Chapter 20

Marina Glower was nowhere to be found in the hospital. She hadn't swiped in or out, likely because she'd known she was violating her work duty hours restrictions In order to deliver her patient's baby. So the only evidence she'd been in the hospital at all were the reports of those who'd seen her in the delivery room. She'd apparently left soon after completing her work with her patient, and her colleagues had the sense that she'd intended to go straight home. That was all Morgan and Rossi could come up with. There'd been no sense that anything was wrong in either her personal or professional lives.

Alex and JJ went over victimology in detail. Two of the women were obviously in the medical field. Stacey Fitzgerald, the medical student, was planning a career in pediatrics, and had matched to a residency in Florida. Marina Glower's field of ob/gyn was often a competing specialty for those interested in pediatrics, so perhaps there had been some similar personality traits or interests between the two women. Fitzgerald's boyfriend, also a medical student, was on overnight call in the hospital the night she was killed. Witnesses placed him in the ICU for the entire evening. He wasn't a suspect.

Judy Littleton's private life was simple. She was single, amicably divorced, no children. Her job was stable, and she'd been in her position for fifteen years.

They weren't getting anywhere until something JJ had said before clicked with Alex.

"Wait. Remember before, you told Morgan that anyone could learn to fight back. What if they had?"

"What if they had what?"

"Learned to fight back. What if they had taken defense training?"

Ironically, JJ had done exactly that, with Morgan. Except she'd also learned how to be on the offensive as well.

Blake walked them to the far side of the room, where Reid was working the maps.

"Spencer, you saw the defensive injuries to the victims. What do you think? Could the similarities be explained by defense training?"

Both women watched as Reid went into thinking mode. JJ was familiar with the back-and-forth of his eyes as he visualized what Blake was suggesting. Finally, he looked at them.

"You know what…that might even explain the bruising on their backs and legs. Think about it," he was getting excited, "if they'd learned to take out the attacker's legs with a sweep of the foot, the attacker would have struck them with the pole, right in the calf. And then he could have gotten them on the back…."

Blake was excited now, too. She'd seen the injuries as well. "Of course, and that's why their injuries are mirror images. Not everyone has a dominant foot, but when they do, it's often the same side as the hand." They had already confirmed Reid's suspicion about the handedness of each of the known victims.

JJ had her phone out. Before she hit Garcia's button, she noticed the time. Henry would be home from school by now, but there was simply no time to call him. She vowed to find time in the evening.

"Pen, we need you to look into whether Stacey Fitzgerald and Judy Littleton had ever taken self-defense classes. And while you're at it, check on Marina Glower as well."

They could hear rapid typing in the background. "Bingo! Or bullseye! Or…whatever. They both took lessons at a branch of the Philadelphia YWCA two years ago. I don't see Marina Glower's name there, though."

Reid added the location of the Y to his map. So far, the only geographic commonality was the proximity to hospitals. He was becoming convinced that this was not an unsub operating randomly within a comfort zone. This was someone making targeted attacks. There had to be something in the victimology.

Hotch sent Blake and JJ to meet with the director of the YWCA. Perhaps they'd be able to dislodge a memory connecting the dead women. He and Reid would meet with the family members of the two known victims.

Nothing. They'd turned up nothing further. There was still a young woman missing, possibly part of their case, hopefully still alive. Hotch knew that exhaustion wouldn't do anything to help them, so he sent the team to the hotel. They'd rest for a few hours and get started again first thing in the morning.

JJ was closing her phone as Reid caught up to her.

"How's Henry?"

"I never got to talk to him. We were in the middle of our interview at the Y at his bedtime. I just talked to Will now, and he said they'd had a good day. He said Henry didn't even miss me."

Reid gave her a look at hearing that. Does she believe Will? Is he back to manipulating her?

"You know that's not true, right? Henry misses you all the time."

"Spence, that's not exactly making me feel better."

"Sorry, but you know what I mean. Will's trying to make you feel bad by intimating that Henry could get along fine without you."

She sighed. "I know it, Spence. And I'm sure he's building a case for custody. But what's the alternative? That I prefer Henry miss me like crazy, yet I still keep traveling with this job? How does that make me look?"

She was right. There was no ideal way to handle things. He felt for her, caught in the middle of a no-win situation. With a soon-to-be-ex-husband ready to pounce on the slightest misstep.

"Do you really think he would go for full custody, JJ?" Reid was getting more concerned.

"Richard says he might, but he's certain he won't get it. Even in today's society, courts seem to favor having kids with their mothers. I'd have to be deemed unfit for it go against me. I'm hoping I can convince Will to agree to share custody."

