Chapter One: Elizabeth’s POV
I sat at my mahogany wooden desk, shuffling through old murder files from the past few months. After a certain period, I was required to turn the files into my chief, Chief Lowry. As I flipped through them, they each brought back traumatic memories. Suicide. Homicide. Domestic Violence. Abduction. The list goes on. The images flashed in my mind on repeat.
"Happy two years as a Forensic Scientist, Elizabeth!" Alice, my best friend, came into my office with a coffee since it was so early in the morning.
"Thank you," I smiled, closing the folders and began diverting the awful memories out of my mind to focus on the coffee being handed to me.
"Today is a sad day but also a happy one," Alice continued.
Taking a sip of my white chocolate mocha coffee, I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion. "What do you mean by a sad day?"
Alice mimicked the same motion and took a sip of her coffee. "Well, I know that your goal is to move from a Forensic Scientist to a Homicide Detective. But you'd have to transfer to the agency in Freya County in the next state over."
What Alice mentioned was true. My goal since I started my law enforcement career was to become a Homicide Detective. The only problem that I faced was waiting to see if there were any openings, and I didn't want to leave my best friend behind. However, I knew that I could use a change and let go of my traumatic past in Mason County.
"Well, let's not jump to conclusions. We don't even know if there is an opening for a Homicide Detective in Freya County. I imagine that those positions are filled." My voice had a slight tone of sadness.
Shrugging her shoulders, Alice took another sip of her coffee. "Maybe," she replied, and then left the office.
Allowing my curiosity to take over, I pulled out my laptop and searched the database for detective jobs in Freya County. Even though I didn't want to leave Alice behind, Freya County was only eight hours away, so it wasn't like I would be across the country. A few jobs were listed on the site, but none of the ones that I wanted. The only options were Missing Persons Unit, Forensic Investigator, and a Cybercrimes Detective. Even though I think all these jobs are equally important, they weren't the one I wanted.
A knock on my door caused me to slam my laptop shut when I saw my chief walk into my office. The last time I mentioned transferring to be a Homicide Detective, he became irate, and explained that I had no choice but to continue working for him. "Morning Parks," he greeted, running a hand through his thick mustache.
Acting normal, I gently placed the laptop back in my desk. "Morning Chief Lowry."
Resting his hands on his beer gut, he glanced down at my desk and scanned the entirety of it. "Are those my case files?"
Looking down at the same pile of folders he eyed, I met his green eyes with my blue ones. "Yes sir. I just finished reviewing them. Everything should be good to go so they can be filed."
His eyes continued to linger on me a little longer than they should have. I began shifting in my chair, feeling extremely uncomfortable. "So," he began and cleared his throat. "Is there a reason why you slammed your computer shut when I walked in? You're not thinking about transferring again, are you?" The look he gave me almost mocked a warning.
"Well, it's been two years, which is the minimum experience requirement to become a Homicide Detective."
Pinching the bridge of his nose, he remained in this position as he spoke, his tone sounding agitated. "Haven't I already explained to you that you aren't leaving? You're the best Forensic Scientist I've had on the force, and the prettiest too," he winked slightly, sending shivers up my spine, but in an uncomfortable way. "Besides, you have to have a source and recommendation from me, and I'm not willing to do that for you because I need to keep you." Without another word, Chief Lowry stormed out of my office, slamming the door behind him.
The amount of stress from my job and the fact that I feel trapped with Chief Lowry filled my body, creating an instant headache. I began thinking back to the first time I mentioned transferring.
Six months ago...
I studied a body that had been brought into the agency for further examination on the cause of death. The young girl laid on her back on the table, skin a light hint of blue, and cold as ice. At first glance, there weren't any obvious signs of how she died. There were no markings of strangulation around her neck, and no slits on her wrist to indicate an attempted suicide.
Studying the body closely, I slid a pair of medical gloves on my hands to begin physically examining her. Carefully lifting the right arm and leg of the girl, I gently turned the frail body over on its left side and my eyes began roaming the dead canvas. Again, no obvious sign of the cause of death, until my eyes trailed down to the girl's lower back. One pen sized hole revealed itself, surrounded by a faint light brown bruise, indicating an injection puncture.
Positioning the girl's body back to its original form, I strode over to the counter to sort through the array of labs that I could obtain. Grabbing ahold of a needle and syringe, I carefully picked up the tube that I needed to run the blood and body fluid I would extract.
Carefully sticking the tip of the needle into the prominent vein in the girl's arm, I gently pulled back on the syringe to extract the dark blood, mimicking tar, into the tube. I half expected the girl to come to life with how surreal this always felt.
