Chapter 13: False Confession
Rachel is trying to figure out how she wants to handle the interrogation as she’s headed back towards the station. I can bring them in, play one against the other, and see how things play out. Maybe I should work on the weakest one first. Which one would that be? She asks, picturing each one in her mind. I bet the guys can help me with that. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do; I’ll ask Jerry see what he thinks. She concludes, reaching for her phone.
"Talk about ESP,” she laughs, scooping up the ringing device.
“What’s up, Jerry,” she asks. Putting it on speaker, she lays it on the console between the two seats.
“Jeff Potter just came in and confessed to the whole Jenkin’s thing.”
“Wait, wait run that by me again,” she says, pulling to the side of the road.
“Jeff Potter came in saying he’s the one who terrorized the Jenkins.”
“He just came in and volunteered this information?”
“Yes, he even gave a detailed description of the doll, the cross, and the rock. Things we didn’t release to the press.”
“Keep him on ice until I get there,” she says, quickly pulling out on the highway.
“I can’t get a damn thing done with all of these blasted distractions,” Mr. Jones spat, wiping his forehead with his sleeve, he grabs the phone out of his pocket.
“Yeah, what is it.”
“Your problem is solved, boss?”
“What problem are you talking about, Mike?”
“I’m talking about the investigation.”
“How did you take care of it?” he asks. Feeling faint, he leans against the rusty tractor.
“I convinced Jeff to confess to the whole thing.”
“Why would he be willing to confess to something he didn’t do?”
“Because he doesn’t want me to tell the police what he really did.”
“So how does that fix my problem?”
“The cops will stop asking questions now they have their man.”
“What about the real prankster?”
“I don’t think he’ll be causing you any more problems,” he smiles, watching his pigs devour the last of the human remains.
“Sharon, Sharon, I need you to process this for me as soon as possible,” Rachel blurts out, running into the lab.
“It’s nice to see you again too, Sergeant.”
“Oh sorry, hi Sharon, how are you?”
“I’m fine, thank you,” Sharon laughs, taking the note from her hand.
“What do you want me to do with it?” she asks, eyeing the decomposing paper.
“I want you to dust it for fingerprints and to see if the writing matches what we have on file.”
“Matches whose writing, Sergeant?”
“I’ll see what I can do, but with the poor condition this paper is in, I’m not giving you any guarantees.”
“Just do the best you can and please make it quick,” she says, rushing out of the door. She’d just stepped off the elevator when she sees Jerry waddling towards her.
“Here’s his confession,” the detective says, handing her a piece of paper. She quickly scans through it.
“Did he say why he did all those terrible things?”
“He claims he only did it to scare the Jenkins, so they’d stop asking questions.”
“The fire and the accident was a scare tactic?”
“He said he didn’t have anything to do with either of them. He even gave me an alibi’s to prove it wasn’t him.”
“Have you checked them yet?”
“No, not yet.”
“Did he say why he decided to confess?”
“He said that he felt bad for doing what he did to the family.”
“He came in and confessed just like that?” she questions suspiciously.
“I thought he was lying too until he started telling me specific details about the doll, the cross, and the rock.”
“What color of hair and eyes does he have?”
“Brown and he’s heavy-set too.”
“I’ll let Kirk know,” she says, grabbing the cell phone out of her pocket.
“We have our perp in custody. Yep, he confessed to the whole thing. Get Abby situated at the trailer then head back to the station.” Hanging up her phone, she turns towards Jerry.
“Kirk is on his way back.” She starts to leave when she sees Joe walking towards them.
“Guys, Sharon just called said your officer friend died of a heart attack.”
“A heart attack?” Jerry questions.
“That’s what she said.” Rachel looks over at her rounded partner, then her husband.
“That’s what’ll happen to you two if you don’t start taking better care of yourselves,” she scolds.
“I’m cutting back,” Jerry says, popping another piece of candy into his mouth. Shaking her head, she starts reading Jeff’s statement again. She knows she should be happy with the confession, but there was something about it that really bothered her. Jeff had all the facts right, and the timeline fit, but she’s never in her entire career heard of someone voluntarily confessing unless they’re being coerced. Questions started popping into her head as she continues to read. If he is being forced into making a false confession how did he fit the description Lilly gave? Her description was a little vague. Who would force him to confess and why? Is someone blackmailing him? What could they possibly be holding over his head? Could all of this have to do with Jack’s death? Maybe Jeff was the one who killed Jack and the blackmailers have evidence to prove it. Jeff doesn’t want to go to prison for murder so he agrees to confess to the vandalism instead. If that’s true, then why didn’t the note mention his name and why did the coroner’s report say that Jack’s injuries were consistent with self-strangulation? Wouldn’t the rope and chair have the killer’s fingerprints on them? Why would the handwriting analysis confirm he’d written the suicide note if he didn’t? Someone could’ve forced Jack to write the note then kill him. What if others are involved in this murder besides the ones Jack mentioned? If so, who? Why would they do such a thing to him? Perhaps the Jenkin’s scare and the confession is a smokescreen, to keep what really happened to Jack a secret. Maybe the murderers started getting nervous when the Jenkins started asking questions so they tried to scare them into leaving. When they didn’t, the perps had no choice but to kill them. That would make sense. Now I’ve got to find something to tie all of this together and I got to do it fast before someone is seriously hurt or worse. Rachel concludes, handing her partner the report.
