Claire’s Ford F-150 roared down the backcountry roads leading from Sebago to Portland, Maine. The trees were a blur out the side window as I looked out from the passenger seat. Every so often I would glance at my cell phone, hoping to see the signal bar reappear from what appeared to be a dead zone. Maine was notorious for a lack of cell service, sometimes within sight of a tower.
Claire looked over at me with a worried look, “Another mile or so and you should have service again.” She looked beautiful in her sundress, which had drifted up to her mid-thigh revealing her tanned legs. The sundress was awash in a field of sunflowers of yellow and orange, a stark contrast to her darkly tanned body. Her Mexican heritage, along with the few days we had managed to spend in the sun on Sebago Lake, gave her skin a rich, almost milk chocolate brown tone.
“Three days since she’s been heard from,” I said more to myself than to Claire. “I need to call Boston PD and see what they have.”
I had received a call from an old friend from High School while Claire and I were enjoying a much-needed vacation at Jason and Shannon Wambaugh’s place on Sebago, the largest lake in Southern Maine. My friend, Chuck Casey, was frantic on the phone, pleading for help to locate his wife, Amanda. She was pregnant, nearing her due date, and had gone missing while shopping in Revere, a suburb of Boston. The Revere and Massachusetts State Police had nothing to go on accept an empty car outside a shopping mall featuring a Best Buy and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Neither law enforcement agency had made any progress in the last three days. I wished he had called earlier, as the first 48 hours were crucial in any disappearance, especially when there hadn’t been any ransom demands made and there wasn’t any clear explanation for her disappearance. Chuck had insisted that Amanda was not the type to just go off on her own, and even though she was going through hormonal changes due to her pregnancy, she was not unstable in any way.
Chuck and I went way back to high school in Old Orchard Beach. We had graduated together in a town that boasted sixty-nine graduating students, I’m not making that up, but I think we convinced a fellow student to stay back so we could achieve that number. We weren’t best friends but in a school system so small, well, you knew everyone and everyone knew you. He was a jock and I was not, but the line between the football stars and the burnouts was vague. I was technically neither, so for me, there wasn’t any line at all.
Finally, as the truck came over a slight rise, my phone immediately had four signal bars, welcome to cell phone service in Maine. I called Captain Warren O’Reilly of the Massachusetts State Police Homicide Division to see if he could give me some information or at least tell me who could. O’Reilly picked up on the third ring.
“Captain O’Reilly speaking,” he said with a distinct Massachusetts accent.
“O’Reilly, this is Jack Chamberlain,” I began but was immediately cut off.
“Jack, how the hell are you? Nice job on the Spacey case. I always thought he was a prick with ears, but I didn’t think he had completely gone off the reservation.”
“Thanks, just glad it’s over, along with my fifteen minutes of fame.”
“Made all the Boston papers too, Sherlock. I don’t think your fifteen minutes is quite up yet.”
Sherlock Holmes was one of my favorite literary characters and during my days at the Maine State Police I had earned the nickname Sherlock, after solving two very difficult crimes. When I joined the Portland Police Department in Portland, Maine, the nickname had faded until the most recent case. The Spacey case had created a media frenzy, the nickname was reinstated by my friend and the editor of the Portland Press Herald, Jason Walbridge.
“Can you tell me anything about a missing person, Amanda Casey? She went missing out of Revere on Saturday.”
“Yeah a little, although this got kicked up from Revere Police to the FBI. The missing woman, Amanda Casey, is the wife of a Vice President over at Sovereign Bank in Boston. She is pregnant and due in roughly 3 weeks. The Revere Police asked for FBI involvement real quick, expecting ransom demands. There haven’t been any yet. The Agent in Charge is Francesca Rossi out of the FBI building over at One Center Plaza in Boston.”
“Do you know her?”
“Yeah a little, real smart gal. I never worked with her but we have met a couple of times.”
“Do you have a number for her?”
“I have her cell, let’s see, F for FBI, ready?”
