Midnight Owl (A Joe Leverette Mystery, Book 1)

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When Leverette and Marsden got back to the station Billingsley waved them into his office. He noticed Leverette’s mood and wondered what else had gone wrong.

“Okay what’s up?” he asked the two detectives.

“That bastard left two messages. One was a count down with Carole Sage being the last. The other was odd,” Leverette said deciding to sit down. “He had ‘HA HA HA’ spelled out in string on the chair he waited in.”

Billingsley sat back in his chair and looked from Leverette to Marsden and shook his head.

“This is the worst crime this city has ever seen,” Billingsley said. “Anything from the initial investigation?”

“No, no prints. No sign of forced entry,” Marsden said. “Betty’s going to get back to us about that thread, and Smith thinks he was injected with the same drug Heather North was.”

Leverette leaned forward with his elbows on his knees and head in his hands. “What the hell is going on? Why is he killing these witnesses? They never saw him!” He looked up at Billingsley. The anger evident in his eyes.

“Gordon might be able to give us a better idea of the guy,” Billingsley said to them both.

“If he’s going after the witnesses we should warn them,” Marsden said and pulled out his note pad. “If he’s going backward then Frank McCullough will be next.”

“That poor guy’s scared out of his mind as it is. If we say something to him he’s liable to lose it completely,” Leverette said looking over to Marsden, who was sitting to his right.

“Have either of you talked to him?”

“No. He wouldn’t even come in for the interview we did just after,” Marsden told him. “He’s holed up good and tight. Might even be safe where he is.”

“What I want to know is how the fuck he knows who the witnesses are?” Leverette said and sat up. “The press doesn’t even know about this case,” he said slamming his fists on the chairs’ arms. “Do we have a leak?”

“The press doesn’t even know about the crime yet. I have no idea, Joe,” Billingsley said leaning forward and resting his arms on his desk. “We’ve kept this quiet.”

“So there’s a chance he doesn’t know who else is on our witness list,” Marsden said.

“Bullshit!” Leverette said. “What about that message he left at the Kings? Six to go, the last my lady love?”

Marsden and Billingsley looked at each other knowing how he acted around Ms. Sage. They had chuckled about it after her interview, out of Leverette’s earshot. It was just that obvious.

“How does he know anything other than the murder?” Leverette was getting madder. “We were on a different radio frequency so the scanners wouldn’t pick it up.”

“He could have searched or had several scanners set up until he got the names,” Marsden said, then he thought a minute. “How did he know about Ms. Sage? Her name was never mentioned.”

“This whole case is baffling. Why Heather North? Why Philip King? Is McCullough going to be next?” Leverette asked looking at the two of them. “Or is he going at random?”

“Type up the report and I’ll send it over to Gordon. He might have some idea about who we’re looking for,” Billingsley told them. “They put a rush on the autopsies and lab work. Hopefully we’ll get some answers to help with the case soon.”

They got up and headed to their desks. Leverette turned on his computer and searched through his messages. He had one from the lab and decided to go there to talk to them.

“I’ll be back in a bit,” he told Marsden. “I’m going to the lab,” and he got up and headed for the elevator.

When he got to the lab, Mark and Doug were looking something up on the computer. Mark looked up when he saw Leverette.

“Hey,” he said and went back to what they were looking at.

“Hi,” Leverette said. “Got anything on my case?”

Mark pushed away from the desk and got up. He picked up a folder and handed it to Leverette.

“The victims were both injected with Xylazine. The North woman didn’t get as much as the King boy, though.”

Leverette looked through the folder he was handed and closed it.

“What’s zylain?” he asked.

“Xylazine. It’s a horse tranquilizer. Not as common around here as Ketamine, though. If given to a person they drift in and out of consciousness. A larger dose has been known to be used in suicide attempts. We think he killed the boy before decapitating him but we won’t be sure until Carrington finishes with the autopsy.”

“Dr. Smith is doing the autopsy. Carrington is in the hospital. Heart attack.”

“He gonna be okay?” Doug asked as he turned to face them.

“Yeah, he just needs to lose a bit of weight and he’ll be better than new.”

“That’s good. We sent a copy to the morgue so, as I said, once they finish they’ll have more for you,” Mark said.

“Good. Have you checked with the local vets to see if any of them ordered this other tranquilizer?” Leverette asked already forgetting how to pronounce its name.

“That’s what we’re working on now. Only two labs make it and we’re checking on who in our area ordered it. That way if one of them is our killer he won’t get spooked,” Doug said.

“Send me what you find, guys,” Leverette said and turned to leave the lab.

He thought about stopping by the morgue but then Smith really hadn’t had time to do much, maybe just to start the autopsy. Leverette decided to go talk to Gordon.

When he got to the elevator he pressed the fourth floor. Gordon didn’t have any more than they did, but maybe he knew something.

Gordon was sitting at his desk reading through some paperwork when Leverette walked in.

“Hey, Joe,” he said and motioned for Leverette to sit.

“No thanks,” Leverette said, “Only have a second. Wanted to know if there’s anything new on this end?”

Gordon sat back in his chair, took off his glasses and rubbed his nose ridge.

“I wish I could tell you more, Joe,” he said, “But I don’t have much more to go on. If you guys find something else out give me a holler.”

“You heard about the King kid?”

“Yeah, that just confirms what I thought earlier. Well organized, thorough, works alone, sadistic, probably knew the first victim personally and is both seeking retribution for the witnesses reporting their findings, even though he or she wanted them found, and also having fun taunting you guys.”