Placing the cap on the tube filled with blood, I placed it in the blood chemistry analyzer. Closing the top, I flipped the switch on and allowed the machine to do its job as I went back to the body to continue the examination. I wanted to make sure there were no other injection punctures as each spot had to be documented on the report. Running a black light over the front and back of the victim, there were no fingerprints identified.
After analyzing her body for the tenth time, I was unable to identify any other cause of death, and I even examined the inside of the girl's mouth to make sure there was nothing shoved down her throat, obstructing her airway.
Satisfied with my final exam, the machine indicated that it had completed the scanning. The results printed and slid out of the side of the machine. I discarded my gloves and plucked the paper up from the counter.
Of course, the machine indicated how long the girl had been dead for, but my eyes landed on the result which indicated Fentanyl as the cause of death. The amount of it in her bloodstream was enough to kill at least two grown adults. Feeling my heart shatter, I closed her eyes for a moment and hesitated before turning back to the girl.
"Who did this to you?" I questioned to myself out loud.
Hearing a knock on the door, I laid the results on the counter to reveal Chief Lowry on the other side. "Did you find out anything? We caught who we believe is responsible for her death."
Stepping aside to allow him to walk into the room, I watched as he scanned the girl's body. "What did you find on the body?"
Shutting the door, I made my way to the counter and grabbed another pair of disposable gloves and pulled them on. Following the same protocol from earlier, I lifted the right arm and leg once more and rolled the girl over.
"I don't see anything," he questioned as he leaned down, his eyes roaming around.
"I found this puncture wound that seems to go directly into her spine," I pointed and explained.
"Wow, that's barely visible. Good job paying attention to detail Parks," he complimented and winked.
It disgusted me when he did that because he was in his late fifties while I’m only twenty-five. It grossed me out, even more than the dead body lying on the table. "So, I ran some blood work to figure out what exactly could have been injected into her body," I began, changing the subject. Now letting go of the body, I tore the gloves off and picked up the result paper. "Thirteen-year-old Maggie Bishop has been dead for approximately one day and four hours. Cause of death is from an overdose of Fentanyl." I placed the paper down and made eye contact with Chief Lowry. "The amount of Fentanyl that she has in her system is enough to kill two grown adults."
Studying my face, Chief Lowry glanced back at Maggie's lifeless body and shook his head. Running his hand through his thick mustache, he let out a long breath. "We have reason to believe that her father is the one responsible for her death."
I felt as if I was slammed into a brick wall. An overwhelmingly amount of sadness filled my heart to the brim. "How could he do something like that?" Tears begged to slide down my face at the immediate reminding of what happened to me at a young age like Maggie.
"That is the part we don't know yet. When her father called to report that he found his daughter dead yesterday, he claimed it was from suicide because she had a drug problem. When we arrived at his home today to conduct further questioning, he attempted to flee his home. After we were able to finally restrain him, he pleaded that he didn't mean to do it to her and that it was an accident. I'm starting to believe that he's the one with the drug problem. I have investigators at his home now doing a thorough search. Did you find any fingerprints?"
Soaking in all the horrible information, I shook my head slightly. "The only sign of tampering on her body was the puncture wound, nothing else."
Taking the report that I had filled out on the girl, she was zipped back up and placed in the freezer until further instruction. I made my way back upstairs and straight to Chief Lowry's office as soon as he got off the phone. "What can I help you with Parks?"
"I wanted to talk to you about becoming a Homicide Detective when I hit my two-year mark here."
Setting his phone down, he clasped his hands together on his desk and stared daggers into me. "Why would you want to do that? You would have to transfer to Freya County for that. You really want to leave me?" His words became angrier the more he spoke.
"It's not that I want to leave you, but I explained from the beginning when I first started here that I wanted to become a Homicide Detective. I want to be out in the field, breaking down the crime scene, investigating the area, and putting away the criminals."
"I figured you would have forgotten about wanting to transfer. I just can't do that Parks. You belong here with me. Working closely with me, being by my side, and being my Forensic Scientist." He winked at his last statement.
Bile crept its way up my throat at the way his words sounded. "At my two-year mark, I plan on looking for a Homicide Detective job," I explained, standing her ground.
"I'm telling you right now Elizabeth Parks. I will fire you and make your life hell if you decide to do something like that." His words sounding dangerous.
Snapping back to present reality, I stared at my desk and decided against my better judgement to pull out my laptop once more and google search the Freya County Detective Agency.