Part 1: Chapter One
“Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living. It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish.”
September 23rd 2012
“Morgan! You need to get up! Body found at Rosel Park!” Yelled my partner Andre. My god! Doesn’t anyone sleep in this town? I thought as I rolled over to the edge of the bed and swung my legs over to place my feet firmly on the floor. I stood up and walked over to the bathroom, where I saw the most horrifying thing in my life. ME. My god! My hair was atrocious and the sleep in my eyes was disgusting. I turned the sink tap on and scrubbed my eyes clean. With my hands slightly wet, I pulled my hair back into a respectable ponytail. I had no need to apply any make-up, so I simply walked over to my wardrobe to find some (hopefully clean) work clothes. I opened the double doors and stared in, contemplating on what to wear. After a minute I decided to go with a pair of navy blue jeans, a pale pink blouse and a black leather jacket. I quickly changed into them and stuck on a pair of boots. I jogged to my bedside table, grabbed my badge, gun, cell phone and wallet and ran out to the car, where Andre was waiting for me.
“Took you long enough,” Andre complained as I slid into the passenger seat. “What were you doing? Getting a mani-pedi?” He grinned at his joke.
“You know I’m not into that stuff. Besides, I was only five minutes,” I replied also grinning.
With that, we left our suburban home to head out and do what we do best; analyse evidence, catch criminals and solve crimes. It sounds like an exciting life, trust me it is, but at times it can get out of hand. When those times come, that’s when it gets dangerous. Being a detective isn’t easy, it can be quite physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting. Especially when an innocent person is killed. Sometimes, seeing decomposing remains can be the most revolting thing you’ll ever witness. The skin literally just slides off the bone. Maggots and other insects fly around and eat the remains. Even though I’ve been a detective for eight years, I still struggle with the nausea. Though, working with my partner Andre makes it a lot easier. I assure you that there is nothing romantic between us. We just work together and live together. We make sure that if we ever go into a potentially dangerous situation that we’ve always got each other’s back. That’s what we’re trained to do. Keep each other safe and catch criminals.
We arrived fifteen minutes later at our crime scene. Rosel Park.
“Do you think he’s done it again?” I asked Andre as we exited the car.
“I don’t know, Morgan. Won’t know until we see the body.”
Then, with that we walked off in search of the crime scene. It’s Spring here; so all of the trees and grass were getting their colour back. Varieties of flowers were blooming everywhere you look. It’s a beautiful morning, with fog still hanging around your ankles. New born birds were chirping around us; their mothers flying over us and then darting towards the ground to catch a worm or two. I sucked in a deep breath of fresh air. It would have been so relaxing to jog through here, if it weren’t for the fact that there was a dead body around here somewhere. We finally reached the police tape barrier. Numerous police officers were wandering around taking statements from witnesses, and forensics specialists were examining nearly everything in sight. We flashed our badges to the police officer on guard and slipped under the tape.
“Bastoné. Atkins. Over here!” Frank shouted. Frank Mullins was the head of the forensics department. He was about 5’11, a little paunched, short hair with grey streaks and a grey moustache. Almost like a cowboy, without the outfit and gun. Instead he wore a light blue work shirt with a pair of black work pants and polished black boots covered in blue booties. We turned to see where he was waving us over. Before we had a chance to ask anything, Frank handed each of us booties too.
“Frank. What’s the situation?” Asked Andre, getting straight into work mode.
“Well our forensics department got called in at about six thirty this morning. They said a young woman had been found dead by a groundsman, Mr Redford, at Rosel Park. Once we got the news, we called you guys in. No doubt that this is the work of that sociopath you’re trying to catch,” he said with disgust.
“Do we know who the victim is?” I asked.
“Unfortunately, no. Not yet. But we will do everything we can to identify her as soon as possible. Her parents deserve to know what happened to their daughter,” Frank said kindly, more to me than Andre.
