Transitions

Chapter 4

Hotch made the introductions as he and Rossi arrived to the precinct. They would set up the case with local law enforcement, and interview the two men who'd received the packages. While Morgan and JJ visited the two victim's homes, Reid and Emily would assess the dump site for Elaine Morton's body, and then proceed on to the homes of the two package recipients. They would also cover the ME.

As he peered in through the one way window, Hotch could see that Robert Causman looked annoyed. Detective Brenner watched alongside him.

"He's a bit of a prick, although I guess I can understand it. He was here all day yesterday being interviewed, and now he's annoyed to be missing a second day of work. High powered real estate guy, owns a bunch of franchises. Time is money for him."

"And he insists he didn't know Elaine Morton?"

"Never heard of her, didn't recognize her photograph. But some of our guys felt like he was a little too cool about everything, you know? Like, shouldn't it freak you out to open a package and find a severed head inside?"

Hotch had been staring through the window, but now turned to look at Brenner. "He wasn't?"

"No. At least, not by the time the detectives got there. Although he sounded a little more like what you'd expect on the 911 call."

"Do you have that recording?"

Brenner nodded. "Both guys. I can get them for you."

"Good. We'll listen to them when we've got the whole team back here."

With that, Hotch entered the room with Causman. He introduced himself and the BAU's role in the investigation.

"FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit, huh? I've heard about you guys. Profiling, they call it, right?" Causman seemed impressed, but in a smarmy kind of way.

Hotch didn't respond to the question, getting right into asking some of his own.

"Mr. Causman, as you are aware, we are investigating the death of Elaine Morton, whose severed head was delivered to your home two days ago." He watched with satisfaction as his subject gulped with the memory of the image. "Please tell me everything you know about this."

"Like I told the police, I don't know anything. I just found the package on my porch when I got home that night."

"Were you expecting a package? Any kind of delivery?"

"Not specifically. But I get a lot of courier deliveries from my people. I work from home a lot."

"But not on the day the package was delivered?"

"No, I make the rounds of my franchises once or twice a month. That was a rounding day."

"Do you 'round' on a regular schedule? Was it known that you wouldn't be at home that day?"

"No, I like to make unannounced visits, you know? Keeps them on their toes."

Causman was starting to tap his foot, looking impatient. Apparently the interview wasn't moving ahead quickly enough for him. "Look, is this gonna take much longer? I missed work all day yesterday, and I really can't afford to miss a second day in a row."

Hotch was accustomed to this kind of pushback from his interview subjects. Sometimes it came from a genuine anxiety over being able to meet their other responsibilities, and sometimes it was a means of obfuscating. Regardless, he wasn't about to be hurried along.

"I sympathize, Mr. Causman. But a woman is dead, and we're here to help find the person who killed her."

They hadn't shared the fact that there were actually two victims with either of the men who'd received the packages.

Causman didn't look happy about it, but the tone of Hotch's voice told him he'd be remaining until he was formally dismissed. Seeing that his point had been made, Hotch continued the interview.

"Please tell me about when you opened the package."

Causman sighed. "The package was on the porch. It looked different from the usual in that it was actually a box. Usually I'm receiving papers in a large envelope."

Hotch knew they would be able to examine the actual package later, so dispensed with further descriptors.

"Did you open it right away?"

"To be honest, no It had been a long day and I wanted a drink. So I put it aside and made myself a martini. I didn't open the package until after I'd had it. Had two, actually. That's probably why I didn't totally wig out when I opened it. If I hadn't had the drinks, I'd have needed them."

"What did you do after you opened it, Mr. Causman?"

"I probably screamed, I don't know. And then I called the police."

Hotch knew the story was consistent with what he'd told Detective Brenner.

"Mr. Causman, are you married?"

"Twice. But not now."

"Do you live alone?"

"Yes."

"Does anyone come into the house or on the grounds? Housekeeper, lawn service, anyone?"

