In the Shadows of Dryden

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CHAPTER 8 - The crime scene

DISCLAIMER: This chapter contains graphic scenes with gory details!!! Reader’s discretion advised.

Sean drove as fast as he could to meet his partner where the murder had happened. His wife Diane, followed close behind. They parked in the University parking, where Russo was waiting.

“Mi amigo! Glad you could come so fast! There are a lot of townspeople trying to take a peek of the scene. It’s chaos out there! Oh, and we also need to wait for the pathologist. Boss Le’B said she was on her way here.” Diana walked up to them holding her working bag.

“No need to wait, I’m here!” Said Diana with a friendly smile.

“Oh, Señorita!” He glanced back at his partner.

“This is my wife, Diana. She’s the town’s pathologist if you haven’t guessed by now.”

“Oh, muy bien, muy bien! That’s perfect! Name’s Russo!” He lightly tugged the front of his cowboy hat. “Ok, follow me!”

All three walked into the forest. The vegetation wasn’t as dense in Needle’s Forests as Kodoku’s so they were able to walk through it a whole lot easier.

When they got to the place, it was indeed packed with people trying to film or get a peek of what had happened. Firefighters were trying to contain the public while the cops put up a parameter ‘crime scene’ tape. Sheriff Le’Blanc was shouting orders left and right.

“Where is it?” Asked Diana.

“Follow me, Señorita!”

They passed under the tape and walked for about fifteen meters between vegetation, firefighters, policemen, and paramedics that were busy at work.

They could smell the stench of death in the air. Some of the new and unprepared personnel gagged. A random paramedic handed gloves and masks to them, which they promptly put on.

Le’Blanc came to talk with them, pressing his fingers on his forehead.

“Ah, good! You must be the new pathologist I heard.”

“Yes. Diana Minett at your service.” They shook hands before the sheriff pointed towards the victim.

“CSI has already collected everything they deemed useful for forensics. Feel free to have a look.”

Carefully, she kneeled next to the corpse while the three cops stayed away exchanging information. Gently, she lifted the black plastic covering the body. Flyes immediately began to fly from the body. Diana was pretty sure that the corpse belonged to a young female woman that should be around late teens or early twenties. The victim had all her clothes on but she carried several scratch marks and bruises. Her clothes were ripped in a few places and one of her shoes was missing.

Diana turned the woman’s face to her, a fly exiting her mouth and nose. She gently opened the victim’s eyes, finding them missing. Gouged out!! She flinched but managed not to show it.

“Oh my Lord! Who would do such a thing?” She thought out loud, making the three policemen look at her.

“What have you found?” Asked Le’Blanc. Both Sean and Russo approached so they too could crouch near the victim. Diana pointed to the corpse’s, now open eyes.

“They were gouged out!” She said.

“Señorita Diana, couldn’t that, by any chance, have been done by birds?”

Diana shook her head slightly, placing two fingers inside one of the eye sockets. Russo’s expression turned to one of disgust, watching her pull something from the eye cavity.

“You see this? Those two are the lateral and medial rectus muscles. This one is where the optic nerve and blood vessels are located. When it’s caused by a bird, you won’t find any of that left behind because they tend to eat everything. Here though, they seem to have been cut, gouged out.”

Russo nodded, covering his, already covered by the mask, mouth, and nose with his arm, deciding that he would just take notes instead of asking. Yes, that sounded good to him. Let his partner and boss ask the questions, that way, he didn’t have to look too much into all that gore.

“How about the time of death? Can you tell anything just by looking or… ?” She glanced up at Le’Blanc.

“Hm…” Her fingers trailed over her neck and body, trying to lift a hand and checking her body temperature. “Rigor mortis has already settled in the smaller muscles of her body now and since it’s a slow process, it definitely hasn’t been more than 24 hours. Especially with this cool weather. Her body temperature is not warm but it’s not exactly cold either. That suggests that she was probably killed in the past six to ten hours but…”

Diana slightly leaned over the victim’s face, looking inside the eye cavities. “Hm.” She looked inside her bag and removed a pair of long tweezers. Carefully, she began poking inside it and after a moment, she lifted a long black broken nail.

“I suggest sending this for a DNA test. This should contain the killer’s DNA.” Sean moved around to be able to crouch beside her and opened a small ziplock bag for her to place the nail in. She studied the broken nail for an instant before placing it inside the little evidence bag, returning it to her husband. After that, Sean walked over to check the ID tag hanging from one of the victims’ toes and wrote the ID number on the bag.

“Hopefully, that will be solved soon.” Le’Blanc let out a sigh of relief. “So, six to ten hours, huh?” He paused to think. “All the other bodies were found naked and in a weird placement.”

“Weird placement?” Asked Diana, getting up to see a picture that the sheriff was showing on his phone. Sean followed his wife to check the picture.

