Jack glanced at his watch: It was 3am. He rubbed his forehead. Nothing had been reported from any of the units, not even the Waldorf crew. If his suspicions were correct, the luxury vehicle should have been picked up from the Waldorf by now.
‘What was the time the Merc was taken from the Waldorf in the other murders…? It was about two wasn’t it?’ Jack asked.
Spence thought for a moment. ‘Um… yeah it was. The Valet camera was moved just before two…and the car was driven out right on 2am,’ he recalled.
Jack lifted his watch to Spence. ‘He should’ve taken a car by now...It’s after 3am.’
Spence nodded. ‘Unless he is breaking from his previous MO,’ Spence said. ‘What if that fat prick from the Waldorf…what was his name…Wylie?’ Spence said.
‘Yep, Wylie…Brenton Wylie,’ Jack said.
‘Yeah, Wylie…What if he told the perp we had been looking at the garage footage so the perp changed his MO…You know…Different hotel…or different time?’
‘He won’t change hotels,’ Jack said. He was confident. ‘Unless he has another Valet in his hip pocket, but he could change his time…’ Jack rubbed a thoughtful hand across his chin stubble. ‘The only trouble about changing his time to later is, he has less time to clean up everything under the veil of darkness, you know…before the dawn starts to break,’ Jack said.
‘What about earlier then?’
‘Yeah earlier could work, but we’ve got the Waldorf Crew…Who are they?’ Jack asked rhetorically as he looked through his list of resources. He ran his finger down the page, stopping near the bottom. ‘Fourteen… We’ve got Unit fourteen watching the garage and they’ve been quiet all night.’
Jack drummed his fingers. He was uneasy about how things were, or were not progressing. He instructed Spence to drive over and pay a visit to Unit fourteen.
After a drive of around ten minutes they pulled up behind Unit fourteen’s vehicle parked in East 50th Street. Both Detectives from Unit fourteen were still seated in the vehicle.
Jack and Spence alighted from their vehicle and climbed into the back seat of Unit fourteen’s car.
‘Anyone left the garage since midnight?’ Jack asked.
Phil, the older of the two Detectives responded. ‘Nope, nothing. It’s been a long and boring night so far.’
‘So not one car has left the garage since midnight?’ Jack clarified.
‘No. I just told you…not one car,’ Phil repeated with a glance back over his shoulder at Jack.
‘What about the Valet, Phil?’ Phil’s partner said.
Jack and Spence exchanged a glance. ‘What about the Valet?’ Jack asked.
'Oh yeah… Phil began. ‘I forgot. A car came out about 12.20 or so and we jumped on it… but it was only the Valet guy taking a car around to the main entrance on Park Avenue for a guest, so we didn’t worry about it.’
‘Are you kidding me?’ Jack blurted, barely containing his anger. 'I fucking made it clear to you…any car leaving the garage was to be stopped and reported to me.’
‘But it was just the Valet…we didn’t think-’
‘That’s fucking right…you didn’t think… I told you at the briefing that we believed the Valet may be assisting the perp get cars…Fuck Me.’ Jack flung the car door open, pushing it out with his foot. He was about alight but paused before doing so. ‘Was the Valet driving the car a fat fuck…?’ Jack asked before exiting.
‘Yeah… he was actually.’ Phil was sheepish in his response. He flicked a hand at his colleague. ‘We got his details though…what was his name?’ He asked his colleague seated beside him.
‘Ah…’ The other Detective checked his notes. ‘Brenton Wylie. Twenty-eight years. Says he’s the Valet Supervisor.’
‘I fucking know who he is…What type of car was it?’
The younger Detective returned to his note book and read out, ‘Um…a black Audi A6…Jersey Plates. We ran the rego and it was registered to the same name the Valet said was staying at the hotel.’ The Detective ripped the page from his notes and handed it back to Jack.
Jack snatched the page from the Detective and alighted from the car. He punctuated his frustration by slamming the door forcefully.
Jack and Spence quickly made their way across the road to the Waldorf Security office to review the footage from the fixed camera over the Valet key cupboard from midnight.
The officer shuffled through the footage at an accelerated speed with Jack and Spence hovering over him.
Jack pointed to the monitor. ‘Stop… There,’ Jack ordered. The camera vision had suddenly moved towards the ceiling. ‘What time is that…?’ he asked as his focus shifted to the date and time stamp at the bottom of the footage. ‘OK…The camera was moved at 12.15am.’ Jack looked at Spence. ‘You were right…He took it out earlier… and it looks like that prick took it to him.’
Consistent with the other vehicles, this vehicle was also parked in a camera black spot, so there was no footage of anyone approaching the vehicle in the garage.
