We left the hotel at around four thirty, after I had donned my cop suit of dark gray with a white shirt and maroon tie, and headed for Revere Beach Reservation where Chuck had a beach front house. The drive was just under an hour and the traffic was surprisingly light.
The house was a corner lot made of cement with an iron-gated fence held together by pillars of white washed cement. The house was three stories with each story slightly smaller than the last until it all ended in a one room third floor. A front sun porch lined the front of the house which sat back about twenty feet from the fence. The whole house over looked the street which bordered a white sand beach and a spectacular view of the ocean. Just before the house was an open but gated driveway. A man in a suit and dark sunglasses, who was packing by the look of the slight bulge under his jacket, stopped us as we pulled into the driveway. Claire put down her window as the man flashed a badge, FBI Agent Tom Silverman.
“I’m sorry but you need to turn around somewhere else,” he said officially.
I leaned forward so that he could get a good look at me and said, “Mr. Casey is expecting us. I’m Detective Jack Chamberlain and this is Detective Clarita Sanchez of the Portland Maine Police Department.”
“Detectives,” he nodded but didn’t seem overly pleased to see us. “Mr. Casey is expecting you but I was told by Agent Rossi to caution you. This is an FBI case and far outside of your jurisdiction. If you are here as a friend then fine, but please do not interfere with the investigation.”
“Wouldn’t even think about it. Just here for a little moral support and to let Chuck know to let the FBI do their job Agent Silverman. Give Agent Rossi our regards,” I ended noting the skepticism written on his face. He did step back from the truck as he began to speak into a mic connected to an earpiece and we proceeded in the driveway.
We drove down the driveway that bordered the house to a two car detached garage with a large guest living area above. The place would have been considered a large house in Old Orchard Beach. As I got out of the truck and looked towards the house, standing at the top of a set of stone stairs that led to a protruding anteroom was a tall woman I assumed was Agent Rossi.
“Hello Agent Rossi, this is Detective Sanchez funny to see you here,” I said as I reached the top of the stairs.
She glared at me from the top of the stairs barring the way from us entering. She was attractive with short black hair and features that were definitely Italian in origin, darker skin, wide face and a slightly elongated flaring nose. “I thought I asked you to not get involved.”
“You did ask, I’m just refusing.”
“This is a Federal investigation, Detective, and the last thing we need is complications regardless of how well you feel your intentions are. You also have no jurisdiction here.”
“I am here because Chuck is a friend, his wife has disappeared and she is with child. Chuck is a wreck by the sounds of him. Now it has been three days and my sources tell me you have nothing, so if I can be of help to him I will.”
“I could lock you up for interfering with this investigation.”
“I’m here to see a friend as a private citizen and I have not interfered with this investigation, yet. When I do and if I find anything you’ll be the first to know.”
She actually cracked a smile at that which surprised me. “Make damn sure you do.” She moved aside and opened the door for us.
We were entering through the backdoor that opened into a small room that had several coats hanging on the wall and a place to store shoes and boots. Another door entered into the kitchen which was almost blindingly white. Cupboards, walls, tables and chairs were all white and exceedingly clean. The only real color was black grouting between the floor tiles and the facing of several appliances.
In front of the stove was a woman, approximately five feet eight, wearing a light blue smock and a white apron covering a delicate frame. She was cutting fresh asparagus placing them in a strainer to rinse them. She moved her short black hair out of her eyes as she turned towards us. She was quite pretty with high cheekbones and pale skin but her eyes drew immediate attention. They were a deep ocean blue and the irises seemed to sparkle in the light.
“Detectives Chamberlain and Sanchez?” she asked. Her accent was a peculiar blend of Bostonian and Eastern Europe. I guessed she was an import, but had lived here long enough to take on some of the Bostonian inflections.
“Yes, we are here to see Mr. Casey,” I informed her.
“He is expecting you. Let me show you to the front porch where he is waiting for you.”
She led us through double doors that were white on our side and polished wood on the other. We stepped into a wide room sparsely furnished as if it was just a long hallway. The floor was an elegant white pine polished to a high gloss shine. The floor gave way to black marble tile in a huge room before the front door. Ten feet to the left, a mahogany staircase led upwards to the upper floors and a great white stone fireplace stood against the wall. She moved across the tiled floor to the ornately carved front door that stood before us. It was also made of mahogany, but had a large glass facing that took up most of the door. To the right and the left were two narrow stained glass windows that rose from floor to ceiling.
She opened the door and motioned us into the front porch area which again was a blinding white especially with the angle of the sun shining into it. The furniture was white wicker, with comfortable looking black seats and back cushions. They surrounded a glass table with black metal legs. Even the floor was a black and white checkerboard, which from the angle we were entering the room, seemed like black and white diamonds.