“That’s sick! Are the corpses still as they were found or have you moved it somewhere?” Asked Diana.

“Nahh, They are still in the same way we found them but we built a big tent over to avoid the public meddling in it. Also, several parents have reported their kids missing.” Sean and Diana both returned a knowing nod to the sheriff. “So, to avoid the parents seeing their bodies in this state, we decided to cover it from their eyes.”

“That was a good idea, sheriff!”

“Now, we have to investigate if this could have been done by some kind of demonic cult or just some sick psychopath.” Added Sean, looking down at the body near them. “Plus, we need to assert if this girl is linked to the other murders or not.”

“I can’t stop to wonder if this could have been a rape attempt gone wrong. She’s fully clothed, though the maniac could have just dressed her back up afterward.” Said Russo, all of a sudden, getting the attention of the others nearby. “I mean, the other girls were all naked!”

“Just because they are naked, that doesn’t really confirm they were raped. We will only be 100% sure if we do the rape kit test but… nahh. I don’t believe so. Especially with them being impaled. This girl doesn’t have any visible signs of rape either but maybe we should conduct a test just to make sure. The state she was found in suggests more like a psychopath than a rapist.”

“Russo, go get CSI to conduct a rape kit on this body. Better to discard this possibility right on the get go.”

“Ay, Boss!” Russo walked away to do as asked. Diana stood and removed her gloves, looking around the crime scene as she held her chin up with a hand, an index finger tapping lightly over her lips.

“There is something very strange.” She said.

“Like?” Asked Le’Blanc.

“No blood on the ground!” Said Sean.

“Yeahh. There is no blood on the ground, just like you said but, her white skin suggests that she had her blood drained.”

“Drained?” Asked the sheriff, knitting his brows. Diana glanced at him.

“Yes, drained. I mean, TOTALLY drained out of blood! There is no lividity to her.” She points to the victim’s body, crouching next to it again. “Do you see her face? That looks exactly like someone decided to suck the air out of a thin plastic bag. Her skin feels emaciated, caved in. Even her lips are pale, almost totally white. This body doesn’t have ANY blood inside it.”

Le’Blanc seemed to be taken aback by what he heard but Sean simply stared at the girl’s body. He was more accustomed to weird things like that since he had worked in bigger towns.

“There is one more thing.” Diana turned the victim’s face in order to show something to them, pointing to some kind of injury in her neck. “There are two very visible and distinct puncture marks here. If the diameter of those marks weren’t so wide, I’d suggest that the perpetrator drained her with some clinical instruments. A thick needle for example.”

“But since they are wide… What would you suggest?” Asked Le’Blanc, as he too, decided to crouch down near the body to check on the puncture marks himself.

“Well… I’d like to say, some kind of animal. Though a bear or a big cat would most definitely have inflicted more damage to her body, plus there would be a lot more blood in the area.” She looked up at the trees, thinking. “There is a species of bat called desmodontinae, that is known to feed on blood. They are usually small but there were one subspecies discovered not long ago that could reach a wingspan of two meters.” Diana waited for their input but the lack of it spurred her to continue with her thoughts. “To be honest, I’m not sure if this species of bats live around here but depending on their exact size, it could be possible that she got bitten by one of those.” Diana stood up again and began walking back and forth ranting her thoughts out loud. “That would indeed account for the marks on her neck but I do not think that just one or two of those bats would be enough to consume all of her blood like that.”

“Diana, honey, you’re doing it again!” She looked up at her husband, stopping her rambling for a minute.

“Sorry. There is another possibility, where the perpetrator might have moved the corpse here after her subsequent death, explaining the lack of blood but not the puncture marks.”

“Vampire bats?” Le’Blanc furrowed his brows skeptically, getting Diana to shake her head.

“Sorry, sheriff. Those are my wild thoughts to try to account for those punctures. I did find a broken nail inside her eye socket so either way, I’m gonna have to bring her to my lab so I can properly analyze the victim and run the necessary tests before I get to a final conclusion. Whoever removed her eyes, also drained her completely.”

The sheriff stood nodding at her.

“You have a smart wife, Sean. Treat her well!”

Diana’s lips raised up a little smile on the corners, while her husband sported a huge proud grin on his face.

“I know, Sir. Thanks!”

Le’Blanc gestured to a huge tent where two cops stood guarding its entrance.

“If you could follow me, I got something else for you to look at.”

They followed the sheriff to the said tent, where the cops stood to the side so they could go past them. When they came into the tent, Diana gasped, bringing her hands up to her mouth.

“Holly…” Said Sean, horrified.

“Yeahh, that girl’s body will not be the only corpse you will be working with, I’m afraid.”

