Kris sighed as twenty minutes later they pulled up to the Benson’s house. It was still dark outside and there were no lights on in the house. They walked up to the door and Kris rang the doorbell.
It took a few seconds before a very sleepy looking man appeared. Even though they knew each other she held up her badge and said. “Mr. Benson, I’m Det. Kris Parker and these are my partners, Detective’s Jonas Evans and Quinton Wright and of course you know Mayor Stroud.”
The man looked terrified as he looked at the four people gracing his front steps. His wife walked up and they shared a look of terror and confusion. “I know who you are. What’s going on?”
“May we come in?” Kris asked, trying to keep the emotion out of her voice.
He looked to his longtime friend and she nodded so he said. “Yes of course.I’m sorry.” They stepped through the door, Elizabeth clutched his arm as Clayton said. “Liz, go wake up the kids.”
“Sir, ma’am.” They turned to look at the detective’s and their longtime friend. “I’m so very sorry to have to tell you this.”
Elizabeth ran up the stairs calling out for their children with her husband close behind. “Matthew! Madison!”
Everyone flinched when she screamed and came running back downstairs. “Where are they? What’s happened to my babies?”
Jonas took over for Kris as they led them to the living room to sit down. “We are so very sorry Mr. and Mrs. Benson. A 911 call was received around 2:00 a.m. for an abandoned car at the corner of Bass Road and Highway 41. When the officer arrived he...he found...” They were sobbing and clutching each other desperately and it completely broke Jonas’s heart. “Matthew and Madison were found with their car.” His voice cracked as he said. “I’m very sorry but they are gone.”
Clayton blinked and swallowed hard several times before he croaked out. “What do you mean gone? I don’t...understand. They were supposed to be here this morning. No. You’re wrong.” He grabbed Jonas and shook him violently as his wife sobbed uncontrollably. “You’re wrong! It’s not them!” Kris reached out to help pull Clayton off her partner but he shook his head.“How?How did…?”
Kris was thankful to have the mayor with her. “They were shot sir.” There really was no easy way to say that. “As far as we can tell they stopped to help what appeared to be a stranded motorist. That’s all we really know right now.” He nodded as he held his wife tightly. “We have evidence that shows this was not random. We’re going to need access to all of your files and the people in your family’s life.” Clayton nodded again. “Did either one of them mention feeling like they were being followed or that they had seen anyone unusual?”
Clayton took a few deep breaths as he thought. “No. Not that I can remember. They live in a house near Mercer. They were only spending the night here because we were supposed to be in Atlanta early this morning. My children are...were taught to be very vigilant. They wouldn’t have stopped for just anyone. The line of work I’m in can be dangerous and...” He closed his eyes tightly and shook his head. “I can’t believe this. Twenty five years, twenty five years I’ve been practicing law. I’ve been with the D.A.’s office for 20 years and I’ve been threatened so many times that I’ve lost count. Why now? Why would someone do this now and why would they do this to my children?”
“There wasn’t much evidence at the scene sir but CSU is working as quickly as possible on what they did find.” Jonas informed him. “We’d like permission to look through their rooms here and their house as well.”
Clayton nodded quickly as he wiped his eyes. “Yes of course.They live in a house on Culver Street with three of their friends who should be there; Elana Maxwell and Trenton and Janelle Osbourne, they’re fraternal twins. They’re all good kids; we’ve known all of them since they were born.”
She wrote down the names and the address. “Again sir, ma’am, we are so very sorry. We’re going to do everything we can to find who did this.”
Clayton Benson left his wife with their best friend to follow Kris and the guys to the door. “It’s a small town Detective’s and you know how people talk.” They nodded, that could either be a fortunate or unfortunate thing about where they lived. “The things I’ve heard about you make me glad that you all are on this case.” He let out a long shaky breath and scrubbed his face. “I’ll have my assistant messenger over copies of all of my cases as soon as possible. If there is anything else you need please let me know.”
“Thank you sir, we will.” They shook hands. “We’ll keep you updated.”
They stopped for more coffee then found themselves parked outside of the house the Benson children had shared with their friends. “This isn’t going to be any easier.” Both men hummed in agreement. “We should split up; one of us should talk to the kids, one search their rooms, and the other talk to the neighbors.”
Quinn ran his hand up and d own her arm. “Are you ok?”She gave him a soft smile and nodded.“Ok.”He pulled out his notepad and volunteered. “I’ll go knock on some doors.”
“Thank you.” Kris said, knowing that all of this was as hard for him as everyone else. Quinn had a younger brother and sister that were around the same age as Matthew and Madison. She watched as he walked away and then rang the doorbell.
