Friday night was the culmination of a long, busy and tiring working week for Matt and Alicia. She had planned to watch a movie together, but Matt was still not home from work.
Alicia frowned at the clock. She lifted her phone to call Matt, when she heard his keys rattling as he entered from the down stairs garage.
She moved to meet him in the kitchen. ‘Hi…’ she said questioningly. She lifted up her phone to Matt. ‘I was just going to call you… I was getting a little worried.’
Matt kissed her on the cheek. ‘Sorry about that…I should’ve called. I was having few quiet ones with the boys after work…you know…Friday night drinks,’ Matt said.
‘That’s OK…’ Alicia said. ‘I just didn’t know where you were…’ she said. ‘Have you eaten?’
‘Yeah…I grabbed something while I was out.’
They made their way into the lounge.
‘I was hoping we could download a latest movie and watch it together,’ Alicia said.
‘OK…Sure that’ll be great,’ Matt said. ‘You choose the movie and I’ll get the drinks.’
‘Already have…’ Alicia smiled at him. ‘I have been waiting a while…’
‘OK…I’ll be quick.’ Matt disappeared into the kitchen.
While relaxing on the sofa they watched their movie choice on their 165 inch home theater screen. Matt rested his feet on the coffee table in front of them. His right arm was around Alicia’s shoulder while she reclined with her head snuggled comfortably into his muscular chest. Her feet were tucked up onto the sofa beside her.
Despite their movie of choice being entertaining and action packed, Alicia still managed to doze off half way through the movie, even though it starred Justin Timberlake, one of her favorite ‘eye candy’ actors.
Matt had just taken a sip from his Corona when his mobile phone vibrated in his pocket. He looked at the sleeping Alicia who pinned his right arm. He only had one free arm available. He placed his beer on the small table then retrieved his phone.
‘Hello,’ he answered in a low voice.
The voice of Lewinsky, his Unit Chief responded. “Hi Matt. Sorry to bother you at home on a Friday night but… a 10th victim has just been found in La Jolla and your assistance is needed at the crime scene.”
‘What can I do…? I’m not part of the task force.’
“No, I’m aware of that. But the Task Force is two men down. One of the SDPD boys is in hospital with his young daughter who fell and broke her arm… and our guy, Taylor is in bed with a flu virus. You said you were on the bench with this one… so…you’re being subbed in.’
‘Isn’t there anyone else...I’ve had a few beers watching a movie.’
It was probably the tone of Matt’s voice, but he woke Alicia. She lifted her head and looked at him talking on his phone. ‘Who’s that?’ she mouthed.
With his right arm now free he raised his finger to her.
Lew continued. “No, you’re it. So I suggest you grab a coffee and get your ass over to the crime scene and assist wherever you can. I’ll text you the address. It’s not that far from your place anyway.”
Yeah and that makes a difference, he thought as he ended the call.
Alicia sat upright. ‘What’s going on?’
‘You know that serial killer case that’s got everyone panicking…?’
She picked up her drink from the coffee table. ‘Uh huh,’ she said before taking a sip.
‘They’ve just discovered another victim - number ten,’ he said.
‘Oh my god Matt. This is getting ridiculous. Do they have any idea who is doing this?’
‘Honestly…’ he said pausing. ‘I don’t think they have a clue. They have suspects but…’ his voice trailed off.
‘Where do you have to go?’
‘Just down to La Jolla.’ He jabbed his thumb over his shoulder.
‘That’s way too close for comfort,’ Alicia said.
Matt rose to his feet and stretched. He looked at Alicia. She had tucked her feet up under butt. He jabbed his thumb at the screen. ‘You missed your boyfriend…Justin Timberlake.’
Alicia smiled and shrugged her uncaring shoulders.
He kissed her on the cheek. ‘I’ll just grab some things and head out.’
‘Be careful,’ she said as she watched him leave the lounge. ‘I’ll try and wait up for you.’
‘Thanks. But I wouldn’t bother. I don’t expect I’ll be home before daylight Hun,’ he said back over his shoulder.
Matt ran up the stairs - two at a time. Once in his bedroom he made his way to their walk-in closet, to the location where Jason’s fingerprint lift was secreted. This time he was not going to leave it at home.
By the time Matt arrived in the usually quiet neighborhood of victim number ten, the street was anything but quiet. Black and whites provided a road block at each end of the street. Perimeter tape had been established by the first responder police. News reporters and Media trucks were on scene commanding optimum positioning just outside the perimeter tapes. News reporters were filing their stories, or reporting during live crosses to the scene.
Matt was unable to park his vehicle anywhere close to the victim’s house. The first available car park he could find was in a side street about 200 yards from the victim’s house.
After parking his car he made his way to the address. It seemed like a street party was in progress. There was an unusual atmosphere in the air. Curious onlookers walked in all directions along the roads and footpaths, all trying to get a glimpse of what was happening.
There was no doubt about it, the general public were fascinated by a serial killer story and the media simply fed the public’s curiosity, often with inaccurate information or wild assumptions.
Matt held up his FBI badge to the police officer on crowd control duty at the perimeter tape. The officer nodded a silent greeting then lifted the tape for Matt to pass under. Matt slipped his ID into the front of his jeans as he walked.