A review of the garage exit camera however detected a black Audi A6 exiting the garage onto East 50th Street at 12.23am. Although the camera was a distance from the exit, it was unmistakable; the corpulent Wylie was at the wheel. Jack requested, and received copies of the reviewed footage.
From the Security office Jack and Spence made their way around to the Valet station in E50th Street. Jack was furious. His strides were determined and long, so much so, Spence struggled to keep pace with him.
Wylie stood near the hotel entrance when Jack and Spence arrived at the Valet station about three minutes later. Wylie noticed the two men approaching and he smiled at them in a manner typical of a hospitality greeting offered to hotel guests.
The smile on Wylie’s face instantly changed to a look of trepidation when he identified that the person striding directly towards him with a frightening look on his face was Lieutenant Head.
Wylie’s mouth shortened to a thin straight line. His eyebrows raised and he instinctively took a short step backwards as Jack neared.
Without breaking stride Jack walked straight into Wylie and forcefully rammed his two palms into Wylie’s flabby chest, causing Wylie to reel backwards two steps.
‘You fucking piece of shit,’ Jack blurted. He started to move on Wylie again but Spence interjected.
‘Jack...’ Spence motioned with his head towards the inside foyer of the hotel.
Jack noticed he was in full view of other hotel staff. He grabbed a generous hand full of Wylie’s jacket lapel and physically dragged Wylie over to the more private Valet inlet, where the key cupboard was located. This area had three solid walls and was away from view of the front entrance.
Jack aggressively threw Wylie against the wall. He grabbed him again, this time with two hands.
‘You took the car to the killer you fucking prick,’ Jack blurted through gritted teeth. He punctuated his comment with a short sharp jab up under Wylie’s chin. Jack’s frightening eyes were enlarged in pure rage.
‘I didn’t…I took the car to a guest…I swear,’ Wylie pleaded. His eyes too were enlarged, but with pure fear.
‘Bullshit…’ Jack pulled Wylie forward then slammed him back into the wall. ‘Who is the guest?’
‘Um…ah…’ Wylie stammered. It was uncertain if he was too intimidated to remember, or he couldn’t make up a name quick enough under the extreme pressure Jack applied.
‘I said who is the fucking guest?’ Jack repeated the action of dragging Wylie out from the wall and instantly slamming him forcefully back into it again.
Wylie winced in pain. His eyes closed and his face distorted from the forceful impact against the wall.
Jack heard a command coming from behind him, towards the curb.
‘Let him go this instance,’ a voice blurted.
One of Wylie’s colleagues had observed the physicality being metered out on Wylie and went to alert the Hotel night Duty Manager, who had attended to investigate. Without releasing his grip on Wylie, Jack glanced over his shoulder at the puny, emaciated looking excuse for a man standing behind him.
Jack shook his head at what he saw. ‘We’re the police. Fuck off…’ he ordered before returning his attention to Wylie.
‘Charming…’ the Manager said. His arms were folded defiantly across his body.
With Wylie still pinned against the wall Jack repeated his comment. ‘I said FUCK-OFF...’
The Manger opened his mouth to speak but paused before closing it again without saying anything, probably erring on the side of caution.
Spence made his way towards the Manager. He removed his badge and held it out for the Manager’s inspection. ‘We’re from New York Homicide. We are investigating a series of murders, and this man…’ he motioned towards Wylie, ‘is under arrest. He is being questioned before we take him down town.’
‘Under arrest…?’ the Manager questioned, his voice rising with an upward inflection. ‘For what…?’
Spence gently grabbed the Manager’s stick-like arm. ‘You don’t need to concern yourself with that right now.’ Spence gently guided the man towards the hotel entrance. The Manager tried to resist but Spence reinforced, ‘You only have to be aware that he will not be coming back to work tonight,’ he said as he continued to steer the Manager away from the scene.
While Spence dealt with the Manager, Jack returned his attention back to Wylie. ‘I said who is the fucking guest…?’ Jack said. ‘I’m not fucking around here.’
‘Mr Dawkins...’ Wylie blurted. ‘He’s staying in room 2212.’
With one last aggressive push against Wylie’s chest Jack released his grip and pointed to the key cupboard. ‘Open it,’ he ordered.
Wylie straightened himself up from against the wall and slowly moved over to the key cupboard. His jacket lapels were still frozen in their uplifted twisted distortion from Jack’s firm grip.
Once he had the cupboard open Wylie stood to the side. His wide eyes stared at Jack.
‘Show me where Dawkin’s car keys are?’ Jack was not a man to be messed with.
Wylie frowned. ‘They’re…not there,’ he said. ‘I told you…he took his car out this morning.’