I left Frank and Andre talking, and wandered over to the body. She’d been dumped in an area away from the path surrounded by bushes; this was the killer’s pitiful attempt to conceal her from the view of people walking past. It didn’t work. One of Frank’s forensic techs was hovering around the body; collecting evidence.
“May I?” I asked, indicating that I wanted to look at the body.
“Sure. Just make sure that you’re wearing gloves if you’re going to touch the body,” he replied, handing me a pair of rubber gloves.
“Thanks.” I took the gloves and slipped them onto my small hands. The woman was Caucasian, with strawberry blonde hair and hauntingly beautiful pale blue eyes. She looked to be in her late 20’s. Cuts and abrasions covered her face and all up and down her arms and legs. There appeared to be some kind of residue around her wrists and ankles. Interesting. I carefully lifted her blood-soaked shirt to get a better look at her torso. She’d been stabbed maybe five or six times in the chest. They looked pretty deep too; probably the cause of death. I slowly placed the shirt back down. Her eyes were still wide open with terror. Who would do something like this? Why kill innocent women? It doesn’t make sense. The victim had the same physical characteristics as the other victims, just a different method for the cause of death. There’s no pattern. But that doesn’t matter. All these women died horrible, brutal deaths and we have no way of catching the murderer without any evidence.
I slowly rose to my feet, unable to break my gaze from her eyes staring off into the distance. Filled with a sense of purpose, I made a bee-line for André. Not paying any attention to my feet, they slipped out from under me. I’m sure I made some sort of funny and embarrassing sound as I landed squarely on my butt. A hand appeared in front of my face. Without looking at who it was, I gripped it tightly and was hoisted to my feet. I was brushing the grass off my butt when I heard Frank ask,
“Are you okay?”
André was standing just behind him, trying not to collapse with laughter.
“Ha ha,” I remarked towards André, shooting daggers at him with my eyes. This only made him laugh even. I turned towards Frank.
“Yes, I’m fine. My pride however may be a little dinted. Thank you.” He smiled one of his rare smiles. With Frank, it’s always serious and stern expressions, especially around his employees. It’s rare to see him happy or even relaxed. André eventually got a hold of himself after I stood there, hands on hips and an oh-just-shut-up look.
“Oh, I’m sorry. It’s just an unusual sight to see you trip on your own feet and fall flat on your butt.”
“For your information, I didn’t trip, I slipped.” He had to try so hard not to start laughing again. It didn’t work.
“So why exactly were you in such a rush?” he asked in-between laughs.
“I was going to ask how much longer we were going to be. I need to take another look at the other two case files.”
After having finally regained his composure for good, he nodded his head in agreement. As he turned to ask Frank a couple more questions, I pinched the keys from his pocket. Smiling, I held them up.
“My turn to drive.” Frank just laughed and walked away.
“Call me if you need anything,” he yelled over his shoulder.
We arrived at the station in no time, especially with me at the wheel. I could see André gripping the edge of seat in the corner of my eye basically the entire time. I’m sure there was one point where he actually closed his eyes. You’d think that he’d be used to my driving by now, then again, he rarely lets me drive if he’s also in the car. He learnt after the first day we met that to never let me drive him around again. He kind of vomited in the car…that was brand new. How was I supposed to know that he had a weak stomach? For a homicide detective, that’s sad.
The ride up the elevator was cramped and stuffy as various cops and detectives piled in. André and I were the last out, exiting on the fourth floor. Chief Strickland was expecting us, his door left wide open. The chat was brief, as it always was with him. He just wanted an update on the discovery of a new victim and how our investigation was going. André did most of the talking. I just stood in a corner and listened as the Chief focused and processed every word André said, asking questions when necessary. He then turned his attention towards me. His eyes locked with mine. His were nothing like André’s. His were ice and as hard as steel. They froze you in your place.
“Do you think you can catch this guy?” His voice was hard and serious, but also carried that hint of concern. His gaze made my stomach churn. It was difficult to find the right words, any words for that matter.
“Yes.” It was the only one I could think of and manage to muster up enough confidence to say. He dismissed us and we went back to our desks on the second floor.