"If he were looking out for Henry's best interests, he would." It was all Reid said, but she heard what he didn't say as well. That the only interests Will seemed to be looking out for were his own.

They'd reached their hotel rooms.

"Get some rest, JJ. And don't worry about Henry. You're too good a mom, and he loves you too much for it to come out any other way. You'll be together." He said it with such confidence that JJ couldn't help but believe him.

The next day provided both advances and frustrations to the case. Marina Glower remained missing, heightening the concern for her, while also making it less likely that she was a part of the same case as the other two women.

Rossi summed it up for the team as they met at the precinct.

"The original two women were both killed within moments to hours of having last been seen. Their bodies were found very close to their last known locations. If we're dealing with the same unsub, why was this one woman taken from her location?"

"And why is she still missing?" Morgan finished for him.

"So, are we thinking that we've actually got two cases here?" JJ verbalized the question for all of them.

Hotch thought it unlikely, despite the disparities, but even he had to admit he was working on intuition. Reid agreed with him, but played devil's advocate.

"We may or may not have a connection with the proximity to hospitals since, as Garcia pointed out, there are so many of them. It would actually be difficult to commit a crime that wasn't near a health care facility. And only one of the known victims was actually in health care."

Alex was thinking aloud. "So, we either have an unsub who substantially changed his M.O. between victims, for unknown reasons, or we have two different crimes?"

"If the missing resident case is a crime. We just don't know." Morgan didn't like dealing with so much uncertainty in a case.

JJ's cell sounded. "The YWCA director," she explained, and left to handle the call.

Hotch called their technical analyst. "Garcia, what have you got for us?"

"Okay, I couldn't find Judy Littleton registered to be seen at any of the hospital services for yesterday. So then I wondered if maybe she'd been seen at one of the private offices in the same area."

They nodded, agreeing with her strategy. Hospitals tended to sprout offshoots in the form of physician's offices in all the surrounding areas.

"So I started checking with each of them. But there were just so many, so I..." she knew she was skirting legality here..."I may have tapped into her medical insurance to see which office was billing it."

"And? Don't keep us in the dark, Baby Girl."

"And, I may have found something. But not what I was looking for."

"Penelope..." Morgan's patience was definitely being tried today.

"Okay, okay, I'm getting to it. Judy Littleton wasn't seen in any of the offices near the hospital. In fact, it looks like her last medical visit was to an ob/gyn near her workplace, billed as an annual visit."

Alex was confused. "That doesn't sound like much."

"It isn't. But I may have just peeked a little further back at her medical history. She's had that same job and insurance for a long time. And I saw something that made me wonder."

"Garcia.." Now Hotch was impatient as well.

"Yes, sir. I saw that she'd been in the emergency department of another hospital for an assault. But it was billed as domestic violence...or technically, battered spouse."

"I thought it was a friendly divorce." Morgan wanted clarification.

"It is...was. This was a prior relationship. At least I assume so from the names."

Hotch knew his analyst well. "Can we assume that you've looked at police records, then?"

"Seen and digested. He's incarcerated for another seven years for what he did to her."

"So not on our current suspect list," observed Rossi.

Alex was trying to determine the significance of the information. "It might explain why she was in the self-defense class, but I guess it doesn't really tell us much else."

JJ had reentered the room as Alex was speaking. She had news.

"The director of the Y spoke to the rest of her staff today. A couple of them remembered Judy and Stacey from the self-defense class. But they also remembered them because they'd mentioned wanting to start a domestic violence support group there. I guess they were both involved with one somewhere else in the city, and wanted to start a branch group at the Y."

Reid remarked, "So they both knew each other even before the self-defense class."

Hotch still had Garcia on the line. He had a thought. It might be a long shot, but, "Garcia, see if there's been anyone admitted to the hospital in the past three days with the diagnosis of domestic violence. Check the emergency room and inpatient list. Maybe she was visiting a client from her group."

Reid wondered. "Do we know anything about Stacey Fitzgerald's past? I know her boyfriend isn't a suspect in her murder, but is there a history of assault in her past as well?"

Alex had some knowledge in this area. "There may be, Spencer. But it's also entirely possible that her career sensitized her to it, and made her volunteer. Many incidents of domestic violence are uncovered by pediatric clinicians."

JJ agreed with her. "At the office where I take Henry, they've got signs posted inside the women's restroom. I mentioned it one day, and the nurse told me that it happens more than you would think. That sometimes the abusers allow the women out of the house to take their kids to appointments, even when they won't allow the women out to get care for themselves."