‘What room was he in - 2212 was it?’
Jack raised his huge fist to Wylie. ‘If I go up to room 2212, knock on the door and Mr Dawkins is in his room…I’m coming back down here and I’m going to fuckin’ knock you out,’ Jack said. ‘Do you understand?’
‘Yes.’ Wylie gulped.
When Spence returned, Jack instructed Spence to wait with Wylie while he began to make his way to room 2212. He had only walked about ten yards before Wylie called out.
‘Wait,’ Wylie said. Jack stopped and glared at Wylie.
‘Don’t wake him…’ he said slowly shaking his head. ‘He didn’t leave.’ Wylie’s head dropped. Jack had called his bluff. ‘I took the car around to someone else…Dawkins doesn’t know it’s gone.’ Wylie kept his head lowered.
Jack marched back to Wylie. Without speaking he delivered a leg-weakening forceful open hand slap to Wylie’s face. A loud crack ricocheted off the walls of the small Valet inlet.
Wylie slumped to his left. His hand moved to his cheek.
Jack grabbed a handful of Wylie’s hair and forcefully jerked his head upwards. Jack gritted his teeth and cocked his fist at Wylie. Wylie held his hands out in front of himself. His terror filled eyes widened.
Spence reached over and gently grabbed Jack’s left elbow. ‘Not here Jobs,’ he said in a controlled but low voice aimed towards Jack’s left ear. Jack relaxed his arm and stepped off. His glare remained fixed on Wylie.
In a display of good cop-bad-cop, Spence stepped in towards Wylie while Jack moved back. ‘Right now…you are an accessory to three murders, possibly four if we don’t catch this killer tonight…I suggest you start talking, or you better get used to the thought of spending the rest of your life in Rikers.’
‘Murders…?’ Wylie’s wide eyed stare flicked from Spence to Jack. ‘I don’t know anything about any murders. The guy I gave the car to says he has these dates with hot women he picks up and he wants to impress them by driving a luxury car.’ Wylie’s tone pleaded with them to believe him.
Spence turned to Jack with a look that expressed he believed Wylie.
Jack moved towards Wylie. ’What’s in it for you? He asked.
‘He pays me $200 bucks per car. All he has to do is return them before morning,’ Wylie said. ‘I figure it isn’t hurting anyone. The car is just sitting in the garage.’
‘It’s car theft you idiot.’ Jack was aggressive in his response. ‘But what’s worse, you’re giving these cars to a murderer,’ Jack added. ‘What’s his name…? Who is the guy you give the cars to?’ Jack asked.
‘I don’t know his name… I swear.’ Wylie's eyes pleaded.
‘You swear...’ Jack raised the back of his hand to Wylie. Wylie cowered in fear. ‘Just like you swore you gave the car to Dawkins,’ Jack said then lowered his hand. He glared at Wylie.
‘How do you know this person?’ Spence said. Wylie’s arms remained raised between him and Jack while his focus shifted to Spence.
‘He sends me a text when he needs a car. I find one that is parked out of camera view and he picks it up,’ Wylie said.
'But you drove it to him tonight. Why was that?’ Spence asked.
Wylie’s head dropped. ‘Um… I told him you were here looking at video footage so he suggested that I take it to him in case there were cops around.’
Spence looked at Jack, but Jack didn’t return his gaze, instead, Jack held his disgusted glare on Wylie.
’If you don’t know who he is, how did you first meet him?’ Jack asked.
‘He came by a few nights in a row, all friendly and chatting. He seemed like a real nice guy. Then he asked me about a business proposition with the cars and I accepted. I only earn minimum wage.’
‘Your phone...’ Jack clicked his fingers at Wylie then held out his hand. ‘Give me your phone…’
Jack snatched Wylie’s phone and reviewed the call register. 'It says here you received a call from someone called “Bear” at 12.05am. Is that him?
‘Yes. I only know him as Bear. That’s what he introduced himself as. I assumed it was a nickname… Coz he’s as big as a bear,’ Wylie said.
Jack held the phone out to Spence. ‘We’ve got his phone number,’ Jack said.
Jack cuffed Wylie and marched him over to Unit Fourteen’s vehicle then placed him into the rear seat. He instructed Phil to arrange for a ‘Black and White’ to attend and take the suspect back to the station and put him in the interrogation room until Jack was able to return.
Following the latest discovery Jack broadcast a general message to all units. They were now looking for a black Audi A6 with Jersey plates, “BLKAUDI”. He also redirected all units away from the red light districts and instructed them to check the river foreshores and all parks in their assigned areas. He expected the perp would have his intended victim by this late stage. Time was running out.