Chapter 17: The investigation begins
While at the hospital Hammond decided to check with the coroner, Dr. Langdon, to see if he was ready to do the autopsy. Hammond liked being present for the autopsies of homicide victims. It was standard procedure to have an officer present during the autopsy to obtain any physical evidence. Hammond always felt that he might see something that others may miss. He would draw on his uncanny intuition to observe the state of the body to try to get a feel for what had happened to the person.
Dr. Langdon confirmed that he was just about to start the autopsy, which took about an hour to perform. Hammond and the doctor discussed the condition of the body as the autopsy began. Hillary Bush was thirty-two years old and unmarried. She was a petite lady standing five foot two inches and only weighing about one hundred and ten pounds. Hillary was attractive but not pretty in the usual sense. In other words, she had no movie star qualities.
Hammond had the honor of weighing all the internal organs as the doctor removed them from the body. Of particular interest to Hammond and Bell were the contents of the stomach. It could indicate when she last ate and what kind of a meal it was. The doctor removed the contents of her stomach setting samples aside to be analyzed. The coroner told Hammond that from what he could see the victim hadn’t eaten today but had a large meal the night before, probably dinner. The contents analysis would give the exact substance of the meal, but off the record, it looked like she had been wined and dinned. The doctor could tell there was a little beef with some seafood. There was also what he thought was wine present.
Of concern to Hammond and Bell was the cause of death and equally had she been sexually active before her death. As the coroner continued his examination, he could tell that she had engaged in a tempestuous round of intercourse. There were marks on her body that indicated she had participated in some rough sex. Although the signs of intercourse were present, there was no ejaculate present. If her partner was male, he wore protection. The doctor also indicated that foreign objects might have been used during intercourse. Traces of a foreign substance in the victim’s vagina, as well as other areas, had been found.
The doctor confirmed that blunt force trauma caused the death of Miss Bush. A solid object of considerable weight was used to hit the victim on the back of the skull. The skull crushed in the location of the wound. An x-ray confirmed the extent of the damage. When the brain autopsied, there was a massive subdural hematoma at the spot where the weapon had struck the victim. Damage to the brain was considerable including swelling and blood clotting.
“Will you call me as soon as you get the stomach content results Dr.?” Hammond inquired.
“Yes, of course, I’m interested in finding the full extent of the cause of her death as much as you are Tony.” Replied the doctor.
The autopsy concluded. The body would be held for investigation rather than being released to the family. Hammond wanted to return to the murder scene to make a few more observations. They also had to try and locate the object that had been used to strike the victim causing her death.
“Boy, this is a strange one Dave, I don’t know what to think of this woman.” Said Hammond.
“From what I have heard and read in the paper, Hillary was quite the piece of work. The election committee is still investigating irregularities in the election held the for mayor’s office. We had better check with the fraud squad as well; I know they were investigating some of Hillary’s dealings when she was a counselor.” Said Dave.
“All in all I’d say we have a real mess on our hands, Dave.” Hammond quipped.
At seven o’clock Hammond and Bell were at the Bush residence to interview the parents of the deceased. They were let in the house by the son Rodney and seated in the living room where the parents were already seated and seemed to be waiting for them.
“I hope your feeling alright Mrs. Bush?” asked Dave Bell.
“I’m alright thank you, and please call me Ruby and my husband is Bill” Replied Mrs. Bush
Hammond asked the three family members if they could describe Hillary to the two detectives. They were asked to start from when Hillary was a child and work their way to the present. Over the next hour, the three family members tried to tell the officers about Hillary’s life.
Mr. Bush told the officers the following; that right from the start Hillary was a problematic child. She was headstrong and would try to do anything to accomplish her wants and needs. Hillary always did well at school as far as her marks were concerned, but still had trouble with teachers and students alike. She was forever getting into trouble for lying and getting the other kids in trouble blaming them for what she had done wrong. Hillary became a vindictive and manipulative person. The worst part of it was she was like that at home as well. There seemed to be a chip on her shoulder. Mr. and Mrs. Bush could not for the life of them figure out why she turned out the way she did.
As far as dating was concerned. Hillary didn’t seem to have many boyfriends as a young girl and even later as a woman. She did date, but the boys never seemed to get too involved with Hillary. Hillary also had women friends, but would never bring them home to the house. For some time they thought she was gay, but Mrs. Bush talked with Hillary one night when they were alone, and admitted she liked both sexes but did not consider herself gay. Hillary said she still enjoyed men more than women.
