The Cryptic Killer

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Chapter 17

Jack was back at his desk after the weekend break. He held a fresh brewed coffee from his favorite café to help kick start his Monday morning. In preparedness for the new working week he flipped over the pages of his desktop calendar from last Friday’s date to display Monday 26th March.

Over the weekend he tried to occupy his time constructively but the weather wasn’t kind. Apart from his morning run, when you live on your own and are forced indoors by inclement weather, you tend to do a lot of deep thinking.

Despite the occasional ball game on ESPN, Jack wasn’t a TV watcher, so he spent most of his evening hours with Rosie at her bar on Friday and Saturday night. When she closed up, he spent the nights with Rosie at her place. She was a great distraction for Jack. He didn't think about his work the whole time he was in her company.

With fresh coffees and Monday morning expressions on their faces the Homicide team gathered for their regular morning muster to discuss the status of the ongoing caseloads. The team meeting atmosphere was a relaxed environment; the only stipulation was that they were attentive.

Some Detectives perch themselves on the front edge of desks, others lounge back in their chairs, while some reclined with their feet crossed over on their desk.

The update revealed the teams were investigating a stabbing murder from a robbery gone wrong; a drive by shooting death of a fifteen year old boy; a drug related shooting homicide; a rape and murder of a thirty-five year old woman in her own home and, of course, the Cryptic Killer.

Each team provided a situation report updating the status of their investigations. One case was close to arresting the offenders. One team was conducting neighborhood door knock inquiries. In another, the case had only just been reported, and then there was Jack’s case. The oldest case and probably one of the least advanced of all current caseloads, which had more to do with the guile and sophistication of the Cryptic Killer rather than Jack’s abilities as a Detective.

Just over a week and one half had passed since the last letter was received. All available leads had been followed and to this point, all inquiries had gone stale for Jack.

Peter and Debbie’s visit to the remaining five luxury vehicles found one of the five could have been in New York on Friday the 16th, but their follow up inquiries later exonerated the owner and his vehicle.

Jack’s inquiries therefore found that of the nineteen black colored luxury vehicles in the New York area, only one was in New York on the 16th March: the vehicle owned by Barry McDougall.

If Desiree was correct in her observations, we know this suggested McDougall’s vehicle was used to pick up Amber from her street corner in the early hours of the 17th. What was not known was what happened after she was picked up. Did the driver drop her off after he had finished with her services, and then the killer took her, or was the killer driving the car that picked her up…?

Jack’s inquiries with Barry McDougall and the Waldorf Astoria suggested to him the strong possibility that the driver of the car was the killer and not just a John.

As expected, the forensic examination of McDougall’s car failed to locate any usable evidence.

The killer had gone to a great deal of trouble to use a vehicle from the Hotel garage, most likely with the assistance of Valet staff who helped him avoid CCTV cameras. He then returned the vehicle around three hours later. The time the vehicle was away, and the trouble taken to acquire it was not consistent with someone taking the car just to pick up a street hooker.

It was time to follow up on something that had bothered Jack.

He waited until 9am before calling the Waldorf Astoria to speak to a Senior Manager. His call was put through to a female who identified herself as Vanessa, Executive Manager of the Hotel. Jack introduced himself and advised Vanessa that he required some information about staff who worked at the hotel on particular days.

Vanessa advised Jack she was happy to help ‘New York’s finest’, but unfortunately she did not know who Jack was. He was after all just a voice on the other end of her telephone. She did not know if he was in fact a police officer.

Jack commended her for her caution and suggested she look up the telephone number for the police, dial it and ask for Lieutenant Jack Head from Homicide. Vanessa said she would do that straight away. Jack hung up his phone to await her return call.

Fifteen minutes passed without a call. Jack started to wonder if she had given him the slip. He prepared to drive down there and meet her in person.

He removed his pistol from his top drawer and began to prove his firearm. His desk phone warbled before he completed the task. Vanessa had finally returned his call and was satisfied he was the police.

