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Chapter 16: What a shame

The city of Lindsiville was a bustling little town of about eighty-two thousand people. There were enough industry and other businesses to keep most of the citizens employed. There was a reasonable number of unemployed persons as well as an average number of homeless persons for a city of its size. The town was well kept, clean and had an up to date infrastructure. In other words, it was your average every day garden-variety small Canadian city, or was it?

One would think there wouldn’t be anything-unusual happening in this average little Canadian town. Well, you’d be dead wrong!

The employees showed up at city hall for work as usual that Monday morning. There was always an underlying mood of tension and even hostility at city hall. Ever since the mayor, Hillary Bush got elected. Hillary had been a councilor for three years. Then she shocked everyone by running for mayor at the last election for the office. People were even more shocked when Hillary won. No one could figure out how she pulled that one off. She wasn’t at all popular.

Although the new mayor was well known for being late for work, she was outdoing herself on this particular Monday morning. Usually, she would show up around ten o’clock. On this Monday she was a complete no-show. Her secretary and the others that worked closest with her were joking that they were enjoying their day at work. There were, however, responsibilities that the mayor had. She had appointments to keep and decisions that needed her attention. Berta, the mayor’s secretary, had called the mayor’s home several times, with no answer. Eventually, there was enough concern that the police were dispatched to the mayor’s residence to check on her.

When the police checked the mayor’s home, they made a startling discovery. All the doors to the house were locked. One of the officers looked through the kitchen window, and there she was. A woman was lying on the kitchen floor. She looked like the mayor.

Tony Hammond was the head detective in the Homicide and Missing Person division of the Lindsiville Police Department. He held the rank of Detective Sergeant. Tony had been a policeman for twenty years and had an illustrious career. He had an uncanny talent in the field of investigation. Tony had a particular insight bordering on the supernatural. Because of his skill at solving mysteries he rose quickly through the ranks and was hand-picked by the chief to lead the Homicide squad. Although Tony was intelligent and intuitive, he had no political common sense and was prone to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Tony was a large man standing six foot three. He worked out regularly and had no excess body fat. He was handsome with a smile that made most women blush. Tony had never married opting for various relationships that never seemed to last past the first year. He had a scar on his left cheek, which only intensified the mysterious nature of the man. If you asked him about the injury and where he got it, he would answer you by telling you it’s none of your business.

Tony Hammond got a call from the police dispatcher. Officers were at the home of the mayor. They requested a homicide officer attend the house a.s.a.p. Tony and his partner Detective Dave Bell (aka Dinger) left the office in no great haste once they learned there destination was the mayor’s residence. The mayor was not a very popular woman around town. How she got elected was a mystery to everyone.

Once on the scene, Hammond took control. The officers had sealed off the house allowing no entry to the building. The paramedics had attended and pronounced death they also notified the coroner. The paramedics were escorted out of the house once the body had been pronounced dead. The scene of the crime was left untouched to preserve evidence.

Bell learned from the paramedics that the apparent cause of death was blunt force trauma to the back of the head. It was only a preliminary cause of death and had been based solely on the wound on the victim’s head and the lack of any other injuries on the body. The woman had been dead for no more than ten hours, but her face had turned dark blue.

Dave Bell had been Hammond’s partner since Hammond took over the unit. Bell was the oldest serving man in the group who had been on the job for over thirty years. He had been promoted to the rank of detective when he was but thirty-two years of age. He was now in his fifties. He was an intelligent man and an avid reader. The other officers in the unit often joked that he should have been a history professor because he was always testing everyone’s knowledge with useless facts from the past. Hammond liked him and knew that he could rely on him.

Hammond and Bell started by inspecting all the doors and windows on the main floor of the house. The officers were forced to kick in the front door to gain entry into the home. If the front door had been forced using a pry bar or other tool, there would be marks on the doorframe around the lock area. The lock itself was a deadbolt lock and looked sturdy enough. It would appear it was locked from the inside. All the other doors and windows were secure having been locked from the inside as well.

Bell searched the outside of the house. Footprints found on the north side of the house appeared freshly made. He ordered the forensic unit, now on the scene, to make cast impressions of the prints. It was odd because these footprints were next to a wall with no windows or doors.

Hammond had remained in the house and was visually inspecting the main floor. He made notes as he went along. His first impression was that there had not been a struggle. There seemed to be nothing out of place or disrupted. The body lay in the kitchen just inside the doorway and was face down. The victim had on pajamas with no robe.

Bell came back in the house and after putting on protective foot covering joined Hammond in the kitchen. The two detectives carefully turned the body over. Although the victim would have to be formally identified, both Hammond and Bell recognized her immediately as the mayor, Hillary Bush.

Because the mayor had died face down, postmortem lividity had settled into her face. The condition occurs when the heart stops pumping blood. The blood tends to end up in the lowest part of that part of the body. Other parts of her body would show the same symptoms. That would indicate that she hadn’t been moved after death as the symptoms take about an hour to form. In other words, she either died standing and fell forward on her face or passed out falling face first and then died. The autopsy would determine the correct sequence of events. Hammond noted there were no marks on the mayor’s neck, and her mouth not obstructed.