Reid hoped he hadn't winced visibly. Given her situation, the thought that JJ had been asking about domestic violence resources during one of Henry's medical visits made him even more glad that she was proceeding in dissolving her marriage.

Garcia was back. "Three patients fit the time frame. Two were in the emergency department the same evening Judy was killed. One was an inpatient, but she went home yesterday."

"So, she could have been visiting any or all of them, and maybe telling them about the group?" Morgan posited.

"Or they may already have been group members. It's more common to be a repeat victim of domestic violence than it is to be a one time victim," Alex informed them.

Reid put out the question. "So a perpetrator against any of them could have attacked and killed our victims as a form of revenge? But why would the murders happen a week apart?"

"Maybe he was taking revenge on them, and knew where to find Stacey near her hospital. And then committed a crime of opportunity with Judy, at this hospital."

Reid spoke into Hotch's phone now. "Garcia, can you see if any of these DV victims were seen at other hospitals in the city for trauma?"

"Will do, Junior G-Man. That will take me a few. Back in a jiffy."

Hotch didn't wait for her. He split his team into three and sent them all to interview the DV victims. Perhaps one of them was attacked by the man who'd murdered the women trying to help.

By late afternoon, It felt like they were getting closer, and yet they had so little progress to show. Each of the DV victims had suffered repeated trauma at the hands of her abuser, and each had been a member of the DV support group facilitated by Judy Littleton. Stacey Fitzgerald volunteered in the process of completing a research study on the effects of DV on parenting. Each of the DV victims had been shocked to learn of the deaths of the two women who had helped them so much.

But none of them had ever seen or heard of Marina Glower. Who was still missing.

Hotch was having one of those moments of frustration again. "JJ, Reid. Go back to the hospital. Talk to her co-workers. Residents. Attendings. Nurses. Orderlies. I don't care who they are, if they ever even had a conversation with Marina Glower, talk to them. Find something."

"Did you talk to him?" Reid was driving them the short distance to the hospital.

"Yes, Saturdays are always easier, since he's not in school. He's so funny, Spence. He wanted me to know that he'd eaten his vegetables last night. So he's bargaining to eat a piece of candy for each vegetable. And he ate forty nine peas!"

Reid chuckled. "Actually, that's a pretty good deal. I may have to try that myself." Reid was known for his sweet tooth, and his eschewing of most things that were good for him.

She swatted at him. "Stop! Don't you dare encourage him. When you talk to Henry about food, it should be, 'Do as I say, not as I do'."

He raised his hands in a gesture of surrender. "Okay, okay. I will."

They'd arrived. Commissioned by their superior to find something helpful, the two set about re-interviewing the staff who knew Marina Glower.

Two hours later, JJ hit paydirt. A fellow resident, not present in the hospital for the prior day's interviews, remembered an event that happened in clinic.

"It was a month or so ago. Well, it started before that. But they weren't able to pull it off until about a month ago. Marina had this prenatal patient who had come in one time with some suspicious bruises. The boyfriend was with her, came to every single visit, even insisted on staying for the exam. We always get a little concerned when that happens. It usually means one of two things. Either he really is a wonderful, devoted partner. Or he's keeping an eye on her, like he's keeping her under control, you know?"

Seeing that they were following her, she continued.

"So she asked me to try to get him out of the room, to give her some time alone with her patient. I asked him to fill out a patient satisfaction survey and brought him over to a cubicle to do it. That gave Marina a chance to find out that what she suspected was true. He was definitely abusive, and she was afraid of him. Marina tried to get her to think about leaving him, but she was too scared. So she told her about this support group that met at lunchtime, when he was at work. It took a few more visits, and some creativity on my part, getting him out of the room, but Marina finally got the woman to agree to go to the group."

"Do you know where the group met, exactly?" Reid needed to confirm it was the group run by Judy Littleton. It was.

"Then, at this visit I was talking about, the one that happened last month, Marina was all excited. They'd worked out a way to get her out of the house. And they were using the clinic visit. They got the guy to go out to the waiting room. Get this...they got one of the nurses to go into the room next to where they were and start yelling, like she was in labor. And he couldn't take it. He just got up and went to the waiting room. They had him figured out that well."

"And while he was in the waiting room...?" JJ thought she knew where this was going.

"Marina and the social worker escorted the patient out the other exit and she went to a shelter. He had a fit that day, but it didn't do him any good. Security escorted him out and told him not to come back."

JJ and Reid shared a glance. This tied it all together. And tied all the victims together as well. It sounded like they might well have their unsub.

But they still didn't have Marina Glower. Where was she? Was she already lost, or could she still be saved?

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