‘It is imperative that what we discuss remains strictly confidential,’ Jack stressed.

‘I understand,’ Vanessa said.

‘Good. Thank you. Now, do you have access to all staff rosters for the months of January and February…?’

‘I do. Which employees are you interested in Detective?’ she asked.

‘At this stage I would prefer to give you some dates, and from that if you could tell me who was rostered to work the night shifts on those dates.’

Oh, Okay. What dates do you need?

’I’m looking for the Valet Supervisors who were rostered for night shift from the 18th to the 19th January and from the 15th to 16th February.’ Jack could hear the computer keys being tapped.

‘OK,’ Vanessa said. ‘Do you have a pen?’

‘Go ahead.’

There was a further tapping of computer keys. ‘Our records show that Brenton Wylie was the rostered night shift Valet Parking Supervisor for both shifts that you have inquired about.’

The news caused Jack to nod knowingly as he scribbled down Wylie’s name, heavily underlining it several times. He knew there was something about that kid he didn’t like, and it wasn’t just his annoying personality. The shifts Jack asked about, the ones where Wylie was working, were the dates of the Cryptic Killer’s first two murders.

'So he was rostered for both those shifts?’ Jack clarified.

‘That’s correct Detective.’

’Are you able to confirm that he actually worked those shifts? He didn’t report in sick or swap a shift?’ Jack asked.

‘Yes, he worked both shifts,’ she said. ‘Do you mind if I ask why the Homicide police are interested in Brenton, Detective? Has he done something that I should be aware of?’

Jack provided his standard non-committal response. ‘Not at this stage ma’am…We’re just conducting inquiries.’

Jack wasn’t aware if the first two murders were similar to the 3rd in that they involved the use of a car stolen from the Waldorf. But it started to appear like they did. He took a punt just to see who was working Valet, and by coincidence, or otherwise, Wylie just so happened to be working on the same nights as the first two murders as well.

For the first time in the investigation Jack had a sniff of a suspect. But was Wylie directly involved in any of the three murders? Would it be possible for him to leave his post during a shift, commit the murders and then return unnoticed? It’s possible, but was it likely? Wylie could be providing the keys and moving the cameras to assist the killer steal the cars. But why? What’s in it for him? And if so, this suggested he could know who the killer was, or at least, be able to ID him. Could this be the breakthrough he looked for?

‘Ah, when is Brenton next rostered to work, Vanessa?’ Jack asked.

’What’s today…Monday the 26th’, she said answering her own question as she tapped on the computer keys. ’OK… he is on rostered days off at the moment…Ah…let me see…He’s due back on…night shift on Saturday 31st’, she eventually said.

Jack reminded Vanessa of the importance of his inquiries remaining confidential and he ended the phone call.

At this stage Jack realized that most of the information about Wylie was circumstantial, at best. He would definitely need to be speak to Wylie, but without evidence to prove Wylie was assisting the killer acquire vehicles, he risked Wylie alerting the killer that the cops were on to his car theft racket. And this would be detrimental to the investigation. This one had to be managed carefully.

After hanging up the phone Jack reclined back in his chair and locked his fingers behind his head. His eyes moved to the three faces on his whiteboard smiling back at him. His brow dipped and his eyes began darting. Wait…If Wylie was back on night shift on Saturday 31st and he was somehow involved, it would be interesting to see if this was when we receive the 4th letter?


Jack and Spence decided to get some fresh air. The stuffy recirculated air in their office was tiring. Both men exited the building on foot and decided to take a stroll towards Chinatown, to see what’s happening out on the streets.

The fresh air instantly re-oxygenated the blood flow to their brains. The day was overcast and the breeze was a little cool, but it wasn’t as noticeable when walking.

As they neared Chinatown the smell of the cuisines from the various restaurants activated their hunger rumbles. A roadside hot dog vendor caught Spence’s eye. He tapped Jack on the arm and pointed to the vendor. ‘Hot Dog?’ he suggested. Jack nodded in agreement.

