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Chapter 9: Monday Next

The next five days following the shooting was uneventful for Cassidy, and it was engineered to be so. She spent her administrative leave looking after her children and her home to the exclusion of anything to do with her job. She received unsolicited help with the housework and kids from most of her family and some of her friends. Everyone was eager to be a diversion for her during this time off from work, but their efforts had the opposite effect. Cassidy always read their attentions as concern for her wellbeing and sympathy for the loss of her partner. Both of these thoughts pulled her away from the distraction she got out of housework and attending to her children. Despite these failings, she did manage to put the shooting behind her, and by Monday next she was ready and eager to apply her mind to something that was a challenge.

Cassidy walked through the parking lot entrance of Precinct 122 shortly before 7 a.m. Her thoughts were heavily laced with trepidation about the first day of her return to work. She had no idea how she would be received by her fellow officers. Over the past week, she could not help but entertain thoughts that Alan’s death was the result of some failure on her part. At this moment those thoughts were cascading into her thinking. Within seconds of her entrance into the building this torrent of fear began to subside. Officer after officer welcomed her back, condoled to her about Alan and congratulated her on a job well done. A soft standing applause greeted her when she walked into the robbery/homicide squad room. Cassidy did not have the words to respond to this acceptance from her peers, so she modestly nodded and smiled in return.

Immediately after the applause began, Lt. Graham noticed Cassidy’s presence through the glass wall of his office. With a wave of his hand he summoned for her. Cassidy set a course for the Lieutenant with some hurry to escape the attention of her peers.

“How do you feel?” Lt. Graham questioned after inviting Cassidy to sit.

“I’m good. I’m ready to get back to work,” Cassidy reported after a deep inhale.

“That’s good to hear,” Graham returned. “But there are a couple of more steps to be completed before you can get back to working cases.”

“Yeah,” Cassidy acknowledged with a word.

“Your psych exam is scheduled for 10 a.m. today. Here’s the paperwork on that,” Lt. Graham said as he slid a form toward her. “You’ll have to pass that. When you come back you’ll be on desk duty. The shooting review is still underway, but once you’ve been cleared you’ll be fully reinstated.”

“Why is that taking so long?” Cassidy questioned with a look of concern.

“This is not long,” Lt. Graham advised with a slight shake of his head. “There have been reviews that have lasted for more than a month.”

“But those involved complex investigations,” Cassidy disputed. “This is simple. What are they looking for?”

They’re just crossing all their T’s. “Lt. Graham explained in a soothing voice. “An officer was killed. They’re in no hurry. Don’t agitate yourself, Detective.”

Cassidy showed no sign of being eased by this assurance. Lt. Graham took notice of her continuing concern and elected to add a little more to his words of support.

“The rumor is you’re looking at a commendation and a bump up to Detective 2nd Grade when it’s over, and this is coming out of 1PP.”

Cassidy took some encouragement from this and visibly showed it. After taking a moment to relax, she asked the next question that was on her list of concerns.

“Where is the Haynes investigation at?”

“It’s been classified inactive,” Lt. Graham reported with a succinct delivery.

This answer took Cassidy by surprise. She had seen no report in the news about the details of this crime. That is something she would have noticed. This omission suggested to her that they were still trying to learn how the victims were killed, why they were killed and where they were killed.

“Did this just happen?” Cassidy inquired about the suspension of the investigation.

“The case has been inactive for two days now,” Lt. Graham reported with a look of aloofness.

This report astonished Cassidy even more. She knew that there were unanswered questions regarding this crime. Without these answers one or more accomplices could escape arrest and punishment for these crimes. The fact that the department was willing to end the active investigation into Haynes and this crime so soon did not make sense to her.

“Two days,” Cassidy repeated with an inflection of surprise. “Do we know what happened? …how? …why?”

“The guy was a mystery,” Lt. Graham explained dismissively. “He had no friends, but he had several acquaintances. It looks like he was a dealer. He had a small stash of Ecstasy and more than five-thousand dollars in small bills stashed in the box spring of his bed.”

Cassidy was not detracted from her thinking by this and expressed it with her next two questions.

“But where did he go with his victims? Why did they get into his taxi? I didn’t see anything in the missing person file that suggested any of the victims were using.”

“Maybe they didn’t catch it,” Lt. Graham countered with a shake of his head.

“No, this is not making sense,” Cassidy disputed. “There should have been some evidence of drug abuse in one or more of the victims. Something is missing.”

“Probably,” Lt. Graham concurred. “Unanswered questions are not uncommon in investigations. You know this”

“But if we knew where he took them maybe we could get the answers to these questions,” Cassidy insisted.

Before she finished speaking Lt. Graham began to dispute this with a shake of his head.

“It’s anyone’s guess where they went,” Lt. Graham returned. “The fact that no one knew they were going out is possibly why they were targeted.”