Mr. Bush said that when Hillary got into politics, she would get upset when things didn’t go her way. They had been glad when Hillary moved out of the house. She was starting to get overbearing when she was at home. They fought like cats and dogs sometimes. After she moved out, she would phone now and then but never really came over too much.
Rodney told the officers that he would go over to her house on occasion and she would confide in him. It was more like bragging about some of the things she was doing at the council and then later when she became mayor.
“It’s no shock to me that someone ended her, I hate to say that, but it’s true.” Said Rodney in a matter of fact sort of way.
“Well thank you for spending the time with us folks, and again we would like to offer our condolences.” Said Hammond.
The two officers left the house a little more informed than when they went in. On the way back to the office they stopped by the homicide scene. Hammond wanted to see the place at night, to try and get a better feel of what had happened there. When the first officers had entered the house, there were no lights on. The victim was in her pajamas. Her death must have occurred just after she had gotten up. The question is when did she have the rough sex and with whom.
Hammond went through the house going room to room. He would stand in there and look out the window from every possible angle. He was looking out of the windows to see what was visible. Dave Bell concentrated on the bedroom and adjoining bathroom. His search was for the so-called sex toy that was supposed to have been used by the victim.
When Hammond got to the kitchen, he paused. It was here that it happened. The body had been found just inside the door, in the center of the room, face down. First, the detective inspected the door leading into the room. He was missing something. He could feel it. Death came quickly to Hillary. It would seem that as soon as she entered the room, she was struck on the back of the head and collapsed. Something that had gone unnoticed was a book lying on the floor outside the kitchen off to the side of the kitchen door. It was bagged for evidence and added to the other property previously kept as possible evidence of the crime.
Hammond stood there his intuition and imagination going to work. Then he had an ah-ha moment. He thought he knew what happened and how. Hillary apparently had no idea there was anyone else in the house at the time of her death. She had been struck from behind as she walked into the kitchen. To Hammond, this meant that the killer had been waiting for Hillary to come downstairs to go into the kitchen. He or she must have been hiding somewhere in the room. The fact that Hillary failed to see her attacker may indicate that it was still dark enough to help the killer hide. It’s possible Hillary was awakened by a sound coming from the kitchen and had come downstairs to investigate. But all this was speculation on Hammond’s part. When Hammond found the killer, the truth would come out.
It was a regular practice of Hammond and Bell to return to the scene of the crime after all the help had left. The Forensic team was great at what they did, but it seemed to be like a construction site when they were there.
The team would be busy doing their thing so you would have five or six people throughout the house all doing different jobs, then they wanted to talk about it. Hammond learned from experience to just let them do their job and stay out of their way. When he and Bell returned to the scene, it would be quiet, almost eerily silent. That’s when all of their senses would kick into high gear. Hammond thought to himself that he savored the moments when he could stand inside a home where a homicide had recently happened. Alone in the quiet, he could almost see the murder take place. He would play it in his mind, the victim’s actions before the attack and then the moment of death. It was an eerie feeling. It was a surreal moment, but one that Hammond was hooked on. Hammond questioned everything in his mind. Every smell every mark on the floor and walls. He demanded answers from himself. He had to answer every question that popped into his head.
One thing he knew for sure was that the murderer had a lot of pent-up emotion built up inside to resort to such a brutal murder. The wound on the head of Hillary was severe. Severe enough to say that it was an act of overkill. A blow to the head with half of the intensity would have caused death. Instead, the blow to Hillary’s head nearly caved her skull in. Then Hammond deduced that the killer had instant trepidation about what he or she had done. The fact that there were no other wounds to the head or body suggested that the killer stopped his attack as soon as Hillary fell to the ground. This killing was as a result of raw emotion and hate by a first-time killer.
It was clear to the two detectives that there was a lot of work to be done. The parents provided the officers with a list of Hillary’s friends. At least these were the people that the parents and Rodney thought were her friends. Interviews would take place with those that the victim worked with as well as those persons in council. Then there were the people that she had dealings with over the years. It was clear to the investigators that they would need help. Another team of investigators was assigned by Hammond to assist in the case. Hammond chose the team of Hank Patlowski and Barry Anderson.