Chuck sat in one of the chairs, head down, his hands holding a glass that was half-full of scotch, a fifth of Cutty Sark on the table in front of him. He wore a pair of faded jeans and a light blue polo, embroidered with the Ralph Lauren logo. He looked up as we entered, his brown hair slightly disheveled, eyes ringed with dark circles and bloodshot. He smiled as we entered and although it wasn’t forced, it lacked the normal warmth I associated with him. The cook stood off to the side, as we approached Chuck he stood to greet us. He took Claire’s hand in a firm shake as I introduced them, then he gave me a hug and thanked me for coming.
“Have a seat,” he said as he sat back down and took another sip of his scotch.
“Would either of you like a drink?” asked the cook.
Claire asked for bottled water and I asked for a glass with ice and told her I would join Chuck in a scotch.
As the cook left the room I said to Chuck, “A very attractive cook.”
“Genta, yes she is quite pretty isn’t she. She’s been with us for six months and works tirelessly. She and Amanda had become quite close,” he said with a slightly raspy voice and a slight hesitation when he said his wife’s name.
“I couldn’t quite make out the accent?”
“Interesting blend isn’t it. She is originally from Kosovo but moved here with her parents at the age of twelve. She is a great cook. I took the liberty of asking her to cook for three, I hope that is alright.”
“Thank you that will be fine.”
Genta returned, moving almost silently and delivered a Fuji bottle to Claire and a glass with ice for me. She took the bottle of Cutty Sark and poured my glass full then asked, “Would you like me to pour for you, Chuck?”
“Yes Genta, thank you,” as she proceeded to fill his glass.
“Is there anything else that you require?”
“No Genta, but what time do we expect dinner as both Jack and Claire have accepted my invitation.”
“Just over an hour. I will let you know ten minutes prior to serving so that you may make your way to the dinner table.”
“Thank you, dear.”
She left and I took a sip of my scotch which burned slightly as it went down, causing me to make the customary “ah” sounds. My father was a Cutty Sark man, so although I was not a big fan of scotch, this particular brand brought back pleasant memories of when I was young in Old Orchard Beach. My father and mother had built a small room in the apartment as a bar and christened it the El Toro Lounge after a brand of Tequila that was popular at the time. The bottles had little plastic sombrero hats as the cap and they lined them on a mantle that rested below a six by four foot mirror that was on the wall. My dad’s drink of choice was Cutty Sark my mother’s rum and coke. They would have a party consisting of a few close friends as well as my dad’s brother and wife, at least once a weekend. They would play cards or just talk and laugh a great deal. It was nice seeing them laugh and enjoy their friends and family. Some of my best and happiest memories were playing eight track tapes and watching my parents have fun. Today the PC crowd would say they were promoting the use of alcohol as a means of having fun but that is not how I saw it. It was adults that I love enjoying each other’s company. I can’t remember arguments or fighting, although my Uncle Pete was wrestling with my Uncle Franny one night, who had about two hundred pounds on him, and ruptured his spleen. I guess boys will always be boys. The bar was long gone but the memories were still with me. Sadly, even parents grew up.
I took a moment as I stirred the ice in my glass, to consider how to approach Chuck. I decided to take this as a case and detach myself emotionally. I knew Amanda a little but knew if I let myself become emotionally involved, it would cloud my thinking.
“We need to know everything about this we can. What you know from the FBI, local police and thoughts you had since her abduction,” I said as I set my glass on the table and took out a notebook pad. “I want to start with the last time you saw Amanda.”
“Ok,” he began as he drained his glass in one pull, “I saw her that morning. Nothing out of the ordinary. Genta fixed us breakfast of cereal and juice around seven am. We talked a little and she told me she was heading over to the Revere Plaza to go to the Bed, Bath and Beyond to buy some new sheets for the bedroom.”
“Did she say what time she would be leaving?”
“No, she didn’t. I was concerned that she was going by herself.”
“Was that different?”
“Genta had been accompanying her anytime she left for the past month or so. They had become quite close. Amanda even insisted that she call us by our first names instead of Mr. or Mrs. Casey. Genta had a physical that day over in Boston and would be gone all afternoon but Amanda insisted she could get along fine. I was concerned but there was no stopping her, she was rather independent.”
“Yet Genta had been accompanying her when she left the house normally?”
“Mostly I think because she was quite taken with Genta. I know that she even gave her a five hundred dollar bonus each of the last two months.”
“A lot of money for a house keeper?”
“Maybe but she wanted to make sure she wasn’t in need of anything or hurting for cash in anyway.”
“Where does Genta live?”
“Over the garage. It was a modestly furnished apartment but the two of them have added a few things over the last five months since she moved in.”
“She didn’t move in immediately upon hire six months ago?”
“No, we had a trial period through the agency of one month. Once she was beyond that we moved her in.”
“Do you mind if we ask her a few questions in private?”
“No please do, if you think it will help.”