“I don’t think so,” Cassidy argued back. “I believe they were targeted before they got into Haynes’ taxi.”

“And what makes you think that?” Lt. Graham questioned with a look of interest.

“It’s something about the way they all acted the weeks before they disappeared,” Cassidy quickly disclosed. “They became secretive. They didn’t tell anyone what their plans were for that day. And, according to their friends, it was unusual for them to go out alone.”

Lt. Graham took a moment to consider this. He then responded with a look of disbelief.

“You’re over thinking this, Detective.”

“How could you just cold case this investigation without getting answers to these questions,” Cassidy rifled back. “He had to take these people somewhere before he killed them. We should at least find out where they died at.”

“We tried to find answers,” Lt. Graham argued in his defense. “He could have taken them anywhere. We’ve thoroughly searched the contents of Haynes’ apartment for an answer, for a clue. We found nothing. Haynes is dead, and without him we may never know. Let it go.”

Cassidy left Lt. Graham’s office with the intention of leaving this investigation behind her. She could see no other option but to move on to her next assignment. After a one-hour meeting with a department psychologist Cassidy returned to her workroom desk with a fit for work authorization. She was promptly put to work processing, compiling and filing paperwork that other detectives needed to have done but were too short on time to do. For the remainder of the morning, and part of the afternoon, Cassidy was busy with paperwork.

By 2 in the afternoon the pace of incoming work for Cassidy subsided to a large degree. She had time to reflect on things that her mind could not let go of, and the question that bothered her the most was how did the nine victims end up in Haynes’ car. Out of curiosity she opened the inactive case file. She had no problem doing this. Her badge was still attached to it. An unauthorized access block did not apply to her. She was quick to note that nothing was learned about Haynes’ Ecstasy supplier or his clientele. This missing piece of data was just another annoyance to add to this mystery. She kept thinking that this man was too much of an enigma. He was being convicted by evidence that was unsupported by an explanation. He had a criminal record that listed burglary and grand theft auto as the offenses that got him incarcerated three times in the past. The transition to drug dealing was no great leap, but it seemed like a strange change of profession for a man described as less than sociable when he was in a good mood. All the characterizations of Haynes from people who knew him concentrated around loner, sullen and occasionally I’ll tempered. When she coupled these descriptions with the fact that there was no information in the file about where he got the Ecstasy or who he sold it to, Cassidy had cause to be suspicious of this presumed criminal enterprise. Despite this concern, she had nothing of substance that conflicted with the conclusion of the investigating detectives’ that the gypsy taxicab service was a front for his drug dealings.

After reading the summation of the investigating detectives, Cassidy turned her attention to Haynes’ telephone records. All the metadata on the calls he made and received was accrued by the detectives who investigated Albert Haynes while she was on administrative leave. Cassidy had only to go into the area of the file that contained the information that she wanted. It took her less than a minute to discover that there was more than 2 years of Albert Haynes’ cellphone metadata in the file.

Cassidy did not expect to find anything of interest within this list. She thought this because the investigating detectives notated that Haynes’ call history was almost completely related to his gypsy taxicab service and that every name pulled out of the history was cleared from being an accomplice in the killings or his drug dealings. It was also notated that there were no records of phone calls from Haynes to his victims, or vice versa. Despite this, Cassidy elected to look through two years’ worth calls to and from Haynes’ cellphone. The names connected to the numbers of each of the incoming and outgoing calls were listed, with exception for some of the call to and from prepaid cellphones.

Shortly into this study of Albert Haynes’ phone records Cassidy took notice that there was a large number of these prepaid cellphone calls in the list. This did not produce any special interest in her. The detectives were able to find the owners of more than half of these prepaid cellphone numbers, and they wrote their names onto the list. She was confident that these individuals were cleared of any complicity with Haynes criminal activities and suspected the unidentified prepaid cellphone numbers were equally innocuous. This thinking held until she noted that Haynes always got a call from an unknown caller on the day that the last three victims disappeared. The metadata did not go back far enough for more than the last three victims. The calls on these three days were from a prepaid cellphone with no name written in for them. She also noticed that the number was different in all three cases, it appeared several times in Haynes metadata. This too was not especially intriguing, but she did consider these numbers worthy of additional attention.