As Spence approached the vendor he raised two fingers to the man. Jack peeled off and leaned his left shoulder against a light pole watching the steady flow of traffic pass by.

A female voice calling his name from behind broke Jack’s traffic watching.

‘Jack…?’ the female voice beckoned.

Jack pushed himself away from the light pole and turned to the voice. It was his ex-wife, Caitlyn.

She stood on her own with shopping bags in each hand. She smiled at Jack. ’I thought that was you…how are you…?’ She approached him, elevated herself onto her toes, stretched up and kissed Jack on his cheek.

‘Good…I’m good. You…?’ he asked. He was a little cautious not to show too much interest; for no reason other than the fact they were divorced and do not keep in contact. Plus he didn’t want to show he still loved her very much. ‘What brings you down here?’ he asked.

Jack had only seen Caitlyn once or twice since the divorce. It wasn’t a bitter break up. She loved him dearly, but his job just kept them apart. It forced them to live separate lives. They were able to part friends, as friendly as you can when you decide to separate. They just never kept in touch when she moved.

‘I’m down here with work for the day, so I thought I would do a bit of shopping in my lunch break.’ She lifted up her shopping bags.

‘Are you still doing the Business Development Consulting…?’ Jack asked.

Caitlyn smiled and rolled her head. ‘Still doing it. I have some clients in New York City, which is why I’m here.’

Jack nodded his understanding.

Spence watched the interaction from the hot dog vendor. He knew Caitlyn well and often reminded Jack that he let that one get away.

‘How are the boys?’ Jack said, with a hint of melancholy.

‘Oh, they’re great…’

‘They would be fine young men now, wouldn’t they…?’

Jack couldn't remember the last time he saw his sons, but it would be several years; probably four of five if he had to guess. He thought about them often, and he missed them greatly, but they were effectively estranged from him. 'Wasn’t it Dan’s 24th birthday last month…?’ Jack asked.

‘That’s right.’ Caitlyn smiled at him. She appeared impressed Jack remembered, given his years of forgetting everyone’s birthdays. ‘We all went out for dinner to celebrate.’

‘I doubt I’d even recognize them now, Lynnie…’ Jack said. His remorseful eyes dropped to the ground. His voice revealed a hint of disappointment and regret.

‘Of course you would. They both have your height,’ Caitlyn said.

‘So what’s Max now…twenty-seven…?’ Jack asked.

‘That’s right…Very good,’ Caitlyn nodded and smiled.

’What are they up to these days…?’

‘Dan is doing the final year of his Masters in Business and Maxi is a Criminology consultant.’ Caitlyn looked at her watch. ‘Actually, Max leaves for California next week. He will be working on a new contract over there for about one month, or so, I believe. He loves it.’

Jack nodded in response. He smiled as he watched Caitlyn proudly talk about their boys. ‘That’s great to hear…’ Jack said.

‘Oh…’ Caitlyn said. She rested her shopping bags on the ground and removed her mobile phone from her purse. ‘Here…’ she tapped on her mobile phone. ‘These are some photos from Dan’s birthday dinner last month.’ She turned the phone to Jack.

Jack smiled as he accepted the phone and looked at the photographs. His expression was clearly one of mixed emotions. He was happy to see his boys again, but he was saddened he wasn’t part of their lives.

‘There are other photos. Just slide them across,’ Caitlyn said.

Jack silently looked at all the photos of what was once his family. His interest firmly focused on his boys and how they have matured into fine looking young men. His feelings were bitter-sweet. They all looked so happy, but he was not part of it.

‘They look great. Thanks for that Lynnie.’ He handed back her phone.

She smiled as she accepted it. ‘They’re both great boys, Jack.’

He gestured towards Spence standing at the Hot Dog vendor. ‘You remember Spence, don’t you?’

Spence smiled and waved.

‘Of Course I do. How are you Doug?’ Her customary greeting sounding quite genuine.