“Well, Dave this seems to be a real who dun it!” Hammond remarked

“It was bound to happen sooner or later Tony; she was such a bitch” Replied Bell.

“Of course her murder couldn’t be an easy one to solve as someone found over the body with the murder weapon in his hand.” Quipped Hammond.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us Tony, you know she was not well liked at all. Finding suspects won’t be hard.” Stated Bell.

Hammond and Bell worked for hours assessing the scene and preserving evidence. The coroner had attended and the body removed to the hospital for the autopsy. More officers needed to be detailed to the area to canvassing the neighborhood for possible witnesses.

Hammond and Bell had found that Hillary Bush’s parents lived in the next town, about 30 kilometers away. They would have the unpleasant job of informing the parents of the death of their daughter. They would have to ask one of the parents to accompany them to the hospital to identify the body.

It was a short trip to the Bush residence, and before long Bell was knocking on the door of the parent’s house. From inside they could hear shouting and arguing. The voices grew quiet when they heard the sound of the doorbell. Minutes later a plump, short man in his early sixties opened the door.

“Can I help you?” The man said.

“I’m Detective Sergeant Hammond, and this is my partner Detective Dave Bell,” Hammond said

“What did he do now, the son of a bitch?” The man said.

“I beg your pardon,” Hammond replied.

“Well you guys gotta be here about my good for nothing son, right?” snapped the man.

“Are you Mr. Dennis Bush, sir?” Asked Hammond.

“Yes why what’s going on?”

“Is Hillary Bush your daughter?” Asked Bell.

“Yes, why?” Replied Mr. Bush.

“May we come in Mr. Bush?” Hammond asked sternly.

The two detectives were lead into the living room of the house. The house had seen better days. The Bush’s hadn’t invested in any new furniture in the last twenty years or so. It was clean, but there were dirty dishes on the coffee table, and a jacket slung over the back of a chair.

There was another man already sitting in the living room who was younger than Mr. Bush. There was also a woman in the kitchen that came out to see who had been at the door.

“Mrs. Bush?” Hammond asked.

“Yes, what’s this about?” replied Mrs. Bush.

“We are from the police department, ma’am.” Replied Bell

“Is there a problem?” asked Mrs. Bush.

“I’m afraid so Mrs. Bush. We are here to notify you that we believe your daughter Hillary was murdered sometime earlier today.” Said Hammond.

Mrs. Bush immediately broke down sobbing. Mr. Bush had to sit down but showed little emotion. Hammond went on to tell Mr. and Mrs. Bush what had happened. He also requested that one of them accompany them to the hospital to identify the body. Mr. Bush then identified the other man in the room as his son Rodney Bush.

“Would it be alright if Rodney goes with you to the hospital? I had better stay here with my wife; she’s not well.” Mr. Bush asked in a muted voice.

“Of course sir that’s fine, our condolences to you and your wife. My partner and I will be handling the investigation, feel free to call us if you have questions.” Hammond said as he handed Mr. Bush his business card.

“We would also like to sit down and talk with the three of you as soon as possible. There are questions that we need to ask.” Bell said.

“Before we leave was there anyone you know of that could be responsible for this?” Asked Hammond.

“Where do I begin, she wasn’t very well liked you know. She had a lot of enemies.” Replied Mr. Bush.

“In that case perhaps we could return later today, say about seven o’clock?” Hammond asked while opening the door to leave.

“Yes, that’s fine.” Replied Mr. Bush.

“The body is at the coroner’s morgue in the hospital. I can’t release it until after the autopsy. Hopefully, there won’t be a long delay. That depends on where the investigation takes us.

On the way back to Lindsiville, Hammond and Bell had a chance to talk to Rodney Bush. It was a good time to ask him questions in an informal setting. Hammond always felt people would talk more if the environment, like a police station, didn’t threaten them.

Although it was a short ride to the hospital, Hammond and Bell were able to get a feeling as to how Rodney felt about not only his sister but his parents as well. He and Hillary did not get along well. Whenever they were together, they usually fought like cats and dogs. Rodney had asked his sister to get him a good paying job with the municipality. She had refused, calling him good for nothing and told him to get out on his own and make something of himself. Rodney said he hated her. She was a control freak and was greedy as well she was capable of just about anything, legal or otherwise. She was his sister though and said that he would never wish any harm on her.

Rodney went on to tell the officers that he seemed always to be arguing with his parents. They were disappointed in their son, especially Mr. Bush. Rodney said that he had run-ins with the police, but it was all minor stuff like stealing cars. He assured Hammond and Bell that he knew nothing of Hillary’s death. In the same breath though he said he knew of at least ten people in town that will be ecstatic upon hearing of her death. All of those names were written down.

Despite the post-mortem lividity, Rodney was able to identify his sister. Seeing the body like that nearly made him ill, but he got through it. Hammond arranged for a squad car to drive Rodney back home. He was reminded to be at the house that evening when his parents were being interviewed.

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