The first thing in the morning Hammond called a meeting with John, Hank, and Barry. Hammond gave Hank and Barry their assignments and told them what he and Dave Bell would be working on. They would have to meet every other day unless something needed immediate attention. Hammond informed the men that this would probably be a hard case to crack because of the mean-spirited victim. Hillary Bush had bent a lot of noses out of shape. There were going to be multiple suspects because there were a lot of people who had a motive for causing her death.
Hammond wanted Hank and Barry to work on those people who Hillary had caused financial harm. He also wanted them to look into her love life, who she was seeing as well as ex-boyfriends and or girlfriends. Hammond and Bell were going to work on her political career including the election for mayor.
The first people Hammond and Bell decided to interview were those in the mayor’s office, the people that worked the closest with her. Hillary’s secretary Berta would be the first. Berta had been the reigning mayor’s secretary for the past five mayors. She knew everything about the mayor’s office. The detectives interviewed her in the boardroom at city hall. Hammond had arranged for the use of the room for all of the interviews that were going to take place.
Berta Lewis was the first to be interviewed. She made no secret about the way she felt about the mayor. Berta was a pretty forty-five-year-old woman. She was happily married and had two children that were in their teens. Her husband was in real estate. Before the first question, Berta said
“I had no respect for that woman; I didn’t like her very well. But I didn’t kill her; I’m not that type of person.” It was clear that Berta was very uncomfortable dealing with detectives. She appeared nervous, but in Hammond’s experience, this was normal. People, who had never had dealings with the police, act this way especially when homicide is involved.
“Berta what can you tell us about Hillary?” Asked Hammond.
“Where do you want me to start? No one liked her she was nice to your face but stabbed you in the back. I don’t mean to speak ill of the dead, but the mayor was a tough person to work for.” Replied Berta.
“Do you know who her friends were?” Asked Bell
“Several people called her on a regular basis, I know because I answered all her calls for her. There were a couple of men and one woman that she spoke with on a daily basis.” Berta recounted.
Over the next hour, Berta told the two detectives everything she knew about Hillary Bush. She could identify the two men that would call Hillary but not the woman. The men were Steven Stewart and Robert Pender. Berta didn’t think either man was romantically involved with Hillary. They seemed always to be business-like. Berta said whenever someone calls who is more than a friend of the mayor, not just Hillary but any mayor; they seem to be in lighter spirits, friendlier. As for the woman, Berta couldn’t make up her mind about her. Sometimes she would call and be almost overly pleasant. Other times the woman could be a little bit miserable. Berta remembered taking her phone number down once and said she would try to find it.
When asked about the election for mayor Berta said that it was awful. Hillary was always on the phone. There were even threats made to her. Not death threats but more like threatening her political future. She was sure that the these came from business people in town. There were a lot of hard feelings about that election. It was no secret that there was an investigation of the electoral committee that ran the elections, being investigated as well as Hillary herself, not by the police but the federal government. There had been numerous allegations of corruption and voter fraud.
Berta told Hammond and Bell that in the fifteen years she had been the mayor’s secretary, there had never been as many mysterious events as there had been since Hillary came on the scene as a counselor. Two people had died, and one went missing. Several people had been beaten up. She said at one point that it was like the mafia had hit town. Hammond and Bell obtained as much information as they could about the people involved.
The end of the day saw a total of nine people interviewed including Berta. Only Berta offered independent information. The rest of the persons relied on rumor and hearsay.
One of the pieces of information coming out of the Berta Lewis interview that could be important were the two names of men that called Hillary on a daily basis. These two guys would have to be interviewed. As far as the female caller was concerned, if Berta can come up with a phone number, it could be a valuable lead. Berta also provided the detectives with Hillary’s diary, which was always kept, in Hillary’s desk.
Hammond and Bell decided to track down the two callers Steven Stewart and Robert Pender. At this point, their best tool would be the telephone and the police computer. After checking on C.P.I.C (Canadian Police Information Center), there were numerous possibilities as to whom these people were. Using that information, Bell got on the computer to search social media, in particular, those sites about Lindsiville and the surrounding area. While Bell was on the Internet searching, Hammond got on the phone and started inquiring to various people around town. Some were informants close to the political scene. Others were just persons in the know around town.
Hammond made a call to the previous mayor Mr. Edward Reynolds. Mr. Reynolds was well known to Hammond and Bell. Ed was a real gentleman. While Reynolds was in office, he proved himself to be of great help to the police on several occasions. Hammond had spoken to him after he lost the election for mayor. At that time Reynolds seemed fine with the decision of the citizens of Lindsiville. He was a realist and accepted his fate honorably. Ed Reynolds was a lawyer by profession and had a thriving practice before entering politics. Hammond had asked him why he wanted to get into politics to which he replied that he wanted to serve the people of Lindsiville in a more meaningful way.
