The Coastal Killings

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Chapter 30

Frank’s voice blurted over the radio, laboring as he transmitted. ‘He’s just…gone…over the back…fence…and is running…through…the rear property...’

Tom accelerated the vehicle along Stanley before turning left into Olympia Crescent. Accelerating rapidly, he quickly turned left again into Norfolk Avenue, where he planted his foot. The vehicle’s engine roared.

Tom saw Frank emerge from the driveway up ahead on his left. Frank pointed north in Norfolk and waved Tom on. Tom acknowledged as he sped by Frank in pursuit of the fleeing offender.

‘He went right up ahead,’ Frank’s voice crackled over the radio as Tom sped by.

He’s gone back into Henderson, Tom thought as he put the vehicle into a side drift turning right into Henderson under speed. He saw the male on the left about 100 yards ahead. He was still sprinting.

Tom floored the pedal. The vehicle’s engine roared as it accelerated through the usually quiet suburban neighborhood, quickly closing in on his quarry.

He saw the male turn right into Douglas Parade and run north. Without slowing Tom wrenched the steering wheel right and turned into Douglas at high speed. The tail end of his vehicle drifted sideways. The vehicle’s tires squealed as they bit into the road surface.

As he turned the corner he saw the male cross Douglas from left to right about forty yards ahead of him and quickly disappear into a house on his right. Tom accelerated to the house, driving his vehicle at speed up the drive on an angle before skidding to an abrupt stop. His vehicle’s high beam illuminated the entire front of the property.

Tom quickly surveyed the scene. He noticed the six foot high white picket fence gate at the side of the house was open.

‘Homicide Two – Dispatch. Offender ran into number 1184 Douglas Parade. I’m out of the vehicle on foot giving chase.’

‘Copy that Homicide Two.’

When Tom exited the car he could hear a large dog barking. It was definitely unhappy with something or someone. The barking sounded like it was coming from the rear yard of number 1184. Tom made his way to the open side gate.

With his pistol drawn, Tom pushed the gate all the way open, until it hit the fence. He directed his torch light ahead of himself.

The side yard was lawn covered and about three yards wide. Thick tree growth, three to four yards high along the neighboring side fence was to his left, while the house was down his right. There was only one window – which was closed and no doors.

He shone his torch towards the back yard where he saw the source of the deep barking. One of the largest Rottweiler dogs he had ever seen stood in the back yard barking aggressively at him from behind a chain link fence that separated the back yard from the side yard.

There is no way he went into that back yard. Tom panned the torch light around the side yard area. High picket fence to the front – man eating dog to the rear and three yard high trees to the left. It was unlikely he went over that side fence with the foliage from those trees in the way.

Tom moved back to the gate and closed it. He knew the runner had to be somewhere in this side yard. The distinct “click-click” resonated when Tom chambered a round.

Moving slowly through the side yard area, crouching slightly as he walked, Tom shone his torch along the fence line under the thick shrubs. The ferocious dog continued to bark its disapproval at the unwelcome visitors.

Two-thirds of the way down the side yard he located his suspect lying face down under a low-hanging bush. The suspect’s head faced away from Tom and he couldn’t see the suspect’s hands, or if he was armed.

The Detective moved the torch light away as he carefully approached the male, to avoid alerting the suspect he had been discovered.

Once he was in place, his torch hand supported his pistol hand as he pointed both in the direction of the prostrate suspect.

‘Police. Show me your hands,’ he ordered, poised to anticipate any sudden movement. ‘I have a gun trained on your head….Do-Not-Do-Anything-Stupid,’ Tom ordered.’

The male slowly lifted his hands out to the side. ‘What the fuck’s going on…I haven’t done anything, man.’

‘Put-your-hands-behind-your-back,’ Tom ordered. ‘Now.’

The male complied by slowly moving his hands behind his back. Tom approached the male and firmly dropped his knee into the back of the prostrate male. The man responded with a disapproving grunt.

Tom removed his hand cuffs and slapped them onto the male’s wrist.

Once the cuffs were secured he patted down the male for any weapons. There were none. He stepped back from the male and shone his bright torch spot light at him.

‘Get up,’ Tom ordered.

The male rolled out from under the bush and clambered to his feet. The man was certainly tall. He had about five inches on the six-foot six inch Tom.

Tom sharply ripped the hoodie off the man’s head. The wide eyes of an African American male stared back at him.

‘What the fuck have I done man? Why da fuck are these things on me?’ the crook asked, trying to move his cuffed hands out from behind his back.

‘You were seen leaving the house of a young female earlier tonight…I hope for your sake she’s still alive,’ Tom said.

‘Why wouldn’t she be?’

Tom ignored the question as he patted down the man’s pockets. He located a wallet and removed a driver’s license.

He held it up to his torch light. ‘Dejon Marquis James,’ he read. ‘March 25 1987. 1428 Underwood Close Pacific Beach,’ Tom read. ‘You’re a long way from home Dejon. Where’s your vehicle?’

‘I don’t own one.’

‘So how are you getting home to…’ Tom re-read the licence. ‘Underwood Close Pacific Beach?’