It took several more minutes of study to notice that these prepaid cellphone numbers with unknown owners made numerous appearances across a month of time, on average, and then they stopped appearing altogether. When these prepaid numbers stopped appearing new prepaid cellphone numbers, with unknown owners, always began appearing in their place. In addition, one of these prepaid numbers always appeared on a day that one of the last three victims went missing, and that day was always its last appearance. She immediately jumped to the speculation that one or more individuals might be deliberately trying to stay concealed. Cassidy knew that switching out the prepaid cellphones every month was a good way to conceal their existence. After coming to the thinking that the owner of these cellphones might be hiding their association with Haynes, Cassidy began a new search through the case file. She was looking for something that indicated the detectives who collected this data had considered the same line of thought. She quickly found that the metadata of each of these prepaid cellphone numbers were also subpoenaed and collected into this case file. The presence of this data told her that these numbers had been given separate attention. After a brief search into this segment of the case file Cassidy found a notation that specified an observation and the conclusion of the detectives. The observation was that all the metadata on these numbers were comprised of calls made to and from Albert Haynes or to another prepaid cellphone with an unknown owner. It was also noted that the metadata of these prepaid cellphones had the same call pattern minus calls to Albert Haynes. The conclusion was that these numbers were likely connected to Haynes’ illegal drug connections. Both the observation and the conclusion provided cause for Cassidy to be ever more interested in the person, or persons, in possession of these cellphones. Her concerns about the validity of this illegal drug enterprise supported this interest. In her mind a large scale illegal drug business did not fit Haynes’ character. This skepticism added fuel to her thoughts about ways of investigating these numbers further. Shortly this thinking brought into focus just how difficult it was to unmask prepaid cellphone owners.

Users of prepaid phones were by design not listed by name in any phone company, and cellphones that are turned off or destroyed are undetectable in the system. She immediately began to suspect that this difficulty was one of the reasons why the detectives gave no further attention to them. The absence of an obvious connection, or even a less than obvious one, to the murders was likely a second reason for not making the effort. In Cassidy’s mind both reasons were irrelevant. This pattern of prepaid numbers appearing and disappearing was a mystery that Cassidy’s character could not allow to go unanswered.

Because she could think of no way of learning the names connected to these prepaid phone numbers Cassidy turned her attention to the general location that the calls came from. This was the only information she hoped to extrapolate from the metadata. Cassidy knew from experience that cell phone companies collected cell site data on all phone calls and discarded the information about forty-five days later. Subsequently she turned her attention to the most recent calls and to Nina Chan.

“Can you get me the addresses where these calls originated from?” Cassidy questioned while extending a print out of the cellphone metadata.

Nina Chan was the One-Two-Two in house technical analyst. The precinct went to her for information, explanations and investigative direction on all things electronic. Her 33 years of age and 7 years of experience in the NYPD was not reflected in her appearance. People who met her for the first time commonly mistook her to be in her mid-twenties. Cassidy thought of her as one of her closes friends.

“This doesn’t work like G-P-S,” Nina reported after taking the data. “The best I can do is triangulate down to an area as small as a city block. In addition, I might be able to guesstimate the likely sector of that block by comparing the strength of the reception in each cell tower.”

This was information that Cassidy did not need to know. She took a second to suppress a laugh and then responded to Nina’s offer.

“Okay, let’s do that,” Cassidy encouraged.

Nina examined the nine calls and the attached cell site data. She noted that seven of the calls registered on the same four cell towers.

“Seven of these calls are probably coming from the same place,” Nina reported as she set the paper down and began typing into her computer.

It took Nina less than a minute to bring up a map with all the cell tower sites in New York City highlighted. She quickly moved in on an area and circled a location on it with her finger.

“These seven calls originated from somewhere in here,” Nina advised as she circled an area in Brooklyn near Newtown Creek. “With this information, I can’t pin it down any closer than this.”

Cassidy moved closer to study the map. Her memory of the area told her that this was an industrial zone and that there were few homes in this vicinity. She immediately made plans to research all the businesses and their owners in this vicinity of Brooklyn.

“These two calls appear to have come from an identical location as well,” Nina reported as she examined the metadata on the paper. “But they originated in Manhattan.”

“Show me,” Cassidy instructed as she moved back from the computer.

Nina began typing into the computer again. Shortly the image of the map slid from left to right. When the move stopped Midtown Manhattan filled the screen and five cellphone towers were highlighted. Nina took a moment to study the strength of reception from each tower and then circled an area within the midst of all five.

“The calls probably came from somewhere in here,” Nina advised with a circular motion of her finger.

This intrigued Cassidy even more than the Brooklyn site. Her expression immediately turned into a fixated stare as she moved closer to examine the map. She said nothing as she focused in on a single point within the area that Nina circled.

“Do you see something,” Nina inquired after noting Cassidy’s extreme interest in the site.

“Yeah,” Cassidy acknowledged as she continued to stare. “I see The Cavern.”

The Cavern was not only situated between the five cellphone towers. It was in the middle of the area that Nina singled out.

“What’s The Cavern?” Nina questioned with an inquisitive look.

“I have to go,” Cassidy returned in a hurry. “Thanks Nina.”

Cassidy snatched up the paper with the list of cellphone metadata and hurried off toward Lt. Graham’s office.