“Just a second.” A fairly alert voice said from the other side of the door. A few seconds later a young African American woman appeared as the door opened. “May I help you?”
Jonas and Kris held up their badges as he said. “I’m Detective Jonas Evans and this is my partner Kris Parker. May we come in?”
She looked very confused but nodded and stepped aside. “Yes. Of course.” Once they were inside she said. “What’s going on?”
“We will explain everything but we need you to go wake your friends please.” Kris said and the young girl nodded hesitantly before disappearing.
When she returned a few minutes later there were four others with her. “Will you please tell us what’s going on now?”
“I’m Detective Kris Parker and this is my partner Jonas Evans.” Kris introduced themselves to the new arrivals. “Can you please identify yourselves?” The young woman that answered the door was Janelle Osbourne and her twin brother Trenton was next to her with his girlfriend Sara Marcum. Their other roommate Elana Maxwell was standing next to a young man that introduced himself as her boyfriend Jackson Fanning.
Trenton held his sister and girlfriend close as he said. “We’re missing two of our roommates because they went to their parent’s house last night.”
Jonas and Kris exchanged looks before she said. “I’m afraid that’s why we’re here.When was the last time you saw Matthew and Madison Benson?”
The panic in their eyes was heartbreaking. Trenton looked around at the others and said.“Last night. We all had a late dinner together and split up around 12:45 a.m. No disrespect intended Detective’s but what the hell is going on?”
“I’m very sorry to have to tell you this.” Kris had had to say these words way too many times in the last few hours. “Matthew and Madison were found a few hours ago.” She didn’t even have to finish the sentence. They gathered themselves in a huddle, crying and trying to comfort each other. Kris and Jonas gave them a few minutes before she continued. “I’m very sorry but we need to ask you a few questions.” They all sniffed and turned their attention back to the detectives. “Did either of them mention feeling like they were being followed or seeing anything unusual?”
“Yes.” They said in unison.
Jonas and Kris exchanged a surprised look. “What exactly did they say?”
Jackson shook his head and said. “First you have to understand that they weren’t like typical brothers and sisters; they were really close and went everywhere together. Matt said that he had been seeing someone on a motorcycle everywhere they went on and off for the last few weeks. At school, work, and football practice. Pretty much everywhere they went.”
This could be something said the look Kris and Jonas shared. “Was he able to describe the motorcycle to you?”
He shrugged a little as he said. “Not really. He said it was black or dark blue, kind of nondescript and he couldn’t tell what the rider looked like. I told him to tell his dad but he didn’t like to worry him.”
Janelle managed to compose herself long enough to tell us about the car Madison had seen. “She said it was a dark late model four door car. She couldn’t tell what kind because it never got close enough but she’d seen it at school and a few times when we were all out.” She shivered a little. “Do you think we’re in danger too?”
“Honestly I don’t know. We are obviously still in the very early stages of the investigation but I think it would be a good idea to have a protection detail for you all until we know for sure. I do recommend that you all don’t go anywhere alone and just be very vigilant until we get a detail for you.” Jonas and Kris handed over a few of their cards. “If you see anyone or anything that looks odd call us. Any time, day or night.”
They split up and searched the bedrooms, took their laptops in case anything was on them. Quinn was waiting at the car when they walked back out. “Anything helpful?”
Kris leaned against the car next to him and Jonas stood in front of them. “Matthew and Madison told their friends they’d seen a motorcycle and a car in several different places the last couple of weeks. Both were nondescript and they couldn’t see the driver. What about you?”
Quinn flipped through the few notes he had as he said. “It’s a pretty close knit neighborhood.” He pointed to the corner house across the street from the one the Benson children and their friends rented. “Mrs. Sheffield seems to be the neighborhood watch. She mentioned seeing an older model dark sedan that she didn’t recognize. She said it stood out because it had no emblems or a tag and the windows were tinted. She said it would show up late at night when she was out walking her dog Mr. Snuffles. It would usually appear right after the kids got home.”
Neither one of them could resist chuckling. Jonas looked to the woman’s house and asked. “I don’t suppose Mrs. Sheffield or Mr. Snuffles saw the person inside?” Quinn laughed dryly and shook his head. “Of course not.”
Kris blew out a long breath then said. “Ok. Let’s drop the laptops off with Erik, stop by the station to see if Clayton Benson’s files have arrived. Then we need to go find breakfast because I’m starving and you know I can’t think when I’m hungry.”
They spent a few minutes with Erik after they gave him the laptop, trying to get any little bit of results they could before getting breakfast and going back to the station. The files had already arrived and their Lieutenant had had them set up in the biggest interrogation room available.