“Yeah shoot,” I said as I pulled a small notebook and pen from the glove compartment.
“Got it. Anything else?”
“We have Mrs. Casey’s picture all over every state and municipality in New England with a description of what she was wearing. We haven’t received any tips yet, but I wouldn’t necessarily know as the FBI is fielding all the leads.”
“Right, what was she wearing?”
“Her husband reported she was wearing a light yellow maternity dress and cushioned brown sandals. She carried a large light brown purse that was found in her vehicle at the scene. Money and credit cards were still in it which is why it was immediately deemed as a kidnapping.”
“I don’t know to be honest. We aren’t exactly in the loop. The only thing I can tell you for sure is that the abduction took place around three o’clock in the parking lot of Bed, Bath & Beyond.”
“Alright, whose lead detective from Revere?”
“Clyde Stamos, old-timer with about thirty years’ experience. The number over there is 781-284-1212. He’s at extension twenty twelve.”
“Thanks, O’Reilly, and if anything comes up let me know.”
“Hey, Jack, what’s your interest in this case, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Her husband Chuck called me this morning and asked for my help. He’s an old friend of mine from high school.”
“What are your plans? This isn’t exactly your jurisdiction and the FBI might not be very open to you getting involved.”
“I’m not sure yet, but I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks for the information.”
“Anytime, Jack, take care,” he ended.
I took a deep breath then reiterated the conversation to Claire. I called the number for Francesca Rossi and she picked up on the third ring.
“Rossi,” she answered with a slight southern accent.
“Agent Rossi, this is Detective Jack Chamberlain with the Portland Maine Police Department,” I began. “I wonder if you could help me.”
“Very impressive work in the Spacey case detective. What can I do for you?”
“I am interested in Amanda Casey.”
She seemed to hesitate for a moment before she began, “The investigation is ongoing and unfortunately we have very little to go on. What is your interest in the case?”
“Her husband is an old friend and I was hoping to get some information on how the investigation is progressing.”
“At the moment not very well. We have nothing from the crime scene other than it does not appear to be a robbery. Her purse was in the car with two hundred thirty seven dollars in cash along with three credit cards. The car she was driving had a flat. It appears that the air was let out of the tire. The Revere Police Department determined that there weren’t any punctures or leaks. We haven’t located any witnesses and there were no surveillance cameras in the vicinity. We have not had any ransom demands either, which is strange considering he is a V.P. at a large bank. If this was a kidnapping, we should have heard something by now.”
“What about sex offenders in the area?”
“There are six registered in Revere and each has been contacted to establish alibis. Everyone checks out. We have expanded the search to nearby communities. So far we have nothing actionable. ”
“Do you have any theories?”
“Yeah, a dime a dozen. How well do you know Mr. Casey detective?”
“We went all through grade school together. Old Orchard is a small school so we knew each other but as acquaintances rather than friends. We see each other at reunions where I first met his wife Amanda ten years ago. Is he a suspect?”
“Theories, Detective, we are just trying to cover all the bases. If you are just acquaintances how do you know about her disappearance?”
“Chuck called me this morning asking for help.”
“This is outside your jurisdiction, Detective, and based on a prior relationship with the victim and husband, I would prefer you do not get involved.”
I took a deep breath both understanding her point but a little irritated that she had made it anyway. “So, what do I tell Chuck?”
“Please tell him that the FBI is thoroughly investigating the case and to contact us directly concerning any information he may have or might want.”
“Thank you for your time, Agent Rossi. If I have any questions, can I call you?”
“Absolutely detective and I will provide you all the professional courtesy you deserve, but again, would appreciate your staying at arm’s length on this.”
“I appreciate that, Agent Rossi. Thanks for the information,” I ended as I disconnected the call.
“What did I miss?” asked Claire.
“Not much except butt out.”
“So what are you going to do?” She said as she pulled to the curb in front of my place.
“I’m not exactly sure yet. Why don’t you head home and pack some clothes for a trip to Mass though,” I said as I stepped out from the truck.
“Yeah, work clothes.”