Between the Lines

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Chapter 36

Having run out of leads to pursue, but unwilling to just give up, Keeley decided to go over to the newspaper office and ask Lynn Wright if she could look through the newspapers’ archives. She didn’t know what she hoped to accomplish, and wasn’t really feeling optimistic, but couldn’t think of anything else to do. She started with the date that the victims had disappeared, and worked her way back from there. The paper had been a daily at that time, and there were a lot of issues to look through. She didn’t make much progress as she found herself getting sidetracked from time to time when a variety of interesting articles caught her eye. After about three hours, her eyes were burning, and she was getting hungry, so she told Lynn she’d be back, and walked across to Claire’s coffee house for a sandwich and a coffee.

Claire was busy with customers, and didn’t have time to talk. Since she’d been inside all morning, Keeley took her lunch over to the park, and sat on one of the benches that faced her house. As usual, the caffeine and the fresh air revitalized her. After she finished her lunch, she went back to the newspaper office to resume her search. This time she didn’t allow any distractions, and managed to get through the editions much more quickly. She knew it was a long shot that she would find anything helpful, and she was just about ready to give up and go home, when she saw an article about Banks car dealership sponsoring a big charity event. There was a picture of a group of employees holding up a large cheque. A younger John Banks was front and centre, with the same smarmy smile but thicker hair. Keeley also recognized Edith Cressley, who looked almost identical back then to the way she did now. She even had the same hair style. It wasn’t that she had aged well, it was that she’d looked old, even back then. Keeley immediately felt ashamed of herself for being so judgmental. There was a young woman in the picture that Keeley felt quite sure was Joyce Williams. The caption under the photograph only identified John Banks by name , but it had to be her. The hair was a different style from the picture in the yearbook, but the color looked the same, and the shape of the face was similar. Still, it was hard to be completely sure. She bent her head and took a closer look, wishing she had brought the yearbook for comparison. All of a sudden, her breath caught in her throat. She grabbed her phone and used the zoom feature on the camera. The woman in the picture was wearing an unusual pendant, a gold knot with a diamond on the side, which appeared to be an identical match to the pendant that Traci had been so upset over losing recently. Feeling a mixture of dread and excitement, Keeley went to get a copy of the photograph.

Dennis Olson had to be the killer. How else could he have wound up in possession of Joyce’s gold pendant? It was too much of a coincidence that there could be two identical pendants, one owned by the murder victim, and one now owned by a suspect’s girlfriend. Had Traci really lost the pendant? Probably not. She’d said she went to put it on, and it hadn’t been where she thought she’d left it. No, obviously, Dennis Olson, who had no doubt spent the night with Traci, had stolen the pendant back. Why would he give his girlfriend the pendant, only to steal it back a few weeks later? Because when the bones were discovered, he must have realized there was a chance that someone would remember that the dead girl had worn a pendant just like it, she thought. When he gave Traci the birthday gift, he no doubt believed he was safe from discovery. Why wouldn’t he? He’d gotten away with murder for over thirteen years.

Keeley’s first impulse was to take this explosive new information straight to Detective McDonald, but when she remembered his reaction the last time she’d tried to give him information she’d discovered about the case, she hesitated. It was perfectly clear to her what had happened, but would he see it the same way? How could she make sure that he did? She didn’t want to risk being dismissed again. She had to make sure Detective McDonald had enough evidence to go right out and arrest Dennis. She couldn’t take the chance of him getting away with his crimes again. She needed to talk to Kira, Claire and Lily, and get their help putting everything together in a nice, neat little package for the police.

Kira’s phone went right to voicemail. Too impatient to wait for her to finish talking to whoever she was talking to, probably Wayne, Keeley grabbed her bag and hurried over to the apartment over It’s Magic. As she’d thought, Kira was talking to Wayne on the phone, but when she opened the door and saw the look on Keeley's face, she told him she’d call him later, and hung up. Excitedly, Keeley told her what she’d discovered, showing her the picture she’d copied from the newspaper archives, with Joyce wearing the pendant.

“Oh my Goddess,” whispered Kira, her eyes wide with a mixture of excitement and horror.

She poured them glasses of wine while Keeley texted Claire and Lily, asking them to come over to Kira’s as soon as possible for an emergency meeting. Both women arrived soon after they received the texts, demanding to know what the emergency was. Keeley explained once again what she had discovered at the newspaper office, showing them the picture of Joyce wearing the pendant. Their shocked reactions slowly subsided, and before long, Claire declared that she had always suspected that Denny Olson was capable of criminal behavior, although she was forced by Lily to admit she hadn’t thought him actually capable of murder. But now that they had the proof, she claimed that she wasn’t really surprised.

They toasted to having solved the mystery, and sat down to figure out how they could present the evidence in an incontrovertible fashion. It was only then that they realized they had another problem as well. They didn’t have a motive for the murders.

“What was his motive for killing them?” Kira had asked.

“Theft? He stole the pendant, and maybe Joyce had other jewelry and money. Or maybe jealousy. He might have been jealous that Joyce wouldn’t have anything to do with him, and that’s why he killed her and her lover.”

“If the motive was theft, how does that explain holding on to the pendant for thirteen years, instead of pawning it? And we have no proof that Dennis wanted a relationship with Joyce. He was quite a bit younger than her, so how could he have possibly thought that she would be interested in him, anyway?”

“Dennis was always a strange kid,” said Lily. “His motivation could have been just about anything. His mother left him and his Dad. She had good reason because Mr. Olson was abusive and violent. Maybe Joyce reminded Dennis of his mother, who had taken off but didn’t take him with her, and he was filled with rage and killed her.” Suddenly, a thought occurred to her, and her eyes widened in alarm. “What if Mrs. Olson didn’t take off? What if Dennis killed her? Maybe Joyce found out about it, and he had to kill her to keep her quiet. Or it could have been Tom Freemont who found out, and Joyce just happened to be with him when Dennis killed him, so he had to kill her too!”

“My God, Lily, where do you get this stuff?” Claire exclaimed. “If either of them knew Dennis had killed his mother, do you think they would just calmly go about carrying on an affair? They’d have gone to the police!”

“There’s no point in all this speculation. We need to do some additional digging,” said Keeley, trying to forestall what looked to be an escalating argument brewing between the sisters.

“So far, we can explain means and opportunity, but we don’t have a motive yet that will make sense to the police.” Keeley put her head in her hands and moaned. “I was so sure this was the answer. Now what do we do?”

After much discussion, they all continued to believe that they were on the right track. The pendant was a big clue, and they would just have to keep looking to find the motive. They would also try to see if they could confirm whether or not Mrs. Olson was still alive, even though no one except Lily really thought she might also be a murder victim. They were all convinced that Dennis had to be the killer of Joyce Williams and Tom Freemont though. In the meantime, they might as well finish the wine.

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