Should we go in?”
“I’m not going in,” Nick retorted, and immediately realized it put his fear on his sleeve.
Greg let out a soft breath. “I’m glad I’m not the only one that this is making nervous. So what do we do?”
Nick looked around them. “Well… No one’s died outside of the houses, so… I’ll take the back, you take the front. Let me know as soon as the units get here.”
Greg nodded. Nick headed for the gate next to the house, pulling out his flashlight. Greg pulled his back out and started searching the yard for anything that caught his eye.
Glaring was an uncommon habit of Grissom’s, even if he didn’t consciously realize it, but he didn’t know what else to do to the reports he was holding. All of them, every single one of the two hundred pages, reported the same damn thing. No evidence found, no match found, no reference match, and no suspect. This meant they were no closer to catching the EMS Killer than they were when the killer started murdering a month ago. He sat the papers down, pinching the bridge of his nose. He didn’t have a headache, which normally made him pinch the bridge of his nose, but in response the stress, it felt good to squeeze the acupuncture point.
Grissom heard a soft knock on his door and looked up. Ronnie was leaning in, holding a file folder.
“Have you seen Catherine or Greg?” Ronnie asked.
“Well, if you see either of them, will you tell them I finished the analysis they asked for?” Ronnie turned to leave without an answer.
Grissom’s thoughts moved at lightning speed. Analysis? For what? He hadn’t given Greg or Catherine any questionable documents and neither mentioned they had any. It wasn’t like them to withhold evidence, but what if Greg had talked Catherine into—
The man stopped, turning back.
“Oh, Greg brought me these two handwriting samples a couple days ago. He said they had to be put at the bottom of my list so I just got to them.”
“Samples for what case?”
“The EMS Killer case.”
Grissom sat up. “Greg has documents for that case?”
“He said he did.” Ronnie hesitated. “Didn’t he?”
He wasn’t sure if he wanted to be angry or impressed with Greg. He didn’t exactly condone the young man for going behind his back, but the tenacity Greg had about his theory was impressive.
“What comparisons did he give you?”
“The threat letters to a modeling contract.”
Grissom immediately recognized he might be wrong. Completely, utterly, and wonderfully wrong. Before his excitement got the better of him—
“Do they match?”
“It’s a ninety-eight point seven percent match.”
Greg did it! Grissom’s anger vanished, put out by the sudden hope they may have actually caught the person behind these killings. Grissom held his hand out for the folder. Ronnie approached, but didn’t look ready to hand over the file.
“Greg said I was to give these to him or Catherine.”
“I’m sure he did. Give them to me, Ronnie. He’ll get them.”
Ronnie handed over the folder. Grissom opened it and picked up the analysis report. Grissom stood and rushed out the door with it. Ronnie stared at the doorway.
“You’re welcome,” he told the empty room.
Catherine and Warrick were again studying the pattern map since they had already processed any new evidence on the EMS Killer case. Strangely, the killer had taken a night off and left the lab time to catch up. Neither saw Grissom rush by, and then come back to the door.
“Catherine, what do you know about the handwriting samples Greg gave to Ronnie?”
Catherine stood up, turning to him. “Greg may be on to something, Grissom. He found out that Toomey’s stepdaughter was actually his adopted daughter and changed her last name when she turned seventeen. She was a violent child. There were several assault charges starting at age ten, she tried to set neighborhood pets on fire, and she threw a knife at a neighbor. She also had someone lie to Greg when he called to ask about her whereabouts a week ago; she’s been in Vegas since the killings began.”
“How did he get the contract for comparison?”
“A disgruntled manager in New York gave it to us.”
“He had a contact with the NYPD CSI and they found a disgruntled manager that willing to hand over a copy of the contract. I know you told him to abandon his theory, but he was dead set on it. So I made him promise that if the handwriting came back with no match, he would drop it.”
“It’s a very close match, enough to get a warrant.”
She smiled. “Then his theory is worth pursuing?”
“I think so. Do you know where he is? I think I’d like to know more of what he found out about Petra O’Connor?”
Her brow furrowed. “You sent him and Nick on a call. Don’t you remember?”
“No. I didn’t.”
Warrick leaned on the table. “They said Henry gave them a note some tech gave him. It wouldn’t be the first time you’ve done that to us.”
Grissom’s stomach tied into a cold knot. This couldn’t be happening; his CSI couldn’t be the targets of a killer again. Not again!
“I did not send either of them on a call.” Grissom pulled out his cell phone and dialed a number. “Did they tell you where they were going?”
Catherine looked down, thinking for a moment. “I can’t remember the house number, but it was on Gunnison somewhere.”
On his phone a woman answered, “Las Vegas Dispatch. Angie speaking.”
“This is CSI Grissom. Did you receive a call for CSI tonight?”
He heard Angie typing in the background. “No, sir. We haven’t had any calls for CSI. For once it’s been pretty quiet.”
Grissom closed his eyes, angry with himself for not listening to Greg sooner. “The EMS Killer is after my CSI. I need you to put an APB out for a CSI vehicle on Gunnison with license plate Bravo Tango X-ray nine four seven. It’s a black SUV, no distinguishing marks. The CSI are Nick Stokes and Greg Sanders. Understood?’
“Yes. Dispatching all units now, sir.”
“We have to go.” Grissom dropped the folder on the table and rushed back out.
Catherine and Warrick dropped what they were doing to follow.