'I’m Good Caitlyn.’ Spence said. He smiled as he approached Caitlyn and kissed her on the cheek. ‘Are you still up in Jersey…? Maplewood wasn’t it…?’ Spence was really only making small talk.

‘Maplewood, that’s right.’ She nodded. ‘Dan still lives with me, but Max has his own place near the coast in Rumson. He seems to be happy down there.’

Spence nodded and smiled. He gestured towards the vendor. ‘Excuse me, Caitlyn,’ He said, then moved over to the collect the hot dogs.

'So how are you doing…?’ Jack said.

‘Well, I remarried. You knew I remarried, didn’t you?’

Jack shook his head. 'No. No, I didn’t know. Good for you,’ Jack said. Even though he had no right to, it stung a little bit when heard the news she had remarried.

Caitlyn scoffed and rolled her eyes. ‘Seems as though I’m not meant to be married, Jack…It didn’t last. We separated six months ago,’ she said.

‘I’m sorry to hear, Lynnie,’ Jack said. He lied.

‘No it’s all good. I live on my own now, well, with Dan when he is around, but mostly on my own and I’m loving it,’ she said.

'Good for you,’ Jack said.

The friendly small talk had all but run its race. Awkward silent pauses started to dominate their chance encounter.

They both exchanged the standard, ‘you’re looking well’ compliments to each other. Then came the ‘it was great to see you again’ comments.

Following a kiss on the cheek and a brief embrace, they parted ways. Caitlyn moved deeper into Chinatown and the Detectives opted to return to the office.

‘Here you go big fella…get this into ya.’ Spence shoved the hot dog under Jack’s nose.

‘Thanks buddy.’ Jack took a large bite. ‘Argh…ordinary dog,’ he moaned.

Jack felt more refreshed from the exposure to the fresh air as he strolled chomping down on his hot dog. But if he was true to himself, the true reason he felt better was because he bumped in to Caitlyn. It was so good to see her again.


After arriving back in his office Jack noticed the afternoon mail delivery had been left on his desk. He approached his desk and spread the envelopes, knocking the pile of letters apart so he could see who they were from before deciding if he could be bothered to open any of them just yet.

An envelope with the familiar FBI logo with “PRIVATE and CONFIDENTIAL” emblazoned across it in red ink caught his eye. He nudged the less interesting envelopes out of the way to dig through the pile and lift that envelope.

Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, Critical Incident Response Group, he read.

‘Looks like the profile from the Feds,’ Jack yelled to Spence, who stood at his desk outside Jack’s office.

Jack moved around to his side of the desk and slid into his chair. He removed his reading glasses from his shirt pocket, slipped them on and ripped into the envelope. Jack swiveled his chair to the side so he could cross his legs in readiness to read the FBI’s reply.

Spence strolled into Jack’s office and slumped down in the visitor’s chair at Jack’s desk.

Spence watched on as Jack read the letter to himself.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) has examined all available information in regard to your matters. This included, CCTV footage, photographs of the crime scenes, autopsy reports, victims’ profiles, police reports, and witness statements.

The resultant Psychological Profile and Behavioral Analysis has been provided and is not for publication or circulation to anyone outside your department.

Apart from the CCTV footage provided there has been no evidence provided to the FBI that would assist in determining the physical description of this unknown subject (“UNSUB”).

The CCTV footage provided depicts a driver of the subject vehicle however there is no evidence provided at this time to suggest the driver of the vehicle is the unsub. The CCTV footage provided however suggests the driver of the vehicle is;

Adult male;

Caucasian;

Mid to late twenties;

The Unsub’s Psychological and Behavioral Profile

Based on the case file information this Unsub has been classified as an “Organised Murderer”. Organised murderers have advanced social skills, plan their crimes, display control over their victim using their social skills, leave little forensic evidence or clues, and often engage in sexual acts with the victim before the murder.

It is entirely possible that the Unsub led a relatively normal childhood but his relationship with his parents may have been strained. The emotional relationship with his mother, or his father may have been under-developed for some reason, or one parent was distant, or uncaring.

