PROJECT ANIMA

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Chapter 2

I placed my case file and coffee on the table as I sat down before Jose Mendes. He looked young, too young to the point that I slightly felt bad for him. He had the demeanor of someone who was reserved and wouldn’t seem to know what to do with a gun even if his own life was in danger, I hoped with all my being that this young man was not the killer but he was our best lead, to begin with. He looked nervous but to be fair most people would be nervous in an interrogation room, his curly black hair covered his eyes a little but the scent of his anxiety was almost intoxicating.

“I’m detective Matthew Shaw and I have some questions for you in relation,”

“I didn’t mean to do it!” Jose blurted out.

His sudden confession caught me off guard; I gathered my thoughts before speaking again. “Didn’t mean to do what exactly?”

“I stole the medication because my mom needed it and my pay was being delayed. I swear on my papa’s grave.”

The way his voice shook as he spoke would be enough to convince anyone of his innocence right off the bat, but there were still the hard questions to ask. His disheveled look supported his claim of financial struggles but to me, it just sounded like a motive. I knew that Cynthia worked with children and sometimes young adults to save their lives so it would not be unusual for someone she helped to develop an attraction for her, maybe in this case a deadly one.

“Thank you for confessing to that crime but that’s not why you’re here. Do you know a woman by the name of Cynthia Wild?”

“Y-yes I do.” He stuttered.

“What is your relationship with her?”

“She was my doctor back in the day, why? Did something happen?”

“Cynthia Wild was found dead in her residence this morning.”

His eyes widened from what seemed to be disbelief rather than shock. His expression slowly became relaxed as he digested the information but his anxiety was still present. He began fiddling his thumb like a child.

“What was Dr. Wild treating you for?” I asked breaking the silence.

“My-my umm anxiety and depression from, wait you don’t think I have anything to do with her death do you?”

“We have reason to believe that you were the last person to see her alive. She died on the third of February, the day she had slotted to meet with you.”

“We never met that day, I was calling her to confirm that we were still on for the sit-down but she never answered. I guess I know why now.”

It would have been easy to credit or discredit what he was saying if we had retrieved her mobile phone but sadly it along with her laptop was nowhere to be found at the crime scene. I felt frustrated since this was beginning to seem like a dead end and all the emotions that I’ve been suppressing about this case felt as if it was about to overflow. I felt as if I was going to fail Cynthia the way I failed my wife.

“Why were you going to meet her?”

“I wanted to thank her properly now as an adult for my treatment, it changed my life. I guess I wanted to give her a small token to show gratitude.”

Again his words sounded genuine and being a friend of hers I’ve seen her receive packages from patients she has treated in the past so I knew it wasn’t a far-fetched idea.

“Where were you on the day of the murder?”

“I uh, I was at work and after I completed my shift I tried calling Dr. Wild while I was clocking out. I headed home afterward to tend to my mom then I called the doctor one last time before watching movies until I fell asleep on the couch.”

I tore off a piece of paper and slid it across to him.” Please write your phone number down.”

“What for?” he asked puzzled.

“Relatives are oftentimes unreliable sources to verify an alibi so we’ll be taking another route.”

I exited the room and my body felt rigid, it was as if the blood flow had come to a sudden halt and everything with the world just wasn’t making any sense. I needed answers but it felt like I ran up against a brick wall already with our best lead.

“This entire thing is a whole shit show.” said the Chief. “I’ve been chief of police for fifteen years and I haven’t seen such a fucked up thing in my life. Whoever did this you better catch them before the media starts to drag the entire precinct through the mud.”

“Yes sir.”

The day after the interview with Jose, I pulled up to the Mercy & Grace juvenile rehabilitation facility where Cynthia worked. She had no known spouse and her family all lived overseas so her job was the last possible and credible lead besides Jose. If nothing from her work proved useful then I would have to entertain the thought of a terrifying serial killer.

“Hello?” I said answering my phone.

“Good day detective Shaw, we have the results from Jose Mendes call logs. Based on the location of the cell towers his phone pinged off of during the day of the murder it supports his alibi.”

“Thank you, now could you examine all available CCTV footage available between the areas of Jose’s address and the victim's address please.”

“Detective Shaw.” A voice called out.