“Lieutenant, I think I may have found a new lead in the Greenbelt murders,” Cassidy announced as she hurried into Lt. Graham’s office. “We need to reactivate the case.”

Lt. Graham was reading a case file when Cassidy stormed in. He stopped to listen to what she had to say. When she finished, he paused to give her assertion a moment of thought.

“What do think you’ve found?” Lt. Graham questioned with a hint of exasperation.

“Haynes may have been secretly conversing with an accomplice,” Cassidy reported with alarm in her voice.

“How?” Lt. Graham challenged.

“The cellphone logs,” Cassidy answered energetically. “I think I found a pattern.”

“We went through Haynes’ phone history number by number,” Lt. Graham countered an instant behind.

“I’m seeing a pattern of calls that I think we should look into.”

Lt. Graham was not impressed by Cassidy’s claim of a suspicious pattern. He personally supervised a team of four officers as they investigated Haynes’ phone contacts. At the end of this effort he was convinced that Albert Haynes had no acquaintances or connections that were close enough to make that person an accessory to any of his criminal activities. Lt. Graham was convinced that Haynes was the sole perpetrator of these crimes.

“Are you sure you’re not just seeing patterns where there are none? Lt. Graham questioned delicately.

Cassidy hesitated to answer this question. She knew that the probability of her being wrong was at the least 50/50. But the idea that she could be right compelled her to push for further investigation.

“I think we need to try and find out who owned these numbers,” Cassidy suggested tentatively. “I believe there may be something here.”

“What do you think you’re going to find?” Lt. Graham questioned with a look of suspicion.

The calls that I’m looking at originated in or near a nightclub called The Cavern,” Cassidy explained without conviction. “I think we should take a close look at some of the regulars at this club.”

Lt. Graham already knew that Cassidy and Alan had visited this club along with many others. This was information that he acquired from their daily briefings to him. His mind immediately went to a new question.

“Are you thinking of someone in particular?” Lt. Graham questioned with a frown of curiosity.

Cassidy paused to consider her answer to this question. She had her reservations about naming specific individuals. This reluctance was motivated by the thinking that there was a very large chance that the whole idea was absurd. At the end, she elected to be noncommittal.

“No, no one in particular.”

“I’m not devoting any more time to this investigation,” Lt. Graham advised after a moment of thought. “We have the killer, and we have no additional suspects. It’s over, Detective. Leave it alone.”

Cassidy left Lt. Graham’s office convinced that he was determined not to invest any more time to this case. She knew he would not budge from this position without tangible evidence of an accomplice or a credible lead toward something new to be learned. She also knew that her light duty status would prevent her from pursuing this while she was at work. Even as she was walking out of Lt. Graham’s office, Cassidy was considering alternate ways of researching this thinking after work. This effort failed to produce a precise strategy for proceeding. But it did bring her to one sure conclusion, she had to investigate the staff of The Cavern and patrons who were multi-year regulars.

“Honey, what’s going on?” Margaret questioned Cassidy with a look of concern.

“I need to research something, that’s all,” Cassidy explained dismissively.

Cassidy arrived at the home of her parents a few minutes before 6 p.m. She had given her parents little warning of her coming and no information about her intention prior to her arrival. The news that she was leaving the kids there overnight, on a Monday, took Margaret and Daniel by surprise.

“Is this about the Greenbelt?” Daniel challenged.

“No, you’re off that,” Margaret quickly asserted with an inflection of surprise. “That case is closed.”

Cassidy ignored her mother’s outburst and spoke to her father’s concern.

“I’m just trying to make sense of some loose ends.”

Daniel shook his head with disapproval. Margaret looked from daughter to husband and back again with a confused expression before speaking.

“How can they be sending you out on an investigation?”

“They’re not,” Daniel corrected with a look of exasperation. “You’re on desk duty. What is this about, Cassidy?”

“I don’t think it’s over, Dad,” Cassidy responded with a frown and a slight shake of her head.

“It’s over when your lieutenant says it’s over,” Daniel corrected with stern delivery.

“This is my case, Dad,” Cassidy disputed. “We still have missing pieces. There are things about Haynes that don’t make sense.”

“There’s no use in trying to make sense of these people, I told you,” Daniel grumbled at his daughter. “They’re all screwed up in the head. You’re never going to understand him. If you keep thinking about this case you’re just going to make yourself daffy, like those so-called behavioral experts.”

“I don’t want to understand him,” Cassidy argued back. “I just want to know what happened. I want to know who killed these people, and I want to know why.”

Daniel shook his head in disbelief and turned away. He made up his mind to say nothing more on the subject and was resolved to leave his daughter to make a mistake. Margaret was not so inclined. She understood Daniel’s concern for Cassidy’s preoccupation with this investigation. What she did not understand was where she intended to go with it and what more did she hoped to find. She addressed this confusion with her next question.

“Where are you going?”

“The Cavern.”

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