He stopped after arriving at the front gate of number 3045 - the victim’s address. He stood looking into the property. The double fronted green weatherboard home appeared to be constructed circa 1980s. The lone mezzanine floor window high in the front wall reminded him of the one-eyed Cyclops. It also explained the distinctive high pitch roof that dwarfed its neighboring properties.
The external light from the front door projected shadows across the darkened front yard. The front door was open and the interior lights were on. He could see into the house, right through to the kitchen.
Prior to entering through the front gate Matt removed a pair of shoe covers from the box left at the gate by Crime Scene Officers and slipped them on. He snapped on his latex gloves during his stroll down the front path to the house.
As he crossed the entrance threshold Matt’s noticed the inward leaning splintered timber protruding from the front door jam and architrave. He stopped to examine the lock housing. It was evident the door had been forced in, probably kicked. He frowned at the discovery.
He continued into the house. Tom Carter was the first person he recognized. Carter squatted in the lounge beside the ME. Both men were looking down at the naked, lifeless body of the victim.
Carter stood up and approached Matt when he saw him enter the house. He extended his right hand to Matt. ‘Thanks for coming down Agent. We’re going to need all the help we can get.’
Matt shook Carter’s hand.
‘I hear you’re down a couple from your task force,’ Matt said.
’Correct. We’re two down...One of ours and one of yours.’
‘What’s with the damage to the door…?’ Matt jabbed his thumb back towards the front door. ‘Forced entry isn’t our perp’s MO.’
Tom placed his left hand on Matt’s back to gently encourage him to move towards the body. Matt responded by walking with Tom.
‘Ah, that’s from the victim’s father. He’s the one who discovered her. He thought he could see her legs on the floor in the lounge so, as any Dad would do…he kicked in the front door.’
Matt nodded his understanding. ‘So what do we know?’ Matt asked as they made their way to the lounge.
‘From what we can tell at this early stage - same victimology. Twenty-six year old Caucasian female. Lived on her own. No defensive wounds. Same duct tape used. Probably been dead for about two or three days before discovery. Her father said she had just ended a long relationship with her boyfriend, so we’ll look into that further.’
Matt briefly glanced down at the body, showing little interest. He had seen it all before. He scanned the room to examine what the Crime Scene Officers were doing.
He approached the CSO squatting in the kitchen methodically dusting cupboards and bench tops for prints.
‘Have you checked the perimeter yet for signs of forced entry or prints?’
The Crime Scene officer didn’t remove his eyes from applying the fingerprint dust. ‘Haven’t had a chance yet.’
‘OK,’ Matt said. ‘I’ll go and check the external doors as well as the windows.’
‘Knock yourself out,’ The CSO said.
Things couldn’t have worked out better. He needed privacy if he was to ‘locate’ the suspect fingerprint at the scene. This could be just the evidence he needed to link Jason to all these murders.
Let’s see him try and explain his way out of this one.
‘Do any of you guys have a torch?’ Matt said to the CSOs in the lounge and kitchen area. The CSO working the lounge reached into the kit beside himself, removed his torch and lobbed it to Matt.
Matt followed the torch beam down the dark hall towards the back of the house. He checked all the bedroom windows before making his way to the rear door. He had to unlock the sliding patio door to move out into the back yard. All the windows at the back of the house were also locked.
Once outside he checked the ground for footprints before making his way around to the side of the house. He again checked the ground for footprints before checking all windows. He knew they were all locked and to be honest, he didn’t really care. His focus was on trying to locate the most suitable window to plant Jason’s print.
Once he had perpetrated the charade of circumventing the entire house checking the windows and doors and ground for prints, he returned to the back door and closely examined the sliding glass panel of the patio door.
Would this be too obvious? He was concerned that a latent print being discovered on the rear sliding patio door could be questioned.
Feeling uneasy about his first choice, he decided to move around to the west side of the house, to one of the side bedroom windows.
After arriving at the first window, closest to the backyard, he shone the torch light onto the window and examined the glass around the locking mechanism.
He lowered the torch and checked his left and right to ensure all was clear. He removed the fingerprint lifting sheet that contained Jason’s print from his pocket. Before applying it to the window he gave a final check over his shoulders, to ensure there were no nosy neighbors peeping over the fence.
Matt separated the transparent film containing the print from the backing sheet and carefully placed the film onto the window, in the vicinity of the lock. He rubbed his hand over the back of the film, hoping to transfer enough of the print to the window.
He carefully peeled back the film and shone his torch light onto the window. He exhaled onto the glass. The fingerprint imprint was visible in the brief moment his heated breath caused the glass to fog. The transfer appeared to be a success. Now for the discovery.
The absence of fingerprints at any of the nine crime scenes to date would certainly raise the question why this crime scene was any different. Investigators would presume the perp wore gloves at his scenes, so why was the perp suddenly so careless on this occasion? Where were his gloves?
All valid questions that he would definitely ask if it was his crime scene, but regardless, in a case where you have ten victims stacked up, you take any break you can. And that was what he pinned his hopes on; Investigator desperation – the need to catch a break in a high profile case.