"Both. A housekeeper and a lawn service. The police asked me that as well. The cleaning service comes once a month, last time three weeks ago. Lawn guy is weekly, and was there yesterday."

The day after the package was delivered, Hotch realized. Probably a dead end. But maybe….

"Would either of them be familiar with your schedule on a day to day basis?"

"No, there's no way they could be. It literally changes on a daily basis."

Hotch felt like he'd gotten what he could for now.

"Mr. Causman, I'll let you get back to your business. But I may need to speak with you again. Please make sure we have your contact information. Thank you for your time. And your patience."

Hotch was willing to concede the final bit if it would assure the man's cooperation in the future.


Down the hallway, in a similar interview room, Rossi had met with Jasper Ruiz. According to the police, this package recipient had sounded considerably more frightened when he made his 911 call. He was employed at a local home improvement chain big box store, widowed, the father of a six year old son. He was not accustomed to receiving packages at home, and so had been curious enough to open it immediately. Even today, a full day after the event, he shook as he recounted the story. As he told Rossi, he was now frightened for both himself and his son.

"What if he had opened the package? What would have happened to him? How could he ever get it out of his mind? I can't get it out of mine."

Mr. Ruiz denied knowing Marta Leon by name or face. He'd been widowed for two years, after the unfortunate loss of his wife to cancer. No housekeeper, no lawn service...he couldn't afford either. An hourly employee, he too was anxious to get back to work. Rossi dismissed him with the same admonitions Hotch had given to Causman.

As the two senior agents compared notes, Morgan and JJ returned from the women's homes. They had little of use to report.

"Morton's home is in an upscale neighborhood. High end furniture, looked like a fairly recent kitchen remodel." Morgan started them off.

"Pretty minimalistic décor, looked professionally done. There wasn't a single thing out of place. Nothing. Not even a pile of bills. I can only wish my house looked like that."

The three men smiled. JJ wasn't exactly known for her neat desk, either.

She caught the smiles. "What? Come on, I try. But I've got a four year old."

"At work?" Rossi couldn't resist.

Morgan joined in chuckling at that. "Well, anyway, JJ's right about Morton's place. The only thing we could see was just a faint outline where it looked like some dust had settled around something rectangular. We think it was where her laptop usually sat, on a desk in her office."

JJ got up for coffee as she told them about the other victim's home.

"Marta Leon lived in a two bedroom apartment. This one was more lived in…she had a child, after all." She looked meaningfully at her colleagues as she said it.

"But it was also as neat as it could possibly have been Her daughter's room was beautiful. It looked like she probably spent all of her money on her daughter, and not herself. Judging from the quality of clothes in each of their closets. And a neighbor told us she sent her daughter to a Catholic school, so she had to have valued that kind of education enough to spend the additional money on it."

"No sign of forced entry, or violence of any sort…no breakage, no nothing, at either site." Morgan was always frustrated when his investigations didn't move the case along.

Emily and Reid returned from their assignments and were brought up to speed by the rest of the team before sharing their own findings.

"The dumpster belonged to a small chain hotel along the interstate, just outside the city limits. At first, the police were convinced the body must have belonged to someone staying or working at the hotel."

"A forensic counter measure?" JJ inquired. "Or did Elaine Morton have some connection with the hotel?"

"No connection that's been uncovered so far," responded Prentiss. "And the placement of the body outside Springfield might have been a counter measure in itself. At least it held up the investigation for a while. The local police started on the case, but then, I guess after much discussion, it was decided the head would carry more weight…in a figurative sense…than the body. And since the head was delivered to Springfield…."

"And since we don't know where the killings actually took place, it fell to Springfield." Morgan finished the thought for her.

Rossi was, as usual, sardonic. "So the unsub is either extremely clever or extremely lucky. You know, after all these years, I never get over hating this phase of a case. When even though we have a lot of information, we know nothing."