“Anything else we should know regarding where Amanda was going that morning?”
“No, that was all she said.”
“What was she wearing the last time you saw her?”
“She was still in a robe when I left. She said she was heading towards the shower when she kissed me last.” Chuck stopped talking and poured his glass full. He dropped his head down for a moment as if to recover his strength. I noticed a tear falling from the corner of his eye which slowly drifted down his cheek. “She is in pain I know it. God help her.”
I stopped and took a sip of my drink as well. I felt for Chuck and could see his pain and discomfort. I had worked on a few cases of disappearance. Even if they were successfully solved and the perpetrators locked up, hopefully to meet Bubba for a little one on one time, the victim would often be a wreck and would never truly fully recover. The emotional scars from their ordeal would last a lifetime.
“So it was just another day at the office?”
“I guess so. We had an interesting day with some gallery wire transfers for Dunne Galleries, Inc. but nothing that I would call unusual.”
“Dunne Galleries? You mean as in Carrick Dunne?”
“Yes, he is the sole owner. The company owns six galleries in Boston. They sold a number of paintings and needed a large transfer of funds to Cayman National on the Cayman Islands.”
“I understand Mr. Dunne also owns the Golden Banana.”
“Yes but not through Dunne Galleries. I believe that is held through CD Properties along with several apartment buildings, restaurants and a couple of gentleman’s clubs.”
“Is CD properties a customer of Sovereign Bank?”
“Yes, I normally don’t deal with them directly.”
“Do you handle the Dunne Galleries account?”
“No, technically every customer is my client, so when there is a large transfer of over one million dollars I need to approve it.”
“Are you aware of Mr. Dunne’s reputation?”
“Yes, there have been rumors that he’s “connected” but he has never been charged with a crime and from the banks perspective, he is an influential and successful local business man.”
“Who handles the Dunne’s accounts?”
“Fredrick Gallant is the account manager. He’s been with the bank for over ten years and is very thorough.”
“Did you speak to Amanda during the day?”
“No, I usually call at lunch but I was in a business lunch with the bank’s president.”
“How did you find out that Amanda was missing?”
“I was driving home from work and I call every day to make sure she doesn’t need anything from the market. She didn’t answer her phone. I called the house and spoke with Genta who hadn’t heard from her since she had left late morning.”
“What time did she leave according to Genta?”
“Just before eleven.”
“What did you do then?”
“I was getting concerned and it happens that the Revere Plaza is on my way home. I was going to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond to ask if anyone had seen her when I saw Amanda’s car in the parking lot with a flat. Her purse was in the car and I began to panic to be honest. I called the police immediately. They arrived in less than five minutes.”
“What happened when the police arrived?”
“They called in a crime scene unit and went through the car while Detective Stamos took my statement.”
“When was the FBI called in?”
“As soon as Detective Stamos found out I was a VP at Sovereign he called the FBI. Agent Rossi was there within twenty minutes.”
“Where is the car now?”
“At the Revere Crime Scene facility.”
“What have the FBI told you of the investigation?”
“Unfortunately, there is not much to tell. The FBI set up the phones to record everything that came in, expecting a ransom demand. They have been camped out here for the last three days but nothing has happened. Agent Rossi also told me they had gathered every receipt from the stores at the Plaza and were contacting everyone to hopefully find someone who might have seen her in the parking lot.”
“Did anyone question employees at Bed, Bath and Beyond?”
“Agent Rossi did. Amanda left the store at two in the afternoon but hadn’t purchased anything. The manager and a clerk remembered her, not only because of her obvious pregnancy but because she had asked questions about thread count of the sheets they had and wanted to special order a higher thread count. They did not notice anyone following her in the store or where she went when she left.”
“Have you heard anything from the Revere police?”
“I spoke with Detective Stamos two days ago. He said they were questioning all registered sex offenders within two hundred miles of Revere proper. He said that the State Police were assisting along with every municipality including the city of Boston. Every beat cop has her photograph and description of what she was wearing.”
“Is there anything else you can think of that might help?”
“I have been racking my brain for days trying to think of something but I just can’t. Who the fuck would do something like this, Jack?”
Unfortunately I didn’t have an answer for him. I drained my scotch and set the glass down. The ice clinked melodiously in the glass. “I don’t know Chuck, but we will do all we can. Claire and I are just beginning our side of the investigation. We plan on approaching from whatever angle we feel is not being explored by other agencies. To be honest we haven’t even decided on what that might be yet. If you could, please keep any knowledge of our involvement on the QT. FBI especially is not fond of other agencies mucking around in their territory no matter how well intentioned they might be. We will certainly inform them the minute we have anything concrete but no sense in pissing them off right from the get go.”
“I understand, Jack. Whatever it takes to bring Amanda home safe is fine with me.”
“Thanks, Chuck. Like I said, we will do all we can.”