Rocco Sterling stood in the forensics lab, mulling over detailed reports on each of the four women found dead. Each report read the same. No DNA found at the scene. No fingerprints left anywhere, not even on the victim’s body, despite the fact that each of the women showed signs of sexual intercourse. All of the victim’s fingerprints had been burned off by the application of a Lye based substance, with the exception of the severed finger which contained the victim’s fingerprints. Lubricant residue from a condom was the only evidence left behind. There wasn’t even as much as a skin cell or hair follicle. There was no evidence of a struggle, but that was indicative of the fact that each victim had been given a substantial dose of Flunitrazepam, a sedative better known on the street as “Roofies.” Each victim was killed by slitting of the throat and their left ring finger severed. The body was then delivered to a dumpster somewhere in the city and a flower pinned to their clothing. Each flower was different.
Exhaling frustration, Rocco shook his head. Nobody is this clean. As Rocco continued to study the files he found a perplexing difference in the fourth killing. In the first three, the victim’s left ring finger had been severed and left somewhere in the dumpster with the body, but in the fourth killing, the finger was never found, that is, until this morning in Kira Sullivan’s trashcan. This was a bold and deliberate act on the part of the killer and the question taunting Rocco was why? Serial killers were by nature thorough and consistent. They didn’t alter their plans for fear that any change would defy the rhythm and delicacy of the killing. It was the process they enjoyed. The fulfillment came from the implementation of a detailed plan and then watching like a sadistic voyeur as the police tried to put the broken pieces together, scrambling for tiny clues. It was a game of cat and mouse and Rocco had every intention of winning, but in order to do so he knew he had to think like both the cat and the mouse. If he knew anything about serial killers, he knew these four women weren’t random. He knew they shared a connection and he owed it to them to find their killer.
Lieutenant Barkley poked his head into the Forensics lab but before he could speak, Rocco looked up from the files and blurted, “I’m coming. I’ll be there in a minute.”
“You’re too late,” Barkley said. “She’s already gone.”
Rocco’s face turned a fiery shade of red as he strode quickly past Barkley and out the door. “What do you mean she’s gone? Who let her go? Was she questioned?”
Barkley scurried to try and match stride with Rocco. “Downing questioned her but her attorney showed up and took her away.”
Rocco stopped abruptly. “Her attorney?”
“Yeah, and you’ll never guess who it is,” Barkley sneered. “Landon Parker.”
Rocco clenched his hands into tight, white knuckled fists.