I quickly hung up the phone. “Good afternoon Mr. Webb. Thank you for meeting me on such short notice.”

“No problem, anything I can do to help, but please follow me to my office.”

The facility felt odd, despite its pristine condition it felt old. The few staff members I passed along the way to his office looked as if they haven’t slept in days, there was a pang of uneasiness in my stomach but I chose to ignore it.

“Please take a seat.” He said as we entered.

“I’m sure this is a difficult time for you and the staff here but I would like to ask a few questions I believe will help us with our case. During the last month or two, how was Dr. Wild's work performance?”

“She was stellar as always, sure she had her days when she seemed as if the entire world was on her shoulders but who hasn’t especially when you work with children a lot am I right?”

His carefree and upbeat tone for someone who just found out one of their stellar employees was brutally murdered rubbed me in a way I was not comfortable with. Mr. Webb’s office was immaculate and you could tell that he was someone who enjoys order and stability so losing someone who contributes greatly to that should have affected him more.

“Was there any disagreement between members of staff with Dr. Wild that you know or might hear of?”

“No, not at all, she was a lovely soul to everyone here.”

“Was there a patient she treated here who was extremely aggressive or quite possibly mentally ill?”

“This is a facility for juvenile delinquents, of course, they are a little…aggressive, but Dr. Wild always managed to get through to them regardless.”

“Do patients oftentimes stay in contact with their doctors even after completing their time here?”

“It’s not usually endorsed but there have been cases of that yes. Normally it’s from those who are filled with gratitude for the help they received while here.”

“Does the name Jose Mendes has a tie in with this facility?”

Mr. Webb punched in the name on his computer. ”No, there doesn’t seem to have ever been a Jose Mendes here.”

I found that odd due to Cynthia being his doctor at some point in his life and I can’t recall her working anywhere else besides here for all the years we’ve known each other. I looked at his hand and noticed that he was not wearing a wedding ring which contradicted the happy family portrait he had framed on his desk. It’s not impossible and I can’t leave any angle to my imagination.

“What was your relationship like with Dr. Wild?” I asked.

“It was good, extremely professional.”

I knew he was lying, liars often have the habit of emphasizing what they’re saying in hopes that they’ll successfully deceive you. He was no different and my gut was telling me that they were having an affair and that can lead to a lot of things going wrong and end with a murder.

“Alright, thank you for your time, Mr. Webb. I will get in touch with you if there is anything else we think you could help us with.”


Jose entered his apartment and threw his keys on the table. “I’m back home mom.” He said as he strolled into the living room where his mother was tied tightly to her seat. She was placed to face the television with duct tape over her mouth.

“What are we watching today? What’s that? You’re not in the mood for television today? Well, that’s a problem.”

His mother sat there with the IV drip in her arm looking demoralized, her eyes were now dark and sunken and her cheekbones seemed close to tearing through her skin. She tried to make a sound but it was muffled by the duct tape.

“What’s that mom? You’re hungry? You know you’re on a diet right now, remember?”

Jose changed the IV bag and knelt beside his mother while resting his head on her lap. “Do you remember it? Do you remember the day you sold me to those people, the day you decided that your son was not worth more than a couple of bucks to buy groceries?”

She began to tremble as it became harder to hold back the tears.” No need for the waterworks mother, I understand why you did it. That’s why I’m fixing you now; I’ll help you lose the weight for sure. They say someone’s greatest fear is the gateway to repentance that leads to salvation.”

Jose got up and stretched.” You sold me to combat your greatest fear, but now I’m making you face it to allow you the chance to repent and go to heaven mother,” Jose pushed back his hair out of his face revealing the cynical look in his eyes, “So take the time to repent as you slowly starve to death.”

Jose went into his room and stood before his mirror. “We took a big risk today.”

“We took a necessary risk.” The voice answered.

Jose inspected his eyes and face. “Wasn’t Matthew the one we came here for?”

“He’s just a part of why we came here, don’t forget that. When the time is right he will help us.”

“How can you be so sure? He seems like a good guy.”

“Has our time together and experiences taught you nothing, Jose? There’s never good that’s truly good under the right circumstances. We have the means to make Matthew Shaw join our cause. Until then we will continue to get our revenge and eventually save everyone, we owe that much to Olivia.”
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