“I’m going out for a little while. Call me on my cell if you need me.”
Pulling up to the doublewide on the corner Rachel jumps out of her car. I didn’t expect this, she thinks, eyeing the fancy doublewide.
“I’d like to ask you a few questions about your husband.”
“What did Jeff do now?” That’s an odd statement to blurt out, Rachel thinks, watching the wife fidget with her clothes.
“Was he sick two days ago?”
“No, I mean yes.”
“Which is it?” The Sergeant questions, eyeing her closely.
“He started feeling sick around lunch time so he came home from work.”
“The neighbors will say his truck was in the driveway all afternoon?”
“They should,” she says, nervously wiping her tangled hair out of her face.
“That’s funny because they said neither of you was home all day. So unless you tell me the truth I’m going to arrest you for hindering prosecution,” she says, reaching for her handcuffs.
“Ok, ok. He called me, said he wanted me to call his boss and tell him he’s sick.”
“What time did he call?”
“I was eating lunch at the cafe so I’d say around noon.”
“Do you know what he was doing or where he was when he called you?”
“He didn’t tell me. He just said he needed me to call his boss and say that he came home sick.”
“What time did Jeff finally make it home?”
“Around ten. Actually, it was a little after ten because the news was on.”
“Thank you for your time.”
“Wait, Sergeant, is my husband all right?” Rachel spins back around.
“He’s fine, at least for now.” So Jeff wasn’t at home like he said. Rachel thinks walking back to her car. I wonder what he was really up to. Maybe I should check his phone records see who he’s talked to. I could ask around to see if anyone saw him around the time of the fire. Taking the phone out of her pocket, she calls the station.
“Jerry, I want you to check Jeff’s cell phone records to see who he’s talked too recently. I’m going back to his work see what I can find out there.”
“You think he did all of it, don’t you?”
“I’m not sure what to think at this point.”
“Alright Sergeant, I’ll call you if I find out anything. Wait, Sergeant.”
“The lab said they found an old police uniform hidden under a bunch of trash in the trunk of Jeff’s car.”
“I still want you to check his phone records. If he did make any calls, find out who he spoke too, how long the calls lasted and what tower the signal pinged from. And Jerry, check the uniform for trace evidence.”
“I’ll get right on that Sergeant.”
Rachel asked all over town, but no one had seen Jeff at all that day. The waitress at the diner said he didn’t even stop off for lunch like he normally does.
“I’m not even sure that he stopped off for his morning coffee, Sergeant.”
“Are you talking about Jeff?” Another waitress questions as she unloads an armful of dirty dishes.
“I remember seeing him. He’d just stepped in the door when an older man pulls him back out.”
“When was this, Silvia?”
“Where was I?”
“I think you were in the back getting supplies,” she says, pushing a loose strain of curly red hair behind her ear.
“Can you describe the man that pulled him away?” Rachel questions.
“He’s a tall, thin, older man. He has sandy blond hair, combed over to the side and he wears denim overalls like the older farmers you see on TV.”
“That sounds like Mr. Jones,” Joanne says.
“That’s his name Jones, Ed Jones. He comes in for lunch every day. In fact, he should be here soon,” she says, checking her watch.
“Ed Jones, isn’t he the one that owns the old Arnold house?”
“I think so. Anyhow, Jeff came back in around eleven, talks to Larry for a few minutes then leaves without ordering lunch. I asked Larry if Jeff is alright and he said Jeff is feeling a little under the weather.” Hearing the bell over the door chime Joanne looks up.
“There’s Ed now.” Rachel rushes through the crowd towards him.
“I’m Rachel Bower with the Berryville PD and I’d like to ask you a few questions.”
“Hu, what?” he asks, leaning in closer.
“Can I ask you a few questions, sir,” she yells over the roar of the crowd.”
“I’m sorry I still didn’t understand you.” She tries again.
“Why don’t we step outside where I can hear you,” he suggests, walking towards the door. Afraid he’ll try and ditch her, Rachel grabs a hold of his arm. Ed glances towards his extremity, then at her.
“What did you say your name is, again,” he asks, as the door closes behind them.
“I’m Rachel Bower with the Berryville PD and I have a few questions about Jeff.”
“What about him?”
“The waitresses said you talked to him a few mornings ago.”
“Do you mind telling me what that was about?”
“Yes, I do mind, now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to get some lunch,” he says, trying to push past her. Rachel sidesteps in front of him. Glaring at him sternly she continues.
“You know I can charge you with assessor if you’re concealing evidence.”
“I’m not concealing anything!”
“So what did you talk about?” Rachel asks, reaching for her cuffs. Seeing the terrific look on her face, Ed anxiously blurts out;
“I asked him about a roofing job he plans to do for me then I left, alright?”
“Did you see him after that?”
“Do you know where he was going?”
“Work I suppose.”
“Who does he hang around with?”
“I don’t know. I only know him because of an ad he ran in the paper about cheap roofing services, honest Sergeant.”
“Ok, thank you.” Seeing Rachel get into her car Ed pulls the phone out of his pocket.
“This is Ed; the lady cop is still asking a bunch of questions,” he nervously begins.