I started looking through the endless piles of scattered paper for the case files of our two other victims. Maya Abbott and Mindy Andrews. Man, I really need to organise this desk. So far both those cases are unsolved. It’s not like we haven’t tried. Two weeks we’ve been at this, but the lack of evidence is making it difficult identifying the murderer. All we know so far is that all three victims were either strawberry blondes or red heads, were roughly the same height and weight, two were twenty nine years old and had the same initials for their first and last name. I fell like it’s either an emerging pattern or coincidence, but I don’t believe in coincidences. Nevertheless, it’s still very creepy that this guy is putting so much effort into choosing his victims. The only difference so far is how they died. The first victim was brutally beaten and died from cerebral haemorrhaging. The second victim died from excessive water in her lungs (drowned), but was also brutally beaten up until her death. My gut tells me that this latest victim is also connected. We need this guy to make a slip up, a mistake of some kind so we can identify him. But from what we do know, he’s too smart for that. Al these thoughts kept tumbling over and over again through my head. Day and night. Night and day. They just wouldn’t leave me alone. I would be sitting here like I am now, staring at all this information for over an hour and a half and still, nothing.
“What do you expect you’re going to find?” Andre said, essentially interrupting my train of thought. “We already know that those cases are connected.”
“I know. But why? Why these women? Why kill them in different manners? It just doesn’t make sense to me. Most serial killers have a pattern, but this guy doesn’t. Why? What are his motives for changing the method of kill? What are his motives for killing at all? It’s just that there are so many damn questions, and not enough answers for my liking,” I confessed, flustered and out of breath.
He just stood there and sighed. He already knew my opinion about this killer and case. He’s heard it enough times as it is. I think he is just as over it as I am. Bodies are piling up and neither of us can stop it. It’s downright frustrating. He took the few steps separating us and placed his hands on my shoulders and pulled me close enough that I could feel his breath roll over my nose and onto my cheeks. Without saying a word, he stared directly into my eyes. His gaze could cut layers until it would eventually reach your soul. His eyes were so different to mine. They were this beautiful chocolate brown that you could lay there and stare into all day. Yet at the same time so guarded. It was like a vault door, slamming shut and locking as soon as he showed any emotion. His touch would send goose bumps all over my body. The world would slow to a near stop around me.
“You need to take a break Morgan. You’re wearing yourself out with too much unnecessary stress.” He paused. His expression was full of concern, but his eyes were sealed shut. My knees felt like they would give out on me at any second. “How much sleep did you get last night?”
It took me a moment to realise what he had asked. I didn’t really get any sleep at all. I was awake most of the night. I finally went to sleep at about five o’clock this morning, then Andre woke me up. But I wasn’t going to tell him that.
“I don’t know. Maybe seven or eight hours,” I lied.
He looked at me sympathetically for a moment. Crap. He could always tell when I was lying. He eventually said, “Go home Morgan. Get some sleep. I’ll handle things here.”
“Are you sure? I’m perfectly fine. I promise.” Although secretly I wished I could go home, but I couldn’t leave Andre here to do all the work by himself.
“Morgan…GO HOME,” he said firmly.
“Okay. I’ll cook dinner tonight. I don’t feel like take-away for the fourth night in a row,” I say.
“Whatever. Just as long as it’s not meatballs,” he says while holding his stomach. “You know how they give me bad stomach aches.”
“I know. Thank you. I owe you one,” I yelled out over my shoulder. I was already in the elevator when I remembered that we got here in Andre’s car. Damn it. Looks like I’ll be taking a taxi.
* * *
With Morgan gone, Andre could now focus on the case and the case only. He had his own clean white board set up with photos of crime scenes, maps, photos of the victims when they were alive and dead. Random notes were written here and there in different white board marker colours. He liked to see the facts in front of him. Visualising scenarios that may or may not have happened. He certainly didn’t need an exhausted Morgan hindering him by being the only thing he could think about. In a way, it was easier for him to think when she wasn’t here.