"Not entirely true, Rossi." Reid corrected him. "We know, because the dumpster was last emptied three days ago, when the body was dumped. And we know we know she was fully dressed. The ME didn't find any evidence of sexual assault, but…she did find evidence of ligature marks at the wrists. Our victim was restrained prior to her death. The marks looked thin, but deep. Her best guess is plastic ties."

Emily completed their report. "We were able to speak with the clerks on duty for each shift since the dumpster had last been emptied. No one saw anything unusual, no guests seemed odd. We have a guest list and have sent it off to Garcia to work her magic."

It was getting late. Two heads in two days brought urgency to the case, but an exhausted team wouldn't help anyone. Hotch made the assignments for the following day, and sent the team off to the hotel. He would follow after meeting again with the lead detective.


"First time away as a married woman, JJ. Is the 'old man' giving you a hard time?" Emily thought she was teasing, having seen JJ actively texting all through dinner. "Or is he sending you sweet 'I miss yous'?"

Reid had noticed the texting too...they all had, since it had been going on constantly. But he'd also noticed that she didn't look like she'd been receiving anything pleasant.

JJ responded to Emily with a dismissive smile. "He misses me, I guess."

Sitting next to her, Emily was the only one who heard what followed. "Now that he owns me."

JJ pushed her chair back and smiled at the others. "I'll say good night now. Time to go and visit with my two boys."

The tone was light, but Reid was confused by the smile that didn't reach to her eyes. He hadn't heard her 'under the breath' comment as Emily had. He was used to JJ excusing herself to 'read' Henry his bedtime stories, but somehow this felt different. Possibly because of the look on Emily's face.

Even more so when, as the rest of them headed to their rooms after dinner, Emily touched his arm and pulled him aside.

"Is JJ all right?"

"All right? Why?"

"Because she said something when I was teasing her about Will texting." Emily told Reid what she'd heard.

"Could there be a problem?"

Reid, despite the vibes that had been plaguing him, knew it didn't make sense. "They just got married, how could there be a problem?"

"I don't know. But it wouldn't be the first time, and he wouldn't be the first guy to change after saying 'I do'. I know she's said Will liked it better when she was at the Pentagon. He didn't want her coming back to the BAU. And I know he did his best to 'guilt her' when Henry had that seizure last year. You remember when she was trying to fly out in a tornado."

Reid hadn't been happy about that, to the point where he'd actually brought it up to JJ later. It was totally out of character for him to insert himself into any of his colleagues' private lives, including JJ's. But he'd been frightened that she'd actually considered flying out in that weather, and he'd asked her about it.

"He didn't ask me to fly, Spence. In fact, he told me he didn't need me." She hadn't had to say the rest. He'd told her he didn't need her when their son was ill and in the hospital, knowing she would feel such guilt that she would do almost anything to get back. Reid knew, right then, that Will LaMontagne was skilled in the art of manipulation.

There had been nothing so overt since then, but Reid had been put on alert. Maybe that's what had led to his concern over the sudden decision to get married. Did he manipulate her into that? I don't see how he could have. He had no control over that situation. But he has control now.

Reid turned troubled eyes to Emily. "Can you talk to her? I don't think it should be me. You know…"

Emily didn't, but she'd heard. Reid's frequent visits to the LaMontagne household during her 'death' had been tolerated by Will, but not particularly welcomed. There had been some tension in the relationship ever since then. Despite his reconciliation with JJ, Reid didn't think he should approach the subject of Will.

"I don't know, Reid….."

"Please, Emily. You're leaving us. Once you've gone, I'm not sure I'll know how to help her."

Emily studied him. "You're really worried, aren't you? You really think she might need help."

"I don't know. Probably not. Like you said, they just got married. But I can't shake this feeling…."

She studied him a while longer. "All right. I'll talk to her. But don't be surprised if she hands me my head. You know how JJ is about privacy."

That was exactly what worried him. The extremely private JJ would suffer in silence rather than ask for help. And he couldn't have that. Not for her sake. And not for Henry's.


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