‘I’m walkin’ man. It’s only about 3½ miles. Takes me ‘bout thirty-five to forty minutes.’

Tom took hold of his prisoner’s bicep and led him out the side gate to the front yard.

’What were you doing at that house earlier tonight? Tom asked.

‘Visitin’ my girl.’

‘Really? What’s your girl’s name?’ he cynically asked as they walked.

‘Jackie…Jackie West,’ he replied. ‘Look man, what the fuck’s goin’ on? I ain’t done nuttin’.’

An out of breath Frank trotted up as Tom returned to the vehicle with the suspect male. Still struggling to get his breath from his unexpected late night obstacle course, Frank lifted his portable radio.

‘Homicide Two – Dispatch, We have one male suspect in custody.’

Tom smiled at Frank’s reference to “we”.

‘Copy that Homicide Two.’

‘Where does Jackie live?’ Tom asked the male.

’I don’t know ‘er address man. I mean, I know how to get there…but I don’t know da street or da house number. We only just started seein’ each other. You know what I’m sayin?’

Why’d you run?’ Tom asked.

’Shit man…If I’d known you was five-oh I wouldn’t have run. I thought you was someone else,’ the suspect said.

‘Like who? Who did you think we were?’

‘I didn’t know...that’s why I ran. Look man…when there’s a car driving slowly down a street ya don’t wait to see who’s drivin’ it, you know what I’m saying?’

‘No I don’t. What are you saying? Is there someone after you?’

‘Let’s just say I owe some money, OK and leave it at dat.’

Tom placed the male into the rear of the police vehicle and drove to 1146 Cloverdale Drive.

After arriving at this address he had a conversation with a female who identified herself as Jackie West. She confirmed her boyfriend was a Dejon James and he had been with her earlier in the night. She said that when he left she had a shower and didn’t hear the front door bell.

Tom escorted Jackie to the police vehicle where she identified the male in custody in the rear seat as her boyfriend, Dejon.

Satisfied their man was a case of mistaken identity, Frank assisted Dejon from the rear of the vehicle and removed the hand cuffs.

‘How tall are you son?’ Frank asked as he removed the last cuff.

Dejon rubbed his wrists. ‘Six-eleven,’ he said dwarfing the much shorter Frank.

Frank shook his head. ‘Wow. You play basketball?’

Dejon rolled his eyes. ‘What is it wit you white folk...’ Dejon said. ‘You see a tall brother and you instantly assume he must play basketball….Shit.’ He shook his head.

Tom smiled at Frank’s generalized stereotype. ‘Ah, you’re free to go Dejon,’ Tom said. ‘A word of advice though son…Next time don’t run OK?’

Dejon nodded once to Tom, albeit with apparent indifference as he placed his arm around his much shorter girlfriend’s shoulder and they made their way back inside her home.

It took until the discovery of the sixth murder victim 2½ weeks after Harper Bourke’s body was found before the Lieutenant decided his Homicide team required assistance if they were to catch the Coastal Killer.

Lieutenant Bob Winter summonsed the FBI’s Unit Chief – Doug ’Lewinsky’ Baker to the SDPD for a meeting to discuss their options.

Lieutenant Winter escorted Lewinsky from his office to the operations room for an update on the murders to date. Upon entering the room the smiling eyes of the six victims appeared to meet their gaze from the ten by eight photographs attached to the centrally located white board.

Lewinsky and Winter examined each photograph, including the graphic crime scene photo positioned directly below each smiling face.

‘We’ve got six victims, all young white females, all members of a gym in Bay Park,’ Winter said. ‘This last one,’ he gestured to victim six, ‘…Linley Vautier, twenty-two, killed in her own home in Linda Vista while her parents were out for the night taking in dinner and a movie, which ironically, was given to them as a present by their now deceased daughter.’

Shaking his head he continued, ‘The perp killed her while they were out enjoying her gift,’ he said in disgust. ‘We gotta catch this guy, and I mean fast. We gotta stop these wanton killings.’

‘Do we have any sort of profile at all on the perp?’ Lewinsky asked.

Winter’s mouth straightened and he shook his head. ‘No. Nothing is known about him.’

Both men conceded that the most suitable option was to combine resources and form a task force comprising two men from SDPD and two from the FBI San Diego Field office.

‘You can use Matt Duncan and Danny Taylor. They will be available to dedicate all their time and energy working with SDPD to catch this killer,’ Lew said.

‘I’ll keep Tom Carter and Frank Williams assigned to the case. After all they are across it more than most,’ Winter said.

It was mutually agreed that SDPD Homicide would retain the responsibility as lead agency and Tom Carter would assume the primary lead investigative role of the task force. The administrative staff for the Task Force would be supplied by SDPD.

‘Maybe one of the first things the task force should do is work at establishing a profile of who it is we are looking for,’ Lewinsky suggested. ‘If they wanted to, they could even seek assistance from the Behavioral Analysis Unit-Two from Quantico. They have significant expertise in the area of serial murders.’

‘Good idea…’ Winter said.

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