Five naked women were impaled with some sort of long spear rod and carefully arranged in a bloody star formation. Their eyes had been gouged out, their hands tied back, and their heads carefully pointed up as if they were staring at the sky. They all had some kind of mask covering their mouth and strange symbols written with blood on their bodies. A huge ceramic bow stood in the middle of the pentagram with blood overflowing and dripping around its borders.

CSI personnel were walking from one spot to another marking evidence, taking pictures, collecting evidence, and all. At that moment, Sean saw his partner, Russo coming toward them.

“Compañero! It’s chaos here!” Said Russo, removing his cowboy hat to dry his forehead with his arm before addressing their boss. “Le’B, I just had someone from CSI go to the victim outside for the r-kit.”

“Good. Show Sean and Diana…” He glanced over to the two that were accompanying him to realize that Diana had already left to check on the ‘new’ victims. A Smile formed in his serious face. “Good to see her passion for her work!” He looked back at Russo to continue explaining. Show them around. I will leave you guys, to it. Let’s find this son of a bitch, whoever or whatever it may be.”

The sheriff checked his watch and left the tent in a hurry while the two partners walked towards Diana to see what else she could tell them.

“Have you found anything else yet, honey?”

Diana turned to face them when she heard her husband’s voice.

“Yeahh! They all had their eyes gouged and their blood drained just like the victim outside!” She pointed to the same kind of puncture marks found on the previous body. “On those victims, the puncturings aren’t only restricted to their neck. I’ve found several of those bat-like bites on them. Apart from these two things, there aren’t any other characteristics that could indicate self-defense. They might have been drugged or maybe even dead already when this was done to them.”

The two cops looked at each other questionably.

“I’m gonna get CSI to conduct r-tests on them all just so we can put rape out of the question. Their hands were bound behind their backs and… well, when I removed the mask of this one…” She gently moved the face of one of the bodies down, opening the mouth for them to look inside. “... we discovered that her tongue was also missing. Instead, we found a big pink quartz in its place.”

“A pink quartz?” Asked Russo.

“Yes.” Diana showed the big gem to them. It was beautifully cut in several facets to look similar to a long tongue. “You can see its shape, right?!” They nodded in response.

“You’ve only checked the mouth of this one body?” Asked Sean, looking around at the other four victims, noticing they all had that said ‘mask’.

“I was about to go check the other ones too but I need to make sure that CSI has finished their jobs on the corpses before I disturb them.”

They walked over to the next victim, being careful not to disturb the crime scene or ruin any possible evidence as Diana analyzed what she could for them to get a head start on their case.

“Ma’am? We’re done with this body.” Said one of the CSI guys when they approached.

“Thank you! That first girl there…” Diana made sure to point to the one they had just been at. “... please, have her sent to my lab.”

“Sure, ma’am.” The guy nodded, turning to call some co-workers.

Immediately after the guy left, Diana pulled a step stool and climbed on it, getting face to face with her next ‘patient’. Gently, she undid the little knot keeping the mask in place, gingerly holding the mandibula in place. She handed the mask to an assistant to place it in an evidence bag and proceeded to slowly open the cadaver’s mouth.

To her surprise, there was nothing abnormal inside or missing from it so she slowly let go of the mandibula.

“Nothing inside? Hmm…” She got down from the stool and walked around the cadaver. “HA!” Promptly, she moved the step stool over to the back, and before climbing on it, she took a scalpel from her bag.

Sean knitted his brows wondering what she was about to do while his partner just looked grossed out.

Diana ran her fingertips over the body’s left flank, stopping right over where the kidney was located and pressed her scalpel over it. All the while, she made sure to have a hand over the part she had already cut with the scalpel. When she was done, she handed the instrument to Sean to hold and began pulling on a thin cord that she had just cut. Russo took the cord to properly separate it in another evidence bag while Diana started to separate the skin.

“As I thought, there is something inside.” Her fingers dipped into the cut making some blood gush out, then she pressed in until her hand was all the way in, feeling the inside of the cadaver like only a pathologist could do. A moment later, she pulled another gem out. This one was just as well cut in small facets as the other one but instead of a pink quartz, it was a huge lapis lazuli shaped like a kidney.

“Dios mío! Guess we can name the perpetrator by ‘The gemstone murderer’.” Said Russo, astonished. His partner and Diana looked at him, nodding.

“I bet you will find something similar in every corpse here.” Said Sean to his wife.

“I’m afraid that we will all spend countless hours of work and sleep in this case.” Sighed Diana, already looking a bit tired, at her husband and his partner.

“Well, at least we will be busy and the girls are old enough not to need us around all the time.” Reasoned Sean, shrugging.

“Por mi, that’s actually gonna be something different than the usual routine crime around here. Might actually be quite interesting… if not scary, to work on.” Said Russo, taking some notes and archiving the evidence in properly written bags.

They nodded in unison before Diana began describing more of what she could deduct prior to taking the corpses to her lab.

Thanks for reading! :)

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