Hammond talked with Edward Reynolds long enough to agree on a time to meet for coffee. Hammond left Bell in the office and headed out to have his meeting with Reynolds. If anyone knew of Hillary’s wrongdoings, it would be Ed Reynolds.
Ed Reynolds was already seated in the restaurant when Hammond got there.
“Hi Ed, how are you doing?” Hammond asked
“Hi Tony, Oh you know just trying to get back into the swing of things.” Replied Reynolds.
“I hear you guys had some excitement?” Asked Reynolds.
“Well, you can say that again.” Replied Hammond.
The two friends talked for over an hour. At first, Reynolds thought he might be looked at as a suspect because of the elections; he assured Hammond he had nothing to do with Hillary’s death. He went on to tell Hammond that the election was one of the strangest elections he had ever heard of let alone been a candidate. He was sure that Hillary had somehow rigged the election. People who had never regularly voted before had turned out by the hundreds. That’s what helped her win, Reynolds told Hammond. There had also been irregularities in the wards where Reynolds was assumed to be the winner. Some ballot boxes even had to be declared void because of improper handling.
There were also phone threats made to Reynolds’s election office. They were nasty enough that he hired a security officer to watch over him. Hillary herself had called several times warning Reynolds he would be severely embarrassed if he didn’t withdraw. It was just a nasty election, and Reynolds was glad to be out of it. He told Hammond that the Federal government had approached him. To assume the office of mayor until another election could take place. Reynolds told them he would have to think about it and would decide by this Friday.
Hammond asked Reynolds if he ever heard of the two men that were calling Hillary, Stewart, and Pender. Reynolds knew Steven Stewart as Hillary’s campaign manager. The other name was unfamiliar to him. Reynolds told Hammond that Stewart was almost as revolting as Hillary, as a matter of fact, he and the people at his campaign office joked on what a great couple they would make.
Bell had been working hard while Hammond was at his meeting with Ed Reynolds. The two detectives compared notes when they got together again. Bell had done an extensive investigation of all the names in the case thus far. He was able to tell Hammond who had been in trouble with the law, as well as other contacts with the police. He also did credit checks on all the players to see if there were any debts owed. In short, Bell had been able to compile a dossier on all the parties involved.
The next morning saw the first meeting between all the detectives on the Bush murder case. First, Hammond asked Patlowski and Anderson to give what they had found out about Hillary’s background.
Barry Anderson was able to relate the following. As far as her love life was concerned, she wasn’t seriously involved with anyone. Anderson and Patlowski interviewed several men that Hillary had dated. The consensus was that she was a cold fish. She had no intention of getting married, and she tended to use her men friends as sexual entertainment. The detectives had spoken to three men who had tried to date Hillary with a view of having a serious relationship with her. They all said the same thing. When the sex got boring, they were history. They also said that when they did have sex, it wasn’t long before it turned kinky she made it clear she was the dom and the male was the sub. The relationship with all three men lasted for no more than two or three months on average.
The detectives also spoke with several women who had been rumored to have relations with Hillary. They were much harder to talk to, mainly because both women were married. These affairs were much more severe. Hillary had feelings for both these women when she was seeing them. The first woman was the wife of an accountant in Lindsiville. Her name was Rebecca Pender. She was younger than Hillary being twenty-five years old. The two women were involved with each other several years ago. Rebecca had ended it when her husband found out. The whole thing got nasty. Both Hillary and the husband made threats against each other.
The second woman was an older woman by about five years. Hillary fell head over heels for this woman. Her name was Cindy. She was married to a doctor at the Lindsiville hospital. The good doctor was always working which caused Cindy to get bored and start looking for a new experience. That’s where Hillary entered the picture. The two met at an election rally for Hillary and hit it off. The detectives couldn’t find out if the affair ended or if it had continued.
As far as people that Hillary had cheated, taken advantage of or just caused harm to, the list was long. It was going to take a while for the two detectives to interview everyone involved. Hammond was pleased with the work that Barry and Hank had done thus far. An accurate picture of the life of Hillary Bush was coming together. Hammond and Bell related what they had found out about the voting irregularities and shared the names of the two male callers to Hillary’s office. The four detectives planned their next areas in the investigation, and then it was back to work.