“I could have told you that,” Leverette said, “Well the last part anyway. I’ll keep you posted if anything else comes up.”

“Okay,” Gordon said, going back to reading his paperwork.

Leverette decided to return to his desk and see if Marsden had found out anything else.

Carole awoke that morning to the smell of bacon, eggs and coffee. Since all of this began Amy had been staying with her, which was fine. She was getting spoiled having breakfast ready every morning. She smiled to herself. Put on her robe and headed downstairs. And she loved having Bud around for protection.

“Morning,” Amy said as she was setting the table. She noticed Carole was not dressed yet.

“Morning,” Carole said and sat at her place. She reached down and scratched Bud behind his ears. He looked up at her and nuzzled her for more.

Amy went to the fridge to get the milk, butter, jam and orange juice. Carole sat there wondering what was going on. The case the detectives were working on had something to do with her. But what?

“What’s on your mind?” Amy asked noticing Carole was in deep thought.

“Oh, nothing really,” Carole said. “Just wondering how I’m tied into this case.”

“Did you have another one of your - thingys?”

Amy brought the platter of bacon, eggs and toast to the table.

“Visions. No. I hope I don’t,” Carole said as she poured the juice in her glass then took two pieces of toast to butter. “I wonder if those two detectives think I’m involved in some way.”

“Now why would they think that?”

“Because I told them about my visions. How I saw that woman being cut up.”

“If you were hiding something you wouldn’t have said anything,” Amy said taking the jam and spreading it on her toast. “Besides, when I talked to them I told them you could sense things and that’s why I wanted you to come with me.”

Carole took a sip of her coffee and bite of toast. She wondered if she should call the detectives or just leave it be.

“Yeah, you’re right. Of course you’re right I’m not involved with this maniac!”

They looked at each other and chuckled.

When Amy left for work Carole loaded the dishes in the dishwasher and decided to take a long hot soak in her tub.

As the tub filled and she poured her bubble bath in she thought about the vision she had yesterday. She didn’t want to tell Amy because it would have just upset her.

Carole slid into the tub enjoying the warmth that started releasing the tension she was feeling. Maybe she’d go talk with the detectives. She couldn’t remember their names but had one of their cards in her wallet. They needed to know about her latest vision, that is, if they even believed her.

Carole stayed in the tub until she felt better. It wasn’t one hundred percent but it was better than she was feeling when she got up this morning.

She dressed in a comfortable jogging outfit, not that she ever jogged, they were just so comfortable. She put her slippers back on and headed downstairs. Amy had put the paper on the kitchen table before she left so Carole decided on another cup of coffee and sat down to see what was in the local news.

The detectives made it clear that they didn’t want the press in on anything so she was surprised to see an article about human body parts being found in the area. The article went on to say that the police are not releasing any information at this time but would when they had more.

Damn, I wonder if the detectives saw this this morning. Then she ran upstairs to change; she was going to the police station to talk to them.

Before she went in she pulled the business card to see what the detectives name was. Marsden. Okay, she didn’t want to look like a fool when she went in.

At the desk she asked for him by name. The desk sergeant told her to wait a moment. The sergeant called up to Billingsley and he said he’d be right down. If Leverette or Marsden weren’t in the building they were to contact Billingsley about any visitors.

“It’ll just be a second,” the sergeant said, “You can have a seat.”

Carole sat down and waited but the man approaching her wasn’t Marsden or the other one.

“Ms. Sage. I’m Chief Billingsley, how may I help you?” he said with a pleasant face. He knew who she was and wondered if she’d seen something else.

“I was hoping to talk to Detective Marsden or his partner,” she said standing and shaking his hand.

“He and Leverette are out on a case right now. Would you like to come to my office and tell me what you need?”

Carol thought a moment. “Sure,” she said and followed him to his office.

When she walked past their desks she got an eerie feeling. She didn’t know they were their desks, but something nasty was going on with them at the moment.

Once in the office Billingsley motioned to a seat and she sat down.

“Would you like some coffee?” he asked.

“No, thank you.”

“Now what brings you here today?”

She didn’t know how much he knew about her. He noticed her hesitation.

“Ms. Sage, I know you have had feelings or whatever you call them. Is that why you’re here?”

She felt relieved and took a deep breath.

“They’re visions, sir,” she said. “I had another last night.”

Billingsley sat back in his chair and looked her in the eyes. He nodded his head and said, “Go on.”

“Well, it was a bit different from the other ones. I saw the same man but he was dressed in black. He was holding someone’s head by the hair, looked right into my eyes and said ‘shh’. Then an owl hooted. I looked at my clock and it was midnight.”

Billingsley sat forward quickly. “You saw this at midnight?”


“And you don’t recognize the face of the victim?”

“No, I’ve never seen him before,” she answered wondering what he was getting at.

“But you could tell it was a male?”

“Yes. He looked young.” She was getting nervous and wondered if she should say anything about the article in the paper. It wasn’t on the first page so maybe nobody saw it.

The phone on Billingsley desk rang and it make Carole jump.

“Excuse me, please. Billingsley here,” he said. “Good. I’ll take care of the Kings. Keep me posted on Carrington, too.” He hung up the phone and looked at Carole.

“Another thing,” she said, “Did you know that the murder is in the paper?”

With everything that happened this morning Billingsley hadn’t had a chance to look through it.

“No. Damn! Who the hell would have leaked it?” He looked at Carole and said, “If you could come back in about an hour or two Leverette and Marsden will be back. Right now I have another case.”

“Yeah, sure. I’m not working today,” she said and got up and left.

“Fuck,” Billingsley said under his breath.

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