The strength required to snap the C2 and C3 cerebral Vertebrae suggests the Unsub is a male of considerable size and power. Possibly has some form of training in unarmed subjugation.

Victims are all young-adult Caucasian female street prostitutes. This suggests the killer is most probably Caucasian and his choice of victim suggests he was NOT subjected to any form of abuse as a child.

The killings do not appear to be motivated by uncontrollable urges or desires. He kills his victims quickly which suggests a feeling of remorse towards them.

Although he is murdering prostitutes the killings do not appear to be targeted hate crimes against prostitutes. There is no evidence he participates in sexual intercourse with his victims; possibly hires them for oral sex as a lure before killing them. The lack of extreme violence suggests the murders are not because of the killer’s feelings of inadequacy or impotency.

He does not despise them for their lifestyle – he shows some care in the way he lays out their bodies, which are intentionally not well hidden. He wants them to be discovered.

He has no interest in his victims; they are chosen at random because he views them as easy targets. Street prostitution is illegal therefore there is a reluctance among prostitutes to voluntarily speak to law enforcement, and it is not unusual for them to get into stranger’s vehicles.

The crimes are well planned. He has meticulous attention to detail. He acts alone because he needs to control his environment.

He is not concerned that his crimes follow a particular pattern.

He is of superior intelligence and well educated. He will be a University graduate.

He is a strong controlling personality with extreme self-confidence, possibly a superiority complex, or even narcissism, and has advanced social skills.

Has a thorough knowledge of crime scene forensics and law enforcement.

He has a disregard for the law. Possibly has committed other crimes previously and never been held to account.

He is careful not to leave incriminating evidence at his crime scenes, but he leaves a clue for the police as to where he will dump the victim’s body.

He is clearly confident the cipher he has employed in his letters is solid enough to stave off decryption, but he will have a contingency plan in case the letters are deciphered.

The time between killings is reducing.

He is growing in confidence with every attack. This may cause him to make mistakes.

This unsub will continue to offend until he is caught.

Modus Operandi and Signature

Signature

Prior to the perpetration of the murder, coded letters are sent to police with hidden clues that another death is pending; the method he will use to kill his victim and where the body will be dumped.

All his victims have been killed instantly by snapping their C2 and/or C3 Cerebral Vertebrae.

The absence of bruising or physical injury suggest the victims were not forcibly abducted.

Toxicology reports indicate the victims were not drugged.

The lack of defensive wounds on the victims suggest a surprise attack.


Modus Operandi

His MO is to steal luxury motor vehicles from a hotel car park, possibly assisted in some way by a hotel employee, and he uses the vehicle to pick up a street prostitute and take her to a remote location and kill her. The vehicle is then used to transport the body to the dumping site before the vehicle is cleaned internally and returned to the hotel before the owner knows it was gone.

All victims have been picked up from around the same general area in Lower Manhattan, and with exception of one, the bodies were dumped in relative close proximity to where they were picked up. This could suggest the Unsub is committing crimes within the comfort zone of an area within which he resides or works.

FBI records have not matched this MO to any known offender or suspect.

Disclaimer:

Psychological and Behavioral profiling is not an exact science and should only be used to assist in identifying possible suspects. The above psychological and Behavioral profile provided has been based on the limited information made available to the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit. The discovery of further evidence or information when considered in its entirety may alter the outcome of this offender’s profile.

‘Any good…?’ Spence asked when Jack lowered the letter.

Jack gently lobbed the letter towards Spence. ‘Given the small amount of information we gave the Feds, it goes into a bit of detail…’ Jack began, ‘but, it didn’t really contain anything we hadn’t already considered.’

Spence lifted the letter and read it through. When he had finished he returned the letter to Jack. ‘Doesn’t help much at all, does it…? Nothing new,’ Spence said. Like Jack, his expectations appeared to be also slightly deflated.

Jack copied the FBI letter in preparedness for distribution to his team members at the daily morning muster tomorrow.

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